Friday, February 29, 2008
"This video is from your latest show. Here’s comes Cyndi Desire down the runway, wearing a twill pantsuit with a small mustard stain on one lapel. Followed by Jorgi L’Amour in an imitation off-the-rack floral print sundress. And here’s Zane Faust, in relaxed-fit jeans and a Disneyland sweatshirt. Please, explain the statement you are trying to make."
"In today’s fashion vorld, anyzing is possible. Ven anyzing is possible, nozing is daring. Bizzare – vat does zat mean anymore? Mundane is ze only vay to be bizarre."
Ho-hum, I think, though I smile and nod. Nothing new here.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
"Whoah, don’t get so technical. Remebering that I’m a dumb journalist, please explain it again."
"Sorry, I’m just excited. This facility runs an accoustic telescope–"
"Accoustic? I thought sound couldn’t travel through space."
"Normally, no, but powerful enough events – supernovae, black hole collisions – can set up gravitational vibrations analogous to sound."
"I see. What did you, uh, ‘hear?’"
"Proof of the existence of extraterrestrial beings, with technology advanced beyond our imagination."
"We don’t know how, but they made a black hole sing."
"Like the galaxy’s biggest hi-fi?"
"You could say that."
There’s my headline.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Tim-tippity tim-tippity tim...
"Could you please stop that?"
"Oh, I didn’t even know I was doing it. I’ll stop."
Tim-tippity tim-tippity tim...
"You’re doing it again."
"Oh god, I didn’t notice. I’m so sorry. I’ll sit on my hand."
"Are you tapping under your leg?"
"Sorry, man. I guess I can’t take this as calmly as you."
"It’s just that if I’m going to plummet to my death, I’d like to plummet in peace."
The man broke down sobbing. Some people have no sense of plane crash etiquette.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Sure, you all know about the Erie Canal, connecting Lake Erie and Hudson Bay. But nobody talks much anymore about the Eerie Canal. Runs from wherever you are right now, all the way to nobody-knows-where. It’s always deserted as far as the eye can see, save for your own vessel, and perhaps an old, decrepit, half-sunk barge tied up on the bank a hundred yards off. Yet its very emptiness becons, and you’re curious about the twinkling lights that dance in the distance, just barely visible.
But beware! Many journey, but none has returned!
Well, except Larry.
Monday, February 25, 2008
"Many cultures have them in some form – giant beasts with some combination of mammalian and reptilian features, usually showing a level of intelligence equal or superior to man’s And people are nearly univerally fascinated by them."
"I thought you wanted to tell me about a neurological breakthrough."
"That’s just the thing – I found the brain center responsible for this reverent awe."
"An unorthodox line of inquiry," said Caruthers. "And a dangerous one, don’t you think?"
"Who do you think put that in your brains?"
Johnson suddenly noticed Caruthers growing, shifting, changing. He turned to run, but didn’t get far.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
FOR SALE: Human female body, age 35, gently used. Owner looking to trade up to something more sporty.
Curly brunette, fair skin. Moderately attractive/physically fit (see photo). No tattoos; single lobe piercing, both ears.
Maintainance up to date, including annual physicals and screenings. No known congenital defects or suceptibilities. Cholesterol, blood pressure, and BMI within healthy range. Appendix and wisdom teeth removed, tonsils intact. Non-smoker, social drinker, no hard drug use. Full medical records available on request.
Trades considered. Contact owner with questions/offers -- serious inquiries only.
Please do not contact seller with services or other commercial interests.
You get used to it...
"Another tourist showed up this morning," said Kate. "In the middle of breakfast."
"You’re kidding!" said Angie. "That’s the third this month."
"How can you stand it?"
"You get used to it, I guess."
"But what does it mean?"
"Well, there’s got to be a reason why they’re coming from the future to see me. Mom’s sure I’m going to be famous some day, and people want to see my childhood. But I don’t know... what if I’m notorious instead? The next Hitler, or Nicole Simpson?"
A ghostly figure materialized, bisected by a wall.
"Please, just ignore him."
Saturday, February 23, 2008
All Over Again
The writer was in a bind. He knew the moment he pulled the day’s prompt. Deja vu – was any topic more trodden-into-the-ground? Ideas for stories came to him, but each was dismissed; even if he couldn’t actually remember seeing it before, a nagging voice told him it’d been done.
Wasn’t that a kind of...?
If his worry was originality, this wasn’t any better than his other ideas. But maybe the self-awareness would be enough to excuse it?
