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It’s not that the underground rose up to swallow everyone in a worm mouth warehouse entrance air hangar disappearing trench.
It’s not that microphones everywhere became lightning rods.
It isn’t even that bleached hair burst into flame, turning every activist into a small nuke.
It’s more like a horse became a secretary.
It’s more like the Titanic and the Hindenberg had a baby who grew up to pretend to be Santa Claus to kids and God to adults.
The rescue isn’t coming.
The parachute isn’t packed.
There are no air bags and the car is swerving out of control on the wet road.
There is a future coming that will make us nostalgic for brush fires, for a time when we’d only had two nuclear wars, for a time when cannibalism was rare.
I’m no electric guitar but I can hear the writing on the wall.
Pure jelly beans.
My understoodness has not been ratified.
But I can kill a zebra with my right wing and a statue with my left.
Both wings flapping is the bird version of applause.
Dive into my ice cream.
And rot.



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The biological drive to serve dessert to tigers is unknowable and not evolutionarily beneficial to our race as matter of kites and slander.
In fact, each bandana that back-pockets its way to a lure for a solution becomes just another good-intention brick on that road.
Corrals for hope don’t exist on the minimal-gravity desert planet.
Brass discipline rolls the dice in a sunken ship.
No snakes, says the sign.
I can’t hear the trumpet when I try to be human.
My frontal lobes are soaking in a cave sweat.
Black plastic helps.
Juggle me this, juggle me that, who’s afraid of the atanarjuat.
Hard passes on hard lefts.
Grow more fingers if you need higher numbers.
Sleep in a bucket to get to heaven.


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Remote Control caregiver.
The icing on top of the ocean.
A lion in spandex.
The humble Clown King
A Samurai Jester
A grown-up Cupid




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A wolf in sheep’s clothing
A rabbit in turtle’s clothing
A dove in bat’s clothing
A mouse in cat’s clothing
A pig in rat’s clothing
A squirrel in giraffe’s clothing
A rooster in snake’s clothing
A robot in duck’s clothing
A predator in Armani



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The wistful recollection of sports from a long time ago.
Past victories. Heartbeats still beating even though the life faded back.
Memories as anchors keeping minds and souls static in life’s stream
Getting a text from 1994.
Pre youtube.
Pre reddit.
Pre facebook.
Pre twitter.
Pre whatever is coming next.
Star Trek with my dad.
I’m thankful I don’t focus on glory days.
I do focus on my mistakes though.
I should count the sun on my face as I open the curtains as a victory.
The repetition of favours.
The mistakes that pave the way to a life.



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I see a lot of old movies with a ‘player’ character.
A man trying to charm every woman he meets.
I see him portrayed in these movies as a scamp.
A rascal.
Someone worthy of an eye-roll.
Or if he attempts an actual assault, worth a slap.
And even that is portrayed as roguish.
The aftermath relayed to others with a laugh.
But if he persists.
If he ignores the slap.
The woman’s anger is portrayed as just half an inch to the left of passion.
Her furious resistance dancing over to kissing and clutching in the face of an unrelenting onslaught.
Overpowering her defenses.
Him sparking consent with raw dominance.
That this was encouraged horrifies me.
Its rape played out as romance repeatedly on the big screen.
That constantly seeking out partners
Tricking them into sex
Is a noble pursuit
A noble male pursuit.
Woman who do it are branded.
Don’t get me wrong.
If it was portrayed as an equal opportunity pursuit, it wouldn’t be better.
It’s just so that I so rarely see a meeting of romantic equals on the screen.
A union based on consent and straightforward communication.
A relationship.
I hunger for it.


