Thursday, September 27, 2012

9/27/12

Event Horizon
By Gabriel Holt


“Do you smell cherry?” he asked the black hole. The black hole did not answer, which he took as rudeness. “You could at least make the effort,” he snapped. “I’m trying.”

The black hole remained silent. The planet Jupiter breezed through its mouth and it yawned.

“Content, hm? Hmph.” He glared into space, the fuzz of galaxies beckoning him to join but he knew he had his place. He knew he needed to keep to his place.

“You’ve eaten my freedom as well,” he said. “That big stupid gape of yours swallowed my entire life.”

The black hole was a pool of death, after all. It was far beyond death. He resented that, too, guarding a pile of bones. Not as if it had any use.

Maybe, he thought. Maybe he could have backed up before it was too late. Maybe he could have served Andromeda. But Andromeda would become a pile of bones, too. Nowhere to run. Eternity would always be the same.

He looked around, but that made no difference. It was the same view he saw every moment, give or take a few billion stars. The universe was condensed into a bottle cap, pressed into a coin by his vacuum. His vacuum; he didn’t like to think of it that way. He didn’t know what he wanted to think instead. The vacuum’s him? Even worse. He closed his eyes and the universe vanished. He opened them again and it was all there. This exquisite boredom crucified him. It had, and it would, for all of time backwards and forwards and probably even beyond that.

There was nothing much to react to, either. There went Mars, flash crash boom muted like a strangle victim. He could react to that. But he did not. What was planetary suicide other than – well, just that? It could be symbolic, he supposed, but the universe had never been symbolic. It had much more important things to do, like not make sense. He too had lost his sense long ago. That is, if his sense had ever existed. He began to doubt that it had. He wasn’t sure about his own existence for that matter, but his own existence was silent and meaningless as Mars was now. Come on, that had to be symbolic.

The universe, as if shaking its head, catapulted Mercury into the black hole. A bulge slithered through the black hole like a mouse through a snake. Snakes had tiny ribcages – infinite ribcages. He wondered if the stars were the ribcage of the universe, a skeleton to support significant things like dust. He, to the best of his knowledge, had no ribcage. Long ago, this might have concerned him, but it was commonplace now. Now that the universe was a pinprick of blood upon a great swath of black.

But there was no word for blackness like this; it meant everything, not simply black. This was all there was, as in a) this is all there is, as in b) nothing. Nothing that mattered, but a whole lot that didn’t. What? Matter.

He was not sure if his eyes were open again. He never needed to close his eyes or to open them, but sometimes he felt he should because something about it seemed right. Or maybe he was wrong. He didn’t know. Ever since he had tripped and fallen he didn’t know. He probably never would. The planet Earth twirled into the black hole, which embraced it with a cobwebby kiss.

He tried to remember if Earth had meant something to him. He could not.


- - -
I am a young Canadian writer studying at the University of Toronto, an admirer or the nonsensical and the nihilistic. My medium is adoxography, and I enjoy cereal. Some people have published my work, and some people have told me that I smell nice.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

9/20/12

Geomuted
By Jeff B Willey


Silence once golden became essentially priceless when old mother earth was hooked to life support. Cloud brightening procedures and reflective aerosols—chemo for a dying planet in the form of increasingly frantic geoengineering attempts—had largely failed. As a last resort most of earth's surface was covered in environmental homeostasis machinery, which gave rise to that humming everywhere, a maddening, planetary vuvuzelan drone. Silence could not be had, not at remote northern lakes or out on the thawed tundra, silence having followed much of biology to extinction. There were old recordings of silence, but they couldn’t be heard for the din. Of course there were density isolation chambers, but only the obscenely wealthy could enjoy those. Some people claimed not to be able to hear the drone, to be so used to it, but I didn't believe them. Only the old ones remembered silence, the pure natural kind and what it was like. How one could drive a few kilometers out of town to the purely natural ambiance of wind rustling the trees, a burbling creek, chirping birds. Their recollections made me yearn for something I had never known. Then came the fateful day of the Sun-out. Homeostasis apparatus failed over large sections of the globe. The infernal hum suddenly ceased and a tremendous silence the likes of which hadn’t been discerned for generations descended. Some wept, some rejoiced, but I like most others just stilled myself and listened in wonder to nothing, nothing at all.


