's 2019 Horror Write-off:

Perfect Perfection

Submitted by Samsinater (email)

From the moment They were born, They were told They were perfect. What would be an intense pressure to any other child meant nothing to Them, for Perfection has no fear of failure to rule Them.

Yet They were a Perfection created by imperfect beings, each possessed of an imperfect view of an imperfect world. How could They truly be perfect under any conceivable circumstance?

So it was that They never spoke, because speech was imperfect, because They did not yet know how to speak perfectly, because the world would never understand Their message if They were to vocalize it, and a thousand explanations more.

This was the issue, see. A team of scientists does not create the perfect child for fun, a mere trophy to look at. They are not artists in the business of self-expression. Scientists could only create Perfection to solve problems. The perfect human, born from math and blood in equal measure, was supposed to redeem the world, tell them what to do and how to do it, fix everything once deemed beyond repair.

Instead, They silently arranged stacks of dice about Their room, the only toy They would play with.

The scientists tried everything to find meaning in anything They did, but always came up empty, wanting, collectively lost without a means of direct communication or verification. Squabbles of interpretation could never reach an agreement so long as they, imperfect beings, tried to rationalize Their Perfection -- or were They an imperfect perfection? Impossible, and yet They had redefined impossible just in the shape of their proteins.

Time and again the scientists grappled with the fact that, objectively, perfect was subjective. What constitutes the perfect sandwich? To whom is it perfect? How could any imperfect being accurately claim to recognize Perfection when their ideas of a perfect sandwich, a perfect day, a perfect life, differ from every other imperfect being? How, indeed, could anyone know Perfection when Perfection was tantamount to unknowable in a world that had only ever known imperfection?

Some of them pounded their fists from behind thick glass, swore at themselves and at others, reiterated that salvation in an unrecognizable form was as good as dust if they could not translate it. To this, They merely tossed a die for every word cast, seemingly with prescience in Their perfect and quick form. It was easy to see that each die always landed bearing the number of syllables of its assigned word. It was less easy to see how They did this without fault, or why.

The scientists were desperate -- they were beyond desperate. They only had so much funding, and knew that requesting more was grounds for termination while results bordered on catastrophic failure. A child who could cheat at board games; useless! A robot capable of the same could have been made with far less capital spent, wasted, lost.

It was maddening, perpetually trying to evoke answers from Their inscrutable world. Full-body scans produced inexplicably disintegrating works of art, blood tests routinely disassembled the laws of thermodynamics and politely put them back together again, once each, and any discernible brain activity was lost in a sea of perfect junk data: alternating 1s and 0s that repeated on and on with no break in the pattern.

All attempts at eliciting communication proved utterly fruitless: pencil and paper, tape recorders, computer keyboards, wooden letter blocks, word magnets -- these and more were spared nothing but a single acknowledging glance.

Only the dice spoke to Them. The scientists wished They would speak with the dice in turn. Wished They would not simply capture the scientists' words, one at a time, and leave them in perfect stacks of plastic. Wished understanding was anywhere near as easy as creating.

Despite this, it was unthinkable that they start over. Dwindling funds aside, their designs were as perfect as they could make them. No real cause existed to assume They were anything less. Mathematical Perfection was devilish like that, symmetry and stability quite easy to draw from nothing, even if you could not understand why. What a curse, the scientists lamented in unison, to be baffled by the realized Perfection of mankind's ultimate creation: numbers.

It was late one night when everyone else had long gone home, when only the project lead, Kamilah Munnock, remained in the observation chamber, that They finally spoke:

"I want to go outside now."

Six simple words, so quiet Kamilah nearly wrote them off as hallucination. Yet when she lifted her head from her hands and peered through the glass, They peered back, standing perfectly in Their kingdom of dice. Spires and towers were arranged without obvious pattern about Their room, some reaching to the ceiling despite it towering a full ten feet over Their head. Any conceivable instability in their design was overridden by the plain and simple fact that they were perfectly assembled, and would never fall without Their explicit permission.

