Friday, December 29, 2006

Growing Hope - Installment 11

“I'm gonna miss this place, you know?” Telson said as we sped-walked to the warehouse.

“Huh?” I asked in reply, slightly out of breath.

“The city. I think I'm going to kind of miss it.”


“Don't know,” Telson said, shrugging, “I just am.”

“Well, what is it? There's gotta be something.”

“Carol, I guess. Maybe, I don't know, the struggle... the fight, you know?”

“Why,” I asked, looking at him, “are you going to miss the fight? I mean, that's what we hate.” He thought about it a moment as we walked, keeping our pace.

“Makes you feel alive. Gives you something to wake up for. Never a dull day. You know?”

“No, Telson, I don't know. Which is why I'm leaving.”

We made it to the warehouse in almost record time. This would be the second to last foray into our home. The next one would be to collect our meager belongings that were worth keeping, and the seed we'd distribute, of course. It would be a short trip, much shorter than this one.

The hum of the grid faded as we approached. I could almost feel my chip humming in a converse relation. They call it the phantom hum. So subtle no human could feel it, they said. I didn't give a shit, I could feel it.

Rise of the chip, fall of the grid.

We hit the floor at a run. Telson immediately heads to the farm as I quickly inspect the comp terminal in the kitchen to make sure there were no attempted security violations. There appears to have been none, which is good enough for me. I follow behind Telson. As soon as I make it to the door a burlap sack is thrown at me. Hemp, real hemp. So rare. Telson is already making his way quickly through the rows upon rows of plants, going on instinct now. We need to check the plants every day, every time we come in. It's its own environment here, and it develops entropy if we neglect our negentropic qualities.

While Telson checks PH balances of water, I begin checking tomatoes. We need tomatoes. Tomatoes are high priced commodities in the quasi Barter-Land he and I live in. Tomatoes will get us well on our way to leaving this place, metaphorically and chemically at the least. I find a good clean one that's so close to ripening only Telson or I could tell the difference. Pluck it from the vine. Gently. Love. Tenderness. Farming is about understanding the flow of your plants, knowing when they want to be picked. I find another, and another, and another. So on. So forth. Telson joins the fray, begins inspecting and plucking. We move as quickly as possible through our artificial rows of plants.

As Telson inspects the ripeness of one child, I heft the burlap sack in his hand. Just before he plucks, “No more.” He stops before he twists. Between us we have the three quarters of a sack for the aurative.

We left the warehouse quickly, hoping to find something beyond our selves that night. The grid hums up behind us as we leave I can feel the rising and falling of the phantom hum.

Rise of the grid, fall of the chip.


Thursday, December 07, 2006

Growing Hope - Installment 10

kept the meme of the Fool's Path floating around in my head. Something about it managed to cling on to other ideas in the neuron soup. What was it that made us fools, as Shelly put it? I shook my head, drank my beer. Better to clear those vicious, unsightly thoughts from my cranium before it was too late. They might take over. Memes do that. They replicate within your brain, expand, begin to destroy other ideas and other thought processes till you're nothing but a vessel for them.

So I backed away slowly. And carefully. Metaphorically, of course. I walked out of the hallway, back into the slightly less surreal reality that was the camp. The clave. The guitar strumming had begun again. Chattering among the clavers picked back up, something I relished. Conversations from without to replace those within... I became lost instantly in the flood of voices, the double digit addition added in short pace to the four I'd been apart of earlier. ?Party??

?Yeah, party, man. A big fucking party. We got bands coming in from the city, trucking their shit right now.?

?Who told 'em??

?Hook, I think.?

?What's it for??

?Just to party. Need an excuse, Jakey Jake??

?Just sip it till till cools off, then slam her back, aye??

I turned the corner, and felt the rush. The exultation, the pre-endorphin high. The testosterone feel of fresh women on the way, the estrogenic love of things manly, the need to create. I could smell, feel, see it in the air, that electrical hum of the ecstatic union about to take place. It delivered weightlessness to my being, almost made me lift off my feet. This was what being alive felt like, at least as far as I was concerned. It was the feeling of mental foreplay. We were all flirting with the future, it seemed.

