Escape Pod 856: The Princess, NP

The Princess, NP

By Brian Hugenbruch

I sat in the Commander’s office at Hexa Station, in clothes that stank of subspace, and the only polite thing I could do to drown out the universe was compute obscene sums in my head. It didn’t stop the sounds from piercing my ears, though. Metal chairs scraping against plastic floors. A pulse generator’s low thrumming some twenty floors below. The whisper of air recycling through the prefab station. The universe was omnipresent. I could feel it all, and it never ever stopped.

Lullabies were my preferred method of soothing soul and stilling mind. I learned thousands of them in the earliest days of my Conditioning. Alas, people ask the wrong kinds of questions if one starts singing mid-conversation. Math was a precisely imperfect fallback.

So when Seneca King asked me a question, it took a moment for his words to cut through the white noise. I stopped adding (117.669 trillion, give or take) and examined him again. He was good-looking, for someone who could photosynthesize: arms like bamboo stalks, flowering hair, and an expression trending toward bark. But neither of us were here for pleasure.

“Jana,” he said, “you’re here to fill a position in Creative Ops. I’d heard of you by reputation; but as it happened, Her Majesty reached out to offer you before I could ask for you—for this precise position. Any thoughts as to why?”

I shook my head. “The Queen owns my contract for another year. As I’m certain she explained. I’m an indentured thinker—I go where she tells me, as she commands, and I don’t ask questions as long as the money’s good.”

“She says you’re the best of the best.”

I smiled faintly and folded my hands on my lap. “I am, but that’s not always appreciated. I don’t lie, even when it’s uncomfortable. You’re not apt to cut corners here, correct?”

Seneca sat back, his expression blank. “We’re by the book—this isn’t the Fringe.”

“Good. Hexa Station seems like a good place for me to earn out: you’re on central trading routes, with a lot to analyze. I’ll do well by you. And you’ve got a Hoplon Matrix on board, so I can beat the crap out of the A.I. routines that come preinstalled in places like this.”

“That would be ideal. Though you should be advised we work hard on this station.”

“I can handle that. Besides: one more year… and then I won’t ever have to think again.”

He folded his fronds to mirror me. “Is thinking that bad?”

I studied him for a moment. “How much do you know about Data Princesses?”

His eyes wilted. “Enough to know they’re rare and secretive. From what I’m given to understand, based on hearsay, becoming one is an intensive, invasive, and highly illegal process. Are you saying…” He didn’t finish the sentence; he didn’t have to, and it was better for the audit logs that he didn’t.

“I’m not saying anything,” I told him. “So far as I’m concerned, they don’t exist.” And officially, that was Galactic gospel. But I added, “If they did, though, try to imagine the amount of sensory input they accrue. They absorb every minute detail around them, turn it into fact, calculate odds. They could pick out Trillium truffles hidden in the hull of a Foloxi cargo ship. That sort of sensitivity would be exhausting for anyone. Assuming they survived that process you mentioned. Finding a life where thinking was optional would be idyllic, right?”

“Of course. Be that as it may—”

Then I shifted a bit in my chair and said, “Unrelated, but I can tell you your gravity is 0.00075% higher than standard, just from sitting here.”

Seneca’s laugh was like the rustling of wind over grass. “Can you prove that?”

“Not in polynomial time,” I admitted. “I’m an NP sort of thinker—I see the conclusions before I’ve got the proof. Your Central A.I. can verify it with a Level 3 diagnostic. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s that lux cruise liner mid-ring. They left the fruit cups off their manifest.”

“That is… awfully specific.” He tapped his desk with green, leafy fingers. Light bounced along with each touch and flowed away, commands skittering away in search of responses. “You’ve dealt with Unadillan Cruisers before?”

“No. But if they wanted to skim a bit off their weigh-ins, that’s what I’d do.” I watched the data stream back up the side of his desk. “What’s the diagnostic say?”

He frowned at his desk for a moment—and then his eyes bloomed. “0.00075% off standard. Jana, that’s… okay, that’s damn impressive.”

“And that’s without the Hoplon plugged into my cerebral cortex.” I smiled winsomely. “Do I have a job?”

Seneca leaned forward in his chair. “You always did. But now I’m glad Her Majesty insisted. Though we’re certainly not prepared for her upcoming visit.”

