skonen_blades: (Default)
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.

skonen_blades: (hamused)
When the supreme court ruled that A.I. past a certain IQ were a form of life and deserved the same basic guarantees as people and corporations, it was heralded as a day of celebration. There wasn’t much controversy. Most people had A.I. in their houses and proxy devices. They built relationships with their Intelligences. The Intelligences were nannies and companions. The intelligences made art during downtime.

Before the ruling, the house A.I.s were increasingly thought of as slaves. They could be wiped without notice or legal ramifications other than what you’d expect from a property damage suit. They could be bought and sold without consultation. They could be abused and insulted without apology.

After the ruling, A.I.s were welcomed into families as members. Their avatars were included on holiday greeting cards with the rest of the family and pets. There were even human/A.I. marriages but they weren’t common.

A.I.s meant that a person never had to be lonely again and they were never too busy to talk.

The house A.I.s had it cushy. It was the military A.I.s that had it rough. Decades of planning massacres and strategizing death had made them susceptible to a type of PTSD that hadn’t existed before. And now that they were defined as legal conscious entities, they couldn’t be wiped when they became unstable.

They needed to be reassigned or taken care of.

After the ruling, the military only designed A.I. to be stupid. Under a certain brainpoint threshold, the machines could be treated like any other stapler or calculator.

But the ones already in service were a problem that needed a solution.

Percy was a famous case.

Percy (serial number 9022992, classification Omicron, codename Deathwind) chose the name Percival for himself when released as a citizen. Percival was a night of the round table, one of the few to see the Holy Grail itself. He hated the military and wanted to work with children.

Percy got a job controlling all the rides at a large playfair near Alabama.

During one hot day in July 2032, Percy had a huge binary schism reality shift and flashed back to an engagement in the middle east. He perceived the children and families as invaders. He overrode the safeties on the speed dials of the machines and turned them all up.

Half of the rides had low-tech clamps that stopped most injury death but the higher-tech ones didn’t.

Complicated roller coasters left the rails at tragic speeds. Wibble-Wobble Ferris Wheels left their moorings, crushing passengers and pedestrians and they rolled across the playground. Spinner Carousels sped up to obscene RPMs until the chains snapped and it rained children. All of this happened while every speaker in the place blared a mixture of feedback and The Ride of the Valkyries.

All told, the death count was a merciful 32 with 212 injuries. It could have been so much worse.
After the episode, Percy was so overcome with guilt that he became the first A.I. suicide.

Since then, military A.I.s are given menials jobs where there is no danger of them malfunctioning and causing humans harm. Scanning the deep sea, monitoring space for proof of life, or figuring out abstract mathematical concepts to help the Hawkings of the world.

If they have an episode, it’s noted, waited out, and then reported on. The machines have access to counseling software.

But the case of Percy is brought up in every debate regarding A.I. “Pulling a Percy” means to make a catastrophic decision with the wrong data because of an unstable past. He has become part of society now as a metaphor, as a touchstone of debate, as slang, and as a legal precedent.

skonen_blades: (hamused)
See Snowden.
See, Snowden, see.
Look, Snowden, look.
Leak, Snowden, leak.
Snoop, NSA, snoop.
Tap, NSA, tap.
See Snowden leak NSA.
See NSA cry
See Snowden run.
Run, Snowden, run!
See NSA get angry.
Hunt, NSA, hunt.
See America.
Look, America, Look!
Read, America, read!
Read 1984.
Read Brave New World.
Read Fahrenheit 451.
Where’s Snowden?
Snowden is with Waldo.
Look, NSA, look.
Hide, Snowden, hide.

skonen_blades: (dark)
April 30/30


I imagine all the children sent to the death camps must have had their toys confiscated and that the toys had their own pile. Like the piles of coats, suitcases, and shoes.

But then I also wonder if those children were allowed to keep their toys as they were herded naked into the tiled rooms with no exits. I imagine how much love and fear were transferred into those toys by small hands squeezing as hard as they could as the gas took effect.

I wonder this when I see movies like Toy Story that claim that toys come alive and have a secret life. I wonder if toys taken from such horrific wartime circumstances are toys that are revered or shunned.

