The Great Connection:
Worlds in Waiting Author: Garry Abbott
Following an unfortunate incident involving a delivery drone, a fishing net, and a very tall tree; Raif Masters finds himself forced by his overprotective alpha parents to spend his last school holiday exploring extraterrestrial worlds in ‘The Great Connection’: a real-time simulation of the observable universe, rendered into virtual reality home entertainment.
But Raif, a "child of three", is not alone. Terry, bound to the service of the Masters family, is looking forward to a very early retirement after one last summer looking after his young charge.
Together they meet Cinder, a fellow simunaught who is seeking a crew to share a secret discovery from the other side of the galaxy that could change the life of the Masters, and the future of the Earth, forever.
But are some discoveries best left unconnected?
‘Continuance through rebirth, sister,’ each of the gathered spoke to her as they swayed and chanted.
‘Continuance through rebirth,’ she spoke back to each in turn, well-versed in the ritual, having been one of the dancers on many occasions in her long and soon to be ending life.
She knelt on the bed, making the most of the last few moments she could look upon her friends’ faces. Beside her the doctor waited patiently with his head bowed.
The dancing stopped and the gathered formed a line at the foot of her last resting place. Now they were permitted to speak if they wished, and only if she beckoned them over. Most had made their peace already, but her young student, a newborn called Yalissa, twitched impatiently, trying to signal her desire to speak once more. She nodded and Yalissa came over.
‘Continuance through rebirth, sister,’ Yalissa said again hurriedly to dispense with the formality. She laid her hands upon her old teacher, feeling her shoulders and the rise of her neck, running her fingers over her cheeks and all the time crying.
‘Speak, my dear Yalissa,’ said Scoria IX, gently removing her touch and placing her arms back at her side.
‘I look forward to seeing you again soon.’ The girl spoke awkwardly with a grimace. They were obviously not the words she had been searching for. ‘I mean, I will see you again, when it’s done, in time, and...’ She stuttered on, her face furrowed and straining.
Scoria pitied the poor girl. She was the first of herself, born from a union, not a rebirth. She still believed the stories that this was a continuance. They weren’t just words to her. But Scoria, like so many others, knew the truth. All she knew of her past lives was left to her in writings and logs. She didn’t feel the spark or memory of her ancestors inside her like others claimed, but she observed the customs so that frightened newborns like Yalissa could live happily without fear.
‘Yes. I will remember you fondly when I come of age, I am sure. But you must not look for me until I look for you, my girl. Maybe one day you will teach me.’
Garry Abbott is a science fiction author from Staffordshire in the UK where he lives with his wife and two cats.
Garry has published the short story collection 'The Dimension Scales and Other Stories', and his first full length space opera novel: 'The Great Connection: Worlds in Waiting'. He is currently working on his third title, a sci-fi comedy, working title: 'Transported'.
As well as writing science fiction, Garry has regularly contributed topical comedy sketches for the BBC and produced scripts for community arts productions and performances.
Garry's influences include Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, Ursula K. Le Guin, Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, Philip Pullman, George R. R. Martin and Dennis Potter.