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


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Growing Hope - Installment 4

“Doooooooooorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrssssssssssse!” It was Hillfen. He'd found me already. “Dorse, love, how have you been?” It asked as I stepped inside. Its voice dripped venom. The painting, hung on the right of the hallway, swirled into a hideously arranged spray yellow, blue, and red colors with a broken slash of a mouth painted through it. The eyes were multicolored and constantly shifting. Not swirling. Swirling I could have dealt with. It just shifted around randomly. My hate for this particular demon was based as much on its poor aesthetic appeal as its consistent antagonizing.

“How are things with you and Caaarrrrrolll?”

“Good. How about you?”

“Quit lying, Dorse. You know you love her, could have had her. But you can't stick to anything. Just like your last job, huh?”

“Shut up, Hillfen.” It just cackled. I didn't love her, I swear. I liked her, sure. But not loved. And my last job was fine. Wait. Why am I explaining myself to you, the reader? “Why don't you bother, Telson?” I asked the painting, nodded my head to my friend.

“Because,” it cackled, “Telson never gives me the reactions I love so much. He just ignores me. You, though, Dorse, you like to stay and talk and argue. No one talks to poor Hillfen anymore.”

“That's because you're annoying, Hillfen,” Telson snapped at the painting. He grabbed my shirt and tugged at me, “Come on, Dorse, let's go.” My feet remained planted. Telson just pulled harder, “Come on. You can fight it out with the painting later. Shit.”

Telson dragged me away into the next room, a much more tame environment. Once the lobby/waiting room for the infirmary, it had been morphed into an art gallery of the group's collective unconscious. Well, that's the best way I know to put it.

All around were the lights and elaborate animatronic devices of the enclave. One was a working three dimensional picture, a laser beam that sketched a design in the air by rapidly pinpointing and bursting air molecules into plasma. It was of one of the old commander of the camp with his family. His face, his wife's face, and their children's faces perfectly reconstructed from old pictures and vids that had been painstakingly dissected. His uniform perfect, their clothing exceptionally done. He didn't need any changes of visage. His memory was bad enough. My parents hadn't been in this camp, and neither had Telson's, but we still mentally cringed. The man had been a monster. But human. That was the worst part of it. The things we do when our overlords point us to it.

On the east side of the room sigils programmed months ago were drawn and erased rapidly by a program coded for this specific task. Their meanings were forgotten before the program had even been completed. I know because I asked the crafter of this particular device, Faraday Random. He babbled on about the overall meaning of it, the overarching goal, but couldn't tell me what each one was named. Faraday explained they didn't have names. They were just there. Sometimes he'd take the wall unit down and put over his bed, if he had company. “It helps charge them at the time of, you know,” he told me, trailing off...


He just shrugged.

Fair enough, I thought... and still think.

We moved through the lobby into the hallway that ran through the offices. Windows lined both sides, most covered with bed sheets or taped shut. The camp had been built before reactive glass became cheap, and vintage was important for this place. The offices were where they did the physicals and the immunizations people would come to dread. They were now bedrooms. You could easily see into the uncovered rooms. They were a mix between crash pads and mini temples to the strangest gods you'd ever see. One small room had a shrine to Chuck Norris in it.

I could never bring myself to sleep with any girl here, in these makeshift dormitories. I made them make the long trek back to my neck of the depot. Arguably it was more creepy, especially when doped on aural and engineered pscylocibin extract. But, if I got them back to the warehouse I was never worrying that she was charging a sigil while doing the reverse cowgirl.

A couple of the rooms were occupied, but neither Telson nor I were really friends with any of them. We just strolled through till we hit the end of it at a t-intersection and took a left. This was the wing where Carol and her friend Shelly lived. That was her roommate I'd talked about earlier.

I could still hear, or imagined I could hear, the cackling of Hillfen all the way down here. Or maybe it was a recording of Kenchi somewhere behind us. I wasn't sure. Who knows? Maybe Kenchi had co-opted Hillfen's voice for a moment? Honestly, it wouldn't have surprised me. He/she/it was one of our heroes. We attributed god-like status to the thing.

