Tag Archives: scifi

So Wrong Even a One-Eyed Mule in a Root Cellar Could See It’s Bad

It looks like a baby. A scintillating baby refracted through a shattered prism. You could perhaps convince yourself that the effect arises from your smashed spectacles, but you cannot recall smashing them.

But, hey, let’s pretend you did break your specs – in a dust-off, a tumble, what have you. You could take them off, but a one-eyed mule in a root cellar sees better than you. You couldn’t tell a baby from a coal chute from more than a pace or two away.

Lucky for you, these shiny babies like you. They’re mewing as they toddle toward you. It’s hard to tell through the broken sparkliness, but they seem a might bit steadier than your average toddler. The mewing reminds you of hungry kittens. You try to recall if the town has a wet nurse.

They cover the last few paces between you and them in bounds. Whether your mouth falls open because of the bounding or the sight of a mouth no wet nurse would want her bosoms near, let alone in, we will never know because, even if the blood loss wasn’t killing you, you never learned to write and your throat seems to have gone missing.




No sounds. No smells. No sensations of hot or cold, hard or soft. No sights. No tastes.

He wondered if he even had a body. Maybe he was just a consciousness, floating in, well, nothing. The idea that he could be stuck like this arose and panic stirred. He tried to flail, but nothing happened. Was he numb? Paralyzed? Somehow disembodied? Speculating on his circumstances quelled the panic.

What was going on? Why? And who? Who had done this to him? That someone must be responsible for it angered him. Someone took him and left him like this, would not even face him. Panic and anger were both futile, but what was not futile in his current circumstances? Nothing, as far as he could tell. He wondered how long he had been out, and then awake. A sensation of the passage of time was lacking as well.

Lacking anything else to try, he listened for long moments, straining for any noise. Nothing. Not even the sound of his own breathing. He wished he was psychic, a telepath who could search for nearby minds. He imagined searching the room and how he might see the nearby minds. His mined conjured up a brain and spine defined by a network of veins and pulses of neuro-electrical pulses. It was familiar somehow. Maybe he had seen it in a sci-fi movie. It was cliché enough after all.

The familiarity nagged him. Then then blinding pain crushed him. All his senses at once: light seared his eyes, sickly sweetness filled his nose and coated his tongue, white noise drilled into his brain, and acid ate at his skin.

He screamed and writhed. Perhaps being embodied and sense-ful was not so great after all. Part of him wanted to cry that he had any sort of sensation again, to beg for it to be taken away. The sensations left in a rush and he could feel the hard surface under him. Reassuring and cool his back. There were lights above him. His throat was raw from his scream.

A face moved into view above him. It was masked, and the hair covered. Was he in some sort of hospital? Had there been an accident? A coma? The eyes were dispassionate. A hand moved to hold his eye open and a light was flicked briefly into it.

“He’s survived the regaining of his senses,” came a woman’s voice from behind mask.

He tried to speak, to ask any of a million questions, but his voice was a dry croak. He realized he was shackled to the table.

“He’s trying to talk. He may even be sane.”

“Good.” He could not see the owner of the dull voice, but it was male. “Let’s just hope he can’t remember.” The man’s tone had been disapproving and that was more confusing than helpful.

The woman turned to look at something. The man he guessed, but she said nothing, only looked for a couple seconds.

Remember what? And in trying to answer that himself, he realized he could not remember anything, not even his name. Given what he had experience a few minutes ago maybe not being able to remember was a good thing.

“Finish your exam and send him over to Gorsky. They’re only going to give us so many more chances at this.”

The woman took blood, pulse, blood pressure, and so on.

He heard steps and a man (the man?) came into view. He caught the scent of his cologne. The scent piqued something, a fragment out of the blankness of his mind. With the memory came the excruciating sensations from earlier. He screamed. His back arched, lifting him from the table as much as the restraints allowed. More fragments of memories came. Dozens of them. He moaned pitifully, unable to make sense of them.

“What’s wrong!?” The man pushed him back down to the table.

“No, no. Fuck no!” There was desperation in the woman’s voice. He heard the clatter of metal against metal as the woman grabbed for something on a nearby tray. He saw a syringe in her hand.

He knew he did not want what was in that syringe in him. He heaved to the side and toppled the table away from the man and woman. It slammed into the floor with more force and noise that he had expected. The impact broke the restraint on his up-side wrist. He grabbed the woman’s syringe-wielding hand as it came into view over the edge of the table. His fingers cruelly dug into her wrist. She cried out and dropped the syringe.

The man was cursing now too and reaching in his pocket. The prisoner grabbed the leg of a tall, narrow cart and threw it clumsily at the man. The tray atop it slid off, scattering scalpels and more, but the cart connected with the man, who dropped the phone he’d pulled from his pocket. As he bent to retrieve it, the prisoner threw the fallen tray like a frisbee, which connected solidly with the top of the man’s head. He crumpled.

