Conditional Holidays are Always Less Than What They Seem (2/4)


Part 1

Nonchalant and all that, I waited until the last moment to look up at the welcome interlopers.

Ibrander,” said a poised, throaty, laughing voice, “won’t you introduce me?”

They stopped in front of the bench, my third cousin Ibrander1 (who detests Loddi, making me instantly suspicious of his coming over) and a tall, glossy person who was all rich brown hair and expressive mouth and hand gestures. One hand was on Ibrander’s arm but she still managed to be gesturing with it. Her clothes were nothing less than dashing – a wide hat and a one-piece dress suit in cream, its tailored A-line skirt skewing physics by ending in a sway. This was one case where I didn’t have to worry about the polite game that people played of trying to guess-without-guessing whether someone was visiting in-holo only. She was most definitely in person. Continue reading “Conditional Holidays are Always Less Than What They Seem (2/4)”

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Carpet Squares


Listless at my habitual 3pm low, and wishing that I could work in a more comfortable position, a change of position, I studied the long space under the underutilized half of my L-shaped desk.
I looked at it, and that was to envision explaining myself, which irritated me. It was a perfectly good bit of carpet, shaded and never walked upon. It would fit me nicely if I laid down there to read instead. So why can’t I actually do this?
 –
Open offices are detestable.

The Loidial Trade in Medium-Sized Domestic Animals


An excerpt

Unlike the cosine, which has grown tarnished and shriveled with the oxidation of centuries, the Law of Large Numbers (LLN) has kept remarkably well. As I crept through my apartment over the course of the next few days, expecting a black and orange and mud-coloured assault at every step, I recited the Law to myself.

The LLN states that, when one has the results of a large number of trials from a sample that is representative of a given population, the average of said results should be close to the expected value of the population entire. This sample average will tend closer to the population average as more trials are performed. Since the average number of humans killed or injured by klars per Old Earth Lunar Year (OELY) in the past few decades was precisely zero, and this constituted a good number of trials, the LLN would have me believe that I was safe. I should have gone forth boldly, and stopped slouching so much.

But under these circumstances – as close as I thought I would ever get to experiencing the antique ‘horror’ genre, in which I have precisely zero interest – it was difficult to convince myself that klars had not simply been saving the lives of the same number of human as they killed every year, thus ensuring a neutral profile for the species entire. Having an invisible beast with untrimmed, inch-long claws in one’s living quarters has this sort of effect.

Read more of Part 2 >>

Begin with Part 1 >>

The WeIrD World of Lalantree


…[he] sometimes pretended interest in my cosine functions. Namely, the ones which were plotted based off of his burnings. Because he really just wanted to talk about himself, and I remain deeply disturbed that we once snogged for upwards of two minutes.

Somewhere, in a galaxy and a future far, far away, Lalantree is running a grumpy commentary on the weird world she lives in. Most of the people there seem to be inoculated against absurdism and they enjoy cushy existences, unaware of Lalantree’s scathing inner dialogue.

Not that it would matter much if they knew what she was thinking.

Last time she was sitting in on an abnormal chair burning. Now, on the e3groupblog (where people whose names begin with E have colonized a pinprick of the internet) she is relating how she grudgingly acquired a pet.

She herself probably won’t thank you if you read about her latest adventure – but I will!

Even if statistics couldn’t tell us how to establish pronoun-equality, so that we might move on to the ideal gender-neutral terms for which social scientists wept, it could tell us that if we alternated between x and y for the foreseeable, infinite future, things were practically equal.

And practically was good enough.

Above quotations taken from the five-part story: A Chair Burning, and an Unfortunately Outspoken Girl

Costumes


She wore her clothes like costumes. Outfits were made up of what she thought she ought to be wearing, and this constantly wavered. It made her constantly temporary.

And it wasn’t unusual for her to get the look wrong. She’d make it 90% of the way to hipster, or business casual, before falling into the uncanny valley. Maybe this meant she was as uneasy in the role as she often looked. Maybe she simply wasn’t aware.

On the one hand, it meant that she was just as comfortable on Halloween as on any other day. On the other, the only way she knew how to make an impression on anyone was to manufacture and then confound their expectations.

