Ken Brady’s latest story, “Walkers of the Deep Blue Sea and Sky” appears in the Exquisite Corpuscle anthology, edited by Jay Lake and Frank Wu.

Alex Dally MacFarlane’s story “The Devonshire Arms” is available online at Clarkesworld.

Luc Reid writes about the psychology of habits at The Willpower Engine. His new eBook is Bam! 172 Hellaciously Quick Stories.

Jason Erik Lundberg‘s fiction is forthcoming from Subterranean Magazine and Polyphony 7.

What Goes Around, Stays Around

by Luc Reid

“Mechaieh … the poet?”

“Of course the poet.”

“But I heard that all of her poems turned into flocks of birds when you read them.”

“That’s only her recent ones. This is one of the old ones.”

“So you’ve read it?”

“Of course not. You think I want it to turn into a flock of birds?”

“I thought you said it was one of the older ones.”

“I lied. I thought maybe you’d lose interest and go away.”

The tall robot shuttered his photoreceptors in surprise and backed away from the short, wheeled robot. “Why do you want me to go away?” the tall robot said.

“I’ve decided not to read it at all. Ever. So that I’ll always have it.”

“You might as well never have it if you never read it. But why do you want me to go away?”

“You know what I’d like to do sometime? I’d like to seal myself in plastic and walk on the bottom of the ocean.”

“Are you feeling all right?”

“I’m feeling … orange,” said the short robot. “The stars are tickling me. You know what would go down good now? A …” Then he hiccupped, and abruptly, his brain exploded.

This was a downloadable virus that had been going around, which caused loops that overstressed processors, generating more heat than the robot heads had been designed to handle.

The tall robot backed away, leery of contagion. After a moment, though, he scooted forward and picked up the poem. He sidled off into a dim corner of the factory where they both worked, where he’d be less likely to be noticed, and opened the poem. He wondered if the flock of birds would appear when he began reading or as soon as he had pronounced the last word. He wondered if they would appear at all.

“What’ve you got there?” asked another robot, a bulbous, yellow one.

The tall robot looked up. “Something by Mechaieh.”

“Mechaieh … the poet?”

All at once, the tall robot began to wonder how the virus was spread.

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2 Responses to “What Goes Around, Stays Around”

  1. Mechaieh Says:

    April 4th, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    Sheer and total GLEE. *hurries off to spam infest sing its praises to the masses*

  2. Luc Reid Says:

    April 5th, 2010 at 12:28 am

    Very pleased it hits the spot! I also have vague and nefarious plans of a Mechaieh-related nature for this coming Wednesday.