“Dorse? Telson? That you guys?” Carol called as we knocked at her dorm room. Music blared loud enough that I was surprised she could hear us knocking.

“Yeah,” Telson yelled, “How'd you guess?” She got up and turned the music off, came to the door dressed in her normal slacks and a tee-shirt of some band I'd never heard of, red hair up in ponytail. I didn't get off on knowing the hottest, latest music on the “scene”. I was a farmer. We didn't do things like that. We drank, fucked, did drugs... and meditated.

“Hook rang several minutes ago, let me know you were coming in,” she replied with a smile, then focused to me, “took you long enough. Get hung up with Hillfen?” I mumbled an affirmative. “Dorse, shame on you. You're better than that.” And she turned and went back into her room, leaving the door ajar for us. She sat down cross-legged on the bed. Telson went in ahead of me.

“So,” he began, “how are things with the camp? Any decent shows?”

“Eh,” she shrugged, “not really. Not enough revenue coming in. Just enough to keep our heads above water,” Carol trailed off, then, “bring any tomatoes?” Telson and I shook our heads. “Eh. Here,” she bent down under her bed and grabbed an old fashioned tin from beneath, sat upright. “Smoke?”

“Sure,” Telson replied, looked at me. I just waved it off. Carol had already started separating the seeds and stems on the tin cover.

“Mind if I use your Book?” I asked instead, pointing to her laptop. I figured if they were going to smoke she wasn't going to remember a damn thing I said about the finer points of hydroponic farming. Might as well write it down.

She looked up at me from the tray, a queer expression on her face. “Why?”

“We're giving you our farm,” I replied simply, “and there's some tips I need to write down in there.”

Carol almost knocked the stash over. “WHAT?!”

“We are giving you our farm,” I repeated more slowly than before, enunciating every syllable.

“WHY?! You guys love that thing! I've been trying to get you to bring it over for months, but you've always told me no!”

“Damn,” Telson said, “don't get twisted. Shit. Roll the spliff and we'll talk.”

“Yeah,” I agreed, “hand me the book and get to smoking.”

Crossposted at Frequency23 many, many moons ago.


Friday, November 10, 2006

Growing Hope - Installment 3

Carol's enclave was on the outskirts of the train depot in one of the old “reeducation camps” left over from the Rightots in 2010. It was a creepy enough place as it was, but they'd turned around and spruced it up with some bio-mechanical meets vaudeville décor. Really turned it into a horror house. Which might explain why they were so normal. They'd gone from injecting themselves with bizarre drugs and sticking even more bizarrely shaped metal objects in their bodies, to this, an exorcism of their demons. Carol had explained it to me one night over a bottle of moonshine. It was a symphony of art and light in 6 movements. The first was planting roots in the place where many of them had been born, or their parents had been sent, in the Dark Times. The second, learning their demons. Finding out the names of the silent places their consciousness never willingly went. We didn't get past the first two parts that time. She gave good head, and I don't rightly remember what she was saying between the moans.

“Burn your fucking flag, burn the pole down, and find a way to burn the concrete it's set in damnit! That country is not yours, kiddies!” came the intonations of what could only be Kenchi from a miniplayer someone had cell-bonded to a concrete wall. It was just up the block from us, playing to an empty street. Telson and I stopped and listened for a minute as he railed on about us being dipshits. “The war for this land, this air, this water was not won, kiddies. The government that rides high over your parents' corpses only succeeded in taking your minds and locking them away! We've gotten past the global warming for the most part, we've used science to clean the environment, we finally got past the issue of nuclear power. Now all we've got to do is break the patterns instilled, the patterns of fear and subservience.

“Put your ears close to the speaker. If this is beaming directly to ear canal plants, all the better. Ready?”

And without notice Kenchi released an ear piercing howl that must have come from without somewhere. This was unearthly, sounds of gears turning and cogs being ground to dust, and gnashing of teeth by netherbeasts.

“All right. I was just fucking with you,” she said and laughed one of those throaty laughs that just oozes sex from the vocal chords before it trailed off into some sort of poor display of computer voice synthesizing from the 90s.

