041.Filling In The

Temporal dislocation – a purposeful destabilisation of the person’s localspace, so as to push them out through time. Ruebeau, more of a nameless thing than a person now, was going to be lost by this randomising time machine they had built. They had given him as much Rejuve as he wanted, so he could keep going on as long as he wanted.

They had isolated the property in him that made the LEthe contagious, and they were going to use that as a delivery system, pushed out through the four remaining members of Mnemosyne.

They were using a combination of mass delivery via crop dusting planes, but also they had hooked into and were intent on reprogramming via the morphic resonance of the entire human race, of which those in Mnemosyne were just an amplified version. Everyone would remember everything.

Colin smiled as he sat there with these people – all this time chasing Ruebeau to restore his memory, to unlock the key to the disease, and here they were. Billions of skullphones ringing, all the ringkeys hacked: everyone’s ability to refuse this call circumvented. The biological spiralling out, and the programming language of these gene-hack geniuses going into effect.

The degraded remnants of The Children Of The Tableau awoke wondering why they stared at the pictures of a man who suddenly meant nothing to them as their real memories reasserted themselves.

A few remaining Curse Nurses observing what was happening felt a different protocol asserting itself from under their framework of drug administering oblivion.

The memory spheres sang memories back into their owners. The Nostalgia Dumps, The Diary Bunkers, The Calendar Centres – their fruits were distributed amongst the populace.

Old Rebuild men smiled as they fixed their thousand yard stares past the goal they had been fighting for all this time.

The Forget Me Not Bar and The Palace Of Lies bar were full of merriment, and not the usual stilted sadness. The War On Amnesia was won. Lethe was gone – the last batches hunted down and destroyed.

The Engineer went back to tinkering with things other than society.

Jonas was happy with the outcome of it all, after a fashion.

The Prophet nodded knowingly, seeing what others could not, unfolding where others could not see.

Runcible’s body burned in the ditch alongside all the others in his group – a cancer burned out. Spitz had seen what was happening elsewhere, and he knew these men would use the huge societal upheaval to happily disappear

Erin had plans for Colin – they were soon to be considered civilians; retired after so long in service.

The River Of Lethe broke free of their programming. Project Remind also retired themselves – they had spent too long on active duty.

Somewhen a man awoke, a migraine splitting his skull in half, he had thoughts about being defeated, but then he realised that he was awake and that he was alive, and that whatever had been done to him could be undone. Once more Spay set off on a mission to become … to find himself.

Rubeau adjusted his fedora. For months they had been asking what his name was, and he kept saying I am blank. At some point it just became simpler to call him that: Blank. Despite his poor memory in regards to himself, he had an amazing faculty for solving problems. Blank detective agency  opened it’s doors not long afterwards.

-*-

Kassovich knocked back the shot of vodka. He looked at the piece of paper that had been pushed across the table to him.

‘What’s this, Barlow?’

‘There have been strange reports coming from some of the Eastern European countries on our watchlist … rumours of a group called The Children Of The Tabula Rasa, a man called Arson, or Our Son. Others call him Spay, and he is offering up oblivion to his followers.’

‘And this is interesting to us why?’

‘Because the rumours suggest he really has found a way to obliterate memory, and the tech seems far in advance of our own.’

‘Let’s track him down then.’

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040. Forge Netting

Berry was buried. Pinkerton was investigating. Fielding was fielding questions. Eustace was following fruitful lines of enquiry. Teschner was making a package to carry them all forward into the future with.

Colin was counting all this as a victory of the people. All his years of following Ruebeau had paid off.

What’s in a name?

James Ruebeau – deceitful regretter of good. Tennant’s final iteration, and the name that meant more to anyone than any of the other identities stacked in piles throughout his life. Ruebeau was about to be undone – was about to be cast out into oblivion.

Ledwait – a lead weight, or a led wait; he holds you down and puts you into a state of waiting. This was the man who had put those other agents to sleep, and some small part of Ruebeau in this personality had put the world into a holding pattern.

Jerome Barrow – sacred burial place; where the truth had been buried of the whole mission. Barrow was the lock-box inside Ruebeau, the interface that only Housekeeping had any contact with – an encrypted hard drive.

Terence Ensign – smooth flag. The top level badge under which all of the cover personalities and the sectioned off personas gained cohesion and were fashioned into the best agent ever in the field.

Tennant – occupies a property. Tennant was as far back or as close to a base personality as they could trace, but the suspicion was that there wasn’t anything deeper than that.

Why the LE and the the?  The Last Exit. A personality death program developed alongside such programs as The Smooth Exit.

All these things had come to light, and Ruebeau kept telling them that he wanted to know nothing  of it. He allowed them to take from him what they needed in order to effect a cure, and then he asked that they blank him out and then lose him.

The discussions went on for days, but finally they agreed to grant him his wish.

