Lavie Tidhar’s latest short story, “Set Down This”, has just been published in audio form at Pseudopod, read by South African voice actor Elan Russel. The story was originally published in Phantom, an anthology edited by Sean Wallace and Paul G. Tremblay.
On my brother’s computer, a video file shows an American fighter plane pinpointing a group of men in Iraq.
‘Do it?’ the pilot says.
‘Ten seconds to impact.’
Where the men have been there is a huge explosion, and black smoke covers the grainy grey streets. ‘Dude,’ the pilot says.
I have no faces and no names to put to the men. The black smoke must have contained the atoms of their flesh, their bones (though bones are hardy), vaporized sweat, burnt eyebrows and pubic hair and nose hair (unless they used a trimmer, as I do), in short, the atoms of their being. Later, I think, one could find, lying in the street, a tooth or two, the end of a finger that had somehow survived, fragments of bone, a legless shoe. These men are nothing to me. They are pixels on a screen, a peer-shared digital file uploaded from sources unknown, provenance suspect, whose only note of authenticity is that young pilot’s voice when the smoke rises and he says, quietly – ‘Dude.’