By E.S. Wynn
“Hey, dad. Did you get my message?”
“Yes, it was-- I enjoyed the pictures. It looks like you had fun.”
“But you didn't write back.”
“Well, you know how it is. Your mother and I are still trying to learn how to use the Mindweb. It's new for us. We didn't grow up with it like you and your brother did.”
“It's not that hard, dad. It's all thought-based. With a little self control, you can navigate the world, send feelings, sensations and memories to anyone on Earth.”
“Maybe it might be easier if you used more conventional means of sending messages to your mother and I. You know, a phone call, maybe an email. I've heard there are apps on the Mindweb that allow you to send emails.”
“Emails are boring, dad. They have no emotion or color. They're just boring black text on a boring white background. Writing an email is like doing homework with a stylus on e-ink and sending it to your teacher. I don't know how you and mom managed to use it for so many decades without being bored to death by it.”
“It wasn't boring when it was new. It was exciting. It was like a mailed letter you didn't have to wait days to read-- it came instantly. Your mother and I actually got to know each other over the email-- well, over Facebook, actually.”
“Facebook? That's the channel you could watch homemade videos on, right?”
“Website, and no, you're thinking of a site called Youtube. They had similarities-- comments, upvote buttons--”
“Dinosaurs, Buddha's baby photos--”
“Oh come on, I'm not that old.”
“You still laugh at memes, dad.”
“I laugh at anything funny. Besides, you kids on the Mindweb laugh at memes too.”
“They're not called memes, dad. They're called been-theres. There's an art to making them. People collect them.”
“So, funny memories instead of funny pictures. Memes.”
“It's not the same.”
“Yeah, the curse of the young. I felt the same way when the classic rock station started playing Nickleback and Creed.”
“Nevermind. It might take a while before your mother and I are able to send more than sense-static on the Mindweb. In the meantime, if you want to talk to us, you should just call. You have our number.”
“Your mother would really love to hear your voice, you know.”
“She could hear a lot more on the Mindweb.”
“Yes, well, in the meantime--”
“In the meantime, okay. Fine. I'll call.”
- - -
E.S. Wynn is the author of over fifty books available in print and electronic formats.
Friday, January 31, 2014
Friday, January 24, 2014
Today In The United States of Avatars
By David Edward Nell
A muscular man found an appropriate moment to sneak up on two women at a restaurant table. “Feel my biceps, sis,” he told them, performing suggestive poses.
They swatted the air like he was a fly but he kept posing for them.
An officer patrolling the street saw what was happening and poked his tablet to start up iWhistle. He triggered a high-pitched noise only the troublemaker could hear, and it was so debilitating the fellow shambled over like he had been hypnotised to walk in that direction, towards his judgment.
“Why the ears?” the muscle man sulked.
“What were you doing disturbing those ladies there?” the officer demanded to know. “Putting to test your perverted pickup lines, I reckon.”
“I was trying to be friends?”
“Hold on a minute,” the officer said, scrutinising the troublemaker's appearance like he had discovered a new area of interest. “Is there something you'd like to tell me?”
The muscle man went quiet.
“You won't mind if I open up my iIllusionDestroy program here and–”
“Okay, okay,” sighed the muscle man, and when he tapped his shirt pocket, no more was he an adult with a heavy build. Now he was his true self: a young boy.
“I knew it. An avatar,” the officer remarked.
“So what?” said the boy. “It makes me cooler.”
“Don't you know using iPersonify outdoors is illegal?”
“Since when? Who says?”
“It's not bollocks, and don't use such foul language. It's the law. I say you're breaking it.”
“In that case, I don't care, because you can't do anything to me. I'm only nine.”
“Well, you sure will get a good wallop when I tell your mum.”
“No, no, please don't.”
“Where's your iPersonify? Where are you hiding it?”
The boy reached into his pocket. He hesitated then handed the pebble-sized device to the officer. “Everyone's doing the avatar thing,” he tried to explain, pointing at the ladies. “They're not real. Why do you have to take mine away? Why not them?”
“Friends of yours?”
“Part of a local network. I knew they were in the area. Saw on my program. Was trolling them, that's all. Wanted to have some fun. I'd never use iPersonify to fool real grown-ups, I'm telling you.”
“What version are you using?”
“1.0. I wish I had the latest, because you can do so much more, like interact with other people who have lower versions and whatever. But this is all my mum could afford to buy. And–”
“Spare me the details. What about those ladies there? What version?”
“I think they're on 1.61, because–”
“Quiet. I bet you go buy alcohol under that guise, don't you?”
“No,” replied the boy, looking down at his feet guiltily.
