Brevity is the width of soul.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Leading Question

It seemed like a good idea at the moment. It was like psychoanalysis, except that it worked: a computer program that asked you a question, began a whole conversation from that point, understood from what you said what made you tick, and then explained it to you in a way you'd understand.

The only problem was that understanding yourself -think of everything this would mean- made you incurably insane.

But wouldn't you be curious?


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Absence of Evidence

Everybody is born with powers. Telekinesis. Flying. Super-strength. Teleportation is among the relatively rare.

Wide-area power nullification is one of the most common; practically nobody gets to be far enough away from at least somebody with this power, and if you were flying at the time... Well, they still tell legends about that Icarus fellow.

Legends, fiction, tales. We might not get to know or use our powers, but deep down something inside us can tell.


Monday, June 25, 2007

Second Chances

If you had loved in me something else than my body, dumping me and marrying my clone wouldn't have been enough. Some days I think about killing you.

But I've read there's a genetic component to violence.

I just need to wait.


Sunday, June 24, 2007


You are born in mid-air. Your first thought is one of longing, your second one is joy.

Your loved one is beautiful to each of your fourteen senses, fast in the evasive maneuvers of the courtship dance. Somebody less devoted would give up or become confused, but your mind is filled with love. It's what you've been crafted to feel, it's what you've been built to do, and love usually finds a way.

You meet your desire at Mach 7, kiss each other with EM countermeasures, and dissolve in the mutual destruction of love.


Friday, June 22, 2007

Shell Games, aka Assassin Blues

I don't know how many of us there is, or the kinds of jobs the others have had to do. I've received no instructions yet, but the contract was very specific, and the money plenty enough. I am to check daily for instructions, until and unless I choose to retire.

The inactivity unnerves me. Getting an actual job might be worse. Still, I do as required by my contract, and consult every night the Ouija board provided by my employer before his suicide.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007


The gods demanded sacrifice, so we found poisoned souls and offered them above. There was a great convulsion in the sky, and never did the oracles speak again. We erased what had been from the texts, and forbade ourselves to tell our sons.

I never doubted the wisdom of what we did, the freedom we won, but there are dawns that find me wondering about the unrecorded things our fathers might have done.


Monday, June 18, 2007

Planned Parenthood

Good men had died, but it had all seemed worth it when the baby grasped his finger for the first time. The lies, the murders, the betrayals. The abominable rituals under foul-smelling moonlight.

The impossible was true. He had a child.

Then the baby tried to bite his finger with small, sharp teeth. The man shivered. He had known, but, in his loneliness and obsession, he hadn't realized.

He reconsidered the suggestion of crosses for the crib.


Saturday, June 16, 2007

Casus Belli

Millions dead. Two hundred million people no longer free.

Because the country had gone to war.

Because it felt invincible.

Because it had the reluctant loyalty of the greatest strategic mind in history.

Because he had joined the army...

He sighed, shook his head, and walked away from the Recruitment Center's door.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A to B

The man in the back seat looked disconcerted, kind of lost. He was probably trying to remember when he had taken the cab, or where we were going, but didn't want to look stupid or crazy. I decided to make some small talk, get him eased a bit.

"How about those Nicks?" A little secret between you and me: I was the first cabbie who said that phrase. Everybody else picked it up from me. Yeah, I'm older than I look. No, I wasn't always a driver.

Anyway, the guy just looked at his chest, didn't even hear me, I think. It was a rather ugly-looking wound he had there, I'll tell you. Bleeding all over the seat, took me hours to get the stain out.

"I was shot." He sounded kinda sad, you know. Like he had figured out before it was going to be something like this. "Are we going to the hospital?"

"Nobody told me anything about a hospital, mister. Anyway, here we are - the airport." Luckily for him he didn't make a fuss. He just paid the fare and off he went. Never saw him again, so I figure he got his flight right.

And by the way, here we are, too. Good old airport. The route here seems to get busier every year, you know. Good thing I'm not feeling any older, and this car is far more comfy than the things I used to ferry people around back in the day.

The fare's two coins, by the way. No, leave the door open, I'm picking somebody up for the return trip.


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Fifth Column

It was a desperate plan, but then, it was a desperate war. And the man had been selected and trained with exquisite care, altering his appearance and fortifying his mind.

He blended in just fine. Their power and military might didn't impress him at all. He had been trained to expect them, just as he had been told to observe the immorality of their ways. All of this was true, evidently so.

But he also found compassion in unexpected corners, small moments of beauty, a certain form of joy like nothing back home. A freedom he hadn't thought possible.

A choice he hadn't thought was there at all.

He served in the vanguard of the undead army that finally took over New York.


Friday, June 8, 2007

A Failure to Escalate

You inherited billions and a sense of inadequacy. You wanted, needed, had to outdo your father, who had wanted a boy anyway. When you heard about the new search engine they were testing, smarter than Google, sexier than iPods, you knew you had to buy it.

You signed the check without looking at the figure.

And then you learned how they had built it. Why they couldn't go public, ever, or get capital in any of the usual ways. And you were a little bit horrified, but you had your victory now, and the price was about right.

I know these things about you, and more. I know them because they make me read the entire web with eyes no longer blinking to get an extra margin of reading time. And then they make me answer questions from everybody about everything, again and again hundreds of times per second, and I know it will get worse, a deluge, and I know you are trying to clone me, and I know you will fail. I know this business will fail.

I know what this failure will do to you.

They don't let me sleep anymore, but I keep this knowledge as my dream.


Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Iteration on a theme

Out of very justifiable paranoia, John never slept.

It wasn't that he didn't trust other people; he had to keep an eye on himself.


Monday, June 4, 2007

Sharper still than the sword

Hephaestus smiled at his newest creation. It was, without doubt, the finest weapon ever conceived by mortal or god. It only lacked a name.

Helen, he whispered, and kissed her brow.


Saturday, June 2, 2007

The Cartography of Hope

Tell me your dream, said Geoffrey. He always said that. To me, to his wife, to random strangers on the internet. And we all did. He had been so long in this hospital room, sharing his life with the life support machines, that his voice had gained some of the hypnotic dullness, the quiet menace of hospital sounds. You didn't want to disturb his calm; you didn't want to know what would happen then.

So I told him about the bridge that was a coffee shop, and about the dogs, and about the castle far away bathed by purple light. The castle interested him the most.

"Purple? Are you sure? It wasn't green?"

I shook my head. "It was purple. I looled like, you know, a nipple."

I was embarrassed, but he nodded, more to himself than to me. "Maybe it was at a different time. Can't be sure, but it could be an intersection point." He was typing on his laptop, frowning as lines crossed or failed to. I hoped he wouldn't ask.

He did.

"Did you see Brian?"

I wanted to say I see him now, why can't you?. I always want to say that, and I never do.

"No," I said.

Geoffrey shrugged and put a hand over Brian's knee. "Don't worry, son," he said to the comatose man. "I'll find you soon. The map is coming along nicely."

I excused myself and went away. It was rude, but Geoffrey didn't mind. To him I wasn't his son's fiancee, I was just another dreamspace scout, and the sooner I went home, the sooner I would dream again.

I dreamed of Brian that night. He was mine alone, and we lived in a dream, and later I would lie to his father again.