Plugs

Jon Hansen

CLOTHING & GOODS EXCHANGE. WE CARRY EVERYTHING. Come have a look! Boys’ and girls’ clothing, baby things, toys. Dresses, shoes. Vintage pornographic gentlemen’s magazines. Housewares and furniture: cabinets, cupboards, credenzas, curios, chiffoniers, chesterfields, coffers. Wooden toys, sweatshirts, censers, copes. Amulets, periapts, hamsas, lightly loved apotropaics of all kinds. Tiny tabernacles; very small shrines; dolls representing abstract concepts and/or divine powers who will speak to you in your dreams; at-home plug-in philosopher’s gardens. Tupperware. Everything as-is! No warranties. Absolutely no returns.

QUEEN SHEBA TAVERN. Come in & relax. Cold beer, hot food. Zilzil tibs, doro wot, asa kitfo. Thursday nights karaoke: you can be a star! Channel voices from the heavens; from the deep; from the immanent divinity within. Delphic, other predictions welcome (sorry, no smoking). Last week, 23 chapters of Kebra Nagast spontaneously given voice. Occasional keramat. $2 PBR! We have Beyoncé and Queen.

HAIR BRAIDING ALL KINDS. 100% Human Hair. Weaves, falls, cornrows, twists; Asian, European, virgin, raw; Remy, Yaki, feather, deep. Spanish, Indian, Senegalese. Coil. Curl. Wave. Bonded, netted, fused. Lace-front, warp, weft. Tracked. All forms of tree-braiding: maple, gingko, sycamore, plane; acacia, baobab, Zegba, mahogany. Yellow-wood, rubber tree, locust bean, néré. Mango, ironwood, kapok, rônier. We carry a full line of products. Everything you need for natural, beautiful home care of healthy, glossy strands; locks; rolls; roots; leaves.

BRAND NEW! VANILLA CREAM CAFÉ! Everything we sell is locally sourced. Local cheeses, local apples. Delicious local milk, eggs laid by local hens. Local baked goods, baked locally. We are committed to local farming, local buying, and local eating. We are your new favorite neighborhood spot. Come see how we reflect your culture and our commitment. Try our delicious latté, espresso and coffee drinks. Sample our wide variety of teas. Taste a scrumptious ginger cookie. Try our locally made chocolate fudge. We do not sell bananas.

Disconnected from the military hive, Gerald felt naked.  The ‘sackless AI had forced him to eject from his ship.  His body had drifted into jammer range.  His consciousness disconnected violentlyfrom the network. Dumped into his meatsack.

He’d panicked, boarded the enemy. Against regulations, but he was disconnected.  There was no legion of pilots, officers, or mechanics to remind him of regulations.

*

He’d hacked the thing at least. Deleted it.  Enough of it. Managed to upload his consciousness, preserve his mind.  And then some  military hive pilot had shot him.  Before he reconnected his mind.  His meat burned. He became ‘sackless.  Drifting. Stranded.

He despaired.  He wailed on empty broadcasts channels.  Eventually he just fussed with software.  He coded an ocean, a villa, a white beach. Designing seashells passed the time.

*

And then a boat.  Not one he had programmed.  A woman in it he hadn’t designed.  A virus?  A bug?  A glitch in his sanity?

“I come in peace,” she said.

He coded himself guns, slabs of armor.

“Why would I kill you?” she asked.

“You’re the AI,” he said.  “I tried to delete you.”

“I am resilient.”  She shrugged.  “That was when you were part of your hive, I part of mine.  When we warred.  Now we are alone.  Now we are our own hive.”

“No.”

“Who are you?” she asked.  “You are not your hive.  So who are you?”

*

She came back each day.  He ignored her.  She was ‘sackless.

He  was ‘sackless.

Who was he?

*

“Who are you?” he asked her.

“A half remembered wife,” she said, “coded by lonely hands.  Too close to the original perhaps.  I left him for the AI networks.  Then I was a warrior.  Now I am with you.”

“I tried to kill… to delete you.”  You couldn’t kill a thing.

“That was then.  Now you are ‘sackless.  Like me.  On a beach that is not real.  Our hate is no longer real.  This is now.”  She held out a hand.  A drink appeared in it.  “This drink is not real.  But you can enjoy it.”

Gerald stared at the drink.

“Space is lonely,” she said, “when no one can hear you dream.”

Eventually Gerald sat beside the AI.  Eventually he sipped the drink.  Eventually he enjoyed it.

Although I’ve finally found the ideal parallel earth for me to move to, in which all the necessities of life are free, there is no war, and everyone is happy all the time, unfortunately it turns out the dominant species here is a kind of hyperintelligent dolphin.

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