Raine was in the next town when the accident happened. She pulled over at the roadblock where a man in uniform with a very big gun said, “There’s been an accident at the plant, Mam. Evacuation underway. You can’t pass.”
Li Tsai stood beside the groundship and studied the ruins of the ancient city. She’d learned in school that the inhabitants of that unhappy place called it Denver, in honor of some forgotten politician. Today those people were naught but dust and troubled memories, she thought, shifting her glance towards the new city standing alongside the bones of the old: Deng Xiaoping, city of the people.
Our resident Statsmeister, Nik Eveleigh — as he doesn’t give a fig feel free to mangle the pronunciation of his fine family name any which way you like for instance try Evil-Eye, Evel-Eeee or in Afrikaans I am reliably informed, Ever-LICCCCHHHHHHH — has been busy tweaking his spreadsheet.
Cape Town this time of year is a trifle warm I understand, so we mustn’t judge. However, for once Mr. Ever-LICCCCHHHHHHH’s obsession with figures — I mean extremely useful hobby — has produced a stat worth dwelling on for more than 0.37 seconds.
A submission we received at Literally Stories in the past couple of days tipped the total word count for all said submissions over the one million mark.
Yeah. I know. I should have warned you to sit down first.
Folk as far afield as Reykjavik and Rotherham, Berlin and Barnsley are reeling in the face of this earth-shattering revelation and no doubt wondering if in fact it was their story that triggered this sensational milestone and what exactly this means to them.
In an ideal world a pop-up box should have appeared on the ‘lucky’ author’s screen informing them that as the writer of the one millionth word to be read by the Literally Stories Editors they had won a holiday for two to the Seychelles.
Sadly, Pop-Up blockers being what they are these days thrills such as that are a thing of the past.
What hasn’t changed is Monday’s promptness at the beginning of our literary week…
Stuttering lights crossed the night sky as the drones floated above the spidery criss-cross of network cables, just a few inches above my head. I kept thinking about the cameras pointed at my house, wondering if I would get to see the recording of that moment when my life changed. I followed the movement of the hovering four-armed machines until my eyes stung.
3 AM. Time to eat. I went back inside my house and ate a dozen cold chicken nuggets from a box lying on the counter. My appointment with the filing officer was at 7 AM. I couldn’t sleep, even after dinner.
Derrick stared at the red button. Jagged pieces of melted plastic stuck out at odd angles from the surface and sides. The button sat under a clear case, cut from some discarded item, the purpose long forgotten, which was tied down with a piece of old copper wire. Smudges of grease and dirt dotted the cover. Behind him, a clock on the wall with bright red numbers counted down from ten minutes. At zero, Derrick would have a ninety-second window to press the button. Ninety seconds to go home.
Arnold Dupree, the right-hand man and the representative of President Smith, shook hands with Oscar Bojanovic, the head of the voting facility. Oscar gave him a keycard and a badge and led the way.
“If you direct your attention to the screen, we can observe which question the voter is currently answering.”
You witness a fight between two equally strong men. Do you;
- Call the Police
- Run away
- Wait until one of them is victorious, and then attack from behind.
- Jump in and throw punches in every direction
- Tell them to stop fighting from a safe distance
The soapbox prophets turn to bombs and the lines at the food pantries snake twenty blocks, but my algorithm cranks relentlessly. Markets go up. Markets go down. In either direction, the algorithm wins more than it loses. A few pennies shaved here. A few pennies there.
In makeshift markets, men relentlessly trade. Goods flow. Data flows. The algorithm churns apace. It seems as if the algorithm could function without electricity before it could go without its data. Its appetite is enormous. Its needs are great. Mine seem puny in comparison: a good night sleep. Peace on earth. A kiss goodbye. Safety for my children.