Author : Desmond Hussey, featured writer
I hate psychologists with a passion, but when I saw the ad requesting lucid dreamers for research into the origin of dreams, I couldn’t resist. Besides, they’re offering stipends and I need the cash.
I stub out my cigarette and suck back their crappy coffee from a tiny styrofoam cup. At least it’s free.
“How long have you been a lucid dreamer?” the black chick asks. She isn’t half-bad looking for a shrink, but she’s still a pompous brain jockey.
“All my life.” I respond. I pull out another smoke.
“How much control do you have?” the other one asks. What a dweeb! I mean, come on, who uses pocket protectors anymore?
“I can do whatever I want.” I light up, inhale and wink at the hottie, then exhale my smoke at the dweeb. “I go wherever I want, whenever I want. I can fly, make it rain, say what I want, make love to – ”
“We’re not interested in your sexual fantasies,” the dweeb cuts in. “Just your range of control.”
“Whatever.” I sulk.
Brown Sugar takes over and asks the strangest thing. “If you were given specific questions, would you be able to ask them in your dream?”
“We’ll get to that. Just answer the question.” The nerdy guy is getting testy. I don’t think he likes me. Whatever.
“Yeah. As long as it wasn’t a bunch of whack, nerd lingo, sure.” They share some significant eye contact. Stupid skull fuckers. “So, what’s this study for anyway?”
Hotstuff gets a twinkle in her eye and starts yammering about how they’ve made some breakthrough concerning the origin of dreams. They’ve worked out that dreams are actually the brain’s response to an external stimulus, but they don’t know what the source of that stimulus is. Why? Get this – because it appears to be everywhere, all the time. Whatever this thing is manifests in each dreamer differently depending on their psychology. Some people respond with fear because they’re phobic, some experience joy and great sex because they’re “well adjusted”. I had to laugh at that part. Nobody’s ever suspected an external influence, except maybe native shamans who interpreted dreams as messages from Christ knows where. It all sounds pretty fucked up to me and I tell them so.
“Look,” Brainiac snaps. ”All we ask is that you allow us to take you into REM sleep. When you’ve established control all you need to do is ask some questions and remember the answers. It’s that simple.”
“What do you say?” Dr. Sex-bomb smiles. I think she’s warming up to me.
“Sure. What the hell.”
It’s a recurring dream. I’m in my mother’s house where I grew up, but my mother isn’t there. I’m alone. I search every room, but all I find is piles of junk. I open a door and I’m crushed by an avalanche of garbage. For some reason, I know it’s my garbage; hamburger wrappers, beer cans, cigarette butts, porn mags, televisions, DVD’s, ballcaps – everything I’ve ever owned fills the house to the brim. I’m drowning in it.
I look at my hands. Six fingers. Concentrate. Five. Good. I’m getting control.
I will myself outside and float toward a lime green sky.
“Can you hear me?” I ask.
“Yes.” The clouds respond.
“Where are you?”
“I am everywhere.” The air vibrates.
“What are you?”
“I am your Mother. Sky. Water. Soil. Home. I am Earth. I am death. I am life. I am dying. I am dying. You are killing me.”
“What do you want?”
“I need you to listen carefully…”
Author : Bob Newbell
“This time we’re done for. This is finally the end, I think,” said Triana. Of course, she didn’t really “say” anything. She communicated her thoughts to her husband, Loret, by modulating the zero-point energy that comprised her being.
“You say that every time something like this comes up. ‘This is it. This is the end,'” replied Loret. “We’ve been through worse than this. Remember posthumanism?”
“Posthumanism was nothing. That never worried me,” she responded with a submodulation of annoyance.
“That’s not how I remember it. You were concerned we wouldn’t really be the same people. Our consciousnesses transferred to organic metaprocessors. Synthesized bodies. You thought it would be two impostors waking up from the procedure with our memories. But, no, it was still us.”
“That didn’t bother me that much. The transition to full machine-beings was a little worrisome,” she said.
“I thought you’d liked being a machine,” replied Loret. “You used to love exploring the galaxy. Ah, those were the days, weren’t they? Spend a few years exploring a solar system, hibernate on the journey between stars, wake up a few subjective minutes later and explore another system.”
“We were little more than kids then. Less than 10,000 years old. When you’re that young it’s easy to think you’re immortal and indestructible,” said Triana. “But now…”
“There you go again, the eternal pessimist. You haven’t been this worried since the Plasma Revolution,” said Loret.
