Another story to track down

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Another story to track down

Post by gnome »

Trying to track down a short scifi story, I read it in an anthologized collection, you know one of those "best short scifi of 2003" or whatever, but I can't remember what compilation.

I only remember it by its description, they talked about a community that had a local attraction that was a life-size piece of mobile sculpture, almost like a giant machine, and anyone could stand inside it and move the parts around to change the configuration.

A local legend grew that moving the pieces actually changed reality, but you couldn't tell because everyone's memory and memorabilia would change with it. Then there was one character (who everyone initially thought was insane) who decided to take it seriously and started to investigate a girl associated with the legend. The idea was, that she made a change and it disappeared her. However, people had this vague idea that SOMEONE they'd forgotten was missing--that a picture composed as if for three people seemed to be missing one; or that there was some sort of gap in their lives that they imagined this girl once filled. The idea of her became sort of a cultish fad among the residents, and it got muddled because everyone wanted to tell a story about how they were sure someone like her must have been in their lives, on whatever thin evidence they could find.

Any ideas? I'm sure I've gotten some details wrong, but anyone who's read it probably knows exactly what I'm talking about.
"If fighting is sure to result in victory, then you must fight! Sun Tzu said that, and I'd say he knows a little bit more about fighting than you do, pal, because he invented it, and then he perfected it so that no living man could best him in the ring of honor. Then, he used his fight money to buy two of every animal on earth, and then he herded them onto a boat, and then he beat the crap out of every single one. And from that day forward any time a bunch of animals are together in one place it's called a zoo! (Beat) Unless it's a farm!"
--Soldier, TF2