Forge Netting 39: Spade Marks

He was a cockroach – he always had been. He could, he was sure, if put to the test, survive without his head for a few days. Dropping him in the middle of a desert … what the fuck was that supposed to do? he had survived way worse shitstorms than these pre-programmed fucktards were capable of dreaming up. It pissed him off that they were not more imaginative and it also pissed him off that they thought someone like him could be gotten rid of quite so easily.

How were they to know that he had a repeating signal antidote push built out of gene-hack flesh where the spleen used to be? Sure, he had forgotten everything for a very short period of time, but then the antidote had kicked in and the whole shebang was resurrected.

Funny, they still didn’t actually know who or what he was. This had been a fruitful exercise for him … his disease had worked. This thing that he had engineered to destroy memory had worked.

‘I didn’t trust it,’ said Berry. ‘I never trust these things. A bullet through the head is always the most effective end to a conversation.’

‘Funny, I always thought of you as the logical one – but the one incapacitated by wings as swift as meditation.’

‘Ah, well therein is the thing to catch the king, eh?’

‘I am no king, and you are saying your whole thing was a ruse to fool me? Interesting idea, but I wasn’t watching you.’

‘A giant that cannot see its own feet I see.’

‘Can you stop being cryptic and get this over with? I think I have mentioned my intolerance for long-winded bullshit before.’

‘There’s a localspace distortion field put out by the LEthe, and we found a way to hack it. We found a way to disrupt your spatiotemporal index and disconnect the causal blockchain of your central reality.’

‘OK, and you couldn’t do this remotely? You had to come here and bore me to death before you press the button?’

‘No no, I had to be in close proximity. I volunteered. My Callsign is Bury. Like Bury St Edmunds. There is something of the martyr about me.’

‘So you are going to be killed by this too?’

‘Neither of us will be killed, but we are going to be scattered out through time.’

‘All these dead-ends, it must be tiring. You can’t destroy me – there are safeguards in place to prevent that.’

‘Sure, if the back-up systems can find you.’

‘Your spatio-temporal disruptor? Go ahead, let’s see it in action.’

‘Oh, it already is in action – have you failed to notice the distortion already creeping in? Have you not noticed the reversal of the rejuve job? Haven’t you noticed your irregular heartbeat? You’ve been castrated, Mr Spay.’

-*-

The localspace crumpled, Berry felt like his ribcage had collapsed and his lungs were collapsing into suffocation. He watched the confusion wash across Spay’s face. How had they found him out? How had they outplayed him? Where had this game of chess gone south? Berry’s awareness shredded, and he tumbled out through the Dissociation Gates that dissembled all travellers; out into the reverberating echoes that the hallways of time were built from.

Spay clung to the notion of himself, latched onto some sense of himself as a cipher for something greater; his was a super-positional life; his destination was to leap into the mirror at the heart of The Metaphor House.

Strangespace

Strangespace – some kind of exotic byproduct dimension made of stuff that started to foam around the drives which tore apart dimensional properties to get from A to B. The first time it blipped on anyone’s radar was when someone picked up a distortion clambering through the SOS frequencies that mirrored something they had been using in their distress beacons, but with something extra layered under it; almost like it was backmasked into there.

Calumn Storing was the man who named it – Strangespace. More incidents started to get reported, and suddenly you had someone pushing out a communication on a neutrino stream that claimed to be coming from the other side of a dimensional tear.

Calumn moneyed up and funded an expedition into the territory – the territory fought back – it was almost as if an intentional push into the space was antithetical to its very nature, and it therefore pushed back. Calumn coined the term spatio-temporal pollution, and from there came supra-dimensional fragmentation, and a whole philosophy built around the idea of not travelling in the way they were travelling.

Bearer Quinton came up with the notion that the space was being manipulated by a person, rather than any kind of interference from the destructive engines they used. He fingered Calumn as the kind of patient zero that had somehow infected the materials of the localspace he had been studying with destructive intentionality … it worked remotely too … apparently. Fingers were pointed.

When asked what had happened to Calumn Storing in the years after his disappearance, Bearer Quinton was said to have coyly remarked that perhaps his expedition into Strangespace had finally been successful.

Was it that people stopped reporting it thereafter, or is it that it actually dissipated as the engine designs improved. Or was Calumn Storing’s absent intention the reason it vanished?

A New Eden

Weedbed – he’d hacked in deep and left all the routes lying around. We’d bed down as the sun boiled the horizon orange, looking at half written scripts that unspooled into abstract matter. This was supposed to be a place for sunflowers – an abstraction bed, a metaphor chassis for running some larger system on.

Hackspace dug into the reality riptides, and hack-objects provided concrete interfaces through which one could manipulate the world. Some days after a hard day of trying to configure the space, ocular migraines misting at the edge of his perception, he’d activate the hack-plugs embedded in his own flesh, and he’d mess around with himself like he was a chemistry set.

