The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

Posts Tagged ‘science fiction’

When ‘Good Enough’ is Good Enough

Posted by BigWords on April 7, 2016

There are things which are plausible enough in and of themselves to pass for an explanation, and there are things which demand explanation in order for some clarification beyond the Shrug of God. Then there are things which you can drop in with no thought other than the cool factor – and those are the most interesting references. For me, whenever there is something thrown out there that suggests foresight, there’s always a tingle of excitement that the universe lined up things just right.

Okay, this is stretching the original text, but just read the subtext:

It is the great prerogative of Mankind above other Creatures, that we are not only able to behold the works of Nature, or barely to sustain our lives by them, but we have also the power of considering, comparing, altering, assisting, and improving them to various uses. And as this is the peculiar privilege of human Nature in general, so it is capable of being so far advanced by the helps of Art, and Experience, as to make some men excel others in their Observations, and Deductions, almost as much as they do Beasts.

Robert Hooke; Micrographia (1665).

And while we are at it…

The next care to be taken, in respect of the Senses, is a supplying of their infirmities with Instruments, and, as it were, the adding of artificial Organs to the natural.

Robert Hooke; Micrographia (1665).

Doesn’t that just scream transhumanism? Am I the only one who sees that?

Consider this a challenge of sorts – don’t settle for merely repeating the same quotes seen peppering the text of every other novel. Dig deeper, read works which you wouldn’t otherwise consider, take the time to understand the message you are delivering, and (the really important part) bring something new to the table. Originality isn’t a requirement, because we all know where striving for that leads, but at least carve out something new.

Posted in Over The Line, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Considering the Sun

Posted by BigWords on April 2, 2016

It is rather surprising where, precisely, the thought process behind an idea begins. Not just the usual nonsense trotted out every so often when someone asks “where do you get your ideas” (which is superbly pierced by “There’s a P.O. box in Schenectady…”), but instead the dot-to-dot of process. It is most like hitting YouTube to watch Voyage Voyage by Desireless, and somehow – two hours later – you are watching, mouth agape, as someone does parkour with a perilous drop one missed footstep away.

Here’s a challenge: find a jaw-dropping WHAT THE HELL, DUDE video which doesn’t have the standard YouTube comment how the fuck did I get here added beneath it. Go on. I’ll be waiting.

That is pretty much the best way I have of describing my thought process. I start at point A and work through multiple strands until I end up somewhere unexpected and surprising even to myself. Which is how a conversation about something entirely mundane ends up with me dropping an idea which raises more questions than answers: how the hell did I, of all people, come up with a plausible answer to why the surface of the sun is so hot? I mean, c’mon.

The before part, where I was in my thoughts before, is not important. It has been so long that I’m not sure if I’ll ever come up with the steps again, but the idea seems “not dumb” in a way that many other answers… Just don’t. Before we go much further, I’ll explain the idea here.

The material ejected from the sun – the constant push of material off from the surface, in the form of light and matter – is only as effective as the speed it can attain. Whatever is not fast enough to escape the mass of the sun, what is trapped by gravity, can’t fall “back to the surface” because there is no surface. Gas, remember. So there’s this chaff, whatever waste that is being pushed on from below, and is being heated, while not attaining the necessary speed to be blown off into space.

I’ll admit that I haven’t probed that notion at all, mostly for fear of finding a flaw, but as an easy answer to the problem I am incredibly pleased with myself. Does it work? I am not entirely sure I want to be dissuaded from the answer, as it is awesomely simple. The sun is crusty. There was a couple of weeks that I actually considered writing it up with diagrams and in a far more technical language, but I don’t want to spend the next decade getting into serious science.

Despite the story which that was going to appear in being… less than stellar (hey, a joke) it stands as a neat reminder that when I put my mind to something I can come up with surprising answers. Even if they are half-baked (two jokes for the price of one, kids) and not necessarily correct.

Posted in Misc., writing | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Taking Off

Posted by BigWords on December 26, 2010

or, One Man And His Spaceship
by Gary James

Firstly, some words by way of explanation for the following…

(if any story needed an explanation – or an apology – then this is that work)

Yes, I know it is rude to make you wait, but this requires something of a preface due to the nature of the story (such as it is) being so damn weird. It didn’t start out so strangely, but the thing pretty much told itself after I tried to do something unusual. You can read more about the way it was meant to play out after the actual story – so to refrain from spoiling the sheer weirdness – but I’ll begin with the reasons it exists at all. There was a small conversation about erotica on Twitter, and I managed to get dragged into writing something “hot” (and you can judge the results for yourself) by the evil trio of Regan Leigh, Claire Gillian, and Scarlett Parrish (she of ‘teh smut’ fame).