“Must be a recording,” Telson said, rubbing his ear, teeth still lightly clenched.

“Yeah. I think from about a week ago,” I replied, then reached out my hand and vigorously rubbed the recharge pad that was on one side. It would transform my body heat and friction into usable energy. When my finger went numb, Telson took over. It was an empty street now but, who knew, Kenchi might be playing to a full house in an hour. Stranger things had happened. After we'd taken a few minutes to recharge the battery we kept walking to the enclave.

Now, to explain the enclave, you have to think of a hundred carnies doing meth for a week straight, then dropping some acid, then aurative when they'd sufficiently opened their brains and were, therefore, sufficiently in the mood to let carnie music and fairway barks become visible. Then imagine, if you will, these same carnies rambling through the north of Europe, and discovering a concentration camp. Good ol' Nazi style one. Then turning it into a show and somehow managed to attract the attention of some extraterrestrials from the abyss of our collective consciousness.

Then you might get the enclave.

Carol filled me in on the rest of the symphony later that month. I'd been sleeping with one of her roommates, and she had no one to talk to since Telson was a late sleeper. Over some tea she explained the “great process” she and her kin had undertaken.

The third movement was a renovation of the place. Built the furnaces back up, even. Shoveled out the ash from the old fires, wiped down the empty boxcars, painted over the blood stains.

Fourth. Forgave those who had inflicted this pain on their families and friends.

Fifth. Summoned and trapped their demons in every way possible. Through artwork, in objects, in computer progs. Anyway they would form during the ritual, they did it.

Sixth. Turn it into a thriving community that gave help to those who didn't get it anywhere else. Which is why we were going to Carol. They could use the conglomeration and apparatus Telson and I had constructed. They would give back, while we ran to find ourselves

The fifth had taken the longest, actually. I think it was just as difficult, workwise as the third. Emotionally, I'm not so sure. I remember seeing Carol's tear stained face for two months straight. The group almost broke apart on more than one occasion. But that's what you get when you go exorcising things that don't want to be exorcised, whether they be demons or governments. The damn things fight back. Even with all the priming from the first three movements, they almost broke.

Who knew?

We walked up to the front gates, punched the intercom and gave our names. The guard quickly released the magnetic locks and let us through with a grind and a low moan.

“Hey man,” I called to him as we walked past the house. It was Hook, one of the older guys who had been in on the project from the beginning. Before the exorcism he'd been messed up, living on the streets, shooting an opium substitute under his toenails, trying to kill his brain and the memories of this place. He'd come a long way.

“Telson and Dorse, the men with the plan. What is up?” Hook called from the gatehouse. We walked over to him. As we got closer I could see that he was cleanly shaved, something that was a new development in the last couple months. Yeah, he'd certainly come a long way. “You guys bring any of those tomatoes? You know, the vine ripened ones?”

“Nah,” Telson replied, “sorry man.”

“But, don't worry,” I piped up, “we brought something even better.” I held up a jump, a tiny rectangular prism that caused Hook's eyes to sparkle.

“What's on there?”

“Information.” With that response he couldn't help but crack a smile.

“This,” Telson started with a grin, pointing to the jump, “dear Hookie Hook, contains the plans, the means, and the instructions to run our farm.”

Hook relapsed, “Woah.”

“You said it man. 'Woah' is fucking right. We're getting out of town, leaving for the Freelands,” I replied, a grin uncontrollably growing across my face like one of our tomato plants' vines, “which is why we need to see Carol. We want to help you finish the 6th movement.”

“Got it, guys. Go on through, I'll lower the net, call Carol, and all that. Oh, and watch out for Hillfen, it's been in an even more foul mood lately.” Hillfen was one of the things wrestled from Carol's part of the collective consciousness. It symbolized her fear of commitment and lack of focus. Now it resided in a painting built from pigmented nanobots. Constant chaos, lack of coherent form was its trademark. It would speak to you if you let it, or scream in your general direction if you didn't.