The ladies had just finished sharing a milkshake when the officer grabbed their shoulders. “Save me some time, won't you?” he said, softly. “Hand over iPersonify and I'll save you a trip to the slammer too.”
“But we're just a pair of attractive, grown up women having a fancy brunch and a scandalous chat, because that's what women do.”
“Right, you asked for this. I'll let iIllusionDestroy do the unveiling.”
“No, wait, fine, you've got us.”
The ladies transformed. Their heads levelled with the table's height and then they were little girls. Not without snivels and shakes, they did as told, as the officer had reached out his hand and insisted again. They mourned their loss.
“Now you've learned your lesson,” said the officer, pocketing their devices.
“But this is so, so, so unfair.”
“It's the law.”
“But everyone does it,” they said, and the boy, hiding behind the officer, nodded in agreement. “Everyone in this restaurant is using iPersonify. How can we be doing wrong? I mean, our mums just bought us ours yesterday at the mall. I don't understand. I hate you.”
“The fact is, this is illegal junk, and that means you're not allowed to own these things. Do you understand? And – wait – what do you mean by everyone?”
The girls showed him to the indoor section of the restaurant. A man in a corner was smoking a cigar, peeping over a newspaper every now and then to watch three chatting women nearby at a different table. Elsewhere, there was a couple holding hands and a tall chap having a dance to no music. And in the middle of it all, a grey alien humanoid, waving for someone, anyone to notice it.
The mad officer stormed in and shouted for their attention. “You lot of Otakus are sad, pathetic, depressed, lonely losers who need to learn how to live life like normal people do,” he ranted. “My word. No wonder this country is going downhill. Don't you read the news? Don't you know what you're doing is illegal?”
None of them said anything. They seemed unsure of what to say.
“You will all hand over your iPersonify gadgets this instant.”
“I don't know what you're talking about,” said the newspaper man.
“What he said,” said the alien.
“Or will I have to use my iIllusionDestroy and find out the hard way and maybe give you lot a taste of prison life? Do you know what they do to tech-fraudsters? Your choice, guys.”
Silence. And then they cooperated. Altogether, they changed into teens. The officer went around and, to groans and sighs, confiscated their devices. Then he had ten quantities of iPersonify.
“Excuse me,” someone with a high voice interrupted. The officer hadn't noticed the spectacled man who was in some dark, hidden corner, playing with an assortment of various devices. The well-equipped fellow had his hand raised in the air like he was in a classroom. He was enthusiastic about being picked.
The officer turned to him and sneered. “Are you also hiding something from me, nerd?”
“Actually, no. But I happened to hear you mention iIllusionDestroy. The thing is, no such program exists.”
“Nope, nope, nope, you're wrong. It's a police–”
Someone turned the entertainment monitor loud just then. A newscaster was describing the appearance of a man who was going around with a hacked avatar stealing iPersonify devices from unsuspecting children. Everyone in the room stared the officer down while the newscaster continued.
“...wears a police uniform; has a moustache; shaved chin; a very red face; big booty...”
The officer began walking backwards, giggling nervously. Everyone got up from their chairs and activated laser knives.
“There's no need for violence, friends,” urged the officer.
“I agree,” said the spectacled man.
“Listen to the nerd boy, guys,” agreed the officer.
“Yes, please. Everyone take a seat.”
And everyone did.
“Because we all know how to handle real losers.” The spectacled man whipped out a gun and fired a beam. It was an instant hit. The officer watched his body fade into blackness, and as his clothes disappeared, all the iPersonify gadgets fell on the floor.
And as a result of the shot, the officer became who he really was: a fat thirty-year-old.
“I was just trying to have a bit of fun, mates,” the fat man explained, scratching warts. He looked around, saw the dirty looks he was getting and then ran away from the restaurant, frightened for his life. He ran so fast he tripped in the street, and then he got up and ran again. Until a drone came to pick him up into the air and take him away. And then his attempt at an escape was useless.
Everyone in the restaurant got their devices and turned their avatars back on again.
- - -
David Edward Nell writes from Cape Town, South Africa. He can be touched at http://davidedwardnell.blogspot.com
Thursday, January 16, 2014
By Philip McNeill
Kris looked out the viewport into the void of space. She hated it here. She hated space, she hated the ship, but most of all she hated the engineers who still hadn’t got the gravity turned back on.
It was like a prison.
There was a small hiss as the door behind Kris slid open.
“Ah, here you are.”
“Commander,” Kris gave a salute.
“Hah, at ease. And quit acting like I’m the Captain. I work for a living,” Calvin said.
Kris said nothing, and stared back out the viewport.
