The Close Call

One of the earlier short-stories penned by Leo Klauncy, a famed storysmith best known for his technically detailed espionage and war novels, the following was found with a letter Klauncy sent to a friend for his birthday.


00110. That’s what he saw as his elevator raced upwards. He used to have a name once, possibly. He wasn’t quite sure anymore. All he had now, and for as long as he could remember, was a number set in binary and tattooed onto his forehead. Maybe he should ask the lady standing next to him. He took his eyes off the mirror for a moment, to glance at her. 01001 was etched across her forehead and it was easy to tell that the tattoo was new. He opened his mouth, but closed it immediately after, changing his mind. She probably wouldn’t remember anything before the number either. Not that it mattered. They were on their way to meet 00111, and he’d heard stories about what 00111 had done to the two people who previously bore the number 01001. They were just rumours, of course, but it wasn’t hard to imagine that 00111 was capable of it. He’d always had a doubt, and on many occasions noticed a flicker of a cannibalistic look in the old man’s eyes. Even last week he saw something that looked suspiciously like a human liver on the old man’s plate. Come to think of it, that was the day after the disappearance of the last 01001. The rumour was becoming scarier now. He’d first seen it scribbled along the wall of a closet in a washroom, but heard several people speak about it to each other in hushed tones later, “00111 ate 01001.” A shiver went up his spine. 00111 was a veteran surgeon, and expertly played the role of a medic to Soldiers Immortal, but he was definitely capable of taking the life he gave.

A bell rang, bringing 00110 back to the present. The doors opened, giving them way to the office belonging to 00111. However, they found their way blocked by Luminosity and Current, members of the council governing SI. “We can’t let you through. Time had an accident, and a deep gash across his back. Length and Mass are also inside, waiting as 00111 attends to him. Please come back later,” they said as they gestured back towards the elevator. 00110 smiled. It looked like the new lady would live just a bit longer. He laughed to himself once the door of the elevator shut close. Turned out a stitch in Time saved 01001.

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