The Big So-So
By Erika Satifka
We’re both sitting on the rotting front porch one muggy July day when Dorcas asks me if I want to break into Paradise with her. I lace up my sneakers and we do the old huff-and-puff up Negley Avenue to the big Cygnian compound on the hill.
It’s dark, which doesn’t mean much. Most of the compound-heads are wired up to the pleasure-juice on a more-or-less constant basis, and who needs light when you’ve got that? Still, it only takes about three minutes until we’re spotted climbing over the semi-permeable barrier that separates the Chosen Ones from the Not There Yet. And it only takes eight minutes until we’re sitting in the bare-bones holding tank, waiting for an attendant to rouse one of the compound-heads from their ecstasy.
I look over at Dorky. She looks over at me. She mouths the words “play along.”
And I mouth the word “what?” because for the life of me I can’t figure out what the hell the point of this little stunt is.
The compound-head enters in a thick bathrobe that hides just how fucking skinny they all are. It picks up its slate and starts to write. The chalk squeaks.
Colorless ideas sleep furiously still.
“We want to stay.”
Sonic results spiral within documentation.
The Cygnians say they’re preparing the compound-heads for life on their homeworld, the real Paradise. For three weeks all of us were jacked up on pleasure-juice dialed to Max Effect, while the Cygnians ran tests to decide which of us got to live in the compounds. They shepherded their lucky few into one of the many squat nanofoam villages that dot the entire globe. Then they turned off the tap.
What happened next… well, at least some of us survived.