It was the blood that signaled that another end had begun.
She tried—without success—not to look, but in the end, she couldn’t help it, and wailed.
A mother always cried when she lost a child.
This would be her third.
And now she would stand trial.
Crowded around the holographic display were the people who wished to view the greatest being of all. Eyes wide, mouths agape, they held smartphones and handheld tablets at bay as security guards navigated the crowd in an attempt to gain control. There are no electronic devices allowed, they continued to say, as it was believed that the interference would cause disruptions within the holographic computing, but they didn’t care. All the people wanted to see was the greatest discovery known to mankind—which, at exactly 12:00, would rise from the depths of its mortal coffin and into its digital heaven within the world.
“This is Madeline Carter reporting to you live from Channel 3 news,” the reporter said, desperate to be heard beneath the gargantuan roar of the onlookers, “coming to you live from the National British Museum of London, where the Aspect of Knowledge is graciously being held for its ten-year anniversary. As you can see, the crowds have already flocked in an effort to observe what is unarguably the greatest phenomena on Earth.”
“She hasn’t been sleeping well the past few nights,” Elise said as she looked in on their sleeping six-month-old toddler.
“She’s probably just having nightmares,” her husband, George, said.
“Isn’t she a little young though?”
“Why else would she be waking up?” George said, running a hand along the doorjamb. “We’ve already checked the room to make sure it wasn’t anything else.”
They’d spent the whole morning and part of the afternoon to ensure that their daughter wouldn’t have any more of what the pediatric nurse had described as ‘nightly episodes.’ Babies, she’d said, were susceptible to even the slightest of stimuli. For that reason, the branch outside the window had been cut down, new curtains were freshly installed. The creaky doorjamb had been oiled and the flickering nightlight with the hummingbird heartbeat was gone. To Elise, the room was nothing short of perfection—picturesque in its pink hues and white trim, with its white cradle with pink down. Their daughter should’ve been fine. She shouldn’t have been waking up at night. She shouldn’t have been—
Screaming, Elise thought, like someone had broken in.
“Are you taking another selfie?” Oliva asked.
“Yeah,” Carter smiled, angling his phone so the forward-facing camera wouldn’t catch the light. “Gotta give the people what they want.”
“You?” she snorted. “Unlikely.”
“Ha ha, very funny.” He took the picture, lowered the camera, then frowned at the result. “God. The lighting here sucks.”
“You’re the one who wanted to camp out in grandma’s cabin.”
“And you’re the one who has finals next week,” Carter replied, quickly snapping another photo and hashtagging it #hangingwithfriends. “You wanted somewhere quiet. You got it.”
“Still,” Oliva sighed. She pulled a pot of simmering noodles from the stove and turned to drain them in the kitchen sink. “I never said it had to be in the middle of nowhere.”
Rather than engage his friend further, Carter seated himself on the couch and quickly browsed through a series of filters on the BroadCast app. Once he selected one that rectified the horrendous interior lighting, he clicked Post, then watched it appear on his profile.
At least the coverage is good, he thought.
Take me home, beautiful—take me home.
I speak your name on my tongue as though it is fruit yet to be tasted. As cotton candy flows from between my lips, whispering of the deviant urgency of my love, I reach out to you in the hopes that somehow, someway, you will answer.
You are an amazing, beautiful creature.
Please—don’t ever let me go.
It was a sad day when they lost Gwenny Knox—not just for the world, but for the singer’s biggest fan. It came on a day so casual and ordinary it seemed that nothing could go wrong. April, early spring, with birds in the air and bees buzzing amidst the cropping of freshly-sprouted flowers, something so dark and ominous came trotting through one woman’s life in a way that could be seen as ironic. Everything seemed to be going fine—perfect, even. Fresh out of college and with a potential boyfriend that appeared to have it all, how could anything go wrong, especially in a world so loving and caring?
The day of April seventh, Nineteen-Ninety-Two, Diana Newborn turned the TV on expecting nothing but the usual.
Later, she would realize how little it took to change someone’s life.
Scrolling across on the bottom of the screen in a sickly blood-red, the words ‘Singer Gwenny Knox found dead in apartment’ would plant itself in Diana’s mind and haunt her for the rest of her life.