Lightspeed: Edited by John Joseph Adams




Postings from an Amorous Tomorrow

March 11

As of this second there are 3,236,728,909 people over the age of four living in the world, all of whom I am intimately familiar with. Of these, there are 876,852,003 that I love, and one that I am currently in love with. In ten years, when I am twenty, I hope to love everyone on the planet as Gordon did once for almost two minutes. He is my hero. Allison says that Gordon is a good hero, and that I have a good shot at achieving my goal, even though I am only ten. She says networking technology gets better every month, and my generation’s mutations allow me to assimilate the technology faster than almost anyone, even Gordon.

It feels so good to love people that I just want to love as many people as I can. It usually takes me two days of being intimately familiar with someone before the red heart appears to let me know that I love them. This morning the red heart appeared on Yuri, who lives in Omsk in the province of Russia. I had been expecting the heart to pop up, and it made me happy when it happened because Yuri and I both like playing in the interactive plays, and we also sometimes partner up in the interdependent puzzle games. He doesn’t have a dog though, and I always tell him that Allison says that dogs can make your empathy levels higher. Dad says that’s probably not true, but I think it doesn’t hurt to have a dog anyway. Sometimes my dad gets mad about the dog and talks really fast to my mom about it. He thinks the dog is bad for me because it will make me want to love all the animals in the world the way some other people do, and that is sick and wrong.

I have not reached puberty yet, but I am hoping that when I do I will be bisexual, that way it will be easier for me to fall in love with more people. Allison says that they can make me bisexual if I am not naturally bisexual, but that it is easier always if I am just naturally that way. She also says that I shouldn’t worry because every generation has more and more bisexuals in it.

Right now I am only in love with one person and her name is Cindy. She has blue eyes and blonde hair and bangs and she is really pretty. She is not in love with me, but she does love me. It makes me sad sometimes that she is not in love with me, but Allison says that it shouldn’t make me too sad because it is very rare for people my age to be in love with anyone.

One time during one of my empathy lessons Allison told me that I was the best student she ever had.


March 12


As of this second 78,232 people have died in the world since my last posting. I only loved 6,721 out of those. I was sadder about the ones I loved more than the ones I was only intimately familiar with. It’s sad when people die. There is part of my brain that is always sad, and Allison says that part is like a factory turning sadness into love and empathy all the time. Sometimes I visit that factory when someone I love dies, and it makes me have to sit down, especially when the person that died had two or three of my red hearts. But Allison says that is normal and it means I am healthy.

5,912 people turned four today and I am now intimately familiar with all of them. It is easy to be intimately familiar with four-year-olds because there isn’t much there to be intimately familiar with. I remember when I turned four and my parents took me to the clinic where they make your brain bigger. When I woke up after surgery it was like being awake for the first time. I only knew my parents before then, and my two older brothers and my two grandmas and one grandpa, but after the surgery I knew over a million people, and even more than that knew me. It was awesome. And it wasn’t hard to remember them all either. I could interact with over 400,000 of them at the same time. Now I can interact with over three million at the same time. But Allison says that I am not really interacting with all of them. Not really. What most people I know and love interact with is a computer program version of me. Sometimes I spy on the computer program version of me. It is really weird because it really acts the way I would act. Twice a day I download their experiences into my memory banks. That is how I know so many people.


March 13

I am eating pancakes that Mom made me for breakfast. I am eating them fast because I am almost late for school. She is telling me to stop posting at the table. I don’t know how she always knows when I am posting. She says she can tell by the look in my eyes. It is okay for me to interact with almost a million people at the table but it is not okay for me to post because Mom says posting is not a part of my schoolwork and she doesn’t know why I do it anyway. Nobody at school does it. And only 70,112 people in the world have done it in the last thirty days. I like to do it because it helps me understand my thoughts.

But I have to stop now. Mom is giving me angry looks.