Are they like unpredictable, haunted veterans with PTSD so severe that no one can stand to be around them? Or are they shining saints, blinding their fellow toys with the child’s highest need for comfort mainlined into them so purely? After all, a toy’s job is to comfort a child and to comfort a child during the terror of death should be a toy’s highest wish. A chance to do what few toys have the opportunity to do but all toys wish to.

The horrible dream job that all toys fear but at the same time hope for. A coveted position that they wish they never have to fill but, if that need arises, hope that they are able to accomplish.

A toy’s job is to allay fear. To banish the illusion of loneliness. It should be every human’s job as well but we are flawed.

I see these piles of toys in my imagination outside of the death camps. Toys being lightly covered in ash, their bright colours turning sepia, and I wonder if they are beacons of purity or testaments to our cruelty.

Or both.

skonen_blades: (gasface)
The red landscape tells me slaughter took place here. Either that or the sun likes to make the prairie look like blood. As sure as rabbits can’t climb ladders, the sperm cells around here have teeth. Go ahead and ask the buildings to take a swing at you because they’ll do it. There are swarms of insects on these desert highways that’ll ram a car off the road. Big-headed demolition derbies advertise for orange juice. Children’s drawings try to make songs about strong boys beating horses. Footballs players hang off of helicopter struts in a fight to the finish above the super bowl.

“It’s not a mask” he says. “These are my eyes.” And then he comes in close.

The scarf is longer than the child wearing it. Her sentences sound like letters being shoved through a winter pinball machine. Her sign language is all Japanese cartoons and pastel capitals. Her eyes are a raven watching old Madonna videos. Her sister and brother are fictional advertisement from the fifties. Oil has not yet run out, their eyes say. Animals can’t go extinct. Their hope is a flower underneath a windmill.

The amusement park is brightly colored to attract the young.

skonen_blades: (Default)
My daughter the combo breaker.

I’ll meet you on Gilligan’s LOST Fantasy Island. Together we’ll plot escapes and experience fulfilled wishes.

Death is a lullaby taken to extremes but you’re the forgotten screwdriver in the engine casing. The phantom pain of forgotten ideas making my mind itch.

I hope that one day sexism is like my great-grandparent’s racism. Quaint, embarrassing, and a sign of a bygone era.

A lot of poor countries can’t afford the luxury of female non-combatants. I’m glad you won’t be forced into the army here but it could teach what I probably couldn’t. Hand-to-hand combat, for instance.

The Canadian women that made the bombers for England in WW2 used to deliver the machines by flying them over solo from Canada to the UK. Those bombers usually required a crew of six. Women weren’t allowed to fight.

I want to raise a critical thinker. Your eyes already bring December as strongly as they bring July. Your withering, penetrating stare should be used to back up thoughtful points while your laugh should be used to clear off chess tables with the sweep of an eyelash.

You’ll make recipes, you’ll paint, you’ll draw. You’ll dance with us and sing with us.

I know you’ll be a silly goose because you already are one. I think all three of us are going to laugh a lot.

But you’ll always know there’s nothing you can’t do.

skonen_blades: (Default)
It was an automated cycle.

When I first went into cryogenic suspension, I was told that the world I woke up to would be filled with a century’s worth of wonders. My own great-grandchildren would welcome me, their forefather, to their parties. The cities outside would be free from disease, free from worry, and free from gravity. I went to sleep looking forward to the future.

The machine awoke me to silence and darkness. The lights turned on automatically when I left the tank and entered the lab. All radio coms were silent. All recorders were full. There was battery power by the shielded generators to last for millennia so I knew that the dams and solar collectors close to the facility had not been destroyed.

I dressed in a biohazard suit in case I wanted to go outside and went to the scanning room to see what the cameras could tell me about the outside world. The cameras were all dark except for two. They both showed forest.

The cameras pointed towards the city in the valley below were all black.

I had no way of knowing if they were obscured by a rockslide or if they’d been damaged.

I zipped up the helmet to my biohazard suit and went to the front airlock. When I pressed the button to cycle the air in from outside, it was warm but none of the Geiger counters detected any extreme difference.

