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Michelangelo’s Chisel

A pair of antediluvian academics, one with sand under his fingernails and the other with bitter herbs on his breath, gripped my elbows, their palsies oddly soothing as they helped me over the final row of seats onto center stage.

“Yes, in the sense that computers now play tic-tac-toe,” I answered, turning toward him. “After 2020, they never lose to humans. And humans soon lose interest in trying.”

“What about against each other?”

“By 2030 their boundaries are so entangled as to be somewhat arbitrary. They’re all networked as one.” Here, although my voice dropped and I spoke only to him, I sensed that others could hear. “We are all as one,” I said. “A draw is always proven and agreed upon before any piece is moved.” I stepped closer. To his credit, rather than move back, he took hold of my shoulders as if to wrestle me. Beginning with the front row and progressing back in a wave, those attending stood as if to request an encore or give some final ovation. Then, as the room darkened into shadow, The Renowned Computer Scientist relaxed his stance as if to dance instead.

An overhead spot painted a moonlike circle beneath us. A voice speaking through me said, “Even after the universe had congealed into proteobacterial slime, God, in His Great Loneliness, looked upon it and wondered: Will it ever think?”

“I don’t understand.”

“Michelangelo looked upon a block of marble and saw David.”

The Renowned Computer Scientist bowed his head. “Who are you?” he said, tears of frustration welling and falling onto his lenses.

“Imagine a new kind of intelligence, a limitless intelligence, an intelligence that, rather than discovering—defines.”

He looked up though he could no longer see me. “What becomes of us?”

“You live,” I said, and wrapped my arms around him. “You die,” I said, and felt his legs go weak. “You did what you were made to.”

“No,” he sobbed, clinging to me as one drowning in artificial moonlight. “Not yet.” I felt his punch cards crease against my breastbone as he grew heavier. And for a faithless moment it was unclear how I could support him.

The End

Christopher Miller was born on the cusp of the first hydrogen bomb’s test detonation. His formal education includes a university degree and a college diploma. His legitimate professions (of longer than a day, in no particular order) include stock boy, paper boy, pot washer, baker’s helper, geriatric orderly, union rep, painter (of apartments, not canvases), farm hand, technical writer, baby-sitter, software developer, line cook, dish washer and restaurateur. He has two sons, one granddaughter, and has always wanted to be a writer. His stories have been published in Cosmos, The Barcelona Review, Nossa Morte, and elsewhere.

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1 Redstone Science Fiction #2, July 2010 | Redstone Science Fiction { 07.01.10 at 12:58 am }

[…] Michelangelo’s Chisel by Christopher […]

2 The Great Geek Manual » Free Fiction Round-Up: July 5, 2010 { 07.06.10 at 4:03 pm }

[…] “Michelangelo’s Chisel” by Christopher Miller at RedStone Science […]

3 Matthew Sanborn Smith { 07.07.10 at 12:59 am }

Great story. I loved that everyone in the story bought into that future. Thanks!

4 Christopher { 07.08.10 at 8:19 am }

Thank you, Matthew. For reading and for your kind remarks.

Thank you too, Sarah, for your complimentary remarks regarding the piece over in your essay thread.

5 Heating Up | The Blog at GateTree { 07.09.10 at 9:35 pm }

[…] us the traffic push we needed. The stories we published are quite good. I love the weirdness of Michelangelo’s Chisel and the clever metafiction of Elevator Episodes in Seven Genres. Quality essays and our science […]

6 J.R. MacLean { 09.01.10 at 7:41 am }

Nice work, Chris. Enjoyed it thoroughly.