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The Sky Didn't Load Today

Rich Larson was born in West Africa, has studied in Rhode Island and Edmonton, Alberta, and at 22 now writes from a small Spanish town outside Seville. He won the 2014 Dell Award and the 2012 Rannu Prize for Writers of Speculative Fiction. His work appears or is forthcoming in Lightspeed, DSF, Strange Horizons, Apex Magazine, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, AE, and many others, including anthologies Upgraded, Futuredaze, and War Stories. Find him at richwlarson.tumblr.com.
It was an aching white blank, with little fissures where code leaked out like drizzling rain, but nobody seemed to notice except Adelaide.
"Nina, look," she said at recess, on the squeaking playground swings. "The sky's got a glitch." She kicked out hard, trying to soar high enough to touch the faulty firmament.
"Looks fine to me," her friend said, draped stomach-down over her swing, feet shuffling the gravel. Her eyes stuck to the iPhone clutched in her small pink hands.
In class, Adelaide couldn't stop looking out the Windex-streaked glass.
"It's like someone broke the game," she said, when the teacher scolded her to pay attention.
"Life is not a game, Adelaide," he said, raking a strand of black hair behind his white ear. "That's why you should be learning your times tables. Not staring out the window."
Adelaide walked home under the void, watching error messages ripple in the wind. She spent the day searching for polygons in the elm trees and invisible walls around the boarded-up well she was supposed to avoid.
When she wormed under her sheets that night, the sky outside still hadn't darkened. Adelaide argued for an extension on curfew.
"Not a chance," her mother said, leaving a warm kiss on her forehead. "And don't worry. I'm sure the sky will load tomorrow."
But when her mother paused in the doorway, Adelaide saw her silhouette jump and flicker, and a glowing trickle of code leak down her cheek.
The End
This story was first published on Monday, February 9th, 2015

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