From a novelette I’ve been revising for far too long:
Lafre disrobes, sits down on the edge of the wet room’s immersion plank, and inserts the twin hose plugs into his nostrils. He inhales deeply, testing the seals, then swings his legs up and stretches out flat. The plank’s surface responds to his presence, conforming to the contours of his body until pressure is equal at every point and he feels that he is floating on a still pond. He closes his eyes and finger-taps his unique initiation rhythm. The plank descends through the floor into the tank below. Lafre braces for the touch of the amniosol, expecting cold. But when it reaches him, the viscous liquid is warm and he hardly perceives a change.
The neuroactive substance closes over Lafre’s face and then the room enters his mind and Lafre revisits his long abandoned egosphere. Little has changed. He lounges against pillows in the bow of a small rowboat, floating lazily in the current of a mud-banked river. The afternoon sun sprays shafts of warmth through a palisade of willow shoots. This is Lafre’s entry point, his preferred default: simply messing about in a boat.
He is due to meet several dozen of his parents soon, but he’s given himself time to acclimate. At his feet, in the stern of the craft is a picnic basket. He sits forward, opens it, and extracts a stack of envelopes—the accumulated messages of his previous life’s social connections. All of the demands and invitations and affections and distresses of the thousands of friends, peers, lovers, and competitors that he left, without backward glance, on that spring morning when he returned to Camelle’s home bearing a wilted violet.
He scans the headers of the first hundred, setting a dozen aside for later perusal, tossing the rest overboard, where they sink into the river and swim away, silvery trout flashing in the depths. He can always reel them in again should need arise. He reaches into the basket for another handful and his fingers meet something soft, delicate, and clammy. He withdraws a wilted violet. Tied to it is a tiny scroll. He breaks its wax seal and it unrolls across his sky, a hand-written message that sings its words to him in the voice of Camelle.
Lafre reads the scroll once, twice, then tears it once, twice, a hundred times, and holding the pieces in his hands, allows a breeze to carry them, a swarm of moths, into the sun.
|What I Write
Speculative fiction that could be mistaken for something else (mostly science fiction, some fantasy, a bit of horror… all on the literary end of the respective spectra).
“Nine Instance of Rain”
October 1st, 2014