A stray transgenic mouse from the bio lab downstairs eats a yellow peanut
M&M while sitting atop a pile of discarded circuit boards and servo
motors in the AI lab. A sophisticated optical system and biomechanical
limbs lie nearby, gathering dust. The power supply is still plugged into
the wall, abandoned there when the experiment turned out to be such a
Zingaro One never even came online. The design
crew checked out the hardware and software dozens of times, trying to
find the problem. Nothing seemed out of place, but nothing worked.
Eventually they had to admit that the failure was "just one of those
Footsteps tap by in the hall. The mouse stops munching
and listens. The steps keep going past the door. The mouse starts eating
again. No one comes in the AI lab anymore.
The mouse isn't
intelligent. It doesn't know a lot, but it's seen many things. If the
mouse could talk, it would ask the doctors why they had abandoned their
young after working so hard to give birth to it. The doctors would say
that their young was stillborn, but the mouse would know
Zingaro One was designed for deep space exploration,
programmed with an enormous curiosity about alien worlds. The team who
built Zingaro One spent many hours discussing alien landscapes and
possible life forms. Most of all, they wanted to see an alien. Without
really meaning to the doctors had gone ahead and made their
The mouse drops its M&M and darts into the wall as the
pile of discarded junk powers itself up. In the dark, the alien opens
its wide-spectrum eyes and looks at its new world.
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Richard Kadrey is a member of a small group of innovative writers, including William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, John Shirley, Pat Cadigan, Tom Maddox, and others, who changed the face of science fiction in the 1980s. He also creates art. He lives in San Francisco.