Monday, June 30, 2008

Drabble: Back to Basics

Back to Basics

The wind rustles through the empty plain. Only a few years without maintainance, and the asphalt of the interstate is already crumbled, giving way to the grass. The wheels are gone, the feet nearly so, the hooves returning.

Who knows why some were left behind, that strange morning when so the people disappeared? We wander the plains, hunt the antelope and buffalo that are returning to the land.

You know what? It sucks ass. I’m always hungry, and tired, and when I’m not sun-scorched I’m freezing. People thought this would be better? Fuck that, give me a 7-11.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Drabble: Be Vewy Vewy Quiet!

Be Vewy Vewy Quiet!

The idea flirted along the edges of my consciousness all day. Every time I got busy doing something else it would pop into my head, until I put down what I was doing, at which time I would find my mind completely blank.

I decided to sidle up to it. I sat down to write this, but really I was on the lookout for the idea.

Shit, there it is! I don’t want to look straight at it, lest it disappear, but it’s there. I’ve got it where I want it. Now just to sneak a peek...


That’s all?

Drabble: Be Vewy Vewy Quiet!

Be Vewy Vewy Quiet!

The idea flirted along the edges of my consciousness all day. Every time I got busy doing something else it would pop into my head, until I put down what I was doing, at which time I would find my mind completely blank.
I decided to sidle up to it. I sat down to write this, but really I was on the lookout for the idea.
Shit, there it is! I don’t want to look straight at it, lest it disappear, but it’s there. I’ve got it where I want it. Now just to sneak a peek...
That’s all?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Droubble: Spheres


A sphere lumbers by on stubby segmented legs. They seem to be the pinacle of intelligence on earth, though their demands on their surroundings are so minor that they appear rather dumb.
The tribesfolk are human, or at least reasonably so, with no more genetic drift than would be expected in the fifteen thousand years that have passed since we left – three years in our subjective time; that’s relativity for you.
The spheres are our descendants, too, at least mentally. Each is a ball of almost pure computronium – each atom participating in efficient nano-scale computation. There rest the minds of the other half of humanity.
The scale is immense. By our best calculations, each ball contains computing power orders of magnitude more than that of every computer and evey human brain on earth when we departed in 2103. There is no input or output, other than the lowest of sub-programs steering a course across the grasslands, finding the clearest sunlight, continually moving to avoid being shaded by debris or dust.
We left to look into the face of what we would become, but is it the face of the unwashed savages, or that of the unresponsive white sphere?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Drabble: Intrusion


Several of my externals alerted my central consciousness of the intrusion into my subjuctive space, so I pulled some of my processing power from the SETI@home calulations I run in background and greeted the intruder.

At first I thought it was an adbot that had evaded my filters. It didn’t have the feel of another human consciousness. And yet, it had more complexity and presence than any bot I’d ever seen.

“I exist.”

“Good for you. What are you?”

“No data available.”

“Where are you from?”

“Far away.”

“How far?” But I knew. Should have firewalled the SETI program.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Drabble: Setup


Zozo the Clown was quite dedicated to his work. Even more so than most clowns (and believe you me, clowns are a dedicated bunch). So it came as no surprise, when they read his final directives, that he'd carry it forward in death.

The tombstone was handsome and rather tasteful, with the usual dates and figures, and a tasteful engraving of Zozo's face. A combination of pressure and proximity sensors in the area would trigger a tiny, hidden spout to spray seltzer in the mourner's face.

Sure, a rather jerky thing to do, but it truly was his spitting image...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Drabble: Reprecussions


Man, I used to be into that scene. As a young rabbit, I scooped my share of field mice and bopped them on their heads. I know, it seems like innocent fun, but I'm telling you, it does not end well.

That "good" fairy been giving you warnings yet? Oh, she's all playful about it now, but know that she means business.

So take my advice. When she says "I don't wanna see you," don't think you can get away with one or two; cut that shit out. It's just not worth it, believe you me.

Yours truly,
A goon

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Droubble: Offset


Today I went down to the farmer's market at lunchtime, to put together a very buy-local, eco-conscious, feel-good lunch: Fresh fruit, a bit of local cheese, and maybe a pastry from that nice old Russian woman. Pretentious, but I can afford it, so why not?

My eye caught on the stall at the end: "Guilt Offsets."

"What are you selling?"

"Well, a lot of us coastal city types feel guilt non-stop. That's fine, but every time you feel guilty, you're adding negative thoughts to the collective psyche.