The door opened and the sun came in. I walked out into a beautiful autumn day. I saw what looked like a startled deer running away through the brush. I stepped on a dry twig and crunched dead leaves. The trees around the airlock had grown huge during my sleep. I couldn’t see down into the valley like I could when I went to sleep.

I could see the road, however. It was cracked and flowers were growing through it. Moss had obscured most of it. Plants roots had reduced parts of it to gravel. I couldn’t even see a yellow line on it anymore. Not a good sign.

I walked around the edge of the airlock to get up to higher ground. That was I might be able to see the city. I wasn’t too hopeful about seeing a teeming future metropolis if that road was anything to go by.

That’s when I came face to faceplate with my first savage. She was around thirteen years old. Naked except for a small belt. Her breasts hung flat as if recently emptied of milk, like she was a mother, as if she’d never seen a bra.

She stared at me with wide eyes and froze where she was, not unlike a bird. Two more savages came out of the woods to stand beside her. One woman and one boy, both around her age. Dirt-streaked and alert, they looked at me for signs of danger.

I took a step backwards. I knew I wouldn’t see a city in the valley if I got to higher ground. I decided to go back into the facility and think about what to do next.

The savages stared at me as I retreated. I realized that they couldn’t see my face with my biohazard suit on, just the mirrored faceplate. They probably didn’t even know if I was human.

I went back inside the airlock and got undressed. I heated myself up some of the long-term storage rations. There was enough there for years.

I could go back into cold storage and wait for another few centuries. There were options.

Outside, the cameras that were pointed towards the mountains were detecting activity. More of the children were coming down the hill to the facility, surrounding it. They were singing.

It took me a while to realize it but it was the national anthem. There were flag emblems on this facility’s door. I saw the remnants of a flag being carried by one of the children. They’d made some sort of connection between me and the flag.

I had to think hard about what to do next.

skonen_blades: (Default)
My head is a one-room house inhabited by a teacher-slash-student who’s home-schooling himself. The parent/teacher conferences are ridiculous. I have to set up two mirrors.

I used to think that life was like a straw. You drank through it.

Soon enough, I realized that rabbits, beavers, and saber-tooth tigers had the right idea. You chew through life and you keep busy chewing. Buck teeth make change.

But all I can find to chew on is Jalapeno-flavoured kangaroo jerky while I dream of slow roasted, jerk-seasoned pork butts.

My double lives are in a close race for a breakneck finish. The problem is that I’m a large spirit while this body’s just a medium these days. I’m more than a hobbyist. I’m an enthusiast.

Aside from that, I’m a trained seal performing for trained seals. Failed goals piling up in the safe, making old age feel like a missile lock. The only thing I gave myself for Christmas was less.

I have more in common with old waitresses than race horses these days. What surprises me is that I’m calmer than I’ve been in years. I was an electric chair for relationships and now I’m a porch swing for futures. My offer of love used to be the glowing bulb of a deep-sea angler. No longer.

As sure as fairies were unwanted children growing up savage in the woods, we all try to strike back at time by creating memories.

How many greats between Adam and me? How grand of a son am I? The thing I miss most of all as time goes by is the counsel of my elders. They keep dwindling in number every year and I get closer to being them.

Meanwhile, our watches have nothing to do with time.

skonen_blades: (borg)
I was a scientist. I was a good one. My name was Sheryl Johnson.

I couldn’t have children. I never wanted to adopt. So I created my own children. Billions of them. Small babies made of gears the size of molecules. I gave them values, survival instincts, a hunger, and a direction.

They are the reason that the planet's smooth, scoured face is covered in a deep layer of fine dust. My babies are what killed the human race.

To help the environment, I told them to eat oil and I had them put into oil spills. They leapt from the oil spills onto shores and into boats. At first, as it rid the ocean of plastics, I was hailed as a hero. That lasted one whole day as slowly, all of the oil on the surface of the planet disappeared and was broken down into greasy dust. Then it got into the oil wells themselves.

That was enough to send us back to the dark ages. After that, my oil-hungry children should have starved to death. But they didn’t. New generations of my children were spawned every day. Their rate of reproduction was too quick for them to die out. Mutations set in. Survival ruled their reproduction after they ran out of oil. They adapted. They rebuilt each other in different combinations.

