Plugs

Angela Slatter’s story ‘Frozen’ will appear in the December 09 issue of Doorways Magazine, and ‘The Girl with No Hands’ will appear in the next issue of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet.

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.

Ken Brady’s latest story, “Walkers of the Deep Blue Sea and Sky” appears in the Exquisite Corpuscle anthology, edited by Jay Lake and Frank Wu.

Luc Reid writes about the psychology of habits at The Willpower Engine. His new eBook is Bam! 172 Hellaciously Quick Stories.

Archive for June, 2010

The Information Age

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

A holographic movie poster levitated, advertised The Meltdown, made half of New York simmer and boil.  Lyssa Vanmaher observed from an outdoor café, sipping a double double espresso  She flickered through the response statistics on her contact lenses. If she asked Jasper not to get the viral upload? “94% chance he’d still go.”  If she told Jasper she’d marry him? “67% chance he’d still go.” If she knocked him out with a tire iron, stuffed him in her trunk…? “89% chance he’d escape and still go.”  Bastard!

“Who are you mumbling about?”  Jasper leaned into her space, kissed her nose from across the wrought-iron table.  He grinned.

“Inconsiderate jerks.”

He draped his coat over the back of his chair and seated himself with a whuff, which made Lyssa tingle irrationally.  Jasper stretched his hands toward hers, open.  “Marry me?”

Lyssa flicked a tableside button, canceling out sound waves from entering or leaving their table.  She opened her mouth, closed it again.  She said, “What’s the point.”

“We’re in love.”  He held his hands out a beat longer before withdrawing.  “I’m in love.”

“Eventually, I wouldn’t be married to you.  You wouldn’t be you.”

“Can’t step into the same river twice.”

“Drop the clichés.”  Her face relaxed.  “Help me get something out of my trunk.”

“We’ve talked this to death.  If you won’t marry, a date. Before I go.”

Lyssa swept back her hair.

“A kiss?”

NY continued to bubble, bubble, and toil.

“A hug?”  Jasper stood, scraping the chair’s iron legs across the cement.  His fingers arched upon the table like flying buttresses. Lyssa froze as his forearms bulged with the scent of violence.

Jasper shrugged into his coat, drank her in, left.

Alyssa’s lens monitor belatedly informed her: His body language boded not violence but impotence.  It never ceased to amaze her how differently men and women viewed the same events.   She stood, she sat.  New York’s boiling cauldron semi-hypnotized her.  How did one violently cook a thing for weeks?  There had to be a loop.  Nothing goes on forever.  Once she spotted the loop and broke the illusion, she could go.

Night fell.  Waiters rolled up, asked if she would like a refill. They took it out of her credit chip.

The sun arose.  The loop didn’t appear.  Maybe it followed the pattern of entropy.  Everything decays, comes to an end, breaks down.  She’d just wait for that to happen.

The Renaissance of Believing

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

CEO Lawrence Peachtree examined the innocuous-looking pill. It was gray, small, looking like a hundred other experimental drugs. He looked up at his chief chemist. “The biggest thing since Zoloft, you said.” He palmed the tablet and flipped it into the air like a coin. Caught it. “Explain.”

Gadalee Bass could practically taste the biggest success of her career. “Depression. Before it was identified as a disease, it was merely people feeling a bit blue. But then pharmaceutical companies brought drugs to market to, ah, ‘cure’ depression. Now one in ten Americans takes antidepressants.” She counted them off on her fingers. “Zoloft, Xanax, Effexor, Wellbutrin, Prozac, Paxil, Lexapro, Celexa –”

Peachtree held up a hand. “You’ve found a cure for something that wasn’t a disease… yet.”

“We did. Religion.”

“Religion?”

“There’s a part of the brain, the parietal lobe-” she tapped her head just above and behind her right ear, “-part of the cerebrum. Researchers found that function in the right parietal lobe is different between religious adherents and nonbelievers. Couple an effective drug there with one that affects the limbic system and we can alter religiosity.”

“Adverse reactions?”

“We haven’t tested on humans yet, but side effects would likely include loss of inhibitions, early-onset Alzheimers, and a deficit to the patient’s spatial sense. We expect reactions in less than one per thousand, but the brain is tricky. There could be unintended consequences.”

Peachtree, after a moment of silence, said, “Let’s see if I’ve got this right. You want a clinical trial on a drug that takes away religious belief.” He shook his head. “Do you realize how many Baptists there are on our board of directors?” He started to push the tablet away, across the desk, but looked up to find Bass smiling.

“Ah,” she said, “That’s why there’s another pill. That one attacks religious fervor.” She pulled a small box out of her pocket and revealed an identical tablet. “This one aids it.”

Peachtree returned her smile. “Now you’re talking.”

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