- - -
Jeff thinks that every moment in time already exists, believes the metaphysical croissant is real, and likes to pretend his bicycle is a horse. Despite the dark energy looking to rip our atoms apart, he’s convinced we will remain stored as information on the outer surface of the universe. See more of his writings and art at http://theselfcleaningworld.com

Thursday, September 13, 2012

9/13/12

Sphinx
By Maximillian d'Erembourg


“…Why don’t you answer me?”
“I am answering you, silly girl. I can’t come out tonight. Busy. Work.”
“Father, wont you at least come out of that monolith for your grandson’s first birthday?” The girl's voice on the comlink/vocoder sounded grainy, unclear.
“Kimmie, you know how important this work is to me, to all of us. Besides, little Jeffery will not remember anything of his first birthday, he will not remember who was or wasn’t there.”
Kimmie’s countenance turned slightly more sour, on the monitor, “Everyone misses you.” It was the sound of sand on stone.
“The rest of you have seen plenty of me. Now, I will see you all as soon as I decode this cypher for the microglyphs.” Thomas turned from the monitor screen, showing his own daughter his back. “Can you imagine the importance of this cryptic mega-statuary? And the messages those who made it sent us? People from the old Empire Age Earth spent their entire lives sousing out its secrets…and they never even had the technology to ever discover the true mysteries!”
“You need to come out of there…even your doctors agree, you need to have more human contact!”
“The hologrid sees to my needs. I am healthier in here than all of you who refuse to join me in here. The anti-entropy machinery preserves me as well as it does our subject.” Thomas reflected on how he was the only one left who called the Sphinx 'the subject'.
“Father, that damn stone pile has lasted twenty-thousand years in those desert sands…one more night wont…”
“I’m sorry dearest Kimmie, I am busy tonight, give everyone my love, now.” Doctor Thomas Burgundy shut off the comlink/vocoder, and went back to the cryptoputer bank.
“None of them understand, none of them have any clue the importance…” He occasionally caught himself talking to himself in these confined environs, but as of the last few months--had it been months?--he'd been chiding himself for it less and less. He may as well keep himself company, no-one else wanted to help him work inside this massive preservation sphere. The Dome, as the media had dubbed it--for they could only see the top half of the structure which fully enveloped the ancient Egyptian Sphinx--was a massive place to work all by himself.
Many people assumed that a crypto-breaking computer system like the one within the Dome would be able to solve the microglyph problem in a matter of days. It was, after all, a TIPS computer processing trillions of instructions per second. However, the Creators -those who built the Sphinx and encrypted the newly discovered microscopic data sets within it- used a One-Time-Pad system of encryption. Technically unbreakable, without the key. And the key was never found.
Except that Thomas Burgundy was certain the key had to be here, right before his eyes…itself concealed behind its own code. And he intended to break it. Once he did, the collected knowledge of a civilization a billion years more advanced than Fourth Age Humanity would instantly become available.
“If the Creators used a protocol similar in effect to the ancient Greek scytale, but wrapping the string of microglyphs around a virtual shape, rather than a simple wooden rod…then the shape of that cypher-rod will be the key. The key to the key — so to speak. The TIPS has already attempted trillions of size and virtual shape combinations… Nothing yet!”