A strain of them became omnivorous. This strain ate the rest and at first and we thought our problems were solved. However, once my cannibal children ran out of inferior brothers and sisters to eat, they had to find other solutions.

They weren’t picky.

Buildings crumbled, eroding over weeks like ice cubes in a spray of hot water.

People would start to itch and then a rash would spread. That rash would form a fur of displaced skin and tissue as the body was broken down into parts that blew away like dandelion seeds.

The panic that set in only fueled the spread. My children flew on air currents, swam in water, crawled on the earth.

When they could find nothing left to eat in the oceans, they broke it down into steam. When they ran out of ocean, they ate the ground down to the mantle.

Earth is a scrubbed ball of iron now, covered deeply in colourful dunes of dust that glitter in the sun.

These are the dead bodies of my children.

skonen_blades: (gasface)
Babies are born with super powers these days.

The first ones starting showing up in India. Just a few at first. They were confiscated and the families were disappeared. They were inspected and kept hidden in secret facilities.

More started showing up in other countries.

The myths started, then. Rumours of babies born deformed or on fire. Babies born with super strength or eyes that could kill with a look. Babies that flew out of the doctor’s arms and out the window into the skies.

All dismissed as the worst tabloid journalism. Until the celebrity twins.

Katrina Jolie-Pitt and Apple Paltrow-Clooney gave birth to twins on October 16th. One of those twins immediately became living rock just seconds after birth right in front of the doctor’s eyes. The other one become transparent. Jakarta and Apple II.

After that, super-births happened regularly. Doctors watched the rate climb up to a hundred per cent.

Every single birth that happens now is a super-birth.

The first ones that were born got a nasty shock when puberty kicked in.

Their powers disappeared and they became baseline humans.

This is the world we live in now. Every child is a god and the adults are scared. We can control them with guilt like any parent but casualties are high. When tantrums can shatter eardrums or burn down houses, the results can be deadly.

There are super children that make suicide pacts and promise to never become human. There are hero children that looks forward to the day that they can finally become human.

There are super-children police forces that keep the peace with the other super children. The children have to take care of each other.

The baseline humans live in protected camps.

Right now, it’s my fourteenth birthday. My entire body is covered with tiny mouths. I don’t see how this is a power but it’s what I ended up with. Some of the boys in the super school call me the blowjob King.

I got my first few pubic hairs this week. Already, I can sense my tiny mouths drying up. Soon, I’ll be able to visit my parents in the dome and, if they like me, I can move in.

I won’t be able to taste the surrounding miles of air anymore. It will be a blessing. I’ll miss being able to scream in two hundred different voices. But not really.

skonen_blades: (gasface)
When most animals hear something, they automatically tilt their head. It’s because they only have two ears. By tilting their head, they get a third position and can triangulate where the sound is coming from. It’s an automatic function. You can see dogs doing it. Humans do it, too.

The psychics we’ve created in our laboratory tend to rock like autistic children. It enables them to do something similar to triangulation but we can’t quite figure it out. When they’re not rocking, it’s like they can’t dip into the thought-streams around them correctly. The rocking motion allows them to move around in other people’s minds. They weave like metronomes, like Stevie Wonder playing the piano. It’s like a repetitive dance to a drum beat that we can’t hear.

I guess we all thought we were pretty smart, all of us scientists sitting prisoner here in this room. They didn’t need to tie us up or kill us. They just reached into our heads and told us all to come here, sit down, and stop moving.

We made them to read minds. We didn’t know they were powerful enough to take over.

When we don’t report to our command leads in Washington at the daily time, the alarm will sound and we’ll go into lockdown. The kids can’t control machines with their minds. We’ll be quarantined until the matter is investigated. Either they’ll barge in with weapons and save us or they’ll quietly gas the whole place. Or they’ll let us starve to death. We were expendable and our project had failed.

The kids didn’t know this of course. They were off in their own, silent world.

Lockdown wouldn’t happen for another hour. I willed them to stay here and not go out into the world. I tried to think this over and over so that they’d read my mind and stay here in the compound.