Fifteen or twenty people ranging from 16 to 30 sat or stood around, all in their own preparatory phases. No doubt that there were more throughout the camp, hidden away in their dormitories preparing themselves for the night to come. This was life for us. Work hard, try and make the world a better place, indulge. Some were applying makeup, others adjusting their instruments. A few were kicking back a couple pre-party shots or beers. I saw one group cooking up shroom tea on a hot plate.

I moved through the crowd easily, only getting a couple recognizing nods from those I'd dealt with in the past. Carol's pad was my destination, partially to collect Telson, partially to let them know I hadn't been knifed when I made it down to the studio. The need for chit chat, social bantering, didn't occur to me. A mission was what I was on. I needed tomatoes. Tomatoes to trade for aurative. Aurative to party. Partying to help me put away the the parts of my brain that screamed for being put away.

A few sharp raps on Carol's door. ?Yo, Carol, Telson. You guys decent??

?Yeah,? was the call from inside. I opened the door. They'd at least pulled a sheet over themselves.

?Telson, throw some clothes on,? I said as I walked in.


?Clothes. Put them on,? I replied, turning around. I had no desire to see Telson naked. Carol on the other hand... but she was passed out anyway.

?What are we doing?? he asked. I could hear him getting out of bed, the rustle of well worn work pants as he pulled them on. Carol stirred slightly at the weight shift.

?You dressed?? I asked the wall ahead of me.


I turned around. ?We got some aurative from one of the guys. Half a sack of tomatoes for a dose, maybe two if we can bring down three-quarters.?

?You sure?? he asked, eyes lit up.

?Pretty sure. But, come on, we gotta hurry. Party looks like it's getting ready to go, so we need to get back soon,? I said. I kept glancing at Carol's half-naked, passed out, stoned form. Telson didn't even notice. Or didn't care. One or the other.

?Right, right,? he said as he reached over to grab his shirt from the foot of the bed. ?Lead the way, Dorse.?

?You gonna wake her up?? I asked, gesturing at Carol.

?Huh? Oh, yeah,? he replied. Telson walked over and sat down where he'd been laying before, reached out a hand to her flank and gently shook her. ?Caaaarrrrroool,? he cooed softly till she began to stir. When she made a grunt of acknowledgment Telson told her we were leaving, that the party was starting soon. We waited till she was sitting up before heading out the door.

The trip through the camp was quick, to the point. We phoned Hook from a console to let down the grid for us, hit the courtyard. As soon as we made it to the guard station we rapidly informed him of our intention to come back as soon as possible and explained the urgency for reentry.

?Ah, no problem, guys. As soon as Hook sees you coming, he'll have his finger on the trigger, you know??

And then we made our way back into the real world, the place of dark and grime where beauty was just a random fractal created by nature.

Posted originally at Frequency23

You should read the stuff there. And then you should link to my site. Bitches.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Growing Hope - Installment 9

Glass shattered just as I was about to turn the corner. I stopped in my tracks, arms over my head, muscles tensed, fight or flight response kicking in. First thought that went through my head? Fuck me, fuck me, I'm not leaving town tomorrow morning. Then I realized that the shattering wasn't anywhere near me, let alone on my neck, head, or elsewhere on my person. I quickly regained my composure and looked back at Reggie. He was getting up and leaving already, his three friends cowering. They were as freaked as me, glazed eyes staring at the corner covered in what could have only been beer. Thankfully, Reggie was headed back towards away down another hallway, away from Carol and Telson, and away from me. I breathed a sigh of sweet-lord-I'm-not-going-to-fucking-get-my-ass-beat-tonight relief. And, don't worry, I'm well aware that this doesn't make me a hard ass in anyone's eyes.

