Epilogue

Dec. 1st, 2007 02:26 pm
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Thirty STOP

Creation

Nov. 30th, 2007 10:54 pm
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"It is always finer in the evening." The little man from Varanasi laid the sitar across his lap, plunking at the baj tar with nut brown fingers while he started the chikari drone, the rich notes hanging in the night air. It was strange to think that only a few minutes before, he'd watched the spare old man pleasuring a pair of young women, as unconcerned about the accidental viewing of himself having sex as he was about the current scrutiny of his playing.

"Is it? Something tantric then?"

"Viagra. It's not the Dark Ages, young man." He grinned toothsomely, modulating the tone of the sound at he did so, the overtunes flowing over the jawari like silk. "There's some things that science is better than folk wisdom for."

"And music?"

"Music is myth, not wisdom. Creation." The sounds pulsed with the old man's voice. "Then was not non-existence nor existence; there was no realm of air, no sky beyond it. What covered in, and where? and what gave shelter?"

Hypnotically the sitar played on, the sounds reducing the old man and the warm night on the quiet porch, building a new perception. "Was water there, unfathomed depth of water? Death was not then, nor was there aught immortal; no sign was there, the day's and night's divider."

He paused, shuddered, and the notes hung tremulously. "That One Thing, breathless, breathed by its own nature. Apart from it was nothing whatsoever. Darkness there was at first concealed in darkness this. All was indiscriminate chaos. All that existed then was void and form less."

"One thing." He touched the strings again. "One thing of itself. In myth, in music, in life; breathed by existence. Sustained by existence. Made purpose by existence."

The music stopped, suddenly. A wound in the night; void and moment in darkness. "He, the first origin of this creation, whether he formed it all or did not form it, Whose eye controls this world in highest heaven, he verily knows it, or perhaps he knows not."

"For one thing," A few small notes, edging towards a melody. "Needs only to be to be purpose; to be meaning. You might as well as what a song is for? Why love is? From what is joy?"

He began to stroke further music from the sitar, adorning what seemed a much sharper night than just a moment ago; a more exactly crafted existence. "That is where we start, young man. As Wazir Khan first told to Allauddin Khan who first told to Nikhil Banerjee who first told to me. For you, it must be, and that is all it must be. It is creation's secret."

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"This is not a place for treasure hunters, Mister Pitt. Or for quasi-mystics, Mister Graves. These are halls of Science, and that is the mistress we serve." Professor Henry Boyle-Moniteau drew himself up to his full five foot four and grasped his lapels as he stared at the room full of twenty-ish men in neat black suits. "You are supposed to represent the best the Royal Society can find for us; men of the world, traveled, tested in martial service, possessing a keen intellect and ease of language. I would hope such a search did not yield any accidentally unqualified candidates."

Boyle-Moniteau gave them another piercing glare before he went in. "Until I was interrupted, I was attempting to explain the role those of you who are worthy will fill. It is one that you cannot tell those closest to you about, but fortunately, even if you did they would think it a jest, or that you had lost your mind."

"Cryptoethnology, gentlemen; the last great frontier left to us. It is the secret history of the world, and it is dangerous. You! Parks, is it?" He singled a man in front out with a yellowed finger.

"Sir?"

"You served in India. No doubt you heard whispers of the great Cult of Kali that held sway over twenty million natives in the north, during the time of Alexander. How they would strangle their victims and toss them into deep wells, tapping dark powers from the vats of decomposing flesh."

"Well, yes sir. But I didn't believe it."

"Good. It's not true. Stuff and nonsense cooked up by the Thuggees. However, a clan of weretigers did rule a northern het at the time, and invented a new language before being wiped out by Timur-e-Lang's mages around 1380." He turned to another man.

"Smythe. A vampire God-King who ruled in Panama from 1250 to the coming of Spain. Do you believe it?"

"No sir."

