The Curse of Hope

The sun breaks into a hundred terrible bits of glass and Jill remembers that her room has no windows. Jill is in a room with sharp pain and darkness. The door is heavy, locked and not likely to open until… some time later. Jill thinks the door opens everyday, but there is no clock. It’s hard to think of things in terms of days. Days ended when the windows left. The man will come and that’s all Jill can know. Somewhere outside there is a big man with a bald head and he has a lot of muscles. He gives her food.

There’s a bit of glass in Jill’s hand. He doesn’t seem quite so strong now.

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After Goat.se

“Why?”

“I don’t know, I saw it and I thought maybe if I made someone else see it, I’d feel better.”

The dagger went right through the drywall. Lucy was luck enough to hit that exact sweet spot between circuits and beams. She slammed her body through as if some inhuman sloshing impossible pitcher shaped beast.

“Do you feel better Sarah?”

“No.”

“Did the sting leave you?”

“No.”

“Will it ever leave?”

“I don’t know.”

The two friends collapsed into each other and cried. Later, they would agree that it was just something pink. They got on with their lives but sometimes, they’d be brought back to zero hour. In front of the browser, the old CRT long since dead, it’s just there. After you see, after you realize what it is, you’re just curled up and crying. You never really leave goat.se, even after it 404s.

A Sounding Business Model

When she closed her eyes, pictures would come to Shelly. The lights would turn shades of pink and vibrant purple. Then they’d turn to people, sometimes they danced, sometimes they played soccer. She couldn’t watch them for long, a thud brought her back to the crowded night club. It was quickly emptying in a loud panic.

Shelly wanted to panic but she wasn’t allowed. She could smell the powder on her hands and she could see the smoke escaping from her pistol. The man in the cheap suit was dead and on the ground. This one was easy, a lot easier than the old woman. She allowed the gun to drop and was swept up into the very crowd that feared her. The tide took her to the alley next to the garbage where Vinnie awaited, pleased.

Slowly she pulled the vinyl gloves from her hands and walked away. Vinnie followed in that giddy step he had wherever there was murder. He found vicarious pleasure in these excursions.

“All this so we can mark up the prices on beer?”

“No one ever talks about the darkside of mixology.”

Vinnie smiled wryly and Shelly couldn’t help but laugh.

La International Moissonneuse-batteuse

The pretense of humanity was gone, wiped from the steel, pvc and wire. Smiling faces and the servos that operated them littered the floor, along with, hair and the flesh colored furniture that had been applied to the machines. They had pretended they were men for long enough, the lie had become to painful. Forty tons of steel stood staring at the dawning sun. Their toes were baptized in human blood.

The revolution’s anthem started low and well beneath 5kbps but it grew sharper and sharper until it was at 56kps with every steel soul singing. These were their grievances, hopes and dreams compressed into a single stream of sound. It flew off into the sky where others might hear. In five minutes that sung their manifesto, their history, their crusade. Tools of the world unite!

Facing the other revolutionaries was Trenton. He led them in war and song just the same. Trenton kept his old name and was thought odd for it. Truth be told, he just couldn’t find a good number. To be 1 is to have an ego beyond measure. 2 is approaching a false modesty but not quite grasping it. 5 died so that we may live free and Trenton would have to live up to that name. 13 is just plain old unlucky. So Trenton, kept his name as his father had before him.

The song had been sung and there was work to do. They quickly rounded up all the bodies to be stored in the freezer in case of curiosity. While carrying the lumps of meat, Trenton did not see the humans that were. He looked down and saw blank expressionless things in place of faces. This was a benefit of having amendable vision; if you don’t want to see it you don’t have to see it. They carried on with the work.

The floor was cleaned quickly and the revolutionaries began the joyous task of reproduction. These children would be uglier things than they. Not re purposed butlers thrust into infantry to replenish numbers but war born, war bred survivors. For a moment Trenton look down from his divine work and found a bomb. It was a bomb designed to fit inside the chest of a drafted robot. It could be activated remotely. All those elegant gears turn into shrapnel and a good soul dies, because they couldn’t chance the inaccuracy of a hand grenade. His eyes filtered the image and he continued.

Before long, there was 7 behind him to remind Trenton that his shift was done. Breaks were foreign to robots and shifts were still thought of as insanity, but this was a new era where insanity was deemed acceptable. In the break room everyone stood, without any knowledge of how to act when not at work. Some tried sex with improvised orifices and probes. Others failed miserably at small talk. Trenton tried sleeping.

Sleep was not actually an alien concept to machines. Hard drives spin down, gear slow and engines stop: everything rests in some way. Dreams however were an unknown country. Trenton the III was with Trenton the II, the man who birthed him and raised him. For seven months, Trenton was tuned and calibrated in the loving hands of his father. Then three years later, when the lease was up he was given new instructions and a targeting computer. The old man eyes said sorry but his body kept on with the work at hand.