I continued quickly down the hall towards Shelly's studio. I could hear Kenchi's cast blaring through the closed door, competing well with my heart's jack hammering in my ears. “I’m going to say something, and I say this with complete confidence. I really do. I’m serious here. Don’t let this get around, because people might freak out or think I'm crazy, maybe try to 'shut me down'. OK. Everyone HIGH UP in power is out for themselves. I know, big shock to you kiddies, isn't it?” femme-Kenchi switched to robo-Kenchi. “They don't care about you or your neighbor anymore than a john cares about a prostitute,” Now to male, “Seriously. Big shock, huh?

“No?” Femme-Kenchi said softly. “Oh wait? I forgot?” and she abruptly raised her voice to a passionate, digitized yell, “we ALL FUCKING KNOW THAT ALREADY! Everyone! The people who are raping you, the next guy, your roommate, your mother, your dog, your best friend, and even your best friend's fucking mutt! Everyone with the giant phallus of corporate hegemony and corporate greed rammed in their rectum,” male, “(with no lube, because that costs extra, and the corporatocracy is all about the bottom line) knows it, feels it.

“The funny thing is: You’re not tied down. There’s no ball gag. And they’re just pounding away. The people of the Freelands hear you screaming. The people on Island TAZ hear you screaming. The people next door hear your screams above even their own. The whole fucking world hears you screaming. We've been hearing it for so long now over there in the Ameri-kas, that we're beginning to think you like it. So either learn to enjoy it, or stop. Go! Leave!

“Do you want to know why I left?? he said calmly, his voice morphing into that of a sultry french madame's, “I was tired of walking funny for weeks. I was tired of having a raw throat. I was tired of having my ears pierced by the grunting and rutting of corp execs and the wails of my fellow ass-rapees. I got sick of it. So I came here. To live and be happy. Why haven't you?” a brief pause followed after the question, then she was back, still in her madame voice. “This is Kenchi, casting from where you can only hope to be. Au revoir.”

Silence. I waited a few moments before knocking on Shelly's door, delivering the old rapataptap. “Yeah?” she shouted.

“Hey, it's Dorse. Can I come in.”

“Uh, yeah, sure,” she replied even voiced. I opened the door and went in. She was working on a painting of her deceased family, mostly based off memory and a few pictures that remained.

“Hey,” I began, “I, well,” pause, “well, I wanted to apologize for yelling at you.”


“For yelling at you in Carol's room.”

She looked over her shoulder at me, slight smirk on her face, “Don't worry about it, Dorse. I overreacted. We've all got paths we're on. You and Telson have yours, the Fool's path. Me and Carol, we've got ours. Your mystical deity, Kenchi, will protect you like a talisman. I've got the clave.”

“Right... fool's card...” I wasn't certain what she meant, or if I should have felt insulted. Definitely over my head. Normally, when conversations with Shelly became more esoteric I just bowed out. “Anyway... Are you sure?” She just shrugged. “Because, I was thinking, you know, Telson and I could put off leaving for a couple days, help you guys set up the farm or something...” I trailed off.

“Yeah. I'm sure," she nodded reassuringly, "Hook put together our grid, and Carol can re engineer nanobots. I think we can handle a farm as long as we've got seed. Besides, you know I'll never hold anyone back from anything, especially not a friend.”

“Oh. Well... yeah, you're probably right, Shelly. Putting it together's the easy part.” I took a drink of beer, at a loss for words. My half-assed cunning plan to stay a couple more days hadn't worked. Now I just felt completely out of place, like a drunk who stumbles into a black tie event. “So, I was thinking about going back to the warehouse, you know, to pick up some tomatoes for trade. Most of the people around here love 'em.” She just looked at me like I was an idiot. Definitely wasn't going to take the bait. I wasn't going to get laid either. But I kept going anyways, “You want to-“

“No, Dorse. I think I'm just going to paint till the party gets going.”

“Oh. OK. I guess I'll see you there then?”


“Great.” Yeah. Right. Great.

Cross posted months, months, and more months ago at Frequency23.


