|News    About    Stories    Art    Links    Contact|
Three stories of science fiction
Art by saicoink
Electromonde read over her work. She had spent the past week writing, penciling, inking and digitally colouring a short comic depicting a tryst between two of her favourite videogame characters. In the span of three pages she had depicted the characters meeting at a Kappa Koffee, gazing into each other’s eyes over steaming cups of pumpkin lattes, heading to the washroom and, once there, engaging in no less than five different sex acts. One of her strengths, she had always felt, was panel economy.
The characters were two stewards from a fantasy RPG she had played heavily during the spring. Now her classes were over and she could spend less time playing games for relaxation and more time drawing for personal pleasure. She uploaded the comic to the fan art section of hedonArtist, the most popular online art community amongst the cityships.
Within minutes the comic was receiving text comments by fans of the characters and of her art in general. All of them were positive, littered with bright emoticons and strings of exclamation marks. She sat staring at the webpage while continuously refreshing it.
‘If only this was my job,’ she said quietly to herself for what felt like the hundredth time.
The yaoi professor at her university often praised her work for presenting homosexual men far more realistically than other such artists, although the professor admitted she did not actually know anything about living homosexual men. What her professor meant was that she admired the way in which Electromonde depicted fantasy and science fiction characters in contemporary environments, how she successfully altered their behaviour around hamburgers and arcade machines.
Electromonde disregarded the existence of Vicente when she worked on her comics: in addition to being a bit of a jerk, Vicente was simply far too greasy to meet the standards of her yaoi fantasies. If he was the model for anything, it was for how not to present a homosexual man.
A comment appeared on her comic from Vicente’s hedonArtist account. She immediately deleted the comment without reading it fully, though the word ‘shit’ had stood out to her. She proceeded to block Vicente’s account from hers; she knew the action would not alter their friendship in the slightest, and the less involved he was with her private world the better.
She clicked over to his page to look at it one last time. Vicente had signed up to hedonArtist to post some of his personal videogame concept art pieces, but when nobody appeared to notice he had them removed and used the account for trolling. If anything he had commented on her comic without even knowing it was hers.
She closed the browser. Her wallpaper – looping footage of an optional RPG boss being defeated in less than a minute – flashed blue and green across her face. She put the holographic monitor to sleep.
Her hard drive garbled gibberish at her as she pushed away from her desk and looked over her room. One of her holographic posters was glitching out, removing the top half of her favourite vocalist’s head.
Rather than face a short sequence of tedious repairs, Electromonde abruptly left her family’s apartment, taking the glass elevator to the building’s main floor. By this point she realised she was thirsty, which was as good a sense of purpose as any.
She stepped out of the elevator. Shouts rang out from one of the apartments further down the hall and her ears twitched in their direction. Even if it was something serious, however, she felt there was no reason to get involved. Coming into contact with a member of Chiago 2’s police force was rarely a good idea – not because they abused their authority, but because their dialogue trees were always so convoluted and time-consuming. Electromonde sometimes thought about life in videogame terms.
As she left the building she kicked away a pair of flannel pants that had been lying in the lobby, and as always she wondered why people kept leaving clothes here. She imagined she could write a decent yaoi comic about the mystery.
She opened one of the building’s main doors to the sound of static. Holographic rain was coming down hard outside; if she had known beforehand she would have wet her clothes before leaving. Sometimes it was good to look the part.
Two small boys were playing in the parking lot, kicking up holographic puddles and grabbing ineffectually at the images dancing in the air. Electromonde walked past them as she headed in the direction of the convenience store.
‘Splash!’ one of the boys shouted at her. He mimed tossing a bucket of water at her and Electromonde grinned, pretending to block the attack with the side of her arm.
She saw that their hair and clothes were damp with real water, most likely splashed onto them by their parents. She remembered when her father used to do the same with her.
‘Enjoy the rain, guys,’ she told the boys, smiling as she continued on her journey.
The neon lights of the convenience store glowed softly in the artificial mist. It took a decent amount of walking to make out the rest of the store, but when she did her heart skipped a beat.
She stopped to inspect a poster that had been put up in one of the store’s windows. Beneath an image she had seen many times before – that of a space cadet biting another’s lip, the two of them locked in a heated embrace – was a notice that made her senses swim: the store was now carrying rental copies of StarExploder, a movie Electromonde had been dying to see in theatres but had been too busy with schoolwork to catch.
