Buy My New Story "Black Swan Oracle," in What Fates Impose!

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 7.236% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

Last week, I told you about my tale in the upcoming fortune-teller anthology What Fates Impose, citing it as my favorite story I’ve written in the last year.  Today, to hopefully encourage you to contribute to the Kickstarter, I give you a slightly larger-than-normal excerpt to wet your whistle:

The crowd waiting below The Oracle’s bulletproof bay window is a mathematically predictable entity.  Still, the Oracle relishes any illusion of chaos – and so, every morning, just before she allows herself one single prayer, she sweeps open her curtains to gaze over the crowd.
Her supplicants look up from their shivered huddling as fluorescent light spills out from The Oracle’s bay window; poor women in smudged hoodies squat next to Armani-clad stockbrokers.  The Oracle’s hundreds of supplicants put up tents faster than the policemen can tear them down, burn garbage to ward off the Seine’s chill winds, buy gristled chicken hunks from illegal street vendors.  The wait can take weeks, so long that people fall in love and fuck and have violently dramatic breakups before The Oracle’s guards fish these poor souls from the crowd to escort them towards an answer made pure with data.
The Oracle’s tide of supplicants is so constant that, like any shantytown, it has developed its own economy… an economy which pulses perfectly in time with the rhythms The Oracle predicted.  She’d spent hours developing algorithms to anticipate the crowd you would get if you charged $25,000 for a single question, answers guaranteed (but not to please), in this geographic and demographic cluster.  She’d analyzed the local politicians, and the bribes she pays remain within .03% of initial estimates.  She’d tracked the movements of the most influential reporters, ascertaining they would pass by here 2.4 times a week, guaranteeing unending press for “The Statistic Mystic,” a name the Oracle loathes.  She even predicted the number of e. coli outbreaks from undercooked chicken.
Yet every morning, before The Oracle orders her guards to escort the first supplicant in, The Oracle kneels.  She above all people knows how irrational prayers are — multigenerational analyses of billions of lives has allowed The Oracle to thoroughly disprove the effects of prayers, bioharmonics, Zener cards, craniometry, reiki, feng shui, astral projection, the existence of God himself as an active entity, and those laundry balls they sell on late-night TV — but when the data models don’t support the desired results, sometimes all that’s left is hope.
Please, she begs, looking wearily out over the young lovers holding hands, the despairing businessmen, the fretting young mothers; transparent clichés, all.  Please let someone bring me the Black Swan Question.
There is, naturally, no answer.  So she grabs the microphone and slips on her persona, her voice booming out over the crowd.
“The Oracle will answer one boring question for $25,000!”  The Oracle talks about herself in the third person because studies have shown this makes the Oracle’s name stick in your mind.  “Yet The Oracle does not need your fucking money.  The Oracle did this to draw attention to the way commercial entities buy and sell your data, hoping you’d recognize how thoroughly businesses manipulate you.  Instead, The Oracle has made millions from extrapolating your futures based on publically-available data.  Now?  The Oracle finds you tedious.  So come to me with an interesting question, or I will release the hounds.”
The Oracle does not actually have hounds.  The Oracle finds it distressing that 76.4% of people don’t get the joke.  Yet the Oracle refuses, on principle, to have a FAQ….

If you’re interested, you can actually hear me read this story at the $15 pledge level.  I always think it’s neat to hear authors read their stories.  You get to hear the inflections they had in their minds, feel their own personal rhythm for the tales, all that.  And I’m gonna go full-on for drama here, given my love of old-time radio.
As an added bonus, one person who donates to the Kickstarter before this Thursday will receive this lovely artwork created by the editor, the talented Nayad Monroe:

Lots of good stuff in here, including a story by Keffy I’m really looking forward to seeing.  So donate, if you like, you know, stories.

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