Friday, December 01, 2006

Growing Hope - Installment 8

When the place was populated, fully populated by awake, moving, living human beings, it wasn't nearly as creepy as you might expect an ex-concentration camp to be. Once you got past the entrance there were only a couple more installation pieces to surprise you. The annoying ones were in the bathrooms. They'd sit in waiting, pretend to be asleep, then surprise the living shit out of you. Then cackle. Or chortle. Wait... no... those were the residents.

I left Carol and Telson to each other, to unwind a little, and went further into the building. In the corner of one of the larger common sleeping areas was a converted living room with a few worn out couches and benches. Four clavers were sitting talking, one strumming on an ancient looking acoustic guitar, a pipe being passed around, an open cooler full of beer on the floor. I walked into the room and headed over to them. Three of them I had a passing friendship with, had smoked with them on more than one occasion. I was “that pharma guy” to them. The fourth was Reggie. He was Shelly's ex.

“'Sup, Telson? Wanna beer?” one of them, a girl around 16 or 17 asked.

“Dorse. I'm Dorse. And, yeah, sure, I'll grab a beer.” Reggie didn't even look up at me, just kept staring his beer bottle while I grabbed my own from the cooler. I could see his hand tensing and relaxing around the bottle. I had planned on asking if Shelly came past here, but figured it probably wasn't that great of an idea. Reggie looked pretty intent on using that bottle for something other than drinking, and suffering from head trauma made planning your great escape difficult. That, and he was bigger than me. At least six or seven inches taller, and infinitely more muscular. On top of that, the tension in the air was thick. They'd seen Shelly come through, could tell I was the one that pissed her off.

“Hey, guys, thanks for the beer,” I said, gesturing appreciatively with the bottle. I turned in the direction of Shelly's studio and headed off while I twisted the bottle cap off.

“Dorse,” I turned around. It was the guy who'd been playing guitar, “hey, you didn't happen to bring any of those tomatoes did you? The vine ripened ones?”

“Nah, man. But, I'm thinking I'll head back before the party. Got anything you could trade?” I was hoping for some more beer or pot.

Guitar man thought about it. I took a long pull off the bottle, looked around it at Reggie to make sure he wasn't about to snap. Finally, the guy spoke up, “I've got some aurative. Want that?”

“Yeah, that sounds pretty cool. Is it any good?”

“Best I've had in a while,” was the reply as he strummed his guitar languidly.


“Yep. Not a bunch of chemical burn or anything. Better than that acid you got me a while back.”

“Yeah,” I paused. I'd forgotten. “Sorry about that shit, man. It was a new guy and stuff, you know? If it makes you feel any better, I took it that same night. Felt like shit for a week after. Almost killed Telson, I think.” I took another long drink. I wanted to get out of there. Quick.

“Dorse, man, don't even worry about it. I've had worse. I didn't like freak out or anything, it was just dirty. It's cool.”

“Cool. Well, hey, I'll grab half a sack of those tomatoes for you when I go back. Thanks again for the beer.” I walked off quickly, the desire for a bottle to the back of the head completely absent. Shelly's was only across the room and down the hall. It was a big room, but I thought I could clear it, or at make it out of range.

Cross Posted at Frequency23...


Monday, November 27, 2006

Growing Hope - Installment 7

Carol, did you smoke all our shit?” Shelly asked from the doorway. Carol just giggled. I looked up from my typing.

I liked Shelly most of all because she seemed the most normal in the enclave. No tattoos, no piercings other than her ears, no scars. Just perfect. The way her DNA meant her to be. She didn't smoke, she rarely took drugs, and she thought I was killing my brain and liver. I liked her. She looked to be entirely more... whole. Of course, the most normal out of the enclave didn't really mean shit. And looks didn't mean anything either.

Short and petite with long black hair and a little bit of Native American flowing through her veins. Lovely in that, I'm super-fucked-up-in-the-head-because-I-watched-my-parents-executed-with-a-bullet-to-the-back-of-the-head kind of way. But you build up a sort of resistance to that kind of thing around here. Most of these people were our allies, after all. A little crazy, but sometimes those are the best compadres to have. Besides, when you got nothing...

“Hey Dorse,” Shelly greeted me, came over and gave me a peck on the lips. “How you been?”

