wonder_city: (Default)
[personal profile] wonder_city
Dividing By Zero

I could feel Ruth arriving long before the proximity alerts sounded. It was partly that she's one of my friends, so I can frequently pick her up at a distance when I'm not even thinking about her. It was mostly that she was mired in a mental cumulonimbus of worry that bore down on my haven like a stampede and dropped a few funnel clouds of chaos into my brain. I had to flee to the lowest regions of the complex, four levels below the residential area, to save myself.

While she laid Brainchild on the table up in the work room, I did my best to distract myself with the ancient detritus of the supervillain whose lair this had once been. The lowest level was where most of the abandoned items that weren't clearly trash were stored. Machines were encased in cages, blocks of lucite, and titanium boxes. It was a little like walking through the imaginary warehouse where some magic item was stored at the end of some movie I half-remembered from my life BI -- before institution. Except, of course, most of the things down here were probably intended for mass destruction. If any of the people up in the city who objected to my continued existence "so nearby" knew I had access to these things, it wouldn't matter to them that I had no idea how to make them work. They'd take up their torches and pitchforks and try to find the entrance to my "hideout."

When Ruth left, my sinuses popped with relief. I massaged my temples and my face for a few minutes, and then headed back up to my office.

My office is a smallish space with a large flatscreen monitor, a camera I almost never turn on, a wireless keyboard, a big curvy walnut desk, a built-in sound system, and the most comfortable rolling desk chair available. The floor is covered with thick faux-Persian rugs, the walls are a soothing garnet tone, and the lighting is provided by several large, brushed-brass floor and desk lamps. There's even an overstuffed full-length dark-blue couch laden with pillows of various jewel tones. Everything designed to be dark and thus soothing to me, particularly if I develop a migraine.

I settled into the most comfortable chair available and turned on the screen.

Sophie was stretched out on the bed I'd had put in the work room earlier. She was covered with a very fuzzy blue blanket, and appeared to be wearing plain dark red pajamas underneath. Her short, dark hair showed signs of recent brushing and yet it was inevitably tousled despite Ruth's care. I was pleased to note, on a purely aesthetic level, that she had finally grown into her nose. That feature had spectacularly dominated all her childhood photos and vividly populated Ruth's description of her first impressions of young Sophie. What had been overwhelming in a child was now nearly aquiline in the young woman. I could imagine Sophie's face, lively as in her graduation photos, really making the look of that nose. She'd never be beautiful by any mainstream standard, but she didn't need to be.

Right now, though, her face was still and thin and strangely delicate. There were blue bruised-looking circles under her eyes, and her pale skin looked translucent. White folks always do look worst, I think, when they're sick. Nothing goes faster than rosy cheeks, you know?

I took a deep breath and reached out a thin tendril of my mind.

I exhaled, frowned, tried again.

After about fifteen minutes, I called up my robot controls and had the upstairs crew move the bed over to the elevator (which is outside the work room and concealed to boot). Once she was loaded aboard, I started the elevator's descent. It stopped three levels up, as usual. My hand hovered over the controls and I thought about it for another minute, then hit the overrides and brought the elevator down to my floor.

I got up from my desk and walked down the hall to the elevator. Wincingly, I touched the button to open the door.

The door slid open. Sophie was there, on the bed. I could see the rise and fall of her chest under the blanket. But nothing, no one, assaulted my mind.

The robots rolled her out of the elevator, and I stepped up to her. For the first time in... longer than I can remember, I reached out and touched another human being. I brushed one of the curled locks of dark hair off her forehead and sighed. "Oh, girl. What am I gonna tell your mama?"


From the Author:
Wow! This one was hard to title. Thanks to my ever-brilliant spouse for brainstorming with me.

Again: I'm posting twice weekly during the month of December as a [fill in holiday here] gift for you all. If you like getting WCS twice weekly, then please comment on anything. :) If I get 50 comments over the course of December, I will post twice weekly all through January as well. If I get 75 comments, I'll post twice weekly through February. If, by some amazing work of you wonderful folks, I get more comments than that, I will come up with some even better reward.

Tally so far: 33 comments! More than halfway to twice-weekly WCS during January!

Vote for us at Top Web Fiction! It's just a few clicks!

Date: 2010-12-17 02:47 am (UTC)
badfaun: (Default)
From: [personal profile] badfaun
I feel bad for EVERYONE here. Sophie, Renata, the Ultimate...it's sad for all. :( Poor Renata to be so sensitive and have no defenses, too.

Date: 2010-12-17 03:02 am (UTC)
kyleri: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kyleri
It's a tough situation and that's a fact. I'm looking forward to learning more about Renata though...

Date: 2010-12-17 06:41 am (UTC)
finch: (Default)
From: [personal profile] finch
Me too! I like what we've seen of her so far.

I can't wait to find out what happened to Sophie, too.

Date: 2010-12-21 05:50 pm (UTC)
kyleri: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kyleri
It totally, totally works. So smoothly I didn't register it consciously until you mentioned it just now. But yeah, I don't see 3rd person doing her perspective justice.

Date: 2012-05-10 01:46 am (UTC)
the_leaky_pen: (Default)
From: [personal profile] the_leaky_pen
Could I ask what brought you to the decision of 1st person POV? It works really well and I like it a lot, I'm just wondering if it was a natural first choice or something you thought long about?

Date: 2012-05-10 02:41 am (UTC)
heavenscalyx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] heavenscalyx
I actually hammered it out with my wife on one of our long car trips. It just made sense for her as an incredibly lonely telepath -- very much in her own head -- to do her own narrative, rather than having a third person omniscient at it.


Date: 2010-12-17 08:29 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Very apt title.

Date: 2010-12-18 04:02 am (UTC)
sythyry: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sythyry
Oh, Sophie...!

Date: 2012-01-28 03:53 am (UTC)
the_leaky_pen: (Default)
From: [personal profile] the_leaky_pen
Poor everyone. :/


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