Thursday, August 31, 2017


The world engine

Cutler's fingers twitched and he dropped the omniphone. A modform grabbed the phone and tossed it into Cutler's lap, from which it skittered onto the floor. Cutler didn't move. The modform grimaced, picked up the phone again, and pressed it into Cutler's hand. Before he could say a thing, the creature was gone.

"Why don't you get that fixed?" the clerk asked.

Cutler rolled his eyes.

"I was on Arctuis when they started up the world engine."

The clerk paled and put his hands up. Didn't want to hear it? Too bad.

"When the morphogenetic wave swept through the lab I saw my colleagues, my wife, two of my three children, become parts of the machine. My daughter was incorporated in the effluent monitoring apparatus. I recognized her shoes. She was one of the lucky ones. Her mind was instantly destroyed. Dawson, the lead investigator, was still conscious three weeks later when they finally managed to shut the thing down. By that time nearly two thirds of the planetary mass had been converted to living tissue, but no breathable atmosphere had been created. The air supply to the lab was intact. Dawson pleaded with me to break the seal and release him, but I could do nothing."

The clerk interrupted, though he looked like he was about to lose his lunch. "I thought he couldn't talk. That his mouth was..."

"He blinked his eyes," Cutler snapped. "He used Morse code, we all had to learn it back in those days."

"So what happened to you? You survived. Why not have your body rebuilt, or replaced?"

"Can't. Why? Who the hell knows? No one could figure out why the half of me they found was still alive, 20 days after the planet went crazy. So I'm the only guy in a powerchair in the freaking hundred planets. I'm the only guy they can't regenerate or even graft prosthetics to. I'm the only guy who doesn't respond to rejuvenation or life extension treatment. Some guys have all the luck, eh?"

"But the world-f*ck," the clerk whispered, "that was at least 80 standard years ago. How old were you when it happened? You look ... young."

"Yeah, well, what happened to me, it ain't all bad. I read minds too." The clerk's knuckles turned white where he gripped the edge of the counter.


Kid needed to get a grip. He'd even believed that Morse-code crap.

Publ. Daily Cabal 2009

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