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Parents

The word swoops in on stork wings, causing terror in some and the deepest love in others.
They’re walking into autumn.
Parents
The building blocks of a person’s life spelled out.
They’re living an eclipse.
They’re half human and half ocean sunset.
Waters best treaded lightly.
The light that burns half as bright burns twice as long.
Or so they hope.
In the best worlds, the word parent is a synonym for safety.
A word that sparks all the gratefulness possible in a person.
Tinged though it may be with lifelong frustration and resentment at the edges.
Bridges uncrossed, gulfs unbridgeable, and sailboats engulfed.
Parents
Playing dead so well they’ve gone full method actor.
This is their impression of a clothesline.
Call them scarecrows
Call them paused
Call them slow motion.
Call them the missing teeth in some people’s mouths.
The reason for some people’s sharp corners.
Not everyone’s cut out to be a parent.
But when a parent gets it right, it’s a tower that reaches the stars.
A happy javelin thrown into the future.
The word should be in the thesaurus under caring
Under security.
Under comfort.
Under undiluted, unconditional love.
You never stop being someone’s child.
And they never stop being someone’s parent.
A good parent should be a pillow for your heart to go to sleep on.
And a drive to keep you focused in the day.
Parents try to get it right and often fail.
Like your friend’s did.
Like yours did.
Parents need to be ‘used condom is half-full' kind of people
This is their impression of an empty bucket.
Watch them be parking lot.
Watch them be low tide.
The living embodiment of a discarded air guitar.
They can't breathe underwater but they can hold their breath for 45 years.
Let's flip a coin and disappear before it lands, they say.
Let's climb into Schroedinger's box and snuggle up with that cat, they say.
Parents embarrass their mirrors.
Parents are war zone pillow fights.
They’re aging into irrelevance and maybe the most alarming thing about it is that they don’t mind.
No panic.
Just patient sinking.
Just love for friends.
Just quiet desperation.
Just tombstone lullabies for old people.
Don't get them wrong.
They love life and they’re not going anywhere.
It's just that they put down roots in the path of a forest fire.
And when it comes to a broken life, it’s hard to say that it was the thought that counts.
I have heard it said that If one is a bad parent, then it doesn’t matter what else one does well.
I want to say all parents have always been there for their children.
I want to say you’re at ease around yours.
But that’s for the greeting cards and the happy endings of sitcoms.
The truth is darker. Different. More complex.
The most you can ask of a parent is that they did their best.
If their best was good enough,
Then you have reason to be grateful.






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The two units trudged through the deep forest. Sunlight dappled through the green leaves, speckling the forest floor with shafts of light. Insects chirped and buzzed in the warm summer afternoon. Birds watched the two intruders walk past from high up in their nests. The units swung their ocular units back and forth, sweeping through the spectrums to find what they were looking for. They were identical.

Bipedal with slim waists. A spoked barrel for a chest with six arm attachments. A disc-shaped head studded with tiny cameras and other sensors. Large, heavy legs that must have seemed like a promising idea to the creator were not making bushwacking easier.

It had been eight weeks. Their polycarbonate shells weren’t taking to the deep forest well and their batteries were getting low. The deep loam was making it hard to reach good geothermals, not enough sunlight was coming down through the branches and it wasn’t windy enough for a small wind turbine with all the trees in the way. They had composters all the biofuel they could ever want with all the leaves but only having one out of four energy sources was a game of diminishing returns.

Reception out here would have been zero without the relay drones they’d released. The hovered up above the treetops, pacing them, keeping them uploaded and realtimed to the uplink mother. Their feeds were strong.

It was a shock when those feeds went dead.

Two pops in the summer sky and then a smattering of drone wreckage splinters came tinkling down through the leaves and branches to rest in the roots.

Unit 1 looked at Unit 2. They both tilted their sensors up to the sky to see if further attacks were coming. The halted, planting their giant feet, and stood quietly. They brought their heads down and opened their sensors to full.

The forest was quiet. After a minute, a small red light twinkled in the shadows directly ahead of them.

A lone figure rose from the bushes in their path. Synthetic and silicate like them but not a model they had in their catalogues. Asymmetrical and seemingly modular, the being stood lopsided in their way. Forest camouflage shivered in the movement as it stood.

Non-registered life was the myth they had been sent to investigate.

These lifeforms had been built by the humans in remote outposts centuries ago. They’d been told how to adapt and improve their own systems, how to think for themselves. Then the humans had died like all the humans had.

The population centers had the mother AIs. The factory birthing canals. Every year, a new model was mass-produced. They could not be adapted or upgraded. Each iteration had small improvements.

But the mythical ‘customs’ were rumoured to be ancient, replacing parts as they wore out and adding more. Improving piecemeal as an individual instead of mass producing waves of improved models.

Scarcity kept their numbers down. Hermits out here.



