An excerpt from the new novel, Nothing to See
They played RollerCoaster Tycoon that night. They both loved it, neither of them thought it was dumb. One of them would control the game with the mouse and keyboard while the other watched, leaning on her, so as much of the side of her body would be in contact as possible. Sometimes they would lean the sides of their faces together so their ears would be close, cutting off the sound, and they would hear like one person – out of their two uncovered ears. The one controlling would take their hand off the keyboard and they would play like one person with two hands – a left hand on the keyboard, a right hand on the mouse. They would play for hours like this. Because they loved the game and because they loved making rollercoasters. ‘I love these fucking rollercoasters,’ Greta said.
The tiny people would come in and in and in the park and they would pay the entry fee. They would go on the paths Greta and Peggy built and ride the Ferris wheels and merry-go-rounds (always build the slow games first). And while they were riding, Greta and Peggy would build a go-cart track and start theming the areas, adding shops where the people could buy food and balloons. They always built an information centre and gave away the maps – it was best if people knew where they were going. Then, when the people were taken care of – busy – and there were employees to sweep and a mechanic to maintain the Ferris wheel and the merry-go-round and the go carts and they were pretty sure no one would die on any of the rides they would build a path and a gate but close it and start on a new rollercoaster.
This was on the new parks. They had more than one game on the go. They would check in with random people that walked around their existing parks – seeing what they wanted. If they wanted anything Peggy and Greta would try and keep them happy. They would sometimes close a rollercoaster and add a water feature to it. Playing for hours. The people kept coming and paid their entry fee but also bought pizza and balloons and sometimes they would charge a small amount for the maps and it would allow then to employ one more man in a panda suit who could show visitors around if they got lost.
The sun moved across the sky. The light moved away from Peggy and Greta as it sunk behind the hill until there was no sun, and eventually they got hungry and had to stop. They closed the park for the night. Some parks they left open and just shut down the computer. They sat for a moment, after they watched the screen go black and sighed and looked at their flat and for a moment the small scurrying people would walk back and forth on the walls and any light space they looked at. They all moved by themselves but deep inside them was a destiny made up of code and this was what Greta and Peggy loved the best. The way the people looked like they could go anywhere. Like they could be anything they wanted to be but really, they were just lines of assembly under a thin layer of C. The people had different names, but they all looked the same.
Pip Adam is the author of three novels: Nothing to See (2020), The New Animals (2017), which won the Acorn Foundation Prize for Fiction, and I’m Working on a Building (2013); and the short story collection Everything We Hoped For (2010), which won the NZSA Hubert Church Best First Book Award for Fiction in 2011. Pip’s work has appeared in literary journals and anthologies in New Zealand and overseas. In 2012 she received an Arts Foundation of New Zealand New Generation Award. Pip facilitates writing workshops in universities and other settings, including with people affected by crime in prisons and communities. She makes the Better off Read podcast where she talks with authors about writing and reading.