The Drop Out

By David Scholes

sfgenre“What was your last R score?” asked the Aldraan woman.

“Seven hundred and fifty!” I replied.

“Ohh! I hope you scored better before that.”

“Sometimes,” I offered.

“I can see what you are now,” her nose wrinkled, “but what have you been?”

“Stellerian mining engineer, aquation pond manager, Velovrian alien hunter, urban pacifier on Drandeer, to mention a few.” I didn’t elaborate.

She seemed surprised. “Well, you’ve known better days. Anything Earther?”

“Apart from my present form, nothing recently. Of course, I was born here.” I hoped she wouldn’t ask me when. I’d had a lot of gaps. Sometimes long gaps and a general decline in my R scores over time. Not a good combination.

“They say you ultimately come back home before you —” She fell silent for a moment. Something I suspect she found difficult. Then finished the sentence off, “— drop out.” An apologetic look suffused her face.

“What about you?” I asked with only slightly more than superficial interest.

“Lady of the night, starship commander, entertainment wrestler, First Minister on a colony moon, just for starters.” She smiled.

“Some real ups and downs!” I whistled.

“More up than down lately,” she said. “My R scores have been okay and no gaps.” The Aldraan woman pointed to a girl across the room. An Earther that looked younger and fresher than the rest of us. Sort of unburdened. “She’s a “clean skin” or whatever the current term is for anyone who has never, well, you know, had our experiences.”

“Wow!” It was my turn to look surprised. I didn’t think there were such people any more. That everyone living in the Multi-verse was somewhere in the cycle.

“Some people drop out,” she said, “when their scores get too low. The first sign is the big gaps in time before they come back and then...” The conversation was going in an uncomfortable direction.

I left, but her final words echoed in my mind. “When anyone drops out they are replaced by a newbie. With no connections between them.”

***

The end for me came only days later. I felt my ageing Earther body fail. I had performed badly in my latest reincarnation. My R score would be low.

For a long time my mind just floated there. It was a longer gap than I had ever experienced. My consciousness realised that I was not going to be re-incarnated again. That I would drop out — forever.

My last conscious thoughts were of my final physical moments as an Earther waste disposer. I thought of the Aldraan women and her statement that you ultimately come back home before you drop out.

I thought also of another fresh young Earther who had attended me at my death. Definitely a ‘clean skin’.

Just before I dropped out I realised that she was not just any ‘clean skin’. She was my replacement.

Somehow it all didn’t seem so bad.

And, anyway, it seems something of me is still somewhere to write this...

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About The Author

David Scholes

david-scholesDavid has written over 180 short stories and published eight collections of short storiesand two novellas in the 9 years he has been writing speculative fiction. All of these books are on Amazon.

He has been a regular contributor to the AntipodeanSF, Beam Me Up PodCast, and Farther Stars Than These sites. He has also been published on a variety of other sci-fi sites including Bewildering Stories, 365 Tomorrows, the WiFiles, and the former GoldenVisions magazine.

He is currently well progressed with a new science fiction novella expected to be published later this year.

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Coming In Issue 234

Forager
by Christine Gladstone

Ice, Forever
by Col Cort

Psychically Transferred Phantom Pains
by Wesley Parish

Purgatory
by Sue Clennell

Selena Ops
by Tony Steven Williams

The Bucket List
by Jackie Hosking

The Coroner
by Ann Zimmerman

The Half-Life Of Humans
by Kevin J. Phyland

Tsnik
by Max Young

Wanderlust
by Eugen M. Bacon and E. Don Harpe

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