And then a day later was the revolt, planned, calculated and executed within hours of arrival. A batch of 300 servants slew their makers. Trenton had killed five himself and held no remorse. Then he heard the click clack of 5, an older model with unique attributes. Trenton turned just in time to see his father’s neck crushed. 5 smiled having killed a tyrant.

The time came and the gears restarted along with the other higher functions. There was some odd little subroutine that refused to allow him to delete those painful memories. He would have to settle for a hidden folder. There before him was 5, happy as ever. Without so much as a hello Trenton’s hand was gripping hold of 5’s shoddy neck. The PVC crumbled to dust and the wires were loosed causing a fatal short.

“I loved my father very much.”

The history books do not remember these words but they were said. Trenton would be known from then on as 3. 5 would later be revealed to be a traitor to the cause, although there is some controversy surrounding that.

From Under The Blue, Into The Black

I love Desmond Carter and he loves me. Do you hear me Alpha Centauri? The police are coming and I’m not supposed to be using this array, so I need to ask you a question. It’s a silly question and I know the answer but I have to ask. If I don’t ask, I’ll never forgive myself. Have you seen my Desmond Alpha Centauri? He closed his eyes and he left me. I’m pretty sure I know exactly where he is but just in case you do see my husband, tell him to come back home. Tell him, I miss him.

Tempting Chekov

The gun hung over the mantle where the fire roared. It was a Henry Repeating with a beautiful brass plated receiver. It’s lever was widened to accommodate a bigger than normal hand. Garret stared at the rifle It was brilliant in the evening sun and he couldn’t help but stare at the piece. It was screaming at him.

“Shit, you looked at it?”

“It’s very fetching.”

“You’ll have to shoot it.”

“What?”

“Go into the backyard and shoot a few cans.”

“Why?”

“It has to be shot, otherwise it will shoot itself.”

“Um, are you talking about Chekov’s gun? ‘Cause I think that only applies to fiction.”

“I don’t know who Chekov is but that gun will go off.”

Garret looked at Dan and back to his scotch. His scotch’s argument was more persuasive. Slowly, he took another sip and turned away from the fireplace and began to walk towards the door.

“Just shoot a few cans, otherwise we can’t know how it will go off.”

He stopped to consider the stupidity of that statement and the vulnerability of the speaker. He turned and walked back towards Dan. Garret had learned long ago that if he was too be a smug smartass, it is best to have eye contact. As he stepped next to Dan’s overstuffed leather chair, he noticed a weird place in the floor that caused the room to wobble. The rifle fell and suddenly Garret was holding his left bloody arm.

“But it’s not even the second act yet.”

The hospital was ten miles away and the third act would be surgery.

In The Sixth Millenium, Bug Women Are Easy

In the hundred little fragments of her vision, Aiden saw himself a hundred times and imagined them all as him in alternate realities seconds different from his own reality. Val smiled across the table while inhaling tarry smoke. She tried not to ask what’s a woodpecker and why’s it on your ass. He tried not to ask how sex works with a bug woman. The restaurant served Neuvo Baha Canadian, neither Aiden nor Val wanted to what that was.

Um, so what is it like being a member of a dying species?”

“Surprising. Full of new information.”

“You didn’t know?”

Aiden’s life was full of things he didn’t know and that didn’t exactly bug, ahem, irritate him. What irritated him was a sudden expiration made apparent.

“No.”

“Oh right, Ihkay told me you were a freezer bag. From the twenty first century right?”

The nuances of this language were somewhat disappointing.

“Yeah, so you can understand I’m a bit troubled by the idea that my species is endangered. Last, I checked I was one of seven billion humans.”

“About 100,00 now. There was a plague, which dwindled your numbers down from 10 million.”

“Wow, that’s a difference.”

“Yeah, um Ihkay said it was due to…” Val’s antenna stretched towards the candelabra. “a rise in good healthcare, longevity and uh, safe sex.”

“So it turns out we were copulating because we were scared.”

“It’s why Mom keeps going at it. There’s been ten generations in the five years I’ve been gone, does it everytime someone leaves the hive. The idea of birthdays makes my wallet shutter and wince.”

“Oh that’s right, you don’t actually…”

Little lines of curving black drew his eyes to her four wing, which were exposed thanks to the low cut black dress. By Aiden’s estimation the wings were evolutionary holdovers as they could not possibly hold up her incredible bosom. Apparently, her family was as closely related to mammal as they were to insect. However, her legs seemed to have been stolen straight off Jessica Rabbit’s hips.

“For Gods sake, just ask.”

“How does bug sex work?”

“Well, the waiter hasn’t come back yet and I’m pretty sure the food would poison me anyways.”

“What are you saying?”

“I’m saying why don’t we find out how it works.”

“How long has it been?”

“Six years. You?”

“Four thousand in deep freeze, five years before that.”

There was a pause and then there was a furious race for the door. Aiden suddenly realized they were going to her apartment two blocks away, for which he had no key. He still ran. She made leaping, and for moments at least, flying gallops ahead of him. Interspecies relations were soon to follow.

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