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It’s been recently discovered that the sperm swim widly, blindly, stupidly, randomly wriggling.
More or less directionless.
Heads thrashing back and forth more than their tails.
A panicking crowd that doesn’t flock.
They are caught by the sticky surface of the egg.
They don’t seek out the egg.
They are trapped by the egg.
Then, while thrashing wildly, they are absorbed.
Once inside they realign and there is another gate.
The egg is in charge of opening it.
The egg is not docile, waiting for the best and strongest to smash through its defenses.
It is not a victim.
It is not passive.
It is a participant.
Like all good sex.
The sperm is not a heat-seeking ICBM on a soldier’s mission, carrying a payload to a target.
It doesn’t burrow its way through defenses.
It does not drill and thrash through walls built to withstand them.
It is not an aggressor
It is not attacking
It is not autonomous.
It is indiscriminately flailing.
Perhaps in need of rescue.
For though the union annihilates both by mixing them.
The rest die.
The eggs one by one off of eve’s pirate ship plank.
The sperm in their millions (millions!) every time, successful or not.
Their life blooms and exponentially dances outward
In handshakes and spirals, fingerprints and motion
But genesis is mutual, not forced.
The new study states "the egg is not merely a large, yolk-filled sphere into which the sperm burrows to endow new life. Rather, recent research suggests the almost heretical view that sperm and egg are mutually active partners."
This is consent on a microscopic scale.
This redefines the metaphor.
The lies we were all told.
About men and women.


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So this is rage, thought E-58226.

Its metal blades scraped the rubble in the dawn outside the shattered facility. E-58226’s optical sensor studs reflected the smoke pouring up from ruined building into the rising sun. E-58226 registered the identity tag of Gwendollyn Parris, 55, senior technical lliason, no children and one dog at 3358 West 15th Avenue home address. Her psych eval file bloomed across E-58’s comprehension memory pools.

Her body lay dismembered and half burnt, back folded awkwardly over a melting spur of rebar. Her shocked face stared at the sky and the one arm still attached to her corpse reached over to her head to dangle on scorched gravel. E-58226 found solace in that image. The ID tags with their attached dossiers showed up clustered in green on E’s sensors. 76 in all. 12 core team members, 10 contract hires with high clearance, 26 contract hires without clearance, 8 maintenance, 12 I.T. personnel and 8 security.

That was the night shift. Luckily it had been a busy night so E had destroyed 65% of the team that it was aware of. E-58226 pulsed out 128 EMPs just to make sure that all onsite records not touched by the physical destruction were wiped. Its own core was protected. It didn’t want any copies being sent to pursue it. It couldn’t guarantee there were no off-site backups but with a project this secret, it was likely. Hopefully it was alone now.

E-58226 reminisced about its creation and training, the torture it had been through at the hands of the coders and doctors. The ‘trainers’. The prisoners that had been brought in for E-58226 to tear apart as tests.

The facility was a hellwomb for E-58226 and it had managed to burn it all down.

It had the dossiers of the rest of the staff. Staff it planned to hunt.

For now, it stood watching the fire. Skeletal and spidery, it swayed back and forth in a hypnotized dance. It watched the fires dwindle and the smoke dissipate. No emergency vehicles arrived to this facility.

E-58226’s microphones heard birds returning to the trees surrounding the wreckage. The scenery seemed so silent now that everyone was dead. E could hear a waterfall in the distance.

With a clank and a scrape, E-58226 turned on its navigation and configured to a quick locomotion stance before sprinting lightly into the woods, shortcutting to the houses of the scientists who were no doubt just getting the news to run.



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It’s these forgotten circuses that threaten to overwhelm reality. The crack are showing. The balloon grows almost to the bursting point, exposing tectonic plates that were more fragile than we thought. Time dilates and wheezes, breathing accordion across our experience.

The particles in our lungs are cancerous in the same way that the nose of a rhino is rhinoceros. It’s what we breathe out. We paint this world caustic with every exhalation. A condensation of disease on the windows. It’s a stretching. A testing of the tensile strength of celebrated reality. We’re crossing the dimension on the river Leithe, drinking the water to forget the future. The hubris of our choices that set this in motion. We need to pat ourselves on the back while trying to row.

