Jason Erik Lundberg‘s fiction is forthcoming from Subterranean Magazine and Polyphony 7.

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

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

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

Archive for the ‘Rudi Dornemann’ Category

Quis Custodiet?

Monday, January 17th, 2011

The drones came and circled, glided off. Never fewer than three in view; never more than ten. The border was a showpiece for the strategy of Mutually Assured Detection, and I did my bit to count and verify and uphold the treaty’s red tape.

Rain came with the dusk, and when my touchscreen chimed the official end of daylight, I retreated to my hut. While I waited for my self-heating supper to cool, I watched the light wash over the hut, the glass block walls and ceiling filtering a hazy glow over my bedroll, the binder of daily code settings, and my little supper.

I was just realizing that the walls had been midnight dark for at least ten minutes when a voice broke in. “Panoptico employees! In today’s realtime bidding, we have lost the north-central border region contract. Please proceed immediately to an approved exit trail. Panoptico…”

Before it finished repeating, I’d dropped my spork, grabbed my personal effects pack, and was running down the trail. One of the drones had been assigned to my trail; its spotlight would have been helpful, but apparently we’d already been cut off from the premium GPS, so the creosote bushes and rocks about fifteen feet to my left were daylight bright rather than the ones I ran through and tripped over.

When I got to the collection point, four other watchers were waiting, nursing their own bruises and cuts. I stood in the cold, tried not to think about where I’d be assigned next, and how maybe it was time to move to something more steady like drone maintenance, or leave the company completely, like my friends back home were always telling me. Not much time to fret or think, though, since one of the drones soon hovered over in speakermode: “Panoptico employees! We have completed a merger with SeeAndBeSeen LLC, and acquired all their contracts, including the NCBR. Your previous assignments are reinstated.”

I trudged back up the mountain. Halfway, though, I had a change of heart—I’d done this long enough, given Panoptico enough years of sunburn and lonely boredom. Time for a change.

Five steps down the path, my touchpad chimed. I don’t know how they got the cameras there, but there was no question of what they’d captured, or who.

I turned around and resumed my uphill climb, hoping nothing had gotten at what remained of my supper.

Twice Nine Reasons to Return

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

1. The houseboat in the river district, full of mementos of a long life.

2. The morning chaos of the market street.

3. The omnipresent icy light here in the dimension of misplaced djinn, so cold, so piercingly bright.

4. The quiet of the reading rooms in the Great Library.

5. The taste of fresh coffee.

6. The terms of the bargain, which seem, the more that you reflect on them (and what else is there to do in this place?) unfair.

7. The bonus wish you’re sure the djinni promised if you went along with the body swap.

8. The smell of fresh coffee.

9. That it wasn’t exactly a swap, since you were the only one with an actual body.

10. The taste or smell of anything.

11. Summer evenings on the roof of your brother’s house, looking out over the smoky, jagged cityscape horizon.

12. The way your nose itches even though you must be a roiling cloud of sourceless fire like the djinni was, and therefore lacking either a nose or anything to scratch it with.

13. The quiet back corner of the café into which you once fled to escape a downpour of winter rain, but could never find again later.

14. All the things you don’t remember regretting when you gave them up for a scholar’s life–a wife, family, a quiet life untainted by forbidden knowledge–that you realize now you do regret.

15. A song you heard in that café, the refrain of which keeps running through your mind.

16. Your mind which, although increased and expanded by having been translated into this fiery form, is still caught up in things like café songs you haven’t heard in a dozen years.

17. All the things that ancient and regretless being could be doing, right now, in your body, or rather the body that had been yours.

18. The likelihood, small, but worth pursuing, that someone else in this place is willing to make a bargain that will take you back to the world and life you traded away–all your accumulated secret knowledge must be worth something to the inhabitants of this in-between zone.

« Older Posts | Newer Posts »