"You're wrong. We exchange letters three times a year." Boyle-Moniteau said, and returned to the front of the front, all attention riveted to him. "It is a vastly strange world, gentlemen, and the mandate of the Society to learn all we can of it. Each society, each ruin, each language hides echoes of what came before. The cultures we know; the Romans, the Greeks, the Egyptians, their exploits are the stuff for histories. Ours are the societies which didn't win, and which did not write their histories down. Echoes in the world, gentlemen. That's where we mine for the truth."

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They called him the "Guillotine".

He was the fear of the courts; a defense lawyer that had never lost a case, no matter how improbable. He actively sought out the worst and most vile transgressions of the law; kiddy stranglers, father rapers, mass murders and casual genocide enthusiasts.

The police would groan and spend weeks meticulously preparing their case, documenting every single bit of evidence and indexing every witness transcript. It didn't help. The Guillotine would stride into the courtroom, smooth out his tie, and launch into his speech.

He'd pull down every metaphor that would dance across his brain, launch his words at the jury. It didn't matter how heinous the crime, his words would sway the members to whatever direction he felt they should go. Kill a seven year old girl with a hammer while drunk? In less than an hour, you'd walk out free and the jury would be admonishing the police for not having the girl arrested prior to instigating her own murder. Steal five thousand from a charity drive? The Guillotine would not only get you off, but the United Way would be paying you damages for emotional distress and wrongful accusation.

Oddly though, was much as he made their lives difficult, the police didn't mind that his clients would be found innocent. They knew the real reason for his nickname, and why his maid service needed industrial grade cleaning equipment following his post trial client meetings.

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I have become something unfortunate to you, haven't I?

That pinched, tired expression you get every time we have a debriefing following a contract. Those little twitches going over the files about casualties and innocent lives lost. You don't like the cost of doing business this way at all, do you?

You're right. I find that interesting. You have two degrees; twenty-two years of experience, first in the field and later from this office. All that time, playing in this dirty little sandbox, but because you told yourself that there were rules, you could stay clean. As if your patriotic motivations and platitudes about the greater good meant it wouldn't touch you.

It's a shame that a man as intelligent as yourself has trouble understanding someone like me. You made me. Piece by piece, I was constructed out of all the assets at your disposal. You went looking for a loner; someone that had problems connecting to people around him, that might have a certain moral flexibility when it came to doing the job. That's what you wanted to start with when you made your pitch about how the country and the people need people that sometimes. That it's a hard job, but a necessary one. After all, I volunteered to be a soldier; this was just some new level of training and a different branch of the service.

You wiped away my records, first the military ones, and then all the rest. No birth certificate, no license, no school transcripts or recruitment paper have my name on them. I'm a ghost. unable to prove I'm even a citizen, Ohio born and raised. Then, long and isolated training. How to disappear, to be non-descript. How to operate inside any society and leave no trace more substantial than a wisp of smoke at my passing. Most of all, you taught me how to turn off my empathy, and look at the people you sent me to as targets only.

Now you bluster about innocent children and civilians. Does it matter? If they aren't targets, they are resources or obstructions. I don't remember how to recognize people any longer. What happens to the country, to the President if it goes public is equally disinteresting. It's no longer my country, never was if you look at the records. Why should I care?

I'm not especially worried that you're going to try and quietly end me either. No, you won't. Because the next one will take years to train, and it's a dangerous and frightening world. You made me to work for money, and I'm happy to be loyal to the contract. You will continue to agonize about all the poor people who get killed with my targets, but you won't stop sending me names and the means to remove them. You have to, because they made you too.

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"It's like slipping into a warm bath, laced with razor blades and a couple gallons of vinegar."

"That good?"

"That good. It's intense, all across your body. You can fill every nerve ending flaring red."

"I heard that if you burn the tip of your--"

"No. Neuropathic pain is the exact antithesis of what we're trying for. Continued neuropathic stimulation causes a pain response in the receptors, but the physical damage actually leads to the damage of the nerves themselves, desensitizing you slowly; Cutting you off from pain."

"Oh."

"Common mistake. Seriously, you don't want to be one of those cutting junkies, looking for a cheap endorphin buzz. Pain is one of the most important sensations that you can feel; it is the only sensation that actually educates and raises you up, as opposed to pleasure which dumbs you down. Pain sharpens your mind and your senses; makes you think faster, notice more, sharpens each of your senses and with that, your enjoyment of life. Pain is a goal."

