Brevity is the width of soul.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

February 8th, if you let it be

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Saturday, October 31, 2009

You and Other Expenses

I hope you can hear me, that you're here still. Perhaps I'm imagining the little inconsistencies in what I see and remember that I hold to as proof of you. But I need to believe it's not so.

If you are here, if you stayed home and still can afford the perceptual tax for me, please believe that I'm sorry. I'm sorry I could no longer pay enough to keep you in my awareness. I'm sorry that I messed up so bad. And I'm sorry about what I'm going to do.

I remember telling you that I loved you, even if I don't remember your face. It was true, and it still is. But I haven't been able to make any new payments, and this morning they took away the sky. I know it's beautiful, and not always gray. I know there were things on it called Moon, Sun, stars. That much I remember. But not how they looked.

I'm sorry, my love. It's too much. I'm going to the memory pawnshop now, to trade the memory of you for the sky. Or maybe the memory of both for a bit of cash.

I can't tell if you are drying my tears or they are just dropping off my skin.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hell Week

Train like you fight, says the Army. I thought I understood what that meant, right until the Sargent blew my brains out.

I know I'll get back — my unit is the best, and the gates of Hell aren't far — but to what body? And in what war?

I don't know. But I trust the Sarge.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Love beyond death

He haunts me from the other side of death. His otherworldly obsession pays no heed to the sacred barrier between the dead and the alive, between the beating heart and the restless soul. I can feel his need for me every night as his eyes seek me through the shadows, desperately loathing and desperately attracted to the idea of bringing me to his side.

And might God forgive me, every time he holds a seance and tries to will me back to the living I fall a little more in love with him.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Just another final battle

Time collapsed, and Excalibur fell from my suddenly old hands. The field was covered with the dying cries of unborn soldiers, as huge monsters teared apart my knights.

Dinosaurs, I recalled from Merlin's seemingly unending lessons. They had been extinct for eons, and hadn't been discovered yet, but Le Fey's spell, the ultimate weapon she had been so reluctant to use, had made that distinction irrelevant.

Le Fey's laughter rose over the carnage. "I win, Arthur! I win!"

I could hear under her voice an approaching rumble, and I smiled, still kneeling on the ground. I had been a good knight and bad husband, but excellent bait. I wondered what history would tell about me, if they would remember this at all.

Up in the sky, I could see now the Enola Gay.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Private Thoughts

JBS was a very discrete data courier. It was difficult to be one in a world of remote ultra-precise fMRI, but he had learned to do public key crypto on his head. The math had been challenging to learn, but the most difficult thing was getting used to not knowing what he was thinking about.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Steampunk Revolution

They laughed when we built the steam-powered computers, the pneumatic battlesuits, and the servomechanic blimps. They thought it was just another weird internet fad.

They didn't laugh after the EMPs shut everything else off.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Tree of Lives

Some other yous made different choices. Some of them better. Some of them much worse. They think about you every pain-filled second, they imagine you with hungry, resentful eyes, they claw with thin bloody fingers at the prison walls of "should have." Do you feel safe from the absoluteness of their will? Don't you hear their hate at night?


Monday, October 19, 2009

Moon Landing

1962: Informed about the likelihood of the Moon undergoing a sudden quantum wave collapse and disappearing -like Atlantis and Lemuria before- President Kennedy launches a crash program to put people on the Moon with hundreds of millions of people watching.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Memo to Writers

Call it Post Recovery Aggressivity Disorder. The word 'zombie' makes Alcor's lawyers draw blood.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Three of Four Moments

First, you realize that there won't be enough time in your life to do what you want.

Second, you understand that this has been, and will be, true all your life.

Third, and most unexpectedly, you realize that in fact you don't quite know what it is that you would want to do with the time you have left.

The fourth of your last four breaths slips away while you idly search for some way to pass away the time.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Occam's Brush

Unsinning, your soul withers. Restful, your frame decays. Pure of intent and clean of action, you dread the mirror without knowing why.

Do you ever suspect, at least a little, that 'picture' was a metaphor and out there is your Dorian Gray?


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tools of War

We were worried about going to war; only humans had invented the concept of soldiers. But we shouldn't have worried --- they had also invented the idea of mercenaries.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

How to trap time travelers

Very publicly build a planet-destroying machine (by October, 2009 there were three would-be timeline saviors in the holding cells beneath the never intended to be used Large Hadron Collider).

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Timing is Everything

Intrigue and slow-acting poisons were the specialties of the Docerno family. Ten minutes before his eighteenth birthday, Georgio Docerno gave his loyal son his well-earned antidote. Five minutes later the young Docerno was the oldest living Docerno male. Ten minutes after that he started to feel not quite well...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

CEO Eternal

ELIZA, money, and a lifetime of digital recordings meant the first dead e-billionaires left quite impressive ersatz selves behind. Deep inside the Uncanny Valley, mind you, but it minimized the hit to the stock price when they passed away, so pretty soon it was a standard requirement from venture capital.

There was but a step from recording to tampering, and from tampering to design. Soon the inspiring CEO went the way of the Head of State and the movie superstar.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Abundance Issues

I woke up to find on my desktop three new eyephones, seven aphrodisiac RFID tattoos, and what I hoped was a parody of a Nigerian sex toy.

I clearly needed a new firewall for my microfab.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

For Lack of Wax

It wasn't a surprise that data mining found patterns. But nobody had expected a closed form expression for individual-specific desirability, certainly not one that could be maximized by algebraic means.

