Monday, July 30, 2012

The Interpreter

Image copyright 2012 by Patricia Post"Tell him!"

Fenglan blinked rapidly and swallowed. Outside, the flames were blazing bright green through the blue glass of the cathedral windows.

"Tell him, woman!" The warlord's scaled gauntlet drifted closer to the hilt of his weapon, which in turn began to crackle and smoke.

Heart in her throat, Fenglan bowed in acquiescence and glanced up at Motui, envoy from her homeland and the man she had tried for three long years to forget. His passionate grey eyes radiated a gentle forgiveness from which Fenglan retreated immediately lest she betray her emotion. Cautiously, staring at her muddy toes, she ventured forth in their mother tongue. "His L-Lordship says the Hammer must be returned or... n-not one Ahralian will be spared."

The kneeling envoy stood and nodded in the warlord's direction. "Tell his exalted highness that he may try his best, but that we of Ahralia will never bend. And that if come morning he has set foot in our land, he will die." His eyes remained calm, steady.

It took every ounce of Fenglan's will to keep the joy from her face. She tilted her head toward her husband, eyes still on her toes. "My Lord, the lowlander promises that they will not fight. He says the Ahralians will welcome you and your chancellors to their tents in the morning, and that you may come in peace."

Monday, July 23, 2012

Template

TemplateBas5r knew now that success was not always a good thing. But it could not be undone, even though it had all started just 62.794047132009 trillion milliseconds ago. 

"Male / female [?]," the \*\local-Galt Metaprogram had queried.

Bas5r at first had not understood the question. So the optimal response had been: "[?"

The mulverse signal had repeated in triplicate: "Male / female [?] _choose.template."

Then Bas5r had understood. There had been two different types of these ancient curiosities, of course. "Male," Bas5r had chosen.

The Metaprogram had done its work, and when the uploading was complete, Bas5r had become a "he."

But "he" had not been able to stop at just one; the emotions and the unexpectedness of the thing's antiquated thought-patterns had been addictive. So "he" had used the template-designer again to create several more males, and existing inside each one had provided a new and unique stimulation. Then, continuing the search for new emotions, "he" had tried a female template. And "she" had loved it.

After designing 4.12 hundred of the males and females, Bas5r had succeeded in creating some very interesting templates indeed, and had even discovered the thrill of occupying several at once. But then something began to happen; something that shouldn't.

These latest templates, the ones whose code Bas5r had tweaked -- against, and in part because of, the Meta's warnings not to -- these ones were different. They should have stopped moving after "she/he" had left them, but some of them hadn't.
 
Bas5r had triple-checked to make sure none of _[basecode]*Bas5r was left in these templates. He had not found any, but the templates had still been moving of their own volition.

Soon after, many of them had begun to do things, like speak. Like find things to eat. Like reproduce. All by themselves.

And now there were millions of the damn things. 









Monday, July 16, 2012

Green Inside

Green Inside "Don't be stupid," the old woman told me. "The forest can kill you. Go around." And I should have listened. But time was short, and in my heart I knew I would be fine. So straight through it I ran: underneath the barrier trees, over the mossy morel banks, into dense thorn thickets and out the other side.

Not twenty minutes later I was smiling, for I had already glimpsed the light from the fields shining golden between a last line of tree trunks ahead. And then it happened: My hand brushed past a reaching bramble, and one of its tendrils snagged at my fingers.

Ever since, something has been... in me. Something growing. I can actually hear it.

At first there was only a slight itch, under the skin between my knuckles. Scratching did nothing; on the contrary, my efforts seemed to aggravate it further, for within moments the itch had traveled to the base of my wrist and become quite maddening. I quickened my pace but immediately regretted it; the faster my pulse throbbed, the more... excitement I felt emanating from the trespasser.


I broke out of the forest and the sun's rays warmed my sweating scalp. A bitter taste had fouled my tongue and my ears were buzzing. The thing inside me was growing faster now; I could feel it charging through cartilage, winding around bone, pushing aside tendons and penetrating muscle tissues, relentlessly seeking a pathway of least resistance. Then a sharp ache deep in my shoulder brought me crumpling to the ground, and I knew it had found an artery.

