New Horizon

July 27, 2015

By Graham K. Glover

Max had Phil pinned on the floor, sitting on his lower abdomen, hands weighing on his shoulders. Phil’s arms were splayed. They’d just ordered a delivery pizza, and Max was in a playful mood. She was in a skater dress that came to mid-thigh, with open weave shoulders and a short flounce on the waist. She’d been wearing black strappy sandals with 3″ heels, but those came off shortly after coming in the door. Her long wavy blond hair complemented what she wore. Max was all girl. Phil was all boy.

Phil said, “Don’t forget, we’ve got a pizza on its way, Miss Maxine.”

She looked at him, dropped; they embraced, and kissed deeply. She said, “Later, dude.” She enjoyed his warmth, and then got up.

* * *

The pizza arrived, wine was poured, and they sat at the small table enjoying dinner and each other’s company. They were each going over their day, Max first. Hers was a day of heavy number crunching and programming, writing and rewriting algorithms to make the computers go faster. At lunch she’d gone out and bought a new dress.

Phil went over his day, and mentioned in passing that he was updating a function on the Horizon machine.

Max stopped him. “Hold it. What? Horizon?”

“Yeah. You know how you can take a Horizon machine and get high with it? They want to remove that function.”

She looked at him soberly. “Phillip, you do know what Horizon does, don’t you?”

“Yes,” he replied slowly, almost sarcastically. “I would hope I do, since I’m on the development team.”

“How long have you been on that?”

“About two years.”

She looked at him. “That’s about as long as we’ve been together.”


She frowned. “Do you know how they use it?”

“Of course I know. It’s become a basic requirement for the college application process. It really tells you what someone is capable of doing. And it’s good.”

“People use it for more than that,” she said. “They use it for refactoring,” she said distastefully. “It’s like they’re reprogramming people! Like they’re computers!”

“Well, of course people use it for that,” he said. “It gives them an IQ advantage, as well as a practical speed advantage. People are under a lot of pressure sometimes… it helps them.”

“It recodes the brain.”

“It makes it better.”

She gave him The Look. “Dude. It kills us. You and me.”

He looked at her blankly.

She couldn’t stop talking now. “I was saved by the hormone blockers in my teen years. When I was eighteen I got the hormones I needed to become the girl I am. And I still have a penis. You have always been a guy, and have always had a penis. What that makes you is a freak! Horizon fixes that.” She pouted prettily. “Over the last five years since Horizon has been out, have you been paying attention? There are fewer gays, fewer lesbians, fewer transgenders.”

He said, “Well, you don’t hear of them as much, they’re just accepted.”

“No. When they ‘refactor’, they refactor like the government tells them to. I remember… My best friend Mikki and I would play dress-up. Summers in high school were fun! There was makeup, pretty dresses, and some really short skirts, but she wasn’t transgender the way I am, so she didn’t do the hormone blockers.”


“Do be quiet. Horizon was out when we were applying for college. I didn’t do it, but she did. Up until then she was fine. Shortly after that though, she was just ‘Mike.’ I’ll never forget what he said to me the day I last saw him. ‘Dude, be a man,” he spat, and he had an angry and mean look in him. Then he hit me hard in the arm. I sent my knee where I knew he wouldn’t forget anytime soon. Then I cried so hard that night, and then over the next days. She knew me. She and I were girlfriends. He was just a jerk loser.”

“The government doesn’t tell them what to do.”

“Explicitly? No. You got a specification for what you do?”

“Of course,” he said. “You can’t develop the code on this type of contract without a spec, a statement of work, and all of the other paperwork.”

“Who develops the requirements for the spec?”

He was silent.

“Who develops the requirements for the spec?”

“The government.”

“This is completely against us,” she said. “And you’ve been doing this for two years? Why didn’t I ever know about it?”

“Some parts of it were just now declassified. I really couldn’t talk about it before.”

She shook her head. “You know, if we used it, we would be destroyed.”

“Actually we’d be better. Wouldn’t you want to be just a regular guy?”

“NO!” A tear rolled down her face.

“I’ve heard you complain so often you want to become pregnant and carry children and nurse them. Then I hear you say in the next moment you wish you were dead because you shouldn’t be this way. The refactoring helps straighten out those kids. And they do it by choice.”

She said, “They’re not buying the bi-gender route! They’re buying efficiency. They’re buying grades in college, a job after they graduate, and thirty years of student loans.”

“And what do you think efficiency is?” he asked.

She looked at him. “So you’ve bought into this.”

“I’ve toyed with the idea of doing it myself. I could use a few extra IQ points. Couldn’t you?”

“I’m already well into Mensa, so a few extra points up the bell curve mean little to me. Besides, going back to having a dude mind in this body would be the death of me.”

“Remember Freddie a year ago?”

He looked at her.

“He was happily gay, mostly anyway,” she said. “Fine, his family had totally rejected him. He was the one who told me about the dark side of Horizon. He wanted to do it anyway. He figured that if he was smarter and straight as an arrow, life would be better. He did it. Three days later he took a 12-gauge shotgun to his heart.”

He looked at her blankly.

She said, “You’re going to keep doing this?”

He said, “It’s good money.”

“It’s wrong!”

“Someone’s going to do it anyway. It might as well be me.”

She looked at him. “We’re over. I didn’t want to be born this way, but I make the most of it. I won’t have someone forcing changes on anyone, especially changes that are dangerous.”

“It won’t matter. There’s an expansion program with Horizon. Have you seen all of those little yellow Horizon sunrise logos everywhere? Everyone will be refactored in the next year. You, me, everyone.”

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