So… I pointed out – quite vehemently – that I suck at writing something anything even near the area of erotica. I don’t have the patience to do the slow build-up, and when I do… Lets just say that I need breaks to go think about something else every now and again. The writing of erotica is made all the harder by dint of the strange notions which occur while I am in the process of writing. That’s probably enough to set up the story, though I may have undersold the sheer awesomeness of the squick factor. If you are strong enough of stomach to read on, then you have no-one to blame but yourself for the mental images which might break into your consciousness over the next few hours thanks to this.

Happy nightmares…

——————–

Cade’s heart pounded as the restraints tightened against his chest, pulling him into the solid, made-to-order seat. The slick nylon fastened at each shoulder, around his waist, and under his crotch, forcing his back straight against the chair; the sensation of being seated whilst facing skywards already sending blood rushing to his head, exasperating the tension and excitement coursing through him. Breathing harder than he expected, Cade adjusted position slightly to alleviate the slight pressure on the small of his back, though the movement merely succeeded in freeing enough space between his body and the chair to engage the light whirring of motors – once again the straps pulled at him. As the manipulation of his body ceased, feelings of vulnerability fleeted across his mind as the silence of his surroundings became apparent again. Too tight in his clothes. Too warm in the confines of what small space there was to move. Too tense.

A voice seemed to speak softly from far away, and Cade instinctively reached one hand out in front of him. His fingers managed to find the smooth panels easily – soft edges and silk-sleek screens ready for his commands, and more than willing to accommodate his orders. Craning his neck, he saw a small hatch open in the wall behind him, revealing a cluster of thin, long wires integral to the operation of the ship. They writhed in position, as if dancing to the tune of some unheard melody, before emerging – shimmering in the half-light, oiled and ready for the merging necessary to give Cade control. Slipping gently over him, around his throat, into his suit, down across his sweat-slicked body, the wires began attaching themselves to per-prepared positions. While the robotic tentacles began slipping into his veins, man and ship becoming one, Cade realized for the first time how dry his mouth was.

Tethered, bound, and helpless, the ship began probing his mind as well as his body. Electrical jolts fired across his temples as wires slipped across his chest, brushing against his nipples as they continued making their way into other places. He let out a grunt, his left arm jerking in spasm and no longer solely his to control. Another cable wrapped itself around his waist, three punctures in his side making clear the permanence of the transformation and the extent of his violation. The flashing lights to the corner of his view revealed to him that the unwavering eye of the ship was doing more than merely watching through the procedure. The ship had been manipulating – playing – with him as it gauged his reactions to each new touch.

Caressed by the ship, wires brushed Cade’s hair from his forehead and began massaging his neck, nuzzling his ears with care. A few more had begun to move in front of his face, tickling his lips as they held his face in position. Pulse 220. Cade tried to concentrate, not helped the blood rushing to his brain – the wires had nearly completely covered his flesh by the time he managed to slow his breathing to light panting. Too warm. Too damp in his sweat-drenched clothes, and the tingling, brushing touch of the ship’s ministrations driving him crazy – the flickering ends of the wires had found his crotch and ass. Cade groaned as the tip of a wire found and began entwining itself around his cock.

Taking in a deep breath, Cade wondered if the butterflies in his stomach was his nerves or the ship’s intrusion into the deepest parts of him. A wire pushed into Cade’s mouth and brushed at his too-dry tongue before he had the chance to prepare himself, while the one around his cock tightened, moving slowly along his shaft to his piss-hole, flickering there for a moment. Cade arched his back,surprised, inadvertently increasing the pressure at his mouth as the cables stretched into his cheeks and down his throat. Gagging, struggling and writhing, his heart pounded faster as his cock hardened at the touch. A cable slipped into his ass, and Cade pushed into the chair, pulling his feet back under him.

