Sans Ants



“Is that wind too much on you? I can adjust it.”

I pulled the grass stem out of my mouth and flicked it toward the stream. The breeze caught it and dropped it about a meter short of the water. I smiled at her. “It’s perfect.”

Genni blushed. “I’m glad you like it. It’s not a full custom, but I spent a long time modifying it. What do you want to do today?”
I stretched out on the picnic blanket. “I just want to enjoy it, and you, as much as possible.”

The resolution was fantastic, and, somehow, Jenny had programmed my avatar to make goosebumps anytime the wind blew. They didn’t feel exactly right, but it was pretty close. It was actually incredible considering Genni had never had a goosebump.

I plucked another grass stem and put it between my teeth. The plant tasted real, too, not that I’d had any more experience with grass than Genni had with skin. “It’s amazing.” I rolled over to see her face. She was blond today, with a pointed chin and green eyes. “You’re amazing.”

I leaned closer and kissed her on her forehead and lips. The kiss felt perfect to me. A lot of clock hours had gone into the creation of the subroutine, along with hundreds of years of adjustments.

“Do you have to go?” she said. 

“You know I do. It’s what we came here for.”

“You act like you don’t even care.”

Genni’s family had traveled just as far as mine had, but she’d never leave the ship. She couldn’t. She was an Artifact. Her whole existence depended on the ship’s mainframe. She might live forever, but she’d never touch the surface of the planet below. “You can’t go. I can’t stay,” I said. “We knew that when we started this.”

She swallowed and nodded tightly. “I just didn’t think it would come so soon.”

I swatted her on the butt. “Enough. We have weeks, yet.”

Weeks on the mainframe, but only a day for the meat I’d left back in my capsule. In twenty-five hours I’d be on the shuttle, headed for the surface to start a new human colony.

The sky darkened. “It’s not enough time, and you know it,” Genni said. “You log out for a workshift, and it feels like you’re gone for a month! What am I supposed to do?”

“It’s out of my control,” I said. “We haven’t been traveling for eighty years so that I can stay on the ship! We have a mission.”

Thunder boomed, and the gentle breeze turned hard and cold. “The mission!” Genni said. “Don’t I mean anything to you?”

Hailstones stung my skin. “Genni, baby, you mean everything to me, but …”

The stream froze solid with a sharp crack. “You’re a liar!” Genni said. “After all I’ve done …” The grass under me withered and died. “Everything you made me do …”

“Genni. Genni, please calm down.” The ground burst open in a fountain of molten rock. “Fuck it,” I said. “Pause execution. Repeat. Pause execution.”

The program froze.

“Drop the jealousy and possessiveness algorithms by forty percent and restore to …” I looked at my watch. “... three minutes ago.”
I blinked.

“Is that wind too much on you? I can adjust it.”

I pulled the grass stem out of my mouth and flicked it toward the stream. I smiled at her. “It’s perfect.”

Genni blushed. “I’m glad you like it. It’s not a full custom, but I spent a long time modifying it. What do you want to do today?”

I considered the possibilities. “Everything.”