But resorting to the old saw of self-reference, while complaining about unoriginality?
Back to the drawing board.
Friday, February 22, 2008
"Nostalgia’s nearly exhausted."
"Clearly. The trend’s been going since the late 1990s at least; the reference point of nostalgia has been rapidly approaching the present. The window is practically closed – anything that hasn’t been tapped for nostalgia is new enough to still be passe.
"So what’s cool?"
"No, people don’t have near enough self-esteem to value what they’re doing now."
"I’ve got it."
"So Nostalgia 1.0 was, ‘Remember the ‘70s?’"
"Now we just have to say, ‘Remember when we remembered the ‘70s?’"
The room went silent.
"We’re gonna be fucking rich."
Thursday, February 21, 2008
The pillow’s getting warmer, so you flip it over. But something’s wrong, because the other side is even warmer. You lay on it a while, trying to figure it out.
It’s getting unbearable, so you flip it over again...
It’s even hotter.
You’re fully awake now. You’re pretty sure it violates the first and second laws of thermodynamics, but something in the world has broken. The other side of the pillow is no longer cooler.
You lay still a long while, till the pillow is so soaked with sweat that you reluctantly turn it.
Is that burning hair you smell?
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
The hardest thing is not killing them whenever you walk down the street. Rationally, I know I can kill more of the animals if I kill one every month or so, hide the body somewhere new, than if I were to start taking them in public and get arrested. But it’s slow, and there are so many of them.
I shouldn’t brag, but I’m great at it. Manson, Berkowitz, Ridgeway – they’re pikers. Get in a rut, get caught. That’s why I find a new way each time.
It’s not hard. When you’re surrounded by nails, every tool becomes a hammer.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
"Why is it foggy, Grandfather?"
"Ahh, my child, on mornings like this, the Graphics Drivers are under extra strain, so the Great Coder, in his wisdom arranged that there be fog, to minimize the number of polygons it must render."
"How do you know?"
"You might not believe it, but there was a time when ordinary men could create whole worlds with no more than lines of Code. This power was taken from mere mortals, but the Great Coder still uses the True Code to make the world."
Grandfather had a way with tall tales. No human ever wrote Code.
Monday, February 18, 2008
I pull my cloak around me tightly. It isn’t actually cold in the spaceport; climate control keeps it right around 20º, right in the comfortable range for the majority of spacefaring sentients. But wherever I go I draw stares, and what I assume are the equivalent of stares from the creatures lacking eyes. It feels cold.
I approach a kiosk and ask the way to the nearest lodging.
"Excuse me." The pink blob continues its conversation with its companion as if I weren’t there. "As I was saying, this is just the problem with young races. Don’t know their place."
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Class of 1
"Congratulations, class of 1 GE. You are the first class to graduate under the gentle protection of our glorious overlords. You are all very fortunate. Now let’s give a warm welcome to our beloved leader, Grodax!"
:::: greetings hivehuman young : collectiveyou have proven great capacity for learning : learningeducation bring honor to any sentient race : noble pursuit ::
:: however ::
:: hivehuman elements educated to high degree yields threat of outcome harmful to hivegrodax : cannot allow ::
:: however ::
:: hivehuman young may still serve hivegrodax with honor ::::
Grodax’s carapace split open, and thousands of surprisingly fast larvae poured out, neatly devouring everything warmblooded in the room.
"Move out, men!" We press across the cratered field, making cover just before the next barrage.
"There’s too many of them," yells William. "We can’t run forever."
"You’d rather give up?"
A welfare mom speeds by in her Cadillac; a brownish child leans from the window and throws a grenade into our trench. William throws himself himself on it just as it blows...
Winnifred swabs sweat from William’s brow with an 800 thread count Egyptian cotton towel.
Refusing our last bottle of Perrier, he utters last words: "This never would have happened if we’d kept them from getting universal healthcare."
Saturday, February 16, 2008
"Have a spiffy afternoon!"
Spiffy? Who does she think she is? Besides – "Afternoon? It’s 11:20."
"Well, I can’t very well say good morning. Plenty of people have eaten lunch by now, so it’s not really morning."
I should just let it go, but I rise to the bait. "‘Noon’ is 12:00. 11:20–"
"11:21 is clearly before noon."
My arm moves as if by its own volition, and she’s on her back, making little gurgling noises, the letter opener standing upright in her neck.
Damn. Looks like it’s back to the job ads. Again.