Dandelions and ragwort, little seeds dusting the place, scent strangely strong, and for  moment he couldn’t remember the larger function they’d been assigned. Carlos was named as Chief Gardener, and he liked the littoral territory his job allowed him to occupy. A strange job for a strange man – all quantum entangled deep-ware – move it and write it on a larger scale. He could think with a garden; it was sometimes harder to think of a closely linked ideational space that would fructify with seeds for real world terraforming. It was like being God in denial.

The weeds tested the larger machinery for flaws, and as each diagnostic procedure was carried out, they had to be removed. Flowers were kept, separated off, and passed on to various diagnostic teams – this was harvest three, and with some of the tweaks and experiments he had been able to carry out, he was convinced that they had been able to build a very effective universal engine that they were going to be able to ship out to the edge of scripted space, and plug it in and start generating some deep beds for reality to grow in.

Carlos pressed the end cycle button on the mini-vironment, and watched on his screen as a reality was zipped down, and what physical matter couldn’t be zipped was ported out through the tesseract translation engines. It all looked so simple – building universes. Eden was a crucible – he believed that now; believed that they had developed something analogous to it. He was proud to be part of it.

Bookmarker

Disguised as a clock – he checked it out of the Metaphor Bank, dropped it in his Translation Pocket, and moved through the Parse Doors towards Egress Point One.

Fifteen Stories up, and no one willing to tell the prologue. He throat punched three unreliable narrators on the way to this place, and climbed through three framing devices, and now he is stood ankle deep in some of the most cliched similes you could imagine, getting ready to pull the old deus ex machina move just to jump-cut in through the fourth wall.

He straps a book to his back and hopes that the the sequential flutter will start to riffle the pages and slow his descent. Anat is a Bookmarker – punching through half finished narratives into the realm of ideational space, where authorial hooks dig in and start to pull things into being. Muse is an old word – quaint; not useful; barely indicative of the hands-on bullshit they have to pull on a daily basis.

He lands feet first in a meandering digression that is trying for post-modern, and coming off instead as self-indulgent. He has to hit the ground running – they have this one marked up as possessing a pivotal character who is going to have full on Mirror Conversion Potential in the real world, so they have to make sure that it comes off like it’s supposed to.

Through deep golden fields under Van Gogh swirls of cerulean he runs, deep bass cetacean music from some non-descript ocean that will be developed in later drafts sounds through this world, and he sees him. He fires a descriptor anchor at the guy; locks him in, and then initiates a back-track protocol that fires hard and fast out of ideational space at the writer – whoomp! Right into his authorial process, and there you are … Canaster Perflume becomes a fixed point in the fiction. And he drops that thing in his pocket – a link root; a link route, and it binds to Canaster, and it binds to the writer. And all anyone knows is that the writer has an idea for a fantastic wristwatch.

Anat can run now, before the riptide illogic always on his heels catches up to him, swirls around, and locks him into a story he has no place being in. He detonates an Exit Wave and rides it into some notional space that no one can point to, but which works for the translation matrices, and hey presto, he is folding in through the tesseract barriers and arriving back where he started – fifteen stories up, staring at the rococco designs on the door near Egress Point One. Anat is happy – job done.

Or Mr

Smiles. Through flames. Yes, he does. A picture develops under a skin of chemicals. Snap. The moments aren’t quite joined up, fragile like a baby’s skull; pressure distorts the shape. And he moves through images like someone bursting through one of those hoops with tissue paper they sometimes use in clown acts, he thought it was.

He knew that somewhere scripts were pushing the direction of his footfalls. He knew that somewhere edits were pushing back. He was not a sympathetic character – he knew this, but he hadn’t run across many heroes … they were few and far between as far as he could discern.

He pressed each finger against the glass carefully – he did not wish to smudge the prints. Treat every act in your life like it is a potential crime scene. Why was that important? He wanted to make an impact, always. He had a strange sense of the world around him and himself.

The newspaper talked of him – a constant chatter which he had to work hard to tune out. How could he be villain though, if there was nothing he was doing except following around? He circled the word thoughtcrime in his battered copy of 1984. He thought long and hard about many things.

Death came from a rumour. He wasn’t sure who spread it, but it pushed out of the cocoon of its quotation marked genesis, and flapped its chaos butterfly wings to push towards oblivion on eddies that became tsunami. Bang bang. His suit ignited. And he dreamed that he was a phoenix, in moments where he was bleeding out, and … and … back to the beginning. The worm swallowed its tale.

What had he been doing? Who was he? Fingerprints in a room where nothing happened.

His sister wrote a little story about him where he had learned to eat fire. He fell asleep every night in a bed full of ribbons. They had said that he had done things – stolen ideas, wrote them out as his own – but the truth was, his death was the only act of plagiarism he had ever been involved in. It was strange. It was strange.

The gun fires. The fires burning. He gets fired. He gets shot. A photograph.