Here is the story "The Creator" from the book Eve of Valor: 25 Tales of speculative-fiction writings by Lorenzo Samuel (me). The protagonist of this tale is in an unusual prison which is private. For a certain class of her society, prison involves incarceration wherein the jail technology enforces a private world devoid of communication with anyone. Can she figure out how to escape? Read the story and find out. I present the tale "The Creator." Enjoy.
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Obsessed with freeing them, Mush hugs the wall. When she reaches the end of the alley, a left turn shoots her into the diggings of the unfortunates. Two blocks on, she comes to the Billingham Clinic.
A person she hasn’t met sits in the back row. He seems different from the others. She’s seen his type before. He asks odd questions and scoffs when she speaks.
When she finishes setting up the escape-to-freedom group, she leaves the back way. Keeping to the shadows, she trudges by condemned buildings that abut her own environs. Fear rises in her. That guy! About to spring to safety, she finds herself staring into a spotlight’s glare….
This prison has no walls, cells or bars. Even so, she cannot escape. Unlike those slaving in workhouses, she’s in a morph that subverts dimension with a key from her mind. She’s 278 years old and has 580 years remaining in her sentence if she reaches the average age for death ‒ you see, crimes, whatever the type, on conviction, merit sentences for life.
Only those prosperous or noteworthy can avoid the workhouses. Mush comes from a prominent family. Thus, she qualifies. Her crime? Going outside her echelon to free the unfortunates. Now that exploit dies for Mush. So do the accolades due her.
At one end of the hall, she emanates like a ghost. Ten in the morning, a time for lights and mirrors, The curtains at both ends drape closed. The open door adds maybe a lumen to the gloaming. Over the threshold a woman steps. The shade through which she passes veils her features. Here she comes, shuffling through the dusk. Seemingly attractive, ten meters off she staggers in the mask of the corridor.
Five meters away, her robe fails to smooth the flesh of her three breasts, her waist and her hips, and, denied access to enhancements, she sports wrinkles on her body. Two meters on, her jowls emerge bouncing with each step she takes.
The atmospheres in her morph read twice standard. They oppress her. Near a point of reflection, she stops to regain her strength, then moves on. She reaches the head of the stairs, runs wan fingers through dun hair that shags her fur, breathes deep through the auxiliary in her back then, changing into a raven, skims into the light below.
In her mind, privy to illusions, she soars. Caw, caw, she perches in her thoughts and views a wonder of kitchen decor. The prison fits her like elastic thanks to the technology that waylays the dimension surrounding her.
She reabsorbs her sensations and attitudes.
The interface of the morph senses her needs. It pushes out liquid-crystal from the wall then flips a bio-key onto the table. Aping her temper, a screen displays, "Choices: 1. Food, 2. Summary of income." The second derives from a game she plays. Prison does not allow for accumulating lucre, or interchange with anyone; however, gaming ‒ a diversion tolerated.
Mush brushes the numbers in order and chooses, "Mood enhancer and one slice of marmalade toast." Under the counter, the kitchen slave turns on the machinery. As a slice starts for the toaster, She examines the financials: "Gross, 14,500; net, 14,375." Flashing in red: "Danger, 1545 decline."
Mush picks “Analysis." The monitor doubles in size to accommodate its report. She skips to the summary: "In 19.2% of queries, responder failed to find answers. Drop-off followed closings of freedom clinics in neighborhoods for the unfortunates. Trauma factored in, and keywords upgraded. GI projected to recover to 16,500."
Real enough, Mush grimaces at the closures while a plate of toast and marmalade rises through the table. While munching her toast, she recollects interacting last night with the Information Feed regarding freedom. The Feed had suggested a new tool so massive that downloading it took twelve hours. Its name: "SuperBot Mind Enhancement Tool," several steps beyond an axion.
Came from deep in the ether to feather into 11.2 gigabytes of compressed space in her sub-feed. According to its developer, not even Global Security has one. With it, Mush hopes to find out why people tolerate thievery of their freedom.
