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Hishi’s claws ticked on the polished floor as she ran. The sound was barely audible, yet the teeming corridors emptied ahead of her. News had spread through the great city, out and down from the bloody throne room, that a new blend – an Excisor – had been dispatched to seek vengeance. Ten million people wondered who this Excisor was going to kill today. A very few knew, and prepared as best they could.
“Sure as The Scour hunts us all,” the old ones whispered as she passed, pointing superstitiously up through the ceiling towards the roiling leaden cloud that blanketed the world. “The bonehawks will feast today.”
The bonehawks feasted every day, Hishi’s glanded memory stacks told her: Portmanteau’s dead were rendered to remove every priceless, treacherous trace of metal, and the remains dropped through one of the mile-long vents in the bottom of the track as the gargantuan city rolled along its ancient course. Vast flocks of the vicious four-winged scavengers roosted on Portmanteau’s underbelly, swooping down on Funereal days to try and catch the cascade of meat before it reached the steppe far below, there to be fought over by far more deadly competitors.
Hishi cut off the information flood with a thought. She had an Instruction from the Eternal him/herself, and would carry it out in perfectly and literally, as demanded. For the briefest of moments, the little Excisor wondered how things might be were she not to do so, and felt the gland at the top of her neck pulse. The surge of shame and contrition was so great that her step faltered and she came to a halt in an arching bloodwood cathedral, saw a flutter of red robes as a group of Spirituals scuttled to get out of her sight-line, never pausing in their endless repetition of the Histories.
Hishi – David A. Gray
Hold This Star for Me – Mark David Adam
Cheminagium – David Gallay
Love in Its Heart – David Z. Morris
Q: Have you ever wondered whether ideas are thought waves directed at you by an AI supercomputer located in the distant future?
A: I have, actually. I don’t know where ideas come from or why it’s sometimes so easy to forget them; it’s as though someone would hand you a Post-it note and, in case you don’t display an immediate interest, pass it on.
Why does the supercomputer have to reside in the future though? I’m a big proponent of digital physics, Universe as an output of a computer program and all, and I strongly suspect that we and everything around us is a simulation. As soon as I say it, people immediately think Matrix; but what if there’s nothing else but the simulation? What if there’s no real us, or beings like us, outside the program’s boundaries?
The thought, to me, is too sad not to be true.
David Z. Morris is a fiction writer, journalist, and social scientist. He lived in Fort Worth, Nagoya, Austin, Tokyo, and Tampa before making it to New York City. He is married to the painter Georgia Hourdas and holds a PhD from the University of Iowa.
Q: Do you write things other than speculative fiction?
A: No, not really. Whenever I start developing a story thinking it might not be speculative, at some point my imagination runs away with me and the finished product ends up including something supernatural, or strange, or weird.
It’s what I enjoy reading, and it’s what I enjoy writing. I love great characters, and reading about interesting people. But I think characters react in even more fascinating ways when you throw them into a speculative world, or you have them face some fantastic or horrifying scenario.