The ship was coming alive now, vibrations rippling through the frame as engines began powering. There was a heat coming from without as well as from within, further distracting the pilot from any semblance of concentration. The shaking of the ship seemed to excite the artificial tentacles more, and as his cock was pulled from without, it was stretched from within. More of the cables had begin working their way into Cade’s mouth and ass, twisting and flexing as the ship thundered approval of its’ new captain through the deep groans of heated metal expanding. The noise in the cockpit had reached thunderous levels by the time he was enfolded completely.

Cade’s toes pressed hard into his boots, and his heels pushed against the lower part of the seat for purchase; for what seemed like an eternity he arched his back painfully against the restraints, heart pounding. Far, far too hot, a layer of sweat being all that was between him and the multitude of cables writhing over him. He was one with his machine, finally and forever.

——————–

At this point you are quite possibly staring at the screen, asking yourself “What the fuck did I just read?” Well, it’s something that skewered out of my hands after the second draft. It was meant to be a nice scene about a pilot remembering the last moments Earthside with female companionship, but soon spiraled out of control as I began editing it. The resulting piece (which I really don’t need a psychoanalytical reading of, thankyouverymuch) pretty much wrote itself. You can take from that whatever you want, but I would be happy if this stood as a lasting testament to the fact that I should never be allowed to write a sex scene.

You can start screaming and clawing at your eyes now, and thanks for reading…

Posted in Misc., Over The Line, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

List Of Essential SF Novels

Posted by BigWords on December 10, 2010

In case you missed the numerous lists around here, and over there (where it seems to have gotten out of hand), there is something of a theme developing. Namely, I can’t help but surround myself with lists. Be it lists of films, books, music – it doesn’t really matter. Lists form one of the regular attractions in my world of OCD-fueled weirdness, and have become as much a form of writing as the fiction which I put together. There’s something about the systematic organization of data which helps me relax, that it is inconceivable for me to pass up any opportunity to go one better than anyone else when it comes to the more complex ones.

Hence my latest plan – the ultimate list of SF lists. As I was putting together the last couple of pages of the zombie list, I realized that the numerous SF lists out there tended to group together in some areas while retaining outliers (there are a few books which seem to have a lot of love from small – but very dedicated – fan bases), old favorites (the classics aren’t universally beloved), and… Well, I’m not saying that the compilers of existing lists are eccentric, though there does tend to be the odd title mentioned which seems to be for no other reason than to say “Hey, I’ve read more books than you.” Um… Missing the point slightly, methinks. Anyways, the main candidates for my attention are as follows-

  • Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels, An English-Language Selection, 1949-1984 by David Pringle (Xanadu, 1985) ISBN-10: 094776111X ISBN-13: 9780947761110
  • The Guardian – 1000 Novels Everyone Must Read: Science Fiction & Fantasy Part One; Part Two; Part Three.
  • 100 Science Fiction Novels Everyone Should Read by John Harmon
  • 100 Must-Read Science Fiction Novels by Stephen E. Andrews & Nick Rennison (A&C Black, 2007) ISBN-13: 9780713675856
  • Phobos’ 100 Best Science Fiction Books by Keith Olexa
  • SFX – The 100 Writers Who Shaped Science Fiction (#196-198, July-September)

That’s a damn impressive bunch of lists right there, but I need more. There were a few moments when it seemed that the lists would be endless, and I could pick and choose which ones to pore over, though the realization that a great many of the lists out there on the interwebs are cut-and-paste jobs of those few original ones hit hard. Is it really so difficult to cite the greatest SF novels? I’m still adding in the references and information about the books onto my meta-list, but I need further lists to make the resulting data set more rounded. With what I have so far – as meager as the material is – there’s a decent snapshot of a genre as of this moment, but there’s little historical importance there. There isn’t, for instance, any indication of how the best of SF was perceived in the 60s or 70s.

I may yet be forced to note Hugo winners in a bid to fill out the results of this experiment in list-making.

If you’re interested, the pages will be up some time during the weekend.

Posted in Misc., Over The Line, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

NaNoWriMo Word Count Verification Blues

Posted by BigWords on November 25, 2009

If you head over to my NaNo user page you will notice that I have uploaded my novel for word verification already. There is a massive back story to such a simple act as uploading the novel, so I thought I’d treat you to a missive on how things which seem easy can turn out to be a massive nightmare of complications, alterations and attempts at tricking my web ‘n’ walk stick into letting me perform such a relatively straightforward action. I figure that this might come in useful for anyone else having difficulties uploading their material, so I’ll share my method of getting around the problem of constricted web activity.

