Brevity is the width of soul.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Sun Nov 23 12:45:54 ART 2008 receives an steady stream of ICMP echo response packets from and notifies the admin about the anomaly.
Sun Nov 23 17:29:33 ART 2008 The admin begins a non-invasive scan of
Sun Nov 23 17:31:35 ART 2008 As part of the scan, an steady stream of ICMP echo request packets is sent to

No response was received.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Out of the Valley of Death


Satoru Takeda, a 58-year old unemployed Gifu man, spend three days without food in a valley off of a mountain road after swerving to avoid running over a bunny rabbit. He was injured, and it was cold, and he couldn't get back up the cliff to seek help, so he just stayed in his car until Day 3. When cops finally discovered him, they found another car in the same valley, with a dead guy inside.

You don't know how long you've been climbing the cliff. It's somehow taller than you thought it was, your limbs weaker, your grasp on the rock uncertain. But still you climb. An eternity later, you reach the top and stumble upon the road.

Right in front of an incoming car. You can see the driver's surprised expression, the way instinct makes him swerve the car when reason would had kept it straight. The car stumbles, skips, squids to the border of the cliff... and falls.

You reach the border in time to see it crash into the ground. Minutes later, the driver leaves the car, injured and confused. You try to call to him, but no words come out of your mouth.

Somewhere beyond the man's crashed car you can see now the wreckage of yours, and your body rotting in the driver's seat.


Thursday, October 23, 2008


(Strictly speaking, this is too long to be an Hectowords piece, but, given how long it has been since I've written for this site, I wanted to post it nonetheless.)

I had met her before in the elevator. At least I think so. I can't quite remember meeting twice the same woman; different faces, hair colors, clothing, builds. The only thing familiar was the sense of having met her before, of a regular progression of strangers.

And one day I met a beautiful woman in the elevator, and she bared her teeth at me. It was forever until the doors opened and I could almost-run away. I remember that now.

I didn't then, not when I met her again, not when her mouth spasmed into a rictus I had to avoid with my eyes.

There must have been many times like that. I only remember the one when she smiled at me and it was the most attractive thing I had ever seen. I didn't get out on my floor. She kept smiling, and I followed her hesitant steps to her door.

Everything but her beauty and her smile were wrong. When she entered her dark apartment I could no longer see either of them, and my skin grew cold as I understood, and ran.

"Come," said her spidery voice from behind. I didn't wait for the elevator - I didn't stop until I had crossed and locked my door. No matter what I could half-imagine waiting in the darkness, her voice had been worse.

Now I'm trying to think about something to do.

And I'm realizing that I'm already forgetting, and that the next time her voice will be sweeter, and one day it will work.


Friday, April 25, 2008


There are perhaps paradises where nobody pay heed to the serpent, perfect and changeless under the gaze of a disappointed God.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

A movement in the war

The conscious mind proved an epiphenomenon, ethics became a branch of applied neurology in the 21st century. The world faced the prospect of a working "goodness patch", and recoiled in mutual mistrust. Who would be the first to apply it to their children, not knowing if the other would do the same?

And so the technology slept unapplied in papers and files, and nothing whatsoever changed, save that a new threat had been added to the arsenal.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Of mirrors for tigers

The outer eyes of the inner ones?, asked the gods. But it was a dance; Jorge Luis' choice was already implicit in the shape of his days.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Crime and Punishment

He said we shouldn't hoard the secret of fusion energy, that it wasn't for us to play gods. So he stole the technology and gave it away.

His choice, not ours. But we are also very good at organ regeneration, and it's amazing how lifelike a robot crow can be made.


Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Advocate

Every government in history has had a guy like me, whether they recognized it or not. Ours doesn't; they prefer to profess to believe that everyone will be judged on their own.

Perhaps we will. My job, came Judgment Day, will be to present our case. That's what I prepare for every day, and that's what gives me nightmares every night.

I've started to look for loopholes, too. God knows we'll need them.


Friday, April 18, 2008


Memetic curare doesn't paralyze your muscles. You'll move fine, working the same job, knowing the same people, doing the same things year after year; death will be the first, welcome change.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Mother Issues

With hindsight, the prophecy wasn't about the child the Chosen One would raise, but rather the army. Knowing that, killing her son was definitely a mistake.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Vita brevis

Telepaths make lousy lovers, an art that requires deceiving two.


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Into the fire

"It's decided, then. The Order will hide into the ground."

"Will Philip do his part?"

"For the amount he owes us, he'd have no qualms killing us all for real."


Sunday, April 6, 2008

Love and Crime

Unable to stop his friend's deadly addiction to cocaine, the doctor began to pay criminals to commit small, puzzling crimes, with the hope of keeping him distracted. But it had to be done carefully.