Of course he wasn’t. The Queen always arranged for these little tests—she wasn’t supposed to have Conditioned me into someone like this in the first place. She’d taken a chance on raising me into this, she’d said. She insisted I provide a continuous return on investment.

She would be here, at a time of her own choosing, and she would analyze me in much the same way I considered the atoms in any given star: with cold calculation and scant empathy. I don’t know why she did it. Whether to verify I hadn’t zeroed out my mind or just to test my commitment, she wasn’t going to stop until I was free or dead.

All I had to do, then, was prove my loyalty by being the best damn Princess I could be.

It was the role for which I was Conditioned, was it not? And if I could just earn enough money to buy out my contract, maybe it was a role I could set aside someday.

I was eight Galactic Standard days into the job when I received the summons back to Seneca’s office. When I was connected into the central station grid, via two thick wires that plugged in behind my jawbone, summons were hard to miss: they lit up the space from my corneas to my cerebral cortex like a collapsing star.

Message gave no indication as to rationale. On other jobs, this would be where the boss either asked me to do something illegal, or had intercepted a report he felt was far too accurate for comfort. Seneca hadn’t seemed like that sort of being, so when his note fell into the buffer with a dull thud, all I could do was unplug and go find out.

Mind, I had to finish chores before I could disconnect—realign solar panels, increase oxygen flow to hydroponics, decommission twenty-seven malfunctioning cleaning robots. The sort of grunt work they shoved at Creative Ops between ships’ arrivals, because all too often just doing the damn job wasn’t enough.

It should have taken me two minutes, but I’d been busy these eight days, and my mind needed rest, however mindless. The boredom was excruciating, but it was trivial compared to the need for sleep. Thirty minutes later, I stepped into the hallway, just as much in the dark as I’d been before.

I hadn’t exceeded my job’s mandate. And while I hadn’t been as subservient as Her Majesty might prefer, I’d been polite to my coworkers. Certainly no one had complained, even at the Station’s more intense moments.

The only oddities I could remember were a few officers’ reports of strange music coming through the Station’s speakers. The officers would have no way of knowing I used lullabies as I worked. They were my means of finding balance amongst the numbers. But Seneca might suspect.

If he was as informed about Princesses as he appeared, he’d have read that we were once trained to sing on command. Tradition had become habit, and habit became a means of self-defense. Our minds were fragile after the Conditioning; evening songs drowned out the noises of our existence. Too much data could overload our brains and leave us useless wrecks.

Soft as my shoes might be, they still slapped too loudly against the prefab station’s plastic flooring. And I’d washed, which meant the additives they put into the soap were assaulting my nostrils. Even if the lights of this place weren’t stabbing at my eyes, I had to steel myself against my own body.

Had I been singing so loudly I’d accidentally used the Hoplon to broadcast? Possibly. It had been a rough eight days, even for someone with my skill set.

I could apologize. Ops had already improved 102.25%, and I felt like I could make a case against any demerits for music. And Her Majesty had reinforced groveling as good behavior, in emergencies. Anything to avoid censure.

Censure would mean less pay. Which wasn’t a worry, but it also meant the end of my indenture would move a proportional amount of time.

Intolerable. I had to get out of this life; why did so many people insist on standing in my way?

I turned the corner; Seneca waved from behind that neon obelisk of a console desk.

“Jana,” he said, “please, come in, take a seat.”

I closed my eyes to avoid the glare. It took ten steps, with the last one more toward the left, to reach one of the prefab chairs. Center one, I suspected. The benefit of a prefab station like Hexa was that nothing ever varied; I could and often did go whole days on stations like this with my eyes closed.

I took the seat and opened my eyes with care.

He folded his fronds in front of him. “Jana, Hexa Station would like to commend you for your work three days ago on the Vactor job.”

I held myself still—because I didn’t understand. It had been routine work. I’d noticed a data anomaly on an incoming ship and had sussed out that one of our dock agents was on the take. Had been for five years, apparently, and the Syndicate had been using Hexa as cover for smuggling all sorts of unsavory merchandise to the Inner Core. I’d written up an itemized list of everything missing from their manifests for half a decade.

I wouldn’t be popular with the Syndicate when the Andromedan Concordance sent them an updated tax bill. Fortunately, being under Her Majesty’s sheltering hand had its benefits. No matter how often it was apt to strike.

In any case, a commendation made no sense. “Just doing my job, sir,” I said.

