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.

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

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

Sara Genge’s story “Godtouched” may be found in Strange Horizons.

Archive for the ‘Connected’ Category

Connected / Chapter 7: Disconnect

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

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.

Connected / Chapter 6: An Army of Me

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

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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