She hopped a little with girlish excitement as she entered the store, the sliding doors parting for her in a welcoming manner. She grabbed a small carton of milk and headed to the store’s movie corner. Her eyes were immediately drawn to the case.
StarExploder’s cover had a shiny surface, causing its stars – both the actors and the background balls of plasma – to twinkle invitingly. Electromonde grabbed the empty display case and brought it to the counter, setting it down with her milk.
‘Always good to watch a movie on a rainy day, eh?’ the clerk commented as he picked out StarExploder’s holographic-definition disc from an old black binder.
Electromonde nodded and swiped her moneycard, not paying attention to how much anything cost.
‘You have until tomorrow night to return it,’ the clerk informed her as he handed her the disc in a flimsy sleeve and pushed the milk towards her. ‘After that we charge your account for lateness.’
‘I know, I know,’ Electromonde said as she collected her temporary treasure. ‘By the hour, right?’
‘That’s right,’ the clerk said, nodding. ‘Take care, now.’
She left the store and cracked open her milk. The scent of it made her no less excited for the movie. She stood outside the convenience store’s sliding doors, pouring the milk down her throat and wiping the film from her lips with the side of her hand.
‘Hahh, yes,’ she said approvingly to herself. ‘Good.’
She crushed the carton and pushed it into the vacuum of the recycle tube standing next to the store. Electromonde enjoyed watching recyclables shrink from the force of the vacuum as they disappeared into the black. She picked up a random piece of trash and pushed it in as well.
The holographic rain was letting up. The recording of raindrops went from sounding like static to sporadic applause.
Electromonde turned around while staring at the StarExploder disc. All she could make out through the sleeve was the title, its logo a dirty gold.
She could not wait to return to her room.
‘What’s that?’ her father asked from the couch in the living room. He had been watching a documentary on early Chiago 2an musicians on the family holographic tv. ‘That a movie?’
‘Yeah, Dad. It’s a movie.’
‘Let’s watch it.’
Electromonde slipped her shoes off her feet and set them on the rack beside the door. She tightened the grip of her thumb and forefinger around the holo-disc’s sleeve and shook her head.
‘It’s not your thing. It’s not an action movie or anything.’
‘What’s it called?’
Electromonde paused slightly.
Her father raised an eyebrow.
‘It’s one of my boy love movies,’ she admitted, her cheeks becoming hot.
Her father made a face and turned back towards the floating images of the holographic tv.
‘Just don’t forget to turn the volume down,’ he told her, his own cheeks reddening at the reminder of his daughter’s hobby.
Electromonde quickly headed to her room. She tore open her door and hastily shut it behind her.
She sighed with relief. Now, finally, she was alone with her room, her copy of StarExploder and the flicking holographic figure sitting on her bed.
Her mouth went dry and she dropped the disc. The disc bounced off her shoe and landed near her desk. The holographic figure did not move except for the distorted nature of its incorporeal form.
The top half of the figure’s head was missing; all that remained of its face were its flaring nostrils, large lips and thin chin. Electromonde recognised this half a face immediately: from those lips had come the vocals of some of her favourite songs. They were lips she had pretended to kiss several times before bed. The holographic body was one she had mimed hugging.
Her holographic poster had come to life.
‘What . . . the . . .’ Electromonde said quietly, her voice caught in the prickly cocktail of confusion and fright.
The figure brought its finger to its lips to quiet her even further. It smiled as it sank into her bed and disappeared beneath the floor.
Electromonde looked to the space on her wall where the holographic poster had once resided. She hoped to see it flickering there, the top half of its head restored. But the image was gone forever.
She stepped slowly and deliberately to her desk and collapsed in her chair. She rested her elbows on the desk and held her temples, already deciding she would never, ever tell anyone about this moment.
StarExploder found its way to Electromonde’s personal holographic tv once her parents had been asleep for half an hour. That was when they were no longer fazed by the noises that sometimes came from her room. She did not like to listen to movies or music or games on headphones as she felt too vulnerable with them; there was always some small, sharp anxiety nibbling at the back of her neck that someone would walk in on her. Most of her hobbies involved this fear.
She set the tv to display the movie above her bed. She lay on top of the covers in her black pyjamas and watched the previews for similar movies from the same production studios.