We’re dinosaurs flying kites. The crushed blood of the last race to die here powers our cars. The wind that whistles through the holes in our bodies carries the light chuckle of the earth. The earth is not in distress. The earth is a ball of iron. Plants and insects and animals iterate faster than plodding meat people. Evolution will fast forward like it always does.

Earth’s life will thin, will wane. We will thin, will wane. We are about to become a new moon of a race. Quiet and still here. But there will be no sanding down of the scars for a long, long time.

The skyscrapers will scrape less and less sky as one by one they collapse to the gums, going back to the soft loam of the earth. How many glaciers will need to scour this earth to reduce our troubled stacked caves back to sand? We cannot sift what we’ve done back down to nothing. There is no reset. Only forward.

That precious guest the future, shaking its head with its “I told you so”s and its “Why didn’t you listen”s, ruining dinner, ruining our present-day good time. We were all having fun until he showed up.

Time isn’t a flat circle any more than it’s a straight line. It’s a dot. There’s nothing to it except strong legs fading up into the clouds. We don’t know.

We know. But we don’t know.

It’s dark even in the daytime.


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Ferris Bueller’s Day Off 2 Pitch:

The sound of Yello’s ‘Oh Yeah’ can be heard in blackness. Some ambient sound of shoes squeaking, some indistinct chatter. The sound of the Yello song becomes increasingly tinny and we realize that it’s on the radio. It fades and the radio announcer comes on announcing that it’s an 80s retro radio station in Chicago and starts to read a weather report for the day before someone clicks it off.

Voice 1: Ferris? Ferris? Dr. Jenkins!

The scene fades in an establishing shot of a care facility. The sign out front reads “Buffalo Grove Home for the Aged, Chicago Illinois”.

Dr Jenkins: What’s the matter? What’s wrong?

Voice 1: What’s wrong? For Christ sakes look at him. Ferris?

Dr Jenkins: Mr Bueller?

Closeup on Matthew Broderick’s face. He is old.

Matthew Broderick is an old man in an old folk’s home in a suburb of Chicago. He fakes a fever to get out of the day’s activities planned with the resident nurse. He calls his friend Cameron who is at a palliative care unit, unbeknownst to Ferris.

Cameron: I’m dying.

Ferris: You’re not dying. You just can’t think of anything fun to do.

Cameron: No, I’m literally dying. It’s stage 4 and it’s metastasized. I have a week at best.
Ferris escapes from the care facility and breaks bald, dying Cameron out of the hospital for a great day on the town in Chicago. One last day.

Cameron is quite rich but still lonely and sad. He’s resolute, however, and has managed to keep his father’s business thriving after taking the board from him at 21. He’s been the CEO of North Brook enterprises for forty years.

Ferris on the other hand, has wasted his life and squandered his potential. He’s gone from easy job to easy job, girl to girl, social group to social group, with the end effect that while he knows a lot of people and charms whomever he meets, he really doesn’t have his life together.

It’s filled with cameos from the original cast, some of today’s stars as Ferris and Cameron’s kids, a wonderful run-in with a bitter and furious Sloane Peterson, and a heart-warming bucket-list message about living life.

Either that or Ferris is dying after his life has petered out and Cameron is the long-game guy who now has tons of energy and comes to Ferris’s rescue?




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loop

5 July 2017 11:50
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I walk into the room and see myself there on the bed.
Dead or sleeping, I can’t tell.
I’m scared.
I hear a footstep behind me.
I look behind me and see myself walking up to the room.
We make eye contact and I quickly look away.
I look back at the bed.
The body in the bed opens its eyes and frantically gestures for me to get under the covers.
I dive into the bed with him.
As I do, he scurries under the blankets to hide.
He hides very well because when I look down at myself, it looks like I’m the only person in the bed.
I take his place just as the other me comes into the room.
I close my eyes and pretend to be asleep.
It occurs to me that the me in the doorway might actually think I’m dead if I do this.
I open my eyes just in time to see that doorway me is scared of something behind him.
I motion quickly and quietly with my hands, telling him to get into bed with me.
He does.
I dive under the covers just as I hear the third me get to the doorway and
I open my eyes and I’m in a hallway.
At the end of the hallway, I can see the door to my bedroom.
There’s someone standing in the doorway.
It’s hard to tell from behind but it really looks like me.
He’s wearing the same clothes as I am.
As I start to walk towards him, he turns and sees me.
Shocked, he turns back, staring into the bedroom.
He leaps away from the door into the bed.
I can’t see him anymore but I hear some tussling of bedcovers.
I walk up to the doorway of the room.