March 14

We learned about the Dunbar number at school today. The Dunbar number is the number of people that you can have in your social group and still know who they all are. How big the number is depends on how big your brain is. The bigger your brain the more people you can know. Monkeys don’t have very big social groups because their brains are very small. A long time ago people’s Dunbar number was very small too, like 200 or something, and it caused a lot of fear because most of the people in the world were strangers, and strangers are afraid of strangers because they don’t know each other. And there were lots of wars because people didn’t know each other and were afraid. Now that everyone knows each other there are no wars and everything is okay.


March 15

Allison is crying. I don’t understand. I’ve never seen her cry before. Now I feel like crying. She took me to her office after class and tried to say something but she just cried instead. I ask her what is wrong and she holds up her hand and cries some more. As I wait for her to get done I start crying too. I can’t help it. Allison is hurting. We are both crying and I don’t know why. Crying feels awful. I am scared and I am very sad.


March 28

The other children and I are in a shed picking out garden tools to use as weapons. I grab a rake. Tom and Sammy and Lydia get shovels, and Katie finds a hoe. The others are finding the same type of stuff, but I am not paying attention anymore because my mind is confused, and I am scared, and it is hard to think and make my mind unconfused when I am scared.

We need the weapons so we can kill Nick. The adults say that these garden tools will work as weapons. There haven’t been weapons for many years because no one has needed them. But now we need them because Nick is a sociopath.

It was almost two weeks ago when Allison took me to her office and started crying. After she was done crying, and I was done too, she taught me about sociopaths and how they don’t love themselves. There is something bad in their genes that scientists haven’t been able to find yet. When sociopaths look at their own profile they do not see any red hearts. I have five of my red hearts in my profile, which is good because Allison says that if you don’t love yourself then you can’t love other people. That is what’s wrong with sociopaths.

Allison says that our world stays together because of empathy. People are always selfish and they always do things for selfish reasons, but that is not bad, that is just how we are made and it cannot be changed. Allison says people don’t hurt each other because of empathy. She doesn’t hurt me because it would make her feel bad to do that. And it would make her feel bad to do that because then she would be able to imagine my pain, and she would feel that pain even though it wasn’t happening to her. And because she loves me that pain would feel even worse. It would be like she was doing something bad to herself. That was why she was crying two weeks ago, because she was hurting herself through me.

It made her very sad to ask me and the other children to kill Nick. Nick had stopped loving himself, and that made him a sociopath and a danger to the social group. He hadn’t killed anyone yet, but the adults could not take the chance. Allison said that when I was very little there was a man who stopped loving himself and became a sociopath. He killed men, women, and children, and he took over the whole province of France all by himself and made the men, women, and children worship him and do strange things. And they called him a dictator. I remember asking my dad when I was very little what the word meant and my dad pointed my mind to the sociopath’s face and said, “That is what it means.” There was nothing the people of France could do about the dictator because their empathy training made it impossible for them to hurt another person. The training was glued in their brains and they couldn’t get it out because they were too old and their brains were too set. That’s when someone thought of the children, whose brains had not been set. And so they gave the children garden tools to kill the dictator with. And that was how they saved the province of France and maybe the world.

Now there was a new dictator rising in the sub-province of Ohio and his name was Nick. Soon he would start killing people and making the ones that lived do strange things. And there was nothing the adults could do about it. That was why they asked me and my classmates to pick up garden tools like the children of France.


Allison holds the shed door open while my friends walk in and grab their weapons. She looks very scared. All the adults that are gathered around look very scared. My parents are crying. I look at them and I cannot feel sadness. I cannot cry. Maybe I have already cried out all the tears that are in me. For the last two weeks, they have stopped us from taking our empathy lessons. Instead they flash ugly pictures in our minds. The pictures do not stop and I cannot get away from them. I see bodies, piles of them. Some are being eaten by wolves and vultures. Some are being burned. I see humans turn into bodies after a thing called a bullet is fired through their heads. The change does not even take a second. I see people beaten to death by lots of other people. I see one man get his head chopped off. It takes the other man who is doing the chopping several chops to get the thing done, and the man who is getting chopped makes terrible sounds while it happens.