In the tutorial, she finds that SuperBot digs beyond relevance. The tool says, I see your name, 'Mush.' You may call me 'Bot.' Your friend. You need one. Although bemused, Mush agrees with Bot's assessment.
It asks for a search, but Mush has slipped into reverie as she often does in her confinement. She drops her head for a bite of toast. Crumbs fall from her mouth onto her left hand, which, Ouija-like, jogs above the touch-plate. Whether from gravity or alignment, the hand plunges to impress "Caps Lock." Mush tries to lick marmalade off her toast as another finger touches "G." She misses her mouth and rams the crisp into her lips. Her left hand flutters above the "P." It slides off to touch the "O." Confused by smells, Mush crosses her eyes to find the source. Her hand circles as if hunting for a landing, then swoops to touch the "D." Mush spots the marmalade and licks it off. Her eyes uncross, and she sees an icon glowing. Highlighted in its path appears the word "GOD."
Most powerful in the history of the Feed, SuperBot carries megabytes to spare in its haversack. It can perform any task, go to any source, retrieve any information or program, make any conclusion. It turns purple, it turns red ‒ it initiates its program. Banners flash over the screen, "First launch for user. Setting parameters. Query. Clarify 'GOD' parameter. 1 = God; 2 = god."
Mush licks her lips, willy-nilly pushing "1," and mumbling, "Make me another piece of marmalade toast."
While the machinery whirs, SuperBot dives into sub-space. A window opens titled, "matching frequencies." A bar of light grows from left to right across the window. When it reaches the far side, "fields matched" flashes on the screen.
The screen turns black. Mush senses movement behind the absence of color. Something fillips. She waits. Premonition rumbles in her gut. After 30 minutes, Bot sparks like a Van de Graff, and images flash.
Purple fills the space between the screen and Mush. As it douses her body, she comes alert. Her eyes brighten. Bigger and stronger now, certain of herself, she senses her omniscience. Not so much a change of view as recognition of her state. Omnipotence, too. "Hot damn!"
Parts of her environment plunge away; the effect palliative, she does not flinch. Her toast with marmalade vanishes first. Her awareness of its disappearance emerges less through observation than through attitude: she willed it so. Her hands expire next, then her nose, then her body, melting in the air. The table follows like a mirage that vanishes as one closes on it. The walls leave, although no wind blows through. The roof flickers out, yet the sun does not glare down. The pressure that balloons her morph yields last, leaving a taste of release. Yearning engulfs her although one wish dominates ‒ my freedom, my freedom.
The potential that SuperBot has laced into her mind expands, but Mush considers her thoughts reside in their correct state already; how could they improve when nothing better exists?
Mush has sprung forth as an empire. Driving the vastness of it, a notion approaches, and the closer it gets, the more it grows in her. When it arrives, it reveals its meaning ‒ I am. I am omnipotent, alone, not free. I am omniscient, alone and not free.
Tears rivulet through the furrows in her pelt. Surely, omnipotence and omniscience won’t ignore her. Resolution exits SuperBot like dark devolving into matter and rushes into Mush, taking her out of reverie. Teeth clench like a two-ton vise. Her determination? Create something.
She explodes; nodules appear surrounded by trees, bushes, rocks and dirt.
Mush animates her creatures like a savant who doesn't recognize brilliance. That she does not realize what she does, makes for the unusual. Nonetheless, to her, all falls sane. To others, it may seem bizarre. To SuperBot, Mush rocks.
Ergo, SuperBot continues its magic; dawn of time – gasses swirl over the dirt. No heaven appears, just globs clinging together: pearls of tapioca like the dessert she used to gobble as a kid….
Mush's soaks fantasia into the nodules. Owning them sweetens the intake of life. She puckers kisses in the air. Love floods her mind as do lights at carnival.
Still, SuperBot has more to do; it sends an iteration, and Mush's mind goes wild. She ponders anew: the creatures begin identifying each other. One sees another tall and dark, but the next short and light. They get excited over the least of things, a wisp of hair, a bit of sky, water, eggs, talk, boulders, images in their minds.
They cheer each other, yet Mush not at all.
