Take me to a...
Enter any portion of the author name or story title:
For more options, try our:
Sign up for free daily sci-fi!
your email will be kept private
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!
Publish your stories or art on Daily Science Fiction:
If you've already submitted a story, you may check its:
Not just rockets & robots...
"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.

art by Seth Alan Bareiss

Over There

Dany G. Zuwen was born in Rwanda. He now dwells and dreams in Brussels, Belgium. He writes both in English and French. Daily Science Fiction is the first home for his English prose, and that's one of the many reasons Dany loves DSF. His novel "Mantax," the first part of an epic science-fiction series, was published in 2010 by Editions Chloé des Lys. Dany G. Zuwen blogs at mywritinglife.com.

Sam knew Elena wanted him to leave his dead wife. He peered up at Elena's eyes. Her squint of disapproval egging him on, he opened the door to the Room.
The bright light scorched his eyes like when he was little and stared at the sun and Mom said it'd blind him. But eventually, after the door closed behind Sam with a metallic click, his sight adjusted.
Naomi faded in the middle of the room. Her back faced Sam; he wanted to creep up behind her and scare her. But as soon as he took a step, the sensors relayed the information to Naomi. Sam blinked and there she was, facing him, smiling the smile that'd melted his heart from the moment he'd last seen her alive, eight years before.
"Hello, Samuel. It's been a long time." The last time he'd come to see Naomi was the night he'd met Elena. He'd felt so miserable and so guilty and so ashamed. And he hadn't come back once in six years.
"How are you?"
She pinched her wrist with her thumb, fore, and middle fingers. "Why, still no pulse." She flashed another smile at Sam. The rendering was perfect. Sam's eyes filled with tears when the picture of Naomi lying on her deathbed, her face white as a drape, jumped to the front of his mind.
"I miss you," Sam said. Elena had promised not to watch the video feed from outside the Room, but for an instant Sam didn't care if she did.
"I know. I miss you too."
Sam lurched forward. He wanted to hold Naomi again. One more time. One last time before he had to forever let her go. His arms blurred through Naomi's shoulders and his momentum made him tumble forward. He caught himself on the immaculate, glowing walls of the Room. When he swung back with a sigh, Naomi flickered back in the center of the Room.
"Samuel. Oh, Samuel." Her brow was furrowed and a small smile danced on her lips. She'd had the same expression when he'd proposed to her, but it'd been drawn with lines of happiness then. Now it was thick, dark smudges of pity and sorrow.
"It's unfair."
"What is?"
"This. You dead. Me alive. This machine--the Room shouldn't exist." Sam waved his arms between Naomi and his torso and around them at the walls of light.
"You'd rather I was just… gone?"
"This hurts too much."
"I know. I hurt too."
Sam stopped his slow march towards Naomi. "I must tell you something."
"I know." She winced.
"I love you."
She frowned and narrowed her eyes further. "I love you too, Sammy. Is that what you must tell me?"
Sam shook his head. "Remember how we swore that the first to die would wait for the other in the Room?"
Naomi's smile that encouraged him to speak twitched, froze, and retracted. "I do."
Sam paused and held his breath. "I met someone." He looked away. "I'm sorry. I couldn't wait."
Naomi smiled as if relieved and heartbroken. "I know."
Sam stared at her, unable to close his hanging mouth. "How?"
"The Room is connected. With the right mentor, you can visit any place with an Internet connection. I climbed Mt. Everest, I visited the moon, Mars, Saturn..." she let her sentence trail off into silence while Sam digested the news. "And I checked on you."
"You've spied on me?"
She crossed her arms on her chest. "Yes, Sammy. I missed you. I was alone. I only accepted to be uploaded to stay with you, to wait with and for you, but you left me alone for six years. I needed to know."
Sam sighed. "I'm sorry."
"I'm not. Elena is good for you. She's crazy about you."
"I like her, but I still love you."
"And she knows. And that's okay. We can never stop loving each other. But you deserve someone to love you with her body as well as her heart."
Sam tightened his lips together until they went numb. "I don't care about sex."
"Sammy, you love sex. But that's not all I'm talking about. Little touches, Samuel. Holding your hand, caressing your hair, kissing your cheeks, your lips."
"You act like you don't care."
Naomi laughed for a while and the laugh backslapped memories into Sam's mind. Naomi sitting on the front row at his one-man show. Naomi, later, backstage. Naomi after their first time, awkward, clumsy, delicious. Naomi, Naomi, Naomi.
"I care. Trust me. I felt betrayed. But I realized how silly and selfish it was of me to expect abstinence from you. It's not right."
"But you're all alone--over there."
"I'm not alone. Remember Gina? She's here. Her wife uploaded her a few years ago. Others too. I'll be fine."
Sam inched his way to the door, making sure to walk around Naomi's rendering. He wrapped his hand around the steel-cold doorknob. Above the door, a small monitor bled images of a waiting Elena.
Yes, the Room was unfair. Unfair to Sam and to Elena and to Naomi. Naomi. It'd always been and would always be Naomi.
Sam thrust his fist into the monitor and circled his hand around a sharp piece of glass. The Room's sensors picked up on his elevated heartbeat and Sam smiled at the red letters that popped up everywhere around him, begging him not to do anything rash, assuring him that help was on the way. He felt for his carotid artery with his left hand and drove the jagged-edged glass with his right.
When he woke after the upload, faces wobbled above his head. The faces sharpened as if a lens had rotated and focused. Naomi.
"Hey," she said. Tears streamed down her cheeks.
"What's wrong?"
Three other faces, four and younger, a mixture of Naomi and a stranger, burst into a cacophonous laughter.
"I'm sorry, Sammy," Naomi said and her voice broke into a shrieking sob. "I couldn't wait either."
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Author Comments

During the 1994 genocide, millions of Rwandans were forced to flee from their homes. During that exodus, one of my sisters was separated from us. She is now thought to be dead, although we never had confirmation. I imagined what it'd be like if a machine existed which could allow me to access the dead. Would she be there to finally lift that horrible doubt over her death? Could I get to know her a little bit more? That thought is what sparked "Over There." The rest, as they say, is history.

- Dany G. Zuwen
Become a Member!

We hope you're enjoying Over There by Dany G. Zuwen.

Please support Daily Science Fiction by becoming a member.

Daily Science Fiction is not accepting memberships or donations at this time.

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.

5.3 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):