“Hmm, you’re pissy. Let me guess, Bolaski and Grangerson stole your clothes while you were showering again?”
Kris turned and glared at Calvin.
“I, um, guess not. Sorry for bringing that up.”
“Is there something you need, Calvin?” Kris said.
Calvin floated back a little, getting out of Kris’s striking range. “Right, um, we’ve got a sortie in an hour. Just came here to remind you. You know, just doing my job.”
“That’d be a first,” Kris said turning back to the viewport.
“Ok, not going to lie. That one stung a little, Kris.” Calvin crossed his arms. “It was supposed to sting, wasn’t it?”
“Figure that out all by yourself, did you?”
“Oh come on, what did I do?”
Kris’s eyes flared. “Goddamn everything!” She slammed her fist into the metal wall of the ship. A resounding thump that echoed through the room.
“I hate this ship, this pointless mission, everything. There’s no goddamn point of us being here, but everyone acts like there is. There’s nothing in this sector: no planets, stations, or even asteroids. What the hell are we guarding? And why the hell haven’t they fixed the fucking gravity?” She slammed her fist into the wall again.
“Stop doing that.” Calvin held his hands up in panic. “Please, don’t rupture the bulkhead. The engineers would be very upset – and we would both be very dead.”
There was a long silence. Kris brought the hand she had struck the wall with to her chest. The side of her hand was already beginning to turn black and blue.
“You really didn’t want to go on sortie today, did you?” Calvin joked. He floated over to Kris to examine her injury. “Looks fractured. See why you don’t punch things, especially a metal wall in zero gravity?”
Kris looked away. “I’m sorry, sir. That was completely unprofessional of me.”
“I was going to say scary, but I guess unprofessional works,” Calvin said. “So, about everything you said. Did you mean it?”
“I – don’t know,” Kris said. “I guess I did. I was angry, still am. Don’t you ever get frustrated being stuck here?”
“Oh yeah, all the time. It absolutely sucks out here.”
“But you’re always so – so bubbly.”
“Bubbly?” Calvin said. “Well, now my confidence is just going through the roof. Look Kris, all us have our ways of dealing with being on this ship. We just need to find you a way that doesn’t involve – breaking it.”
“See, you’re already starting to feel better. Guess my bubbly personality is just what you needed. Now, how about we get you to the med-bay to get your hand looked at?”
- - -
Philip McNeill is originally from a small town in Arkansas. He is a big fan of science fiction and fantasy. Philip is currently a student at Full Sail University studying creative writing.
Thursday, January 9, 2014
By Jon Moray
Alex Bartow was riding the subway to his job downtown as a bank accountant. As most of the passengers were catching up on sleep, Alex passed the time reading a fantasy novel. His head was hidden behind a half-read book called “Future Life” when he was nudged by a passenger sitting beside him.
“Excuse me, does that book mention an alien life in the future?” asked a man, wearing a dark grey trench coat with wild wavy gray hair and sparkling deep blue eyes that rotated as if he was under hypnosis.
“If it does I haven’t gotten to that part yet,” said Alex, taken aback by the mans’ creepy demeanor. He returned back to his novel, distracted by the inquisition, and only pretended to read. He got off at the next stop, scaled the steps to the street and stepped lively towards the skyscraper where he worked.
Almost at his destination, he shuddered at the sudden cold feeling he was being followed. He spun around and noticed the creepy passenger a few feet behind him. Alex rushed towards the entrance and pushed through the revolving door when suddenly the velocity of the rotation spiraled into blinding speed. His body was about to go limp when the door gradually came to a stop. His eyes reoriented to a scrolling marquee on an auburn colored conical shaped building across the street.
TODAY IS MARCH 23RD, 2056. TODAY’S EVENTS: THE MUSEUM OF INTERGALATIC STUDIES WILL BE HOLDING A Q & A WITH SEVERAL SCIENTISTS FROM THE PLANET CITURN
Alex slowly stepped out onto the sand textured street among normal humans and colorful aliens with saucer shaped heads, contorted slender unclothed bodies and elongated oven mitt shaped hands and feet.
“Your stay here will be short and then it’s back to your time,” said the man in the trench coat. “The blue aliens can escort you in flight anywhere by the grasp of a hand. The green are information aliens that hold an encyclopedia of data from our planet and theirs. The red aliens assist the emergency responders with security and medical expertise.
Alex slowly nodded while mentally questioning his sanity. He walked about the future terrain and noticed pedestal stations of artifacts from planet Citurn that were situated on street corners and open vestibules into aqua and rose colored glass paned buildings. He continued further towards a park and saw a triangular shaped spaceship hovering twenty feet above the greens. Two blue aliens simultaneously escorted humans to and from an oval opening that glowed of a soft purple shade.
