By Will McIntosh.
Read by Stephen Eley.
First appeared in Albedo One #30.
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All stories by Will McIntosh.
All stories read by Steve Eley.
Closing music: “Blue Genes” by George Hrab.
Gruen was on the sixty-first master, and while his wisdom had
grown steadily, he had worn very little. He was incredibly
well-preserved–the palms of his three-fingered hands still sported the
deep, swirling ridges that had worn to nothing in most people before
they’d lived thirty years. Indeed, all of the myriad folds and ridges
in his thick maroon skin were for the most part intact. His eyes were
still housed in tight sockets, surrounded by thickly-ridged cheeks.
Besides the feet, the eyes were the greatest point of weakness for those
who aspired to read the works of the masters. Ceaseless up-and-down eye
movement caused the sockets to wear out, and eventually the reader’s
eyes fell out. At that point they were forced to trace the carved words
with their fingers. Friction quickly took its toll on the hands;
readers rarely made it through one master’s teachings this way before
their hands were ground to the wrist, and they were finished.