By Zachary Jernigan
I had been practicing turning myself into a knife. Between star systems I gathered and focused my particles into a triangle, a sharp shape. Hurling myself against the diamond-hard walls of my small ship, the point of the weapon hardened. I honed myself.
You see, I had decided to murder my employer. I had studied his weaknesses and come to believe myself capable of the act. I did not know when and where, nor did I know what would trigger it. I simply knew it had to happen. On that day I would either die or buy myself a measure of freedom.
Originally, this was the extent of my plan: To serve myself.
My name is Arihant. I am one of two humans still inhabiting a physical form, diminished though it is. Outside the walls of my ship, I am in form a faintly translucent white specter, strong and powerfully built—an artist’s anatomical model. Over the years it has become difficult to remember what my face looked like, and thus my features are only approximately human, my head bare. My eyes glow the color of Earth’s sun.
I am quite beautiful, Louca tells me. On more than one occasion she has run her hands over the ghostly contours of my body. “I wish you were solid,” she once said. “Oh, Ari. The things I would do to you.”
Louca is the one I am forced to follow and observe. Her name means crazy—an appropriate name. She is the second human possessing a body. Technically, her body is a black, whale-shaped ship one hundred meters long, but her avatars take the forms of anything she imagines. Very rarely, she is human, and never the same person twice. More often, she wears the bodies of flying animals.
She dreams of flying, which is appropriate.