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by Robert Borski


Let me start with a mea culpa

I've never claimed to be an angel, nor like the snooty Primes pretended to a perfection I'm not.

I've made mistakes. 

Hell: I've been mistakes. 

But to associate these small errors of judgment or sheer randomness with those of my next door neighbor is seriously flawed. Structured Chaos will always be anathema to me, and despite a youthful flirtation with Fuzzy Math, I hope to remain a champion of precision and accuracy the rest of my life.

I most certainly do not condone the willful perturbation of any number, nor am I an advocate of gematrial revelation. And don't even get me started about swastikas or pentagrams.

So, please: if you must write anything about our little corner of the 600s--do not slander the other nine of us. Unlike our neighbor, we intend no wrong. 

The Integer Formerly Known as 667

I blame the Grand Sequencer who, despite numerous complaints from the neighborhood, still refuses to isolate the offender within a discontinuity, claiming this would only create further problems.

I am therefore requesting a transfer to a base smaller than six, where at least if the Beast lives next door, only the most unlikely of evildoers will ever be able to find Him. 

Mrs. 696 (née 668)

I'll be the first to admit I've always been attracted to badboys, whether it's my current palindromic rake of a husband or the simple, if involute, chum from my girlhood who actually introduced me to oral symmetry. (Dear little Soixante-Neuf--I hope you never realized the extent to which I was slumming among the Two Digits.)

When we therefore relocated to our present location following the Command of True Order, it should not come as too much of a surprise that I was instantly attracted to you, our new neighbor.

Not just because you were diabolically handsome and bore yourself with style, but because there was something roguishly unapologetic about an individual who, harkening back to an older world scheme, called himself Sex-Sex-Sex, and wore his horniness like a crown.

Alas, all my coquettish charms seemed destined for division by zero (not that I still didn't try, mind you), for as I was soon to learn, it was you who held yourself to be slumming, and that the only being worthy of your attention was the far-off, aloof, and quasi-impregnable Tetragrammaton.

Good luck with that hookup, Beast.

In the meantime, my husband gives me plenty. 


Robert Borski lives in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. His fiction has appeared in Analog and Fantasy & Science Fiction, his criticism in The New York Review of Science Fiction, and his poetry in Strange Horizons and Star*Line. He's written two books about the fiction of Gene Wolfe, Solar Labyrinth and The Long and the Short of It.


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"Neighbors" © 2008 Robert Borski. Used by permission of the author.
Raven Electrick © 2000-2008 Karen A. Romanko.