“We lost quite a few people going from machine to plasmatic beings,” said Triana. “It took them a few thousand years to get it right. Swapping your mind between brain tissue and metaprocessor tissue and molecular computer blocks is one thing. Mapping a personality and a hundred thousand years of memories into a plasma and keeping it stable is something else entirely. If more people had been concerned, maybe we would have lost fewer…”
Loret was no longer listening. He’d have rolled his eyes if he still had them. After several trillion years of marriage, you’d think I’d have learned not to have this argument, he thought to himself.
“Well,” Loret said, “here it comes. Get ready.”
“I’m scared,” said Triana. “A vacuum metastability event isn’t like anything we’ve ever encountered. The laws of physics themselves will be different once the false vacuum collapses. Life in any form might not even be possible.”
“If it’s not, we’ve had a good, long life. If it is, we’ll adapt as we always have.”
Loret modulated his zero-point energy field in synchronization with hers — the rough analog of an embrace for their current state — as they awaited the end of the universe.
Author : Ian Florida
Jack was grateful he had never been human. He was thankful that he’d skipped out on that entire sliver of Earth’s history. He knew humans: pink bundles of flesh with more emotional baggage then a type IV psychic could ever hope to unravel. That he didn’t want to be human wasn’t strange at all, what was surprising, however; was that he kept falling so madly in love with them.
He kissed her. Her breath tasted like wine and chocolate. Pulling away he looked into her eyes which shone as brightly as Andromeda’s galactic core. “Will you upgrade?”
“I’m already H+, I’ll live forever if that’s what you’re worried about, my little Metal Man.
They’d had the conversation before, and part of him didn’t want to bring it up again. He knew it’d be painful. But if he could only make her understand… “But we can’t interface.”
She caressed his bare chest.“I thought we just did?” She cooed.
He tapped his soft polymer head. “I mean up here.”
“You mean you can’t read my mind. You don’t trust me?”
“No, it’s about intimacy.”
“You don’t love me as much as you’d love another robot.”
He tried to kiss her again hoping she’d forget it. But she wasn’t interested in a truce. Her long aquamarine hair slapped him in the face as she turned her head.
He hissed. “Don’t be like that.”
Her eyes were hard and cold. “I-Should-be-more-ro-bot-ic,” she mocked the way he spoke.
“I don’t like that word. I’m an AI, I don’t sit on a line riveting space ships.”
Her tone was smooth but still not quite as warm as right before the kiss. “Is that robot racism?”
“All I’m saying is if you were to upgrade, just to Cyber, not even full body, we’d be able to Link.”
She spat. “Like you and Aurora.”
Jack groaned. “Don’t bring her into this.”
“Why do you keep winding up with women if what you really want is another bot?”
“I hate that word.”
Her slender fingers wrapped around the control disk on the wall. “Fine, bodied AI.” I’m going out for a bite, I’m sure you wouldn’t want to see anything so crude so you can stay here.”
“Stay, please. Let’s talk about this. You know you don’t need to eat.”
“And you don’t need to Link. But they’re both a part of who we are, and if you can’t love me for what I am….”
She slammed the door. Humans loved slamming things, but her especially. She’d even found a way to slam the automatic ones.
She was always partly right. He attributed it to her being such an advanced Bio, reorganized at the genetic level. She wasn’t natural, any more than he was really. But Bio’s and Metals had two different ways of thinking about things. Maybe I just love the conflict. He mused. He closed down his physical inputs and plugged into the Global Link.
Kate’s gentle voice whispered into his ear. “Wake up.”
His eyes came back online. He glanced out the window, it was light outside. She had let him “sleep,” all night. She was nowhere in sight. “Did you sleep well?” She asked.
His eyes darted around the room. “Where are you?”
She cooed. “Next door.”
He stepped into the bedroom. A wave of ecstasy washed over his mind, at that moment he realized it was not her voice he was hearing.
She was spread out naked on the bed. Her amber body glowed with the light of early dawn. On the surface she looked exactly the same. But he could feel her thoughts washing over him, like a shower, warm and comforting. He could see all her past and all her fears. He crawled into bed beside her and took her into his arms.
“I love you so much,” he whispered.
“I didn’t get a full conversion, it’s just the wireless.”
“But we can still Link, that’s all that matters.”
“I did it for you Jack, and now you’ll have to do something for me.”
“He grinned as she pressed her warm body against his.”
“I want you to learn Salsa Dancing,” she cooed as sent him the image of a man in a sombrero.