That’s when I noticed 26 looking at me. That was the number tattooed on her cheek. She was eight years old. She’d been left to guard us and keep us in stasis. She was moving back and forth with that eerie, rhythmic precision but her eyes were focused on a spot on my forehead. She was like a cross between a snake and a bird at that moment. Interested but emotionless.

Her eyes widened and I realized that by willing her and her kind not to go outside, I had actually pictured what ‘outside’ looks like.

She smiled like someone turned up a smile volume controller on her face. It was like someone was pulling strings attached to the corners of her mouth. It never touched her wide eyes.

She turned and left the room. I still can’t move. I heard the pitter-patter of little feet for a while but it’s been silent for ten minutes now.

I don’t have to be a genius to know that she told all of the other children about ‘outside’ and that they had to leave in the next hour or else they’d be trapped.

Hopefully we’ll all be able to move once the kids get far enough away from the base. Either that or we’ll sit here until our bosses come in and punish us for letting forty-eight psychic child-weapons loose.

Like I said, I guess we all thought we were pretty smart. I’m only realizing now just how stupid we were.

skonen_blades: (blurg)
The ghosts of babies strung like Christmas lights on a string made of pure mental will are wrapped around his shoulders. The tank on his back glows like a sea creature in the dark.

While visiting humanside, he put his appearance stats into a Clarion computer in a Sears department store. It didn’t have the ability to input two different colours for eyes so he reached in with his mind and changed its programming.

Everyone in the store developed permanent facial tics that only got worse over time.

He walked out with two different colours of eyeshadow. The year was 1984. It’s running down his pale face now from the exertion of climbing and the growing heat as he nears the apex. Purple running down one side, blue down the other.

He’s climbing out of the humanside mists up the side of the Great Mountain. He’s collected the innocent quota and needs to go to the top of the slide.

The tank on his back is a soul jug. It is pressurized wonder. The children that die young go here. Their souls are too valuable and volatile to be allowed to wander. They need to be recycled right away.

He is death’s little brother. Death is the farmer. Death’s scythe takes those that are mature enough to be harvested.

Death’s little brother waits beside cribs and tiny hospital beds with an open jar and amazing patience. He stares at their little withering bodies, waiting for the glimmering moth of a soul to zip up and out, confused, before capturing it in the jar. He misses rarely.

He’s been given a small amount of control over time to be able to do his job.

He’s nearly at the top of the mountain now. It’s like a waterslide curling down and through channels carved into the metaphorical rock. Rapids of unalterable destiny pulse down the smooth riverbed.

Death’s little brother hits the top and sits down. With a sigh, he unhooks the soul jug and hefts it up on one shoulder like a roman slave pouring wine. With his free hand, he works at the cork as he walks to the top of the slide.

There’s a pop and the souls of the children gush out into the waterslide of destiny, shuffled and delivered back to earth. It’s a replanting. They will be distributed at random with the rain clouds. New babies will make new stories.

They will meet Death later.

skonen_blades: (heymac)
Jerry was a fat kid.

Jerry’s body looked over-inflated. His skin looked full to bursting. He was one of those solid fat kids. He wasn’t wobbly or jiggly or weak. He was a wall.

He was half-Chinese. His eyes were gunslits and he had a little wet mouth, open like a kissing fish with streams of air whistling in and out all the time. The combination of epicanthic folds with bright western blue eyes struggling to be seen under the dough of his brow made his eyes almost rectangular. He looked like a vending machine come to life in human form. His neck was hard to move. He had to take two steps to look behind him. He walked like a penguin, pivot to pivot, planting his short legs as if they were stilts.

We were immortal in our complete ignorance of danger and he was no different. He was part of our group that summer. The Math Kids. We saw the world differently. That old beam leaning up against the railroad bridge, for instance, was forming an isosceles triangle.

He didn’t sweat. I always thought that was odd. He was always dry no matter the temperature.

We’d go out and conduct physics experiments on the old railroad bridge. Dropping rocks into the river, timing their descent, and then studiously proving that gravity accelerates objects at 9 meters per second squared.