Friday, February 15, 2008
The guy is slick in every way. His slicked back hair glistens with grease, in a style out-of-date for anyone but car salesmen and cardsharks. His eyes are like oil on black water under cloudy skies.
"This is the guy?"
Tom pulls up a chair, and I take the other. "I have a business proposition."
I order expensive scotch all around, and the cocktail waitress brings it shortly.
We finish our drinks in silence.
"Alright," I say. "Let’s talk turkey."
Slick’s face brightens. "I’m so glad you brought that up."
Thursday, February 14, 2008
"I’m so glad you brought that up. The turkey is a large gallinaceous bird, native to North America. They are widely cultivated for their meat, which is often considered a healthy alternative to other meats – as in products such as turkey ham or turkey bacon – and less often for their eggs. Turkey manure, a by-product of large-scale farming operations, is useful in composts and fertilizers.
"Domestic turkeys are flightless; wild turkeys are capable of flight, though they are primarily ground birds, only taking flight–"
"That’s great," I interrupted. "But not exactly what I meant by ‘let’s talk turkey.’"
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
The Product of Two Primes
"The signal is comprised of ten groups of 69,841 bits, after which the whole signal repeats."
"66,887... that wouldn’t be...?"
"The product of two primes, yes. Exacty how we’d expect sentient creatures seeking contact to transmit graphical information."
She indicated a folder, labelled CONFIDENTIAL.
The pictures were a grainy monochrome, but reasonably clear. The backgrounds varied – bubbling oceans, towering rock formations, forests of improbable plants, huge and bizarre cities.
The foregrounds were identical: Three unspeakably alien figures, one smaller than the others. It seemed to be the same three.
"Yes. They sent us vacation photos."
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
It’s about fifteen hundred degrees in my room, despite the only window (no more than three inches; orders of Mom, apparently in case a gang of former circus acrobats turned burglers start breaking into suburban second story windows). School shouldn’t start when it’s obviously still summer. So far seventh grade sucks as much as I’d expected. And it’s not the same with Kate. We’ve always been close friends, but we both grew a lot this summer, and there’s something new in the way.
I reach for the box of tiss–
Wait, the prompt is "jacket?"
Can I start over?
Monday, February 11, 2008
What does she think?
As the vacuum nozzles clamp around each tit, does she imagine the lips of an all-but-forgotten calf, long gone to the veal farm?
Does she dream pastures, she who has never seen the outside of a feedlot?
Does she imagine the tang of new-sprouted grass, she who has tasted only dried corn, seasoned with hormones and antibiotics?
Does she yearn to be mounted roughly by a dark, well-muscled Angus bull, she who has known no paramour but the rubber gloves and syringe of the insemination technician?
Dude, she’s just a fucking cow.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
"Thompson Microinvestment understands how difficult child rearing is in today’s world. Food, healthcare, clothing, swimming lessons, summer camp – not to mention college. That’s why we offer young families innovative market-based solutions.
"Here’s how it works. We sell microshares in little Spencer’s life. The money helps defray the cost of Spencer’s upbringing. When he grows up, the shareholders will recieve dividends taken from his income.
"Of course, shareholders will have voting interest in some life decisions – college, marriage, career – but it’s actually beneficial, to have the input of savvy investors behind such important decisions.
"So, do we have a deal?"
"I’m not talking to you, Kelsey." She turned away from her sister.
"Fine, be that way. You can’t use our left kidney."
"You can’t do that!"
"Why not? I’m on the left side, I get to say who uses what."
"But, that’s not possible," she said, worry creeping into her voice. "Right?"
"It’s my kidney, I say who uses it."
"But, I don’t want to have just one kidney. And if I can’t use your kidney, you can’t use mine."
"MOMMY!" Kelsey shouted. "Katrina’s not sharing!"
"Girls, stop your bickering this instant." Sometimes I hate raising conjoined twins.
Saturday, February 9, 2008
"What is it, bwana?"
"I don’t know, something stung me."
"Did you see it, bwana?"
"Not clearly, it flew away too quickly."
"Let me see." He grabbed the white man’s arm and stared intently at the welt. He made a concerned clucking sound with his tongue.
The white man blanched even whiter. "Is it serious?"
"Perhaps." He poked the welt, and the white man shrieked. "Ooh yes, very bad. Laid eggs."
"E, eggs? Is there anything I can do?"
"Our people have ways. Not cheap..."
"I’ll pay, whatever!"
His face brightened. "Ahh, you’re in luck! You see, my cousin..."