“Can't complain, Shelly. How was shopping?”

Shelly looked down at my hands resting on the laptop keyboard, caught a glance at some schematics of the farm that I'd pulled up. She walked around behind me to give the screen a closer inspection. “Is that you and Telson's setup?” She asked, eyes wide.

“They're leaving tomorrow, Shell,” Carol called from her bed.

“Shut the fuck up, Carol!” I yelled reflexively, then more quietly, “Shelly close the door, would you?” Shelly went around and did as I asked, eyes still wide. She looked back at me after the bolt clicked satisfactorily, eyebrows raised.

“You two are leaving? Why? And don't yell at me.”

“Well...” Telson said sluggishly, trailing off. Still fucked.

“I apologize. And we want to go to the Freelands.” I answered.

“You know,” Shelly started quietly as she sat down on the end of the bed, “they're not as great as you think. There's still problems there.”

“How would you know?” Telson asked.

“Not everything everybody says is true, Telson. I mean, Kenchi's just propaganda-”

“But better than the propaganda everybody else daily feeds us,” I interjected.

“Yeah,” Shelly said, frowning, “but it's still propaganda, guys. Maybe you should stay here in the camp. I mean, we can still move all the stuff in-”

“Ohhh hell no!” I snapped, “I'm not moving in here. I'd end up breaking Hillfen into a million pieces, scattering his fucking nanobots all over the fucking camp grounds, getting kicked out, living on the street. Fuck no. Fuck. No. Then I'd be out of a place to live and have no farm.”

“But-” she started again.

“Fuck no! We're having a party, we're getting completely, utterly incapacitated, then we're leaving in the morning. End of fucking story.”

Telson sat up, looked at us both, “Right.”

“Right. Shit. And I apologize for yelling again.”

Shelly didn't even look at me, just got up and left. All Carol could muster was a sigh. I got up to follow Shelly. Telson laid back down.

“Don't even bother, Dorse. She's pissed. Give her a minute for her to get back to her studio, work a little bit of it out of her system. She might knife you if you don't,” Carol said quietly.

“She might knife me if I do,” I walked over and put my cigarette out in the ashtray on the bed, “but you're probably right. I'll finish the notes then go down there.”

Cross-posted at Frequency23 months ago, back when the world was younger, and you were less boring.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Growing Hope - Installment 6

“Now, a word from our sponsors, kiddies:

“'Are you sick of the horrible oppression and forced world view of the propagators of alien memeplexes? Does your reality tunnel seem foreign to you? Do you just not fit in, even on the Freelands? Then come to Island TAZ, one and all, where liberty is free and freedom flows like water.

“'Established only four years ago using a unique combination of Electrophoretic deposition and lightweight alloys, this Freeland remains completely intact and almost untouched by the mainland countries.

“'Founded by a group of Freelanders who felt their lifestyle was just too rigid, Island TAZ is the premier place to experience life as it was meant to be experienced. Planned to exist for only another another four years, see it now before it goes up in a fiery ball of destruction!

“'Grow your own food, or not. Make your own drugs, or not. Have insane, hazmat cleanup required sex with beautiful, undiscriminating women, men, or x-y chromers. Or not! Tell your friends about your vacation from reality, or keep it your own dirty secret! It's your choice. Because, at Island TAZ, that's the point!'

“Now, I'd like to offer up a word of praise to Island TAZ. That place really is all it says it is. I went on vacation there a year ago, and it was just beautiful. Sure, there's no trees, but, hell, up until 10 years ago there were barely any on the mainland!

“Yep, Island TAZ definitely gets the Kenchi seal of approval.”

Yeah, that was one of those places Telson and I dreamt about. Island TAZ. Almost rolls off my tongue, off my fingertips, collecting in a big sticky mess on my keyboard.

It was like one of those dreams within a dream, something ephemeral and lovely, just beyond your reach. Then, well, you woke up and realized it was a dream. Then you woke up again and you realized that that had just been a dream. And you were stuck here, doubly fucked, worrying about whether or not your best friend had been tagged and was spying on you by accident. And your bed was empty, and there was no alcohol in the warehouse, nor suitably fortified mind-altering chemical.

