Fathom 2002



Inside Cover




Kate Buttery (3)
Julie Perkins(5)
Jennifer Lyn Durkee (2)
Kirsten Horn
John W. Parker (2)
Elena Krasnova
Jonathan Samuel (3)
Sarah Riley
Melodie Umanetz
Olivia Brown and Jessica Young
Fergus J. O'Connor V, Esq. (2)
Gareth Robinson
Charles Ryan (2)
Solange Hupe (4)
Dani Anna Jansen (2)



Angela Pratt
Travis West


Travis West




     Numbers flew incoherently and uncontrollably through the lieutenant's head. She produced the answer she was looking for, but she could never have explained how, or where the answer had really come from.
     "Percentage likelihood that perpetrator will exit building through seventh story fire escape hatch: 91%," she paused a moment before adding, "9% chance of ground level escape."
     Lieutenant Asura's squad stood entirely motionless, awaiting the conclusions she would draw from her statistics. They did not attempt to form their own conclusions; their steely eyes stared blankly at their own reflections in the polished metal of the apartment complex. Their steely eyes stared blankly if their steely eyes could stare at all.
     "Units 1 to 3 maintain perimeter," Asura's orders brought the life-size dolls to life. "Units 4 to 12 proceed up fire escape to platform 7."
     The larger portion of her squad began their slow ascent of the fire escape; the smaller portion triangulated the possible exit points at ground level and established a cycling perimeter. Asura took a running jump at the fourth story fire escape plat­form, and easily made it. She could have made it to the seventh platform in a matter of seconds, but she waited for her squad. She looked over the edge of the platform to observe their progress: just now climbing onto the first platform. As she turned back towards the building, the third floor fire escape hatch flew open. Reflexes she did not have kicked in and Asura dodggd to the right. She was not fast enough to avoid the beam entirely. It was a thin beam, but when it made contact with Asura's lower stomach, just above her hip, its radius expanded, melting a perfectly formed half circle expanding outward to the right of her navel.
     Asura managed to remain standing. She reached for her gun, but never had a chance to remove it from its holster: a body emerged from the hatch and charged at her. She no longer had the mobility to dodge; her assailant grabbed her and leapt off the platform. Asura's damaged body was unable to keep from being pushed under her attacker; she took the weight of both their bodies as she hit the pavement below. Fractured and unmoving, she watched as her squad continued to climb the stairs towards the seventh platform.


     Asura listened to the doctor's words without hearing what he said. Waiting. . .
     ". . . broken in two places, so parts of your spinal column had to be replaced. There was severe tissue damage and the loss of some primary organs," the doctor paused a moment; this was the hardest part of his job. "Total primary body constituent per­centage has been reduced to 27%."
     Asura smiled darkly, "27% Asura . . . 73% what?"
     The door to the spacious, silver room swung open. The doctor
immediately left the room as the tall man who entered walked to the lieutenant's side. His thinning, white hair and beard con­trasted his navy blue suit, and the whole package seemed oddly out of place in a room of sterile white and polished steel.
     "He escaped again," the man's voice was somber, but without any real emotion.
     "I know," Asura answered without looking at him. "I remained conscious long enough to see him running off, directly past my idiot drones."
     "They were watching for a ground level escape. It's not their fault..."
     "Then whose fault is it," interrupted Asura, "Is it mine?"
     "Your calculations could have been off, Asura."
     "My calculations were precise," she responded angrily. "He is erratic; he defies logic. He is unpredictable."
     "Everyone is predictable, Asura. He is simply difficult to pre­dict."
     "We wouldn't have to predict his every movement if you could send me out with a squad that could make its own decisions, a team that could think for itself."
     The older man paused for a moment before he answered her, "Asura, you know that the Human/Technology Ethical Code strictly prohibits... "
     "I've heard the speech," Asura interrupted, "So what do you suggest?"


