The Ticking Clock

The Ticking Clock
By
Andrija Popovic
(C) 2017 Andrija Popovic

4:19 AM Eastern Time. 

Every morning, an hour and a half before his alarm was set to go off, he awoke. His eyes snapped open. He took a deep breath, almost gasping. Reaching out, he touched his snoring wife’s form to one side, and his snoring cat’s from to the other. 

You have time. Just go back to sleep. He would tell himself this lie every time. But his mind would never fall back into torpor. He was awake. The ticking clock inside him said it was time to walk about, to rise. The rest of his body obeyed, despite his mind’s dearest wishes. 

After the fifth night, his wife said: “You need to see a specialist.”

So he visited the body shop and had his specialist crack him open. As he lay back, brain case exposed, the specialist peered at a tiny bit of grey matter held between two foreceps. “Well, that’s your problem right there.”

“What?”

“Damn biological clock was never set to auto-update for daylight savings time.  Gonna have to reprogram it and get it synced again. That’ll probably be another nine-hundred or so.”

Goddamned highway robbery, he thought. The specialist took the grey matter away and tinkered with it, quietly, in the background. Another two thousand down the tubes. Still, what was the value of a good night’s sleep?

4:19 AM Eastern Time. His mental clock did not go off. He did not wake up suddenly.

He woke up slowly, and really had to pee. Son of a bitch…

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It Was A Day

It Was A Day

by

Andrija Popovic
(c) 2017 Andrija Popovic

I’d just returned home and downloaded into my standard body when Theta pinged my personal network. “Hey? You centered yet?”

“Gimme a bit. I’m still synching.” My work body, designed for zero-G work, rested comfortably in the wall transfer closet. I shook the pins & needles from my normal form. No prehensile feet and tail on this one. Just a baseline model crafted to match against my original body’s DNA.  I watched the counter on my iris-HUD click over to green. All experiences from work were now synced, and backed-up in off-line memory. “Still feeling a little post-sync crud. Heading to the shower. Join me there?”

“Already have it warm for you.” Thea v.7 was one fork of a SyntheticIntelligence I met at work. She (preferred pronoun) ran predictive micrometeorite tracking and helped keep the orbital free of debris. Most nights, she was syncing with her sisters, matching version numbers and trading the day’s news around this time. I’d come home, we’d talk – she liked low-level processing. Said it felt more thoughtful.

When she dropped by early, she was usually interested in syncing with my nervous system, and playing hologram in my tiny apartment. Stepping into the shower, I felt her request for connectivity. Granting it, I closed my eyes. Water ran down my back, pushing aside the transfer closet’s preservative sludge.  Opening my eyes, I saw her in the shower with me. She manifested as a curvy lady in her mid-40’s with curly dark hair and shimmering koi tattoos running along her back.  We complimented each other well. I leaned in and kissed her, the system pairing tricking my nerves into thinking the projection was real.

“Hey. How’s the family?”

“Well. They’re doing well.” She wrapped her arms around my waist. The shower was barely big enough for myself and her hologram. She glitched slightly against the walls. One day, we’d be able to add another sector to our habitat module. Get a full-sized shower with double the projectors. But, I supposed those are the dreams young transhuman couples have: move in together, get more cloud and physical storage, maybe settle down into something permanent. “The sisters did ask me about something, though. And it lead me to think. I took a work cycle of personal time to help sort this through.”

“Oh? What’s that?” I let the shower hit me with soap and hair jell.

Thea reached up and showed me the palm of her hand. The koi tattoo along her back drifted, swimming up to her palm. When it surfaced, it blew a bubble with a compacted optical scan code embedded in the surface. I decoded it in a blink. It was her root address – the one she shared with all the other instances of herself. But it was too long. It had–

“Is this…oh, Thea, are you sure?”

“Yes.” She took my hand. “Maxi, I’d like to single-instance myself with you. I’d like to be a unique Thea. One that lives with you. If you’ll have me.”

By way of an answer, I reached out and took the code from her hand. My personal network read the address information, and instantly gave it a unique presence in my systems. Thea no longer shared a root system with her systems. She shared it with me.”

“I’d be honored.” I held her against me, enjoying the illusion of her actually being in the shower with me. “Welcome home, Thea v.7.m.” And then I laughed. “So, what next? Furniture shopping together.”

“Maybe. Did I tell you I was looking for datalife friendly bodies? Found a few I liked, but wanted to get your thoughts…” Thea smiled. I closed my eyes, picked through a memory of a particularly interesting kiss from my past, and dubbed her into it. She almost purred.