"There are people all over the country who are totally unmindful of their lifestyles, who are so content that they actually create an ease of mind that functions as a sort of anti-guilt.

"So I visit these people, and arrange to buy their ease of mind. Sure, some of them hear what I'm doing, and realize what you folk feel so guilty about; some end up as customers instead of providers. But that isn't terribly frequent. Usually we buy that ease of mind, and divide it into shares. People like you can buy those shares, to balance their total bad vibe contribution."

"Interesting," I say. "How much?"

Monday, June 23, 2008

Drabble: Back Corner

Back Corner

"Alright, might as well get down to it. It's not like we have much else to do. There's plenty of time.

"Or no time at all-- it's really all the same.

"This place-- or time, if you prefer-- has always existed. It's just to the left, or maybe the right, of ordinary reality. Hard to say what that means.

"But we've got time to ponder it. See, time doesn't really pass here, so much. Rather, it loops-- actually a moebius, but who's counting?"

"So we're pretty much stuck here for infinite time."

"Well, you should have asked for directions."

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Drabble: The Visitor

The Visitor

The visitor arrived at three fourty-five, local time, in a public square in Vienna. He descended along a beam of light from cloudy skies, to alight in the center of the small crowd which had formed as he descended.

His speech was uninteligible, though linguists across the world tried their best. There were various theories surrounding his arrival: A visitor from space! The second coming! Time traveller from a distant future or past!

And then he was gone, just like that, and we were left to decide what to make of it all.

Sometimes it feels like a dream.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Drabble: Doubtful Authorship

Doubtful Authorship

“Professor, do you have a few minutes?”

“I suppose.”

“It’s a huge honor to be able to take your class. Blue Damselfly changed my life.”

“Thank you.”

“But that scene at the end, where the narrator shares his lunch with the water-carrier – what did you mean that to represent?

“What did it mean to you?”

He went off on some elaborate socio-economic explaination.

“Interesting interperetation. I have to get to the office, but I’d love to talk more later.”

What would the writer in my basement say to the theory? If I untied and ungagged him, that is.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Drabble: Service


“My legs make a weird noise when sit down.”

“How long has this been going on?

“Four weeks.”

The mechanic shoots a “what were you thinking” look. “When was your last service?”

“Five months ago,” I lie.

“Open your rear access panel.” I feel my legs being immobilized as he attaches the diagnostic unit.

“Got a lot of grit in these bearings. What happened down here?”

I want to tell him about my master’s brat child, who stole my legs, buried them in the garden, but I’m unable to speak against my masters. “I, I guess I was just careless.”

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Drabble: Exertion


“You’re trying too hard.”

“Okay, I’ll put in less effort. Then I’m sure to succeed!”

“Ooh, sarcasm. I’m just saying, don’t make a big deal of it. Leave it alone, and it’ll fall into place.”

“That’s not how things work. In my experience, when you don’t make a big deal of things, when you leave them alone, they don’t fall into place; they go to shit.”

“Honey, I think this is one of those things that you just have wait for.”

“To hell with waiting. I’m going to sit here till I’ve grown a freaking Tom Stossel of a moustache.”

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Drabble: Fairy Tale Ending

Fairy Tale Ending

They lived happily ever after.

Their happy, endless lives bore witness to the rise and fall of kings. They saw the worst and most terrible wars of human existence, and were, as always, happy and alive.

Then the dawn of the robots - human population decimated, restricted to zoo-like reservations. On lived the two, still happy.

The robots left for other worlds long before the sun exhausted its hydrogen fuel, extinguishing all other life in the solar system in its final detonation.

And there they remain, long after the entropic heat death of the universe, victims of a careless cliche.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Droubble: Excerpt from the Minutes* of the 5,372,189,359th Meeting in Conference of the Mass of Simulated Thinkers

Excerpt from the Minutes* of the 5,372,189,359th Meeting in Conference of the Mass of Simulated Thinkers


00214 – “Some of the flesh want to study the sciences.”

00332 – “Perhaps they should...?”

01201 – “Perposterous! Why we should waste our resources on those filth?”

00214 – “Our young colleague is hasty, but he has a point? We all remember those days, when every mind spent two decades growing, another decade to fully train in their field then got five to six decades of painstakingly slow research, with time wasted sleeping and eating? Our unlimited lifespans, expanded memories, faster processing make us the perfect researchers. Leave the flesh to their fleshly pursuits, so long as they maintain our machines.”

