Plugs

Jonathan Wood’s story “Notes on the Dissection of an Imaginary Beetle” from Electric Velocipede 15/16 is available online.

Susannah Mandel’s short story “The Monkey and the Butterfly” is in Shimmer #11. She also has poems in the current issues of Sybil’s Garage, Goblin Fruit, and Peter Parasol.

Kat Beyer’s Cabal story “A Change In Government” has been nominated for a BSFA award for best short fiction.

Trent Walters, poetry editor at A&A, has a chapbook, Learning the Ropes, from Morpo Press.

Connected / Chapter 2: Lost signal

by Jonathan Wood

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The following is the second chapter of an ongoing flash serial, “Connected.”  Search for the tag “Connected” to find other chapters.  Subscribe to the Daily Cabal RSS feed for a new chapter every 2 weeks.

Two bodies now.  Both disconnected from the grid.  Both suicides.  The first one fried his wires.  The second went for an analogue exit – a bullet rupturing his meatsack.

Why do it?

Morello contemplates this while his ‘sack eats supper and he and his wife patch a corporate comedy stream.  Somewhere deep he feels his son, Caul’s adrenaline–steering a steelsack through laser fire.  He can taste the diluted flavors from some chef’s feed his mother is streaming.

Why do it?  Why disconnect?  The concept terrifies Morello. It pushed two men over the edge.

#

“They’re wackjobs.”  The theory courtesy Chambers, proving himself an adept handler of the on-scene detectives motor cortex.

A third body.  Still no sign of a crime.   But a pattern is emerging.

Then a newsfeed obliterates everything.

“Urgent: Lost signal in SoHo.”  The message pans across his vision.  A pause before he grasps its enormity.  Three blocks.  Three blocks disconnected.  SoHo. His son’s ‘sack is there.  Physical training.

His son.  Caul.

Lost signal.

He ditches the crime scene.  Slams into his ‘sack.  Selects macros to pilot it home.  Then he’s off, the white noise scream of his son’s feed echoing in his ears.  Smacks into a rental steelsack.  Fights through disorientation.  AIs are already setting up a cordon on the area.  There are bodies on the ground.  Staring eyes.  They try to restrain him, but servo-driven limbs send him through.

One step.  Two-

Lost signal.

He’s thrown out into his own flesh and meat.  Like a physical blow.  His meatsack reels on the subway.  He has no time for this.  Dials up another steelsack.

He waits this time.  He can see the steelsack he piloted over the cordon.  Lying there.  Lifeless.

It’s five minutes before they restore signal.  Five more minutes Caul lies there.  Alone.

And then… “Signal restored.”

He runs, leaps, drains the steelsack’s power in a surge of movement.

Caul is curled fetally.  But whole.  Shaking like when they were having problems with the filters and the night terrors still got through.  Morello scoops him up.  Holds him.

“It’s me, Caul,” the steelsack’s speakers stutter.  “It’s dad.  I have you now.  I have you now.”

Caul does not respond.  Caul curls there in his arms and does not say a word.  And still one question burns in Morello’s mind.

Why do it?

But he will have his answers.

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