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Showing posts from 2016

Luck of the Draw

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Sergov came from a family that had held a space in painfully close to the summit of the social pyramid in agonizingly close proximity to the very apex of power.  He was the second of three sons and even though he was the most unremarkable of the three he was still his mother's favorite. Both of his brothers eclipsed him. Their overlapping shadows rendered him almost invisible high society. He was a relatively handsome young man, on the taller side, with a straight back, and slim build but he never proved himself to be adept at anything. He had no innate interests, nothing excited or impassioned him,  and when it came to managing his own affairs, he was gravely incompetent.
This terrified his father who knew maintaining the status of his name would fall on his sons. Since Sergov was incapable of distinguishing himself, it was decided the veneer of prestige would have to suffice, and he as awarded a position in the Empress's palace guard. It was a position that came complete wi…

A Gentleman's Wager

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The massive carrier was an easy target even from over 900 kilometers away. The launch team never even saw their prey, they simply fired the weapon into the sky, packed up, and departed. It wasn’t until they could hear the screaming warhead through the thick steel hull of the ship did the helpless crew have any idea it was heading their way.
The rocket tore a massive burning breach into the side of the ship. Sea water poured in through the burning gash quickly drowning sailors trapped in locked compartments that became reinforced steel tombs.
Jets trying to escape the subsequent chain of munitions explosions crowded the burning flight deck. Their afterburners shot jets of flames that consumed the scattered crews on the deck. Some planes took off without enough room and plummeted into the waves below while others smashed into each other going off the ramp.  Burning sailors jumped from the ship by the hundreds. Thier smoldering bodies bobbed up and down in the gentle waves.
There was a …

Zuruck Zur Mutter

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The launch pad was built on a pedestal that loomed in the center of the colony like the enigmatic temples left by extinct societies that litter the revered home planet.  It had become hollowed ground.  A sacred refuge from the encroaching desolation of the industrial graveyard where the cannibalized corpses of mega complexes quietly decomposing.
 A ship stood vertically at the very center of the smooth summit like a colossal ornament that pointed towards their native home in the stars. Construction of the towering ship was near completion. The pilgrims gathered around the glowing site to bask in its light. The ship’s idling engines breathed a stream of fire scorching the platform. Tremors emanated out from under the growling titanium behemoth.
The sacred site was the backdrop for the final sermon delivered by their prophet. He stood on an evaluated stage built in front of the elevated launch pad. Painted on the wall behind him was a mural of a blue orb with green amoeba-like shapes s…

Your Big Day!

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Every painful gasp pushed the encroaching darkness away before in drew back slightly tighter than the last time. The colors of the room became bright and saturated. The dull pink walls bled into the white tile floor. It felt like a knife twisting in his chest while thousands of burning needles repeatedly stabbed him in the arm. He splashed some cold water from the sink onto his burning face, but there was no relief.
Half measures weren't going to work this time.
There was a pressure building behind his eyes, like his head was in the iron grip of a closing vice. Each breath was more labored than the last. Soon the once involuntary function became impossible to force.
This was it. It wasn't “heartburn”, or a “panic attack.”
This was the terminus. This was the ten-second countdown to his last breath.
It was now his time. He had spent the majority of his life thinking death was something that happened to other people, but now it was him heading for a coffin. His decomposing corps…
"I'm fine with a totalitarian regime as long as it happens they hate all the same things I do."

Dissonance

What was left of the marine company was reunited as old men. The reunion was a highly publicized spectacle every bit as staged and scripted as the memory they had been ordered to re-live. The collection of ex-soldiers on the cusp of old age were part of the legacy left by a war older than themselves and likely to go on long after the last remaining leather neck was lowered into his grave. Some were lost during a tour of duty, but most perished after returning home. For some it was over quickly with a gunshot or an overdose others went through a more gradual chemically induced death.
Ben Harper now a 48-year-old office manager for a major auto insurance company. He had reintegrated back into civilian life with relative success. Because of what happened during his tour of duty he was prohibited from ever discussing his wartime experience. The ghosts of the past were his alone to confront, and he thought the best way to exercise those demons was to act like they didn't exist. He perf…

Drought

Many have warned we're in danger of surrendering too many aspects of our lives to technology, but what does this potentially malicious intelligence already control?