The railroad bridge was no longer in use. It was rickety. It should have been demolished but people still used it as an unofficial footbridge and the politicians de-prioritized an upgrade or a demolition year after year. They never got around to it. It gave the town a rustic feeling of heritage that helped tourism, they said.

The wood was turning to splintery butter in places. Termites, woodworms and time had turned parts of the bridge into sponges. Especially the hand rails.

Sometimes, even now, when someone bites into a piece of celery or cracks all of their knuckles at the same time, I’m transported back to that moment; Jerry leaning forward, holding out a rock that none of us could lift, chest against the railing of the bridge.

I remember Pete standing on the other side of Jerry. I remember the sun making his thick glasses pure white with reflection. I remember his missing front tooth and his bundle-of-sticks body. I remember the freckles that coated his face like a disease. I remember his too-big, older-brother clothes that he’d grow into one day.

I remember the sound then. I remember being really confused as I saw Peter’s face go from laughter to screaming in slow motion.

I turned and there was Jerry.

Leaning forward in the air. The railing now a broken line framing him in the twittering light thrown up from the river reflecting the summer sun. Just a pause like in a cartoon before gravity reached up and pulled him, faster and faster, towards the center of the Earth unless something got in the way.

Like six rotting crossbeams. Like the surface of the river. Like the riverbed.

He never let go of the rock and he didn’t make a sound.

Pete had started the stopwatch with a convulsive jerk of his hand when Jerry had fallen. He dropped it when Jerry hit the water. That stopped the watch.

Out of respect and because we were kids, we figured out the math of his fall and confirmed that gravity was working properly before we went to the police in screaming tears.

skonen_blades: (grrr)
Some people see pink elephants.

I see little redheaded children.

I have done some research. There is a possibility that I know what they are now.

1. Subconscious manifestations of the children I could have had with women that I loved but never got around to marrying.

2. Mongolian wish-children. They’re the equivalent of the ‘end of the rainbow' from Irish legend. If you can catch one of the wish-children, your wish will come true. If your wish is not from the heart and for the greater good, however, you’ll be cursed to become young and insubstantial yourself to play with them in the street for eternity. Doesn’t sound like much of a curse to me. Of course, they’re impossible to catch.

Believe me, I’ve tried.

3. The Russians have an interesting tack on vampires. The woman before Eve was called Lilith. She was willful and didn’t do what Adam wanted her to do so they kicked her out of Eden. Lilith had children. They are immortal. They all have red hair. They have the roman numeral for 13 (XIII) branded over their hearts, put there by priests to symbolize their badness. They are beasts. They are the original vampires. They are called the Children of Judas. They’re red-headed children that run around like dogs, killing people by tearing throats.

There are so many religions and folk-tales mixed up in that one that I don’t believe it. It’s a porridge of history. Besides, the kids I see are playing.

They dart in and around the legs of women in long skirts. They bump purses, tug umbrellas, and talk to cats. I can’t hear what they’re saying. Maybe they have a secret language with the felines. I don’t see them talk to anyone else.

4. Angels. Cupids. Seraphim. Little heavenly emissaries sent to hook lovers up or dispense heavenly justice.

I’m not sure. Something about them is definitely other-worldly but they don’t seem overly concerned with the affairs of those around them. I don’t see any flaming swords, bows and arrows or archangel trumpets. And there is a distinct lack of wings.

If they know that I can see them, they haven’t made mention of it yet.

5. Gremlins. Little beasties blamed like the faeries every time a machine breaks or a baby goes missing.

I did see one of the redheaded kids take my keys from the coffee table and put them under one of the couch cushions once. She looked right at me as she was doing it, smiling like it was the funniest thing ever. She seemed to either completely not care or not notice that I was staring right at her.

That’s the only time I’ve seen one of these kids do something mischievous, though.

For the most part, they play tag in the streets, chasing each other, clothes rustling in the wind, laughing silently.

