Here we are! WEP’s final challenge for the year 2015. Today we have been asked to present our entry with a science-fiction flavour. That was a big ask, so Yolanda and I asked the ninja, Alex, to do a guest post on writing in this genre. It helped my feeble efforts, so I hope it helped others.
But my default genre is romance, so, sure, I think I cover some of the science fiction tropes, but I meandered off into the realms of romance, mixed up a little with ironic words from George Orwell’s 1984.
I hope you enjoy my foray into sci-fi. Click on the badge in my sidebar to read more entries.
The Pod Faded to Black
Rachel was skinny, wan, with hair dank brown, darkening to black. Her eyes were grey mist, inviting closer scrutiny. Edward wondered why he felt a strange emotion on seeing her. It grew in his chest and moved upwards, causing his throat to tighten. When he spoke, he sounded like a schoolboy.
Edward didn’t understand Rachael’s attraction. He didn’t understand attraction, full stop. Random attraction wasn’t encouraged on Xcelsior. But Rachel. He counted it as extraordinary luck that he worked side by side at the Ministry of Literature with a legend. She was probably the greatest writer of this generation.
They met regularly at the Xcelsior Social Gathering of Like Minds for New Reincarnates. Both had been teleported to Xcelsior–she from Bandanland, he from Paradox 21–to prepare for the Annual Holiday Gathering and End of Year ReBooting of Minds. Edward was a poet. They needed his pen to create uplifting, soulful words for the Season of Celebration of Technological Miracles.
Rachel was already quite famous on Bandanland and beyond for her romance volumes which were widely distributed in special reading pods throughout the galaxy. Her exquisite words filled a void in the population who suffered from a surfeit of technology, whose regimented lives permitted no idle time for reality romance. Indeed, Rachel’s first lecture addressing the New Politic had been revealing: she’d waxed eloquent on the need for love and romance in people’s lives to make a sterile world more palpable. Edward, always a coward, had studiously kept his face passive, as he’d seen the Grand Enforcer and his minions frowning at her tender words. Finding partners for the population was their domain.
During the Social Time that followed, he found Rachel had not read any of his poetry. Few people had. He was a pedant, but the poems he penned on his stylistic device were empty, soulless, utilitarian. The poems in his head, they were a different thing entirely. Thirty-first-century poets in the Poleaxer Galaxy were obscure, even more irrelevant than their predecessors on the defunct planet Old Earth from which the Reincarnates sprang.
Rachel and Edward. They were the only people at the Social Gathering who were not involved in the intricacies of the New Politic skirmishes. The two of them often ended up in a dark corner, talking about their shared love of the literature of Old Earth.
‘I do miss having someone who knows who Shakespeare was,’ Edward hissed, well aware he had just committed Thoughtcrime. ‘I recite his sonnets by heart every morning. It helps me retain a fragment of my soul.’ He beckoned her to follow him and they leaned against a wall of glass impregnated with bright rolling lights which reminded him of drunken snakes. He squeezed his eyes shut and imagined a bright picture of the Bard instead. The lights were meant to stimulate your mind, but they unnerved him, and his glass of Health-Giving Herbal Tincture trickled down his once-pristine white jacket much like the edicts from the New Politic trickled down into his mind, displacing the finer things of his life.
Edward hated who he’d become. He felt the person he’d been, his reincarnation, was of a farmer on Old Earth, happily tilling soil and gathering real food.
“Looking around me,’ Rachel whispered, as to be heard speaking words that typified Ownlife was dangerous in this company, ‘I don’t see anyone who appears to have a soul.”
Rachel’s face, when she looked at him, seemed lacking. Her muscles and tendons didn’t really support her face frame. Odd. Was she a reincarnation or a robot?
“The only thing I find scintillating is literature and –”
“And?’ There was that unfamiliar pumping feeling in his wellspring, a strange bellyfeel. ‘Why don’t we move away from these drunken snakes to OurSpace?”
Edward knew then that he was going to love and romance her, despite it being a Sexcrime and despite her odd face. He knew they would make Goodsex together. But partnering was ordered by the New Politic. They would be relegated to the status of Unpersonhood if discovered.
They settled on an ugly plastic couch which could be impregnated with listening pods, so he spoke quietly. If the Love Ministry heard his next words he’d be subjected to ReOrientation Activity class after work each day. He’d be locked away until early in the Year Next because everyone would be busy practicing Relaxation, ReCommuning and Mindfulness to prepare for new technological discoveries.
“So we have to do something about this dearth of literature,” he said. Both knew to substitute “romance” for “literature.”
Rachel smiled. At that moment Edward understood why her face seemed curious and incomplete. Her face was a superstructure which until now had never supported a smile.
They did not, of course, return to his pod and sleep the night clasped in each other’s arms, although that was what Edward had on his mind. Instead, he invited her to join him for his Early Rising Feast the following morning. It was Xcelsior’s Annual Holiday Gathering and End of Year ReBooting of Minds’s Eve, so they would be offered a glass of historic Egg Nog that had originated on Old Earth. The eggy drink would be followed by Xcelsior’s chef’s attempt at pancakes created with nano-blasted cereal pellets drowned in manufactured sweetener mimicking honey found on Old Earth.
Those first moments as they found their table for the Early Rising Egg Nog and Pancakes feast were a new, exciting dance. Sipping their fat, yellow drinks that brought a sparkle to Rachel’s cheeks, Edward thought: This is what it feels like to be alive. I never knew this feeling inside before. Rachel and he were like two ballet dancers executing a new move. Touch. Swirl. Touch. He dreamed of lazy hazy days in the country, running through fields of sweet grasses.
Something sparked between them. Satiated by a full stomach, he asked her to join him at the Simulated Ozarks’ pod to see the flaming maples. Rachel accepted. In the Ozarks, Edward would be himself, his best self.
When they were surrounded by a particularly fine farmhouse amid crimson and vermilion foliage, he whispered to her his secret poems on country life.
When he finished, they kissed with a careful passion. This was going to be the best Annual Holiday Gathering and End of Year ReBooting of Minds in history.
Then the pod turned black.
Thanks for coming by and reading my story. I hope you check out more stories. Not so many this month!