Mush shivers at what seems the beginnings of volition without any credit to her. In response, she attempts to quell the creatures by injecting them with patterns of smiling, talking, shaking hands, hugging. Still, they do not acknowledge her as source. She tries to correct their behavior, but the creatures act as if her instructions never arrive.
Mush wonders where stands her ascendancy: crying over the plight of the underprivileged, staying within her class, invading neighborhoods of the unfortunates. Oh yes, stewing in this prison for life. No friends, no family, no one. Alone with creatures who do not acknowledge her. Mush decides that they need to realize that their freedom depends on her.
She invents rules for them to follow: Rule 1. Creatures will praise her for giving them life, Rule 2. Creatures will follow the rules, Rule 3. Creatures will not change what she has created.
The rules worm into the creatures. Some ascend mountains to codify. Some figure how to preserve them. Others guess they must have a source: "Where lives the one who authored these rules?"
Some claim that no one can conceive. The creatures stumble amok searching for a rationale ‒ behind cliffs, up in the sky, into water, in the guts of birds and in their own droppings.
They say, "We can't find a source." To handle this lack, others invent more rules to clarify the three they have in their bones. A confusion of rules results. Disputes about rules occupy the creatures. Scholars debate them. Priests follow them. After a thousand of their years, they say, "Let’s call source the Unseen One. Ten rules have fallen to us; all others are derivative."
Mush checks the skeletons of 20,000 creatures. In their bones lay only her 3 originals. She broadcasts, Three rules, not ten. And, you do not have to look for me. I'm right here, I'm all there is.
Of course, her thoughts show up in the creatures as their own. They argue merits. Evermore, they discuss.
Mush screams, "Violation, rule violation!"
Disturbed by these rules and driven by the unseen, the creatures swarm their world as if to corral their queen, so Mush asks herself, Doesn't anyone know who sources their lives? That question sweeps a front of confusion over the creatures. Theologians thus deduce that understanding equals mystery.
Befuddlement coats Mush. Confusion in the world she has created shackles her mind. Each rule appears in holy script, and even straining at their mystery, she cannot read the words. Like a flock of crows, they caw inanities.
Her creatures reach toward the heavens, crying for knowledge. They discern only wrong ways. Their sight extends little further than their fingers.
But the philosophers find a revelation: What is sought derives from the mysteries of divinity. Priests make up stories of how the rules came about. When perchance the creatures suffer, they decide they have violated a rule. Then, they whine, "forgive us."
Mush likes the idea of forgiven. Suppose she had found clemency? So, she adds a fourth rule: “The forgiven escape punishment.”
Oh, this swaths too deep! She changes the rule: “Creatures may find forgiveness.”
In the instant it took her to correct the fourth rule, SuperBot acted: two creatures flare up in Mush's mind. "We are Toule and Luuan," they boast. "Better than others, we triumph. Call us the Immortal Forgiven."
Tumbling and kissing, They fall into view. "Shall we divide ourselves?" they laugh. Tearing through the fabric of Mush's world, they exchange her one-person universe for three. Mush, Toule and Luuan each appear with clarity.
A new voice enters Mush’s mind. An intruder! Mush hears the trespasser speak, This is strange, almost real. I'll watch her in case she's found a way to circumvent restrictions.
SuperBot notes the oddity too but it carries out an iteration. It issues a sub-program that allows Luann, Toule and Mush to interact.
Mush notices that Toule and Luuan vary from the other creatures. "Why? she wonders. Like an angel, suspected but not formed, she confronts the two. "I created you.”
Toule and Luuan acknowledge her. Mush collapses in her chair. Her kitchen erupts with moans. For the first time, a creature has spoken to her. Her eyes glaze over. Her love for Toule and Luuan so overwhelms her that she says: "Bless you, my children. You may puff up greater than others as long as you make them follow the rules. Praise me, do what I say, and you'll parcel out my laws."
With smiles as broad as their world, Toule and Luuan stun each other. They start tumbling around again. "A game to play. Oh, boy. We agree, Unseen One. We will give your laws to everyone to follow. They must praise you or fall under your punishment. But we will absolve ourselves of these rules, right?"