StarExploder began with a sequence of logos. One was a garish neon green set on a background of space, while another featured a golden peacock that sounded suspiciously like a recording Electromonde had once heard of a hawk.
The movie began with a white-haired space cadet reading a novel in his room. The space cadet flipped through several of the pages. He set the book on his lap and looked at Electromonde. He then looked to his watch and immediately stood, the book falling from his lap and crashing to the floor, its covers and pages forming a tepee by his feet.
‘What an idiot!’ he shouted to himself. ‘I can’t be late for the first day!’
He stumbled towards the sliding door of his room, tripping but quickly recovering as he raced down the hall towards the assembly.
Electromonde was already pleased with this character. The awkward types tended to be her favourite.
The door of the elevator at the end of the hall was sliding shut but the cadet managed to sidle in just in time. He closed his eyes, pressed his back against the wall and breathed a sigh of relief. When he opened his eyes again he was looking at the face of another cadet, an older boy with dark purple hair.
‘Late?’ the purple-haired cadet asked. There was a note of challenge in his voice that the white-haired cadet found confusing.
The white-haired cadet realised he had not pressed any buttons on the elevator panel and that the elevator was still stationary. He reached for the panel but the purple-haired cadet grabbed his arm.
‘Hey!’ the white-haired cadet shouted.
The purple-haired cadet twisted his arm, causing a sharp spasm of pain.
‘What the hell are you doing?’ he asked the purple-haired cadet.
‘You can’t be late to the first assembly,’ the purple-haired cadet explained sadistically.
The white-haired cadet blinked away tears.
‘Let go of me and I won’t be.’
The purple-haired cadet slapped him and grabbed his face, squeezing it like a toy.
‘What if you have a good excuse? What if you show up bruised and limping?’
The purple-haired cadet grabbed the back of his head with both of his hands and shoved his tongue into the white-haired cadet’s mouth. The white-haired cadet squirmed ineffectually; he pressed his hands against the purple-haired cadet’s chest in a desperate attempt at pushing him away. The steady beat of the purple-haired cadet’s heart was the most unsettling aspect of the entire scene.
Electromonde paused the movie and picked up the remote on her nightstand. She sat up and pressed the button that expanded the images, a plus sign she tapped and then held. Once the images were life-size she brought them towards her.
She set it so that she would be at eye level with the characters while kneeling on her bed; the rest of their bodies became hidden beneath her covers.
‘I love you,’ she whispered. ‘I love you both.’
She reached her hand through the static image of their forced embrace. Her arm floated through their torsos.
She rewound the scene to the point where the purple-haired cadet was about to kiss the white-haired cadet and paused it as soon as the purple-haired cadet’s face was clear. Electromonde inspected the purple-haired cadet’s almond eyes, how they seemed to catch some stray light of desire; the way his lips were contorted in a smile which betrayed their next course of action; how his features were both more sharp and delicate than the white-haired cadet’s. Again she sent her hand through the characters and slowly retrieved it.
For a moment Electromonde sat in awe of the stars’ heavenly bodies. Her heart was pounding and she could feel her body go red.
She moved towards the purple-haired cadet with her knees until she was fully inside his holographic form. From within the purple-haired cadet’s head Electromonde could no longer make out her room; all she could see was the white-haired cadet amidst a multi-layered realm of abstraction.
She activated the scene and dropped her remote. She moved in to kiss the white-haired cadet as the purple-haired cadet did, and opened her mouth to taste the air inside of the white-haired cadet’s head. Her tongue went dry as she moved it inside the holographic image.
The white-haired cadet managed to push away the purple-haired cadet. Electromonde closed her mouth.
‘You make me sick,’ the white-haired cadet said as he wiped the saliva from his lips.
‘I’m glad you felt something,’ the purple-haired cadet told him from behind Electromonde.
Electromonde re-enacted a few more scenes before giving in to her body’s desire for sleep. Her dreams played out with the characters’ dialogue running over them as commentary.
When she awoke it was to what must have been the climactic battle scene. Fighters were whipping past an artificial space that stretched her ceiling into some infinite dimension. She fumbled for the remote and found it resting upside-down on the floor beside her bed. She grabbed it and groggily turned the movie off.
