Plugs

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

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

Alex Dally MacFarlane’s story “The Devonshire Arms” is available online at Clarkesworld.

Edd Vick’s latest story, “The Corsair and the Lady” may be found in Talebones #37.

Connected / Chapter 7: Disconnect

by Jonathan Wood

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The following is the final chapter of the flash serial, “Connected.” Search for the tag “Connected” to find other chapters.

They find Morello surrounded by the bodies.

“My son,” he says, by way of an excuse. “They put my Caul in a coma.”

One hundred forty-seven dead. All terrorists. Responsible for thirty-six deaths and sixty-two comas. Including Morello’s son. One forty-seven to ninety-eight. Morello takes that as a win.

The Vigilant Vigilante, the pressfeeds dub him. Rogue AI leak parts of his recorded feed. Children relive his moments of rage and revenge. They hack Caul’s feed too. Five hundred bucks for five minutes of coma static. It’s a seller’s market.

They put him on trial. The pressfeeds go wild. They blame themselves, music, society. A society of hate they say.

“No,” Morello says. “I did it for love.”

With Morello, society is on trial. When everyone is connected, when the thoughts of parents, siblings, friends, co-workers, celebrities, presidents, all mutter in the back of your head, who is innocent? Who is guilty?

And Morello sits in his cell. And his son lies in his coma.

The first jury is hung. Perfectly balanced. Mind connects to mind and fails to find black and no white. Just gray.

There is no answer, no simplicity. Only fuel for a media funeral pyre. And eventually that burns out.

Finally the government lawyer comes for him. “We cannot hold you,” he says. “We cannot let you go.” The lawyer’s meatsack wears round polished glasses. He outlines the compromise.

#

Caul’s hospital room is cold and white. Caul’s meatsack is two years older than when it first lay down. Morello lies down next to it. Nurses attach wires and evict his soul.

#

Caul’s mind is cold and white. His body does not move. Morello is the ghost in its machine. “Caul,” he says, “I want to tell you a story. I want to talk to you about love.” And he speaks into the white blankness of his son’s mind, and he tells him of ties stronger than wireless signals, and what it drove him to do.

#

Outside, Morello’s wife sits and watches what passes for justice. She sits alone. Disconnected. And she does not share the moment when her son’s hand twitches.

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