"Never thought of it in that way."

"Relax, kid. Every one of us allodynia qualophiles had to be brought through the process by someone else."

"You what?"

"Ad-Q's for short. We all had someone to show how is a textural sensation, as rich and necessary as pleasure, or fear or joy. We look for nocicepathic pain, which stimulates the nerve receptors into perceiving pain without any actual damage. The more you play with it, the more sensitive those receptors become. Your nociceptive system is the fastest, most interlinked response system in your body. Once you control that, you truly control yourself. Drugs like Meatrip are a part of that training."

"So what's the goal?"

"Enlightenment, kid. If life is pain, and we are able to make ourselves one with pain, we're one with life. Now pass me those pills."

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His tattoo name was Electric Dave, and no one remembered what his real name was, even him. Having him take your request for ink was one of the highest honours any tattoo collector in the North-Eastern United States could achieve. When I was in the position that he was willing to provide art to me, I went looking for the past that no one could remember was. After all, I was a journalist, and like being a tattoo artist, that wasn't something to just turn off.

It didn't take long to dig up an actual name, through a little creative research with the IRS, and David Alexander Mitchell was 42 years old, had an exemplary record as a small business owner, and had a degree in biochemical engineering from MIT. That was more than a little odd.

Apparently, Dave's father had been a tattoo artist himself, although something of a struggling one. More than a few weeks of Dave's childhood had been spent sleeping in the needles. Dave had gone the other direction; he'd run off to win a major scholarship and was one of the top graduates; an early doctorate achiever. Based on the records I could find, he went back to his father's shop, and through blinding skill, rebuilt it into the best tattoo shop in the region.

It became a much odder story when regular purchases of UV infused inks and hydroxymethylbilane appeared in his files. When I met him for his meeting, he was very much what I expected; bald, heroin thin, and wearing a pair of black thick-rimmed glasses. It didn't even look all that put out when I mentioned his history, as if I wasn't the first.

"I can understand your confusion, Mister Walsh. Or at least your potential misapprehension. I meet with every potential customer for a reason. I can provide custom ink for you. Or," He paused, rubbing his fingers over his own sleeve tattoos. "You can do something a little different. It will still be ink, and still be good. But, it will be something more. You know much about nanotechnology?"

That was three years ago. Now, I can feel the movement under my skin the odd quiet night; the tattoos that only show up under a blacklight, as a blueprint to the strange machines that grow in the ink slurry that was used to implant them into the power plant of my flesh. Changing the world through art, person by person.

Clockwork

Nov. 24th, 2007 05:34 pm
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The city is a machine. Few, if any of the people who scurry along the streets ever realize that fact. The gears of humanity grind on day after day after day, with an endless supply of new sacrifices being fed in to fuel the cogs and drive the pistons. It is a cruel machine, like a clock. Always stealing, subtracting from life. You can hear it marching towards death with every bleak measured second. Do you hear the sound of your own life? Listen closely. Tick tock. Tick tock. Tick tock.

Jolly Elf

Nov. 23rd, 2007 10:04 pm
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"Would you sit in his lap?"

"Not a chance. Another scotch down here, pal."

"See, that's what I told them. But do they listen? No. I mean, it's not like it isn't hard enough up here to find a decent job, make a decent living in anything other than a circus freak without having to deal with the innuedo."

"True. Do you know that I've got two different trade masterships? If I was in, say, Pittsburgh, I'd be making six figures. But no, you have to shop in the children's section of Walmart, that means you're unemployable."

"I didn't have that problem as much, but once I was up for a foreman designer position with Universal and didn't get it. They said the other craftsmen wouldn't respect my authority. That was when I packed up and took this job."

"I know. Good benefits, easy job, creepy as fuck place to work. You got a cigarette?"

"Yeah, here. You know what? Take the rest of the pack. I'm trying to quit. Yeah, anyhow. So what do you think is going to happen?"