He gravitated toward the vessel, marveling at the high level of peace between the humans and aliens, while comparing differences from this Earth and the one he left. Trash dropped by pedestrians floated several feet in the air and evaporated before his eyes as if by illusion, emitted a winter fresh maple and ripe orange odor.
As he inched closer toward the craft, he noticed humans walking barefoot on the teal colored grass, vocally expressing their pleasure. Alex, learned certain nutrients added to the soil altered the color of the grass and provided therapy that traveled through the human body. Alex removed his oxfords, shuffled his feet on the grass and his lingering shoulder pain eased. He walked blissfully into the arms of a blue alien transporting him up to the ship. He suctioned through the mouth of the craft and into a ship that seemed endless in sight. A spectrum of colors slowly rotated around the perimeter as he encroached further in. Holograms of buttons floated within arms distance as each button displayed worlds of the Intergalactic Universe. Galaxy globes, languages and alien faces accompanied each narration of a world in which a particular button was pushed. Soothing unidentifiable sounds that echoed, provided a free flowing soundtrack that seem to vibrate through his body. Suddenly, a pull from the escort alien broke his aura of rapture and out of the saucer.
The escort alien continued his hold and lifted Alex hundreds of feet into the air, allowing him to survey the vast city and countryside beyond. They circled the area and then he was escorted back to the revolving door. Alex’s pleas for more time fell on deaf ears as he was forced into the entry and spun at blurring speed.
The door came to a stop and Alex, disoriented, stumbled out into his time and place, dropping his book in the process. While reaching to pick it up he noticed the words on the scrolling marquee were in a part of the book he had yet to read.
- - -
Jon Moray has been writing short stories for five years and has been published in several online markets. When not working and being a devoted husband and father, he enjoys playing basketball and training for marathons.
Thursday, January 2, 2014
By Patrick Jones
It’s when they show themselves that you know for sure. That’s really the only time you are certain that he’s one of them. The other times you’ll have your suspicions and near certainties, and you are almost seriously convinced he’s one, but then he bleeds or coughs or sneezes then you are left confused and doubting your ability to identify them again. And sometimes one of them is so good he is not even under suspicion. That’s the ones that really blow you away because you had no idea. He wasn’t showing any of the signs and has perfected his concealment and he was under your radar. And then one of those non-suspects shows himself for just a moment and you are confused in the other direction. I’m not sure which is worse – suspecting one that isn’t or not suspecting one that is. Either way sucks. So you‘re better off suspecting them all, but you can’t really do that can you? We all can’t be one of them. So when you’re out there, don’t trust anyone, OK. It’s safer that way. Better for everyone in the long run, and safer for you. Well, you can try anyway. The real zinger with these things is the women. You’re already at a disadvantage just by the way they look and carry themselves and they know it. Makes it hard to think straight and keep your thoughts in line. Right off the bat your hoping she’s not one of them but deep down you think she might be and it puts you off balance. And a little further down inside you hope that she is. They know that too and they use it to their advantage. And the really giant zinger-oo is: the women-things offer the best a man has ever had in his life. She is able to give a man exactly what his body and psyche needs to make him complete for the rest of his life. What he’s been craving for his entire life. And, oh yea, and they know that too.
The question you have to ask yourself is, do you terminate these women-things when you identify her, for the good of humanity and the Union, or do you cast all that aside and take advantage of what everyone is talking about then try to terminate her later on. But that’s been the dilemma. No man has been able to do that yet. It’s sort of like stumbling across a million in cash. Do you turn it in and try to find its rightful owner or keep it all for yourself? Come on. It’s going to happen to all of you eventually, so it’s best to think about it ahead of time. They look like us. They act like us. They live and breathe and laugh and cry, but they do make mistakes sometimes and that’s what we hope for. That’s what you will wait for. You’ve trained to identify those errors then you’ll act quickly and efficiently and send them off to their maker. The ones that scare me the most are the ones that don’t care. Those will taunt you and almost dare you to do your duty. They show themselves, in their blistering blinding light they have then smile at you as if to say, yea, I’m here. Now what are you gonna do? Well, just go ahead and do it. So you are the last hope for the Union. The others that have gone before you have failed. You are the last of the trainees that will be sent into the world to eliminate them. Your chances are not good. You few are the last of the incomplete men. Good luck.
- - -
Patrick, a US Navy veteran, graduated from veterinary school in 1990 and is still in practice. He lives on Florida's Gulf Coast with his wife and two children.
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