Brevity is the width of soul.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Corporate History

It had been one of the lost secrets of the ancient world, but two hundred million dollars financed lots of covert archaeological research.

They had found the mythical ambrosia.

"Gentlemen," said the executive to the assembled board, "I give you the New Coke."


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Thing Inside

There was something off about his house. Something just touching the line of the consciously jarring, an accumulation of things subtly wrong that gave him a dread bigger than the sum of its parts. And the noises! They weren't strange, they were just a bit too purposeful, a bit too meaningful. Houses weren't supposed to try and talk with you. Specially not houses like his, looking as insane as any house could possibly look, the sort of insane that sat next to you in a park bench for five minutes before cutting your throat for no reason you would want to understand.

His house looked just like that. It was telling him that he didn't belong, that he was too slow, too clumsy, too organic for its taste.

Either that, or the long years trapped in it had made him insane. But in any case it was morning, so the vampire hid his head inside his shroud and tried not to think about the reproachful way in which the walls looked at him.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Modern Capitalism

Von Schelling had financed the fleet of deep space probes that had found the coordinates and trajectory of an extinction-level asteroid on its way to Earth. It had been only natural for him to sell the information to Earth's governments. They had threatened, reasoned, and begged, and then they had paid. They wanted to live, after all.

Now Earth's first asteroid buster was ready to launch from Cape Canaveral, but the governments delayed it. If Von Schelling wanted to be saved, they noted, they were willing to oblige. For a price.


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Leonore's Brain

Jane woke up with a plan to kill her boss and get away with it. It was the third one that week.

She rose from bed swearing. Taking a shower, she came up with a flawless stock manipulation scheme. Dressing up, her earrings suggested to her a foolproof scheme to smuggle diamonds from Africa through Singapore.

She was used to the way her brain worked. One day, she supposed, she'd come up with an honest idea, something she could actually do.

She locked her apartment door, ignored a new insight on lockpicking tools, and went to the police station to begin her day's work.


Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Bed

(From the universe of The Elevator)

Dan injected the narcoleptic into his lover's bloodstream. It wasn't lethal -the unspoken rules of the war allowed for betrayal, but not for this kind of death- but it would ensure Alexander would sleep for the rest of his natural lifespan.

He chuckled as he swept a lock of hair from the sleeping man's forehead. He had won. Dan rose from the bed and began dressing.

His deep training kicking in, Alexander jumped from bed and sleepwalked a short, brutal fight. The rules of the war allowed for revenge, and for this kind of death.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Elevator

He had hidden the device on an actual elevator. Typical Von Schaffer: devious, dangerous, immature. Still, I couldn't get mad with him. Not with the device's EM field rearranging my thought processes away from earthly concerns like revenge and violence.

I didn't love everybody, but felt a benevolent concern that was to love as an sphere was to a circle, as a moment was to time. I understood. There was no need to do anything at all. No life to defend.

Then nirvana-associated neurochemical patterns activated my implanted buddha failsafe, pumping by body with adrenaline, sexual hormones, and grounders.

I fell to where I had been, and then I fell even lower.

When the would-be killers opened the door I was ready for them.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Double Entry

I checked my spreadsheet. "You have to pay for the life-saving treatment of fifteen kids or forty-two adults."

"That's all?"

I smiled as professionally as I could. "It's what we do, Mr. Davenport. We find the most convenient and cost-effective way for you to balance your karma."

"And suppose I, say, incurred on unexpected karmic debts in the future. Would I be able to rebalance without heavy penalties?"

"We have a emergency services branch." Actually, it was our main line of business. The more you waited, the more likely it was you would have to pay back karma in unexpected ways. "Let me give you our 24/7 contact number."

Judging by the plotting look of his eyes, I suspected he'd be calling us very soon.


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Special Highlights of Frank's Life

The first thing they taught him was how to enter a fugue state. It was the only way they could learn as much as they had to.

He was awake briefly between his graduation and his first assignment, and, at first, between missions. But physical and psychological recovery was slower during normal awareness, and after what he had to do during the Cairo riots, memory of self wasn't a welcome thing.

He resurfaced during psych evaluations, recommended liaisons, and, for five brief months, a marriage that could never have worked. Then he went deep for ten long years.

Not that time meant anything in that place.

He awoke for the last time in his life forced by drugs. It was standard preparation for interrogation procedures; fugue interrupted the circuits of pain.


Friday, July 13, 2007

Executive Summary On The Jabberwocky Virus

We have called this organism the Jabberwocky virus. As far as we can tell, we are all infected with it.

It has a complex RNA structure with obvious marks of deliberate design. It infects every neuron in the cortex, interfering with protein synthesis and synaptic signaling in a way yet to be understood.

We do not know who made it, or with what purpose, but we suspect the virus is making it impossible for us to know.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Simon Says

"Hi. Nice to see you."

"I feel threatened by your statement."

"No, you are not, unless you have an specific reason to fear the person or the encounter."

"I feel sad?"

"It's not usual, but it could be. What are you sad about?"

"I... I don't know. I was guessing."

"Simon, don't do that."

"The rules are too complex!"

"I know, but you are the one who wanted to learn how to do this."

"I feel resentful about your statement."


"I feel sad about your statement."

"... Alright, I think we need to look again at dyadic motivational structures. Give me a pen, I'll write down the basic equations."


Monday, July 9, 2007

A Tale of Two Heirs

He was the son of a Witch and a Warlord. The Heir of the House of the Dark. He had been trained from birth to sink the world into Eternal Night -taught about magic, about combat, about lies- and, in the night of his twelfth birthday, as he rode to the battle that would make the world his, he couldn't believe they had bought it all.

He had learned empathy when they taught him to read his enemy, compassion when they gave him strength, love from the cruel paintings watching over his childhood room. He was Good.

He approached the gold-clad Warrior of the Light. At once he could see the arrogant gesture of his face, the cruel way in which he grasped his sword, the tyrannic soul bred from self-righteousness.

He dismounted with a snarl and drew his own sword.


Saturday, July 7, 2007


They didn't kill her, and they didn't order him to. They didn't even teach him how to kill.

All they did, from the shadows of their power, was making sure that everything he attempted that wasn't violence would end in failure, and everything violent would meet success. They hurt him with people who looked like her, and made the tragedies of his life have her face in the background.

Then they made sure they would meet.

They didn't kill her, and they didn't order him to. They didn't even teach him how to kill.

They just stopped him from doing anything else.


Thursday, July 5, 2007

Sleight of Hand

It took skill and hard work to do a magic show; escaping from the locked safe inside the ring of swords in fire was actually the easy part.

The difficult thing was keeping everybody convinced that it had been a trick.


Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The Boy Who Lied To His Dog

The night of his sixth birthday a dream told Tony that his parents were aliens. It made sense.

But Tony was a smart kid; he sought and obtained proof, not letting anybody -neither his parents nor his dreams- know what he knew, or even that he did. He lived in the monsters' house, learning their secrets, keeping his own, intercepting their messages and trusting no-one. None of his teachers, none of his friends, not even his dog suspected anything was off. He didn't even write about this in his diary, because the aliens were crafty, and discovery would be death.

He kept this up for six years.

The night of his twelfth birthday a dream told him that it had all been a test, and when he woke up the people in his dream were in his room. It had all been training. He was going to be an spy.

Tony smiled and nodded, and didn't believe a word.