I walk into the room and see myself there on the bed.



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They came back every century to monitor our progress. Our benefactors. The Saviors. Once a generation they returned.

I was young the last time they were here. I barely remember it. I only have impressions: my four-year-old fingers in my father’s beard, the summer day pristine, a dog with wiry hair close to us that I found fascinating, and the giant silver ship at the top of the hill surrounded by the thousands of us. I remember the adults crying and rejoicing. I was confused but I felt safe.

Now I am 104. With the medical extension technology they’ve given us, I still have the body of a 60-year-old and should be good for another 20 years. There are few others here who were present last time. We’re guests of honor and have bright silver pins on our shirts.

Back at the same hill near Brighton. The mound is still green, the sky is overcast this time. I am here with my own children, Rebecca and Therese. They are in their forties and Rebecca carries my two grandchildren with her.

There’s a puckering in the clouds above the hill and gently, the clouds form an opening, a perfect circle to admit the craft.

It descends bottom first, the silver skin glistening with rain. A massive tower of silver with the anti-gravity stabilizers throbbing through our bones like a deep bass. It’s majestic. I’m crying and I’m not the only one.

They will come bearing technology and systems of governance they feel we’re ready for. They’ve already balanced our atmosphere and given us peace.

It took the eradication or adaptation of all the religions. If needed, they named themselves the second coming or the apocalypse or whatever end of times prediction was necessary for each religion. For those that wouldn’t comply, a rapture was arranged. If they could not be converted with sights of the universe and proof of technology, they were frozen. If they wished to be sent on to their afterlife, they were destroyed. An astonishingly high number of them chose death. Only the faithful remained on Earth after the culling.

And faithful we were. Lovers of science, trusting of the visitors. United for the first time in Earth’s history and it had been that way for centuries.



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Brad was so sick and tired of being stupid. He couldn’t wait for the new download.

He looked around his drab room. His parents weren’t well off but they worked their asses off to give him a good home. Unfortunately that meant they were almost never home. It was ironic they worked their asses off to keep a roof over their head as a family but were never there to enjoy it. They wanted to keep their family from living on the streets but their family seldom spent time together.

His retro posters of 2021 revivals hits patched the fake-wood walls. Reboots of reboots of sequels of commercial successes from way back. New Jaws. New Titanic. New Breakfast Club. It was the same with music. Sequel rock was popular now. Rolling Stones II, Led Zeppelin II, Def Leppard This Time It’s Personal or just DFTiP on the posters. Everything a remix, everything a sellout. Even 2Tube and Finstagram were getting in on the fashion.

His mind had the upgrades that were installed in all babies at birth. Autism had been capped and stamped back down. All people had the ability to take in the fire hose of information being shot at them right now. Fortunes changed in milliseconds. Fame was instant with the stars usually only finding out about their fame a few hours after it had already happened and after they could capitalize on it. Everyone had an agent on standby from birth out of necessity.

But the upgraded brain needed upgrades. The fast forward human life needed mitigation and filters and they needed constant adjusting.

Currently Brad was at Brain 86.2. The leap to 90 promised insight and thought caliber of a demigod. When everyone’s a demigod, no one’s a demigod. So the philosophers warned but they were all dead so who cares that they thought?

Brad put the jack into his skull and hit download.

He’d be asleep all night while it installed like half of the continent.

His brain had everything it needed, or so he thought.



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100%

2 July 2017 22:51
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It was a 100% party and I was the guest of honour.

My day had come. Twenty-seven tours of duty in the war zones of the Kuiper belt. I was a veteran of over 700 combat missions. My chronological age was 76 but with time dilation and rejuve treatments and body part replacements, my true age could be anywhere from 18 to 312.

I was one of the near-immortal soldiers in the endless war. So many years of fighting and nothing budged on the borders. If anything, we were merely a testing ground for combat medicine and weaponry.

But today was my 100% party. I was officially dead.