“No, no…I need to look at the problem afresh!”
Thomas was going to have to Blank himself again…no other possible way to gain a fresh perspective on this old problem.
He reflected on how knowing what you knew as a researcher--or more importantly what you thought you knew--would always skew one’s perception of what they were seeing.
This is why truly great discoveries often only happened in the following generation after the field’s discoverer. Such as Einstein never sousing out Quantum Physics…he was simply too close to the problem at hand. Thus is took Bohr to surpass Einstein, and Heisenberg to surpass Bohr. A new set of eyes and minds untainted by what their elders believed could look fresh at a problem from a new angle.
This Fourth Age of Humanity had partially solved that very human problem. Technology allowed people to forget--really have deleted--selected memory sectors of the brain.
Thomas scoffed at mundane peoples who loved this technology so they could watch a favorite movie over and over again, every-time for the very first time. Or read a favorite book again as if turning every holo-page fresh. But it was in scientific research that, as far as Doctor Burgundy was concerned, the technology truly shinned. If Einstein had had access to a blanker, he would have been able to take a fresh look at the problem every single day. He certainly would have mastered the basics of Quantum Theory. Perhaps he even would have reached the Realization of Thule two hundred years after him, that the Theory of Everything was bunk.
This time Burgundy awoke rather quickly after the effects of the Blanker wore off, once again he awoke to his annoying daughter’s voice on the vocorder.
“Do I really have to leave another message, again? Father, none of us have heard from you in weeks, we are concerned. Why don’t you answer me?”
Thomas Burgundy ignored his petulant child, as if she could understand the importance of his work!
“Father, wont you at least come out of that monolith for your grandson’s first birthday?”
“I’m doing this for little Jeffery, I’m doing this for all of you. He will not miss me.”
Kimmie’s countenance turned slightly more sour. “Everyone misses you.”
“In the scheme of the Fourth Age, I am nothing. What matters is what I leave behind for humanity. For the future, your future, little Jeffery’s future. All the rest of you out there are so obsessed with perfecting your anti-matter generators, and your singularity containment fields…but if I can crack this alien codex, we will catapult a billion years ahead of needing all that!”
“You need to come out of there…even your doctors agree, you need to have more human contact!” The vocoder voice seemed to reply.
“Human contact? I’m a cypher researcher, not a sociologist!”
“Father, that damn stone pile has lasted twenty-thousand years in those desert sands…one more night wont…”
“I’m sorry dearest Kimmie, I am close…so very very close now.” Doctor Thomas Burgundy shut off the comlink, and went back to the cryptoputer bank.
“When I break this cypher, the universe will open up to us…intergalacticly! I will be the savior of Humanity, the man responsible for our ultimate evolution, our reach will expand to the ends of the Universe!” He occasionally caught himself talking to himself in these confined environs, but as of the last few months--had it been months?--he was chiding himself for it less and less. He may as well keep himself company, no-one else wanted to help him work inside this massive preservation sphere.