Mush seals the deal, for what good prophets who follow the law?
Toule and Luuan teach the rules of the Unseen One: 1) Creatures will praise the Unseen One for giving them life. 2) Creatures will follow the rules. 3) Creatures will not change what the Unseen One has created. They keep to themselves the one about forgiven.
For 500 years, creatures follow the rules. Then, a scold becomes the first to reject Source. She says, "Shysters, you invented those rules." Toule and Luuan freeze because the battle-ax has nudged out their secret.
Mush tells Toule and Luuan to annihilate the slattern. They obey by staving in her dome. Afterwards, other creatures throw them in jail. Born forgiven, Toule and Luuan comprehend not.
Mush will not tolerate imprisonment for her prophets, so adds rule 5 retroactively: Prophets may break the rules if they keep the Unseen One dominant. As this rule sinks in, the creatures let Toule and Luuan out.
For hundreds of years, Toule and Luann minister to the creatures while flouting the rules. But, little by little, the two ignore whom they represent and fail to keep the Unseen One alive in the minds of their fellows.
They substitute debate for belief: What if the Unseen One never existed, or went away or died? Maybe they authored the rules after all. They guide others in discussions of these points, all the while searching under rocks for proofs.
To put Toule and Luuan back on track, Mush flings thunder. Lightning smites black the rock they sit on. They fall off then crawl behind it. More explosions boom from a crack in the sky, "You cannot hide from the All-powerful. Come out from behind that stone."
Scraping the dirt, they come. Mush drives in boils. Toule's arms turn into sores oozing slime. The flesh on his legs falls off in strings. Luuan rushes to his side on smoking feet. Her head erupts like a volcano. She holds it together while they cry. Mush decides, Eat dirt and don't pay attention to each other. The two separate. Their universes collapse back into Mush’s, and they wiggle their mouths in the filth of the land.
If mush punishes her creatures, might they invent reasons why?
Toule whispers to Luuan, "Come, enough of this. What advantage can we garner from these sorrows? I tell you, for something that isn't our fault, we get hurt a lot."
Luuan's mouth drops open. She stares at Toule with eyes big as an ostrich’s. She primps her hair, pinches her cheeks and says, "I've got it, the meaning of life."
"Yeah, yeah, speak to me," Toule cocks his ear and hunkers down beside a lake of pus.
Luuan squats. "Add this to our pain. The meaning of life – BAD THINGS HAPPEN!"
Toule stands up. Travail zooms away like lightening. He forms Luuan's words in his mouth. He tongues them left, right and under, "Bad things happen, bad things happen." Then, he dances in the air.
Luuan gazes up to where he glistens like the sun. "Toule," she says, "your sores are no longer dripping, and your legs are pink."
She glances at her feet and touches her head. They, too, have returned to normal. She jumps with a shout. She and Toule zip shrieking through the heavens, "Bad things happen, they do."
A crowd forms to watch the law passers. "The rules," Toule tells the creatures, "are based on one principle. The rules may change, but the principle does not. The principle, ‘BAD THINGS HAPPEN’."
The creatures skip about. Cheers boom from dozens of groups. Many form up chorals. They vie to carry Toule and Luuan on their shoulders. Enamored by this treatment, Luuan decides the Unseen One has gone obsolete by this principle. Besides, bad things happen anyway whether the Unseen One authors them or not.
"BAD THINGS HAPPEN" strikes a chord with the creatures; they believe something at last. Teachers and priests inculcate the principle. As "BAD THINGS HAPPEN" spreads, Mush's space corkscrews around her. Her body jerks as if shocked from the inside. She backfires so, her chair leaps across the kitchen. Potential builds up, then, relief dissipates it ‒ an idea has come to her: Punish more.
Rocks crash through the tapioca. The prophets scream curses. They jump and tug but cannot get away. The punishments smolder and spread like a contagion to all others. Some whiten with shock, others flame on, some tremble with cold, others hop as if on pins, some drag body parts on thin pieces of skin and others have holes in their heads. Bad things happen, they do, proved.