The woman was back now, with another syringe. He reached toward the surgical implements scattered near him. He did not look to see what it was he drove into her forearm. She screamed. It was in deep and he used it to yank her to him. The effort pulled it out, but she was close enough. He drove the tool into her temple, cutting off her scream.

Using a scalpel he freed himself from the table. He helped himself to the man’s badge and clothes. There must not be anyone nearby – someone would have come by now to investigate the noise. He stepped out into the hallway. He could almost remember it. Had he walked down it before? Tried to escape before? One direction seemed more familiar. He went the other.

Footsteps, many of them, echoed behind him. Someone was coming to investigate after all. He turned up a random hallway, and then used the badge on a reader to enter a dark room.

The door locked behind him. Stepping further into the room triggered the automatic lighting. He turned to see where he was and froze as he tried to make sense of what he was seeing.

Footsteps stopped outside the doors as someone called for the doors to be opened.

“No…” The people in the room ranged in age from toddlers to late teens. They had noticed him and seemed more curious about him than anything else.

“What the hell is–” The door was pried from its frame and men grabbed him. He was injected with something. It worked fast and within seconds, his vision was closing on a dozen and more copies of himself, each a little younger than the one before it.

When Trans-temporal Messages Kill

In the end it was the headaches that did him in. Had he been asked to guess, he would have said an overdose of painkillers. For better or worse, the painkillers were very safe. It was all but impossible to die from an acute overdose, though long term overuse did cause chronic issues.

He did not last long enough to see what sort of long term effects twenty tablets a day would do.

People joked that he had tried to lobotomize himself, but that was putting it too politely. Lobotomies involve neither the opening the skull nor significant loss of blood or other tissue.

–From Proceedings of the 3rd Congress on Trans-temporal Information Science, “Effects of Unaided Reception of Trans-temporal Messages on Mid-Twenty-first Century Human Minds”

Notes from the 3rd Guam Xenoarchaeological Expedition

Today we discovered a remarkable passage on partially intact Guamish storage device. It appears to be from a personal journal or diary. (We argued about whether to call the author a blogger or not. It seems obvious to me, but everyone else called it ‘pre-mature as fucking hell,’ so I will bide my time for vindication.)

In any event, we agree that we know now the ancient Guamites did indeed use what some of us affectionately refer to as the “Easter Island guys” for defense. Only the details of how they operate and were moved between Easter Island and Guam remain to be sorted out. Fortunately I didn’t have to remind anyone they used to have hats to make the association of the term “sombrero turret” apparent to my colleagues. (Though I suspect Dr. Applebomber didn’t know and was just playing along to avoid looking any stupider than he does already.) Moving on, we also agree that it seems the training for such duty was highly coveted and rigorous.

Finally, let me present Dr. Zisselfraggen’s translation of the passage:

… and so what if a tree falls and no body hears it, the forests are gone!” I retorted.

The blow came fast and hard, a heavy whip that bruised my lips and made me snarl. My hackles, such as they were, were up and my fingers twitched, eager to make a fist to retaliate with.

He laughed viciously. “Oh yes. Do it. So us all you have the self-control of a pile of shit.”

That brought me up short. I looked at him with a combination of confusion and suspicion. What sort of weird metaphor was that? Shit seemed to have quite a bit of self-control. It just sat there and stank. Was he dumb or testing me?

He realized what a shitty (haha) metaphor he’d made and struggled for control. I struggled not to show the amusement I was feeling.

I failed.

Then, predictably, he failed. Or I’d fallen for the trick and what he did to me no longer mattered, and it was bye-bye sombrero turret dreams for me. Or, I supposed, both.

It wasn’t long after I got over being knocked semi-unconscious that I found out he was dumb and I was still in the program. Now, I just needed…

It’s also with noting the author’s use of scatological humor. I have made a note to investigate the universality of this. Certainly this must be the earliest example of its use.

We are hopeful that our tech, Bernie (I cannot recall his last name), can recover more data from the device, but it was heavily damaged and I count us fortunate to have even these few bytes. What a find!

The Shapes of Things


Castef probed the vacuum around herself. She sniffed at the soup of virtual particles at the bottom of reality and from that scent knew something, hopefully an Object, was ‘near’. Near in a very peculiar sense of the word. Whatever it was, was still impossibly far, it no way could it be touched and handled or even seen. It was not in this universe. It was, however, very close to it. Continue reading

The Objects

Sometimes things make it into our world. They do not belong here, though sometimes they want to be here, or someone else wants them here. Either way there are always others who resent their presence, if not their very existence. Continue reading