     "We've lost him," Asura said over her com-channel. "Estimate next point of visual confirmation to be Section 2 of Quadrant B: Restroom Area, probability 96%."
     "I concur," came five simultaneous human responses over the com-channel.
     "Converging on Section 2, Quadrant B."
     Asura turned to move, but a voice on the com-channel stopped her.
     "Negative on Section 2, Quadrant B. Visual confirmation of perpetrator, current location Section 3, Quadrant..."
The com-channel went dead, leaving only a cold static buzz.
Asura responded to the situation with a coldness that she had come to detest.
     "Converge on Section 3. Probable location of visual confirmation in Section 3 is Quadrant...4, likelihood 78%."
     "I concur," came four simultaneous human responses.
     Asura began running to Section 3, on the other side of the complex, but had only taken a few steps before she found herself lying on the ground. She could not move, or even call out on her com-channel. She began to experience excruciating pain as she watched blue arcs of high voltage electricity winding their way around her body. Then, she lost consciousness.


     Asura awoke in a chair. She was not bound, but she could not move her arms or her legs. She struggled to free herself from her invisible restraints, but failed. The room around her was dark, lit only by a single floodlight hanging directly over her head. Asura could not see more than a few feet in any direction, but she sensed that the room was vast.
     From the darkness in front of her came a voice. It was a sooth­ing, comfortable voice.
     "There is no point in struggling; the receptors controlling your extremities have been disconnected. After all, Lieutenant, you're more machine than you are human, aren't you?"
     "Who are you? Why did you bring me here?" demanded Asura.
     "5-21-3-12-9-4 is the designation I was given, and I did not bring you here. In fact, I had absolutely no idea that was going to happen."
     "I don't understand."
     "The man that brought you here, the man that attacked eight different targets in your city, the man who escaped from your defense forces eight different times, is my son, CN."
     "A second flood light lit up to Asura's right; she turned her head and saw the criminal she had been hunting for months. He stood almost completely motionless. His eyes stared malignant­ly towards her, but his arms hung down in front of him in an almost simian gesture of passivity.
     "Don't worry, Lieutenant. I've told him not to touch you, after all you are my guest. CN will do as he is told. He is a very good son."
     "Why did he bring me to you?" Asura was confused and terrified.
"Who can say why he does anything he does? He is the per­fect embodiment of chaos, which makes him the perfect embodiment of humanity."
     "Humanity isn't chaotic," Asura retorted. "Humanity is
structured, organized..."
     "More so," replied the voice, "than it should be. You, for instance, are completely predictable in all your actions, in all your thoughts, even. CN is erratic, random, unpredictable. You are dull. You are boring. He is spontaneous and exciting. You are barely human anymore. My son is entirely human."
     "No one is entirely human."
     "No one but my son. You see, that is why you could not catch him. You have grown too dependent on your ability to predict the actions of each other. The chips you put inside your head at birth, the chips that allow you instant communication with anyone you want, and give you advanced knowledge of theories and calculations you could never comprehend on your own, they also destroy your greatest human gift: the individu­ality of your mind. Over the past hundred years, you have effectively bred individuality out of your species. Your technol­ogy gives everyone the same answers, so you always have the same ideas. You know what your criminals are thinking, so it is easy to extrapolate their actions and apprehend them. No longer do you use creativity or ingenuity in your work. But you couldn't extrapolate the actions of CN, could you?"
     "No. We were always wrong."
     "That's because he was not what you thought he was. You thought he was one of you, but he wasn't. He is something new and unexpected. When it comes to dealing with something truly unexpected, you are as inept as the unwieldy robots you
rely so heavily upon.
     "I was a chaotic element to your feeble attempts at a perfectly structured existence. For that they ordered me killed. So I created CN, here in this very facility. No human father or moth­er, but more human than any of you. As I suspected, you were powerless against his uniqueness."
     "So you've proven we no longer know how to deal with uniqueness; you've proven a flaw in our Knowledge Embedding process. So what are you going to do?"
     A series of lights came on sequentially, revealing a corridor that extended further than Asura could see, even with her aug­mented eyesight. Stacked four high on the walls of the corridor, and extending down indefinitely, were green-tinted glass tanks. Within each one was a human body. Some tanks contained adults, some children; some contained no more than a human fetus: thousands of human beings at every conceivable stage of development.
     "Asura, Lieutenant, I 1-19-21-18-1, I am going to save your faltering species from extinction."


last updated August 17, 2007 | © 2007 Fathom Publishing
poetry, prose, and artwork © individual authours | website created by Alana Paul