This is not a rant, before you start up on me… This is merely me venting some frustration. There is a difference.

So… three o’clock in the morning, and I’m thinking that I really ought to make sure I remember to verify, because it would be a fucking disaster if I went through all this and neglected to actually put my novel through the NaNo word counter. Fine, I think, no time like the present to be getting the paperwork out of the way. The bit on the ‘My NaNoWriMo‘ page is easy to find, so there is one hurdle down. I stitch all of the pieces together in OpenOffice and save the completed material as an RTF file. I open the file up in Wordpad and copy the text into the box on the webpage and hit the button to send.

And I wait. And I wait. And I wait.

And the fucking useless web stick dies on me. I hit the refresh button and wait once more. Same thing happens again. My heart is pounding in my chest, the li’l vein on my forehead pounding away, a thousand profanities pouring forth from my lips as I try to work out what the hell is going on. The stick, it turns out, is using too much bandwidth… Or something. It cuts out after about half the material is sent, meaning that I get a white page which has failed to load in Firefox. Fine, I try to get the information down to a manageable level.

This means going through the text and taking out every… single… blank… line. It takes forever, but I finish up, save the document, copy it into the wordbox and try again.

And I wait. And I wait. And I wait.

And guess what? Same shit, same problem. The web stick doesn’t like me this morning, so I have to find a way to get the material down even further. This is where I get creative, and start using Find & Replace to squeeze every single word down. I change every use of “Talos” to “Tal”, “robot” becomes “bot” and “the” is squeezed to “t” in an effort to minimize size. I go through the text, quickly swapping out every word longer than five characters long for something smaller. It ain’t pretty, but at least it’s gonna go through to NaNoWriMo.

But it doesn’t. At this point I open the RTF and save it as a TXT, hoping to shrink the information by way of magic and belief in the digital gods. It’s right about this point that I’m wishing I had some grass in the house so I could chill myself out a little, the nerves and fear of failure pounding at my brain like a demented midget from hell. Again I try uploading the material, fingers crossed for the trickery to work on the damnable stick.

And I wait. And I wait. And I wait.

The familiar white screen pops up on Firefox again. This is the point I really lost my cool, and the thoughts running through my head really, honestly don’t need o be spelled out here. I get myself in enough trouble without threatening the health and safety of whatever moron was in charge of coding the Bytemobile Optimization Client in the toolbar, which turns red at the slightest provocation. With little option, I switch off the web ‘n’ walk screen, run Crap Cleaner, defrag, clear my internet cache and bring the web n’ walk back up again.

By this time the text is all but unreadable anyway, so I figure I may as well add to my chance of success by pruning a few thousand words from the end of the document to get it even further down to a “reasonable” size. I save the file, copy its’ contents, close Notepad (which has taken over from Wordpad in my haste to shrink size) and paste it in the wordbox at NaNo.

Take a stab in the dark here. What do you think happened?

Damnable, fucking useless piece of outdated shit, pretending to be a bloody internet connector…The pile of cigarette stubs next to me has grown by a count of ten in the three hours I have been messing around with the document, and I still had more pruning to do before it accepted the text, but I did it. I got my winners page up on screen. I also have a rasping sore throat, a headache and a temper that would make even Old Nick himself think twice before fucking with me, but I managed to get everything working.

The wordcount (on NaNoWriMo) stands at 135,750.
The wordcount (unbutchered) stands at 196,942.

I haven’t hit my goal of 250,000, but – considering the obstacles the universe likes throwing in my direction – I’m lucky to have gotten this far.

There ya go. The best advert for getting broadband access you’ll ever read.

Posted in Over The Line, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Brief Hiatus From Writing, Where I Delete Some Words And Add Others

Posted by BigWords on November 23, 2009

Rules are meant to be broken, so… I started editing. I know that NaNoWriMo lasts the entire month, but I wanted my copy, which extends a ways either side of what I have posted, to be a bit easier to manage. There are a few bits and pieces which were glaringly obvious as I tried to quickly beat it into shape, and I wanted to have something more malleable for the real editing work which is coming up. I also noted where strands tail off, pieces simply don’t fit and – the biggest irk – things that are referred to once and never mentioned again.

I’ll post revisions of the material later, mostly because watching the hundred minute differences between each draft is tedious and I don’t want to spoil surprises, but this update will point out some of the things which I have discovered abut the world I have created for NaNo.