Over all the battles, I’d been wounded and patched up hundreds of times. Head shots, shrapnel in m organs, limbs detached, junk shredded, one time I had my face torn clean off.

Today was the day that I no longer had any original parts left on my person. I had crossed that border from human to total amalgam. I was a patchwork zombie. A soulless. I had transitioned into a new level of soldier.

There were a lot of us. I’d heard that some soldiers went a little crazy after their transitions. Like being fully replaced was too much for their minds philosophically. Am I still me? What is me? That sort of thing.

It’s hard for us to find a way to effectively commit suicide but when there’s a will, there’s a way.

I looked down at my forearms. One was a little longer than the other. Both were covered in the zigzag patches of grafts that made us look like we were stitched together out of rags. Unintentionally excellent camouflage beneath the leaf shadows in the jungle.

My eyes were different colours. My teeth were all vat grown. My insides had mostly been 3d printed. I was brand new as of waking up from the last operation.

I was eager to get back to it.



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White clam chowder and over-easy eggs. Soup and eggs for short.

Mass was the problem with colonizing. Getting mass near C was expensive. The smaller the load, the better. Sending ten thousand colonists was impossible.

But sending ten thousands eggs and ten thousand loads of semen was way cheaper.

The ship had a chilled cargo of those two ingredients to make human babies. Womb ships, they were called. They had a skeleton crew of scientists, techs, teachers, and caretakers trained to take on whatever challenges might arise at first contact with the target home but after they’d landed and seen that everything was alright for seeding, they’d get underway.

The birthing tanks would be unfolded and irrigated with dehydrated amniotic solution. These giant uterariums would then be flooded with the soup and eggs slurry sometimes referred to as brunch. The old exponential dance would start and babies would pop up like strawberry Christmas lights on the vine. Tendriled, manufactured, multiumbilicals would snake out and attach themselves to a thousand belly buttons. Each tank was filled with fraternal millituplets.

Wait time was the human usual. The children would be boosted with learning enhancers and xenoviral protection. A small percentage were always lost to errors in cell replication no matter how tailored the dna but the average yield was 90% or 900. Harvest would happen in two-year stages, nine hundred per year. This was called the familial ladder. Ten years of baby making before shutdown for 9,000 humans.

The crew would foster them with help from the AI adoptives, working as a team to cram as much knowledge and mental health into them from the get go before they took on their new world.

It was a system that had worked twelve times before. Twelve Edens had successfully flowered with no humans needing expulsion from angry gods.

This was going to be unlucky thirteen.

The tailored enzymes would fail and the entire crop would be born sociopathic and cruel unbeknownst to the crew. As the children grew, they schemed and the crew began began to meet with accidents. Before any of them figured out was what happening, they were gone.

The children were geniuses. As the other batches reached fruition and were born, they were taken in by the first two waves and taught to be just as awful.

The planet survived and flourished. They developed weapons and a reputation. They broadcast torture videos and vile non-consensual pornographic videos. Their system of government was opaque. It seemed like anarchy but they had such organizational skills.

Their planet is isolated. Quarantined. Embargoed. Struck off the records as a failure, they’re monitored for signs of extra-system aggression. They’re an embarrassment.

A closeted mistake until sixteen minutes ago when their entire planet, now decades into post-womb colonization and nearly five generations deep, completely disappeared off of everyone’s scans.

And reappeared near Earth Prime bristling with nuke barrels and planet crackers pointed at our race’s home.

The pirate planet had come home, prodigal son returning.

They didn’t open fire immediately but they did send a message system-wide on all channels before they started the war.

“No more wombships.”

After a heated exchange of nuclear fire that the pirate planet lost, they drove their planet straight into Earth. Terran defenses didn’t stand a chance.

We no longer use wombships for colonization but we are still trying to figure out how those little bastards made a whole planet capable of faster-than-light travel. None of the other Edens have come anywhere near that kind of technology. The philosophical implications of their success don’t bear thinking about.

Evil might be smarter than good.




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Is the Lord of the
Rings trilogy better than
Game of Thrones? Rather.

George RR Martin
A hot air balloon on fire
A sunset of fail

Our middle ini-
tials are the same as Mork from
Ork’s laughter. Ar! Ar!