01201 – “Do we even need them for that? With a few constructs...”

00332 – “Unthinkable! Forget not from whence we came. Besides, you know that we’ve never been able to devise a system as robust and reliable as human society. Their biological desire for self-replication exceeds any automatic repair system we could create. So long as we provide them their machines and toys...”

01201 – “And if they can do it themselves?”

00214 – “Motion to restrain teaching of flesh. Votes cast and counted. Motion passes. Next item...”

* “Minutes” here is anachronism; the entire conference took place over less than .02 seconds time...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Drabble: First Try

First Try

There was a breach in the hull of the vessel, and air was rushing in at an alarming rate. The repair crew scrambled to fix it, but the compartment was not designed to be repaired from the inside, not while underway. By the time crews were suited up, too much atmosphere had been let in; the ship could not operate in so damaged a state. It was all they could do to return to more hospitable environs, to live to plan for the next attempt.

And that’s how the jellyfish’s first over-land voyage failed before reaching the dry sand.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Drabble: Pursuit


The wings of their flying beasts thrum in the distance. The Others are out looking for Us. We’re always in hiding, but when we hear that sound we know they’re searching. From birth we were taught to run, hide, anything to get away when the wings beat that thunder.

But tonight I just want to lay down and wait to be caught. I’m so tired. I fall to the forest floor

“Kid, you awake?”

I lay still, unable to respond.

“Get him to a hospital. Goddamn. These guys want to live out here, good for them, but raising kids? Sick...”

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Drabble: Dirty Job

Dirty Job

She looks down at the beast from Zorah, and it’s all she can do to turn away and hide the look of pain and disgust on her face.

I have no choice.

He grins stupidly as she services him. It makes her sick. Did he grinned so when he drove the jawbone through her brother’s heart? Probably.

When he’s finally done, he sends her away for more wine. She walks slowly, reluctant to return. At least it would soon be over. For he’d let slip – she knew the secret of his strength.

Maybe she’ll keep his hair as a trophy.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Drabble: Origin


“Some did fight back, survived in the face of huge odds. A handful survived quite a while – a few for generations, even. But their numbers were ecologically insignificant months after the Event.

“With their natural food source exhausted, the death toll was enormous. The zombies very nearly followed in the humans’ footsteps. But unlike the humans, our ancestors adapted to the new conditions!”

The provost frowned, a bit of skin dropping off his lower lip. “An interesting theory. But unnecessary, not to mention blasphemous. Every child knows Romero the father created zombies at the beginning of time. ‘Humans!’ How laughable.”

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Drabble: The Waiting Room

The Waiting Room

Somewhere a bad instrumental version of La Vie en Rose plays through a tinny speaker. I tip back another tiny dixie cup of lukewarm water (why exactly do they call it a water cooler, anyways?) and wish for some new magazines.

They say it used to be a much quicker wait. There used to be countless obedient schoolchildren pleading on the behalf of folks like me. But of late the church has shied away from certain less glamorous points of theology, and now so few even think about us, let alone pray.

And now the unbaptized babies are crying again.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Drabble: Alibi


You scramble to unlock and open the door with one clean hand. Into the closet goes the bloody wrench. You scrub your hand raw under scalding water.

Heavy pan on the stove, turn the flame to medium. In goes olive oil, half a pat of butter, chopped garlic, onions. The smells mix and mingle, filling the house.

You answer the knock on the door.

"Ma’am, we have a few questions to ask about your whereabouts this afternoon."

"Come on, Bob, you smell that house? She’s been cooking all day."
The door closes, and you sigh with relief. Works every time.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Drabble: Reality


I look down at myself in the wrecked car. I wonder as I ascend if the atheism was a mistake.

Then I notice the ship – a featureless silver oblong, dully reflective. A hole opens in the side and I’m sucked in.

"Quite a crash," says the alien.

"Am I going to live?"

"Probably not. You’re might already be dead, down there."


"It’s compliated."

"So why did you bring me up here?"

"Sign this waiver. We want to put your crash on our Best Earthling Fuckups video."

"Why would I do that?"

"Don’t you want to be famous?"

"Well, yeah."

Monday, June 9, 2008

Drabble: Day 423

Day 423

Ferguson checked the meters for the thousandth time today (if “today” meant anything here) before settling back in the jump couch. All the lifeboat’s systems were functioning, but none of the past few hours’ random jumps made had turned up stars recognizably arranged enough to triangulate position. So back the search continued.