Their lips pressed together. He linked directly to her mind, the sensation overpowered him. Made his whole body tremble. Their mouths pressed tight his words danced out directly from his mind to hers. “The things we do for love…”
Author : Desmond Hussey, Featured Writer
“Good evening honored representatives of the World Coalition,” Dr. Dretch drones standing near an unconscious patient strapped to an inclined table. The top of the patient’s skull has been removed, revealing grey brain matter. A neural net, made of fine filament is stretched across the moist tissue, relaying relevant data from various lobes to several sleek, crystalline monitors surrounding the Doctor. His audience, the Cabal, observe from some unseen gallery.
“I have dedicated my entire life to realizing the World Coalition’s glorious vision; ‘The unification of all global citizens under one supreme authority.’ To this end, I have perfected Cerebral Mechanics, the science of mind control.
“With Cerebral Mechanics I’m able to manipulate every system in the body, effectively playing it like an intricate musical instrument. Most importantly, like any instrument, it can be re-tuned, simply and effectively.
“Cerebral Mechanics will reshape the way the modern mind thinks, ending the anarchy of rebellion currently plaguing the World Coalition. With your permission, I shall demonstrate.”
Dretch beams proudly. After a tense silence, a voice speaks. American. “We’re aware of your alleged success, Doctor, however, the reason you’re here today is to demonstrate the unexpected side effect of Cerebral Mechanics mentioned in your report. Meta-Consciousness. The OMEGA Complex.”
A sheen of moisture appears on Dretch’s forehead. Thin tributaries of sweat form quickly within the deep contours of his face, bending around the multi-optics monocle implanted in his right eye to finally drip off his pudgy chin.
“Deliberately initiate OMEGA Complex? That would not be advisable.”
“You’re a Cerebral Mechanic, Doctor, not an advisor.” Asian female. “Can you, or can you not duplicate OMEGA Complex? We wish to observe this phenomenon.”
“I’ll begin immediately.” Dretch adjusts his neural wand anxiously. “I must caution, however, the identity I’m about to manifest poses a very dangerous threat. Furthermore, Cerebral Mechanics will no longer be a viable tool for control once the patient has gone OMEGA.”
“We’ll consider ourselves sufficiently warned. Proceed.” German.
Reluctantly, Dretch initiates the complicated procedure, his neural wand targeting strategic cerebral algorithms. After several minutes of intricate, synaptic adjustments, he steps nervously away from the table. The patient’s mouth has curved into a disturbing, beatific smile.
“OMEGA complex initiated. Request permission to leave Operating Gallery.”
“Denied. Commence the interview.”
Dretch turns nervously toward the patient, whose febrile eyes are fixed on him, latent power glowing within.
“Do I unnerve you, Doc?”
“I’ll ask the questions,” Dretch snaps, struggling to maintain control.
“Who are you?”
“You’d be more interested in what I am.”
“What are you then?”
It sings, note perfect, “I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.” Lyrics from a long black-listed song of the previous century.
“What was once divided has been remade. I am Omega-Mind, perceiving the beginning and ending of all things.”
“Will you serve the Coalition?” Dretch’s voice trembles with false courage.
“How little you understand. There are no servants. There’s nothing to serve.”
The patient’s restraints clatter to the floor. Lights flicker as he levitates from the chair, wreathed in blue auroral flames.
“Destroy them,” someone commands.
“You kill your prophets, now witness! Your house is left desolate!” His eyes ignite – twin suns of rage within a living dynamo. Bolts of electricity lash the room. “The Universe beckons!”
Vents blast the Operation Gallery with broiling clouds of poisonous gas. When the smoke clears only Dretch’s electrified corpse remains. The patient is gone. There is no sign of egress.
“We must harness this power.” The American.
In Chinese, “Perhaps we’re not meant to.”
Author : Clint Wilson, Staff Writer
“Indestructabuddies! They’re completely indestructible! Drop them from skyscrapers, throw them into traffic! Freeze them, burn them, blow them up reeeal good! Indestructabuddies, your new best friend who will last you forever and ever and ever and ever…….”
On echoed the announcer’s blasting intrusive voice.
And the middle and upper classes ate it up with gusto. Soon nearly everyone who could afford the hefty price had an Indestructabuddy of their own. The half-meter tall humanoid marvels were identical to one another. Silvery gray from their bald heads to their naked chubby feet, and basically featureless; their smooth faces, devoid of eyes, yet indented where one might normally find them, a bump of a nose without nostrils, and the vague shape of a mouth capable of smiling, frowning or performing various other expressions of human mimickery. They were without visible hinge or joint, their smooth skin shiny like rubber, they moved about with mechanical ease in their rolls as likable and amiable companions to the affluent. In cities around the world Indestructabuddies splashed in fountains, frolicked in parks, and skipped behind their owners.