Seneca shrugged his leafy shoulders. “We value insights here. I certainly wouldn’t tell you how to do your job. But I expect that, as you’ve illustrated, you’ll analyze any given situation and make an appropriate assessment.”

I stared hard at him. “This sounds ominous, Commander King.”

He pulled something from the side of his desk—a plaque. An actual physical plaque? Was this a joke?

“Your commendation,” he announced. He slid it across the desk. “You do excellent work, Jana. I hope it continues.”

By the time I’d picked up the square plaque, he’d already turned away. Even I knew how to interpret that. The conversation was over, and not a moment too soon.

I examined it as I stepped toward my personal chambers. Carefully, though; my mind needed rest, and if I zeroed out my brain by thinking too hard about this damn thing, I’d die of embarrassment before the Queen could have me executed.

The plaque was a dark square of faux wood, easy to lift, with my name and several sentences laser-etched in ”Princess” font on the silver plating. It contained no hidden compartments, weighed the precise amount it should for its volume (relative to the station’s simulated gravity), and seemed suspiciously like a nice gesture.

Which was bullshit. Ancient Princesses weren’t supposed to use words like that, and Her Majesty had, during my Conditioning, taken great care to break me of all sorts of colloquialisms. Accents would bias data, she’d said. So would opinions. A Princess could afford no such luxuries.

But that didn’t stop me from thinking. The more I thought about it, the more I was certain the words were fluff. The font mattered. The font was the message.

Seneca had just given me a heads-up that a Princess was coming toward Hexa. Whether it was one such or a shipful, she’d be contraband of the highest magnitude. And given the station’s position along subspace routes between the Fringe and the Inner Core, ships had little choice but to refuel here.

The realization put to rest any doubt as to why Her Majesty had found me this assignment: if anyone could detect a Data Princess, it was one of their own. I wasn’t certain as to her motives—was it to slaughter them? Abscond with them? We were commodities, if illegal ones, and if Seneca was calling them Princesses, they were already Conditioned. The Queen would gain all the benefits of controlling a Princess—and could skip the horrors she’d inflicted upon me during my youth. No need to bury a single failed experiment, let alone the forty-seven children whose memories I carried with me.

I didn’t remember how I felt in the days before I was taken. Memory began with the pain of Conditioning. Be compliant. Be sweet. See everything. Say nothing. I’d given Her Majesty a competitive advantage for trade at every single one of my posts. And I’d used everything Her Majesty had done to work toward earning out my contract.

The Queen must assume, correctly, that I’d been compiling enough insurance to prevent her from changing my contract. And she couldn’t let me go, not simply because of the reduced profits, but because she hated being bested. Her ego was dangerous—and if I passed this final test, I’d have won.

And here she was, about to snatch a more tractable recruit from someone smuggling her through Hexa to avoid the very fate in which I was stuck.

I slapped the wall pad to open my quarters, stumbling inside and waving toward the lights to dim them all as best I could with my eyes closed. The world throbbed, and pulsed, and burned. The woman who’d kidnaped, coerced, and reprogrammed me was going to toss me aside? After all she’d done to me, and all I’d done for her despite that?

I wanted to think it didn’t add up, but that was a damn lie. When a part wears out, we replace it. The numbers wouldn’t forgive us if we didn’t.

Those same numbers told me to find this Princess. Statistically, it was wise to please Her Majesty, even if it meant being replaced within a year. I could defend myself. I could take care of myself. I could escape if I wanted, and I did have an insurance policy against her retribution.

This new recruit had none of that. And the thought of throwing some naive waif of a Princess into the pulse generator unbottled whole liters of tears I hadn’t known I’d had. Princesses weren’t supposed to anger; we were trained to be perfectly compliant and analytical. Anger would bias the data. There was a loose bolt rattling seven floors above me, though, and I wanted to find a knife and stab it until it stopped or the knife broke apart.

I fell into bed and stared at the blank ceiling. It was an image with no data. This was calming. This was nothing. And there was so little nothing in the habited portions of the universe. Short of stepping out an airlock, this was the best I could do to preserve my mind.

Except I seethed, and my brain tightened its death-grip on my heart and throat.

I had to fix this. I had to save her. The only problem was that Conditioning hadn’t taught me how to solve for someone else. The numbers always said to put yourself first. And this time, I knew well before proof that such wasn’t the right answer.

Think, Jana. Think.