Friday, February 8, 2008
I suppose you want to know how I did it. How, as an untrained youth, I singlehandedly invented what was then science fiction, and far-fetched SF at that. That’s why all you reporters come these days.
I guess it reinforces your myth of Youth to swallow that story, and by that same token I’m sure you’ll chalk up my story to the ravages of age.
See, I didn’t invent time travel at the age of 19. I invented it after a lifetime’s work. But when I made my test run, the little whippersnapper stole–
Hey, where are you going?
Thursday, February 7, 2008
"Are you ready to proceed?"
You flinch. "I’m not sure, Dr. Gordon. I can’t remember anything from my last session. Could you explain again how it works?"
"Of course. Safe-mode psychotherapy is made possible by recent advances in neurochemistry. First you are put in an artifical coma, using drugs and hypnosis. The bare essentials for consciusness are reawakened with targetted electrostimulation. Then I activate individual neuroses, and address them in isolation, without distractions or reservations."
"Couldn’t this be... misused?"
"Yes, but that would, be a serious breach of medical ethics. You trust me, right?"
You find you do, implicitly.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
"Alright, everybody find a buddy," said Ms. King.
"Susie, will you be my buddy?"
"Why don’t you just be Katrina’s buddy?"
"I don’t wanna be her buddy. I’m always with her."
Katrina started to cry.
"What’s the problem, girls?" asked Ms. King.
"She said she doesn’t wanna be my buddy," sobbed Katrina.
"Umm...." Ms. King cleared her throat. "Why don’t you want to be Katrina’s buddy?"
"I’m always with her. I wanna be with Susie."
Ms. King sighed. "Don’t you think it would be, um, easier if you buddy with Katrina?"
"Fine," I grumped. I hate having a conjoined twin.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
"Dude, you should have been there. What a wave." The tanned, dreadlocked surfer poked the embers of our dying fire.
"Still, you can’t possibly be saying it was worth it."
"Bro, you don’t understand. This wasn’t just some wave. When the Ross Shelf went, we’re talking something else altogether. I mean, civilization was nice, but this wave was downright wicked. And besides, this isn’t so bad, right?"
I looked out at the fading glow of the sunset. "I guess the Utah coast is pretty fantastic."
"Now you’re feeling it." He looked up at the first stars winking through. "Wicked, man."
Monday, February 4, 2008
"This is fantastic, Mary."
"It’s Aunt Jo’s famous corn chowder."
"Could I have the recipe?"
"Sorry, family secret. You know how it goes."
"I’m not family? One hint, I can’t place this flavor."
"That’s why it’s a secret," she snips, giving me a look. We eat on in silence, ‘til:
"I don’t know, it sunk back in the bowl. It looked like it had eyes."
"I’m sure it was nothing."
I take another bite. I feel something odd, and spit it out in my hand. "This is nothing?"
"Haven’t you ever heard of a chowderhead?"
Sunday, February 3, 2008
"You’re still running firefox?"
"Nothing, if you want to slab a big ‘INFECT THIS COMPUTER’ sticker on your box. Besides, do you really want to support Mozilla’s corporate empire?"
"It’s not that bad. And besides, what choice is there?"
"Have you checked out Abalone?"
"That browser everyone used to use, back in the ‘90s and ‘naughts?
"Some open source hippies working for Microsoft before it went belly-up picked up the source code cheap, and they’ve revamped it into Abalone. I can’t believe you haven’t heard of it, Dakota. Sometimes I wonder about you."
The mood was tense. The wind had shifted, the healthy sea breezes replaced by a hot, dry east wind from over the mountains.
"Grandmama, why is everyone afraid?"
"Gather ‘round, little ones, for it is crucial that you heed my words.
"When the hot east winds blow, you must stay inside. For east winds are the breath of the Fyr-fox, in whose jaws glint a million golden teeth, and in whose eyes glow thousands of devoured souls..."
They say Grandmother was mad, and it’s probably true. Still, do you see my children in the streets when the foxwind blows?
Saturday, February 2, 2008
Friday, February 1, 2008
The Morning After
I wake up to a throbbing head. Part of it is the hangover, but that’s not all. There’s a sharper pain, on the surface, half hidden in dull numbness.
I try to remember last night. Booze, a girl, check-in at this cheap motel. I look, but there’s no sign of the girl.
As I stand up, I realize that’s not entirely true. There’s an unexpected weight hanging from my chest, and a disconcerting absence between my legs. Already knowing what I’ll find, I reach up and touch the fresh stitches on my head.
Damn. Identity theft is getting ridiculous.