Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Sudden Short Story 59

A noise came from the book at the center of his study.  He eyed it, warily.  Another, similar noise came again.  Sighing, he closed the book that he was reading, stood, and carefully replaced it on its shelf.  He looked outside, seeing that it was mid-afternoon here, and that there was no sign of rain.  Even basic information like this could become vital - the people of Earth were utterly lacking in scruples.
He removed the key from its hiding place, opened the lock on the book, and hid the key under the lectern.  He opened the book, and saw through its window the most beautiful woman that he had ever seen.  This was a mistake:  By choosing the most beautiful woman that he had ever seen, they had already given away their hand, revealing that they had a complete psychological profile on him, one more impressive than could have ever been formed before he left.  Perhaps they thought that they were being subtle because she was clothed.
"You know why I am here, and I understand that you've been wont to dispense with pleasantries for some time now," said she, ever formally.
"You're here to negotiate," he answered.  "You want me, or access to me - it's all the same to you, really."  Despite his extended periods with no direct human interaction, he had lost all patience with the rest of humanity.
"We are willing to accept lesser terms.  Perhaps if you would permit us to spontaneous complex detailed dimension creation science...  As the first known discoverer controlled science, it would help us greatly in our attempt to understand the phenomenon."
"'Spontaneous complex detailed dimension creation science'... I suppose that that is direct and sufficiently detailed to serve as an adequate name."
"You call it something else?" she pretended to not know.
He played along.  "Heh," he let out, with a slight smile.  "'Age Science', though not officially.  I've gotten a bit poetical in my time alone, I suppose."
"'Age Science'?" she asked.
"Did you make that much noise just to play Pretend-We-Don't-Know with me?  It bears such a resemblance to what happened in the Myst series," he said, grabbing the cover and three-quarters-closing it.  "I did put the gate between worlds into a book, after all," he finished, opening the book fully again.
"I'll get right to the point, then.  Regardless of whether you can, we know that you will not create other people with your science.  Thus, unless and until you rejoin us, you will lack anything and everything that comes from other people.  There will be no novel recipes.  Nobody will act as your sounding board.  There will be no stories besides those that you write yourself.   And you will never have sex."
"I know," came his immediate reply.  He made sure that he was looking at his negotiator's face when he said it, though.  The stillness of her face during that brief moment of silence told him more than any tell.  After all of their simulations, all of their possible logic branches, had they missed the possibility that he'd say simply 'I know'?  Perhaps all of their supercomputers weren't nearly as smart as they thought themselves. "If that is all," he began. 
"It's not."  This answer wasn't entirely unexpected, though he knew that pretty much anything could happen now.  A case was placed upon the desk in front of her, and she opened it.  Three brittle scrolls looked like they might break at the slightest provocation.  "These appear to be a rather unique archaeological find.  The location of their discovery, as well as their condition, make it likely that they come from the early Han dynasty.  However, they have specifically not been scanned or otherwise inspected, but were brought directly here for our use.  Return to Earth, and we promise to examine them as thoroughly and as carefully as possible, learning from them as best we can.  Refuse, however, and they will be incinerated." 
They could have offered or threatened almost anything else ... .  For the first time in... perhaps ever, he was visibly shaking with rage, unable to control himself.  "So....  It has come to book-burning, has it?  Then let me start."  He slammed the book shut, locked it, and hurled it into the fire place.  Then, he sought out the materials to create a fire.  There was nothing left for him on Earth, not even hope. 

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