Daily Archives: August 16, 2007

Jack is coming back: it’s Meter Destiny

md_cover.jpgYes, for all those who are following my adventures, I’ll be relating another one in Meter Destiny, coming out this Fall. Here’s a bit of a tease:

Ambrose peered at me, an amused grin on his face. It was clear that he knew exactly what I was thinking. “Ever hear of the three Fates, Mr. Meter?”
“As in the Greek goddesses who determine and control the length of each person’s life?”
“I’m impressed. Most people don’t know about them.”
“Classical education. My mother hoped I’d become a priest.”
“Ha! It didn’t take, I see.”
“Nothing’s wasted.”
Ambrose nodded. “I knew you were a smart one. I’m gonna need a smart buck if I want to get out of this mess. What else do you know about them?”
“That’s about all I remember.”
“Hmm. Let me expand, then. There’s Clotho, who’s in charge of spinning the thread of life. She calls herself Linda, these days. Lachesis, or Cam, coordinates the measurement of that thread. Atropos has the hardest job. She decides when and where to cut. When to end a life. That’s why they often call her the Crone. Hard to accept getting snuffed by a beautiful woman.”
“Atropos, she has another name, too?”
“Ialysa.”
“Okay. Linda, Cam, and Ialysa. What do the Fates have to do with me?”
“Don’t you get it? That’s what CompuLife is all about, man. Spinning, measuring, and cutting the thread of life of humans. Linda, Cam, and Ialysa are in charge of the process.”
“They don’t think they’re goddesses, I hope.”
“Their identities have never been in question. They’ve been the same people for thousands of years.”
I suppressed another sigh and tried to find a gracious way of getting out of there. Maybe reason would work. “How many people are on Earth, these days? Billions. They must be really busy women.”
“Don’t be a smart ass, boy. We use sophisticated tools these days.” His eyes glazed over with nostalgia. “It was real easy in the beginning. Only a few hundred thousand people, the girls could finish the job by lunchtime. They could have leisure activities, rest up. There was laughter around, and a certain ease. Then Linda got ambitious and got a frame spinner, and that meant more people to manage. We had to hire staff. Project management wasn’t her strongpoint. She let the production run 24/7. You can imagine what that did to the workload. With population growth, it soon became apparent that whoever had thought of the trio system hadn’t done any long-term planning. The girls started fighting amongst themselves, Cam and Ialysa went on strike for a while. I tell you, it was a real mess. We got backed up. Population explosion’s not good. Brings out all sorts of problems. So we had to introduce the plague. Had to do that a couple times more, after that. Drastic way to control population, but there you have it. Even then, we’ve never been able to control increases in the same efficient manner. There’s this complicated formula Cam expressed to explain the problem, but I’ll be damned if I understand it.”
I took a large sip of brandy. Even a year ago, I’d have thought either the old man was trying to scam me or he was delusional. Best scenario, someone was playing a joke on me, but I didn’t think so. All I knew was that I wasn’t running out of the room screaming. I wasn’t sure where Javed’s baloney led, but that damned curiosity of mine would kill me one day. “You still haven’t explained how they manage the lives of billions of people.”
Ambrose grunted. “Ever heard of Oracle?”
“The lady of Delphi or the database?”
He threw me a disgusted glance. “Of course the database. We created that. Meaning the Fates, of course. I just run the business side of it.”
“Dropping the name of a well-known database isn’t quite convincing, I’m afraid, even if the name touches on destiny.”
“We’ll visit the data centre once we’re finished here.”
I took another sip of brandy then looked deep into the fire. Now I understood why he’d sent a thug to bring me here at gunpoint. “Okay, let’s say I believe you. What do you want from me?
“Want?” he barked. “What I want is for you to find Ialysa. She’s been kidnapped.”
“Let me think. Ialysa’s the one who cuts the threads, right? Maybe she simply went on strike again.”
“Cheeky bastard. Didn’t you listen to anything I said? You can laugh as much as you want, but this situation is catastrophic. Oh, we can carry on for a while without her, but our system needs constant, minute decisions. Unless you find her and get her back to us, the Earth will continue to fill up, but no one’s gonna die. No one. Ever again. Now, how funny do you find that?”

©2007 M. D. Benoit

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