November 1st, 2013
Short Fiction was short and it was, believe it or not, fictive. It lived under the city, swimming freely in underground canals that carried people’s waste mixed with rainwater, surviving thanks to a thin membrane it was wrapped in. Some alleged that the membrane was pure willpower held together with an ounce of sodium bicarbonate, while others claimed that it was partially bubble-gum. The truth was, as usual, somewhere in between.
Sometimes an odd shoe or a small coin would fall through the cracks of human existence, and then Short Fiction would rush to the splash site, forgetting all of its daily errands, plunging headlong into the unknown. Contrary to a popular belief, baby crocodiles rarely made their way into the sewers, so the reign of curiosity over the sense of danger was overwhelming.
On one particularly rainy and cold day, Short Fiction found a boy in the sewers and ate him. The boy was thirty-six years old, had a gorgeous beard and was entangled in tumblr, tweeting recklessly, producing all kinds weird indescribable noises and spitting out pieces of wood, hashtags and small blue feathers. As Short Fiction found out from his driver’s license, the boy was a Steve. Not a John or a Mike, not even a Keith, but a real, living and breathing, Steve.
Not that the name was a problem, but Short Fiction found itself dissatisfied with the outcome of eating Steve. You see, every now and then it had to digest things that it had swallowed, including memories, facial hair and experiences of little boys and girls it found in the sewers. None of them were completely pleasant, nor particularly repulsive, and Short Fiction found itself producing bland and discoloured copies of itself, unable to sustain the vibrant micro world of the city sewers. It was stagnating, becoming greyer and lonelier every day.
Short Fiction was going to make it right with Steve. Finding hard spots on his otherwise soft and elastic head, it carefully connected a bunch of electrodes to his brain and drained it of all of its ridiculous bullshit. When there was nothing left, Short Fiction looked down, trying to rest its eyes on the familiar moist pavement. It was then that it noticed something in the bullshit puddle on the ground. The object was small, shiny and had a fractal structure. It revolved around the center of the universe, biting off pieces of its entropy, creating true form in a seemingly irregular environment of virtual semantics.
Short Fiction put Steve down and picked the object up. Upon closer examination, the short threads sticking out of the object’s numerous edges turned out to be words. If you looked even closer, you could see logical connections between some of them. They formed clauses and sentences, referencing each other and dancing around the center of the branch they were tied to.
Short Fiction thought for a second and ate the object.
All of a sudden, nothing was there anymore: Steve was gone, the sewers were gone, and the city became little more than an odd memory. Everything was clear, but hardly simple now: words were everywhere, and the virtuality rushed into the world, splashing and ravaging, making all of the words bigger and more numerous. Short Fiction started drinking from the stream, hoping that it would end, but it kept flowing, filling Short Fiction up, making it bigger and more spherical. This went on until its membrane burst, and it instantly became submerged in reality.
Then everything stopped. Nothing was revolving and making deafening noises. Everything was beautiful, but no longer really there. Millions of transistors sang their digital song, lulling Short Fiction to sleep.
It was ready. It understood. It agreed silently.