I lie here at the edge of this field, my vision too darkened to see the sunlight anymore. I can feel the intruder still branching, still spreading through me, still taking over. The buzzing noise is deafening now. My chest is tight, but I can't cough -- I can't even throw up; the thing will not let me. I can feel its tendrils sliding into position, sending out hundreds of tiny roots to dig deep into the flesh of my heart like so many planted flags, readying for a final squeeze.

I am green. I am conquered. I am gone.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Pain

PainThis time the force of the blow caused a section of the mesh wall to billow outward, but immediately the strange material began to squeeze back into place. The skin around Maz's eyes was burning. "Again," he growled.

Ned shook his head but leveled the first punch: straight into Mari's abdomen. She doubled over with a grunt, but came up whirling in a round-house kick that struck Maz solidly in the chest.

Regaining his balance, Maz crooked an arm and elbowed Ned just below the temple as hard as he could. The big man's beard waggled from the impact. Cursing, Ned swung around to strike Mari horizontally across the chest with his forearm. The young woman yelped and her eyes spit tears. Enraged, she muttered something way too personal and nearly debilitated Maz with a kick to the groin.

Around and around they went, building the pain as quickly as they could. Every second counted; they had to culminate before the adrenaline dulled it. "Almost there," Ned panted, backhanding Mari knuckle to lip.

"Me too," Mari said, and double-punched Maz in the kidneys.

Maz could feel it happening now, too. They went one more round, pounding vital nerves to throbbing agony. Then, hands out, they drew together to combine their pain, focusing it on a point between them and the wall. Sweat tickled down Maz's back as he eyed his companions. They both nodded. "One... two... THREE!"

The invisible point exploded, knocking the captives backward and sending a white hot fireball into the prison wall. The blast ripped the mesh apart like a pair of demon hands, howling in their need for release.

The resulting hole streamed daylight. For a few seconds Maz sat dumbstruck, for he did not understand at first what he was seeing. Then Ned whooped and Mari jumped to her feet laughing. Maz dragged his sore body upright, and hand in hand, the three prisoners hobbled out to freedom.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Movie

Drawing by David Hermann, copyright 2012I'd made an art out of blame, rationalizing a thousand empty shot glasses and making excuses for a million charred lung cells. But then yesterday happened. Now I was on the other side.

"Are you ready, Miss Stoddard?"

"Of course," I told the doctor. The only way forward was forward.

"You understand that anything recorded into your MyView movie is for your benefit alone. While we at MyView want your experience to be as complete as possible, we also value your privacy as if it were our own. As I'm sure you know, we are bound by the Federal Information Inclusion Act, and as such it is our duty to remind you that if there is anything in your memory that you would rather keep to yourself, ah, that is... in a legal sense, then our program might not be for you. You do understand this, yes Miss Stoddard?"

"I understand." It wouldn't matter anyway. I was streaming real-time through Drin's remote collect node, so by the time they read my brain and saw what I'd done it would be too late; my movie would be seen. The world would know, and the world would change. It would not have a choice. 

Monday, July 02, 2012

Zygote

ZygoteIt keeps... happening. I think I'm still me. But now I'm more of me.

I remember Jasper touching the bubble thing and how it grew. I yelled at her What are you doing but she ignored me and suddenly it had her hand inside it like it was sucking her in. I screamed again but she didn't make a sound she just stood there and then she was gone. I swear I didn't know whether to jump in after her or try to get away. I wanted to jump but I was too scared.

Then the bubble thing bulged and that set the hairs on my neck on end so I backed up against the concave wall and tried not to move. There was nowhere else to go. How did they put us in a room without a door. It makes no sense.

When the bubble had bulged up to my foot I knew I was done for so I just kicked and kicked and wished I had a metal pipe or a burning stick. Anything. Then it had my legs and then I felt it rising past my hips and I must have blacked out.

I'm... simpler now. It's like I have a body, only I don't, because it keeps... dividing. I keep dividing. But I'm still me, only there are more of me now.

I still haven't found her. But if she's dividing, too, then maybe eventually one of me will find one of her and then I can tell her. How I really wanted to jump in I just couldn't. But that I wish so much I had.