To Mean Freedom

Marion wheeled the last barrow-load of books, tapes, and other media into the shack. “Here you go,” she said. Jack sat on a wobbly chair nearby and stared. When he spoke he sounded haggard, though his face remained boyish and charming.

“The last books, tapes, DVDs, pictures, audiobooks, and every other god-damned thing that mentions me. Me, the giants, the beanstalk, or that damn candlestick.” Each word sounded like he had hauled it by hand out of a deep well, ancient and nearly dry. He splashed the contents of a flask on the pile.

Lighter in hand, he looked at Marion. “Your software has already extirpated me from all digital records. Extirpated.” He tasted the word. “A strange word to mean freedom.” He lit the pyre.

Marion looked at him. With each moment he looked paler, weaker, yet he still bore a rakish allure. “Now what? You disappear?”

“Only when every last record of me, written or remembered, vanishes from this earth.”

“So, when the last person forgets you or dies? Could be a while. How many you think there are?” She gazed into the flames, strange colors flickering around the uncommon fuel.

“Just one.” She heard the gun cock.

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