Black Rainbow

Author: Jae Miles, Staff Writer

I always remember the secret my great-grandfather told me: “Absinthe was never to blame, my dear. It’s what was added to the absinthe that caused problems. By accident or design, adulteration led to unexpected side effects.”
There’s a bottle of vintage absinthe on the table in front of me, next to the data store and my computer. It’s the last bottle from great-grandfather’s cellar. I’ve been saving it for a special occasion.
Glancing out the window, I see flashing lights reflecting across the buildings. The eyes of a cat on a window ledge opposite reflect the kaleidoscopic display. A flicking tail is all that betrays annoyance at humans disturbing its nightly foray.
‘Adulteration leads to unexpected side effects.’ So true. Like adding an independent programmer to a dedicated team because they don’t have the skills necessary to enable the outrageous things they’ve created. I came highly recommended and reasonably priced. They tripled my rate and paid half in advance; too much, too soon. I arrived with the certainty I was never intended to spend the bounty, but addicted to the challenge and confident I could get out from under.
Sure enough, the programming was wonderful to do and behold. Intricate and innovative. Ground-breaking, in places.
Then Tokyo went dark. A million people died before infrastructure and services could be restored. I looked at what I’d created and mentally filled in the functions of the subroutine stubs with breaking a metropolis in mind. Allowing for a margin of error and inevitable paranoid interpretations, I became sure a scaled-up version of my ‘prototype’ was being used in the wild.
Survivors of the first night Rio de Janeiro went dark could only describe the holocaust that happened in biblical terms. I vomited myself dry, then sought and detected sufficient data traces to confirm my fear.
In too deep to get out, I chose to be honest and made an adjustment to the next release, along with spiking the backups and clones.
Berlin went dark for eight minutes before my revised coding halted the whole suite of programs, flashed up the postcode of my employer’s headquarters on every display still capable of holding an image, then deleted the suite and itself.
My apartment is on the seventeenth floor and my employer’s kill teams are on the fourteenth. Anti-terror units are on the eleventh, with armed personnel from assorted agencies on floors nine through five. Somewhere amongst the back markers is the help I called. At least they’ll be able to identify my corpse and fill in the details when the coming battle is over.
I use a hammer and chisel to crack the containment on the data store. Pouring myself a half-tumbler of absinthe, I take a pause with my other hand poised above the drink. With a smile, I tip the store. The liquid hits the absinthe without a splash and I watch as the suspended nanoparticle clusters form a beautiful black rainbow that spirals in the wake of the narrow silver spoon. Soon, six terabytes of unique programs and their support libraries are swirling prettily.
As the kill team starts work on my door, I pour a measure of champagne into the mix. I’m going to be a little late for a ‘Death in the Afternoon’. Hope Hemingway will forgive me.
The outer door gives way. I drink the glass without pause for air or second thoughts. A strange, cold energy assaults my senses. Not sure if it’s real or hallucination.
The inner door collapses. A shotgun-toting armoured form rushes in. I raise the empty glass toward my murderer.


  1. Thomas Desrochers

    Excellent cyberpunk. Quite gripping – I really enjoyed it.

  2. djl

    Gripping flash, loved the vivid tech!

  3. SimonJM

    I think they’d had a sip or three before hand if they think their ex-employer will allow a corpse to be found.
    Gripping and visceral – good one.

    • Jae

      Their employer has bigger problems, as will those kill teams when the anti-terror and assorted other enforcement mobs arrive.

  4. Adam Gerencser

    Whoa there. This flash could, scratch that, should be turned into a ‘Black Mirror’ episode.

Submit a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Random Story :

The Past

365tomorrows launched August 1st, 2005 with the lofty goal of providing a new story every day for a year. We’ve been on the wire ever since. Our stories are a mix of those lovingly hand crafted by a talented pool of staff writers, and select stories received by submission.

The archives are deep, feel free to dive in.

Flash Fiction

"Flash fiction is fiction with its teeth bared and its claws extended, lithe and muscular with no extra fat. It pounces in the first paragraph, and if those claws aren’t embedded in the reader by the start of the second, the story began a paragraph too soon. There is no margin for error. Every word must be essential, and if it isn’t essential, it must be eliminated."

Kathy Kachelries
Founding Member


We're open to submissions of original Science or Speculative Fiction of 600 words or less. We only accepting work which you previously haven't sold or given away the rights to. That means your work must not have been published elsewhere, either in print or on the web. When your story is accepted, you're giving us first electronic publication rights and non-exclusive subsequent publication rights. You retain ownership over your story. We are not a paying market.

Voices of Tomorrow

Voices of Tomorrow is the official podcast of 365tomorrows, with audio versions of many of the stories published here.

If you're interested in recording stories for Voices of Tomorrow, or for any other inquiries, please contact