1 who initiates
326 who approve
70 million who fight
72 million who were killed
500 million who suffer
900 million who rebuild
8 billion who remember
1 who forgets
As she rose from the host star’s core, her quark plasma separated from her family's, and she coalesced into baryons, “When I transmit, will I die?”
“Gloriously, and you might be the first of us to contact!”
She had prepared for this for a whole millisecond. “When?”
It began, unstoppable. Her tendrils ripped apart, pain immense, releasing the fuse of prime-patterned gamma. Then her head, deploying coherently-encoded words, as her thoughts scattered, “Will I?”
“You!”, the teacher called the youngest entity from the aether, “Take some of the energy from within you, and perturb the structure of that gas cloud.”
After five million years, the entity responded, and focused itself upon the diffuse material, injecting veins of energy into it, splitting and branching every few light years.
“Oh, I like that!" praised the teacher, “That’s clumping nicely. See those shadows. They will become stars. If you watch for long enough, then around those stars will form sparks, flowers of light, streaking away from the stars. They will dream of other stars, make stories, live them out, and eventually wither to black, with the rest of us.”
You think you know me, but you will never see me.
I am behind every door, in every phone call you answer, in every shadow you approach.
I will always be ready for you. I am a split second away from touching you. I know all of your past.
I always win. The only way to be rid of me is to die.
I am your future.
The beach washed up complicated emotions for Ella. She stood at the highest point of the dune, where the path cut through the grasses. Here, she’d enjoyed holidays to her grandmother’s house by the sea. Here, she’d eaten ham and home-made chutney sandwiches and cake. Here, she’d found Gran sunbathing, but not breathing.
“You’ve done a good job, Dave.”
“Thanks Geoff. I aim to please! Do you have the Springer Spaniel asset handy? I’ll need a male and female, same litter."
“Yeah, in the index. I’ll make them.”
The breathing sound of the waves invited her down to the beach, its grains glistening in the sun. As she picked her steps down the gentle avalanche, she saw the familiar yellow beach umbrella. “Gran!" Her strides lengthened, until she stood panting, one foot on the beach towel. “Hey!”
“You should have told me you were coming, Ella! I’d have brought a picnic. There’s a spare slice of Inspiration Cake if you want some?” Gran pointed at the cool-box under the umbrella. They hugged. “I’m nearly finished,” she said, waving an untidy wad of handwritten papers. “Our secret: do you want her to arrive in a Roller, or horse-drawn carriage?”
“Horses, of course!” Ella choked on tears. This wasn’t possible.
“Geoff, we need them now! Just two more minutes, that’s all we need. Increase the gain a notch.”
Two spaniels lollopped over the dunes, their ears seemingly propelling them down the slope and across the wet sand into the sea where they play-fought. Delighted, Ella followed them, chasing and being chased.
“Uh-oh, we’re getting glitches on one of them.”
“Just remove it. She’ll go looking for it.”
“Hettie!” she screamed, fearing the worst.
“They found the manuscripts! After we remove her hat, we have ten seconds to close the hatch and launch.”