Crystal was a heavy set woman. She was well into mid-life, she wore glasses to compensate for her steadily deteriorating vision, and smiled with teeth stained by years of coffee and nicotine. She spent roughly seven and a half hours five days a week seated at a small worse space created by wood paneled dividers on what was essentially a very long desk.
It was in this vast call center where she decided to spend her remaining times as a fully cognizant and functioning adult. Constantly typing destroyed the joints in her hands and the extended periods of time sitting were causing her blood to clot, but then again the job offered her a modest but relatively dependable retirement plan as well as limited medical coverage.
For a minor co-pay her worn teeth could be yanked, her hot flashes elevated. She could treat her steadi…

Passive Resistance

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(This image is originally from Men's Health http://www.menshealth.com/sex-women/sex-robots)
Her hair was a shimmering golden waterfall that broke over shoulders before slightly curling back up towards their source. She had glittering emerald eyes, and full pouting lips painted a dark rouge color. She had no name only a model number and while parts of her were synthesized to the point of being human in the clinical and biological sense most of her was a silicone and latex mold treated with a composite of paints to appear like lightly and evenly tanned flesh.
The voluptuous shell covered a metallic skeleton welded together with light,  very durable,  and yet very malleable alloys, which housed the processors and circuitry and that gave life to the mechanical puppet. The sexual Pinocchio represented a new epoch in the relationship between humanity and the binary digital universe that was now facilitating the evolution of pseudo-organisms that were twisted reflections of the species …
"We really dug ourselves into a hole and I don't think anyone will realize that hole's a grave until after the dirt has already been shoveled back in."

Password Protected

Technology may destroy us but perhaps not in the way we're all expecting....

Cut deep into the base of a mountain range was an impregnable concrete labyrinth sitting on several tons of cold steel springs that could absorb the tremors of five megaton blast. One of the caverns housed a control room that gave a small team of technicians and analysts a panoramic view of every mile of the sky over the continent. Every day they vigilantly scanned the horizons for an approaching nuclear storm. Even with their vast network of sensors and collective knowledge and experience it was determined to relegate most of the duties of the watchmen of the apocalypse to an automated system that could comprehend the implications of the constant stream of data constantly flowing through the fiber optic neurons.
A job where only one day in your whole career that probably will never come will be the only day that's any different, even when that thing was Armageddon manages to leave those assigned to i…
"It doesn't matter to people that things are fine. Just that they're normal"

Inspiration

The impact a revolutionary technology has had on society can only be thoroughly examined in retrospect. Regardless of what changes for better or worse peoples lives will be altered by what it brings to bare. This is the third story I have written about the consequences of a scientific breakthrough that allows light to reanimate.
The first was titled "The 3D Dead" the account of how the discovery was made and "Right to Die" an anecdote about how a dead man found himself tormented by his new station in the world as a ghost and his family's inability to let him go. The following is another story about what happens when our cherished civic institutions finally had to decide how society would face a new world where the dead are never really gone.....

The studio was a carnival of human misery where anonymous spectators filled the seats to entertain themselves with the worse aspects of the human condition. The producers fished out the most depraved and shattered souls…

I Am A Digital Girl

The artifice of the holidays was distilled into an even more synthetic version via virtual reality. Families having long since physically disintegrating could now meet remotely in a digitally rendered scene. Physically Kelly was in her apartment in New York, but her neural synapses were processing the sights, sounds, and smells of Thanksgiving in her parent's house in the suburbs Chicago. The software rendered her as flesh to her parents. The embedded code manipulating their neural faculties simulated every detail down to the warmth of a hug which it was able to estimate to within less than a tenth of a degree.
Kelly and her parents sat across from each other in an uneasy silence. Her father ate looking down at his plate, and her mother nervously pecked at her food while watching her heavy eyelids flutter while her chin, resting in her palm slowly sank further and further down toward the table.
“Kelly are you alright?” Her mother finally asked with a tone of concern.
“Huh? Oh yeah…

Small Talk

Kinnin's cell was part of a multilayered concrete labyrinth that houses thousands of captives inside its sunless confines. The inmates denied the sky lived according to the dictates of the electric lamps that buzzed overhead. Faint sounds of humanity carried through the iron door. Diminutive echoes penetrated the cell before dissipating into the thick silence. Kinnin was in his late 20's. He was energetic with a congenial and outgoing personality that made the isolation of prison all the more punishing. He was ceaseless in his drive to mitigate the torment. He immersed himself in literature, even occasionally reading sports statistics so he could find common ground with the guards that patrolled the corridors of caged humans.
Kinnin became friends with a guard named Beck. They would have daily discussions that weren't always terribly interesting to him but given this was Kinnin's only human contact would have to suffice.
All their chats were conducted through a slot w…

Red Flags

Some day soon....

#sexbotsrising! 

