First Page: unpublished manuscript
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“Why are we having sex?”
Cecilia pushed up from the bed to light a cig, chose the orange smoke and sucked it in. “Because we’re stuck here with nothing else to do.”
“That’s a bloody sad reason,” Baz said, stepping out of bed to run yet another circuit of the room. It could be in any pixel.
“There are worse prisons,” Cecilia said, with a careless wave of the cig at the stock of food that replenished itself twice a day. The cigs came with it and Cecilia had pounced on them with the remark that she hadn’t had enough free time to pick up the habit before.
“I didn’t become a pirate to be stuck here doing nothing but eating and fucking.”
“Yeah, that’s why your retirement getaway place is nothing except a huge bed and food coupons.”
“It’s also got thirty-four different escape routes,” Baz ran her fingers at the corners. Most people put them in the corners, easier to find later.
“We’ve been over every pixel, you’re not going to find anything. Koel will get us out, so relax and enjoy the view.” Cecilia attempted a leer that went badly with the orange sleep-smoke.
Baz felt her mouth tighten, “There’s got to be a backdoor. They’re required in case something goes wrong during testing.”
Cecilia slid down to sprawl out on the bed, “So they shut it down after. ‘S what I’d do if I wanted to make an escape-proof…” she waved the cig again and the circle of orange haloed her face, “whatever. Don’t you think Koel will get us out?”
Baz patted over the spots where the food had appeared last time, the appearance was randomized so it was unlikely the backdoor was there but the food was her only lead. “You’re not a builder. We always leave at least one backdoor for ourselves. When you sell, you’re always worried about whether you’re going to get paid and this is pretty much the only leverage you have.”
Cecilia stubbed out the cig and frowned, “You really don’t think Koel’s getting us out. You don’t trust her.”
“I’m a better pirate than her,” Baz said.
“Hurt ego,” Cecilia looked delighted at the discovery, “You think you’re a better hacker than everyone and being rescued is hurting your ego.”
Baz shrugged, “We aren’t rescued yet, so don’t start celebrating. I am a better pirate than everybody. If you want to get out, I’m a better spacerunner to bet on.”
“Why do you say ‘pirate’? Never heard anyone else put it like that.” Cecilia asked eyes just about slitted open.
Baz considered trying to move the bed to see if there was a catch underneath. It seemed stuck but there might be a trick to it. “‘We have opened the seas of the world wide web to sight, sound and touch.’ Alexei Rakouv said that when ze patented the new tech.”
“I thought the Corporation…” Cecilia interrupted herself with a yawn.
“Most people do. The Corporation had the funds and the influence to get it done but Rakouv was the genius. Bloody mad by all accounts but genius.” She had noticed the pattern on the frame of the bed when they did their first once-over of the room but it was an archaic thing, made of wood. She couldn’t tell whether the pattern was just to make it look authentic. She tapped the wavy lines but the bed didn’t move and there was no tell-tale ripple in the pixels.
“Musical notes.” Cecilia said suddenly, “They used to write them down, with those curly.” She traced a particular curve in the wood then seemed to fall into sleep as she dragged her hand back to bed.