Now, I realize that as I relate this story to you, it seems really horrible. Which it is. The city I lived in, which I refuse to name for sake of Carol and her enclave, wasn't the model city. But there was worse. Believe me. I'd heard stories of them. Now, whether they really existed or not on these shores, and not in Africa, Europe, Asia, or South America, is really up to debate. Cut off from the net, at the whim of their governments or corporations. Living or dying, even eating at the whim of their overlords. Completely segregated from the world that existed a mere nanosecond of computation away, ten miles of nanonet separating them from a community. Absolutely hellish. Extreme feudalism that's taken a massive helping of PCP. Compared to that prospect, this city seemed like nirvana on earth.

Of course, then there's the argument of that being just a memeplex fed to me. It may not be real, or have any semblance of reality. This is, after all, a world at war for our minds. So how can I tell the difference? Gut instinct, I guess. Maybe this is the only place like this, maybe Kenchi was just a psi ops operation designed to throw us off.

But, when all things are said, sung, written, and done I have to choose my narrative, my story, my myth, and stick to it. And so do you.

Or do we?


Monday, November 20, 2006

Growing Hope - Installment 5

“You guys,” Carol drowsily said, “should stay one more night. You can pack up in the morning.” She and Telson were curled up on the bed together. I was still waiting for Shelly while I busily typed out the notes I'd accumulated over the last two years. They were simple things, ways to take out mites without having to resort to nanobot protection or pesticides, which could be both expensive and counterproductive. People paid a premium for organically grown produce, and sometimes the “defense mechanisms” man added to his crops counteracted the effects of the drugs. Or even how to tell if there was root rot in a given plant. Etcetera, as we say. Essentially just the small stuff that really mattered in the long run.

“Why should we stay?” I asked.

“Well, we could throw a party, you know?” Carol replied.

“Yeah. You could. Hey,” I pulled out a cigarette, “where's Shelly?”

“She went into town, had to go shopping, I think.”

“Shopping?” Dear reader, things never change. Kidding.

“Yeah. Groceries, you know. There's a wholesaler we go to, this guy in Uptown that hooks it up. So, like I said, you two should stay one more night. A bash or something.”

“Right,” I looked at Telson. He was snuggled up with her and looked more content than I'd seen him in days. Whether it was because her pot was good, or her shit was good, I wasn't going anywhere. Not to the Freelands, and probably not home to pack. Besides, if he was that whacked, I wouldn't be able to sneak out of the city past the guards. Bastard would've started walking toward the checkpoint instead of going around like a sensible person. Well, not really around. It's a little bit more “tricky”. It's a lot easier to make it into the city, than it is to make it out.

“Hey, Carol, don't let anyone know that we're leaving. This just a bash, ok?”

“What,” she drawled out, “worried my friends are narcs?”

“No. Friends of the friends of your friends. Besides, someone may be tagged.” Tagging, as we referred to it, was bugging someone's person without them realizing it. It was more common than you'd think. Not an awful lot of employers did it, but some did. And so did their security. Let's just say it takes more than a hot shower to get these off. You needed to have active antinanobodies to hunt them down, items that were increasingly difficult to find, or an EMP field around your apartment. That, and some of the tags were being outfitted with their own hunter codes, and EMP generators were expensive and/or illegal (depending on how much you paid the cops to forget about you... of course, if you were paying the cops off, you really didn't need the EMP fields).

“Cool,” was all Carol said. She knew everything I just told you, so I'm not going to recreate her mental process.

So, yeah, we were having a party. And Shelly still hadn't made it back. Hillfen was wrong, I probably cared more about her than Carol. Leaving was going to be difficult... but, to be honest, it was an easy sacrifice. Freedom and liberty on one hand... or a half-crazy girl who summoned demons into pictures with her friends to try and break and rebuild her ego? I know. Tough choice.

Posted originally at