“Thea, hon, you are always in my thoughts. Now, let me get dried off. We can hop the mesh into one of the monitoring satellites and watch the sun hit the orbital as we talk.” Thea returned the kiss, edited and enhanced, and stepped out of the shower. I had a moment to myself.

Shared networks. It was time. And I’d been thinking of asking her. Now the body, that’s a different commitment. We’d need to slow down a bit, but we had time. As I shut off the shower, and walked over to the wall screens where Thea’s preferred bodies were displayed. Most were starter kits – simple, but a good place for any SI to begin feeling the new world. A year from now, maybe we could afford a more advanced model for her.

What is the one-year anniversary gift for a mixed SI/transhuman relationship? I didn’t know. but I wanted to find out.

(Inspired by a recent viewing of Blade Runner 2049.)

Meanwhile, That Tuesday (NSFW)

Meanwhile, That Tuesday
by
Andrija Popovic

(C) 2017 Andrija Popovic

 

Tuesday morning, cultists of Sesuva-Danna, the Seething God of Pain and Ecstasy, captured Michael Disimilov on his way to work. They dragged him out into the dark reaches of the city, beneath an abandoned manor, and flayed the business suit from his back with razor-tipped flails. Worshipers – male, female, indeterminate and others – took turns pleasuring and torturing him. Strapped to a great framework cut from the bones of dead gods, blood and semen ran down his body in equal measure. In the space of half a day, Michael’s nerves no longer distinguished between the cut of a blade or the lick of a tongue.

And then the rituals began.

Great malefic drawings were made from the spilled life on the floor. The cultists painted odes to their god, mixing pigment with that which dripped from Michael’s orifices. The walls blazed with Giger-esque landscapes; orgies of flayed bodies, tentacled faces, and alien genitalia swirled together into a whirlwind of aching desire. In the center of the great sexual melee stood the Priest/ess of Sesuva-Sanna, resplendent in zir piercing-covered skin and cobalt-blue body paint. Ze stroked Michael’s quivering lips and spoke:

“Rejoice! You have been chosen. You will become part of the great gateway that allows Sesuva-Danna to enter this realm at the next alignment of the stars. For thirty days and thirty nights, you will be loved and defiled until all sensations become one silver spear of light. Then, only then, will Sesuva-Danna descend upon this realm, and devour us all!”

Oh, thank God, thought Michael. At least I won’t have to tell my boss the Finterbrook account is cancelling. It’ll spare me another dip in my renewal rate…

Michael laughed and cried. He rejoiced as the Priest/Ess straddled and penetrated him, while the cultists sang, decorating each other with scars. This was his best Tuesday in months. For while he may become the unholy conduit through which a sybaritic god would enter this world, at least he would not have to withstand another Quarterly Business Review with Devon Martin and his smug “it doesn’t matter how terrible the product if you can sell the value of the company” speeches.

For once, Michael couldn’t wait for hump day…

 

Pandora Sands, or the Dream Author

I still remember standing in the doorway of the bookstore. Blue carpet stretched out under my feet. Above me, the sandy stone archways of the former cathedral now supported chandeliers and signs and at least one wooden ship with brass fittings and a golden sails.  Ten foot tall bookshelves made from old oak mingled with glass cabinets holding rare books, statues and hand-built models. You could walk up to a display of old maps, posters and artwork ripe for a dorm room wall.

And the music, Sonny Rollins style jazz, danced along the walls from an advanced sound system plugged into an old turntable. This was my idea of heaven. So it’s only fitting I’m dreaming the place. It’s hidden is some version of Prague, next to a comic book shop. My fiancée and I discover it and immediately dive into the stacks. She starts browsing, but I dive right to one specific part of the massive Science Fiction & Fantasy section.

It’s in the back, a low shelf topped by a glass display case featuring models of spacecraft held in suspension. The author I want is at the bottom. I sit, cross-legged, on the blue carpet and scan the paperbacks for her name: Pandora Sands

It’s easy to spot her. All of her work is published by DAW books. They feature the bright yellow spines. Her name glows in red while the book titles are solid black. The covers were painted in late 70’s Michael Whelan style.  I picked up the thickest of the books. It featured a woman in sphere – some form of anti-grav travel bubble –  wearing a brightly colored robe, pointing to the distance. The ground was split like a chessboard. Great towers swept above everyone in he background. In the foreground, beautiful men in sandals and thongs shared the scenes with lizard-like aliens.

