issue 8

The Omniscient Codex to the Perfect Relationship, by Uchechukwu Nwaka


It doesn’t exist.

Not the Codex; of course it exists. Why else would I be floating over your head? I mean the perfect relationship. Even a perfect relationship is inherently flawed. You ask me why? Because humans are just that way. Give them everything on a platter and they begin to… well, abuse its value.

But I’m going too far. You’re supposed to discover this for yourself.

As per the contract, you’re the only one who can see me. By extension, you’ll also be privy to the numerous possibilities that stem from every action. That’s the key, you see? Your choices are the cogs that drive each timeline forward. I’ve gotten you this far already, haven’t I?

Lately, you’ve been a bad partner to Chioma (recall what I said about platters?). Long hours at work, paying little attention to her. She hasn’t been satisfied with this, yet somehow you always have the right words to say. Always manage to salvage the situation, somehow. You always let her understand that she means the world to you, because why wouldn’t she? You wouldn’t contract an extra-terrestrial being to repair your relationship otherwise.

 It doesn’t change the fact that you’re all hot air. You missed your anniversary date yesterday.

You promised you would be there.

Now you want to apologize and get her a suitable present. It’s been two years, after all.

<To get her a pendant, go to 2>

<To get her shoes, go to 4>

<To get her a gift basket, go to 6>


You pull up at the mall just after four. Amina’s is your trusted jeweller, and you make a beeline for the store. Beige lights dapple the interior, a refreshing break from the neon holoboards that cluster along the market district. Glass stands wear an assortment of finely cut stones, suspended on chains and even more stones. The refraction plays with your senses, and for a few minutes, you can’t decide on what to buy.

“Sir.” One of the automated staff approaches you. “Would you be interested in one of our special offers?”

You nod, and the fem-droid guides you to another section of the store. Gems adorn the necks of several mannequins. Something instantly catches your eye. 

The gem is a dazzling amethyst. You know Chioma will like it because it’s her favourite colour. It’s a little expensive, but you can’t afford to mess this chance up. Your relationship is on thin ice.

You get your present packaged nicely and step out of Amina’s. Engrossed in your gift, you don’t pay attention as you turn towards the parking lot. You almost collide with somebody.

“Oh I’m so sorry…” you start. Then, “Sandra?”

Sandra looks up. “Oh my goodness, Dele? What are you doing here?”

“Came to get a few things.” You eye the shoes in her bags. She must have come to buy shoes herself. You thank the heavens you decided against buying shoes, because that would mean running into her longer than you’d like.

“Well, see you around,” she says. “My regards to Chioma.”

“Of course,” you smile in return. In your dreams, you think.

Now in your car, with your present to your girlfriend safe in the pigeon hole, you plan your next move.

<To call her for dinner, go to 3>

<To drop by her place of work to surprise her, go to 5>

<To invite her over to your place, go to 7>


Chioma wears a black gown that hugs her torso before spilling outwards into frills from the waist down. Seeing her under the warm lights of the restaurant, your heart skips a beat. She twirls a glass of wine in her hands, eyes locked intently on yours.

“You look lovely,” you say.

“Thank you, Dele.”

“I’m really sorry about yesterday.”

“It was beyond your control. I understand.”

It feels like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders. You smile and signal to the waiter. Chioma taps your hand gently and shakes her head. “Not yet, Dele. We need to talk”

Still grinning, you ask, “What about?”

“I don’t want to carry on with this relationship.”

<You’ve been served the proverbial breakfast. Move to 8>


You pull up at the mall just after four. Chioma has recently taken to building a collection of Nike hover-shoes. Maybe, you think, you’ll get her something she doesn’t yet have in her collection. Customization would be cool too, but you’re not sure you have enough time.

As you step into the elevator you run into a familiar face.

“Dele! What a pleasant surprise.”

Shit. It’s Sandra, an old flame. One that Chioma happens to dislike. A lot.

“Hi.” You force a smile. Hopefully you both are going in different directions.

“How’s work?” she asks.

“The usual.”

The elevator dings and you make your way towards the shoe store. Sandra follows.

She smiles broadly. “You were coming here too?”


“What are the chances?”


You end up browsing the shoes with Sandra, all the while enduring talk about her recent production for a musical. Apparently, she’s partnering with an AI producer. Good luck with that.

At the parking lot, she hugs you out of the blue.

“Do stay in touch, will you Dele?”


“And my regards to Chioma. You guys are still a thing right?”

“We are.”

She smiles again. It’s unnerving. Does she somehow know you’re on thin ice with your girlfriend?

Nah, you’re overreacting. What you need to do right now is to plan your next move.

Chioma’s present is safe in the pigeon hole. What is your next move?

<Call her for dinner, go to 3>

<Drop by her place of work to surprise her, go to 5>

<Invite her over to your place, go to 7>


Chioma works at a dance studio. When you pull up, she’s already locking up. She’s on a call too, phone balanced between her ear and her shoulder. You tap the horn once and she turns to your direction and smiles. She’s wearing a black gown and a denim jacket over it. Chioma waves and tells you to give her a minute.

She enters the passenger seat a moment later.