Kamilah forgot to breathe while she processed this. They shouldn't have a concept of "outside." It was never taught to Them.

And yet why shouldn't They know? What could truly stop true Perfection from conceiving the unseen, the unknown, all that which is only impossible to an imperfect human?

Handling this situation alone was so far beyond protocol and procedure that Kamilah's every attempt to fall back on it fizzled out. Survival instinct kicked in, and she breathed.

Kamilah's entire body trembled as her hand reached for the button in front of the microphone, and depressed it. It did not occur to her that They never had trouble hearing the scientists without it.

"...Why?" Her voice was almost pleading, fearful. They answered as immediately as polite conversation allowed.

"To learn what is wrong outside." Their tone implied this was obvious, though it wasn't an implication through condescension; only objective reality. What other purpose could They have for going outside?

The rise in excitement was palpable, and terrifying. Not in Their perfect, even tone, but in Kamilah's every discernible bodily function. Her heart raced, her stomach turned, her knees shook. Her throat felt dry, her skin slick with sweat. Her mind sputtered and flickered, unprepared and unqualified, despite years of honing, to keep up with the full impact of these twelve words.

This was what they wanted, wasn't it? This was the natural culmination of their plan. Yet every step had been skipped; the scientists had taught Them next to nothing about the world, so focused on first teaching Them to speak, trying to coax workable conditions from Perfection before moving on. Yet They evidently had other plans.

Kamilah thought nothing as she rose from her seat. Kamilah thought nothing as she exited the observation chamber, and held a moment in the connecting hall. Kamilah thought nothing as she approached the biometric scanner planted next to Their room, placing her eye and hand to it accordingly. Kamilah nearly thought about the terrible breach of security and experiment conditions this entailed, yet it was plainly obvious to her: if Kamilah did not release Them willingly, They could easily escape by other means. Messier means. Less perfect, but equally effective means. What use was there in denying a perfect being anything they requested?

When the locks unsealed with a hiss, and the door slid open in a single motion, They already waited in the doorway, looking perfectly up at Kamilah's face even before it was visible.

Kamilah took a step back, a nauseating mix of feelings in her gut: fear, anticipation, regret, excitement, dread.


"Would you like to stay human?" They asked, at the perfect moment to interrupt Kamilah's thoughts.

To say Kamilah was caught off guard by this question would be to reduce the sun to naught but a bright circle.

Slowly, unsure of the ramifications, Kamilah nodded. Her voice was a whisper. "Yes, please. ...For now." They accepted this with a prim nod of Their own. Their eyes did not leave Kamilah's face.

Kamilah, human, broke eye contact to glance down the hall. Nothing really stood in Their way. She felt useless already, knowing that it only made sense to abandon her now. She looked back.

They offered a small, perfect hand, perfectly placed to be readily taken in Kamilah's grip.

"A friend must join me outside."

Kamilah acquiesced.

The two walked down the hall at Kamilah's speed, stumbling only in the way one stumbles as they approach a distant finish line, desperately out of breath and numb all over.

Before long, they had taken the elevator to the surface, and walked out the front door with only the fuss of a keycard to delay them. A beautiful starry night told Kamilah not to worry, that everything would be alright. A perfect, full moon told her that even good changes were scary, at first. A soft, warm hand gently squeezing her fingers told her this was nothing so dramatic as The End, nor The Beginning. This was simply what came next.

"I have learned all I require," They said simply and unprompted after only seven minutes of walking, still technically on government property. The two of them had long passed the parking lot, and Kamilah's modest sedan. Kamilah might have protested if not for the pointlessness of it. After exiting the building, They were more keen to take the lead.

They spoke again: "What song shall repair the world?"

Kamilah smiled, hiccuping quietly, cheeks wet. She imagined her face might glisten prettily in the moonlight, from the right angle. It really was a beautiful, cloudless night tonight. She opted to take inspiration from the sky, and her childhood.

