This is an excellent time to dive back into story blogging, not to mention reading. The Nebula Award nominees were very recently announced, and I have some catching up to do. The only one I’ve read so far is Ursula Vernon’s “Jackalope Wives”, which I shared at the time.
The next Beth began with the same questions, but the Eye avoided telling her too much. And when the Beth asked about the stars, the Eye replied with a question for her.
“My planet?” the Beth said. “It’s called Dirt. You’ve never heard of it? Where did you find me?” The Beth gazed into the impenetrable black.
The Meeker was envious. He had been born on an airless moon that orbited the Great Corpus every thousand years and spent the rest of his life in this Bulb.
“Are we in space?” the Beth said. “Are we beyond the Moon?”
“You live on the surface of your planet?” asked the Eye.
“Yes, at the foot of the Rockies, in a glass house. Sloan and I moved there because we love the stars. The Lacteal Path shines clear across the sky most nights.” The Beth chewed at a fingertip. “Where are all the stars? Where are you taking me?”
“Did the Sloan whisper something to you before you awoke?” the Eye said.
“How did you know?”
“Tell me, what did she say?”
“I’d found out she was working on top secret projects a few months ago. She swore it wasn’t weapons, but I didn’t believe her. We had a big fight. Is there any way I might call her? She’s probably worried sick.”
“Did the Sloan mention your stillborn child?”
“Excuse me? How do you know about that?”
“You transmitted the virus to your fetus in utero. The Sloan intimated that this fact was related to a very important message for the future. Now tell me—”
“No, that’s not what we spoke about! And how do you know so much about me? What the hell is going on here? I want to go home now!”
She put a hand to her mouth and vomited all over herself, then she spasmed, smacking her limbs into the Meeker. And after a minute of flailing and screaming she collapsed dead.
“Curious,” said the Eye. “Did you notice her story has changed?”
The Beth’s mouth hung open from her scream.
“That’s not what I noticed, Eye, no.”