Portia, the All-Knowing

Children of Time, 4.6: The Messenger Within

Plague has worked its way thoroughly into the heart of Great Nest until physical contact between peer houses has almost ceased. Only the desperate and the starving roam the streets. There have been attacks — the healthy assaulting those they believe to be sick, the hungry stealing food, the incurably deranged attacking whatever their inner demons prompt them to.

And yet the straining strands of the community have not quite parted, the trickling exodus has not become a flood — due in no small part to Portia and her peers. They are working on a cure. They can save Great Nest and, by extension, civilization itself.

Portia has enlisted not only Bianca but every scientist — Temple and otherwise — that she has faith in. This is no time for reserving the glory to her peer group, after all.

Self isn’t sure she buys the super-intelligent spider species, but if they’ve been able to download the contents of Dr. Avra Kern’s super-intelligent brain, and furthermore if they’re able to pass on this knowledge, from one generation to the next, then spiders DO DESERVE TO RULE THE WORLD, DAMMIT!

Stay tuned.

 

 

“Spores”: Part I

This story, originally published August 2016 in decomP, is one of self’s favorites. decomP is no more, so self will post the story here, in sections. The story’s about violence, how it roots. How there are classes, even in the future. Earthstar is top class, and they can mate with Silverleafs. The bottom of the class hierarchy are Common. And the worst thing you can call another person is “lousy hedgehog.” (lol)

She was reading a book on mushrooms at the time. Which is how she got the idea for the story title. Because it’s about reproduction. In a world where humanity is dwindling.

Self loves playing with language. She wrote this story in Dublin. She’ll post Trigger Warnings in the later sections.


K thinks the boss is in love with her.

She looks like a mosaic puffball, her skin covered with checkered patterns.

The boss was born Earthstar. He’d never look her way. His spores were meant to go else: to a Silverleaf. Or a Shag. Not K that smelled like wet rot. All scaly cap and throat gills. She belonged with other Common.

Varnish and varnish. I’ll say this for K: she is tenacious. Especially about her delusions.

“Me mum’s a thick,” she said once. “A focking thick.”

“Hmmm,” I said.

“She a root rotter,” K said.

“Hit brew and all?” I asked.

“Twelve pints one go. Honest,” K said.

K silent the rest of the day.

I’m weary of K. We have the worst job: growing giant polyphores, thousands and thousands of them, in little paper fans studded with 4-micron ova. The fans burn our fingers. Burn like sulphur. We have to wait hours for the new skin to grow back. Fingers never feel the same, after.

We can’t leave the room until Growing’s over. That means days. We’re the slowest team in the whole White Zone, the boss says. Probably even the slowest in the whole planet.

You may find yourself living in a shotgun shack. Where those words come from, I don’t precisely know.

“We be needing foxes,” I say once.

“You lousy hedgehog,” the boss says, giving me a good one. My right eye swells up almost immediately.

“You not be asking me to fetch, you lousy Common!” He gives me another good one on the way out.

K trembling there in the corner.


Part 2 posted here.

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