Art and story by Raja Thiagarajan
Why was it so dark? Why was it so cramped? She wasn’t prone to claustrophobia, but what about the air? It couldn’t be circulating, could it?
It wasn’t fully dark. She saw a dim light swimming in the darkness. What color was it? Azure blue? Aqua? Aquamarine?
Why was she here? Who was she? What had happened to her memory?
Was she all alone in the world? No, she had a daughter. And a face, a very young face, that wasn’t her daughter, but someone as important to her. Someone more important to her.
She looked toward the aquamarine blur. It wasn’t quite aquamarine. It was something else—
—and it wasn’t a blur. It was a set of lines. It was symbols. It was numbers—
—and they were counting down.
There was something about a process. She had agreed to take part in a process.
It was a process that had been tested, had been refined, but it was still fallible, it still had the possibility of failure—
—but it was absolutely necessary to go through the process. If she didn’t, it would be impossible for her to survive what came next, what had to come next, what would take—
—what would take a long time. She would have to be in this place, in this cramped dark place, for a long time. Minutes? She would run out of air! No not minutes—
—not minutes, not hours, not days—something didn’t quite feel right—
—how long could human beings go without food? A week? A month? But that assumed thorough hydration, a liter and a half of water a day. And she had no water—
How long could she last without water? Surely not more than a few days. But this place where she was, it was sealed, it could not be opened—
—this place was designed not to be opened until decades—decades—had passed—
—but the design would only work if everything was in balance, if powerful medicines were pumped into her body—
—and she couldn’t feel any medicines, she couldn’t feel anything that could carry medicines into her body. She couldn’t feel anything—
—except a rising panic—
Raja Thiagarajan likes 64-bit computers, and uses the one on his left wrist for ad hoc countdowns.
This was Chapter 2 of a four-part flash fiction series by Raja Thiagarajan. Find links the whole flash fiction cycle below:
- Chapter 1 – “Amelia”
- Chapter 2 – “Interlude”
- Chapter 3 – “A Plague Of…”
- Chapter 4 – “Awake” (TBP Dec 3, 2021)
You can read more of Raja’s flash fiction in Loop Garou, an SF e-zine. Click here to download EPUB and PDF files of Loop Garou 6.
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