At first when the adults showed us these pictures we cried and screamed and we closed our eyes really tight because it felt like it would make them stop, but it didn’t. One time, Tom started banging his head against the wall and some of the other children did too. The adults had to come in and stop them. After the fifth day, it seemed like everyone was getting kind of used to the ugly pictures, I think. I know I kind of was. No one screamed anymore or banged their heads against the wall. We all just sat at our desks staring straight ahead.

Everyone in the world knew what was happening. Everyone that I loved and who loved me was trying to interact with me and send me their love. But ever since I stopped taking my empathy lessons and started seeing awful things, I could barely interact with more than 200,000 of them at a time. I felt their love though, and it made me feel better. It made me feel strong. I knew that what I was doing was for them because they could not do it for themselves. And I knew it was for me also. And so I keep posting for the people that I cannot interact with.


We are gathered outside of Nick’s house now. All the parents and the teachers from the school are behind us. They are crying still. I am starting to have a terrible feeling about their crying. I am starting to hate it, I think. All they do is cry. My classmates and I are walking up to Nick’s house, surrounding it, holding garden tools that are meant to kill Nick, and all the adults do is cry.

Katie lights Nick’s house on fire with some liquid that Jake’s dad gave us and a lighter. The adults are all hoping that Nick will stay inside and die without anyone having to see it. I was hoping that too before, but now I am hoping that Nick will come out and the adults will have to watch while almost a hundred of us children beat Nick to death with garden tools. I want them to see something like what they made me see.

But that does not happen. We stand there for I don’t know how long, a really long time, and watch the house burn to the ground. Nick does not come out. We don’t even hear him scream. I feel disappointed somehow. I know it is wrong to feel that way, but that is how I feel.

I am mad at the adults now, more than anything. It seems to me that they could have lit that house on fire just as easily as we did. They didn’t have to show us all of those awful things. They are still crying now. I want them to shut up. They didn’t even do anything.


May 2

It has been over a month since I stood outside of Nick’s house and watched it (and him) burn. Now there is only one of my red hearts showing in my profile. I am looking at that red heart all the time these days. I am scared that it will go out, but I am also not scared. I wonder what will happen if it ever does go out. Will the adults—will my parents—send my classmates to kill me? If I don’t love myself anymore, will I become a sociopath? I really don’t know. Sometimes I wonder if Nick was ever going to kill people at all. I wonder if we killed him for no reason. I was intimately familiar with Nick before he died. He liked music a lot, and he was really good at playing it on the clarinet. I remember that he didn’t have very many people that he loved, and there weren’t many people that loved him. Mostly he played his music. And he also had plants. I remember that he had plants and he took care of them really well. He watered them every day and he gave them special food that would make them grow big and strong and healthy. I remember Nick. I am sad for Nick.

I don’t keep track of how many people I love anymore, but I am pretty sure that it is not very many because Allison is always coming up to me and asking me to talk to her in her office. She is worried about me and says that I have experienced something very traumatic, and that it will take time but I will heal. But I don’t believe her when she says that I will heal. I think that she is just lying to herself because it makes her feel good. I can see in her eyes that she is scared of me. It makes me angry. It makes me angry that she is so weak. It reminds me of my parents and the weakness of all the adults that I know. And I am angry that almost half of the world thinks they know me.

They do not know me.

Sometimes I think of those children in the province of France that killed the dictator. I think they could know me. I look for them sometimes online but I can’t find them. I hear that they went into the hills or mountains someplace and got rid of the brains they were given when they were four. Now they live like humans used to live. Sometimes I think that I should go find them. Then sometimes I think that my classmates and I should go do what they did. I love my classmates. They know me and I know them. I think they are all that keeps that red heart in my profile from blinking out.

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Corey Mariani

Corey Mariani“Postings from an Amorous Tomorrow” is Corey Mariani’s first piece of published fiction. He lives in northern California with his beautiful wife. In his free time, he plays bass in the rock band, Shays’ Rebellion, which tours extensively throughout Humboldt County every winter.