As we walked across the compound courtyard I marveled for the umpteenth time at work the enclave had done with the camp. What had been a dusty expanse of land fifty meters by fifty meters, was now a park, a little piece of wilderness in the worst part of the city. It almost seemed inviting. Of course, it served two purposes. It kept the outside world out, and the inside world in. The trees, stolen from the lawns of the rich in some nearly arcane ritual that had never been explained to me, blocked the sound partially. Sonic dampeners were difficult to make on your own, and almost impossible to buy on the open market. On the black market, they were just too expensive to be within anyone's reach. It was either this or have the neighbors come looking every time the members had band practice. Or someone dropped by that Hillfen hadn't harassed in a while.

Telson and I were greeted by the hum and crackle of the grid powering down for our arrival. We didn't have the tags implanted in our skin, and the system wasn't sophisticated enough to notice biorhythms. The front door, a painted and resin carved side from one of the old boxcars, slid open as we walked closer. From the entryway I could hear my name being called.

Cross posted at Frequency23

Monday, November 06, 2006

Growing Hope - Installment 2

Kenchi was still going when Telson and I came to. They must have had some pretty good shit over in the Freelands. “Bill Hicks is a national hero over here, and what do you guys have,” he railed, for it was he at the moment, “you've got Thomas Jefferson. What in the fuck did he do for you? Own slaves whiel he preached against, then knock one of them up, that's what!”

By the time I rolled out of bed she was signing off. Time to get some sleep, she said. Recharge, check in with her security staff to see how many “blatantly illegal... HA! Kenchi lives by now laws!” intrusion they'd fended off this time. That's how Kenchi judged its popularity. By how much the Amerikan/EU/Chinese/Russian government wanted it shut down, or permanently defunct at least.

There'd been impersonators, sure, people who claimed to be Kenchi. But none of them really measured up to the test. You couldn't feel the heat waves of the fire in their balls/ovaries/processor(?) like you could with him. They were just laughed off the net.

They were probably narcs anyway.

“Telson, Telson, Telson,” I chanted quietly as I knelt down with my face close to his. Finally he opened his eyes, one hair spike flopped unendearingly to the side, “You know you're ugly when you sleep? And you smell funny?” He only nodded, obviously disoriented by the setup around him. It was his pad. It was very disconcerting.

“Did I,” he paused to lick his lip and begin again, his voice anguish filled, “not get laid last night?”

“No,” I replied, grin plastered across my face, “I kept you here. We're leaving today, remember?” He weakly shook his head. Aw. Telson was hung over. “You tried to leave, if it makes you feel any better,” I offered.

“It doesn't, Dorse. It doesn't.”

Breakfast was a simple affair. Warm beer from the night before along with eggs I'd managed to trade for a couple days before. Actually organic, not from one of the many factories that sprawled across the rural, outlying areas. The guy had needed antibiotics. I gave him some carrots that ran thick with omoxycillin instead of beta carotene. “Might not help your eyesight”, I pitched to him, “but it'll help with that infection that's quickly crawling to your heart”. So what if I was a good salesman like Telson accused me of?

Telson leaned back in his chair, rubbing his belly like a bloated giant who'd eaten too many villagers. “Vegans suck,” he commended, then belched, “they don't know what in the fuck they're missing.”

I laughed as I scrubbed out the cast iron pan in the sink. It had been my mother's, something that was left over from the days before cancerous teflon non-stick ones were born. They'd recalled those in 2007 due to birth defects becoming prominent in their research and assembly centers. That was back when the corporatocracy had “morals”. If you could call them that, even back then. I didn't trust the pan in the dry dish cleaner. I figured the nanobots would recognize history and try to destroy it, erase that part of my past out of spite for me or just their human captors in general.

“Hey,” I said over my shoulder as I finished up, “what do you think we should do with the hydroponic gear? I mean, shit, we've got a whole acre of it.”

“Well,” Telson replied, obviously turning the thought over in his poor alcohol soaked brain, “we could... ummm... give it away. To one of the collectives, you know? There's that one with that real cute piece of ass, that red head Cheryl.”

“You mean Carol?” I asked, setting the pan down in the sink to dry.

“Yeah, that's the one. We could give it to them. Not sure if they know how to use it, though. Not correctly at least.”

