And So Another Build Begins.

So many eons, slept away while the universe wound down around him. He’s dead to human eyes. Even the machines barely glimpse the chemistry ticking over in those cells: an ancient molecule of hydrogen sulphide, older than suns, frozen in its hemoglobin embrace; an electron shuttled sluggishly down some metabolic pathway two weeks ago. Back on Earth there used to be life deep in the rocks, halfway to the mantle; empires rose and fell in the time it took those microbes to draw breath. Next to Kai, their lives blurred past in an eyeblink. (Next to all of us. I was every bit as dead, just a week ago.)

I’m still not sure it’s a good idea, bringing him back.

Flat lines shiver in their endless march along the x-axis: molecules starting to bump against each other, core temp edging up a fraction of a fraction. A lonely spark flickers in the hypothalamus; another wriggles across the prefrontal cortex (a passing thought, millennia past it’s best-before, released from amber). Millivolts trickle down some random path and an eyelid twitches.

The body shudders, tries to breathe but it’s too soon. It’s still anoxic in there, pure H2S gumming up the works and shutting the machinery of life down to a whisper. The Chimp starts a nitrox flush; swarms of fireflies bloom across Pulmonary and Vascular. Kai’s cold empty husk fills with light from the inside out: red and yellow isotherms, pulsing arteries, a trillion reawakening neurons stippling across the translucent avatar in my head. A real breath this time. Another. His fingers twitch and stutter, tap a random tattoo against the floor of the sarcophagus.

The lid slides open. His eyes, too, a moment later: they roll unfocused in their sockets, suffused in a haze of resurrection dementia. He can’t see me. He sees soft lights and vague shadows, hears the faint underwater echo of nearby machinery, but his mind is still stuck to the past and the present hasn’t sunk in yet.

A tongue dry as leather flicks into view against his upper lip. A drinking tube extrudes from its burrow and nudges Kai’s cheek. His takes it in his mouth and nurses, reflexive as a newborn.

I lean into what passes for his field of view: “Lazarus, come forth.”

It anchors him. I see sudden focus resolving in those eyes, see the past welling up behind them. I see memories and hearsay loading in the wake of my voice. Confusion evaporates; something sharper takes its place. Kai stares up at me from the grave, his eyes hard as obsidian.

“You asshole,” he says. “I can’t believe we haven’t killed you yet.”

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Thursday December 20 2012at 10:12 am , filed under fiblet . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

13 Responses to “And So Another Build Begins.”

  1. You are probably not the best writer I know, but you are the one whose new writing I look forward to the most.

  2. Is this a new episode of Lexx?

  3. Lidija: thank you on the second point; I shall keep working on the first.

    Cozen: oh shit, I totally forgot about that show. I better change the name of the character– “Linus van Pelt” has a nice ring…

  4. Knew it was another story of the Eniophora even before the Chimp was mentioned. You use a particular voice when writing about this milieu.

  5. Aw yeah, more from “The Island”? Awesome. 😀

  6. Brief, yet outstanding.

    If you can keep that density of description and imagery (where appropriate to narrative flow) throughout the rest of it, “I smell Nebula”. I probably still smell Nebula, even if you don’t maintain that level of sweeping the reader off into your vision. That’s one fine pair of opening paragraphs.

  7. Yay! Now, predictabely I want more.

  8. *Applause.*

  9. Poor Dix, can’t catch a break.. Or is this still from Sunday’s perspective? Is there something about her past with Kai that we don’t know about? Questions, questions..

    Looking forward to where this build goes!

  10. This is not Dix. This is not Sunday. This is someone completely new — for one thing, his BCI to the Chimp is still active.

    Remember, we got a few thousand people down in the crypt, and enough raw materials to build a few billion more. That’s the great thing about this series. You can hit the reset button pretty much any time you want.

    Sunday gets a mention, though.

  11. Nice stage-setting, and yanking us into the narrative with both hands. Definitely makes you want to read further!

    Congrats also on 5th place posting for the Locus Online Best SF of the 21st Century (so far) poll!

  12. Nice – Lyrical. I can’t believe that four and a half years later, I’m still reading this damn blog, and yet, I am. Huh.

    Enjoying these snippets, and many thanks for those.

  13. Ah, The Chimp! Nice to read more in this universe. Excellent beginning, Pete.