Plugs

Susannah Mandel’s short story “The Monkey and the Butterfly” is in Shimmer #11. She also has poems in the current issues of Sybil’s Garage, Goblin Fruit, and Peter Parasol.

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.

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

Ken Brady’s latest story, “Walkers of the Deep Blue Sea and Sky” appears in the Exquisite Corpuscle anthology, edited by Jay Lake and Frank Wu.

Archive for the ‘Connected’ Category

Connected / Chapter 3: Signal and Noise

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The following is the third 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 2 weeks.

Police work is minutia, is cataloging detail upon detail, is studying lacunae—building images from what’s absent.  It is dull and tedious.

But there is another police work—as old as Cain policing Abel.

Morello’s  feed is being monitored by internal affairs.   They connected as soon as Morello requested his meatsack be the one to chase the lead.  Because someone took Morello’s son.  Someone disconnected Caul from his tribe and put him in a terror coma.  And even reconnected, Caul remains a phantom limb, a pain that cannot be eased.

The shop is an old religious place. Hard copy bibles, crosses, rosary beads.  Software overlays the walls with glory—gold and colored light.  NYPD AI hacks through, reveals the squalor beneath.  The store owner’s ‘sack is middle-aged, skin worn thin by an ache that bleeds out around his eyes.

“Can I help you?”  A bright voice mismatched to the body, the expression.  Morello guesses the store’s visual overlay doesn’t just cover the walls.

He throws an elbow into the ‘sacks throat.  Pin him against a wall.  Cuffs him.

“Careful.”  His partner, Chambers also riding shotgun in his head.  Chamber’s voice emanates from where his conscience should be.  IA remains quiet.

“Hack him,” Morello tells Chambers.  “Find his tribe, his feeds.”

Chambers works.  Morello searches.  Just one thing to connect this guy to the disconnections, to the ‘sacks severed from the network, from the minds of friends and family.  But nothing.

“I got zip,”  Chambers says.  “Can’t find him.  Like he’s not even connected.”

“Everyone’s connected.”  Morello can’t keep the frustration out.

Everyone’s connected except the bodies.  Except the dead men.  Except his son.  And there’s no reason for the crime.  Indiscriminate terrorism.  Unless… Morello stares at the paraphernalia of belief in the store, and sees the disconnections not as a threat or a demand, but as a mandate.  Men and women committed to disconnection.  Men and women who wouldn’t be connected.

He looks at the store owner sweating it out.  He sees Caul’s sack lying in the hospital bed.  He feels IA riding shotgun in his head.

“Careful…”  Chambers can feel the rage boiling out of Morello’s feed.  No-one is disconnected.  But there are two types of police work, and one must be done alone.

Morello drops the connection.  Drops all connections.  Everything noise to the signal of his rage.  Alone he sets to work.

Connected / Chapter 2: Lost signal

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The following is the second 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 2 weeks.

Two bodies now.  Both disconnected from the grid.  Both suicides.  The first one fried his wires.  The second went for an analogue exit – a bullet rupturing his meatsack.

Why do it?

Morello contemplates this while his ‘sack eats supper and he and his wife patch a corporate comedy stream.  Somewhere deep he feels his son, Caul’s adrenaline–steering a steelsack through laser fire.  He can taste the diluted flavors from some chef’s feed his mother is streaming.

Why do it?  Why disconnect?  The concept terrifies Morello. It pushed two men over the edge.

#

“They’re wackjobs.”  The theory courtesy Chambers, proving himself an adept handler of the on-scene detectives motor cortex.

A third body.  Still no sign of a crime.   But a pattern is emerging.

Then a newsfeed obliterates everything.

“Urgent: Lost signal in SoHo.”  The message pans across his vision.  A pause before he grasps its enormity.  Three blocks.  Three blocks disconnected.  SoHo. His son’s ‘sack is there.  Physical training.

His son.  Caul.

Lost signal.

He ditches the crime scene.  Slams into his ‘sack.  Selects macros to pilot it home.  Then he’s off, the white noise scream of his son’s feed echoing in his ears.  Smacks into a rental steelsack.  Fights through disorientation.  AIs are already setting up a cordon on the area.  There are bodies on the ground.  Staring eyes.  They try to restrain him, but servo-driven limbs send him through.

One step.  Two-

Lost signal.

He’s thrown out into his own flesh and meat.  Like a physical blow.  His meatsack reels on the subway.  He has no time for this.  Dials up another steelsack.

He waits this time.  He can see the steelsack he piloted over the cordon.  Lying there.  Lifeless.

It’s five minutes before they restore signal.  Five more minutes Caul lies there.  Alone.

And then… “Signal restored.”

He runs, leaps, drains the steelsack’s power in a surge of movement.

Caul is curled fetally.  But whole.  Shaking like when they were having problems with the filters and the night terrors still got through.  Morello scoops him up.  Holds him.

“It’s me, Caul,” the steelsack’s speakers stutter.  “It’s dad.  I have you now.  I have you now.”

Caul does not respond.  Caul curls there in his arms and does not say a word.  And still one question burns in Morello’s mind.

Why do it?

But he will have his answers.

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