I dried off my hands, thought for a moment. Then it hit me, “What about the seed?”

“The seed? Just give it to 'em, I guess.”

“Well,” I grabbed my beer, “why don't we take it with us, you know? Spread it or something?”

“Like Johnny Apple Seed?”

“Like Johnny Pharma Seed. Shit. I don't know.”

“Well,” Telson looked up at the ceiling and considered it, “it would fuck with people... like actually giving production back to the people, wrenching it away from the corporations and such. It's not a bad idea. It's just...” he trailed off.

“Yeah,” I filled in the silence, moved and pulled out the chair at the table across him, looked around at the weathered walls that surrounded us both. “Yeah,” I repeated, “I know what you mean. People wouldn't know how to use the shit. Half the stuff wouldn't even grow.”

“Well,” Telson stroked a wilted green hair spike absentmindedly, “it might. Maybe not to its full potential. But it'd flower at least. We'd leave behind more seeds, at least.”

“Yeah,” I reached in my pocket and pulled out an herbal smoke, “it might.” I paused, lit it, “Yeah. You're right. It might. We could even bring jumps along with us that have all the assembly instructions.”

Then Telson perked up. “So we're going to go see Cheryl?”






“Yes. Juice. Join Us In Creating Entropy.”

“You know,” I lit my smoke, exhaled, “you sound like you don't like women when you say that?”

“Fuck you. I picked it up from one of the dancers at Mad Hatter, that strip club downtown.”

“That's a y-to-x chrome club. You know, the freaky transgenders you can only read with a bio scan? Now I see why you didn't want one on the apartment.”

Telson went to say something, mouth half-open, but he must have had a change of heart. Instead, just hung his head. In his defense, though, there really was nothing physiologically wrong with them. And you could really tell when they were wearing vinyl.

Cross posted at Frequency23 many moons ago.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Growing Hope - Installment 1

“Friends, colleagues, brothers-in-arms, listeners, fans, blah blah blahs, etc. It’s 3:30 in the morning. What are you doing still up and presumably paying attention to me? Unless my voice is coming at your through the walls from your asshat neighbor, blaring in the background while you’re balls deep in some tramp from the club, you’ve got some explaining to do.

“And, if you’re that neighbor who’s forcing his own obviously superior taste on the sex-crazed, culture-starved masses… good for you. And turn that shit up!”

Telson and I were those asshat neighbors. In an asshat neighborhood. Drinking cheap beer and chunking the empty cans at each other's heads in boredom. Currently, the only thing interesting happening in town was on the radio, beaming at us through the twists and turns of the internet, or what passed for the internet these days. Its name was Kenchi. A, presumably, human provocateur that set up shop a couple months ago on Island 2 in the south Pacific region of the more-than-just-slightly-free-world.

He was a gas.

Now, I say presumably because all we could run on were theories of who/what it/he/she was. Whoever was behind the voice, whether they be programmer or just a person speaking into a voice modulation microphone that changed their voice randomly between male and female, they were ex-American like us.

“Yo, Dorse,” that's my name, as Telson just pointed out, “turn the radio up.” He chunked a beer can at my head, which I dodged deftly. I was glad I did. From the sound of it hitting the pile behind me, it was nearly full.

“Goddamn it, man,” I yelled over my shoulder as I pushed the button to increase the volume, “that one was almost full. Lay off the shit if you're going to fucking waste it!”

“Kay, kay, kay, sorry,” he quickly rattled off as he kicked his feet up on a swiftly degrading milk cart we'd brought home from work. The fibers of the material had already begun to discentigrate since they'd left the confines of their supportive network of nanobots. Welcome to Amerika, as we call it. Believe me, the K in that doesn't stand for America being an emulation of the human spirit, ala Egyptian mysticism. More like the exact opposite.

Telson cleared his throat, popped another beer open. “This,” he waved the beer around the room, encompassing it all, “is getting mighty lame. I mean, horribly past due for a clean up, or change of locations.”

“Change of locations,” I agreed.

