Stuffed Head

Stuffed Head

The Vrekli had charged him a small fortune for the gene-tailored symbiotes, and it had taken weeks for him to get used to the squirming feeling in his nasal passages, but it was worth it to be at long last rid of the allergies that had made his life a misery since childhood. The tiny slime worms reliably devoured every speck of pollen, every fragment of dust-mite, every molecule of each airborne allergen that had plagued him in the past, before they could cause the vestige of a reaction.

What he shouldn’t have done was to spring for the recreational-hallucinogen nanobot inhaler on Chur’r. There seemed to be a struggle for supremacy going on inside his sinuses—some kind of hierarchical dispute—and even though he was zoned to the gills, he had now been sneezing nonstop for at least two hours. The spasms were simultaneously a delightful metaphor for a pervasive sense of oneness with the universe, and absolutely unbearable.

from the notebooks of F. J. Bergmann


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L’Appel du Vide – Rajiv Moté

On Friday morning, the ambient heaviness in his boss’s tiny office threatened to bend Isaac double, and his ears ached from the pressure in the air. The dread hadn’t started with his boss’s unexpected meeting request, but coalesced around it, wrapping the 15-minute block on his calendar in layers of doubt and worry until it shone like a fat, anxious pearl. It had been gathering over weeks. Office doors that usually stayed open were shut. Hallways and corners sheltered low, furtive conversations; Isaac felt like he was interrupting conspiracies every time he walked to the restroom. The very air resisted movement, its weight dragging down shoulders and gazes. It felt like the air before a storm cracks open the sky.

His boss, from across the desk, began by telling him what Isaac already knew.

“As you know…”

A disappointing Q2. A gloomy forecast for Q3. Streamlining. Tightening belts. Pivoting. Reorganizing. Isaac waited as each term in the well-rehearsed speech pulled him in, spiraling closer to the actual point.

“We have to let you go.”

There. The dice showed their pips. The curtain pulled back. With the word “go,” Isaac was unmoored. First, figuratively, and then, a heartbeat later, literally. His boss was still talking while Isaac floated inches above his seat. He panicked for a moment, losing the leverage that came with gravity. Putting his feet back on the floor only pushed him up higher, until he was floating in the middle of the room. He began to tilt, and his arms and legs flailed for some kind of purchase. His boss’s eyes held polite sympathy. He asked if Isaac had any questions. Isaac shook his head. In his flailing, he found he could change his orientation and even propel himself by pushing against the thickened air.Keep reading“L’Appel du Vide – Rajiv Moté”