Soul-Shaped Atoms Sneak Peek
There is something very important I need you to do for me today.
CLICK HERE AND LIKE ME
This is my author page on facebook.
I’m doing this in anticipation of my next story titled “S0ul-Shaped Atoms” (whisper: It’s only half done! I haven’t even sent it over to my editor yet, so this is kind of scary!) I need you to “like” my page on facebook so I can start building up a social media platform. We’re probably going to have a pretty small start to building me back up to where I was before in terms of readership, but this is the best way to get me out there again. I’m going to be attacking this thing pretty aggressively from here on out.
I’m going to be doing a short story (they’ll probably be novellas) every month for at least the next twelve months and publishing them on Amazon.
Like I said, I want to write for a living full time.
Short stories self-published on Amazon are NOT the best way to do that. I am aware. I am just going to go insane if I don’t publish something soon. I need to have an audience again. Middle of this year I will start shopping novels around to traditional venues (unless something crazy happens where it makes more sense to go it alone).
Nare Ovsepian is doing my cover art and social media.
Below, please find the cover for “Soul-Shaped Atoms” as well as the first scene.
Release date is February 14th.
SOUL SHAPED ATOMS
by ARTHUR FOREST
The Samantha coils itself into a ball on the sofa. Chin tucked into chest, arms wrapped around legs, eyes firmly shut. Even so, the rest of the world sneaks through in the vibrations that climb up the sofa and into the Samantha. The sofa is on the floor. The floor is bordered by the walls. The walls are capped by the ceiling. And–
“What happens, dear?” asks the Alice woman.
Ever since its arrival, the Alice woman cannot stop asking questions of the Samantha. And chewing bubblegum. The introduction of the Alice woman, the horrible lip-smacking terror of its newness, had made the Samantha flee to its room at the farthest corner of the institution. Then some orderlies had stopped the Samantha and made it return.
“She doesn’t see objects as separate. Or at least not wholly separate. They’re all part of the same thing. Or at least that is my theory after the last eleven years,” says the Doctor Roberts.
The Doctor Roberts scribbles random circles in the corner of a notepad. The Doctor Roberts probably believes that neither the Samantha nor the Alice woman can tell, but the Samantha can hear them. The Samantha hears everything. The humming of the fluorescent lights. The engines of distant cars. The wind on the window. Even the footsteps of other patients in the hall.
“I read her file but didn’t quite believe. That is extreme, even for us. I can’t see why you resisted her referral. Is it true she can’t tell the difference between herself and inanimate objects?”
“It’s not that simple,” mutters the Doctor Roberts.
The variations of the speed of the Doctor Roberts pen indicate that the circles are now at least slightly elliptical. The Doctor Roberts is making fast circles. The circles are jagged.
The Doctor Roberts is agitated.
“Can you please try to narrow it down to one thing, Samantha? Today of all days?” pleads the Doctor Roberts, suddenly.
“It,” the Samantha says.
“My goodness, how terrible. You poor dear. I think we shall have to expedite your case. We’ll give the shot this very day if I have anything to say about it,” says the Alice woman.
The squares to the pen to the paper. The paper to the pad. The pad to the class of objects that are the possessions of the Doctor Roberts. The possessions of the Doctor Roberts to the office of the Doctor Roberts. The office of the Doctor Roberts to the institution. The institution to the city. The city to the state. The state to the nation. The nation to the world. The world to the solar system. The solar system to the galaxy. The galaxy to the universe.
The universe to everything else.
All of it.
One great big mess of it.
Happening all of the time.
The Samantha squeezes its eyes shut, until it can see bright purple stars. It puts its hands on its skull and tries to stop the world from expanding. As if the Samantha can somehow hold it all inside by mere physical pressure.
“Please try to explain? For our guest? She’s here to track your progress, Samantha. She wasn’t even verbal when she first came here. She’s come a long way. In fact, I don’t know that expediting her case is really necessary,” the Doctor Roberts speaks with a tight voice.
“Well, we still have some more screening to do. But just because the Panacea is expensive doesn’t mean it should only be for the rich. I’d very much like to hear more, if you would be willing, Samantha” urges the Alice woman, with more gum-smacking awfulness.
The hum of the electric lights. The wind on the window. The cars on the road outside. All the people in all the cars. All of them seeing the world in a different wrong way. And none of them holding the one true perfect world inside like the Samantha is holding it inside. All of it, all of everything, insisting that the Samantha take notice of it. The sole lonely recorder of all the vast universe.
The Doctor Roberts will not stop scribbling.
The Alice woman will not stop chewing.
The Samantha makes a sound like an electric hum.
“Nnnnnnnnn,” says the Samantha.
The Samantha grabs the hair on the Samantha’s head and pulls it as the Samantha rocks back and forth. Frantically, the Samantha tries to count the strands clutched in its fists. Counts them as a drowning man might grasp at floating weeds for impossible security. The Samantha can feel the strands crushed tight in the Samantha’s fists.
It. It. It.
“IT. All of… IT. Is HAPPENING!”
The Doctor Roberts stops scribbling.
“Oh my,” murmurs the Alice woman and for a blessed moment the chewing stops.
The Doctor Roberts sets down the pad of paper. The Samantha can feel the air disturbed by the pad’s passage. Can hear the footsteps of the Doctor Roberts as it crosses the room.
Water falls from the eyes of the Samantha, as the Samantha tries to make the world small. Small enough to fit inside the head of the Samantha. The head of the Samantha is only twenty-two inches in diameter. The Samantha has measured this repeatedly. The universe is much bigger than twenty-two inches. How is any head smaller than the universe supposed to hold the universe?