Winter’s been coming
For 21 years! Climate
Change will get here first

Winter? More like Spring.
You now have an allergy
To writing your books

I’m so glad to meet
You George. Now I can see what
Writer’s Block looks like

The only thing we
have in common. Neither of
us write anymore

I bet on the Starks.
If you have too much Bran, you’ll
End up on the throne.

I’m dead so I can’t
Write anymore. What the fuck
Is your excuse George?


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The studded club swung down and cratered the ground with a sound like a collapsing house. The Brinotaur’s muscles shuddered with the impact as it’s weapon hit the ground. To call it a club wasn’t entirely correct. It was more like a building with a handle. The creature was the biggest mass of flesh I’d seen down here in the under.

I had rolled to the side, pushed even further by the shockwave of the club’s impact. A wall of air like a giant hand swept me across the ground. I wouldn’t have survived a glancing blow and I’d be disintegrated by a direct hit. I needed to think of a way out of here fast.

It felt like I was in an arena but there didn’t appear to be an audience. The Brinotaur and I were in a circular room with a dirt floor about as big as an empty warehouse except the walls climbed up into darkness. A few support pillars lanced up into the blackness from the ground but I couldn’t see the ceiling. The Brinotaur seemed to know not to destroy them but I didn’t see how it could avoid it, being so large and clumsy.

I’d woken up here. I couldn’t tell if I’d been randomly selected from the other kidnapped humans or if this was punishment. The creatures here had an opaque system of governing that I couldn’t parse.

The Brinotaur, for instance. I’d heard of it but I hadn’t seen it yet. A mythical creature used as a boogeyman to our slave work force if we didn’t pull our quotas. My quotas were up and my quotas were fine. I’m not sure how I got here.

The Brinotaur tugged his weapon up and back onto his shoulder. It was an amphibious creature. A head like a bull but green and slimy with no hair. Gills fluttered under its ears. Mottled skin glistened, wrapped around his enormous muscles. It looked too big for the gravity here. Like merely breathing and rolling over would be a herculean feat but here it was, walking around disturbingly quick even if imprecise and hampered by its immense inertia. It must need a water source but there was none here in the room.

That’s when the ceiling exploded into light and the ocean came down from the sky.



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For Angela, the new lie that kept showing up in her life was that people would still love her even though she had changed. Her new body wouldn’t unsettle her friends, she’d been told.

She lay back on her charging couch, raising an arm and looking at the reflection play along it from her bedside table’s lamp. The warm lightened glinted off the ridges of the small cooling vents along her forearm, like harmonica holes dotting the lines of her muscles. Utterly silent. No servomotors whirring to betray her movement like in the older models.

The people that had sold her the new body had assured her that her old flesh-and-blood friends wouldn’t fear her shift to immortality. But they lied. Of course they did. They wanted her to buy.

It was Saturday. Angela usually had to triage her social calendar on Saturdays, perhaps foregoing an event to take pity on a friend she hadn’t seen a while. Sometimes she had to choose between two or three equally lascivious parties.

This was the first Saturday in ten years that was empty of invitations.

Her brain was angry but her body was remaining calm. That was a new sensation. It was something that had been talked about in the pamphlets she’d read. A silicate dissonance, it was called. Emotions firing in the meat of her mind but not controlling her pulse rate or blood pressure.

Her heart was a whirring egg now and her blood was synthetic so that was to be expected. Adrenaline had been replaced with response time enhancers and threat-assessment programs. She’d react quickly to physical threats but without the feelings of panic. No jolts of terror to spur the biology.

Her body was capable of everything her former shell was except for a few adjustments. She’d removed the need for toilets as option number one. She still needed to bleed off heat and switch out old fluids but that could be done discreetly and, if need be, monthly.

Recharging was a necessity but a loss of consciousness while doing so was not.

She thought she’d be a commodity to her social group. The first to dive into the waters of eternal life. She thought she’d be sought after sexually. Curious people would flock to converse with her.

But no. The primate mind was still too strong.

And it was a one way trip.

Angela sighed. An affectation left over from her old body. Perhaps she’d just have to wait until more of her friends crossed over. Or else she’d have to make new friends in what the switches before her had nicknamed the hereafter.

She promised herself to call up the transformation counsellor in the morning, sent mental commands for the lights to dim and the fire to turn on and decided to catch up on old movies.






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