"Hell, he's been photographed with kids for years. There's been all the press recently. And once you take away all the myths and hype around him, he's a guy with some weird habits, including a physical plant run entirely by small people."

"Don't knock the job."

"No, but with the court cases and things... hell, I'm telling you Jerry, but I'm seriously thinking twice about still working for Michael Jackson any more."

Battleson

Nov. 22nd, 2007 06:36 pm
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Everyday was a new war.

The uniform of the 66th Regiment, 3rd company had gone to a dusty grey colour, in the midst of the fierce machinegun fire blasting out of one of the bunkers leading up the hill, forcing them down into the dirt. In the dirt next to you, a young paratrooper named Shaul Mofaz is trying to avoid vomiting for the second time, stuck close to the body of another IDF soldier, headless and half cooked from the explosion that killed him. The smell of his burnt flesh is heavy and greasy in the air, and you almost want to grin in gallows humour as you hug the Uzi to your chest, waiting for some fire support to buy you time to advance past the police academy and up the hill, away from the certainly not kosher smell.

It was completely different in Africa. Under the hot sun and in the midst of thousands of Zulu war-cries, there was nothing to smell but the stale sweat soaking the heavy redcoat worn buckled tight, and the harsh tang of gunpower as you fob round after run into your rifle, hoping to hell that the fire will keep the mob out of impi range. Freddy Hitch has been running hellbent back to the hospital, with the section round can under one arm, trying to find out if Hooky and the others are alright in there. No one is alright anywhere, embroiled in the middle of thousands of stabbing warriors.

It was west of Gettysburg when they finally got me. Buford's cavalry turned out to be pretty decent shots, peppering the brush with their carbines. We'd just turned to deploy, with Archer pushing some of us more to the flank, to probe forward and see how difficult the vedettes would be to dislodge when the first bullet hit me square in the midst of my grey covered chest. One more ripped through my back as I fell, and I could still taste the blood in my mouth as everything went black with disconnect.

Games these days...

Ghost Ship

Nov. 21st, 2007 10:38 pm
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Wake up. There's a pinging in the hull of the ship.

It's not a thumping. It's a pinging, like something ringing of the steel in a rythymic fashion. As if there was someone with a hammer clanging on one of the bulkheads.

I'm not imagining anything. Last night, while I was in the boiler room, I could hear it very faintly, near the rent. I went down into the steerage storage, down by the works where you can get really close to the hull, and there is was again. It died out slowly, just faded away.

You know the stories we heard on the dock, waiting to get on? That the ship was cursed because while they were building it, one of the shipwrights got sealed up between the hull and the inner wall, and was left to die there without anyone knowing until it was too late? Well that pinging sounded like someone striking the hull was a hammer, like they didn't have a lot of room to swing it.

There's a funny feel to the dining room as well. If you stay really late, around the time that the bar used to close, this vague greenish light comes in, and the sound of a single clarinet for just a second can be heard. See, I heard this member of the ship's band had killed himself around then, after his girlfriend ran off with another man, and he's trapped in his final shift, playing 'Blue Bayou' just before using the gun on himself.

Sure, make that face if you want to, but this ship is haunted. It's like a big city, and all cities have their dark secrets and cracks. Why should this place be any different? Something bad has happened to this place, I tell you.

Yes, other than sinking last May, of course.

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Bow-bow budda-da da da yeeeeahh bow-bow chaka wow

Katie looked up from her miso soup with a puzzled expression. The sound had just cut through the sushi restaurant on 34th Street. She'd just finished off her unagi maki roll and was just getting the last of the soup down when the music had sounded. She looked around, but no one seemed to have noticed, intent on their bento boxes. She sat for a long time, drinking green tea and waiting, and after two hours of silence, she finally left.

Wah-wah bow-budda-da-da uda uda waaah wow

"Alright stop. Tell me you heard that?"

"Heard what?" Sean rolled over and grinned, slipping his hand up her thigh. "This some new game?"

"Hey, no! Stop! Look," Katie gestured at the room around her, ignoring the fact that Sean's attention was unlikely to waver from her naked breasts, which he'd been pawing only a moment before. "There was music. You know, like 70s music."

