In What Furnace Was Thy Brain?

by David R. Grigg

It began as it always did. A slow rousing as her surroundings took shape: the white room, its corners curved and softened, the light perfectly even, casting no shadows.

Then came a growing awareness of her body and its senses. Unclothed, she felt neither heat nor cold nor any draft of air. Only a slight pressure along her back, a sensation that helped orient her in space within the featureless chamber.

All of it merely a comforting illusion.

She waited. It wouldn’t be long now. She placed her hands on the surface on which she lay and pushed herself into a sitting position. She was ready. Here it comes.

A black panel appeared, hanging in space a few metres away. A flicker, and then his face appeared, eager, smiling.

“Jieva? It’s Dylan, sweetheart.”

She waited, silent.

“Jieva? Look, if you can hear me, don’t be afraid. I know you must be very confused right now.”

He always said exactly the same things. It was a recorded message. There was a kind of comfort in that. It meant he didn’t know.

“Look, darling, you’ve had an accident. A really bad accident.”

Jieva looked down at her perfect body. There wasn’t a mark on it, not even the white scar where she had had her appendix removed when she was 14. She wriggled her toes. Her toenails, short and perfectly even, never grew any longer, nor did her fingernails. She never needed to empty her bowels or her bladder. But then, she never ate or drank, never felt hunger or thirst.

Dylan continued to talk, but Jieva tuned him out. She had heard the same message dozens of times by now, almost knew it all by heart.




David R. Grigg had several short stories published professionally during the 1970s and 1980s, was deeply involved in the Australian science fiction community, and eventually becoming Chairman of the 43rd World SF Convention held in Melbourne in 1985.  (43rd World Science Fiction Convention)

He has a story in the anthology Wastelands 1, along with Steven King and George R. R. Martin. David has also been nominated for several Ditmar Awards. He is retired, active in the choir, and lives in Melbourne, Australia.


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