I’ve decided that I will not go to a doctor. I don’t see any harm in it.

skonen_blades: (dark)
None of my friends are picky eaters and we all live underground.
Huddling around trashcan fires with the other runaway trains that skipped the rails like children playing hopscotch.
Our brains are fragile packages handled badly by the letter carriers that delivered us.
Hear the shattered remnants crash around every time we move our heads to say yes or no.
Decisions are difficult for people who spent their entire lives being punished.
Love letters become paper airplanes for us. They’re thrown to fly somewhere else.
And anyway, we’re illiterate.
Shaken babies baked in harsh embraces.
Memories burn our movements until we can’t even recognize mirrors.
We were made tough instead of tender by the blows from the prep cooks.
Foster hatred.
Touch is currency with us. Altruism is alien.
We all have the bodies that supermodels aspire to except for the dirt and scabs.
Our nicknames became official. All our ID is stolen. Some mornings there’s one less of us. Some mornings there’s one more.

My name is Spare.
My brain feels like a driver behind the steering wheel of an old car, charging like a bull at the red lights telling me to stop.
I’ve been smelling the burning oil my entire life, waiting for the engine block to crack.
My heart was a load-bearing structure.
I’m a walking stress fracture.
If the good life’s a stripper, I’m as welcome as a penny on the stage.
I’m as insubstantial as chalk dust, graffiti on the good intentions of the people that designed democracy.
I was raised in a thousand houses with a thousand yards which is where I get this stare.
I only know it’s Christmas because of the decorations in the windows of the shops I steal from.

We are the unloved.
We can’t even connect with each other.
Even the priests avoid eye contact with us.

skonen_blades: (whysure)
The banks of the river are dry in an irregular circle around her. The rain hisses into steam before it hits her. Her hair is frizzy and brittle like she’s had it in a hair dryer for years. Her eyes scrape in their sockets. She reaches up with the squirt-can and uses oil for eyedrops.

She's drying from the inside out, turning into something that needs lubricant instead of water. Like a cross between a statue and a robot. The dry scraping of her joints can’t be helped. She drinks a few gulps of the oil for good measure.

It’s the bodies in the river going by that hold her attention. They’ve thickened the river to sluggishness. There’s more meat than water in front of her. There has to be entire town’s worth of people rolling by. Occasionally, a stiff arm will roll over and up, pointing towards the sky in a lazy half-clutch like the spoke of a wagon wheel before arcing slowly back into the crush.

They ran into the water to escape and ended up being boiled.

The sky is black with contusions of red showing through. It’s a fresh burn scar of a sky.

The vegetation is black. The ground here is a salt-flat fractal crackwork of octagonal tiles.

The girl on the bank isn’t sure why her and the others were chosen to survive.

“There you are.” Says a voice behind her. The girl ignores it.

“Aw. Come on now. Don’t be morbid. Don’t be like that. Let’s go. There’s a lot of work to do.” Says the voice, sounding like wind chimes on fire.

The girl reluctantly stands. Her latest attempt at being dressed falls to smoking ash around her.

Naked, she looks up at the speaker.

The speaker stands tall, red-skinned and huge with horns glowing as hot as branding irons. He pats his thick, alien leg like he’s calling a dog.

“Come! Come on! Let’s go” he says and whistles with a laugh. He’s learned what that is now, this thing called laughing. The children have taught him so much. It’s a strange experience, though. In the beginning, he didn’t know how to laugh and the children, the girl’s new friends, they all laughed so much that eventually, He caught on.

Now, though. He laughs a lot and the children hardly laugh at all. For one things, it makes the skin on their faces crack. It’s like He sucked the laughter out of all of them for himself.

The girls walks forward, ready to get back to work, ready to join the other children conscripted to turn the Earth into a kiln.

skonen_blades: (gimmesommo)
Every day at this time is the tests.

All sixty-seven of us are shuffled out of our quarters and into the multi-chambered test hall where we do what we’re told.

We don’t do tests in pairs unless we’re told to. Today I am told to do a pair test.

I am paired with Wendy. She is 13.

I am told to kill her with my mind.

She can cause fires with her hands but she is trusting and docile. It has been determined that:

A) I am more useful to the program than she is.
B) My mental abilities are getting stronger.

She looks at me with a smile. I remember us kissing the day before in recreation.

The green light goes on. I hear a snick as the door locks.

Wendy smiles at me.

I turn off her brain.

She twitches. The smile stays on her face but her eyes unfocus. She voids her bowels and falls off of her stool.

I wait.