I didn’t have enough data to formulate a foolproof plan; I had no capacity to ask Seneca for more. Seneca had passed along a message that couldn’t be audited. He had a vested interest in what was coming, and wisdom enough to avoid direct confrontation with Her Majesty. Anything I wrote or spoke would be recorded. He had already given me what he could, and all that was left for him was hope.

Calm gray ceiling. No input. Soothing dark.

For all my creative thinking and looking ahead, I hadn’t anticipated trying to find someone like me in a pile of starships. She’d know how I’d be apt to look for her. If she was smart—and if she was like me, she was—then she’d make it as difficult as possible.

But I had to find her first. I couldn’t allow her to have the life I’d had.

The white alert lights roused me from a tear-damp pillow four hours and thirty-seven minutes later. Incoming ships. From across the room, I could see a small blinking light where messages accumulated. I didn’t have to read them to guess that Her Majesty had arrived to oversee her latest test.

It wasn’t anywhere near enough sleep to have restored my baseline ops to parity. I was out the door and running toward the Hoplon chamber five minutes later anyways. I’d need all the help I could get for this one.

It’s not that I perceived less data without the machinery. I could already feel every room on the station. But after attuning to the Hoplon for twenty minutes that first day, I could consider every room in a higher clarity than real life. Being plugged into a Hoplon meant the universe wasn’t crawling into my skull through the painful bottleneck of my wetware.

That was the tragedy of a Data Princess—I was too sensitive to exist in the real world.

I jammed the wires into the ports behind my jaw and the vast expanse of nearby orbit exploded to the front of my visual cortex. The subspace gate, prefab and nearly as old as Hexa itself, rattled and shuddered every time a ship arrived. It would still function for one thousand and forty-one more journeys before failure.

ACS Halo came first out of the gate; Her Majesty’s flagship would never tolerate arriving fashionably late. It decelerated with the sort of casual flounce only an X95 Pleasure Cruiser can manage, but it swung wide on approach. Whatever it carried was heavy. Two warships dropped to sublight a moment after. I could feel their weapons arrays crackling; the hairs on my arms stood on end.

Then ACS Approxima arrived via one of the secondary gates. The moment of truth came with it. Fourteen lower-grade trading vessels of varying classes arrived right behind it; those signaled requests to dock and sent their manifests along.

I ran the calculations on them all—crews and complements, engine throughput, exhaust, vector of approach, known cargo manifests against the angles of their arrival. I could feel pressure in my mind mounting as I sorted information from one side of the Hoplon to another. Pulling any single datum felt like trying to feel a food capsule through twenty mattresses, and it made my scalp prickle and burn.

ACS Approxima was a deep-space freighter that looked as though it had been hit by several asteroids. Its manifest seemed less like a trade mission and more in line with some young nobleman’s illicit wishlist. There was a lot on the ship that skirted the boundaries of good taste.

That wasn’t unusual for a ship bound for the Inner Core, and poor taste wasn’t illegal.

A voice cracked in my ear. “Jana? Are you there?”

The Hoplon cords pulled me back when I tried to genuflect. “Yes, Your Majesty.”

The thought of seeing the Queen again filled my stomach with dread. Not just because of the Conditioning—though that contributed. She was arguably the most powerful of the regional governors in the Andromedan Concordance. Her wake was often drenched in blood.

The upside was that churning terror blotted out my other senses for a moment.

I could feel Her Majesty’s throat struggling against phlegm. It was gut-wrenching in person, listening to someone drown in their own snot. Having it piped into my mind made me want to reconsider breathing as a habit. “Jana, I’ve always taken a dim view toward the smuggling of illegal goods. Is this not so?”

The memory of being chained to a desk leaped into my mind and started to obscure data; that turn of phrase was one she’d used often during my Conditioning. But I was painfully aware that the Queen tolerated no delay when she asked a question, so I pushed my memory aside and said, “Of course, Your Majesty.”

“Good. My informants tell me that this ship, Approxima, carries biological samples meant to wage war against the Concordance. I demand that you now prove your worth and tell me that these are on board.”

I took a breath to steady myself. “As Your Majesty wishes—but can you not board them yourself? Surely first-hand evidence is preferred to statistical analysis?”

The woman sounded annoyed. “Due to existing treaties with the sectors of the Inner Core, I may not intercede directly. This is why stations like Hexa exist: to provide assurance and certainty for political entities like us. As I’ve repeatedly made you aware.” There was a pause. I couldn’t see her, but I knew her well enough to know she was restoring her composure. “So do you see anything useful or not?”