Just Because It’s Cool, Doesn’t Mean It’ll Work

The beginning of the story has bugged me for the better part of a week. I like opening fast, but the random nature of the attack seems a bit too contrived, though I still haven’t worked out the best way to work myself into that scene. Three pages of dialogue didn’t work, a flash-forward to some place near the robot war later on felt too choppy, and I can’t even begin to explain how dull my attempt at injecting asymmetrical game theory into the opening managed to be.

Then I thought about how difficult it was to sell the notion of a homeless brat rising to the top of a major criminal organization in the space of a few years. Despite surrounding him with a bunch of characters who have ties to the Kings it still feels as if the shift is too quick and too unbelievable. I like the notion, but cutting out his story leaves me with a second headache that ties directly into an issue that presented itself later on. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

My political piece was an anti-robot, anti-cyborg manifesto presented by the Senator soon-to-be Vice President Leukman. His thread was basically to build up the DCU as an independent agency outside the normal channels of command. If they acted under specific orders then I would have had to manage hierarchy and their position in the wider policing status of the nameless city (which has gone through a couple of lame names), which would have handcuffed me at the penultimate big event.

Add to the fudging, there is also the issue of “the only sane man” going off the deep end into major insanity too quickly. Selling that plot point with a nanotech-gone-wrong monster just isn’t enough, though I’m not sure what else I could do to drive him insane whilst still being a viable candidate for such a large political role during his death scene. Which is tied in to the issues I was having with Charlie in the later sections.

Chronologically, the next piece of the puzzle which is really annoying me is the five / ten year jump between Charlie being crowned boss of bosses and the introduction of the de facto main character. There are examples of this having worked well, but there aren’t that many connections between the two stories. Talos can’t be moved into the position of the main character, because he really doesn’t do much for large tracts of the story.

The Message Is In The Messages… Honestly…

My attempt to position Charlie into the Kings crime syndicate was for one reason, and one reason alone. He absolutely had to be killed by Adway to bring Talos’ machinations into the open. Talos, as I had sketched out, was sending the detective the texts to get rid of Charlie, riffing off a mentor trope.

Talos deactivated his comm interface, satisfied that Adway would take the necessary steps to remove the increasing problem which Charlie had become.

Clumsy writing, I know…

The content of the messages always bothered me. I can’t have them come out and say that Charlie is behind the meme murders or it’ll look like a set-up, but too obscure and they look like McGuffins. I’m not sure if it can be fixed to any degree of clarity while remaining vague. A puzzler.

I’ve had a couple of comments about Adam’s part in the larger story, and I always intended him to blow himself up, much like the artificial in the blimp segment, but it never quite managed to sit right on the page, and always seems to come up as a sudden turn. I’ve tried a few ways to merge him into the story, first with conversations held between him and Talos via cyberspace, then with him escaping – none of the ideas seem to make his actions more cohesive…

Even when I’m editing in brief spurts – fixing tense, smoothing dialogue, easing in plot points, and slipping in the odd joke – there is the temptation to pull everything apart and do major reconstructive surgery to the novel. I’m trying to avoid heavy editing, but it is really, really difficult…

I’ll write without editing anything tomorrow, I swear. 😀

Posted in writing | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

NaNoWriMo: The Plan

Posted by BigWords on November 22, 2009

Pope Joan took the ID cards and spread them across the table in a fan shape. “Do you have any idea how long it has been since I saw so many of these. Mmm… Brings back old memories.” She lifted a card and sniffed it. “There are still traces of cocaine on this one. God, I miss the old days.”
“You told me that they contained information.”
“That they do. Now, young Charlie… You brought me cards with Charlie…” She paused, “I find that ironic. Anyways, the information on the cards is directly related to the importance of the individuals who were issued with them.” She picked a card from the table and inspected it. “The serial number that rests along the bottom of the plastic indicates the location of issue…
APC 05
“The person who issued the card…
158-392-602
“The status of the card holder…
D8
“And-” Joan broke off from her train of thought, noticing another card on the table. “Where did you get this one?” She held the card which belonged to the enforcer Talos had killed so many years earlier.
“It was from a friend. He killed a guy with a funky eye. I took the card.”
“You might be in luck. This would have been issued before the cards were keyed to specific locks. You can get into buildings which the Kings haven’t upgraded yet. Saying that, those delightful fools rarely spend money on physically protecting their belongings because they have enough rep to do what they want.”
“That’s good to know.” Charlie pondered.
“Do you know where the strongholds are located?”
“No, but I can find out.”
“Ah, the power of self-belief. Give me your hand.”
“I’ve told you often enough – We’re not going there.”
“Please, give me your hand.”
Charlie cautiously offered his hand. Joan produced a small tool from her purse and pressed it against Charlie’s hand.
“What is this supposed to do?”
Joan pressed a button on the device, eliciting a howl of pain from Charlie.
“Now you have an embedded chip in your hand you won’t show up on the Kings security systems.”
“Y’know, I’m getting really fed up of people setting me up for shit without advance warnings.”

