Oct 31, 2017
You feel yourself in a forest, standing on a thick layer of pine needles. It feels like you are remembering something happening right now, like it is real, but merely a recording that you are living as it plays. You are next to a tall cylinder with a bevilled top labeled "MEC-A 6." There is a door next to it. The White-Haired Woman stands next to it with her back to you. Her back is always to you.
"This is the end of things," she says, pride in her voice. "In seven hours, we’ll put that book in the Moon Earth Collider and be done with this."
"There’s still time for it to win, right? To get into third place?" you say, dutifully.
"It would be extraordinary for that to happen," she says, confidently. "I know much about this affair has been strange, but we have fought for this outcome. The book is defeated."
"Couldn’t the author still try--" you say, but you are cut off by a scoff from the White-Haired Woman.
"The author!" she says, derisively. "We are concerned about the book, not the author. He is a good typist, nothing more. Perhaps he could have a place in the DOF stenographer pool as a consolation prize. Perhaps he deserves to actually be a part of something worthwhile."
"What about the judges?" you ask. The White-Haired woman turns her head toward you slightly. It is not enough for you to make out any facial features, but you can, at least, tell that she has a face. This is a relief to you.
"Judges?" she asks. You hear nerves in her voice for the first time ever.
"The Inkshares contest. It has judges. They can choose other projects outside of the top three," you say. "And he just released Company Line. It’s got some science fiction flavor, and Inkshares is awfully fond of science fiction."
The White-Haired Woman whips her head around. You know her face isn’t inhuman, but it is unfathomable. You feel as if you are blocking a memory as it happens. The trees around you begin to explode, their bark shattering in all directions. Fire consumes the grove of trees you are in, then all becomes black.
You wake up in your normal bed, at the normal time.