Robots always lie.
Lync repeated this to himself silently, his lips exaggerating every syllable of each word. If he said it enough times, it just might work. He could make it all the way back home to Haven City without asking the question.
He cut his eyes toward the immobile figure occupying the seat next to his. Then looked away again.
Robots always lie.
So there was absolutely no point in asking the damned thing was there?
But like everyone else, he wanted to know.
The car skimmed through the desert at a speed that made it impossible to pick out even the slightest detail of the scenery. It was desert because the satellite map said it was desert and because of the dark sand color of the blurred landscape beyond the tinted windows. Normally the car would have offered to stop at one of the three refreshment bars along the route, but he knew it had been given its orders. He and his robot were to be delivered to his front door like a package. So his dry throat would have to remain parched for another hour until that happened. …
After 2 hours on the jet, a handful of men and one woman walked across a tarmac to this helicopter. The entire shift of personnel and cargo from one to the other took exactly one minute. They were now 53 minutes into this second stage of the journey. She could tell by the slowing of the engines and the more frequent direction changes of the helicopter that they were nearly back at their launch base. There had been no scent of saltwater for at least 20 minutes, which was further confirmation. So yet another mission would soon be over.
She sensed her own anticipation was shared by the five men strapped into the cargo compartment with her. A prolonged “ride home” almost always made you feel like a prisoner doing time. No one spoke to or looked at anyone else. This was understood. …
“He’s just a friend.”
“Oh, don’t. Don’t even. I know all about this friend scam. I used to be your friend, remember? Back then it was that Per guy listening to you say, ‘Oh, Anders? He’s just a friend´.”
They stood on the balcony side by side, looking out across a narrow strip of water toward Bygdøy. Smoking Marlboros. Astrid leaning against the iron railing. Both wore sunglasses, so neither could read the other’s eyes. Astrid focused on his voice. How much of it was joking and how much of it was real hostility? …
I told her. I warned her on the first day of her reign.
I did a handspring. Then a cartwheel and then a hop that landed me at her feet. I bowed and then looked up into the wide grey eyes of all her kind. Thrice before I had served under such eyes.
“It is easy to become queen. Hard to be queen. Impossible to remain queen.” This was my greeting to her. My sincere warning.
She smiled coldly, turning to the old courtier who walked a pace behind her. Feigning respect. …
It's almost that time of the year again. A lot of you are about to get your hands on that degree you've been stressing and sweating to obtain for years. You are heading for the academic finish line, arms in the air.
Some of you will even get to throw in a Fortnite dance move or two to celebrate (graduating with honors!). Whoop whoop! That's really great. Now guess what? You get to start all over again at the beginning of your next race: your career.
Now, you may be tempted to treat your entry-level gig as simply a stepping stone or even as something less than that. Or perhaps no matter how great your education and abilities are in whatever you got your degree in, you may have to take a temporary detour into a job that just keeps the wolf (bills) away from the door, but doesn't do jack to get you moving toward your real goal. …
When you came to the end of the private road, there was a hard swing to the right and suddenly the house would appear, as if by magic, from amid the dense forest of trees. A huge white elephant of a house, weather-beaten but surely permanent, it seemed as much a part of the natural landscape as the ground itself. And as welcoming as the house was, it never seemed to forget it had been placed there for a reason. Every visitor was drawn past the house itself to the view beyond.
With the house at your back, the view of the fjord astounded. If you had never been to Farstad before, you quite forgot the house and the party you’d likely been invited to. It was a view that made you appreciate every step you’d taken in life that had brought you to stand in exactly that spot at that moment. There was an indefinable beauty that stopped time and reminded you of things the heart and the instincts know but that the head often forgets. It raised the spirits and brought one closer to oneself. The effect of the view could be dulled with cocktails or by familiarity, among other things, but it was always lurking there even then to be rediscovered. …
If you want to get out of the nuthouse in Asker, you have to promise to be good. They actually want you to say you will never, ever, try to hang yourself again. Then they give you pills designed to prevent just that and they let you go. They release you back into the wild.
My father came to collect me in the German car he loves more than anything else in the world, while my mother stayed at home. She has her own pills there, she has Absolut. And I think she is happy, in a way. Nothing troubles her. I never see her upset or angry or worried. Like other people. Like me. And she hasn’t lost touch with the world. When she has to, she puts on her costume and her makeup and goes to the parties and dinners she is expected to. She says what she is expected to say to the people she meets at these things and then goes back to her room. …
A group of five young cats. None of them more than two years old. Neatly huddled together. So not quite bold enough to be city cats, but with none of the edgy watchfulness that country cats and housecats have when they come to the park. So that leaves the suburbs.
As is customary, only one of the group may speak directly to me. Their chosen ambassador comes awkwardly forward. An orange, unremarkable little fellow. Not at all alpha-like. I'm guessing that he was bullied by the rest to take on the job of addressing me.
Going into the art gallery was merely a means of escaping the sudden rain. Charlotte had absolutely no interest in art ordinarily, something the gallery attendant seemed to be able to scent. Despite her friendly welcoming nod, the woman remained seated at her cherrywood desk and continued to read her detective novel. A clear signal that Charlotte was free to roam around in the place without being pursued to buy or leave. The worst of the downpour would be over in half an hour and then she’d walk the remainder of the way to the bookstore on Drammensveien.
Since it was a gallery that had offered the nearest shelter in her moment of need, she felt obligated to have a polite look at what was hanging on the walls. Being careful not to look at any of the paintings yet, she sat down her rain-soaked shopping bags near the door and hung up her dripping jacket on the coat rack. She would start at the beginning of the exhibit, and systematically see it all. The show seemed to have a theme of bullfighting. At first, she wasn’t certain if it was the work of several artists or just one. …
They prayed for me
And those prayers echo across time
I hear them
Old, god-fearing women
Calling upon the burning sun and glowing moon as their witness
Scarred and chapped
Praying for a child they will never see
But that they know
That they sense
To go where they cannot go
Do what they cannot do
Be what they are not allowed to be
And STAND unafraid
And blessed with a prayer God just has to answer
From this cotton field
From this shack
From this cane…