####

Charlie banged on the door of the pawnbroker, eyeing the street for movement while he waited. The street was too dark to be completely sure, but it felt as if as if there were people moving around in the shadows.
“Yeah, whaddayawant.”
Charlie held the card up to the cam. “I need a word.”
The pawnbroker beeped the door open. “Come on in.”
Charlie swung the door open, the strong smell of old wood, freshly cleaned metal and blood hitting him as soon as he entered. “I’m here to talk about the last shipment.”
“It was sent out, just like all the rest.”
“Well it didn’t turn up, and you were named as the last person to see it. Care to comment before I am forced to do something I don’t want to do.”
The pawnbroker paled at the thought of his name being sent to the Kings’ enforcers. “I’ll take a look at my records. No need to act rashly here, ‘kay.”
As the old man disappeared to the back room Charlie took a look at the display of items stolen from across the city. Some of the objects still retained the blood of their previous owners, and it was surprising how much of the worthless junk had been priced at high prices.
“I have the paperwork here. It was sent to the lock-up on the fourth roadway at the side-entrance to DigiMax. Frankie the Nail took it up a couple of days ago.”
“Let me have all the paperwork you have. The bosses are taking inventory, and anything out-of-place will be accounted for.”
The pawnbroker handed over the file in his hand. “You want everything?”
“Every last piece of paper. Every digital file. Everything.”

Outside, Charlie held the box of information close. He stifled the urge to grin like a fool, moving hastily to his hov. Things were improving at a rate of knots, and soon he would be ready to show the Kings how business could be done.

Posted in writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

NaNoWriMo: Evacuation

Posted by BigWords on November 22, 2009

The robots swarmed the DCU building with unstoppable force, swiping aside the DCU agents as if they weren’t even there. Five thousand artificials with a single objective – clear the agency of all occupants. As the robots flooded the lower levels with increasing numbers, The General watched events from his office. Flashes of gunfire flared on some of the monitors, others were obscured by streaks of blood, and more were failing every minute the situation continued. Even a best case scenario would result in the loss of unacceptable casualties, the kind which brings congressional hearings down on government agencies.
“This is The General to all staff. Evacuate to the Black River Complex immediately. I repeat… Evacuate the building immediately.” The words didn’t come any easier with the knowledge that the action was the right choice to take under the circumstances. “Computer… Activate security ptotocol Alpha Black Five.” A three dimensional map appeared on his screen, displaying the immense hollow at the centre of the building.
A password box appeared in the middle of the screen, flashing spaces for the twelve digits required to complete the activation sequence. He paused a moment before commiting to the procedure, the knowledge that it could not be revoked weighing heavily upon him, but with time in short demand he forced himself to input the alphanumeric code. The screen turned red as the protocol was activated.
‘Thermo-nuclear detonation in one hour,’ appeared overlaid on the previous screen, all commands from the console finally and irrevocably locked out.
Closing down the lid of his command console, The General grabbed his comm and headed out for the upper hov deck. A siren blared through the halls, indicating that the self-destruct had been initiated. Over the alarm, the sound of twisting metal carried up the floors of the building, but he pushed on, determined to resolve the occupancy of his department by aggressive forces by any means at his disposal. The infected, whose occupancy of the basement could never be revealed, would hopefully be obliterated in the blast. No trace of the horrible secret could leave the DCU, no matter what else occurred.