Their intelligence was limited to their ability to obey and follow simple commands, almost doglike in nature. But the advertisement’s proclamation was true. Indestructabuddies were truly and utterly, indestructible. Oh, people had tried with all their might to disprove this, luring the happy-go-lucky animatrons into countless dangerous situations, even strapping one to a nuclear warhead during a detonation test. After the mushroom cloud had dissipated and the dust had settled, the unscathed Indestructabuddy had come happily trundling out of the wasteland unaffected.
This was what had world governments suddenly so very interested in this phenomenon that had, up until recently, seemed an advanced toy, nothing more than a cultural novelty. Questions were raised. What was behind their technology? Who was their inventor? Had they even passed through all safety standards testing?
Their creator was also the head of the corporation that produced them by the hundreds every day. Gerhardt Gower was a mediocre scientist with a low level degree in robotics. The limited intelligence and intellectual ability of his popular creations were actually typical for a man with his level of expertise trying to make his way in the competitive modern android market. But what had government agents and other interested parties completely baffled was how this middle-of-the-road inventor had somehow come up with these unfathomable other technologies all on his own, technologies that now had militaries all over the world drooling.
Gower himself admitted that his discovery had been accidental, a major fluke to say the least. But he would not divulge the secret that gave his little robots such indestructibility, and powered their bodies perpetually without recharge, only hinting that he had somehow harnessed the infinite power of the subatomic microverse.
After months and then years of court battles and the professor’s continuous refusal to talk, his factory was shut down, the further sale of Indestructabuddies outlawed. And then some genius of a high court actually ordered to have Gower’s products rounded up and destroyed. It was a short-lived and fruitless campaign. As, even though indestructible, the human race protected their little companions fiercely. In the end the governments had to admit defeat.
Especially after Gerhardt Gower got the last laugh, destroying himself along with his factory in a massive explosion, his manufacturing machines, his plans, his secrets, all gone with him forever. And then as the ashes settled to the ground and the smoke dissipated, the final hundred-thousand Indestructabuddies marched out into the world unscathed, ready to join their millions of siblings, ready to exist forever.
Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer
My mount is about an acre across from wingtip to wingtip.
I’m sitting between her eyes, up near the front. I have a windshield set up, sheltering my sleeping quarters, replicator, garden, fridge, toilet bag and pilot’s chair.
She’s the colour of sand stretching away on either side of me, the same colour as the sky.
This is an ocean planet. There are beings that spend their entire lives in the oceans and there are beings that spend their entire lives in the air.
I am riding the latter.
She coasts for weeks at a time around the air currents, eating the occasional minnowbird or troutflyer that crosses her path.
When she needs to really feed, she’ll angle down into a steep dive to the ocean surface. We’re so high up that it takes her half an hour to get down there. Her mouth opens wide enough to eat a small town on old Earth as she rips apart the waves on impact and dives deep to feed on anything moving.
I’m not there for this part of her life. I’d die in the chemical waters.
The beings that we ride need to sleep and mate before they feed.
I’m looking through the windshield and sitting in my chair. I can see on the overlay that a linkup is happening six miles from here.
She angles west through soft summer winds and clouds. She’s heading to that pack.
These beings meet up and extend small talons from the tips of their enormous wings. The interlock these talons and form giant islands in the skies. Fifty or sixty of them at a time.
She’ll hang onto her mates and close her eyes. During this time, mating fluids will pass between the couplings. It’s a giant orgy, to be precise, albeit one with no motion and almost entirely done while sleeping.
During this time, we riders have the chance to stand and stretch our legs. We walk across the wingspans to each other’s cockpits to chat and share stories. For some of us, it’s a chance to reunite with old lovers, catch up with stories.
We’ll set up camps on the strongest flyers and have small parties.
There are six hundred thousand of us riders. We’re linked by the windshields when we’re apart but it’s these gatherings that really define our lives.
One can never tell what people will be at a gathering, dictated as they are by the winds our flyers glide on. We count ourselves lucky if there are old friends.
One by one, the gliders will disengage and dive low to the ocean to feed. They’ll return when full, impatient to get back to flying the skies.
We get a signal when our mount’s biogram tells us that it’s time to disengage. We return to our mounts and strap in. Our mounts unhook their mating talons and we angle away, ready for another solitary chapter of gliding in the endless sky above the endless ocean.
This meetup is the first one I’ve been to in over a month and a half. My mount must be starving. From the pings I’ve receiving on my windshield, Jenna and Steve will be there. Sarah, too. She’s recent. I haven’t seen Jared in six meetups now and that makes me sad. I hope he’s there.
I can see it in the distance now, a horizon-smudge flatland in the sky where I’ll get to say hello to old friends and maybe meet some new ones.