Many of my story ideas come from random conversations with the muse. (By this time, perhaps you know I call him that ironically, or perhaps you don’t. Now you do.)
In one such conversation, he said “whatever happened to the Ripleys?” And while further conversation revealed he meant the kick-ass girls who go out into the world and Do, I found myself picturing Ellen Ripley in Alien Resurrection, discovering that room of clones — the endless horrors she had been made into after her death in the iron works.
We know what happened to those Ripleys, of course. She killed them. But what if there were more to it than that? This is where “Figure 8” began.
There were seven before you. You’re number eight, perfect in every way, because they rooted out each imperfection across the seven who came before.
But they left you, your makers. They left you without a hint as to where they’d gone. You were old enough, smart enough, built well enough to withstand anything that might come, so they left you, and you — you hunt. If you’re perfection, the others cannot stand.
This is a story unlike any I’ve written before — and I seem to find myself saying that a lot, which is maybe good? We want our craft to develop, and this craft is certainly…something else at this point.
I don’t write horror, an editor told me, so what are these stories? We do not know, but they exist even so. What is horror? Is slaughtering the reflection of your own face (you alone are perfection) something other than horror? How is hunting yourself to extinction not horror?
There is a kind of beauty in it, the circular nature of a figure eight, made in ice, traced on paper, the way the line curls and comes back to itself. Figure eight is upright infinity.
In the metallic night air that blows up from the tracks, Number Five smells like leather. You probably smell like bubble bath and blood but you don’t linger on it. You follow Number Five off the train amid a jostle of other bodies.
She is an assassin, set on killing herself. Every iteration, until she alone remains, because she was made perfect, she was made last. But how do you kill yourself over and over without it leaving a mark on your own body? What is nature and what is nurtured?
Let’s find out.
You can read “Figure 8” in Gamut Issue #2 (two is my favorite number — coincidence, or no?). Subscriptions are buy one get one in February!