“Happy anniversary babe.” You lean in to kiss her, but she pulls back.

“Thanks,” she says. “But you’re a day late.”

“I’m sorry about that, Chioma. I really am.”

“You always are, Dele. Honestly, I don’t think I can do this anymore.”

The temperature in the car drops a few degrees. “What does that mean?”

“I want to break up.”

<You’ve been served the proverbial breakfast. Move to 8>


You get stuck in traffic trying to make it to the vendor’s store. It’s past five when the vendor hands you the gift basket. Inside are cupcakes, cookies, sweets, a bottle of wine and a makeup kit. You sigh in exasperation as you notice the personalized coupons are missing.

“We couldn’t get everything printed out in time, sir.”

“Those coupons are the highlight of your services, for Christ’s sake!”

“We can get them delivered to your address before noon tomorrow. We are truly sorry for the inconvenience, sir.”

That’s a 1-star review for you clowns!

You groan inwardly as you set the basket on the passenger seat. It’s almost six. You don’t have many options as to your next move.

<To call her for dinner, go to 3>

<To invite her over to your place, go to 7>


You’ve just taken the sausages from the pan when Chioma knocks. Gingerly, you open the door and exchange hugs. She’s dressed in a denim jacket and a beautiful black gown.

Don’t get distracted. Immediately, you say, “Happy anniversary.”

She smiles. You get the faint feeling that it looks strained.

“I’m sorry about yesterday.”

Chioma cups your face in her palms. She smells divine. “I know you’re sorry, Dele, but I can’t continue to live like this. It’s always an apology every time we meet.”

“I’ll do better,” you promise. You mean it.

“I’ve waited long enough. I’m tired.”

The words are taking too long to register. “You’re tired of what, exactly?”

“The relationship. I want to end things.”

<You’ve been served the proverbial breakfast. Move to 8>


Chioma’s words bounce around your head with the nagging intensity of ambulance sirens. Your breath catches in your chest, then you force it down. This can’t be happening.

“But I…I love you Chioma.”

“I know,” she says, voice sombre. “But this isn’t working.”

“I’m trying. I swear I really am. You haven’t even seen what I got you!”

<Give her the necklace, go to 9>

<Give her the shoes, go to 10>

<Give her the gift-basket, go to 11>


Chioma opens the box and for a moment she falters. The amethyst refracts so many colours on her face. You can’t help but imagine her as a work of art.

“This…this is beautiful, Dele. Is this from Amina’s?”

You nod. “I thought you’d like it. I’m really sorry for everything, Chioma. I think I deserve one last chance, no?”

She looks at you, eyes shining. “No, Dele. This is a pattern with you. Remember when you stood me up for my show? Exactly. You got me a set of rings to apologize. They were lovely, and so is this, but it doesn’t change my decision.”

“Chioma. We love each other. Doesn’t that count for something?”

“Love isn’t enough Dele. Not this time.”

Chioma walks away.

<You have been dumped. Go to 12>


“No way!” Chioma exclaims as she unwraps the present and unboxes the shoes. “These are limited edition, Dele!”

At least Sandra was good for something, you think.

“I know you’re building a collection. I thought you’d like this.”

“I do! That’s so thoughtful Dele.”

“Reconsider, Chioma.”

She shakes her head and shuts the box. “It’s not all about the gifts. Sometimes I need you and you’re not here. I’m tired of being the understanding girlfriend.”

“Chioma… please don’t do this.”

“I’m sorry, Dele. I really am.”

<You have been dumped. Go to 12>


“You sure do know how to appeal to my sweet tooth,” Chioma chuckles. “But I’m afraid you’ll need more than sweets this time.”

“There’s supposed to be a box of coupons,” you add quickly. “Little things you can have me do for you, that kind of thing.”

“But you don’t need coupons before you can do things for me, Dele.”

“I know.”

“Do you really?” She shakes her head. “Don’t answer that,” she cuts you off just as you’re about to start speaking. “Look, I know you’ll want to say something that justifies your emotional absence. I really don’t hold anything against you, but I’ve been doing a lot of thinking myself.”

“How long?”

“Since you cancelled on the weekend trip. That very day.”

“Shit, I apologized for that. You said you weren’t angry.”

“I’m not. Just tired.”


“Goodbye Dele.”

<You have been dumped. Go to 12>


Ah… tough world, am I right? Oh, c’mon don’t give me that look. You’re free to go back and make different—and dare I say better—choices. Was your gift not good enough? Or did you mess up the setting? Maybe you shouldn’t have dallied with Sandra for so long. The timeline is yours. Try to make better choices next time.

Or … you can go to <13>.

What’s <13> you ask? Oh that’s where you ‘stay in touch’ with an old flame. Aren’t you curious as to how that’ll turn out? Like I said, there’s no perfection… only choices.

Uchechukwu Nwaka is an Igbo medical student at University of Ibadan, Nigeria. His works have appeared in PodCastle, Escape Pod, Fusion Fragment, Omenana among others. When he’s not trying to unravel the mysteries of human (or inhuman) interaction, he can be found reading manga, streaming TV shows, or generally trying to keep up with an endless schoolwork. Find him on Twitter as @uche_cjn.

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