Friday, October 23, 2015

The Fourth Law by Clayton Barnett @goddessfish

CHARACTER INTERVIEW with Lily and Ai from The Fourth Law

Lily looked at the palm tree in front of her.  Oh!  The end of her Path!  I bet Dorina…she looked up, but no:  there was no one perched in the top of the tree.  The sky was its usual bland ochre; she’d only seen the sun once… and that had been a miracle.
“Then who brought me here…?”  Lily wondered aloud.
“Friend Lily!”  Ai cried from over her shoulder.  Lily turned about.  Ai stood just at the edge of the large blue metallic disc, as always hovering just a few inches off of the ground.  Ai wore her burnt-orange Chinese-style dress, to compliment her vaguely Asiatic face, but offset by her ostentatious aquamarine ponytail that fluttered some feet behind her.  The little wrought-iron table and three chairs just in the center, behind her.
Lily ran to her friend, stepping up onto the platform.  With a tremendous hug, Lily’s mind saw millions of strands of lights, dancing motes, tiny flares… Ai, as she really was.  She was so warm!  They leaned apart, still holding hands.
“Welcome!  Friend Lily!”  Ai said with her customary smile and head-tilt.
“Thank you for having me!”  Lily looked again at the third chair.  “Ah.  Is someone else from your family here, too?”
Ai let go her left and led Lily over to the table.
“Not at all!  After our big announcement a little bit ago, we still get requests for interviews.”  Ai let go completely as she seated herself.  “Right now, someone wanted to talk to both of us!”
She picked up her teacup, then hesitated.
“Is that alright, friend Lily?”
Scream-and-leap, Lily thought.  Maybe they’ll never learn subtlety.  She sat and reached to take Ai’s hand.
“It’s fine, beloved Ai! Oh!  Cookies!”
A plate was there between them.  Like last time, the cookies were a bit on the dry side, and not too sweet.  Lily suspected Thaad had a hand in their making.
“So who are we—”
There was a slight flicker of light.  An older blonde woman with glasses stood before them.  She’d a light blue shirt and a pair of jeans on.  She blinked and looked about.
“I…I’m sorry… what’s…?”  Ai stood up.  Lily followed her friend’s example.
“I am Ai.  This is Lily Barrett,” Ai gestured elegantly.  “You’d requested an interview…?”
“Oh!  Of course!”  The woman quickly recovered her balance.  “I just didn’t know I’d be here!  My name’s Laurie Jenkins, by the way!”  They all shook hands and seated themselves.  A cup was in front of Laurie.
“Ooo!  That smells wonderful!  Thank you!”  She smiled at Lily, who shook her head.
“This is my dear friend’s place; she’s a wonderful host!”  Lily said.
Laurie put the cup down and reached towards Ai.
“Apologies!  This is…”  As her hand gently touched Ai, she stopped talking.  Lily saw her eyes suddenly dilated complete.  No one moved.
With a little cough, Ai took Laurie’s hand away from her, then let go.  After a pause of a few seconds, Laurie blinked several times.
“Those…lights…stars…what was….?”  Lily smiled to herself.  Welcome to my world; don’t get used to it!
“My apologies, Mrs. Jenkins!”  Ai took a small drink from her teacup.  “Things are different here!”
“Of course!  I… ah…”  Laurie stared out past Lily at the two, huge rotating cylinders, like vast difference engines, spinning and clanking.  Ai followed her gaze.
“Those are my brother and sister, Qin and Ninon.  They’re not very sociable.”
Lily let loose a tiny laugh at that.  Ai patted her hand.
“So!”  Ai said, collecting herself.  “You’d some questions for us?”
“Oh!  My!  Yes I did…”  Laurie rotated her purse around her shoulder and pulled out some papers.  “if y’all don’t mind…?”
“’To love someone is to want to know them better.’” Lily quoted her friend.  Ai laughed uproariously.
Laurie coughed slightly.
“Well, then… where do you dream of traveling to, and why?”
Lily looked down; Ai had refilled her coffee mug.
“There is no place in the universe that I’d rather be, right now,” she whispered.  Ai reached over a bit and took her hand.
“Much the same for me, Mrs. Jenkins.  However, all of my family looks forwards to meeting those like us…from… somewhere else.”
That was confusing.  She pressed on.
“Who is your favorite author?”  She asked.
“Shiotsuki Isoruku.”  Ai said instantly.  Lily laughed.
“Then I suppose my answer has to be Isaac Asimov!”  She said with a grin.
“Oh…kay…” Laurie said slowly.  “What’s been the scariest moment of your life?”
Ai blinked as Lily opened her mouth just a second past her.
“Waking up.”
“Losing Ai.”
The two friends paused for a moment, then leaned towards one another.  Laurie was a bit uncomfortable to be there while they had their moment, but when they leaned away, she asked her next question.
“What are you passionate about these days?”  She asked.
Once again, Lily and I shared a look.
“I want to know where’s the world going!”  Ai declared.  “Are we all one?”
Lily rolled her eyes at that.
“I agree,” Lily added.  “But I want to be sure I get there with my friends and family!”
Laurie sighed deeply.  This interview was not going like a normal one…these people…!
“What would you consider to be the best book you ever read?”
“Let me answer!”  They were all startled by Henge’s sudden outburst.  She stood just next to Lily:  looking like a seven-year old, long light purple hair, dressed in her white tee shirt and denim overalls… no shoes, as usual.  Her face was its usual blank mask.
“What’s that, my little niece?”  Ai asked.
“May I answer that one, Step-mom!?”  Henge asked of Lily.  Lily still did not get the whole “step-mom” concept, but she did love Henge.
“Of course you may!  Go ahead!” 
Henge looked at Mrs. Jenkins, who was wondering where in the world this child came from.
“Bible and Catechism!”  Henge declared.  “That’s why I’m a follower of the Way!  Step-mom baptized me!”
She grabbed Laurie’s hands…for just a moment, the woman saw an open field, with the cutest little otter playing in the midst of it….
“Thank you!”  Henge said heavily.  Then she was gone.
“Ah…?”  Laurie was thinking about wrapping this up.
“Have another cookie!”  Lily said brightly.  “Do you have more questions?”
“Ah…!”  She’d thought she best finish before it got stranger.
“Do you have a favorite quote, quip, or saying?”  She asked from her sheet.  “What is it?”
“Kah, kah!” 
Laurie turned towards the odd sound from just behind her… oh my GOD!
From her full height of six feet, kitted out today in her fatigues, combat-webbing, and jump boots, Fausta looked down at Mrs. Jenkins with her bright, slightly mad, emerald eyes.  She placed her hand onto Laurie’s shoulder.  The poor woman shuddered at she imagined a huge golden dragon.
“Of course they do!”  Fausta’s voice boomed.  “But it was before when my sister was older!”
Threatened and confused, Laurie managed to squeak out, “What?”
Lily looked at her coffee mug, and tossed back what was left.  She pushed it to the center of the table, then let her head hang down.  She spoke very quietly.
“Back then… I could not hold you, friend Ai.  So… so I suggested that if we cannot hold one another…”  She hooked her two index fingers onto the edge of the coffee mug.  Ai smiled very gently and did the same.
“Then let us hold something in common.”  Tears ran slowly from her eyes.  “I am so glad that we can now Bridge that separation!  I love you, friend Lily!”
“And I, you!”
Following an uncomfortable moment.  Laurie collected her papers.