The things found later in researchers' monitors looked nowhere near human, and there was terror in the faces of the corpses lying in front of them.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

How to Conquer the World

Asia first, all at once. Symbol-tiled Europe. Then the rest of the world in a sweeping tide. All except one city. On that city, one street. On that street one room.

Systematically, deliberately, and with no mercy or pause, Fred forgot the existence of everything but the room where he sat in quiet glory, the first man to conquer the world.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Nothing on TV, Cannot Sleep

If you had the time and inclination (but who does?) to check them word by word, you'd notice that Gideon Bibles are each subtly different. Sometimes is a name in a long family line, sometimes a sermon's detail.

In a few, very few, after the Resurrection comes something called the Coronation. If after noticing that you opened the curtains... but who does?


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Search

When he was gone we lied to ourselves that he had never been there. What else could we do? The pain was too much. But then he came back, and at the same moment we all knew that he was here again — and we all decided we would find where.

Some raze down houses and wait for survivors. Some lie on the grass searching the clouds. Some look for him in bedfuls of flesh, in white powders, in innocent laughter. I scout the museums myself.

We all know he's here. We all want to seek him out. Maybe we aren't all on the same page as to what we'll do (with him, to him, joyfully or not) once we succeed, but damn it, we are all looking for God.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Distance Dating

I wrote a haiku. It's a love poem, spelled with the first letter of the names of those I have killed.

It's addressed to no-one in particular, but I can't imagine not falling in love with whoever finds and answers it.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The King is Dead

If the castle had been better lighted, or more cheerful, or less sad. If clergy dared enter it. If the old King had had a less forceful personality, or a gentler death. But the castle was sad, cursed, and dark, and the King's death — at the moribund hands of his last surviving son — had been anything but kind.

It's a terrifying place, that castle, and a worse sight is its Lord. But his people take a dark pride in their spectral ruler, and there has been no dynastic war for as far as memory can go back.


Sunday, September 6, 2009

Not You

She's just a decision to your left, a single decision that didn't change her life but now transfixes her soul with pain. She knows what it was; she hardly thinks of anything else. When she looks in the mirror, she can see herself not having made that choice. She sees the respite she will never have.

You are right to feel nervous when you stare for too long at the eyes on the mirror. She hates you, and she's trying to find a way in.


Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Voice

You hadn't been thinking about the prospects of war. It was for the Government to decide and for soldiers to fight. You kept aloof and cool, and your mind was elsewhere while you opened the next message in your phone.

Do You Want The War?

asked the message.

Yes        No

It took you a couple of seconds to understand what you were reading, but only at a conscious level. The rest of you had already read the message and answered the question without deciding to, your hand tilting minutely to the option your heart favored. Just a little bit. Enough for your phone's accelerometer to register it and send it forth to be tallied.

The message disappeared. You stood where you were, trying to reclaim the feeling of being cool and aloof. Nobody on the street was meeting anybody else's eyes.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009


There's this cave in Greece --- it turns out Plato was a very literal guy. Poets and mystics used it as a door, until an NSA front bought and fenced it up.

P=NP, but no mathematician will ever find the proof. It's ideally locked up in a safe deposit box.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Morituri Rex

Sometimes you wonder how it must have felt to be King of England a century ago. No real power. Little influence. Few close relatives trying to kill you. It must have been paradise. But you carry in your DNA the Royal Cryptographic Keys, which might as well be a molecular target. Poisons, snipers, lovers with knives. Pretty much everything has been tried against you or one of your body doubles before, and you still survive. As the eldest child of the reigning King, you stand to become Queen when he dies.

If he dies before you do. You used to suspect he'd rather kill you than hope you will be patient and wait for his death. Some of the latest assassination attempts against you, after all, had been rather old-fashioned. But now you know. He is trying to kill you --- he just fired his bullet a long time ago.

There's an undiagnosed genetic propensity to suicide cleverly hidden in your well-designed DNA, and the gun you always keep under your pillow seems to call your hand.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Long Shot

Teleportation never went beyond a few grams and a few thousand miles. Not enough for any industrial application. Perfect to put a small explosive bullet inside someone's brain. It was a nightmare for the Secret Service. The future would never see a President in public again.

Secret Service agents are highly trained specialists. It wasn't their fault that they didn't understand the subtleties of the relativistic limit of quantum entanglement. Not many physicists understood it, either.

One did. MIT graduate, born in Havana. He had never forgiven John Kennedy for the second, and finally successful, invasion of Cuba, and dying in bed with Marylin Monroe had been too good a death for him.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

After Erwin almost saved the world

"I'm probably harmless," meowed Schrodinger's malevolent cat. Without asking herself why Erwin had boxed him with a bunch of radium, naive, cat-loving Pandora believed him.

He had been the only field fluctuation in an otherwise best of possible worlds. With him out of the box, everything became true again at the same time. He closed his least-evil eye and picked up a more interesting world for the wave to collapse to.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009


"I lost years of my life on this," said the man. I smiled.

"So sue me," I said. At most he would get some money, a tiny part of what I had gotten from him. And the proceedings themselves would take years, certainly...

I blinked, suddenly aware of having been daydreaming. Nothing around me seemed familiar, and neither, oh god, did my now wrinkled hand.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

In the Shell

Vampires didn't care, as it's not uncommon to live at night. Neither did werewolves, already used to their monthly getaway.

But for ghosts the Internet was an undreamed-of gift, an electronic path to mankind different from dreams and the outdated seance. On the Internet, nobody knows how solid are the fingers composing words.

And it turns out you can haunt people, too, drive them to madness or at least despair. Although most ghosts are unhappy about being called 'trolls.'