####

Connell sighed as the DCU building came into view. “Say little guy, would ya mind if I had a moment tuh sit-down. All a’ this walking is making me feel like I’m gonna be sick.”
“You are ill?”
“I’m an overweight drunk.” Connell admitted, “I’m not made for all a’ this walking.”
“We will remain here for three minutes and thirty seconds, during which time you can recharge.”
“I ain’t promising anything, but I’ll take what I can get,” Connell said as he flopped to the ground.
From his vantage point, Connell could see the a fleet of hovs departing from near the top of the building at some considerable speed.
“There must be a sale on donuts somewhere.”

####

I didn’t post yesterday as I was out all day. And I didn’t – technically – write anything either. A dozen words typed into my phone don’t really count…

Posted in writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

NaNoWriMo: Slow Gray Nano Death

Posted by BigWords on November 20, 2009

Leukman checked the 3D map of the DCU building against the blueprints in front of him three times before reaching for his comm. There were too many rooms in the digital layout of the complex, more than had ever been disclosed to the oversight committee in the meetings which had presaged the construction of the building. One sub-level more than stated, an extra hov bay, three extensions that connected to the upper roadways, some modifications to the roof, and a sealed compartment which extended through five floors in the core of the building. It didn’t make sense for so many differences to have been made on the fly, meaning that oversight had been presented with false information. For the DCU to risk federal charges was amazing.
“Zoom in. Expand map. Show sub-level five.”
The computer reacted instantly to the first two orders, stalling on the third.
“Computer, show me the schematics of sub-level five.”
The screen flashed an error message as the map spun slowly.
Tapping one finger on the desk, he decided that a visual inspection of the level would be more efficient than leaving such details to a belligerent computer designed by the DCU. There would be time enough for answers later, but he needed to see what was so important that the design was presented fraudulently to oversight.
Pressing his comm, Leukman requested his aide. “Dray, come in to my office.”

####

The elevator slowed as it reached the first floor, then accelerated as it continued below ground level. Deep under the complex, the elevator slowed once more as it came to rest on sub-level five. Bright red lights flared in the elevator as the doors opened, two guards stepping out to block access to the corridor, weapons raised at the occupants of the elevator.
“I am the official head of the DCU. Step aside.”
The guards remained stationary in their defense positions.
“The Senator can come through if he really wants to see what is happening. Do you, Senator?”
“I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t concerned about the activities of this organization. Let me through.”
“Very well.” The guards stepped aside, their weapons lowered.
“I am Lt. White, and this… This is The Hold.”
“The Hold?” Leukman parrotted, “As in a jail?”
“The occupants of this facility are considered an extreme danger to the city. We can’t allow you access to the cells, but you can feel free to look around the open parts of the facility.”
“What crimes have they committed?
“Information on subjects held here are classified.”
“When did they receive a hearing?”
“Information on subjects held here are classified.” White repeated.
“Can you tell me anything about the people you are… Storing.”
White struggled with the questions, “I can’t answer you, sir, as much as I want to.”
“Can you at least tell me if the people held here are being taken care of adequately?”
“The people contained within this facility are given the utmost care.”
“No waterboarding?”
“Absolutely not, sir.”
“And I’m meant to take your word for that?”
“Sir, I…”
“I want to see the prisoners.”
“They aren’t exactly prisoners.”
“Then what are they? Guests?”

Dray peered into the window of the nearest cell. “I don’t see anyone, sir.” Dray turned to White, “Don’t you have lighting in there?” He strained against the gloom. “Is this your idea of utmost care?”
“Open the door,” Leukman demanded. “Now.”
White frowned. “Sir, you don’t understand-”
“No. You don’t seem to understand. I said open the door. Now.”
The guards stepped forward, aiming their weapons at the door as White keyed in the code to release the clamps holding the door sealed. “This is highly unwise, sir.”
“I will decide what is wise and what is unwise.”
The door hissed as the locks released. Dray stepped forward, “I still don’t see-”
Someone shifted at the back of the cell, then appeared almost instantly at the door, a mess of gray. The blob which once was once a man twisted and reformed as the guards opened fire on it, mostly to little effect. The former man still advancing, Dray and Leukman retreated backwards, too shocked to think clearly.
“What the fuck is that?” Leukman babbled, “What is it? What is it?” He grabbed Dray and pushed the aide in front of him. “Get rid of that thing. Get it out of my sight.”