“Please stop,” says the Doctor Roberts.
“Excuse me, Doctor Roberts, what are you doing?” asks the Alice woman.
The closeness of the Doctor Roberts forces the Samantha to open its eyes. The Samantha stares at the toes of the Samantha, shutting out the rest of the room. Counts them. Again. And again. Desperately.
“The Samantha can’t stop!” the Samantha bursts.
Nine is a small number. A manageable number. The Samantha takes the one right index finger of the Samantha and touches it to the top of the nine toes over and over again.
“Doctor Roberts?” asks the Alice woman again, but more loudly this time.
“Stop using definite articles in front of your name. Even that might be enough to file for a delay. Even if you do it just once. If there is any part of you in there, that can hear me and respond, you’ve got to show it right now.”
“Doctor Roberts, it is not your responsibility to administer an opt-out screening! That is my job and it is against protocol for you to attempt such a thing! Doctor Roberts?”
The Doctor Roberts kneels in front of the Samantha. Stares up into the eyes of the Samantha. The Samantha can see the face of the Doctor Roberts clearly. An old face, well-memorized… except there are perhaps thirty or forty thousand beard follicles on the face of the Doctor Roberts. The Doctor Roberts has forgotten to shave. Some are white some are brown. Some, to the horror of the Samantha are shades in between. A million shades. Staring at them, the Samantha knows suddenly that it should not have dared to open its eyes.
“Doctor Roberts, if you do not cease at once I will have to call the orderlies and have you detained!”
The Alice woman raves but all sense of her words is lost in the horrible jungle on the Doctor Robert’s face. The Samantha tries to turn away but the Doctor Roberts reaches out and locks the Samantha’s gaze with the old leathery hands of the Doctor Roberts.
“I know you’re not faking, Samantha. But I need you to stop. Right here and right now. Just for a little while, to show you could stop on your own if you were given enough time. That would be enough for me to send an appeal to the review board. It’s not what they say it is. Do you hear me? The Panacea is NOT a cure-all. It’s not happy ever after. It’s worse than rape.”
“Stop right there! You are sworn by your oath not to reveal details of the treatment! If you utter one more word I will have your license!”
The Doctor Roberts puts the hand of the Doctor Roberts on the shoulder of the Samantha. The Doctor Roberts shakes the shoulder of the Samantha. Shakes the entire Samantha. Rattles the universe in the head of the Samantha.
The Doctor Roberts positions himself between the Samantha and the Alice woman.
“Now’s the time to speak up. The three year waiting period is over. They’re coming today, kiddo. They’re going to give you the Panacea today. Do you understand? You won’t ever be the same again. Not after it happens. I’ve already tried to delay it but you haven’t made enough progress with conventional methods. You’re eligible, kid. Do you understand what that means? You’re ELIGIBLE!”
The Doctor Roberts is shouting now.
The Samantha whimpers softly, as it makes a frantic count of the beard follicles. The mind of the Samantha is lost in the jungle they make, hiding from the size of the universe.
Orderlies arrive and open the door. They rush in, too fast, too fast! Too much change to keep track of! And they grab the Doctor Roberts around the arms, but the Doctor Roberts struggles and its face is still in the Samantha’s face.
“Don’t let them give you the shot, Samantha! If they give you the shot and it’s going to break you into a billion pieces! A billion!”
The Samantha gasps, losing count of the follicles. The Samantha slaps the Doctor Roberts in the face. Slaps the Doctor Roberts hard.
“No! The Samantha told the Doctor Roberts to never ever say the b-word!”
The Samantha runs over to the smallest corner of the room as the Doctor Roberts is dragged into the hallway. There is a bookshelf there that forms a nook. The Samantha burrows into it. A small place in the largeness of the universe. But not a safe one. No place is safe. The Samantha will not believe in safety ever again.
The Samantha puts its hands back on its toes.
The Samantha is glad the small toe is missing. If it were there, then there would be ten toes. And the jump from nine to ten is horrifying. Go to ten you might as well go to… yes, the Samantha thinks and gulps, to a billion…. the Samantha shudders. You might as well go all the way to infinity.
There is a knock on the bookshelf that forms the nook.
The Samantha whimpers as Alice woman puts its hands on the Samantha and even the illusion of the Samantha being small and separate vanishes… as the Samantha becomes part of the office of the Doctor Roberts becomes part of the institution. Part of the city. Part of the state. Part of the nation. Part of the universe. Part of everything else.
“Nnnnnnnnnnn,” says the Samantha.
Like the hum of an electric current.
The Samantha pulls the hairs of the Samantha. Counts them in the fists of the Samantha. And even with its eyes closed, the Samantha can sense the new people in the room. Can hear their footsteps on the carpet. Can feel their shadows fall across her. All their minds, all seeing the world in a different unknowable but certainly wrong way.
It needs to go back into its room, where it is dark and it has the headphones full of noise that doesn’t mean anything and where there is nothing that cannot be counted.
“Samantha, can you hear me?” the Alice woman says.
“It,” corrects the Samantha.
“Ah, I see. I’m sorry for all that just now. I’m here to help. Are you okay?”
“It happens,” whispers the Samantha in a tiny voice.
The Samantha curls into a ball again and faces away from the open door. The Samantha closes its eyes and makes the world small. Small enough to fit inside a twenty-two inch skull.
“Well, I think I have something that will stop it from happening ever again. Would you like that Samantha? Would you like to never be afraid again?”