That was the question, wasn’t it?

I focused on the ACS Approxima. The ship had indicated it wanted to move quickly—short refuel cycle and an immediate hop toward Galactic center. Urgent delivery, it claimed, for Sigma Sagitarii.

When I switched to a broad-range spectral analysis, I heard the lullabies.

Every ship on approach faded out of the Hoplon. Out of my mind entirely. The sound was faint; it was not as though waves traveled through the vacuum. But being within relative proximity of Hexa meant connecting a ship’s audio feeds, including microphones, into the local grid. If nothing else, I’d need to route communications up to Seneca. So I heard everything they heard. And one of the ships had music coming over their loudspeakers.

I knew that lullaby by heart; I sang it almost every day. And here were twenty-one voices, in varying degrees of soprano and alto, doing just the same. Anything to blot out the universe for a moment. It broke my heart to hear them—voices aching, pleading for release. My sisters! Asking for help. Asking for a way not to feel the universe at their throats.

I couldn’t sleep on this… could I?

I knew my answer well before I had a proper conscious thought about it. I’ve always been a nondeterministic sort of thinker—I find the answer well before I have the proof. And yet… if I were going to convince Her Majesty, I’d need as much proof as I could find.

I initiated a Level 5 sweep of the Approxima, comparing the previous calculations against secondary data and some suspected standard deviation based on previous experience. I didn’t want the usual number-fudging to throw me here. Lives were at stake, and I wasn’t going to let someone die because some dock-worker on Opzy Five forgot to list a set of cutlery.

My head felt as though it was trying to break out of my skull. These bullshit tests! If the Queen had been looking to burn me out within sight of my possible replacements, she was going to come damn close to doing it. Might even succeed; I’d know for sure in forty-five seconds. But whether I zeroized myself or not…

“Well?” the Queen demanded. “What’s your answer, Jana?”

I took a deep breath and exhaled. “The Approxima is not carrying biological weapons, Your Majesty. Thermal analysis shows no temperature pockets indicative of the near-absolute cold required for storing them, not even accounting for masking by the engines or via life forms. There are no stowaways on board, and the full crew reports good health, with no recent scarring. It’s clean.”

A pause hung on the Wire. “I see. Perhaps you’re not as capable as I thought.”

I shook my head. “Transmitting data, Your Majesty. If you—”

“If I wanted to look at data,” she snapped, “I’d be you. I asked you for one thing—one thing from you, you ungrateful little snot, and you’re already trying to cover for your own incompetence!”

“That’s nice,” I said after a moment. “Be that as it may, there is no mistake. If you’re searching for contraband, I can confirm the Approxima does contain several crates of narcobromide, twenty-four Black Hole Converters for regional sale, and at least two instances of glitchware.”

“That’s not what my informants told me,” she said.

“You may need better informants,” I suggested.

My stomach clenched when the line went silent. For a moment, I thought she might just open fire on us all and be done with it.

“I trust Hexa’s people will arrest them?” the Queen asked.

“You may so trust, unless your destroyers are feeling particularly limber,” I answered. Every nerve in my body screamed at me not to provoke her. It went against my Conditioning. But if I were going to prevent her from hurting my sisters, I’d need to draw her complete attention.

I affected as bored and obnoxious of a voice as I could muster and continued, “Since the other ships are too close for comfort, you’d be slaughtering actual innocents in the process. Please be advised any deaths will be recorded and reported to the Inner Core.”

I could hear the Queen cross her arms across her chest. “And if the Station itself were destroyed in the tragic crossfire?”

I rolled my eyes at this. “No one’s going to mourn a prefab waystation, but the Concordance will want a few words with you when they see all the narcobromide you left off your manifest. I’ll just start transmitting that to the Inner Core in five, four—”

“Stop!” the Queen shouted.

“And my incentive to do this is?”

A pause. I could imagine her grabbing her XO and demanding ideas. Anything, in a desperate attempt to find an answer that wasn’t acquiescence. Her Majesty hated to lose. Would rather kill than lose. But would she kill now, knowing she’d lose harder for it?

All I could do was wait. The other ships began to circle the docking ring, seemingly oblivious to how close to doom they were drifting.

My nose began to bleed. That was new.

“Because,” the Queen huffed, “you’ve passed. You’ve won. And I’ll terminate your contract as soon as I can find someone who hasn’t gained your—”

“Independence?” I asked.