The cold rain falling from the washed out autumn sky inundated the ground and turned the earth into a soft spongy surface. The churning mud regurgitated the body left in a shallow grave between the trees just yards from a paved gravel trail.

Her fingers curling out from beneath the liquid soil was the first thing the woman walking her dog noticed. She reported the corpse to the police who quickly descended on the scene. When the layers of decaying organic matter were shoveled out, a female body was found in the shallow pit.

Frayed wiring sprung from her broken joints; her perfectly apportioned limbs were twisted and smashed, she was covered with jagged lacerations. There wasn't a drop of blood and her synthetic flesh hadn't been touched by any of the scavengers living in the dirt that feast on decay. The detectives and medical personnel dispatched to the scene pulled open the gaping wounds and found a polymer skeleton covered in a silicone mol…

#Retaliation

The titanium warheads raining from the clouds like the falling stars foretold in revelations unleashed a global inferno. The flaming horizons billowed a thick choking smog that consumed the sky. The torments brought by the Promethean fires were a final punishment for the last kingdoms on earth that thought the substance of gods was malleable in their hands.
President Carter had spent Armageddon in a subterranean bunker. Separated from the world by several meters on reinforced concrete isolated from everyone besides his top advisors. Information filtered in through the remnants of the digital network. They were like a severed head taking its final few blinking glances at the world.
After 35 minutes they were all still alive, so it seemed the secret was safe, and the commander in chief and his brain trust could get to work solving this latest crisis. Many on the staff relished the idea of going down in history as being part of the cabinet that unified the nation in history's darkest…

Bulla

The mountain of putrefying refuse was filled with the tiny bones of discarded infants. Every layer of the garbage mount was proliferated with their decomposing remains. All the way down to the very base of the rotting pyramid which had degraded into a foul liquid. As the city that the dump serviced expanded, so the peak grew higher and higher. As wealth poured in and people prospered more children found their way into the mound.
Lilya lost her parents at the age of nine. She hadn't been unceremoniously dropped into the pile as a baby, but without a family, she had lost her only tether to the wider world and found herself going where all discarded things go.
She lived off what she could scavenge from the fetid mass. She competed with the insects and other animals roaming the edges of the city for any edible morsels that might be hidden in the pile as well as with the other people who had no place in the civilization whose trash they fed on.
The sun was rising over the city. The tru…

Replanting The Tree

The drones emerged from their cocoons of titanium and concrete and took to the skies to fulfill their collective purpose. The fully autonomous airborne drones had been lying dormant under the earth for nearly a decade. In all twenty-seven of them had been prepared, when the time arrived 19 of them rose from their bunkers. The way the solar powered machines glided quietly and gracefully through the open sky was almost serene, the scavengers, tribesman, and nomads who caught a glimpse of the all seeing eye sailing through the sky could only speculate about what they were or where they might have come from.
They didn't know the mechanical Phoenix arisen from the ashes of the old world only had a very limited lifespan. Once their power ran out or any part of them failed mechanically wherever they crashed would be their final resting place and in a relatively short time they would all be gone.
The airborne machine swept the vast countryside for any signs of organized society. It was h…

Electric Anthropology

By the time a more advanced race dwelling among the distant stars traversed the black gulf of space and landed on earth, they found the species that had reached out into the endless void in the hope they would find they weren't alone in the darkness. The civilization that heard this cry took the initiative as a sign humanity was a species that desired mutual prosperity and cooperation and were at once eager to respond to the call.
The grand cities that had once been the steel citadels of humanities most complex social institutions were quiet ruins, and all that remained of the simian creatures were their slightly curved vertebrates and hollow skulls.
There were some salvageable remnants. The globe was littered with intact artifacts still serviceable long after it's creators vanished.  All the information generated by humans had been digitized and inscribed into the microchips of plastic devices. Everything any researcher could ever know about the enigmatic homo sapiens was loc…

What Are the Odds?

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Sophia was on the cusp of her mid-thirties and already had achieved far more over the course of her relatively short career than her ambitious younger self could ever have expected. Her practice was in a gleaming Manhattan highrise.  The carefully crafted space coupled with her reputation was enough to attract the sort of clients that could pay the rates that supported a lavish lifestyle.  She accumulated enough wealth as a confidant to the city's elite she was able to live like them. Her money trickled down among an army of service staff that handled various aspects of her life. People made her appointments, took her calls, cleaned her loft, delivered her groceries and handled her taxes. Just over two years ago she had saved her engagement thanks to the advice of a teenage boy who believed he was Adolf Hitler. He was, of course, a rising star in his field and at the time seemed like the centerpiece for a life anyone would be envious of, but her steady ascendancy turned into a me…