“Cyberplant” is out in issue numero sixteen of Galaxy’s Edge. This one is near and dear to my heart because I wrote it after taking a bucket-list trip with my mom to Peru, where I fell in love with the country. It’s also the story I wrote for the 24hr challenge during the WotF workshop week.
The sun hardly shines in Lima, and never in October. Maybe it’s because Mama Cocha is jealous of the sun god, Inti. Maybe it’s because she is enamored of Ilyap’a, and his clouds give her comfort.
Either way, Mother Sea rules. It is her city. The other gods have kingdoms of their own.
My pilgrimage was to Inti’s domain: Machu Picchu.
The flight from Miami lasted six hours. The two other passengers in my row asked for new seat assignments. No one wanted to sit next to the giant of a man with passionflower leaves growing out of his ears and red wires circling his head like a turban. If it hadn’t been for the sick baby across the aisle, maybe I could have stretched out and slept. It would have been the first time in forty-eight hours.
A deep numbness clutched my limbs and my chest—not just a lack of physical sensation, but a deadening of emotion. I thought sleep might restore some semblance of feeling to my body, if not my person. But no go.
From the Lima airport I took a taxi into the city proper. We skirted along the ocean, mirroring the undulation of the cliffs. Surfers paddled out into the meager waves, and a briny stench permeated the air.
The taxi driver dropped me at a bus station where I could get a ride to Cusco. He shot me a scowl when I tipped him. Because of my implants, he thought I could afford more.
The journey from the coast to south-central Peru took fifteen hours, with only the briefest of pit stops. Suddenly my plane ride didn’t look so bad. Sleep was still elusive, and an elderly man from Puno grilled me the whole way. He asked me why my skin was green, and if my palm-scanners could fry his brain, and if it were true that all cyberplants believe rainbows have feelings.
I did not know the Spanish word for chlorophyll, or how to explain to a non-believer that rainbows not only have feelings, they are each Cuichu. If nothing else, I was able to communicate that my scanners would have zero effect on his brain.
Thankfully he was polite enough not to ask about my pilgrimage, or my family.
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