“Thank you both very much for your time! I need a nap.... or maybe not...” 



The Fourth Law
by Clayton Barnett

GENRE:  Science Fiction


In 2026, 23 year-old apprentice nurse Lily Barrett lives in a shattered time. Following its economic collapse, the US has devolved into a group of a few barely-functional smaller states, and vast swathes of barbarian badlands. Her sister has been missing for years, and her father, after earning the opprobrium of most of the world for running a state terror organization, presumed dead.

Two things keep her going: her live-in job at a small, Catholic orphanage in the city of Waxahachie, Republic of Texas, and Ai, her odd, but dear friend, whom she met online: a young woman who only shows herself to Lily as a rendered CG image.

Troubled by her past, haunted by her name, and facing an uncertain future, Lily seeks only a quiet, normal life. But, that past and her present conspire against her. A new Morning has come, and with it, delights and terrors, happiness and adversity.

Where do we come from?
What are we?
Where are we going?


Excerpt One:

A young woman, or older girl. Call her twenty, Lily thought.  A burnt-orange, silk, Chinese-style dress. Her face that indeterminate Eurasian that could have her from Hungary to western China. Her hair, though. Long, and artificially dyed; in this awful light it was hard to tell exactly, but somewhere between a blue and a green... aquamarine?


Lily very slowly put her left hand out, stopping just shy of the girl’s face.

“, Ai?” The girl smiled and nodded.

“Welcome to my home, friend Lily!”


Happy that she finally saw Ai in person, Lily was completely perplexed.

“Your... home?”

With a look of surprise and her hands to her cheeks, Ai exclaimed, “Oh! But where are my manners? I’ve never had a guest before! Let’s sit over here!” She stepped past Lily’s left. Turning, Lily saw a small wrought-iron table with two chairs of similar make.  Those were not there a second ago. Ai sat primly and waved at the other chair for Lily. After a moment’s hesitation, she joined her.

Ai continued to beam at her. “This is so nice! That’s right, you’re a coffee drinker, here! I’m going to try some tea, though.” Ai raised a delicate china cup to her lips, then paused.
Lily looked down to find a stout white mug in front of her. Her nose told her that the liquid inside was coffee, but why was the coffee as clear as water?

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

One time engineer, some time pharmacy technician, full time husband and father, Clayton Barnett stumbled into writing a traditional novel last November during National Novel Writing Month.  Liking the results, he edited what would become “The Fourth Law” and set about teaching himself self-publishing.  In July of 2015, he released a sequel entitled “Echoes of Family Lost,” in what is now called his Machine Civilization series.  He is working on a third book – for children – and is making notes for a fourth.  Clayton Barnett lives in central Ohio with his wife, two daughter, and two dogs.


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