Short story: Slo-Glo by Priya Sarukkai Chabria

The Best Asian Speculative Fiction

I know. I use Cooling Pods more than allowed. Cause of him I need to cool. I’m within its pistachio luminescence, enclosed by misty mucous membranes shaped like an eye, an eye with a chill lid that closes over you once you’re its pretend pupil, its twitching dark centre, its pupil being gently coaxed to calm down be composed, to glimmer less and less till Drowsy-Droopy and eyes shut.

I’m all gaze, I’m all gauze wrapping him from far off, a swell of lit synapses, a torch of feelers reaching out to him, covering cocooning cosseting him. My nerves tingle when his do. My heart lurches when he pauses, his rhythms of breathing are mine. In out in out in out come to me sweetheart, come to me comet burning too bright, come to me solitary star of night I’ll stop you from burning.

I’m watching wanting willing you not to reach The Limit. Kae Kuru Kae Kuru this is Koo your Empath Koo your Keeper. Love me Love me back I’m in your every cell stroking soothing spooning you, even before you do it I know you’ll stick a finger into your navel as you think harder for you want to connect to things that came before you and things yet to come, you seek safety as you invent, and trust me, I am that safety, Kae Kuru Kae Kuru sink into me.

Even when I’m cooling coddled in quiet I see you working. When you turn off I’m in your wild dream of hurtling black holes, your mind hurtling to capture its power, to train it tame it strain it steer it to feed larger black holes to feed us energy. That’s it. Energy. The want that censures controls condemns us. We the Profuges of the Planet of Ruo. Refugees from BlueGemm. That planet of long ago. The Once Dream. Our Once Mother. Our Once Twin. That flowered flourished faded finished in a time before The Limit was set. Those who lived there lived in an understanding of themselves as unbounded. They were our Ancestors.

We never pray to our Ancestors our Assassins. They blinded themselves betrayed themselves betrayed their progeny betrayed the future betrayed BlueGemm’s past betrayed us. We the Profuges of Ruo. Of Ruin. Ruination. But it doesn’t End here.

We are Profuges. Phoenix People who rose from waste, rose by want, by waiting waiting and changing ourselves, changing what was left of our world, we’re refugees fleeing our past, fleeing the ancient DNA that twisted us into being this, we are Profuges: we learnt how to twist our DNA so we never follow the path of our Ancestors our Assassins. We never pray to them.

In our orison meetings we use the language of the Bush People of the Kalahari from BlueGemm’s past, a language of clicks clacks cluttering as tongue and teeth clatter together, a language we don’t understand for we don’t want to be like our Ancestors our Assassins, we don’t want to pray for the same things even by mistake. But we need to pray to give thanks for what we have, what we’ve made of ourselves, we the Phoenix People of Ruo.

Read the complete story in The Best Asian Speculative Fiction 2018. Show your support for contemporary Asian voices. Order your copy now:

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