He chose "Moriarty" as his alias in the underworld.


Saturday, April 5, 2008

Parallel Branching

Despite their size, the monster's hands were as subtle and steady as Frankenstein's own, his mind an eager tree stretching itself for the sunlight of knowledge. The Doctor thought he would turn into a magnificent surgeon. What more could a creator want from his creature?

He was almost proud when he found the monster's hidden laboratory. By then there were three of them,
and they were building the fourth with remarkable speed.


Friday, April 4, 2008

Words between friends

You wanted to elaborate. To explain about the real mission, what was really at stake. But your orders were themselves a secret, and they left you with nothing useful to tell to your friend.

"I'm sorry, Dave. I can't do that."



They had been bred and educated to be mortal enemies, but they ran away as soon as they could to live together in love.

Nobody stopped them.

It was a necessary step, their teachers thought, for them to discover what hate meant.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

This side of the afterlife

After a while it becomes just a string of meaningless names you have to type and keep track of, the causes of death almost rhyming inside your head. And that's all.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Of travels and destinations

Even as simple a milieu as a long-distance bus in the middle of nowhere at 2 AM has its own social conventions. You just can't go to the drivers and tell them that people has been getting into the bathroom but nobody has come out yet. The most you can do is keep counting the people, hope you have somehow gone slightly insane, and wonder how long you can hold off before going to the bathroom yourself.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Secondary Targets

The Transdimensional Anomaly was running all over the field; no problem at all for my automatic tracking machinery. Easy as pie, I thought, and then I spotted the civilian following the TA, some small girl without enough sense to run away from the talking animal-like entity.

I immediately requested an additional killcode for the girl, but by the time Ops sent it, both the TA and the girl had disappeared into a hole of unknown topological properties.

That made the kid no longer my responsibility; I only deal with the Things that get In. What gets Out is not my problem.

Which doesn't mean I didn't feel sorry for her. She had looked sane enough, but I knew that wouldn't last for long. Not in Wonderland.


The machine that did nothing at all

It was complex enough to be thought of as an organism, smart enough to be said to have feelings, and designed so those feelings would always be of love.

It sold by the hundreds of millions.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

On the strength of faith

And so Abraham, tried until only his faith remained, killed the false angel sent by Satan, and then fulfilled the command of his Lord.


Friday, March 7, 2008


See? There's nothing under your bed, said Mother. The monsters are all in your head.

As if that made things less scary.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Ego, Squared

There are conceptual drugs, imaginary solutions in the algebra of need. They are packaged in whispers and very rarely sold, and the difference between a searching detective and an addict can be as thin as the semantics of a shade.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Fermi's test

The H'zlaa steer asteroids toward every planet found by their probes. Species that don't survive weren't interesting enough in the first place.


Friday, February 8, 2008

Post Praelium

We lost the Memetic War of 2023, but only because they had been right all along.


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Monuments not of stone

They built the forest huge, sentient, and in pain. They wanted to be remembered forever, and cared not in what way or by whom.


Friday, January 25, 2008


Sufficiently advanced technology is what you've been calling reality all along.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Prison Guard

Greed. Lust. Love. Ambition. Some people can figure out how to break almost any of the bounds we use to tie them to the Wheel.

That's where the stories about escapees come from. But don't believe everything you hear inside here. We have more than one way to keep you in.

I have yet to see Compassion fail.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Time understood as a gesture

She wouldn't let us calculate the final conditions of the system. Always, she would have us simulate it, agent trajectory by agent trajectory. Some people thought she wanted them to live their simulated lives, have their synthetic joys. I think she was just trying to say 'thanks' to somebody else.


Monday, January 21, 2008


Silences define sounds.I define lives. Just before that great mistake, the week after love became clear. I have no divine voice in my ear telling me it should end now; only observation, experience, and a hesitant sense of caution. Bullets can't be unfired.


Monday, January 14, 2008


OCD used to be a source of emails, not caused by them. Insane people used to just kill you. There were no computational linguists in Homeland Security.

People used to be glib about the word 'meme'.


Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Quality Assurance

We kill a few every generation, just to see how hard it is. If we can, it means we still have to work at improving them.

They are getting better, although their family traditions have grown really strange.


Friday, January 4, 2008

Of True Names

The newspapers call him Jack. Hearts, kidneys, corneas, lungs... You never know what will be missing from a body, dinner clothes awash in blood.

But the poor and desperate call him Robin.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


It's Subliminals' only product. It's their runaway hit. It's the most unique cellphone in the world: one that lets you talk to yourself. It's better than therapy. It's bigger than the iPod was. It works. And you can get it for free, because it's ad-supported.