Unsurprisingly, she didn’t get to know anyone.

*

Elizabeth Cook, 2015

High School Boys are PC


Da na na, na na na, Neeeeooooo.

Kou lays out his pencil crayons with precision, the laws of the colour wheel observed (beginning with indigo, as is his preference), before laying out the other contents of his pencil case. It is a new semester and the first day of cultural class in 1-01. He brushes nigh-invisible specks of dust from his new sketchbook.

Yves, Hiroki, and Rob look on with eyebrows climbing up their foreheads. And Yves, realizing that for once he has the chance to make a jab, tries to make one that the other two might appreciate.

Yves: “Kou,” faint laugh, “Kou, what the heck? You’re being prissy, like a girl or something.”

Rob sniggers – Yves waits for the rejoinder. But Kou just frowns. He doesn’t even look at Yves, he stares at his sketchbook and frowns mightily. He selects a pencil. Then he doesn’t speak to any of them for the rest of the day. He stays bent over his sketchbook, even through science in last period, and heads out on his own as soon as the bell goes.

The next day Kou comes to school wearing a purple shirt.

Yves feels a wriggle of discomfort. Kou only wears blues and greys and black and white. Yves’ comment of yesterday simmers and bubbles. Then Kou pauses in his work and takes out a tupperware, which has a pink lid, and he begins eating carrot sticks out of it.

They huddle up two desks over from Kou, all whispers.

Yves: “Isn’t Kou acting kinda girly, all of a sudden? And he’s not even talking to us.”

Rob: “Yeah, like since you said that stuff yesterday.”

Yves: under his breath, “What? You thought it was funny!”

Rob: “Well you said it.”

Terrence: “What’d he say?”

Rob tells Terrence and Eshwar.

Eshwar: snort, “And then it came true!”

Terrence: “Well, if you hit a sore spot…” and his mouth broadens into a smirk, “it’s probably your fault, right?”

Yves: “My fault?”

Rob and Eshwar see what Terrence is about and chime in on the same note. Hiroki also sees what Terrence is about, but chooses to remain bemused.

Rob: “You can’t just say that stuff to people.”

Eshwar: “Way to be an asshole, Yves.”

Terrence: “Go and apologize.”

They have Yves cowed faster than you can say social-justice-warriors. Hesitant, he goes to hover near Kou’s desk. When he glances back, Rob and Terrence and Eshwar are making chivvying motions, and of course it’s when he turns back to Kou that they revert to shit-eating grins.

Yves: “Kou…” Kou doesn’t look up. “Kou, you know about yesterday… I’m sorry I said that, I mean, just because you had things so, um, particular. It’s not like that makes you a girl – unless you want to be, of course! And that would be fine! Totally cool! Organizing things by rainbow is cool too!”

Closer to the front of the classroom, Lana’s head snaps up as she hears this.

Kou makes an annoyed grunt. He stops drawing, leans back in his chair, and finally looks up at Yves. “Did you say something yesterday? I didn’t notice.”

Yves: “Yeah – wait, what?”

Kou picks up his pencil crayon again. Before Yves can process this, Lana comes in like a freight train, leveling a finger. “Hey! He’s not girly for being organized! You can’t be a decent human being in the first place if you’re not organized!”

The others have been listening in, and at this Rob gives a long snort and throws his eraser (which he has not been using anyway) at Lana.

Lana locks onto the eraser and catches it one-handed, a declaration of war. She and Rob glare at each other like stray cats.

Into the mounting tension Kou finishes a stroke of colour, and there is a click of finality as he puts his last pencil back down on the desk. It and all the other pencil crayons are laid perfectly parallel to the edge of his paper. He declares that he has finished his pachycephalosaurus.

His non sequitur fizzles the lightning bolts flashing. Lana carelessly tosses the eraser in the vicinity of Rob’s desk and goes to look at Kou’s drawing.

The next day Kou is wearing his conventional blue shirt. When Hiroki asks him about the purple shirt, and the pink Tupperware, and the vegetables, Kou sweeps his expectant audience with a sneer.

Kou: “That was indigo, you morons. And I don’t pack my own lunch.”

A flip through Kou’s sketchbook would reveal drawings of considerable taste and technical execution.