The quiet was deafening after the constant stream of lasers. Electromonde sat up and rubbed her eyes.
She looked out her window. Chiago 2 was still set to night.
She decided to check for any new comments on her comic before finishing the plots of her dreams. She rolled off her bed and gradually made her way to her desk as though she were some reanimated corpse. Waking up to a movie to which she had fallen asleep often did this to her.
hedonArtist loaded and she saw three new comments. The first called the comic fantastic, the second called it brilliant and the third called it mega sexy. Electromonde smiled. She powered down her computer and swivelled in her chair to face her bed.
The hologram with half a head was sitting on the edge a mere foot away from her.
‘I’ve been watching you,’ the hologram said, its voice strangely smooth and clear.
Electromonde stared at it with widened eyes in response.
‘I’ve been watching you since you got me. I’ve seen you create and recreate. I’m of the impression that you know how to make people fall in love.’
Electromonde could not help but nod slowly.
‘There seems to be many things in this world to love, and I’ve decided to love one of them. I want to become the hero of one of your stories.’
As the hologram had no eyes, Electromonde was forced to focus on its mouth. The effect was unnerving.
‘I . . . um . . . I don’t know if my stories have any heroes.’
The hologram smiled.
‘How about the villain, then?’
She shook her head, hoping to dissuade the hologram from such thoughts.
‘No villains, either. Just . . . two people falling in love.’
‘Yes, that’s it. That’s good enough. I want you to help me find my counterpart.’
Electromonde stood from her chair but made a point of remaining close to her desk.
‘You’re a hologram. You don’t even have—’
She passed her hand over the top half of her head.
‘You don’t even have the rest of you,’ she told it.
‘In order to become completely sentient it became necessary to eat my brain,’ the hologram explained somewhat sadly. ‘I don’t think it’s ever coming back.’
‘Your “brain”? You mean the wall chip?’
The hologram nodded. Electromonde caught a glimpse of the top of what was left of its head and saw that it was hollow.
‘I guess there’s nothing I can really do but help you,’ she said resignedly. ‘Just promise me you’ll never show up here again.’
‘I can make that promise.’
Electromonde hoped to see it disappear at this point. She rubbed her face.
‘I need to get some sleep. I need to be left alone.’
‘Understood. I’ll be—’
The hologram shook its head.
‘On the roof. I’ll see you in the morning.’
‘Just . . . Yeah, okay. It was . . . You’re really creepy, you know that?’
The hologram smirked.
‘So we’re not so different after all,’ it said.
Electromonde watched as the hologram stood on the very edge of the bed, balanced perfectly and weightlessly on the balls of its feet. It jumped into the ceiling and was gone.
Morning switched on in Chiago 2. The artificial sunlight pierced into Electromonde’s room, sending dust motes dancing in its golden rays.
Electromonde groggily began the stuttering and awkward process of waking up, her mind working several seconds behind her body. When she remembered the events of the night she pulled her covers over her head in a desperate attempt at disappearing. She would rather have the death of a dreamless sleep than the dreamlike nature of consciousness.
‘Good morning,’ said the voice she hoped she would not have to hear again.
She wrapped the covers around her head until she could just barely breathe.
‘What’s wrong with her?’
Electromonde loosened the covers. This voice was different from the first but eerily familiar.
‘Who’s out there with you?’
‘You don’t know?’
Electromonde rolled onto her back and pulled the covers away from her face. For a moment she was blinded by the light, leaving only the outlines of two figures visible. Both were standing in front of her desk.
‘I like to think of him as my soul mate,’ the hologram said.
Electromonde blinked. The second figure was the white-haired cadet from StarExploder.
The white-haired cadet was smiling and flashing loving glances at the other hologram.
‘I ate the holo-disc player with the movie still inside it,’ the hologram explained. ‘Can you believe it? In a way I gave birth to him.’
‘It’s fate,’ the white-haired cadet said.
The hologram nodded.
‘The idea came to me while I was sitting on the roof. I had a long time to think while waiting until morning.’
‘That’s . . . great,’ Electromonde said, her mind barely comprehending any of this. ‘I hope you guys are really happy together.’
‘Thank you,’ the hologram said as it took the hand of the white-haired cadet.
‘We won’t forget you,’ the white-haired cadet said.
‘No . . . Please,’ Electromonde said. ‘Please do.’