Writing Exercises

Silver Pod Part 25: The Last Clones

I find myself spending more and more mental energy on how the structure of this story will look when I rewrite it. I think I have resolved far too much of Ohnsy’s internal tension and the tension between her and Besh too quickly. Nonetheless, I enjoyed writing this scene. These two have a nice report.

Sometimes I wonder if I would be able to muster more energy for completing one work in progress before moving on to the next if I wrote to keep bread on the table. I suspect not and I’m glad that’s not the situation I’m in. I’m still learning so much about rhythm and pacing.

Whether you’re new to the story or a consistent reader, I hope you enjoy this chapter.

Link to part 1

Link to previous part: 24

Besh stepped onto the gravity lift, let it carry him downward, falling under a reduced weight of gravity. He felt flimsy, ephemeral, a piece of trash on the breeze. He lurched sideways, suddenly urgent that he get off the lift. He stepped out onto a dimly lit room, the floor apparently cobblestones in concrete though the waste of mass would be absurd. A swimming pool waited, undisturbed, nearby. Lighting shone up from beneath the water, casting patterns of blue ripples lapping at the ceiling from minute vibrations.

He walked to the edge of the water. Water. He didn’t even known where his creator had gotten that name. He didn’t know their relationship. He snorted at the thought that his emotional pain was a simple misunderstanding. He had thought his relationship to his creator special. His creator had not seen it that way.

He shook his head. That conclusion didn’t necessarily follow. He might have been special to Water, but Water’s pain might have been too much for it. Besh sighed. He wished Water had at least talked to him about it.

A triplet of bubbles jiggled up to the surface of the water, popped silently. Besh’s attention snapped to a discoloration on the bottom of the pool. Someone was down there!

He considered that Fife might have dove in to save the person. Beryl might have run in fear. He merely felt curious. He wondered how much of that was by design. He was, after all, a vessel designed to be open to new experiences.

He crouched at the side of the pool, placed his palm flat against the water. Waves scattered in satisfying patterns, dissipating some distance from the disturbance. The water felt pleasantly warm. A swim appealed. He stood sharply, questioning the sense of appeal. His purpose was gone. This thing called Besh existed for itself now. Did it want to pursue sensation and experience or did it want something else? How much of Besh was a disturbance-causing pattern?

The person on the bottom of the pool moved, limbs unfolding, a kick sent it up toward him. Ohnsy’s bald head broke the surface on the far side of the pool. She blinked rapidly, took a breath. Besh didn’t move. He radiated what he hoped was a non-threatening calm.

“How long can you stay under?” he asked. He knew that Beryl thought him naive, maybe Fife did too. But he was aware of their social relations, such as they were. He understood that Ohnsy saw the three of them as the enemy, but it didn’t seem relevant at the moment, so he asked his question as a way to disarm and indicate his own peaceable mood. Ohnsy answered as if she agree with the assessment.

“Sixteen minutes if I’m inactive.”

“I can go forty without breathing, though I usually do that in vaccum,” he said, not intending to boast.

“Did you have clone brothers?” Ohnsy asked. Besh noticed the rawness in her voice for the first time.

He shrugged. “Never simultaneously. Before me there was a similar person named Besh. There would have been another made after me. My creator liked to update the design on each iteration.”

Ohnsy seemed to consider this. She bobbed in the water, her arms and legs swaying out to her sides to keep her afloat.

“There won’t be any more like us,” she said.

“You’ve given up looking for Silver Pod’s master already?”

Her eyes narrowed to angry slits. “I went to quicken my clone sisters. A hundred of us would have driven you off the ship. We could have returned everything to normal. But they’re dead. I neglected my duties and now they’re all dead.”

A flash of anger burned through Besh’s gut. Ohnsy had abandoned her sisters as Water had abandoned him. But the fire consumed its fuel in an instant and was gone. Neither had wanted to abandon their charge.

“What’s our purpose now?” Besh voiced the question hanging between them.

Ohnsy grabbed the far wall of the pool, hauled her pale, naked butt onto the ledge with a wet slap. She said, “I suppose I could still try to kill all of you and get my ship back.”

She was unarmed, literally naked, legs still dangling in the water. He was a Posthuman-designed humanoid, resistant to every manner of damage and disease. It began in his chest as a flutter, crawled up his throat a cough, a cackle. Soon he was laughing, head thrown back, his eyes filled with tears unlike any of recent sadness.

He wiped his eyes with the backs of his hands. Ohnsy’s mouth twitched, fighting against itself to scowl, to smile.

She said, “Maybe I’ll let you live and just kill the other two.”

Link to next part: 26


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