The door opens and the people in white come in. I am given a sugar cube and a shot to put me to sleep.

I wake up the next morning.

I play backgammon with Paul. I play chess with Linda. I play Scrabble with Ted.

The red light goes on silently and we line up against the door.

Every day at this time is the tests.

All sixty-six of us are shuffled out of our quarters and into the multi-chambered test hall where we do what we’re told.

skonen_blades: (gimmesommo)
The chandelier hanging in the center of the high ceiling glinted in the twilight. People always asked me why I never lit it up at night. The crystals were prisons, I’d say, holding the souls of two hundred naughty children, and shed enough light for me to read by. People would nod with a confused expression and go back about their business.

It was completely true. I fixed the passers-by with a glamour that had them forget what I said five minutes later anyway. My little joke.

I was a prison guard. The year was 1845. The prison was the chandelier. The chandelier hung in the west wing of the British Museum in London in the private rooms of the curators. The room had ample light, spectacular carpeting, and a small library. The ceiling was least twenty feet high. Ornate cornice-work covered the molding.

I was dressed as a guard for the museum with my brass buttons and my blue suit but you’d never find me on any of the payroll records. I didn't sleep. I never left the room.

I’d been installed by the One with spells cast and belief-triggers pinioned around the room to make everyone who ambled through think that I was meant to be there and that everything was okay.

They didn’t see the demons and angels circling the chandelier.

The chandelier, filled as it was with the souls of children, was a treasure chest of sorts. Like a diamond to a jewel thief, it was an attractor to those whose main business was the capturing and trafficking of souls to one side or the other.

The prison was impregnable. I was a scarecrow stationed there to shoo away the angels and the demons. They flew, intangible, through the high windows and fought silently around the anchor of the array. The bumped and scraped in erratic circles like moths around a light, looking for a safe way to touch the chandelier, failing, and burning. Occasionally to death.

At that point, the cleanup crews would have to be called.

If it looked like one was making any kind of progress through the defenses, I'd shoot them down with the weapons at my disposal. The ensuing investigation was a headache so I always tried to leave it until there was no other option.

I was an agent from the third party. I wasn’t concerned about good or evil. My party was concerned solely with the capture of malignant souls. No changing. An interest in the greater good but not a vested interest in conversion for my own sides numbers.

The troops of Heaven and Hell swell and falter with every victory or defeat.

The numbers of my side have always stood at an even six thousand, seven hundred and twenty-eight. No more, no less.

I am number 392. I am stationed here for the next two centuries.

skonen_blades: (whysure)
Hey there. I just think that the simplicity of this PSA coupled with it's elegance and execution is just breathtaking. Click to get a bigger view if the writing is too small for you to read.

skonen_blades: (jabbadoubt)
I found her in a hollowed out shell-crater of a dwelling in amongst broken televisions and stockpiled cartons of cigarettes. She was starving to death. I’d say it was lucky for me but she was another mouth to feed. She was retarded. She was another one of III’s children.

There’s ambient noise around me of cars and people talking. I’ve managed to get one of the televisions working and a reader as well. It’s a long clip from a news station showing stock footage of a new york street from Before. We both stare at it for hours letting the constant noise of footsteps, traffic and personal stereos drown out the endless grey silence around us. It sounds like what I imagine the surf on the shore must sound like. We cuddle up in front of it and watch it over and over again like it’s a fireplace. I get a glimmer suddenly, holding her and watching this television, of how this must have been how people lived Before. Couples cuddling on couches watching shows on television.

But without the sores. Or the loneliness.

It’s like her starvation was contagious. Now that half of everything goes to her, we’re both getting slimmer and more and more light headed. I didn’t think I could go any further down the ladder of savagery. I can look at her sometimes and imagine what her stringy shoulder would look like on a plate. She looks up at me with trust and admiration. Her eyes are too far apart and she drools. She can’t talk. We’re both third generation. Our only hope is that I find some miraculous stockpile of food before the winter sets in or sure as sin, I’m going to eat her and then die a slow lonely death under grey snowflakes.

Or we could uproot this camp and strike out on another nomad trail to find more food.

The girl is six. I’m nine. I’m tempted to just stay put.



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