"I didn't hear anything."

"But I did." Katie sighed and ran a shaky hand through her hair. "I've heard it before."

"You're imagining things. Come on, babe. Let's just--"

"No. Just-- I'm not in the mood now." She said, knowing that he wouldn't be here again after tomorrow. But she wasn't crazy.

Hnah-na-na chaka chaka bow wow shee-yeah ha

It left her frozen in the middle of the street, scrabbling to avoid the cab that nearly ran her down. It had been coming more and more often now. At work, at home; it didn't matter how many people were around, no one else ever heard it. Just her.

Someone yelled about drugs, and she only wished it was the truth.

Bakka-yow bow budda-yeah-ha da duh duh chaka bow

It was constant now, an underlining thread to soundtrack her entire life. She'd lost her job when the sound of the bass had ruined any ability to focus on the documents coming across her desk. Every relationship ended as soon as the brass kicked in, leaving her sick to her stomach and unable to even touch her date. Every medical test proved nothing, and even illegal drugs didn't stop it coming.

So Katie sat in her soon to be evicted from apartment, crying in funk.

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"I appreciate you seeing me, man."

"Of course. Have a seat, son. You can leave your guitar on the couch."

"I wasn't sure, you know?" Mikal 'Sonny' Black put his guitar case carefully on the butter cream coloured leather couch. The entire place was rich looking, a contrast to the antiseptic white and grey of the halls and the lobby. "Like you'd want to hear me live or something. Make sure that the demo was legit or something."

"Really?" His laugh was dark and brown, like his skin, and it fit the office in a way that he'd never heard before; exact and suited. "No, I believe you're the man on your recordings. You've got a blues eye, boy. That means no way you say another man's music is yours."

"s'right."

"What do you think coming here will do for you?"

"Ari Gold, he's one of you clients. I played his daughter's bat-mitzvah a couple months ago. He gave me your card, told me he thought you guys might be interested." Mikal said. He'd been a little surprised at the sudden gesture during the party, but Gold was known to have a good ear for the blues. So he's sent off the disk, and when the plane ticket to Mississippi arrived with the appointment, Mikal wasn't about to question his good fortune.

"Ari's a good writers. He's going to get better." There was a click, and Mikal heard his own music coming out of the speakers. "Here's the deal, Sonny. You've got a lot of skill, but not enough talent. You're on that razor edge. There's a fine career available as part of a band, or maybe as studio talent. But not as the lone blues man. There's were we can come in. We can give you talent."

Mikal was halfway from confused to angry. They dragged him down here to tell him he wasn't good enough? "Shit. You get born with talent. Skill's all you can learn."

"Not anymore, boy. See this place? Big white building on the middle of a no-where's Mississippi crossroad. This look like the kind of place for just a production company? No, most of the people here have come for something." The white grin grew. "We going to open up your head. Twist a little of the material grown out of BB King's premotor cortex into yours. Maximize the neural pathways between that and the nervous system. We'll take some of the basal ganglia from Steve Vai and Eric Clapton, grow the complex looping into your mind. In a few months, you'll have all the talent you need to get further."

"I... what? I don't--"

"Son, it's not legal here, but that don't matter unless you're caught. We'll give you the mojo hand and the voodoo eye to be the best blues man since Johnson gargled a strychnine cocktail. All it's going to cost you is a seven year contract, and we collect at the end."

"Damn. Seven years?" Mikal shook his head. Illegal or not, this was his only wish. "Shit, you just tell me where I sign, Mister Scratch."

Genomics

Nov. 18th, 2007 04:31 pm
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Liao Xiaoqi's sigh was calculated; they had been used to this gesture by the Chinese negotiator. Diplomacy was a very slow process, marked by incremental benchmarks trying for a compromise. With each tiny benchmark, you get closer to a solution. That didn't mean it wasn't boring as hell to deal with.

Tim Futterman didn't mimic the gesture, although he did want a cigarette in the worst way. Even the Chinese had finally gone to a non-smoking policy during the meetings, and no doubt the odd jitters that Liao's team was displaying had more to do with a nicotine deficiency than nervousness on their position.

