My friend Lynne Thomas has had a busy year. The second book she edited came out, the third went to the publisher, and she won a Hugo award for the first. On top of all that, she recently started editing Apex Magazine. Her first issue came out in November. This story, the first professional sale by Michael Pevzner, is in the current issue.
“It tried to convince us, too, when we arrived,” says the man, an understanding look in his brown eyes. “Me and Lia and Mark and little Taiho. But we aren’t fools. We figured out its plan. And you know how? Because the City is empty! Look at it, there’s nobody here.” He taps his temple with his finger, proud of himself. “If it’s all like it says, if it was really designed as the next step of evolution, then why the hell is it empty? Huh?” The man is pleased with himself. “No, buddy, you can’t fool me. It’s all lies. Lies and hogwash. I don’t know what happened to the previous city, what happened to the people who used to live here, but the previous city is gone. What you see here now—it’s a predator that set up a lair for itself here, and it uses the old mechanisms of the city to bring itself new prey.”
The orchestra becomes stronger. I see the woman’s face again—her perfect, gentle face—appearing out of the fog of exhaustion that films my eyes. She smiles at me. She whispers something to me, but I can’t understand what it is. I am drawn again into the dance of voices, I feel its softness enwrapping me; I want to fall into it—and sleep, sleep, sleep…
“I want to go to the Temple,” I say in a weak but stable voice.
“Didn’t you listen to me at all, or what!”’ shouts the man. “The Temple is a lie! The Temple is the monster’s maw, the City will devour you! Don’t you get it!”
The woman continues to smile at me.
“You can’t stop me,” I say.
“Oh, I can. I can and I will. I don’t care what you want and what you don’t want, but I’m not intending to feed the beast.” He rises from his stool and exits the room, and I hear him shutting the heavy door behind him and locking it.