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The Difference

“What is it doing?” Sorley asked. His eyes fell in on the fractally regressive gears smoothly rearranging dumb matter into information.

The lieutenant peered over his daily rag, squint-eyed with incredulity. “It’s calculating,” he said. And–flick!–up went the paper, hiding his face.

Finding an engine like that was rare enough on its own. But here was one in a jail cell, and its keeper so accustomed to his ward that he had become immunized to the wonder of it.

“Calculating what?” Sorley ventured.

The lieutenant drooped his paper again and regarded Sorley. The lieutenant had not considered this question. He opened his mouth … Continue Reading

Tax

Distant bells rang the New Year, and here was a sign, this…lurker, that a month yet spanned the remainder of night. It perched atop the Library of all places, as if peering over the edge of reason. Henna recognized it from nursery rhymes. This was about payment. The old way.

Sorley, behind her, shifted his weight, drawing a creak from the belted instrument he wore. The lurker fled.

The Procurement

Being the judge’s understudy was staining Zimn’s soul. Propelled inexorably ahead on rails of faith and obligation, Zimn carried out his grim assignment. He told himself, as the judge did, that high stakes warranted extraordinary action. It was hard to believe.

“Am I the sacrifice, or am I the cause?”

He felt sick.