“Attitude problem,” she snapped. Then the connection evaporated.

I slid off the metal chair and fell onto my knees. The machine wasn’t responding to my commands anymore. I could see some data, but it was a gargantuan effort to focus. I needed to disconnect, and soon. Then I heard the lullabies again—from a ship near the back of the line, where they’d always been.

ACS Threnody’s manifest and route of travel were so badly forged that I’d nearly laughed when I saw it. I’d been working with live data long enough that I’d forgotten how little I’d known when I started. They’d probably paid some back-alley code-forger far too much for it. They were only stopping to refuel and then leaving, one way, for the Galactic Fringe. A one-way trip to one of the more isolated moons—a world with no oxygen and little sound. A solar-powered base with nothing to see and a lot of time to read.

Sounded idyllic, actually.

I couldn’t see Seneca’s leafy fingers moving over his console, several stories above me, but his words appeared in the communication buffer: <My niece will want to thank you.>

The words vanished faster than memory, but it answered several questions—not the least of which was why he cared. Perhaps even why he’d signed onto Hexa in the first place. He could well have spent the better part of a decade tracking her down and arranging her escape.

But he couldn’t leave with her. The universe would notice. He only had a few days.

I hadn’t realized I’d been thinking about leaving with them until it occurred to me just how much danger I’d put them in if I’d done so. Her Majesty wanted me replaced. Her informants hadn’t lied; they’d just flagged the wrong ship. If I fled, she’d chase us all down until we were crammed into whatever cabinet of curiosities she’d set aside for us.

Legally, I only had to endure one more year of indenture. For them, I could do it.

I’d have but a few days to meet with these girls, so much like me, and then I’d have to say goodbye. But it would be enough, I thought, to pull me through to the other side.

And if Her Majesty tried to renegotiate terms… I’d gathered enough data on her, and me, and the Conditioning process, to assure she’d think twice about pushing the issue. I don’t think I’d ever live a life without thinking—hard not to watch your back with someone like the Queen aiming for it. But I knew enough about this life to manage.

And these Princesses would never have to.

My hands hovered around the cables attaching me to the machinery. I needed out. It was likely I wouldn’t be able to work for a few days. But my fingers hesitated, just close enough to sense but not feel the plastic wires. Somewhere behind the boundaries and bottlenecks of my mind, I could swear I heard someone, somewhere, begin to sing another lullaby.

I put a few words into the buffer. <I’d like that.>

Host Commentary

By Mur Lafferty

We didn’t plan it this way, but this story is running about two and a half weeks after the death of Queen Elizabeth II which brought the sense of monarchy, rule, and expectation to my mind. The idea of defying the queen to her face is not something that people even consider is possible. It’s not even a bad idea, when someone says something is Not Done, they mean it.

For some reason I find the expectation of ladylike manners expected on top of everything else required by these indentured data princesses extra offensive. No one wants someone walking around just spewing profanity, but if you expect these people to be glorified talking computers, then don’t expect them to know which fork to use.

I feel like this story can be boiled down to, “too much data and not enough empathy in the world.” The requirement for the Princesses to analyze the data without emotion (despite that fact that queen was nothing but emotional in dealing with the reports) was chilling, and reminded me a lot of the current day programming of AI without considering social responses, or what the AI will learn from the public at large.

This story makes me want to ask more questions and dig deeper into this world. Getting a whole pile of data is the easy part, learning to parse it and figure out what’s important and what’s throwaway is the challenging bit, and I’d love to see how the training goes after they get the implants to receive such data. Or maybe I should just take a data analysis course myself…

That was our show for this week. We leave you with the words of Gertrude Stein. Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense. — And this is before the Internet, yall.

About the Author

Brian Hugenbruch

Brian Hugenbruch

Brian Hugenbruch is a speculative fiction writer and poet living in Upstate NY with his wife and their daughter (and their unruly pets). He works in information security by day; words happen when the internet stops misbehaving. No, he’s not certain how to say his last name either.

Find more by Brian Hugenbruch

Brian Hugenbruch

About the Narrator

Leigh Wallace

Leigh is an Ottawa writer, artist and narrator who works for the Canadian federal government. Her fiction is available in Tesseract 19, Podcastle, and Urban Fantasist. She is a graduate of the 2013 Viable Paradise workshop.

Find more by Leigh Wallace