Prose/Shorts

Science Fiction

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The mechanics of the entire operation were complicated. Very complicated. The Uppers weren’t even releasing a name for the technology. The papers all kept mum about the operation. It was another “Politikal Experiment.” The people needn’t concern themselves.

The briefing came at 0500. The com buzzed two shorts and a long dash in my ear–the signal that a sensitive message was about to be transmitted. The mission, the drab voice said over the com, was an issue highly important to the people. I was one of five. We were to be at the Space Probe lab in 3 hours. The launch was to take place in approximately 15 hours. Good day.

StarsI walked into the lab feeling somewhat disoriented. The satellite we were on was an older model, only apparently so by aesthetics. The technology was updated constantly, and the interior was never allowed to become even slightly dirty. The AI system identified me and offered some non-caffeinated coffee upon my entrance. Three others waited in the room. I knew none of them. For the purposes of this mission, we were called by our assigned numbers. I was eight dash thirty-two, lead officer.

We readied the vehicle. It was a strange looking apparatus. Weighing over 20 tonnes, the system was largely made of a hyper-sensitive light collecting material not yet named. The transport was another complex matter. It wasn’t my area of expertise, but I understood the basic premise. This vehicle was going to travel at an astounding rate, over one million times the speed of light. I didn’t know how this was possible, or even if the premise held as a form of motion. The techs usually referred to it as teleportation. We were going to launch the device to a distance of about 10,000 light years from our planet. The voyage would take a little over three and a half days.

This is where my work came in. I had worked in optics and light transmission throughout my career at the Politikal offices. My specialty was lenscrafting. The resolution achieved with the device we were sending, combined with the optics I had designed, would be enough, if the theoretical data held true, to make out faces on Earth, from a distance of 10,000 light years. Resolution isn’t the right word; this form of imaging crossed into a new field entirely. The data that we collected was entirely raw light signals, but they were complete. We could focus entirely on the earth and collect just the light emitted, and we were going to record history.

The launch went as planned, and seven days later, we received a signal from the craft. It was in place. Now, if the programming did its job, and the theories held true, we were recording activity on our planet. Ten thousand years ago.

~ 8–32. Space Probe Lead

The Portrait of an Apology

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The sun is shining down behind them; their shadows stretch on and intermingle with the trees and mottled brick pathway. The birds are taking shelter in the trees and shrubs, for the wind is playing with everything it can find. Ducks are voicing their concern over the blustery day. The water in the fountain attempts to escape from the marble sculpture, but the stone angels continue their eternal task of pouring their never-emptying bowls and pitchers. The couple sitting on the wrought iron bench watch as nature and humanity perform their ever varying dance.

He is young. His hair drapes over his face like the roots of a bodyless plant. His glasses are square; they frame his eyes to form the impressions of two portraits of tiny universes. The thin, light grey jacket rests casually over the t-shirt inscribed with the name of some moderately well-known indie band. Flip-flops and a fairly nice analog watch complete the casual ensemble. His gaze is deep, and he is in the middle of some statement—obviously heartfelt.

She is listening, but her eyes are focused on something in the foreground of the scene before them. Her silky black hair has no resistance against the breath of the winds. Her sun dress and handmade hat fit well with her pale skin. Her handbag is sitting next to the bench, very assessable, but threatening to spill its contents if not adjusted. A note, waiting to be read, peeks from the flap.

The sky melds into the trees, and the clouds gradually form as a brush gently touches the paper. The artist looks at his work and debates between two frames that would variously complement different elements of the painting. The trees quiver slightly as the world is shaken by the scratch of a pen. The ducks watch as a signature is drawn in the grass. The couple continue their pose, frozen in time to be framed and admired. Thus is completed the portrait of an apology.

~XK

I started writing this a while back, and it sat on my hard drive. I’m thinking of working on some more fiction, but I’m not sure what direction I’m going to head. I like the worlds of Tolkien and Lewis, but that genre is far too crowded. Any ideas are quite welcome!

An Aimless Obsession

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I wrote this quite a while back and had it published on Broowaha.com. Since I’ve been rather busy lately, this will be some stand-in content until I find the time to write something special for all my lovely readers. 😉 

There once was a sculptor who loved to create beautiful images. He studied all sorts of subjects, ideas, and wonderful theories. He loved sport and lived for the game. His game, however, was played with people. He poked their minds to examine the results. He prodded their emotions with verbal sticks and noted the reactions. He did not allow for personal attractions or petty feelings. He concentrated on his work and did little else. His grandest accomplishments were but experiments to him once they were finished. In his mind, he never failed or made a mistake; if there was an error, he would fix it. One day, he came across a wonderful subject. A beautiful specimen that was fraught with countless extraordinary ideas. The more he talked to her, the more he knew that this sculpture would be special.

He thought of her night after night and formulated plans and ideas. He worked on the piece day in and day out. Almost without paying attention, he had made a wonderful image. So real and lifelike, his masterpiece was his finest work by far. All of the other creations stood by and gathered dust. He neglected his regular interactions and studies of other examples. No other object in his gallery was even close to the level of detail and mastery that was displayed in his rendering of this subject. He talked with his subject, he got to know her, learned about her background, studied her interactions with others. His former lack of personal investment in his life was, in this case, ignored. He began to gauge everything else by one scale, and it all fell short. The obsession which had seized him was one that was neither healthy nor safe, yet he pressed on with his reckless passion.

The sculpture was almost complete; it was nearing perfection, at least, in the eyes of the sculptor. He concentrated even more heavily on it, he worked until he had imparted all of his knowledge of the subject upon the image he had created. A strange thing here began to happen. The subject began to fade in importance and the image began to rise in his mind. The image was now as complete as it could be, given the artist’s knowledge of the subject. The time came when the subject had to leave. The artist no longer had her to study and learn from. He was left with an aimless obsession. The inevitable happened; the image replaced the subject in the mind of the artist.

His obsession once again had a topic, but it was not nearly as fascinating as the original. It did not answer him in the same, unpredictable ways. He could examine it, but all new data formed was done so by extrapolation. He turned over conversations and information in his head, like a tape replaying the same song. It drove him to the brink of despair. He no longer knew what was real and what was fabricated in his own mind.  The answers did not come as he expected, and often his own suppositions were not what he wanted to hear. Like a flame his anger would explode, until he realized the source of his anger and at whom it was directed. As soon as the blaze would flare, a rushing wave of guilt would come crashing over his head and douse the fire.

Self deception had led him down a path to place that he created, yet with which he was not at all familiar. Everything was of his own doing, yet nothing made sense. The statue stood in the middle of his room and haunted him. It brought back memories of reality and his old perceptions. He would study it for hours on end to try and interpret what he was missing. He had created a trap for everything that he loved, and in the process, he had snared himself.