Shatter

You don’t really learn how to shatter someone’s skull – they tell you all about it, they give you all the information on where to hit, and how to hit, but at the end of the day it is something you find out for yourself. Some things are so close up and personal that you have to get your hands dirty. He got his hands dirty.

He stood there looking at her laid naked on the bed, her eyes REM-sleep ticking through Meme Dreams, slightly frothing at the mouth, her ident-mask on the bedside table. She was supposed to help him forget what he had done; some people liked drugs to blot it out, and some people liked women.

She didn’t come anywhere near scratching the colossal itch that was shivering through him. He dressed and he stepped outside, chameleon fractal camera projectors booting up and reparsing the environment around him so that no one could see him. Well, unless they were digging with the kind of spades that the people he knew were going to be using – still, it would slow them down at least.

Barron, his commander, circled around the block where he was stood, in out of the rain and the refraction index issues caused immeasurable stutters in the chameleon suit he wore. He smoked a cigarette while he waited for the rain to ease.

All of them were intimate with the act of fist fighting – they had names to match; they were intimate with shattering someone’s skull. Barron had sent Donkeypunch in after him because the man had had success before; for the lack of subtlety in the method of his kill-strike he was harder to see approaching than a cat in hunting mode.

That thump, that fist, that punch – that thing which you had worked so long to perfect, you always knew that some day you would end up on the end of a similarly fashioned blunt weapon.

‘Jerome,’ whispered the man, as his knuckles connected with the back of Jerome’s head.

Jerome thought of the girl again, and he wished he were sinking into the Meme Dream. But his sleep would be so much deeper than that.

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Would For The Trees

He looked at the bonsai that he had been growing and pruning into shape. The picture on the wall matched it exactly. It had been a long project. Here he had crafted his first time machine – through the fractal line, down through the rings of age he would travel, deep into the heartwood.

He had heard that many trees had been falling in The Woulds. Many of his contemporaries had taken their Leave, and were in The Wind. They had dug in hard, long ago, and found the underpinning undercurrent of ideational actuation that drove the super-positional data drive that reality was constructed from, and their metaphorical machines represented complex engines running off the deepest substrate of existence.

It was a lost art – the pruning of these vehicles into something usable, and Hent had been studying for a very long time, and he was now the sole expert left. Why had it taken him so long? Why was no one else interested?

They said it began with the Turn Of The Leaf, that that presaged The Fall, and then the rot set in. People were so apathetic, and the world was literally falling down around them.

He stuck his hands into the dirt, and he grabbed the roots of that little tree, all the time holding the image of the larger tree in his mind – The Yggdrasil. It was said that one saw the Hesperidean Apples falling like golden suns before one, when one had snagged a branchline and was being pulled into the subtext. A moment – an endless moment – he was a still center beneath a tree … apples falling … cherry blossom falling … small children scrumping for gold falling.

And he was falling, out through the boundaries of the room, his body and the small tree folding out through a bright point of light, a tear in the fabric of spacetime, through the twisting throat of a tesseract stint, into the smooth tube of a wormhole, and wham, out through one of the ancient Singularity Gates, and there you are – escaped into something other, something larger.

Hent stands and he looks around him, and he sees no Woulds. He sees dun brown of all the dones, no longer dunderheads … they got here: here to the promised landing zone. Refugees from a Reality Collapse. Hent grabbed something from his pocket – he walked out past the boundaries of the settlement – a long walk (a good sign), and he did as tradition demanded: he scattered the handful of seeds he had brought with him.

Defect

He was an on-target Communist who regularly hit the Marx. Sat there, stroking his prodigious beard with his tattooed hand, he wondered about all those visits to Lenin that he had made. So long ago. Now he drank vodka in a bar in St Petersburg, Florida, and pondered how little return he had got on the investment of defection.

Vladimir was smoking cheap Russian smokes and watching the bar’s regulars mill around, turning circles through the dullness of their daily routines, until the momentum petered out and they pitched forward into their pitchers of beer.

He didn’t work now – he had invested well, and he had an amazing amount of resources. He had been a heavy in Mother Russia, and he had used his tendency towards mercy to garnish his pay quite handsomely – let someone off, take a little bit of information, and go and invest based on it. If it worked out badly and the information was bad, you could always locate creatures of habit easily, and you could break a few bones until they either paid up or remembered how to be useful some other way.

People came to ask him questions – students mostly. He was a swarthy good-looking fifty, and he bedded some of the sultry language students looking for a bit of danger. It was not how his life was supposed to turn out. He had been a straight up gangster since he got kicked out of school, and he had been building something of an empire. That period when the underworld was suddenly flooded by ex-KGB was hard though, and he had pissed a fair few of them off. He had to leave – given the death threats and the injuries he received, it did not take much to convince his liaison that he needed asylum.