#

Outside the failing anti-entropy generator, the wind blew over a largely dead Earth. The Dome was mostly covered in piled blowing sand, and the three once great pyramids nearby had long since been sandblasted to barely discernible nubs. Humanity had long since died off, or moved on.


- - -
Maximillian d'Erembourg does not exist; his boring secret identity has created a dozen alter-egos and and is known by many names: Dyssan, Hawk, Sage, Peyote, Darkness, Magnus and more.
Max's Big Project is to turn a story he calls Nightsong into the next sensation: Star Wars for Grown-Ups. Including an empire of dozens of novels, TV series, anime, comics, web-zines, feature films, action-figures and Lego-toys.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

9/6/12

Advent Next
By Christian Alexander


                Child sized hands stretch out before elder eyes. Emotional responses weren’t exactly her forte, but it was a moment of intoxication. She felt her heart rate increase drastically, her arms tingle and waver, vision blur and refocus. The tiny hands began to grip and prod the skin of her face. Then, she reeled back and cackled youthful laughter to the metal walls until she was out of breath. When oxygen was finally sucked deep back into her pubescent lungs, tears flooded down the soft creaseless skin of her cheeks.
                There was still instability of cognition. Long after the fluid was restrained from pouring down her face, she remained heaped on the small cabin floor, attempting to collect herself. Such an idiom, collect yourself. She had never thought it could be so literal. To sit and try to gather in your head, that which is you. A kin to frantically trying to hold one more stone than physically possible. In the attempt to grasp the very last, the first would slip and tumble out. After several minutes, she brushed this issue aside temporarily. She was prepared for this. At any rate, she still felt like herself.
                She stood resolutely. The regal finality of her movements clashed with the adolescent body.  The young girl strode to the wall to wave her hand past a glowing panel. A closet revealed itself as the wall telescoped into the adjacent wall. Inside the closet was a single uniform: sleek grey jumper with orange trim and silver markings on the shoulder to identify rank, utility belt, standard issue female boots, underwear, training bra, and an officer’s hat. Though the clothing had never once touched her skin, it fit perfectly. After the uniform was on, she attached the blade hanging on the wall to her belt. The blade was worn only as a symbol of distinguished service in combat. The many jewels inlaid into the blades tang specified a great number of achievements. In the slim mirror, the rooms only ornament besides the closet and medical capsule she had recently emerged from, she inspected her dress, making minor adjustments to ensure its stateliness.
                Finally, she approached the glowing panel next to the cabin’s only exit. Mechanically, her fingers entered a code they had never before entered on a light screen they had never before touched. Upon completion, a high pitched tone sounded and a thin halo snapped out of metal surface. She took a deep breath and placed the halo carefully on her head. As she exhaled, she centered the objects only button on her forehead and pressed it. The ring immediately tightened around her skull, and became alive with lights and whirring. After a few seconds, the panel in front of her sounded a low pitched tone and switched from glowing green to red. Simultaneously, ceiling tiles slide back and three triangulated weapons dropped down and targeted her.
                “Brain wave identification failure,” a prerecorded voice said indifferently from all directions, “failsafe protocol initiated. Pod jettison in thirty seconds. Pod implosion in five minutes.”
                Chances were not to be taken with this. She didn’t move a muscle other than her left eyebrow, which rose ethereally. She attempted again to focus her thoughts, to harness the nondescript wisps of personality that made her, her inside her brain. This would still take work, but a silhouette was beginning to form in her mind’s eye.  Then, her right arm moved calmly to the device constricting around her head, and pressed the button again. After a few seconds the high pitched tone sounded again, the panel returned to green, the weapons went back into hiding, the prerecorded voice spoke again, this time informing her of the successful brain read, and the door in front of her slid open. She carefully replaced the halo that was now slack on her head, and stepped through the doorway.
                Outside her room was a man dressed in uniform whose eyes went tharn upon witnessing the girl strut through the doorway he had been guarding. As she passed, the child did not slow or even turn her head. She did salute the soldier, which wrought his posture into something much more formal. The slight heel of her boots tapped a familiar cadence down the corridor as she left.
                She stopped saluting gawking subordinates to return them to presentable soldiers shortly, it was no use. Their lack of discipline in this particular situation was excused, though she made a mental note to fix this phenomenon. With haste.
                She made her last turn through the metal mazes of corridors leading to her destination, realizing only now that she hadn’t needed to think even once where to turn. It was, natural. She marveled, without redirecting the fixed gaze she held on the path in front of her, the blank sterile walls of the ship. So much function, so little form. Then, the walkway unwrapped into the grand scene of the bridge.
                She paused, for a blink, at the entrance to allow the crew and officers to revel in the sight. After, she proceeded unwavering to the seat of command.
                “Sara?” questioned Fane, her second in command, with a slight fire of awe in his eye.
                Sara gave the slightest of nods, this gesture was immensely personal, though brief, “at ease crew,” she commanded and they saluted her vigorously. Then, she sat into her chair.
                “Olga, ETA?” Sara asked the display in front of her.
                “Welcome back Commander Sara Halleck, ETA is 8 years,” the display answered.
                “Perfect,” Commander Sara whispered, incapable of holding back all of her pleasure. Wonder what that bastard will think when this face leads an army against him. She grinned with sick elation and opened her training schedule.


- - -
I'm Christian. I'm a ninja. When I can, I write.


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