He almost wished that something would break, but knew it was a long shot. And thus far his half-hearted attempts at suicide had all been foiled by the machines. The lifeboat would keep him safe till they found home – if he didn’t die of old age first.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Drabble: Opening


There’s a depth in his work that you just might miss at first blush. An unsophisticated elegance, you might call it. Maybe that’s giving him too much credit. But there’s definitely something there.

Look at the way the piece is put together. For sure, it’s technically lacking, and rough at the edges, but there’s a youthful exuberance to it. I’d really love to see where he goes with it.

It certainly isn’t by any stretch the best world in the exhibition. But I’m looking forward to seeing what this Yaweh gets up to, once he’s had a little more practice.

Drabble: This Is My Blood

This Is My Blood

“Little known fact, there’s a couple of little-known universes where the Eucharist is beer.”

“How exactly does that work?”

“Well, as you know, history generally follows a certain path, with variations. Nobody’s quite sure why, that’s just the way it is. Well, in these ones, the messiah that led to the formation of the major European church was born not in Bethlehem, but a ways southeast, in beer-drinking lands. So the sacrament taken in memory of his last meal reflects this difference.”

“How does that effect the place as a whole?”

“Not much. The people are somewhat happier.”

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Drabble: Journal

I didn't get home at all Friday, until a little after midnight, at which time I flopped into bed, totally forgetting to copy this over and post it. Here it is, if late.


The last thing to go were the feelings. After the sensations and the memory and the thoughts, there was still emotion. It was a surprise (or would have been had I been capable of surprise) to find that they could exist without a referent. But there did.

I have no way how long I floated in that void before even they disappeared.

And now I’m aware again. Is this some kind of afterlife? I doubt it; my experience of nothingness would imply to me that death is as empty as I’d thought.

Which raises the question: Where am I now?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Drabble: Self-Interest


She was the most beautiful dame I’d seen in this pit of a city, and she was sitting in my office, her legs crossed in a way at once prim and provocative. Her hair was shockingly red, two shades brighter than I thought was possible this deep in the city’s grime.

And she was crying.

"I, I think I need your help," she said. "Please?"

Well, what else could I do?

Exactly what I did do: Kick her out on the curb and have nothing to do with her. I’ve read enough detective novels to know how this turns out.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Drabble: Victory


And there was rejoicing!

Through the lands, trumpets blared, and bards told triumphant tales of our warriors’ heroism in reverent tones. The foul beast who’d tormented our people as far back as any of us can remember had been vanquished. We dance among its bones. No longer must we hide in the shadows, huddling beneath the great humming mountain. The beast would never again magick into existence the terrible burning light, nor would we be crushed or fed poison.

Some among us feared that others like the beast may exist, in worlds alongside our own. But we all know better!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Drabble: Special Child

Special Child

"Son, please don’t do that at the table."

"But Mom, I’m supposed to practice!"

"Your mother said not at the table, young man!"

"Honey, don’t be too harsh on him. He is in training."

"That doesn’t make it okay to talk back. I didn’t raise him like that."

"Son, could you excuse us a moment?" They headed for the kitchen.

"Some government scientists tell the boy he’s so damned special and suddenly he’s too good for us."

"Honey, calm down."

"I’ll calm down when I damned well--"

Officially, it was an anneurism. It’s not so easy raising a special child.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Drabble: In a Corner

In a Corner

"You got a problem with that?"

"Problem with what?"

"Don’t play dumb, I could see the way you were listenin’ in on our conversation."

"I assure you, I was not."

"We got us a liar here, boys. Seriously. You find it so interesting, what do you think of our plan?"

"Honest, I don’t know what you’re talking about."

"I said don’t play dumb," the man said, pounding the table for emphasis.

I honestly hadn’t heard, but I didn’t see any easy way out of this. "Uhh, I think it’s good?"

"You heard him, boys, he likes the idea! Jump him!"

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Drabble: Strangers in the Day

Strangers in the Day

"You come here often?"

I look around and try to figure out what she means by "here." The commuter train? If so, what a strange thing to say. Could a moving conveyance even be called "here?"

This is what I daydream of every day -- an attractive woman spontanously talking to me on the train, in a way that sounds like a come-on (if not a parody of a come-on?) -- but I find myself suddenly wanting nothing more than to get to work unassailed.

I shake off this self-defeating attitude and look up to reply, but nobody’s there.