Mush relaxes; she smiles, communes easy. As her tension fades, she can plan. She makes creatures to continue the punishment. She thinks them their orders, Punish Luuan and Toule for inventing a principle to explain my rules. Then, she drops away, not wanting to punish. After all, forgiveness sits on her throne.
Toule and Luuan splash in their lake, curious about these new creatures who grin like they have secrets. Hiding their instructions to punish, the sycophants sneak up to Toule and Luuan.
Fawning, they scream, "Those two brought travail with their principle. Seize them." The new creatures leap toward the icons. Toule and Luuan flee up a hill then down the other side. At the bottom, several of the creatures emerge, dash broken-field and grab them. They shout, "Punishment, punishment, for your heresy."
They pin Toule and Luuan to the ground. Electricity shoots out of rocks to sizzle the icons’ flesh. Chemicals gush from stones to blister their skin and turn their hair to goo. Rocks explode pebbles that flay them. They boil and freeze at the same time. Still, Toule and Luuan stick to the principle “BAD THINGS HAPPEN.”
SuperBot computes; it takes measures – Mush blinks out.
Her next wink comes in the world she created. Stumbling into this environment, Mush disorients. Where am I?
A crowd of non-believers approaches. One, grime-encrusted, points at Mush, and says, "There’s the Beelzebub who defies our traditions." The crowd natters against her. Their rumblings become an uproar. They mill about like beasts fighting over a dying elephant.
They pick up stones and hurl them. Mush tries to run but can only founder. The crowd catches up. They stomp her body into the pebbles. They scream curses and kick her pain to terror.
The creatures try to bury her by tossing handfuls of gravel onto her back, but she escapes by crawling through a fissure into a gully. Her feet macerated, she can crawl faster than walk. Mush fights her way through brambles onto a wash running into a plain of dust and wind. She struggles to move faster, but her knees cannot hold in the pebbles.
She stops. The rabble clamber after her like dogs long without meat. They chunk rocks at her again. Her knees and hands hurt so much she cannot move on. She waits for the tormentors. Tells them, "I forgive all I’ve created."
The creatures grab Mush, this blasphemer. A rock bashes in her skull. Sticks and fingernails rend her flesh.
BAD STUFF HAPPENS Mush realizes as she expires in the world she thought up.
In the kitchen, Mush's body spurts out of her thoughts. Pains too much to bear, she seeks visions to calm her. A hodge-podge of monitor, marmalade and food processing equipment hangs in the air. Above this conglomeration, she envisions an accolade pulling her toward freedom.
The intruder appears again, leers as he hovers nearby. "Ah, she has found a way to violate restrictions. She creates life with which to communicate. I'll report, then return."
What’s happening? Mush stares into the monitor floating in front of her. A scowl paints her in the screen’s vitrescence. Purple from SuperBot enfolds her, and again, omniscient and omnipotent describe her. "I forgive me," she says, and it sticks.
In front of her two forms shimmer. The forms solidify, and Toule and Luuan stand arms akimbo, meeting Mush’s smile with grins of their own. "We understand," they say.
SuperBot flashes, "General Fault. Closing down." The monitor goes black as the Planetary Information Feed erases Mush's history.
With seven fellow minions, the intruder returns with authorization to disable her feed. His orders say, "Must be stopped. If she succeeds, the law underlying her imprisonment will null."
The pressure inside Mush’s prison hisses away. The intruder and his fellows try to brook their confusion as they flounder back into their own world.
Now, Mush, Toule and Luann stand on a mountain where a prison by morph used to exist. Mush casts lavender that, for kilometers, touches trees, animals, birds, insects, hills and plains. Her wrinkles gone, her jowls firm, her eyes glistening and her fur downy, she smirks at having discovered why people tolerate the theft of freedom.”
Then, the three stroll off under a disengaged sky.
Another tale from the book Eve of Valor: 25 Tales will post on or about 1 Mar.
To get the book "Eve of Valor: 25 Tales" click here.