Pamela Sands wrote like a combination of Tanith Lee and C.J. Cherryh. Her space operas were adventurous, detailed, sensual and political. They featured a freelance troubleshooter, Lady Stacia DuVare, and her travels across the galaxy. Supposedly, the character was created after meeting Stacia Blake at a Hawkwind concert.

In the end, I put the book back and just stared at the shelf. Even in my head, I knew this was a dream. There was no Pamela Sands, no books like this. They only existed in the mists of my mind.  Which is a damn shame.  When I woke up I Googled the name, hoping, but there was nothing.

But who knows – maybe she does exist? Or will, some day. And decades from now, an adventurous spirit will find her books tucked away in a used book store built within a church…

The Truth Revealed – thanks to Garth Marenghi

I admit, I was sucked in. A sheeple lead to the slaughter. But my eyes were opened by the brilliance of this man- Garth Marenghi:

 

It was here, in the awful light of his amazing literary talent, that I realized the Puppy campaigns were right all along. Why has a grand literary talent such as Marenghi never been honored with a Hugo? Was he too popular? Was he to controversial?

No, there is only one explanation for how this titan of terror, this dean of dark fantasy never received any popular recognition: the liberal Social Justice Warrior cabal and their gamma male army. Just as he was not responsible for a massive fire in Romford, Essex, in an attempt to hide massive tax frauds funding his suppressed film War of the Wasps, he was in no way responsible for the shameful treatment he received at the hands of the establishment.

Here the bloody-handed responsibility lies with the dark conspiracy of emasculating fiends, who dare to suggest works such as Ancillary Justice hold more merit than Wasp Sabat, or Stabber.  I only hope history judges your evil acts with more kindness than you’ve judged this demigod of a dream weaver.

A Quick Thought – The Screaming Gate

I had a thought – just needed to write it down. It won’t mean anything to folks now, but in the future.

At the end of K’s story, H dies in her arms. The body is preserved, though. When K is placed about Amantia, and the ship tries to fix itself, it uses H’s body as a way to do so. A ends up in H’s body.

Now, K’s got two goals: find who made her the way she is, and find a way to get A back in her body so H can be brought back to life completely.

The answers are through the gate.

I Believe in Blast Mancheese

 

I have an idea for a short story, but it’s a terrible one. So I’m writing it out over here. Just bits and bobs, for the purposes of exorcising it.

***

The story opens with our rocket scientist hero, blonde and muscular as all true heroes must be, arguing with politicians. The Martians have directed an asteroid towards earth, and the only way to intercept it is to ignite the booster rockets on an asteroid brought into the Earth/Moon sphere for mining purposes. He proposes a military strike to take the asteroid from the thugs and killers currently operating it.

The politician is objecting to the plan based on the recommendation of a so-called scientist (because sociology and those other sciences are not real. And besides, the scientist is a woman and a diplomat, which undercuts her greatly).  The asteroid is filled with refugees from various failed ethnic colonies. They can negotiate a resettlement deal without military action.

Our hero is resolute, even when his trusty ethnic subordinate thinks they should try negotiating.  And when our Hero confronts the woman sociologist, they reveal a mutual anger style attraction.  A plan is set to meet at a neutral colony. The hero is not invited.

Of course it’s a trap – the asteroid scum can only think about money, drugs and rapine, which they try to extort and take from the sociologist and her politicians. Our hero comes in with military support and rescues them all.  As a reward, the hero takes our woman sociologist to bed, where she admits the error of her ways and agrees to a military strike.

During the raid he sees the so-called refugees have a luxury items, thus proving they were wasting their resources instead of improving their lot in life and didn’t deserve any kindness. During the raid, the hero is just about to set the controls and start the burn when his trusty ethnic subordinate betrays him! The betrayal is for money and power, as the Martians have promised him debauched pleasure for the rest of his life.

Our hero kills his former sidekick, adding manpain to the story, and then launches the asteroid. After venting the remaining scum into space, he goes back to the colony for his reward – the woman, now ditching her former ways and supporting her man in every way.

***

Of course, this isn’t the whole story. In the end we would have a small paper written up by a Martian settler, discussing how stories like this one have gone on to shape Earth-Mars relations. It’s hard to negotiate with someone who sees your seed ethnic stock as traitorous, any sciences without direct military or industrial applications ‘useless’ and military action as the only solution. So the war continues.

Again, nothing interesting. But I had to get it out of my brain somewhere.