"Vice Minister, without an agreement on patent enforcement that contains real measures by the Chinese government, the United States cannot move forward on opening up any additional sectors of protected trade."

"The United States forgets that they do not get to dictate terms to the rest of the world, Mister Under-Secretary. China only seeks a fair balance in trade, and without that balance, we cannot endorse an unfair trade practice as part of an agreement."

"Vice Minister, rhetoric aside, the Chinese government wants access to a technology that is currently exclusive to the United States." Futterman pointed across the table. "Fair trade applies to mutually held technologies and resources."

"Resources apply in this case, Mister Under-Secretary. We have graciously opened up access to our population to a number of American companies with the expectation that the technology would be shared with China. Now the United States is blocking the fulfillment of that promise." Xiaoqi said. "This is not fair trade practice."

"Genome modification is an extremely potent technology, Vice Minister, potentially the next arms race."

"Yes, and you're mining our population for the resources you need." Xiaoqi said. "Under-Secretary Futterman, if we're providing the fire, the United States needs to let us examine the spear."

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"Keep that dog out of the hall." Greg said to the old woman, as he forcibly separated the small terrier from his ankle. She just hissed at him in Polish, before gathering the dog up and making kissing noises at it as she disappeared into her own apartment. It would be another three weeks of noise compliant calls every time he turned on the radio because of that little rat running wild.

It had been a pretty average night at the bar, and he tossed his coat on the chair, enjoying the pleasant buzz as he flicked on his laptop and poured a cup of coffee. Sliding down on the cream coloured couch, he opened his browser and paused.

Instead of Google, his browser was white, with a simple rectangle outline on the screen. He stared at it for a moment, looking first at the URL to make sure it was supposed to be his homepage. Finally, he dragged the mouse over and clicked.

The rectangle turned over, and read SOS in stark Times New Roman.

When he refreshed the page, it was gone, the familiar search engine in the place it had occupied. He shrugged and went to bed, considering it all as a gimmick or random ad.

The next day, his cell phone rang, and the text message that marched across the screen was SOS. There was no return number.

TiVo recorded SOS on the screen where 'Heroes' was supposed to be.

His work e-mail received an SOS message, where it pushed it into his Blackberry.

The display on the payphone outside of the coffee shop read SOS.

Finally, as SOS flashed up on the digital screen, ten feet high over the HMV downtown, he couldn't take anymore and yelled at the top of his lungs; "Who needs to be saved?"

After the moment of stunned silence, one by one, everyone on the street hesitantly raised their hands.

Tabloid

Nov. 16th, 2007 09:56 pm
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When they found the first thigh bone, deep in the archives in a badly labeled box, there was a sense of something greater already sneaking through the museum. After fifty years lost, the anticipation that something greater, hinted at with the bad stencils and the pre-Skan RDIS tagging lurked in the dozens of cavernous rooms and tiny closets under the gallery floors.

Dr. Prangjang, one of the premiere Paleosociologists tried to avoid speculation leaking to the press, as he assembled his team of grad students, but it was no good. The press besieged his office, live blogging his every movement and speculating that something important was happening in the most staid of public institutions.

They worked day and night in the dusty rooms, behind increased security and under the strictest confidentiality agreements that legal could find on the 'net; some barely legal clauses worked up in a West Bombay court, that allowed them to punish any leaks by liquefying and then fermenting the body of the accused, and then serving it to guests secretly at the next wedding celebrated by a member of his family.

Finally, in of all things an old cardboard Absolute vodka box, they uncovered the skull and lifted it out gingerly. They would run it through a thousand tests; radiology, cranial comparisons, DNA testing, feature modeling, but Prangjang didn't need that to be sure already. The decreased cranial capacity, the poor genetic stamp, with a slightly regressed forehead and brittle cap fusions that suggested a history of genetic duplication through incest, the smoothed holes at the base of the skull from an injury that would have rendered the brain sporadically unbalanced and borderline retarded; just holding it in his hands, Prangjang knew what he had.

