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Skinner Box: A Tor.com Original

Skinner Box: A Tor.com Original

Автор Carole Johnstone

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Skinner Box: A Tor.com Original

Автор Carole Johnstone

оценки:
5/5 (3 оценки)
Длина:
49 страниц
1 час
Издатель:
Издано:
5 июн. 2019 г.
ISBN:
9781250234377
Формат:
Книга

Описание

"Skinner Box," a Tor.com Original short story from award-winning author Carole Johnston.

A disturbing science fiction story about space exploration and a seemingly routine scientific mission to Jupiter that is threatened by the interpersonal relationships of its crew.

Content warning for fictional depictions of sexual content, including abuse and assault.

At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

Издатель:
Издано:
5 июн. 2019 г.
ISBN:
9781250234377
Формат:
Книга

Об авторе

Carole Johnstone grew up in Lanarkshire, Scotland, and in her twenties relocated to Essex to work as a radiographer. She has been writing as long as she can remember and is an award-winning short story writer. She now writes full-time and lives with her husband in an old farmhouse outside Glasgow, though her heart belongs to the sea and the wild islands of the Outer Hebrides.


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Skinner Box - Carole Johnstone

I didn’t always fantasise about killing him. I used to fantasise about fucking him, and when that lived up to expectations, I fantasised about marrying him. Which didn’t.

I’m a scientist. I’m supposed to look at problems clinically, rationally, dispassionately. Maybe he beat a small but vital part of that out of me, and enough electrons escaped the open circuit to forever unbalance me, to leave an empty space where nothing that was once me lives. And I’ve plugged that hole with fantasies. Fantasies of walking into the path lab and seeing him sprawled over one of his precious anaerobic chambers, face purple and bloated and stricken. Or red-raw and boiling inside scalding clouds of autoclave steam. Or bloody and blasted black, inside and out, because any vessel required to withstand high pressures can rupture; any number of things inside a vacuum can implode; centrifuge rotors can explode, and path labs are filled with the kind of chemicals that never should. Or sometimes, I just imagine him lying on the floor, the back of his skull caved in like eggshell, spilling blood and brains and cerebrospinal fluid. I’ve never been fussy. Perhaps I should have been.

My module is about a fifth the size of his. I enjoy its hugely claustrophobic smallness—small enough for only me, a chair, my laptop, and the Skinner box. Here is where I live, rather than the brilliantly austere labs or Engineering’s myriad compartments and old-school clutter. Or even the living quarters, designed, I’ve always suspected, by a man with a won’t-quit hard-on for ’80s sci-fi horror: no corner spared its curve, no straight edge its roll, no rectangle its oval. Not clinically white, but a kind of dull, matte off-cream that makes my skin pucker. In here, the walls are black and the light is low. There are no windows. There is no outside. There is no there.


Hey.

I never want the coffee that Mas always brings me, never drink it. But he always brings it anyway.

Hey. Thanks.

How is it going?

I look at the Skinner box. It’s not.

They didn’t take the bait? He comes closer. When we stand side by side in front of it, our shoulders touch the walls, touch each other.

No. They didn’t.

He turns to look at me instead. His smile is crooked. "So you’re gonna have to torture them after all,

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