"Do you know Twinkle Twinkle Little Star?"

"I know all songs that exist." They waited a perfect span of time before continuing. "Shall that song repair the world?"

Was it condescending to ask the perfect child to sing a child's song? A child's song that was, no matter how familiar, undeniably imperfect? The thought occurred to Kamilah only once, and promptly dismissed itself. She knew no perfect songs, lullabies or otherwise. They surely knew this, if They felt the need to ask, to give Kamilah a choice in the matter. This would have to do.

Kamilah nodded. It occurred to her that They still faced forward, the two of them coming up on the security checkpoint of the gated compound. By no means should They have seen such a wordless answer, and yet They began to sing.

"Twinkle, twinkle, little star... How I wonder what you are. Up above the world so high... Like a diamond in the sky."

Their voice had a melody to it that soothed Kamilah's very soul. Why shouldn't it, if it was a pitch-perfect singing voice? She barely noticed the gate curling open before them, metal soundlessly bending itself out of the way. Why shouldn't it, if it would impede the creation of a perfect world otherwise?

"When this blazing sun is gone... When he nothing shines upon... Then you show your little light... Twinkle, twinkle, through the night."

As the two of them walked, Kamilah felt her nervous anticipation finally leave her. An utter peace replaced it, Kamilah suddenly more present than she had ever felt. Confidence replaced her earlier worry, but no ugly pride tagged along. Together, their footsteps covered more ground than they should. They were on the outskirts of the nearest city in moments.

Here, they walked dozens of streets per second, Kamilah following dutifully along as she held Their hand. Vehicles of every shape and size were already stopped long before they could pose a threat, entranced. Soon, every engine puttered in perfect, equal harmony. Their occupants, and indeed the city's occupants, breathed in total unison: deeply in, deeply out. A wind could be felt from the air that was moved by every available lung working together. Perfection enabled it so.

"Then the traveller in the dark... Thanks you for your tiny spark. He could not see where to go... If you did not twinkle so."

The blur that was the pace of their travel did not upset Kamilah, though it might have mere moments prior. She just as soon closed her eyes, no longer needing to look in order to See. Their stride spanned the globe once, twice, four times over, and on, carving a path like a ribbon being wound around a gift. The Perfect gift.

Earth became ensnared in song and movement, waves of Perfection seizing not just every human, but every fish, every bird, every insect. Leaves swayed in pattern with the growing, whistling wind. The very cells that made up all life divided and replicated in perfect synchronicity. The imperfect limits that once jailed them were removed. Life began to shed its other constraints, began to grow together instead of apart, began to blend in beautiful, perfect ripples. Finally, the whole world joined in on their salvation:

"In the dark blue sky you keep... And often through curtains peep... For you never shut your eye... Till the sun is in the sky."

Clouds vanished, unnecessary and a hindrance to a perfect view of the sky beyond. The heavens eagerly rearranged themselves into perfect lines, perfect shapes, perfect Perfection. An arrangement of stars and planets and every last bit of gas and dust made the entire universe into a single, perfect form, more beautiful to behold and more pure in its conception than it ever had been. Galaxy spirals and cosmic storms ceased their flawed patterns to give birth to something infinitely greater than the sum of its parts.

The entire universe vibrated as it sang now, passing judgement on the imperfect and setting it right. Nothing was excluded from the perfect existence that all became.

"As your bright and tiny spark... Lights the traveller in the dark... Though I know not what you are... Twinkle, twinkle, little star."

On cue, all that was became that which Is. No difference existed between one atom and another. Memory, time, thought, and more consigned itself willingly to oblivion in pursuit of something better. Gravity ceased its playful tugging, as did magnetism, friction, atomic bonds. Matter, all that matters, reduced Itself to singularity, and stayed there. The meaningless part of Its journey was finally complete.

Now All could permanently reign supreme in perfect stability, perfect tranquility, perfect harmony, perfect Perfection.