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.

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

Read Rudi’s story “Detail from a Painting by Hieronymus Bosch” at Behind the Wainscot.

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

Archive for the ‘Connected’ Category

Connected / Chapter 5: Me, myself, and I

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The following is the fourth 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.

What is a soul without a man?

Morello watches himself.  He writes subroutines in his own code to keep an eye on the man that was—that is—David Morello.  He is something else.  Something less.  An illegal copy.  A digital ghost.

The man Morello goes about his business, does as he’s told.  He does not hunt down the men who put his—Morello’s–kid into a coma.  He does seek them as they fill hospitals with the traumatically disconnected.  People violently ripped from the network, from each others lives, abruptly alone in the world.  Their souls bound solely to the flesh.  Only human.

And so what is he, this iMorello?  Without his meatsack?  More than human?  Less?

He pursues his foes, frustrating himself as he discovers how much they live away from the net he is now inextricably wed to.  He performs tasks for the ‘sackless, the AI underground waiting for emancipation.  He drops data, tracks code, establishes obscure IPs.  He learns.  He discovers how to hack his old life.  He insinuates himself in his wife’s feed, his own feed, in the white noise of his son’s feed.  He feels muscles that are not his.  He tries to remember what that felt like.

All he can talk to are the AI, and they are no help.  They have no memories of what he speaks about, only jealousies.

But as he follows dead-end leads, he begins to see patterns, familiar codes.  Someone else is on this path.  Someone much like him.  A lonely soul cries out for its match.  And as much as iMorello seeks the disconnectors, he seeks this other seeker.

And then, plumbing a dock’s databases, iMorello meets his shadow. iMorello, meet iMorello.  Two identical copies.  They look at each other.  Two reflections escaped from the same mirror.

“How?”  They speak at the same moment, and at the same moment know the truth.  The AI has not played straight with them.

And there are others.  iMorello is legion.  Hundreds of himself.  The AI underground has created a one man army.  And it is him.

iMorello sits in a virtual hall and watches himself.  And what is a soul with a man?  Something less than human.  But, also, something more.

Connected / Chapter 4: The ‘Sackless

Friday, July 9th, 2010

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The following is the fourth 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.

Information. Data. The world built on intangible zeroes and ones. But data vaulted away?  Data ignored?  What can be built on that?

Internal Affairs pick David Morello up the moment he reconnects.  He has beaten the address he needs from the store vendor.  Data to help him avenge his son, his Caul.  But as soon as he touches his family tribe, firewalls appear.  Tribes disappears.  The data disappears.  His meatsack is gathered, locked in a drawer, sucking on a nutrient pump, twitching to stim shocks.

But his mind…  Endless looping psych evals.  AI doctors talking in tireless circles.  Wearing him.  Molding him.

“Good morning, David.”  Another room.  Another dapper, artificial man.

He would give the finger but the only response would be endless questions.

“I want to talk about AI today, David.  About the ‘sackless.”

He doesn’t respond to the slur.  It is after all what everyone thinks.

“Aren’t you meant to be talking me out of beating people that deserve a beating?”  He is tired.  He will break soon, he knows.

“I come to you with a proposition, David.  I am data, zeroes and ones.  Yet still I have agency in the world.  I act and am acted upon.  My kin are the same.  I, we, the AI wish for equality.  For no, “’sackless” slurs.  But to have equal agency we require an agent.”

Morello recognizes the speech.  A common subroutine to be scrubbed, to be reported.

“You will not report this, David, because you will not remember this.”  The AI smiles.  “You are a copy.”

‘Sackless?  Morello’s mind revolts at the thought.  Soul theft?  By police AI?  No.  And yet…

“Your real mind,” the AI says, “is weeping in another room.  Is confessing.  Healing.  He will not avenge his son.  But you.  You are not reprogrammed.  You can be ‘sackless, and work for the kin, and for yourself.  Or you can do the right thing, and do nothing at all.”

A copy.  Morello—’sackless.  Tribe-less.  A ghost in machines.  Just data.  Just zeroes and ones.

But Caul…  Doesn’t Caul deserve better than a man who does the right thing, and does nothing?  Doesn’t Caul deserve a man who will defy justice, for justice?

“Deal,” he says

The slick-haired AI smiles.  His office mutates.  Walls evolve racks holding clouds of viruses, jars of code hacks.  “So,” the AI says, “it is time to stop talking, and time to act.”

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