“Change of locations, then. This place is gettign past due for a change of locations. I dare say, it's filthy,” he finished, taking a swig. After all these, beer is still legal but marijuana's only “decriminalized”. You think they would have learned after the rights of 2010 that we should just be stoned, not drunk and rowdy. “I vote,” he continued on after choking down the alcohol laced water, “we move somewhere else. Maybe a little more upscale?” Telson cocked a knowing eyebrow at me and flashed that same grin he used on all the little alt chicks in the bar.

“Oh,” I paused and finished my beer, “I concur. Wholeheartedly. Good sir?”

He got a good laugh on that, it shaking his spiked to and fro. Still, it went back to its perfect place, “Yes. Good sir, it is. But where should we go?”

I gave a noncommital, let me think “hmmmm” as I reached for a beer out of the cooler. “Somewhere closer to downtown? I'd like to get out of the train depot, personally. Too much trash around here.”

“I'd still be moving with you.”


“Down town? We can probably swing that. But I'm not paying rent, and I don't wanna be eye-deed every time I walk in through the front door or some shit. You know some of the girls I sleep with. Oh, and no bio scans either,” he tapped his head for emphasis.

“Good point, good point,” I agreed, scratching my goatee with my right hand, swigging my beer with the other. “You know, we could move to one of the Islands,” I offered, “just, you know, throwing it out there.”

“Shit,” Telson threw his head back, his hand on his forehead. He got this look every time I brought up the Island, and Island. “Dude, you know we can't afford it, let alone get out there if we could. That's for rich people who have private armies to fight through boarder security or-”

“con artist malcontents who hate where they live and can do hydroponic work like it's going out of style?” I interjected. Yeah, we're farmers. Not very glamorous, I know.

“Or con artist malcontents who blibbity blah, blibbity blah, what you said,” he came back with, “but we're not con artists. We're half-assed medicine dealers who make some money on the side. We're not even good at it. Well, you're good at it, when you're actually making a deal. But, damn it, you give too much of the shit away.”

“I'm not starting on this,” I snapped, “people need the shit, and I give it to the ones who can't afford it. All right? It's not coming out of your side of the profits anyway.” Ok. We... I'm a bleeding heart farmer who sells black market pharmaceuticals. Just slightly more glamorous than a farmer, in my opinion. “Besides,” I added, “we've got to have enough space to set up the hydro.” I'd rather be a rockstar or some shit. But those died out a looong time ago. I finished my beer and kicked my feet up on the same milk crate as Telson. It noticeably settled more under my added weight.

Telson sat silent for a while. I wasn't sure if he was thinking or just sulking. It's hard to tell, especially when he's been drinking. I turned up the radio a little more, just to drown out the silence of urban life: industrial machinery hums, a gun fight somewhere in nowhere land, and the cop sirens.

“You see here,” Kenchi was in the middle of some diatribe we hadn't been payign attention to, “Ameri-KA has plenty of people, kids still really, who understand the ins and outs of tech. They've been raised with it, brought up to run it, and have gotten sick of it and moved onto other things. We need these kids out HERE, in the Freelands, the Islands. Think of what we could be doing to decimate the infrastructure there? We're stealng brain,” Kenchi switched into his/her feminine voice now, “power, forced brain drain I love to call it. Talk about turning the tables on the rapist, eh? So all you sultry vixens, you holders of knowledge, you children of the Great Satan, the Old West, the Dead West, COME TO ME. Come to the Freelands, the Islands, where you're not ruled by Google and Microsoft and Monsanto. Come to us, feel the love. You feel it? Oh, that's right, you're still balls deep in some genetically engineered whore from the memetically designed bar you just left.”

Telson straightened up a little, chugged down the rest of his beer. He looked at me, dead on, straight in the eyes, one twitching slightly. “Let's do it. Let's go. I'm sick of running through eighteen proxy servers to get something decent on the radio. I'm sick of stealing a new milk crate. I'm sick of having to watch people suffer because they can't afford the retrovirals, anti-cancer, and asthma meds we've been growing here. Fuck Ameri-ka. Fuck it. Let's go.”



“Why tomorrow?”

“I'm too drunk right now.”

And we both broke down laughing.

Cross posted from Frequency23