The Cube

Stepney sat in his office. He had deliberately taken care of all other tasks before turning his attention to the projection cube, knowing on some level that having viewed it, he would be able to work on little else. He turned it over in his hand thoughtfully. It was heavy, unexpectedly so for its size. Such devices were used for all manner of things, from personal greetings and favoured memories to research and educational materials. He pressed the button on its side and placed it on his desk.

An image sprang up before him, uncertain at first before resolving into a three-dimensional projection. It was a girl in late adolescence, blonde hair, eyes of deepest blue, smiling out at him seeming real enough to touch. He pressed a second button and watched as the image sprang into life.

“We live in times of confusion, of endless ambition, of humanity growing beyond the grasp of man. We live in one of the most prosperous times in human history – and one of the most dangerous.

“The powers and wonders which we have created for ourselves may be used to harm as well as heal, can take life as easily as they may save it. We have the power to reshape the world, to reshape ourselves, to take control of life for our own ends. The question remains: what is to be our destiny?

“It is not enough for us to simply watch as the world grows beyond control, beyond reason. Those of us who can see tomorrow must step to the fore today, operating the mechanisms of society to steer us to a brighter future.

“We meet each week. Instructions are contained with this message. Come. Share. Learn.”

With that, the image disappeared, snapping out of existence without warning. Stepney gazed at it thoughtfully before slipping it into his pocket and in one motion taking his jacket and heading once more for the door. This required an insight which was beyond him. Harlow would know. Calvin would not approve. She never approved. Harlow’s abilities could not be studied, explained, placed in a test tube, reduced to a series of formulae. They simply were. The best one could hope for was to read the notes in the margins of his skill.

He put the cube to one side and turned to his terminal. He paused for a moment, and switched it to voice mode, bringing up the search function.

“Gadianton,” he said aloud, and watched as the screen turned to a stream of text, the system searching through its millions of records in the blink of an eye. The text drew to a halt and Stepney took it in. Record after record, taken from the Source, the repository of all knowledge, all history, all progress, all defeat. The shared memory of Celestis, the record of a people whose own history was stolen from them before their time. The Gadiantons. Fear, anger, suspicion, memory. He continued. Page upon page upon page, the same worries, the same hatred, the same paranoia. Little of substance. As he had thought. Only a myth.

Myths, Stepney, are what separate us from the animals.

The voice, from the back of his mind, cut into his reflections. The Gadiantons, a story passed through time, through history, from one generation to the next. Perhaps in its survival as an idea, some survival in the world of flesh would be possible. Perhaps Harlow was right.

In his mind’s eye he saw Calvin glaring at him scornfully, her cold, grey eyes boring into him. No, Stepney. How could a man as clever as you be taken in by that charlatan? How could you waste your time on an ancient delusion?

Stepney stood, flicked off the terminal and made his way from the office. He had work to do.

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Published in: on April 29, 2009 at 3:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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