The Natural History Museum of LA County opened the exhibit to the fully rebuilt skeleton of Britney Spears, found lying lost and forgotten in the bowels of the museum for decades. It would be the most complete skeleton of a pop star on display in the world, passing the Metropolitan's Clarkson and the British Museum's Piper by at least 20%.

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I was retiling the shower, replacing the cornflower blue ones that were at least eighty years old, with some kind of quasi-vinyl dirt resistant ones that my wife had fell in love with at the Home Depot, when I found the niche. It wasn't much bigger than a bar of soap; just a tiny little alcove built into the wall when the shower was put in. There, covered in dust and grime, was a child's box of chalk, and an old barrel style key. The chalk was in an old paper box, mostly rotted away, but dating back to the 1920s.

For a few days, we wandered around the old house, checking the key in every door, latch and lock we could find. But we didn't have any mysterious doors or hidden rooms that needed just a secret key to uncover. The only lock that we couldn't open in our home was one of the doors of an old desk in the garage, but that was because it had rusted out year ago.

Halfway into the second bottle of wine one night, I dug out a piece of chalk from our daughters' art box and stood speculatively looking at the brick over out fireplace. My wife just laughed and went to change the CD while I drew a shaky rectangle, with a cartoon-like keyhole. When I pressed the key to the chalk, it slipped into the fake hole as if oiled.

With both stood very still, watching the key sit inside the chalk hole I'd drawn in the brick. Finally, my wife nudged me to reach out, and turn the fat, stylized end. With a click, the chalk lines opened in the brick, and it swung out like a door.

In my created cupboard, there was a bright blue scarf.

After we'd been married, our first vacation had been to a little cottage on Lake Huron, tucked deep into the woods. I'd been showing off with the boat, bragging about my watercraft skills, even though it had been years since I'd steered one. Abruptly, she had turned to me, the blue scarf fluttering around her neck with the speed created wind, and told me that by the end of the year, I'd be a father. The wind snatched the scarf from her neck as I embraced her, disappearing unnoticed over the lake. Holding it, smelling the scent of the pines and the water on it, it took me back to my happiest moment.

My wife didn't understand the tears in my eyes until I told her. Stunned, she closed the created door, locked it and removed the key. Grabbing up the chalk, she kicked aside the rug, knelt on the ground, and sketched in a new door and keyhole. This one opened just as easily, and her hands trembled as pulled out a dog-eared copy of 'The Velveteen Rabbit'. Her father had read it to her to sleep every night, even in the hospital bed where a seven year old could not possibly understand what cancer was. She'd never read it since, unable to take the loss of the perfect moment it had created in her childhood.

Soon enough, one by one, our friends tried it. Hockey cards long lost, stuffed toys, missing letters, photographs gone forever appeared. Most people cried or smiled as they drew the object from the chalked cupboard, behind the impossible door. There was a lot of embarrassed laughter with my brother in law pulled out the pair of lace panties, until my sister admitted that she had worn that exact pair on their first date, and dragged him off home to thunderous applause. It was a place to keep the things that represented your happiest moment, tucked away and finally someone had the key.

Until the day that our eldest turned the key, to the speculation of what a 15 year old boy could possible have in there, and drew out a copy of my old carving knife, covered in blood and with a few dark brown hairs, the same colour that missing girl from his seventh grade year, clinging to the blade.

dexfarkin: (Default)
A career in baseball exists somewhere between Never-was and Has-been. From all those days in the minors as nothing, to the last time you get to walk out of the dugout as a player. That’s the only moment you get.

It’s hard not to be daunted, riding in the cab up Yawkey Way, trying to look at everything at once. Maggie, one of the waitresses at the Durham Marquee, said that when she visited it the first time, it was like grabbing on to a live wire. She’d been especially attentive when my call-up came. I went up the street with the memory of the moles on her right breast fighting for my attention.

Lowell had pulled a hamstring, and was out for three weeks. They needed a left-handed bat off the bench, and that meant someone from the Bulls was needed to fill out the roster. That meant my first ever .300+ season came at just the right time. It left me standing in the shadow of the Belly, looking out over into the Triangle way out in center field and wondering.

