Plugs

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

Jason Fischer has a story appearing in Jack Dann’s new anthology Dreaming Again.

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.

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

Connected / Chapter 6: An Army of Me

by Jonathan Wood

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The following is the sixth 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 week or two.

Morello holds his son’s hand.  Two months Caul was in the coma now, since he was disconnected from his tribe.  A month since AI counselors talked Morello out of retribution.  He feels his wife’s grief through the wires like a toothache.  Feels a hundred sympathetic thoughts.  His tribe.  Caul’s.

He leaves his meatsack holding Caul’s hand.  His mind leaves one tribe for another.  Morello to Detective Morello.  The hum of police work thrums in his bones.

Abruptly: all hands on deck.  A steelsack depot hacked.  Rogue minds piloting sleek silver bodies.

Morello’s ‘sack is close.  He slams back into his flesh, starts running.  He sees steelsacks  tumbling past.  Hundreds clogging the street.  Too many to stop.

He pulls up security drone vid feeds.  Everywhere.  They’re coming from everywhere.  Converging on a residential block.

And then the army stops.  Its first wave collapses.  And he has seen these lifeless bodies before.  These mindless bodies.  Disconnected.  All around the buildings they pile up.  Wave after wave of bodies.  A demarcation zone of disconnection.

A steel body waits there for him.  Morello readies his firearm.  The steelsack holds out an arm.

“We have found them,” it says.  A familiar voice.  He tries to place it.  “They took your son.  But we cannot get closer.  They exist in the gaps of our knowledge, where we cannot go.  We can only point the way, but you must walk the path.”

“Who?” he asks.  “Who are you?”

“You.”

Morello doesn’t understand.  But then the steelsack sweeps aside his firewalls and he sees.  A new tribe.  His own.  Every steelsack steered by a copy of himself.

“The AI.  The counselors.  They copied you.”

Illegal digital copies of himself.  Sackless.  All working for the retribution he isn’t.  Unable to act in meatspace unless connected.  And here they lie.  Disconnected.  Over and over.  Like Caul.  Over and over.

He thinks of violence and a thousand carefully programmed reprimands spring into his mind.  This is giving in.  This is dangerous.  Revenge is not the basis of a sound society.

He looks at his hand.  It remembers the feel of Caul’s palm.  Skin-to-skin.  His pistol is in it now.  Society disapproves.  But he does not care about society now.  He cares about his own.  His tribe.  Caul’s tibe.  So Morello climbs the wall.  And Morello opens fire.

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