It was cold outside, but it was bright, he walked down past the art museum to the park, where they sometimes showed movies, and he sat under one of the trees, looking up at the fairy lights, thinking about all he had lost; thinking about how long he had mourned those losses. It was time to go home, time to walk through the town, get on the bus, and make his way back to that little room. He never escaped his Russianness – it was the first thing anyone here noticed about him. He was proud, but it made him sad. Sat on the bus, he fell asleep, as he always did, and he dreamt of walking across the permafrost, seeing the twinkling ice crystals in the air before him – he woke up remembering how warm he always felt in Russia; he thought about how cold he felt in Florida. He laughed – life was a joke most people didn’t get. How often he was one of those.

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.

Outlines

He was an Outline, some kind of reality glitch, where the continuum rejig hadn’t erased a non-person completely. Logically they shouldn’t have existed, but somehow there was residual data stored in the signalling part of some of the upper dimensional particles that had been quantum entangled with the individuals.

He could see others like him easily – he knew none of the non-Outlines could really do that, but where did that get him … unless there was some kind of quantum physicist genius who had been outlined as well, they weren’t going to be building any escape routes any time soon.

He knew his mother had christened him Christopher, but he felt that the fact he no longer technically had a mother meant his name seemed a little invalid too. Screw it, might as well call himself Christ – who was going to oppose it?

It was maybe his third year of trudging through this half-life. It seemed longer – relativity took hold of the experience and stretched it like taffy. It was depressing – reality was a vestigial limb of his perceptual apparatus that itched like hell, but which he couldn’t get in a position to scratch.

Christ sat down and wondered how this had come to pass – what thing had been bumped aside or erased from the continuum preceding his existence that had wiped him out? What if he could skirt back down the loop of infinity, through the eye of the needle singularity, and unstitch that event horizon slipslide drown into oblivion? There was something unphysical about him, so what if the logical constraints of the physical universe were not binding to him? He felt no concern about theoretical Hawking radiation or unilinear time. What did he care for the postulated universe of some quantum physicist? What if observer influence and intention had made the first time travel machine possible, and what if, here on the outskirts of the real, his own perceptual push could undo something … could unmake some newly minted absolute?

He had once listened to a cassette on the power of positive thought. He had once managed to get his foot behind his head after a particularly limber yoga class where he had spent over an hour sat in the vedic position doing circular breathing – so he could focus really hard … he was good at that shit. So he did it.

One man can make a change – he had been an author back before he was wiped out. He had ghost-written before, so he was used to working with outlines. He sat there and he reconfigured the localspace around him into a script, digging in down deep and dirty into the heart of reality, and he had started to fill in that outline. He sat there and smiled as he thought about how all works of art are, in some small way, a self portrait, and he wrote himself anew; he wrote himself back in.

He sat there writing, burying himself in the work, excavating himself from the shadow world he had slipped into, and when he felt the soft pressure of a hand on his shoulder, and when he smelt the familiar perfume that his mother always wore, he knew he had travelled back to reality … one he had put there, and he fell in love with his life and the world again. He knew it loved him back, because he was the one who was the beating heart at its center – he was the engine of this place, and as he drove it on it rewarded him back.

 

whine bottle

The airplane collapsed, A gravity wave swelled through the reality-pinch bottleneck and folded it up like it was made of origami. It was an ingress trigger point, but they had no frequency markers, so who knew who had pushed back through the chronological string?

Husker pulled long on the bottle of vodka, surfed his ambulance chaser stations, and sent out wide range pings to sound out any anachronistic objects. Julio was inhaling a bottle of red and his compadre Hinky was swallowing some Zinfandel.

Two hours into the situation it escalated beyond anything they had ever seen before. A wave crested and dropped solid into a heavily populated area, and smashed the people there like they were bugs. Husker knew that their visitor was having an anchoring issues, and that the ricochet was part of the partial manifestation problem.

Hinky had a great ear, and Julio was a great shot. Husker got them in the right place at the right time, and they did the job. More people ended up in the line of fire than ever, and more casualties resulted than he would have thought possible.

He plugged all the data into his prediction crucible and he waited. They arrived an hour before the wave was due to hit. Husker watched. Hinky listened. Julio aimed. It appeared, preceded by a faint buzz. Hinky span and pointed north north east, Julio followed his direction and, whump, fired one of their special patented bullets right into the heart of the distortion, and bang, the time machine and the time travellers exploded. A balance was restored. That faint whine, from the aftermath of one of these events, it disappeared, when you lifted a bottle. Husker always got drunk after something like this.