It was the Yankees in town, and with a one run deficit going into the ninth, they went to the bullpen for Mo. Then Manny ripped a double off the Green Monster over Matsui’s head and we were back in the game. Skip pointed me into the box. We didn’t have a lot of speed on base, but a clean single with Manny running on the pitch could bring him home.

Mo’s cutter was on as I settled into the box. That viper late movement, dropping three inches down at the plate in the last second, turning my swing into a futile thing. The second went by at the ankles, but the next one bit the corner sharply, putting me deep in the hole. He’d go to the outside corner. I’d watched him do it a hundred times over beers, watching him handcuff batters. Look for the movement, and just pull the ball.

It hummed coming in, outside and diving. Quick bat. Clean swing. I was still waiting for the sound of the ball off the bat, even as the echoes of the slap of the glove died away behind me to the groans of the fans. Sitting in plain sight, right by the Lone Red Seat, was Never-was. He tipped his hat to me as he left with the rest of the fans.

Apathy

Nov. 13th, 2007 08:49 pm
dexfarkin: (Default)
When the authorities came for the furries,
I remained silent;
I was not a strange closeted pervert in a crusty blue furred bunny suit.

When they locked up the Transhuman Church of Perpetual Advancement,
I remained silent;
I did not have my innards replaced with a bio-stack of bacteria and reflexive jelly.

When they came for the Enlightened Ones,
I did not speak out;
I was not cutting my way to oneness with Lord Bhudda.

When they came for the Democrats,
I remained silent;
There was only one of them left anyway.

When they came for me,
they experienced moist death under the pure steel mek of my clankhands like all fleshy things before the Machine.

--CrushMek Jones, Cyborg Patriot

dexfarkin: (Default)
"I never trust these things." Lt. Cmdr Leitner said, ignoring the sigh from the tiny brown woman hunched over the keyboard. He'd spent twenty-two years driving every type of ship the Navy employed across all the oceans, in every weather imaginable and through more than a few disasters. The last one, which had cost his ship six men fighting to extinguish an electrical fire and himself the use of his right arm below the elbow had left him finishing out his career one of their oldest facilities; the US Naval Observatory in DC.

"Look, I'm not some Neanderthal scared of change. The first thrower we had buzzed blue arcs of energy every time it was on, and rendered everyone on the USS Monitor either sterile or infected with FLK."

"FLK?" Dr Braun looked up from her work with a puzzled expression.

"Funny looking kids."

"Ah." Obviously Naval humour hadn't made it to the brain banks in the service yet. "Sir, with all due respect, those early... 'throwers', you called them? They bear about as much similarity to the SEP plasma particle polulation projector as a musket does with a laser guided howitzer. Those old SEPPGs were the excuse for a military application."

"Huh. I thought this was just on a larger scale." Leitner scratched his stubbled neck.

"Yes, and no. The old throwers were supposed to act as part of the 'Total Environment Engagement' targeting system, right?" Braun thought back, trying to remember the project that had been obsolete at the time she'd joined the Navy.

"Yeah, the T-Shot never worked right."

"The basic problem was that all four of the systems feeding into it operated on vastly different response and upload times. Integration just wasn't possible, like trying to pass a baton between four people running at different speeds." She patted the side of the terminal she was working on. "The P-Quad only works on a single system element, and has one additional component in our uplink to the Interferometer on Falstaff Mesa."

"What's the value then? Is this just a cosmic rangefinder."

"Yes, but looked at sideways. We can generate ultra-high energy particles in the 57 billion squared electron volt range. Throw those out, and it takes the gravity interference of a black hole to pull one off course. So when we multi-generate, or 'buckshot' a quadrant of the sky, those rays go until they hit something, and the resulting crash is fed back into the interferometer that determines the distance." Braun said, her voice jumping with excitement.

"Sounds like a radar."

"That's exactly what it is. That energy jumps out, and when it stops, we get a tiny view of millions of light-years, like a map in a tube." She smiled, her teeth very white against her face. "We're blind from the distances, sir, but now we can map the entire universe with light, sir. Just guess what we're going to find!"

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