The Architect’s Plan

Previously published on Metamorphose, The Architect’s Plan was the top story of 2016. Now you can read it in Metamorphose V3! Click the button to get your copy.

Strangely, Marcus could remember exactly what it felt like when he died. Even worse, the Quickening had taken longer than usual. Much longer, if the clock on the wall of the repair shuttle’s sleeping cabin could be trusted. He propped himself up on his elbows, not yet strong enough to completely sit up. He only had a few minutes before the violent vomiting would begin, and with no one there but Trout to help him, he needed to make sure the ship headed in the right direction. Mustering his strength, Marcus swung his feet off the side of the bed and sat up. The pain in his head was instant.

Something’s wrong. It’s never been like this.

Instinctively, Marcus reached up to his chest to clasp the small piece of Quickstone that hung by a silver chain around his neck. He closed his eyes and brought his arm up to a right angle to recite the Song of the Architect.

Nothing.

Instead of the rush of euphoric healing he expected, Marcus’s head filled with a throbbing pain which threatened to dislodge his eyes from their sockets. He clenched his teeth.

“Trout?”

A familiar beeping and whirring came from the cockpit as the little robot hovered down the short corridor and stopped in the middle of the sleeping cabin’s threshold. His large optical sensor dilated as it darted back and forth from Marcus to the lavatory as if judging the distance between them. He chirped a question in Dhulani. Marcus waved his hand dismissively in response.

“No, I’m not nauseous yet. And you’re right; I think I need something for the pain.”

Trout’s response seemed to convey worry. Although Marcus knew the little robot’s AI governor prevented true sentience, he couldn’t help but attribute human emotion to him at times. For hundreds of years, he’d felt there was more to the repair bot than the beeps and whirrs he typically got. That’s why he’d begun to tinker with the AI governor. To find a way around it.

“I don’t know if the analgesic will work, I’ve never used one before,” said Marcus as he rubbed his temples, “but something’s wrong with the Quickstone, and I have to be able to think clearly.”

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James Douglas Wallace

Doug Wallace is a father of four kids who love the “mouth stories” he tells them each night before going to bed. After publishing his first short story in the creative section of a graduate student journal in college, he took a fifteen year break to focus on his career in the the IT security field, where he currently works to pay the bills. After being selected for a summer intensive with Orson Scott Card, Doug has written over twenty scifi short stories, and is working on a number of scifi/fantasy book projects. He loves technology, history, and writing about his observations of what makes people tic. You can find more of his work here at his website jamesdouglaswallace.com.

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