Featured Story
Recent Stories
Stories by Topic
News
Make the universe a better place! Support DSF with a donation:
small-go-arrowdonate
Take me to a...
Random story
top-rated stories only
Enter any portion of the author name or story title:
small-go-arrowsearch
Sign up for free daily sci-fi!
your email will be kept private

Breaking News
Get a copy of Not Just Rockets and Robots: Daily Science Fiction Year One. 260 adventures into new worlds, fantastical and science fictional. Rocket Dragons Ignite: the anthology for year two, is also available!
Kindle Edition
Kindle Edition
DSF stories are available in monthly digests for Kindle!
DSF for Kindle
Publish your stories or art on Daily Science Fiction:
Submit your story
Check story status
Not just rockets & robots...
What is Science Fiction?
"Science Fiction" means—to us—everything found in the science fiction section of a bookstore, or at a science fiction convention, or amongst the winners of the Hugo awards given by the World Science Fiction Society. This includes the genres of science fiction (or sci-fi), fantasy, slipstream, alternative history, and even stories with lighter speculative elements. We hope you enjoy the broad range that SF has to offer.
close






art by Void lon iXaarii

Playing the Percentages

Michael Haynes lives in Central Ohio where he helps keep IT systems running for a large corporation during the day and puts his characters through the wringer by night. An ardent short story reader and writer, Michael has appeared several times previously in Daily Science Fiction and has also had stories appear in venues such as Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show, and Nature.

He is Co-Editor at Goldfish Grimm's Spicy Fiction Sushi and is an Associate Editor for the Unidentified Funny Objects series of anthologies. His website is michaelhaynes.info.
Gerard sat in the awkward waiting-room chair, bouncing his right leg up and down. The door from the scanning room opened and Emily walked out. She gave him a smile, but he saw it didn't reach her eyes. She hurried across the room and sat in the chair beside him.
A moment later, she set her hand on his knee. He stopped bouncing his leg.
"Sorry. Nerves," he said.
She shook her head. "No worries."
"I could use a smoke."
"You said you were quitting."
"I said I could use one, not that I'm going to have one. I'm still sitting here, aren't I?"
"Fair point."
He took her hand in his, slumped down in his seat and closed his eyes.
"It's supposed to take, what, about fifteen minutes?" Gerard asked Emily.
"Yep."
A minute or more of silence passed. It felt like an hour or more to him. What if the results came back and said that they weren't truly compatible, that they were likely to end up unhappy, likely to split up in the end? He knew what would happen; the same thing that happened to almost every couple that got that news. They might try to shrug it off, try to say they would beat the odds, but doubt would creep in. And then it would only be a matter of time and the computers would end up being right again.
"We shouldn't have done this," he said into the stillness of the waiting room.
"But we agreed--"
"I know that we agreed to it. But did you really want to? Or was it your parents' blackmail that made you say yes?"
He felt her hand tighten fractionally on his. She didn't answer for a moment and he chanced a glance. She looked stressed, but not angry. At least not at him.
"'Blackmail,'" she finally said, "is a strong word."
"Fine, call it a bribe then." The Montclairs had said they would pay for the wedding, the reception, even the honeymoon. As long as Gerard and Emily went for brain scans and got a compatibility test.
She leaned her head into his shoulder and sighed. "You're right, we shouldn't have done this. We know we're right for each other. That should be enough."
"It was good enough for our parents," he said.
"Good enough for theirs, too."
Gerard wondered how long it had been since Emily had come out to the waiting room. He resisted the urge to check his phone for the time. "We could lie, say that we got the results. That there was a ninety percent chance we'd last." There were laws preventing the disclosure of compatibility scores to third parties. The information would be provided only to the couple and even then only verbally.
He looked at her, could see that she was thinking it over. "Eighty."
"Huh?"
"We'll say eighty percent."
He pouted. "Do you really think there's a twenty percent chance we'll split up some day?"
Emily laughed. "Of course not, love. But ninety percent sounds suspiciously high."
"Eighty percent it is, then."
She stood, pulled him by the hand until he was standing too, and led them toward the door to leave the testing center.
He put his hand on the doorknob, but hesitated before opening the door. "You're sure, Emily? I know I want to say damn the odds and leave, but it's your family we'd be lying to. You really want to skip seeing the results?"
She smiled and looked straight into his eyes. "I do."
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, May 7th, 2014


Making choices with incomplete information can be hard to do, but it's a part of the human condition. The nature of interpersonal relationships makes essentially any such choice one with incomplete information. And try as we might to find ways to achieve certainty, there's no reason to think we'll find that formula soon. These characters chose to go with what their minds and hearts told them over what a computer would have told them. Did they make the right choice? That's the amazing thing--there's never any way to know for sure.

- Michael Haynes

RATE THIS STORY
Please click to rate this story from 1 (ho-hum) to 7 (excellent!):

Please don't read too much into these ratings. For many reasons, a superior story may not get a superior score.

4.5 Rocket Dragons Average

SHARE THIS STORY

JOIN MAILING LIST
Please join our mailing list and receive free daily sci-fi (your email address will be kept 100% private):
 
Copyright Info
Tell a Friend
Send Feedback
About Us