####

“Those cells,” White explained, “Are test subjects whose reaction to nanomeds were… Less than successful. There are over two thousand people being detained in sub-level five to protect people from the infection. We don’t know how to stop the replication of the nanobots in their system, and as you saw…”
“Yes, yes… I saw. I know now. You people… You play god, and when your creations turn on you, you lock them up even though they have done nothing wrong.” Leukman spoke calmly and evenly thanks to several stiff drinks in his system. “I knew this place was a danger. I saw it when I looked over the plans earlier today. I saw it in your handling of the disastrous assignment earlier this week. There will be reforms. I guarantee that you will see massive changes around here.”

Posted in writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

NaNoWriMo: Tragedy

Posted by BigWords on November 19, 2009

“Did you enjoy yourself?”
Charlie thought about the question. “Yeah. I liked the shiny.”
“That’s all you ever think about. Money, money, money…”
“I think about you as well.”
Lara took his hand. “Riiight, and I suppose that you didn’t even give that blonde in the short black skirt a second look.”
“Which blonde?” Charlie played along.
“Yeah, like I really believe you,” She joked back.
Across the road three men slipped into the alley, out of sight. Charlie pulled Lara closer to him, quickening his pace. “Believe this. The street is about to get very dangerous.”
At the end of the street an enforcer quietly watched, moving away only when Charlie made eye contact with him. More people rushed from the sidewalk to the relative safety of the buildings on the ground level roadway, looking up to the sky and at the ends of the street. A lurching feeling deep in his stomach gripped Charlie, wishing all the time that his knowledge of the street gangs was better.
A black hov appeared from where the enforcer disappeared, flaring burnished orange neon lighting from under the vehicle, lighting its’ path. The three men reappeared from their hiding place across the street, wielding rifles and carrying grenades.
Charlie stopped in his tracks, pulled Lara close to him and moved to the doorway of a bar. The door was locked, leaving him no options. He shielded her from the street with his body, holding her as tightly as he could.
“Keep your head low.”

A flash of light from the street heralded the exchange of gunfire. An EMP grenade slid near the hov, bounced, exploding near the row of parked hov’s, oldtime wheels, and Charlie. Pieces of plastiglass and metal flew from the vehicles, showering the sidewalk. The hov slowed enough so that Charlie could see clearly the passengers. He could see the windows slide open, and see the firearms emerge from within. The men on the opposite side of the road were attacking the hov with every weapon at their disposal, and Charlie knew that there were always civilian casualties when turf wars spilled out on to the streets.
The Hov sped off as an explosion brought down a wall onto the men who were firing at them, Their enemies dead, the hov rose two feet in the air and sped off as fast as it could, leaving the scene of the battle without a second glance at Charlie.
An astonished tone in his voice, he asked Lara if she was all right. Her arms limp around him, he lifted her chin to see into her eyes, already knowing, even before her head was tilted back so that he could see, that she was dead. His heart pounded.
“Lara, we have to get out of here.”
She didn’t respond.
“Lara?”
Cradling her, blood seeped through his fingers. She made a whimpering sound, then the world was so much lonelier than before. Lara was dead.

Charlie stood in the rain of dust and debris, holding her.
“I swear. The people who did this will die by my hands.”

####

Connell looked out at the street. Three weeks on the job, he thought, and they stick me in the middle of this shit. The crowd of news reporters at the ends of the street, with their hov cams above the throng for the clearest pictures, made him sick to his stomach. Vultures, he silently cursed them, you’re a bunch of fucking vultures, preying on the dead.
The scene had been left more or less intact, and even though he knew – evidence or not – that the devastation was due to the Kings asserting their dominance of the streets, there was little that would bring out more experienced officers to the scene. Connell, third lowest placed in the police academy’s year, was the best that victims of the massacre could hope for to investigate their deaths.
“What’s a second-rate cop like you doing at a major crime scene like this?” The voice belonged to a woman Connell recognized from the last investigation into the Kings.
“Move along before I arrest you for loitering at the scene of a crime.”
“You can’t arrest me for being here.”
“No, but I can’t arrest you, but I can shoot you.”
“I’m not carrying a weapon.”
“Sorry, I didn’t quite catch that. Would you mind showing me your ID card, ma’am.”
“And when I put my hand into my coat you’ll shoot me. Your statement will claim that you thought I was going for a weapon and you’ll be exonerated.”
“You’re a lot smarter than your jacket would have a person believe.”
“And you’re a lot dumber than a cop ought to be.”

Posted in writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »