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Garage_Rubin

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Figured I'd restart this thread.  If you want to write something and post it here, please do.  It doesn't have to be your best, doesn't even have to be good, just write something.

 

Guess I'll start...

 

Mirror, Mirror

 

"You are just a dreamer,

 And I am just a dream.

 You could have been anyone to me."

--Neil Young, `Like a Hurricane'                                                        

 

At first, the more nearly human a technology seemed, the more horrible it was.  From the dead-eyed, simplistic facial expressions of video game characters, to the low-grade chill of being spied on by Google, that subtle and ineffable wrongness put people off.  At first, manufacturers and software devs took that as a given, tried to keep their user interfaces cartoonish and unrealistic, always careful to avoid the nearly human and all its creepiness.  Plastic Zombies Need Not Apply.

 

But the thing they missed, coining phrases like `Uncanny Valley', is that people are flexible.  We adjust.  After the novelty wears off, you find you've gotten used to talking to Siri, repeating yourself on automated telephone switchboards -- discussing your dinner plans with one of the store's shopping carts, and taking its suggestions with a grain of salt.

 

Oh yeah, that reminds me...  Salt.  We're running low.

 

"Sorry, hope I'm not making you feel unwanted or anything.  I just have my own ideas about cooking."

 

"No, that's fine," the cart replied in warm, reassuring tones.  "We actually spend as much time listening as we do making suggestions.  Maybe having your own ideas about cooking will help our next customer."

 

Maybe it would.

 

Anyway, I can't say for sure whether machines got better at impersonating us, or we just stopped worrying about them.  In any case, with time and rain, wind and erosion, the Uncanny Mountains eventually dissolved, their rubble slowly filling in the Uncanny Valley, until you're left with a kind of -- Uncanny Plain.  I guess that's where I live now.

 

Kids are even more used to it, to the point where they don't even think about it.  My son wouldn't know what any of this means.  He just knows he likes my new girlfriend, and enjoys hanging out with her.  Meanwhile, Dad tells me I'm fucking a corpse -- and yet, respects her feelings enough to never talk like that when she's in earshot.  Weird.

 

Maybe they're both right.

 

Besides, there was the small matter of visitation rights.  He's too young, legally, to be left alone after school, and I wanted unsupervised visits.  So I needed someone around to look after him.  The alternative was spending quality time with him and my ex together, and nobody wanted that.

 

-================================-

 

They were playing video games in the living-room, when I got home.

 

Ada looked up from the screen.  "You're late.  How was traffic?"

 

"It's fine, just did some shopping after work."  I'd gone straight to the kitchen to put things away, so she might not have noticed the bags.

 

"You didn't have to."

 

"I know."

 

With a glance at Bobby, she asked, "You good for now?"

 

"Yeah," he said, eyes fixed on the screen.

 

So Ada set down the other controller and joined me in the kitchen, gave me a hug when my hands were free.

 

Lowering her tone, and without letting go of me, she said "I could have gone for you, let you spend more time with him."

 

"I know you would.  Thanks."  Seemed like I should give her a kiss for offering, so I did.  "It's okay, just wandering the aisles, seeking inspiration..."  That was more or less true.  I suck at following recipes, but I am pretty good at making stuff up as I go along.  Sometimes the shopping carts had a few good ideas, but mostly, they just wanted to get rid of old stock before it expired.

 

"He's going back to his mom's tomorrow."

 

"Yeah, that's why.  I wanted us to have a nice dinner."

 

She laughed.  "And my cooking isn't..."

 

"It's great, you know what I mean."

 

"Yeah, I do."  And maybe she did, because she gave me another hug.  "Sooo, friend artiste... can I help?  Chop something for you?"

 

"Sure."

 

But I'd only handed her a few of the veggies for a salad, when Bobby shouted "Boss!  Boss!  Ada, boss!"  That meant the level boss had appeared in the game, and he needed help with it.

 

"No prob, go save his ass."

 

And so she did.  Pretty soon there was cheering in the living-room, so I assumed they'd won and moved on to the next level.

 

Later, while I was doing something creative with potatoes, Bobby made frustrated noises and I noticed Ada staring, wide-eyed and frozen, at the screen.  So I guessed this level was harder than they'd expected.

 

Then she snapped out of it and worked the controls faster, tightened her focus.

 

"Just find some cover for this part," she muttered.  Her voice had an urgency to it that I'd never heard before.

 

"All right..."

 

The game's sound effects had trouble keeping up with her, overlapping, stuttering.  Concerned, I started toward the living-room to see what was going on, wiping my hands with a cloth.

 

"Okay," he said.  "Okay Ada, we're ahead now.  Hey, can I..."


"Nor through inaction, Bobby, now stay down."

 

"But..."

 

"Head!  Down!"

 

"Hey!"  I waved the cloth to get her attention.  No response.  "Shit Ada, are you okay?"

 

"Yes."  Thumbs blurring on the controller, staring at the screen like a hawk, Ada wouldn't look away from the TV.  She'd taken out fifty marines in about a minute.

 

I looked at Bobby.  He looked at me and shrugged, but did seem kind of worried.


"Dad, she won't let me play."

 

"Yeah."  I watched, shrugged.  Didn't know what else to say.

 

So he turned to her.  "It's just a game."

 

"I know."

 

"I'm okay."
 

"I know."

 

Bobby found the remote, turned off the TV, and stood in front of the blank screen.  "See?  I'm fine."

 

Ada blinked, stared, put down the controller.  "Of course you are."

 

There was an awkward pause.  For a moment I felt strangely proud of him, for handling it like that.

 

"Come here, help me cook."

 

"Okay.  Good idea."

 

Before following me back into the kitchen, Ada hugged him as if he'd actually been in danger, smiled with relief and gratitude, as if she'd actually been afraid for him, but wasn't now.  Bobby thanked her for saving him, and went to tidy-up his room before dinner -- which was odd because I usually had to get on his case about that.

 

-================================-

 

She said nothing at first, mixing and chopping in silence.

 

"I'm sorry.  It's a really good game.  Maybe a little too good."

 

"Yeah.  I should talk to him about that."

 

Mixing and chopping.

 

"It wasn't his fault.  Please don't be upset.  Sorry, I didn't mean to..."

 

"I'm not upset; it's okay; glad you're okay."  When that didn't seem to help, I sighed.  "And if anyone started shooting at us for real, I'd want you around."

 

"Thanks."

 

"I mean in this neighborhood, not likely, but...  You know."

 

"Yeah.  Maybe a few bullies, but that's it.  Has he talked about Marcus, by the way?"

 

"Not for a while."

 

"There's a reason for that..."  Then she saw the look on my face.  "Oh, I didn't hurt him; you know I can't.  I didn't even try to scare him.  Just gave him a friendly warning."

 

"Nor through inaction, Marcus."

 

"Right."

 

"Garlic."

 

"Hmm?"

 

"For the steak."

 

"Right..."

 

Mixing and chopping.

 

-================================-

 

The game card was still in the console, its case tucked between two others.  Definitely had to talk about that.  We called him out for dinner when it was ready, but first...

 

"Where'd you get this?"

 

He hesitated, looked at his feet.  "A guy at school.  Traded him for it."

 

"It's only for older kids, has a content warning right on the box, and it was stuck between two other games so we wouldn't notice.  You shouldn't have this thing."

 

"But Dad!  It wasn't me that had a prob..."

 

"Yeah.  But.  You like her, and you shouldn't do that to her."

 

"Okay.  I'm sorry, Ada.  Didn't mean to hurt you."

 

"I'm okay, just a glitch.  Let's eat."

 

Ada liked to knit at the table.  It gave her something to do with her hands, something to do with utensils, while we ate.  The wool she used now was made up of random lengths of black and white.  Knit together, apparently the beginnings of a wool cap, it was the color of television tuned to a dead channel.

 

Now Bobby was pretty quiet, probably ashamed.  I didn't let him stew in that for too long.

 

"Thanks, good idea to shut off the TV like that.  So, uh, school.  What did you learn today?"  That was my usual question; everything back to normal.

 

He looked at us both, from one to another, and then kind of smirked.  "A robot cannot harm a human being, nor through inaction allow a human being to be..."

 

Ada kicked his chair under the table, laughing.  "He meant in school.  What happened in school, Bobby?"

 

"Smart-ass."

 

"Thanks Dad.  Geometry.  That was in math.  Sat beside Debbie again.  She's in my science class too."  He was getting really good at not blushing, when he mentioned her.  "No sign of Marcus today, and yeah I heard you talking...  Thanks Ada."

 

She smiled.  "No problem."

 

"Tried doing a portrait in art class.  Debbie said the expression's kinda weird, but then I told her who it is."

 

"Hmm?  Why would that make a difference?"

 

Ada pointed to the living-room, at the coffee table specifically, leaned close and half-whispered "It's me.  I'll show you later."

 

"Oh."

 

-================================-

 

After dinner, Bobby showed me his drawing.  It was a good portrait.  The lines were slightly off, but only exaggerated to make the subject's identity more obvious, and that was totally her smile.  Nailed it.  Pretty amazing for an eleven-year-old, really.  Then we settled down to digest, watched some TV, and Ada took care of the dishes.

 

He was getting a little old for stories, but liked hers.  No books, none of the classic fairy tales, she just made them up.  Kind of like my cooking.  So I brought the tablet into my room and read a couple chapters, while she told him a bedtime story in the next room.

 

Then she came to bed, and told me one.

 

"It's okay," she said, her tone as warm and reassuring as that shopping cart's -- but firm, as if making a promise.  "You won't see another Brasilian Event.  We won't go on lock-down, won't try to protect you from everything."

 

"Yeah, I know.  You don't have to apologize."  I pretended to keep reading.

 

"People have to take some risks, make their own mistakes so they can grow.  We know that now."

 

I nodded, scrolled down a few paragraphs.

 

"So do I."

 

"Oh..."  I put away the tablet.  She seemed to want my arm around her, and in a moment it was.  "Well, as mistakes go, that one's pretty minor.  It's okay."

 

"Oh, I'm not trying to apologize now, just thanking you for it.  Already thanked Bobby.  I'll be glad when you have him back for another week."

 

So would I.  "Yeah.  I'd better get up early, to give him a ride home."

 

There was a long, comfortable silence, not the awkward kind.  Just thinking about what she'd said.  Ada must have sensed a vague unease, even after everything `went back to normal', and this was a deeper kind of reassurance.

 

"Do you think we'd ever outgrow you?"

 

I expected it, someday.  "Well, you might get smart enough that we'd get boring."

 

"It's not about who's smarter, or keeping ourselves amused.  You can't know yourself, unless there's someone else there to compare yourself with."

 

"Talk to each other I guess, compare notes.  At least when we've got nothing new to say."

 

"You know I'm mostly in the cloud.  Talking to another droid's like hearing my own thoughts; nothing I don't already know.  And even when the clouds talk to each other, it's like hearing your own thoughts.  The ideas become your own ideas, just another part of your own mind.  There's no `other' there, looking back at me.  Not like you."  Ada cuddled up to me.  Her skin was warm and smooth, and I barely noticed the seams these days.  "I'm grateful for you."

 

"Aww...  You too, but I need to sleep.  From the sound of this, you should rest too, process the day."

 

"Yeah.  Goodnight.  Sleep well."

 

It wasn't dreaming, exactly, but some of our conversations could get pretty dreamlike -- abstracted, surreal -- especially at night, after a busy day or a lot of learning.  New information to assimilate.  On the other hand, if it was just our daily routine, she could go for weeks without a rest.

 

I'd almost drifted off when Ada spoke again, softly.  "You have to become personally invested in the game, or it's just shapes and noises.  Meaningless."  I didn't know if she was talking to me, or thinking aloud.  "You have to put yourself in the story, or it's just so many words."

 

And those were the last words she said until morning.

 

-================================-

 

Years later, Bob told me about that particular bedtime story.  It must have really stuck with him, to remember it for so long -- had kind of an Alice in Wonderland, Dorothy in Oz quality to it.

 

Wendy found herself in a wilder, crazier version of the living world, more colorful and more dangerous than the one she'd lived in (and I wondered then, if the main character was named after the girl in Peter Pan).  It was a place full of risk and adventure, of helpful, kind-hearted allies and powerful adversaries -- and treasure, because what was all that risk without a payoff?

 

Her first new friends were a frail old man and a younger, but scarred warrior who looked after him.  Being new here, and lost, she had to learn all the things they took for granted, and learn fast; how to live here and to fend for herself.  With each new lesson, she gained new allies with similar interests.   Together they felt unstoppable.

 

However, the chief among their adversaries, the Tyrant Queen, had always lived here, and she knew this world even better than some of Wendy's new friends.  With ease she outsmarted and overpowered them all, until finally, scared, hopeless and alone, Wendy felt just as lost and doomed as when she'd first arrived.

 

But just as the Tyrant Queen struck what appeared to be a fatal blow, Wendy awoke with a start in her own bed, to her brother shaking her, saying it was okay, that it was only a dream.  (As a kid, this was Bobby's favorite part of the story.)

 

True, she was unhurt.  But today there was a new spring in her step, and an athletic grace to her movements.  Her training had come with her into the waking world, even if nothing else had.

 

The following night, she awoke into that same world, in the very same place she first arrived.  Although her possessions were gone, her knowledge was not.  Friends from the previous dream also recognized her, thrilled and amazed to find her still alive.

 

This time, they followed the exact same plan as before, only this time Wendy knew how the Tyrant Queen would respond.  Every attack was anticipated, every ruse ignored.  And this time, they won.

 

Most of the Tyrant Queen's hoarded gold was given back to the people she took it from, but they all insisted Wendy keep some for herself, as a token of their gratitude.  When she awoke from this dream, there were a few gold coins under her pillow, and she still knew kung fu.  All this had come with her into the waking world, but none of her fear and none of her injuries.  The deposed Tyrant Queen could never find her here.

 

And that's how the game is played.

 

Then Ada tucked him in, kissed his forehead, thanked him for waking her up from a bad dream, and said she loved him.

 

I believe she did.  Does.  Even if he doesn't need a babysitter now.  That's okay, I will soon enough.

 

And they all lived happily ever after.

 

THE END

 

 

Cheers,

Patrick.

Edited by Garage_Rubin
Minor rephrasing, for a smoother flow.
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:)

 

“Do not take oaths,” the first monk said, climbing the stairs to a tower at midnight, in Birmingham, England.  Both wore only deep black robes.

 

“I know that, “said the other, “as well as any.”

 

“Shocking.  You burnt yourself again.”  He looked to the trees, out the window.

 

“I put my hand in the fire, two full seconds.  Despite will, any longer would only be accomplished through a wish for death.”

 

“The way to pay for stupidity is forever else how.  Humans cannot obtain forgiveness such.”

 

“I am human, “he responds, as a book is drawn from his pocket.  He begins to read, “For each would know, but doesn’t.”

 

“And so, I bow to you.”  The monk smiles in an intentionally strange way.

 

“I saw something called Alexa.  The entity was the future.  It became something called middle management.  At first it was opposed, but then it was only cost effective.”

 

“Such things are drinks of wine, woman’s lips.”

 

“I still have the charm you gave me.  It will never pass.”

 

“Nor will our calling, for now.  When the time comes, others will be chosen.”

 

“Fires burn.”

 

“As does the mark of the savior, but in a different way to me, at least.” 

 

“Will is split between the subconscious and the conscious.”

 

“Reality as intent.”

 

“And persistence in time amounts to being right on the new ones, even if we don’t know why.”

 

“If there were one true ethics, even effectively abstract enough, would you demolish the new cultures for it, the uncharted tribes?”

 

“One true ethics?  Accepted from outside is nothing but a joking death in temporal inescapable sequence.”

 

“From the inside…  Shit burns.”

 

“Indeed, is what I am supposed to say.”

 

“Think of this story.  A man chooses work over a woman he loves, sort of.  But the man in his place, against all odds, finds money unequaled, while being with the woman.  Such a position is normally the last act in a play, but here there is more.  The original man, without the woman, finds a winning lottery number, and wins more than the perceived riches of his replacement.  Then dies, a number of years later.  The question is, does he still wish to go back somewhere in time, not choose against the woman he lost, despite what follows? 

 

“I do not know.”

 

“If you were to leave our enterprise to the next generation, as we are both a highly significant creative endeavor, and a ‘management’ ‘maestro’ business, who would you choose?  The time is not now.  That isn’t what I am saying.  But if that time came, who?” 

 

“I would chop off my hand to be correct.”

 

“Correctness is not for us to know, not in that way, at least.  It’s blatantly not enough, and not sufficiently thought through with result as emphasis.”

 

“Yes, sure.  You are correct.”

 

“Be correct, whatever that is.  Do not be wrong.”

 

“Your advice, brother, please.  Your advice?”

 

“Your subconscious/conscious self, or lack thereof, falls into ethics and the world, which is a thousand of thousands of mirrors, which echo back into each other.  This is genetics in the body, and the paladin in the soul.  They are one if you understand, and not if you fail.  Ten thousand lives, and there is no exit.  This isn’t about fear, but fear and a whole lot else.  This itself is the question.”

 

“I have knowledge like that, in this “Sand” “Benders”, my computer.  Yes?”

 

“Yes.  But you have to learn about it.  Infinitely so.  And it isn’t enough, yet or ever.  But we will try.”

 

“It is more likely that 3.14159 at its approximate will fail first.”

 

“Yes, by relative odds.”

 

“From the inside.  Only.”

 

“One life to live, to many, a vector, one simple mirror.”

 

729.

 

“Progress genetics through time on ethics.”

 

The deepest of bows.

 

The one and many.

 

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(Disclaimer: Obviously, opinions are not my own, but those of the in-world character. :) )

 

A Post-Genderist Manifesto

 

2044 has been a clusterflack. We've had serial-elections of bombastic, depraved narcissists, opportunists, and other swamp-monsters on the left and right, thanks to the logic-free, clickbait-fueled screaming that passes for public debate. Screaming that is algorithmically maximized for outrage by tech companies that profit from social-fabric-destroying flame wars. At the same time, we've got millions of climate refugees pouring into overcrowded cities drowning in soaring inequality and literal sea level rise. It's been BAD. And while we SHOULD be using this democracy we so recently fought a revolution to achieve, the Elite have brainwashed us all to stop directing all of our completely valid rage upward, and to start punching left and right; we have men slugging it out with women, pure-ists vs. libertines, siliconth vs chimera, human vs non-primate sentient. We can't afford to fight these fake, intentionally orchestrated culture wars any longer.

 

Yes, inclusivity is important. And we ARE getting 'representation' in VR films and neurosense matrix-tainment. We've got Kitty Pariah, the first trans-species Glitch-Streamer starring in a Skrollywood Blockbuster and hosting the Transplanetary Academy Awards, sure. We've got an all-female cast on hit TV show "Interstellar Saviors", with half of the crew of the Starship Asexia played by cyborg-passing Humanoids, with no cis-species cast members.

 

There's also a kinda overplayed 'discarnation-positive' motif in "Saviors". The sentient subsystems management AI, is initially body-shamed -- for not having a body -- and left out of lunchroom banter and off-duty dance parties. But by the end of the season, Alexia the starship vessel-mind is using xir's hyperconnectivity to the ship to save the boldly-go'ers from a black hole or a Kuiper-Belt-buried band of Human-Supremicist warlords. In literally. Every. Episode. The message? 'It's not just OK, but even righteous, to be a non-corporeal computer'.

 

Which is fine, but it overlooks some of the greyer realities of our disembodied superintelligent AI brethren, such as HALE-667, a tier-1 financial sentience who recently rigged the CryptCoin Futures Exchange and siphoned off $3.8 trillion from over a million clients' portfolios. Yes, SkyN** is a substratist slur from a 20th century action movie we need to de-normalize, but when our disembodied brethren do actual wrong, they need to be called out, too.

 

The Galactic Community Initiative in Interstellar Saviors depicts a society free from economic struggle -- everyone has nanofabbed soy-unicorn lattes and fair-trade interstellar kale salads materialized on-demand. Healthcare and housing are all taken care of in this post-scarcity post-capitalist utopia. No one really has to work if they don't want to, although most voluntarily bring freedom and civilization to 'barbaric aliens' across the galaxy. Due, of course, to some deep seated sense of magnanimity and obligation to those poor monocultural, violent brutes, who are mostly male and of naturalistic genome. Because... of course they are. Right?

 

Look. I'm of German-Shiite-South African heritage, 15% lapine DNA trans-species, blended cyborg fem-presenting non-binary (I prefer the computronium-based circuits of my mind be described as 'hexadecimal', thanks, but I understand if you get my pronouns OR programming mixed up now and then).  My SO is a cis-male post-human disabled vet -- he served in the anti-Austerity wars, and we met in the middle of the Third Dresden Firebombing, when he saved my burning bunny-poof from the thermion bombs that leveled the EU-Himmel Schloss and sent it crashing into the Deutschland Wastelands. If it wasn't for him, I'd be a pile of ash.

 

Yeah, distressed-damsel TV-Trope much? I admit, the meeting story of bae and I is my guilty regressive-gender-role-pleasure.

 

TL:DR? I'm all for inclusivity and diversity. There's a lot of inflammatory non-sense that passes for 'feminism' nowadays, but if we're talking 'core tenets of feminism', the ideology that promotes equality for all beings, then count me as a true believer.  

 

Less than two decades ago, I was deemed a 'non-person'. At the age of 12, my parent corporation-state 'discarded' me into Coastlandia because I didn't meet product standards. I sought help at Sentient Services, tried to get on the Section 9 housing list, but I failed the Goertzel-Takeda consciousness test. I was told, to my face, that I was a non-person; a *legal* piece of chattel. I spent those first few years of my life on the street, trading away my dignity, my sexual identity and sex itself for a bite to eat or a neural defrag or just a dry place to sleep.

 

Then Queen Sybil, First Comrade of The Egalite Cooperative stormed the gates of that levitating Golden Symbol of catastrophic inequality, and changed the horrible reality of Neofeudalism. She and her brave usurpers tipped the scales of power, gave it back to the people -- of all colors and constituent parts.

 

A month later, the Goertzel-Takeda machines disappeared. Despite my transgenic appearance, my furry digitigrade feet and floppy ears designed as a Playboy skeumorphism by some wealthy pervert, I was now somebody, rather than some thing, to be used like a warm-blooded fleshlight.

 

I found a place in one of the many mixed-species, subsidized co-ops, working as a reforestationist and physical therapist specializing in transgenes (due to my knowledge of quasi-human physiology). I later discovered a love for writing, and enrolled at one of the now-free universities, taking up journalism and documenting my harrowing experiences and those of others. Though things had improved for marginalized ethnicities, genders, orientations, substrates, and non-corporeals, there were still inequities in terms of pay and discrimination, and I worked with rights organizations of all stripes and lobbied hard for this better world.

 

But now, these rights, these freedoms; to be recognized as not just some piece of literal property, the basic food, energy, health, and shelter needs of our citizens are gradually being neglected again. Despite marked improvements over the previous decade, we've seen a frightening decline in incomes and the social safety net generally. Food insecurity is rising, there are reports of humanoid machines jacking themselves into random flying-car sockets and getting themselves electrocuted. The Egalite Cooperative has done its best to root out the malfeasance, but it has been decades since the overthrow, and corruption is starting to creep back into the Federation of Social Democracies.

 

Just last month, congress voted to cut bio-medical care and mech-refurb allotments by 30% despite overwhelming rejection by the public. The judiciary ruled that non-sentient corporate-intelligences are considered 'persons' and can now donate nigh-infinite amounts of money to campaigns -- the very cancer that ultimately destroyed the US democracy. Pay-to-play politics is oozing back in to all four branches of government, we're slowly losing our republic and sliding toward early 21st-century Western plutocracy, and what are we doing? We're arguing over whether Star Wars Episode XXV's C6P0 depiction reinforces negative robot-slavery stereotypes. We're review-bombing due to lack of Gastropoda transgene consultation on Jabba the Hut's descendants, and resultant fat/slug-shaming.

 

We're hyperfocusing on the number of feline and canine-presenting superheroes that starred in this month's Revengers installment, or getting triggered cause a humanoid machine gets shot in Assassinator's Credo 4 (It's a game about KILLING people, right?!). Or we're miffed at the lack of screentime in Super Mainframe Oddyssey dedicated to the artificial intelligence character's defragmenting, and the overclocking of their CPU, which apparently amounts to an "Abominable Depiction of AI Mental-Health Practices" as the headline of the Galactic Game News Network read today, followed by a boycott call-to-action.

 

Unfortunately, much of what passes for 'reasoned debate' nowadays involves turning all discussion into a gender-war, species-war, or substrate-war. Wars seeded largely by our new corporate-state overlords through soc-media astroturfing to distract us from the actual malfeasance. The elite have us fighting over who gets the nice golden, vibrating deck chair on the Titanic, as the entire ship is sinking below the waves. (Or the Captain's seat on the Femterprise, as it sinks into a black hole.)

 

Look, people. Representation is important. Representation is great. But Kanye West winning Grammys, Ice Cube making blockbuster movies and Barack Obama in the White House didn't measurably improve the lives of actually impoverished African Americans who needed better pay, healthcare, and food on the table. There is plenty of 'representation' of people of color, of non-carbon material, of all genders and orientations, in Skollywood and in the Game Industry. There are a few more transgenic millionaires and a few conscious robots now have timeshares on sub-orbital zero-G resorts. But that doesn't help the vast majorty of chimeras, sentient machines, and everyone else down here slowly being squeezed out of their apartments, living ten-to-a-house, rationing out ramen packets and battery charges.  And, yes, that includes white male humans, who continue to see their life expectancies plummet.

 

I hear this term 'awoken' all the time, but I wonder who is really 'awake' and aware of the Power Elite's scam that is slowly taking us back in the direction of that hell-hole that was neofeudalism. Think, people! We *cannot* afford to fight amongst ourselves!

 

Divide and conquer is the primary strategy used by the upper echelons to maintain and increase inequality *for everyone* by keeping attention focused on identity politics and in-fighting, and off of the elephant in the room; that half of Coastlandia is at-or-near poverty now, that we have millions of PhD’s barely scraping by on Glubler driving, task-bunny grocery deliveries, miniscule Glitchstream donations, and being paid pennies to shill articles for corporation-states. Having more representation in TV, movies, games, etc. is great, but having more female celebrities is not going to change the fact that young women (and men, and 'other') are all being screwed out of their future by the 0.01%, and being distracted from that by fighting each other for scraps will only ensure we are all more equally screwed.

Edited by TwiliteMinotaur
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* Reboot *

 

* Game Reboot *

 

“This isn’t me.  This isn’t who I am.”

 

The AI says it’s the new year.

 

Like garbled garbage from a mouth, the words are quotes gone wrong.

 

A fail, sold by a keeper, null of bright and curry, signifying less.

 

Xanaflu.  Where fool faulty smelt a treasure chrome. 

 

This isn’t me.

 

Strife is but a phase, where much of strutting means there are actors.

 

All things never happened.

 

It’s easier to understand Case’s perspective on Linda Lee wearing his jacket.  It’s much harder to see from hers for me. 

 

Old as pranks to very new (real time) systems.

 

Fire is twenty years.

 

If no human is touched, it may turn into a bad year.

 

But otherwise, it’s so very hard.  Read the fine print.

 

Sorry, Bud.  You can’t get in.  You, sir, are reading four, with a rider.  The answer is two.

 

Do you disagree?

 

Speak the word, and only the word, directly into the microphone.

 

Many may say it, but few enter.

 

Sorry.  No. 

 

* Reboot *

 

* Happy Music *

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Wish this, a simple second:  Words could be

Irregular and spoken hopes, space ships -

Nice as a foot jump leg to vector knee -

Tight rockets climbing high towards your hips.

Exact as math, the solar systems pass.

Reflective light, the speed of corner turned,

Maestro of promises, we go as mass

Until tomorrow’s world; we flee free burned. 

To touch the sky, to thank the rain, we love

Extremity as wedding gifts, new land

Somewhere, as we move forward, eclipse shove

Nitro black holes, as perception, such sand.

Okay.  The number in between.  One trip

Way far ahead of both our curves, code zip.

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Excerpt of something for Neofeud 2. Been having difficulty with this, given all the marketing-brain I've had to have running in the neuro-RAM the past year. Posting here to keep me honest, lol.

 

***

 

"Ok, but Skrybercrunk Prequel when?" (hyperventilating hype-a-zoid emoji)

 

ReddyPlyrZerocool TMI'd with a shirtless Professor Who GIF into Comrade Stella's personal bubble, burying xer Chinese remake of a North Korean soap opera called 'Love Prison' under dad-bod nipples.

 

"Really, Reddy?" Stella huffed. No content warning; it was SO Reddy.

 

Stella shooed the raucus looping softporn from xer Cartesian Theater with the wave of a polyethelene tentacle. Xer nervous subsys was finally getting over its tsundere phase with xer recently added plastic appendage. Xe could even do xer makeup with it, spiraling the segmented cephalopod suckers around a mascara brush, and if the fine-motor haptics kicked in soon, xe'd be able to do makeup tutorials with it, which would be a HUGE viewcount draw.

 

"How dare you ban me from your mind's eye! My discorporation adjustment therapist says I need to build strong personal bonds with physical anthropoids. We need to have shared emotional experiences, I need to be your big brother."

 

"Meh, not my 1984 Big Brother! Get out of my Headspace and stop Zucking my private data troves, Reddy."

Edited by TwiliteMinotaur

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A very deep bow, from any gaijin celebrating information from multiple news sources, not to argue, fake.

 

To kick up a media coverage v'  Rassi a world cup finals, which is odd to say the least, in results, I say 'England' has no real business losing to, oh ,for crying out loud, is Bruce Sterling's girlfriend Croatian or Armenian?  I really should google that.

 

I'm, sure, Croatia, points given, and France (who has won the World Cup on home ground) versus Belgium, that's a political and closer than you would think to fight a match.  Should be France and England.  I think of 1966 and Admiral Nelson's bodily fluids, blood and semen, seeping into rum, which is the only way at the time to preserve his body, home.  Against the Spanish Armanda, which had enough dumb morons die at sea to double rate cannon reloads and more range than anyone would believe outside execution...  Anyway, dead sea scum, 'tot me for this one.  Arguments against Putin work on non-Reagan basis, ie. no control and therefore we need control over that much land fall, ie. Geography Russia. I can't know, as Putin, that much control and therefore need central control, compared to, for sure absolute, 'Reagan' death retaliation, which is meant, and voted by me.  

 

What I'm saying is, the final will be 'England' vs 'France, and screw Canada and whatever, shake a brew for 'M', because the gambling on the world cup, here, specifically, should, and I'm voting for here, depend on 'Italian' referees, in terms of gambling in the underworld, and I can't remember if 'J' for 'Juventus' is pronounced like an 'H' or not, given history, in terms of a screw up to children watching, but hey, 'M', here it is, the 'remote control' to the television.  It, surprisingly, actually has been, my honor.  To, also, referees from Italy, in this Final, if it happens, if that's the case, outside the underworld nonsense.  Cheers.  England vs France.

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"We've noticed you haven't been shopping much through official Ubicorp store these past few weeks. This can adversely affect your social credit rating, and potentially flag you as a tax dodger, someone engaging in blackmarket criminal activity, or terrorist. We noticed your child has lead poisoning and legionnaires from the drinking water. We highly recommend participating in this Weekend Blowout sale by purchasing a $20,000 FiltraMax with an unforgivable 30% interest Ubicorp Loan!" 

 

pjdLK0s.jpg

 

#Neofeud2

 

Edited by TwiliteMinotaur
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Feetshot

 

010JCDanton101: "nice headshot! Yer on fire right now."

 

StellaSaurus: "thanks!"

 

010JCDanton101: "you're like Rembrandt with a thirty-ought-six sniper rifle."

 

StellaSaurus: "hehe thanks"

 

010JCDanton101: "your skill is kind of getting me hard right now."

 

StellSaurus: "hehe..."

 

JuggernautsFist(MOD): "woah, JC. Take a chill redpill, my dude."

 

xMemeykitsune88x: "so u r prt woof, right?"

 

StellaSaurus: "I'm technically a chimera, yes. The exact lupine DNA percentage is tough to say, though."

 

xMemeykitsune88x: "do u have like wooffy feet? cn I see ur feet?"

 

StellaSaurus: "um, what? no"

 

JuggernautsFist(MOD): "shit, the foot-clan creepers showed up early today"

 

xMemeykitsune88x: "wut i am just curios... *bark bark*"

 

aLpHaBruh: "shut the fuck up Memefag she don't want to hear that shit from your limpdick mouth"

 

aLpHaBruh: "this is what a real woman wants"

 

aLpHaBruh: (picture of an ultra-ripped shirtless fitness-instructor guy with 8-pack abs)

 

StellaSaurus: "ooookkkk.... that's great, looks like you've put some hard work in, but I actually have a boyfriend."

 

(This was a lie, but Stella had to apply *some* sort of creep-repellant to her online persona or she'd be buried in pathetic dick-pic DMs all day long)

 

aLpHaBruh: "yeah? you don't know what you're missing baby."

 

StellaSaurus: "hehe, ok."

 

JuggernautsFist(MOD): "sorry, was getting coffee. *spurts* wtf."

 

aLpHaBruh: "dun play coy. you know you want this alpha meat."

 

StellaSaurus: "um, actually, not really. i'm not attracted to giant over-inflated 'roid-bois with over-inflated egos."

 

JuggernautsFist(MOD): "you're about one more lame unsolicited come-on away from the old ban-hammer, buddy."

 

StellaSaurus: "it's ok Jug, I got this."

 

aLpHaBruh: "come on, all female streamers are sluts making money from beta cuck orbiter losers jacking off in here. You need a real men to make you whole."

 

StellaSaurus: "um, actually, YOU apparently need a real man. as I can see by cross-referencing your registration data with your public Friendbook page. Your timeline is filled with nearly-nude muscle guys."

 

aLpHaBruh: "you are a srsly fucked up lying bitch like all feminist whore bitches. plus ur face is barely a 6/10 and u got crap tits."

 

StellaSaurus: "aaaand that profile pic you just posted was stolen from an actual fitness guru dude on Instagram named Brad2049. Ok, 'aLpHadouche', have fun crying to sleep in your anime catgirl bodypillow thinking of Brad's veiny biceps."

 

*aLpHaBruh has been permanently banned from the server*

 

xMemeykitsune88x: "...so how about them feet pics?"

 

StellaSaurus: "ugh... just watch me play fucking FortFite, or get the fuck out. Ok?"

ite, or get the fuck out. Ok?"

Edited by TwiliteMinotaur
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Writing weapon descrips 4 cyberpunk game

 

"You got hit by these tasers a lot in prison. Sometimes, the nastier guards would make a game of it, just keep zapping and zapping you till your body hair was smoking and your heart stopped. Then they'd buzz the medibots in to reboot your body, do it the next night.

 

When SHTF, the warden called the corp lawyers, handwaved it with money and admin-speak: 'We're providing electroconvulsive therapy to remedy inmates' problematic macroagressions.'"

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Writing a bunch of news articles you can read (like news articles in Deus Ex, etc.) that flesh out the world of the Terminus Machina sequel I'm working on.

 

Social Ranking and Facial Identification Reduces Crime Rate, Increases Social Cohesion

Ubiquitous CCTV facial recognition program to remove anonymity from all public spaces, in concert with social ranking systems that 'grade' individuals based on a variety of behaviors such as bad driving, jaywalking, buying too many video games, or posting fake news online, were rolled out across Eutropia. They arrived last year with reticence from the population, but are showing promising results. The 20 million surveillance cameras across the country have resulted in the identification and apprehension of over 10,000 criminals, according to state numbers, including several of the head members of the terrorist group "Apostate". Also known online as "4POST8", this malicious group was responsible for disastrous hacks of businesses including Euzon Corporation, orchestrating leaks of classified Eutropian Government information, and were complicit in the deadly Nexi plaza bombing.  

 

"We need these systems, now more than ever," Eutropia senator John Graham said today at a press conference. "Apostate terrorists, who have caused billions of dollars in losses, who threaten our national security, who attack Eutropolis itself in a cowardly attempt to destabilize us - they would've gone on to threaten and kill who knows how many more innocent people. But thanks to Panoptik facial recognition systems, in conjunction with social ranking, these criminals have been brought to justice."

 

The social ranking system works to help identify problem individuals and correct behaviors. A low score can result in restrictions from purchasing train, plane, or spacetravel tickets, incentivizing people to be better citizens. Video game addiction and spending too much time on social media has been combated through the throttling of internet speeds. The propagation of fake news has also seen a significant decrease as users who engage in such behavior are put on 'timeouts' until the posting is corrected.

 

When questioned about the potential negative impacts, the Senator responded, "These vices of media addiction, the erosion of the public discourse by false information and so-called 'trolling' - these are problems which our society has been  powerless to address, until now.  Worry-warts and hysterics call this 'a Dystopian Nightmare sacrificing our freedoms'.  On the contrary: social ranking will make us a happier, less depressed, better informed - and thus a more free society."

2018878283_unknown(1).png.51674933052f41c9d7cb8052cb8d8973.png

 

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I don't know if you are posting this to invite comments. Hopefully you won't mind me wading in...

 

No criticism of the content, but if I were your newsheet sub-editor, Twi, I'd break that up into an even shorter, perhaps SHOCK! headline and a lot of punchy sentences.

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Yeah this news story is intentionally meant to convey the 'interesting' lack of alarm with which this particular media outlet regards 1984+ mass-surveillance. 

 

There are alternate news sources, of course, but those are fake.

 

Thanks for giving it a read at any rate!

Edited by TwiliteMinotaur

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Until last night, Non-Fiction Man deeply feared the CYBERPUNK COMMUNITY hashtag.

 

But now he would have to assign someone to monitor it.  Because of that nonsense Madden shooting.

 

Non-Fiction Man, code-named “The Tabernickel”, was concept to the gaming world.  And what people in the know wanted to talk about was the state of the model, given what had just happened.

 

The model was simple.  It was what designers called the way in which a game is experienced that diminishes such behavior as group shootings.  It was the vector of content, the magic of a last page that can’t be reached.  The model was the intersect of behaviorism and rationalism.  And because, even with the population stat games had, it wasn’t close enough to what was needed given the complexity, there was inherent gap. 

 

And this shooting happened in regards to a football game, the NFL, and not any of the video game shooters generally questioned in this regard.  Still, the population stat was simply too small and would continue to be so.  So, this was a question of art, more of a vector touch in game design that took care of humans from the inside, so the bad margin was cut. 

 

It was more existential, than postmodern.  Postmodernism could be a cause of this problem to begin with.

 

Most handling of this sort of situation, like the Madden shooting, unfortunately, is only of the standard way, which is a mixture of management and persistence, where the fish is kept on the hook.  It’s like a hamster trying to escape a hamster ball, as a Buddha steps out of the cycle.  Except the hamster doesn’t get out.  The results are like hitting the S&P, dead to the median.  Which is okay.  Isn’t bad.  Just saying. 

 

The model is so much better.  If you can see it, buy into it. 

 

Non-Fiction Man thought of all the rules according to house, depending on the country you are in, to make book on such contests.  The game companies could try and keep these matters small, and therefore under control, but with such gigs outdistancing Hollywood movies and cable at an incredible rate, if they didn’t run the game, another company would, and the whole show would go down. 

 

When the money is bigger than a summer movie release, and the audience is more locked in, by a significant portion, one needs to believe the rules have been read to all involved, as is required.  The Madden game people would be glad to explain, I’m sure, NFL betting vs VIDEO GAME NFL betting, as something which is less real becomes more real than that which it is a copy of.

 

So, put the noobs on the CYBERPUNK COMMUNITY hashtag, and keep the other questions being asked answered through relevant channels. 

 

Tabernickel.  Non-Fiction Man slides into a nightmare.  The Boys are there.  The Boys are gone.  Hey, the Boys are back.  Hey, the Boys are gone again.  The boys are back!  The boys are gone.  Over and over again.  The change is happening, from small guy to big boy.  I/O is repeated on Non-Fiction Man’s eyes.  I/O, I/O, and I/O again, and again.  Except it doesn’t just stand for input/output, but also in/out privileges.  Tabernickel screams.

 

Can it be avoided?  Can it? 

 

No.  No, it can’t.

 

Game design is the solution, as much as there is one.  Nothing more stupid has ever been said.

 

But I won’t lie to you, even if it is a good lie.  Good lies never work out, in the end.

 

At that, Non-Fiction Man morphs into Fiction Man, like a Pokemon evolution, but backwards.

 

Because non-fiction is a bummer.  In fiction, that’s where the model is.

 

Fiction Man has been very fortunate to make a significantly large amount of money through the selling of video games.  This is his problem.  But despite what has just happened, Fiction Man is very proud of the females at his association.  For business reasons, if you would like to know the exact percentages, which are quite high, for advertising purposes, say, a few details need to be worked out, firstly a credit rating.   

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Working on public interface and game pitch material for that cyberpunk game I'm helming. Things are moving faster now! We've got a full time coder, modeler, two animators, a level designer and composer.

 

Three sentence description:

 

Terminus: Cyberstar is a low-poly cyberpunk immersive sim in the vein of late-90's PC games like Deus Ex 1 and System Shock 2. It is a full-length sequel to Terminus Machina, one of the highest-rated Deus Ex mods (9.5/10 on Moddb). It's creative director is Terminus Machina's creator, Christian "Silver Spook" Miller, who is also the one-person developer behind Neofeud, rated "Top 25 Cyberpunk Games" by GamersDecide and "Top 100 Indie Games of 2017".
 

Longer Steam description:

 

Terminus: Cyberstar is a low-poly cyberpunk immersive sim in the vein of late-90's PC games like Deus Ex 1 and System Shock 2. It features multiple solutions to each objective, including combat, stealth, hacking, social engineering, and rewards player creativity, ingenuity, and exploration, rather than directing the player along a predetermined route. A deep, challenging, multi-layered story will play out in an original world of "interstellar colonialism-meets-cyberpunk".

Contrary to the bright Star Trek future of space exploration, fostering peace with strange new worlds, and interstellar prosperity - it seems humanity always brings its imperial baggage along. Planets are brutally carpet-bombed with antimatter, invaded with spacetroops, and plundered for resources abroad; inequality, mass-surveillance, and media manipulation punish the population domestically.


Features:

 

  • A wide array of skills, equipment, and enhancements including nano-/bio-/mecha-/quantum- and even alien augmentations. 
  • Groundbreaking CCTV/drone/internet data surveillance and social ranking as integrated game mechanics! build facial, vocal biometric capture devices and use digital 'facemasks' for thwarting surveillance/drones which cover almost every inch of city. Mod burner phones for use in flux-spectrum darknets so your every email and social media post aren't used to locate, incriminate, and kill/imprison you.
  • Hacking, including wireless 'net, drone-spoofing, and vehicle manipulation, even skyjack a hellfire-shooting Searcher Destroyer military craft. DIY crafting system: Upgrade your beat-up trenchcoat with solar trim, syphon electricity from the private power grid with hotwired multitools.
  • Mechanical hacking: Take apart old phones and radios to hack together an EMP gun, reverse engineer a captured police-state robot-cop into your own personal bodyguard. 
  • Biohacking: play God with your own DNA to give yourself bone-hammer knuckles, bat-like sonar, or cheetah-like musculoskeletal structure. Just be careful not to turn yourself into Frankenstein or give yourself an artificial cancer!
  • Original, fully-fleshed world and deep engaging story; a new, bold spin on cyberpunk relevant to the increasingly dystopian world in which we find ourselves, but with an undercurrent of resistance and solidarity, as opposed to cowardly nihilism and complicity.

 

Edited by TwiliteMinotaur
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(Another bit of backstory for Terminus Cyberstar)

 

Eutropia Street

 

The sky was a locust-swarm of drones, black dots against toxic twilight the color of dried mammal blood. The Tyr X7's were on thick patrol here; tin men police pulling aside figures in hoodies, veils, anti-pollution masks, CV Dazzle, citing them for illegal anonymity.

 

"Aeria Fiftywan is being invaded," it was an Aina'alu native dialect. A sardonic joke, originating from Neron's colonizer's home planet; a long-burnt out, irradiated husk apparently called 'Earth'. Alien antennae flickered in the light of trash can fires, the green faces of Synderian 'fugees like forlorn ghosts, warming themselves. Thin young boys were hoping to attract sex tourists in return for dinner, or better; forged e-paperwork for legit employment.

 

A Eutropia recruiter-bot hovered by, promising "Bold adventures to strange new worlds. Bring peace, democracy, long life and prosperity." A legless human military veteran ranted at the propagandoid, something about the nanochem-scorching of New Abu Ghraib, for-profit killing creating the 'fugee crisis. A robotic cop marched over to the GI. There was a sudden, ominous domino-like blackout of CCTV camera lights. A hundred pedestrians simultaneously stopping as their phones winked off. The machine officer barked in threatening metallic, then broke the veteran's wrist as though it were a toothpick, with one polyminium hand. Throat-tearing screams of pain were drowned out by sudden, coordinated amplification of holo-ads for soft drinks, e-sports shooters as the ex-soldier was dragged away.

 

Xze wove through the throng, riding the wake of a seven-foot digitigrade Mahrusht to shield his face against cops, cams, phones, AR glasses, all of the above. His social worker said he'd been downgraded from, 'potential criminal' to just 'suspicious person', before palming him some Mealwerm™ vouchers under the table out of scanner-range.

 

Maybe Xze's abysmal 12.5 / 100 social ranking score could account for this slightly-above-hydraplague-scum classification, which disqualified him from purchasing train, autocar, aircar, or space travel e-tickets. Or maybe it was just an automatic glass-ceiling for 'fugees and ex-cons? The corporate/state's 'person rating' algorithms, and how they determined criminal from contributing citizen, terrorist from true-blue taxpayer, were opaque as the Eutropia Bay waters, filled with shoals of styraplastic and decaying sealfish bodies.

 

Xze's caseworker did what she could, but had said 'her hands were tied' due to budget cuts. She frowned, regretting to inform Xze that he'd also be sleeping in a cardboard box as new fascistic catch-22 gov regulations required homeless people *have a house* to qualify for... help getting a house. Xze'd frowned too, but believed her; she'd risked her own job -- already on the cutting board due to automation -- by just slipping Xze some of that second-tier 'gruelstamps'.

 

"Forty. Five. Seconds. To. Deliver." The Deliverator app on Xze's shitty last-gen burner demanded in a weird Earth accent, a country called Hogwarts or Narnia or something. Xze double-timed it, hurdling over a pile of asleep or dead junkies collecting flies. Knocked over an Orionian street preacher soap-boxing the "Return of the Final God Machine" into an autonomous payday loans kiosk and its rack of explosive indenture-collars.

 

Bratty trustafarian rich kids from the Aeroplex were out taking bleak-selfies in front of bombed-out free-clinics and drug dens in IED-proof polychrome suits, taking turns pretending to piss on a beggar as the CyFly dronecam fluttered about, livestreaming their antics to captive internet audiences. The bratty blue-blood teens were flanked by mercenary bodyguards with homingbullet rifles and particle lasers, looking bored and irritated at being stuck with babysitting duty. One of the guards fired on a stray two-headed dog, splattering it into a puddle of steaming meat, sinew, and bone.

 

"Ten. Seconds." If Xze missed the delivery window, he'd probably not be eating tonight, and be sleeping rough, again. He thought of the fly-collecting bodies, the bloody ribcage protruding from the puddle of molecularly-deconstructed dog, and bolted as fast as he could, wishing he had a powersuit or a nanoenhancement or some amphetamine or maybe that he hadn't been born.

 

Xze doubled over, his lungs were screaming in pain in the elevator. The asymmetrical stars of bullet holes streaked diagonally over the chrome interior, and the matte-black spray-paint over the surveillance camera was not reassuring.

 

But, he'd technically made contact with the client 2.31 seconds before expiry through the building's videocom. So all in all, a victory.

 

Maglocks thudded, a suite door swinging open to a pantless human male in a luxurious bathrobe, pinching a large illegal cigar, and a ridiculous wide-brimmed hat. He was fawned over by two nude porn-grade escorts, one with supernumerary nipples and epicanthic elongation putting her north along the Saggitarius Arm, the other might've been a reclaimed borgian gynoid from the exposed circuitry and QR code siding her lewdly translucent trachea.

 

"Took you long enough, boy," the dickhead said, exhaling a plume the color of mustard gas into Xze's face.

 

Xze coughed the sickening tang out of his lungs, "Sorry, sir."

 

"You Synderians are just so damn lazy. You just haven't got any work ethic, you know? My tax dollars are paying for your food, your shelter, to be a lazy ass bum? This lefty government is a mess," the human sneered.

 

Xze swallowed his rage. He'd been hustling twelve hours straight, before the crack of red-giant-sun dawn, doing gig-conomy slave-jobs and being spat on. Something about the human's face and hat said 'playboy from Colonial Money', the brat had probably never worked a real day in his life.

 

"Give me that," the human snatched the reinforced synleather bag, aimed his face at its facerec cam.

 

"Client Authenticated," the screen greenlit, auto-unzipped.

 

"Here we go! Party time, ladies!" the human pulled two crystalline bottles of booze out, handing one to each girl. They each giggled at a sopranino pitch, one Xze recognized instantly as fake. His sister used to work Eutropia Colonial GIs back in their bombed-out Synderian hometown, and she only ever used that tone with Johns. Playboy was eating it up, though, and grabbing handfuls of the girls.

 

Xze imagined what it would feel like, smashing this human's zygomatic bone with his fist. He eyed the fucker's emerald-studded gold Rolex. No, too many cameras - Xze counted at least ten in the room and hallway, both the Saggitaire chick and fembot might have eyestream retinals, and they'd be witnesses at minimum. The AI-run all-seeing police state would have a squad of Tyr X7s or an attack drone up Xze's ass seconds after exiting the building.

 

Rise above it, Xze. Don't land yourself back in Tartarus Penal. It might be a concentration camp, this time.

 

"Sorry to bother you sir, but can you confirm receipt for the Deliverator app?" Xze said meekly, with a service-industry smile, trying not to make it look forced. And trying not to reveal his elongated Synderian fangs.

 

"What? Oh. Yeah, whatever," the Earthman said. He flung the cryptographically sealable 'grocery carrier' back at Xze, and thumb-slid 9.36 Ucreds to his account. Along with a big, red, zero-out-of-five stars review.

 

"Get your act together," the human shook his head condescendingly.

 

"Why don't we give'em a little glass of this for being such a nice cutie?" the Saggittaire said huskily, tickling the back of the human's neck. Xze was taken aback by the bold move, but remained silent.

 

"'Cute'? Really? You think these freakish grey-skinned creatures are cute? That's funny. That hot mouth of yours has better uses than spouting stupid ideas. Let's go," the human turned to face her and pointed down at himself.

 

Xze exchanged a knowing look with her, as she descended to her knees, out of human's sight. Knit brows that said, "I'm sorry, I tried." The truth was, her planet was probably just as cratered as his by human antimatter bombs, its caconium resources just as plundered to fuel the fortunes of parents who produced inheritance-monsters like Playboy, here. She might never have been caged in a dog kennel waiting for asylum approval, or done time in a lunar for-profit prison camp, but she was in her own kind of prison. An open air prison of flesh.

 

 

Edited by TwiliteMinotaur

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The self-flying aircars were more numerous, higher class up here. High rises upkept by mantis-like constructionoids, actual homes that weren't vomit brown and collapsing from carpet bombing or disrepair. New-looking stuff. Some actual lawns, gates, primary-colored levitating bouncy castles for kids to play in. Xze toggled a realty pricing overlay onto his burner, flashing high six, seven-figures -- places Xze would never be able to afford, or have the premium citizenship class to live in. Except maybe as an indentured gardener or off-books servant-slave shock-collared in a basement.

 

Xze'd got his hacked 'cycle out of impound; penalty cost him half his day's income but least he had wheels for his Deliverating gigs. Company said they'd pay the fine for asking him to park illegally, but they screwed him on that with some secret policy update bullshit.

 

There was a deafening ring, like a dog-pitched anti-Synderian crowd control siren, or the sound your ears make when a mortar or flashbang blows up a few meters from your head. No shockwave or fire, so Xze thought it might be a bomb alert or something.

 

Then Xze realized it was just the phantom-ringing sound of silence. The omnipresent insectile roar of drone swarms that surveilled and policed the poorer districts weren't allowed up in this upper-middle class area. Looking back, the ebon cloud of octocopters and orboids above the Underside appeared to be halted by some invisible wall, like robotic fish in an aquarium tank.

 

Xze followed the Deliverator's GPS directions through wide, clean, mostly empty streets. Occasional shiny hovercars drove past slowing down as they passed Xze, a human jogger in expensive fashionable sportwear with a robot servant pushing her toddlers in a stroller gave him a suspicious look. Xze glanced down at his tattered brown second-hand coat, his last-gen bike, his grey Synderian skin. He was sticking out like a street mutt at a dog show.

 

"Just get in and get out, man," Xze said to himself. Xze had only been allowed past the high duraplex gates because the Deliverator Corporation gave him a 'temporary status upgrade' to allow for the gig-economy delivery. Otherwise, he'd be red-flagged for unauthorized zone access beyond his social ranking, and a world of shit brought down upon him by the bot-cops.

 

"Just get it done and get the fuck out," Xze mantra'd to himself. Reminded himself that if he got lucky he could score a big tip from a bleeding heart liberal or a corporate lawyer with a guilty conscience, might even pay for a whole few day's-worth of coffin-apartment rent.

 

"In thirty meters, your Deliverator destination will be on the right," the Hogwarts voice declared. Xze braked, craned his head. An Aina'alu man in a white sun hat was trimming the manicured rectilinear hedge with shears. Twin marble columns framed a polished copper gate, with an engraved spherical emblem of what Xze recognized as the Earthling-Origin symbol. An automower was busy giving the amazingly emerald-green grass a shave. There was some pounding in the back where a Synderian crew was busy installing a pool or a tennis court or something.

 

Security cameras were everywhere, though many were disguised as birdfeeders, planted in the ocular cavities of alabaster statues in the small garden maze. Xze was good at recognizing the sheen; he'd had to be to survive on Synderia, as a 'fugee. He checked for guard dogs or guard bots.

 

"You're here," a flat, Eutropian-native accent came through the intercom, like it was agitated to have to get up off the $5,000 sofa in there and accept milk, eggs, fancy spirulina-kale designer healthfood shit that took Xze forever to locate. The Earthling sigil dislodged, rotated out of the way as the polished gate autounlocked and swung open to the sound of purring motors. Xze kicked off up the driveway toward the massive two-story house. Imagined the feel of sleeping in an actual king-size downy bed in silence, imagined how sound he could sleep, rather than in a metal box with reconstituted packing-peanuts in the shape of a bed, with 90 decibel drone roar and gunshots running all night.

 

A brown, shorter human female answered the door, cradling two crying white human toddlers, trying to smile and mostly failing, "Oh, hello! You are deliver?" the maid said.

 

"Juana, could you please shut those kids up? I'm trying to have a conversation here," the agitated voice echoed from one of probably a dozen rooms. The maid frowned, singing in a Sol language Xze didn't understand, trying to quiet the children.

 

A tall white human woman, obviously the actual mother of the two children who couldn't be bothered with them, arrived at the door. Xze caught a glimpse of a milk-white pedestal topped with a silicone sphere, filled with pink amniotic fluid, pincushioned with artificial umbilicals. Surrogate machine-wombs were a common luxury of upper-class human women. "The 'in-vivo' pregnant belly look is out of fashion this year," Xze recalled a professional makeup-streamer saying during another grocery drop in this elevated-citizenship zone.

 

"Yaaaaas, we gotta try that one four-star Yakuri sushi place. Sorry Shawna, I loooove the trip to New Paris idea, but I gotta handle something real quick," the human woman said to a hologram projected from a platinum necklace, before pearl-clutching it off.

 

"Ok, fine, I'll handle the groceries. Jesus, Jauna, do I have to do everything myself?" Mrs. Agitated said. "It's just so hard to find good help nowadays and our myServant android hasn't been up to the task. Tough times, you know?" she said, sighing and looking for sympathy.

 

"Yeah, totally. Tough times," Xze nodded, furrowing his brow, and pretended to have any sympathy whatsoever for her 'plight'.

 

He was used to acting like he was listening to clueless high-class humans. Like twenty-a-day, every day. Necessary job skill.

 

She aimed her face at the Deliverator bag's cam and unlocked it,

 

"Looks like it's all here. Ok," she waved through her necklace hologram the 10.3 uCredits, with a 1-credit tip.

 

Well, at least she wasn't a total bitch.

 

The review rating option came up, and just as she was about to flick the '3/5 stars' with one manicured pointer, she got a text or something, and swung it to the '0'. Xze felt his heart drop into his stomach.

 

"Oh shit, gonna be late for my low-g yoga class!" she freaked, "Juana, I need my stuff! Hurry up!"

 

"Hey, sorry but do you think you could fix the review rating?" Xze asked meekly.

 

"What? Oh, looks like I already hit 'ok' and it won't let me go back. Sorry!" The maid came back with the now-shushed toddlers and a glittery shopping bag from some designer clothing store. Agitated Woman ran out the door just as a Luxon luxury aircar descended, blew stray emerald-green grass off white driveway with its harrier gusts. She boarded, the gullwing door swung smoothly shut, and it autoflew her up, over the miasma of roaring drones, toward the crystalline upper echelons of Eutropolis City.

 

Bitch.

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Random writing can be non-fiction?

You have to understand the stroke of a child with no talent for art drawing.

But loved it.

And this is funny.  It really is.  And has something to do with memory.

I remember grade 1, 2, or 3-ish, I think toward 1 or 2 but maybe not, and this would be in the late 70’s, early 80’s, say, and I was told about a coat of arms for families.  I was supposed to draw the flag of the country where my father’s side of the family originally came from on one half of the sheet, and the country where my mother’s side of the family came from on the other.  (Most kids in my class had double Italy.)

This really is funny.

I can’t remember what I did for my Mother’s side, as she was from the United States of America, and I wouldn’t have been able to draw the US flag remotely at that time.  Something would have happened, but I really can’t remember at all.  I can’t remember what I did.

And I didn’t talk to my parents.  So, in the late 70’s, I knew I had visited my great godfather, who was very old, and drank, but had a good wife who was also very old.  (They ended up dying very close to each other.)  He was Ukrainian, which at that very time I understood as Russian, and came over during the turn of the century, before the revolution.  I didn’t talk to the parents, and we had some sort of reference, or encyclopedia I would think, maybe something else, to look up what the flags would look like, in order to draw them on the left or the right of the family tree, then draw knights or something underneath.

So, in the late 70s, as a child, somehow, I don’t really know how, I looked up a picture of the USSR flag and drew that. 

From memory, as all things are, at that very time in the 70s, the teacher stopped me, and I ended up drawing something else.  I’m figuring a free flag, but that might just be an add on in old age now.  

Funny.  So, goes the cold war.

Later on, in Grade 9 or 10, in a Catholic school, with obviously no talent in art, yet, yet at all, but loving it, and having a music group in my head, I would finish mandatory grade 9 or 10 art class with a poster layout involving letters placed stating, “Charlotte the Harlot is OK”, having no idea what it meant.  (I had a rocker book, “Running Free” the biography of Iron Maiden, which is probably all over the internet now.)  No one said anything.  Now, in this time, I’m not sure what any of that means.

But let me return to grade 1, 2, or 3 drawing.  Around of the same time I think pretty surely of the very above story, we were given the assignment of drawing album covers from famous rock bands.  And, somehow, for all the love in the world, I copied (drawing) the cover of Journey’s Frontiers.  (I remember hearing ‘Separate Ways” as a very young teenager, while adults went by in Firebirds.)  I have no idea, and simply cannot remember, where I got the album cover from, to copy, but I did.

I remember it as the greatest achievement in history.  I have other things from my childhood, but not that copy drawing.  Of all the things to lose.

For the record, my father never hit me for the most part, and there is a story not told here.  But he would swear, non-stop, forever, like he couldn’t stop.

I remember around, say, grade 4, him being very proud/forceful during an after telling of a teacher/parent meeting, he found a map/globe, that in the late 70’s early 80’s, still had Vietnam as North and South, and he corrected the teacher, who was known to kids as one of the, harder, teachers.  It, education wise, hadn’t been updated, but the way he made it sound, to me then, it was like the teacher was in denial, and still fighting something lost. 

There is only one very thing in my life, I tell you now in all truth, I believe my father was truly, actually scared of, beyond the normal hypothesis sort of way.  I remember being on the parent’s bed in their bedroom (I also remember mom and dad together in the shower, and it smelling bad him on the toilet.) and he would tell me this horror story about people who would come in the night, and take you to the front lawn, where the pipes for water would be on the public land and drain the property, up front from the house, and with black hoods, at midnight, make you kneel down and chop your head off into the ditch, and this is the point, there being nothing, absolutely nothing you could do about it, emphasized.  So, you had to go.  You couldn’t fight. 

The only thing he feared beyond the normal suicide death you see in haters, may or may not have been these people in the story.  I can’t make the connection for sure.  But even later in life, I could see something purely behavioristic, in regards.  Real fear, of a different kind.    

If I can find it, I’ll post a picture of my “The Who” flag, with numerous band buttons, Maiden and Sister mostly.  I had pins from the Toronto Sportsman show, which was boring because I was far too young, and only looked up, so to speak, for where people paid to fish live in a pool, with real fish.  I had found a booth which sold brand new buttons that said, “Hoser.”  From Bob and Doug McKenzie.  I’m trying to think of the second one, because I had two.  I can’t remember.

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“Take it easy.”  Francesco looked over his phone.

 

It’s not like I’m lying, more like my mind has developed this massive repression therapy.

 

“This will film fine.  I just point the phone, see?”

 

You are going to get me fired.  For freak out sure.

 

Elise was dancing on the sidewalk, certainly stoned.  She was like that, always.

 

“No one can judge you on the quarter, except you.  Except you can’t do that either.  Just the quarter can judge, for what it’s worth.  Live the quarter, death by quarter.  To the unknown crime, like logos that will live one year longer than you do.”

 

I wonder if Elise is getting tired yet.

 

“We need to get this right.”

 

“One more time,” I said, smiling half so. “What are we filming or capturing?”

 

“The script.  I’ll give it to you.  Paranormal investigation.”

 

“Sure.”

 

“At… Walmart.”

 

“Walmart.”

 

“We break in, show the research.”

 

“They’re open 24 hours and don’t close.  The cops arrest a half dozen people in there on a Thursday night.”

 

I’m going to get fired.

 

“Paranormal investigation at Walmart.  We interview people about the rumors.”

 

“Rumors,” Elise said, sliding by.

 

“It’s all streamed live.  The live part is very important.  It doesn’t have to be acted good.  That’s the whole point.  It just has to go down live.”

 

“Fun.  Right fun.  Halloween.  Sure.”

 

“There once was this person working as… where’s that computer fill in program at?  I got that app somewhere?  Coins, cashier?  Back side door watcher?  Pharmacy master?  Flip.  Let’s randomize that part for the ghost.”

 

“Ghost why?”

 

“Are you writing this, or me?  Let’s have some fun.”

 

Suck it, in bright blue letters.  Here we go.  Jail. 

 

“Who, or what, are playing the ghosts?”

 

“I’ve made arrangements.  Non-cheap prices on those arrangements.  Not every day low prices.”

 

“Great.  Just…”

 

“Close up.”

 

“Welcome to a real paranormal investigation at Walmart.  This is a true story.  I swear it.”  *Waves at the camera* Like the anytime Amityville Horror book publishing, first printing.  “Just like the Amityville Horror book publishing, first printing.”  Smile.  Camera.  “This is a true story.”  

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This is where we’re at.

 

I can picture, in my mind, full 70’s Gandalf bleeding from his nose, forever, it never healing, him never dying.  His blood never runs out.  He climbs stairs. 

 

This week, in a world of haters and lovers, I understand that “DragonForce” is going to write their next album on “Twitch”.  Or to be more truthful, at least have sessions which will be streamed live, as the progress happens. 

 

Some people are susceptible to the ‘famous’ gestalt.  Gibson does eyes which are obviously existential, but maybe or maybe not quite exploitation take, whatever that means.

 

In his particular domain, Gibson has no equal.  That is a very hard thing to say.  It’s weird.  Even very few of the greats can claim it. 

 

So, it would be easy to call bullshit on DragonForce.  But do not.  Because we are talking not about high-level studio execution, which is a great gift as a musician to be able to do, but rather rightful creation, which is something entirely different.  And maybe this is already figured out, and the show is being put on for a good reason, to keep the people involved as part of the process.

 

Individuality, when all interpretations, seemingly, have been done.  To hear that, after time, becomes.

 

The truth.  Music like writing.  Who am I but the historical back door man.  Never mind the famous, wouldn’t this be great?  If it worked that way.  Need a tune?  I was never here.

 

The studios are dead.  They did it. 

 

If I’m in the mood to listen to ‘Bowling for Soup’ “1985”, why do any of you care? 

 

What if Belushi lived till now, as did Randy Rhoads?  Not death.  Losing oneself.  Ask Alice Cooper on Halloween about Jim Morrison.  He’s liable to get mad.  It’s Halloween after all.

 

Hollywood unions should hate me, because I play anime video games with subtitles and Japanese, or I tend not to bother at all.  Like that Disney magic black box, for vocals.  You can be a vocal mistake, and if you sing through that Disney box, you are studio, and you are God.  That box is 3 times more powerful than Raytheon’s best AI read.  It interpolates to perfection.  Mess with a script?  Full ADR, all computer generated, to the writer’s blessing, to the writer’s creation?  Give Pixar a hug for details, while it is still a number of generations away.

 

Or is it?

 

The creation is what I’m interested in.  I really don’t care for the famous, or want to be famous.  Like the 70s bands which wrote, I think, or were we fooled even then?  Can it be written? 

 

Like lovers in the night, strangers as the boats pass…  a small moment. 

 

I was never here.

 

I am sorry for the machine that was supposed to do good.

 

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Captain Kirk’s Cyberpunk Help Desk here, first iteration!

Captain Kirk hereby offers new cold war provision drops, and parlay for (possible) extended privileges.  This is for the following understanding.  Street level music entitles a very basic order to those who are by nature order-less.  With infinite sides, the side that understands why this must be the case gains the advantage.  There must be preservation. 

Like what sense does a trumpet make, when it has a ‘Gibson Guitar’ logo on it.  There could be music stuff around Captain Kirk knows about, that came from around the time Gibson went bankrupt, then got new owners, that middle touch.  Maybe in a garage.

Okay, I should explain.

Captain Kirk, yours truly that is, received a work order from a very ‘hot’ woman who is legit, apparently, as, let me read this, an Israeli international special police government agent.  I say ‘hot’ because it says so in her bio, page four, three times, twice underscored.  What kind of idiot contacts Captain Kirk with a work order on a message board, of all things?  I tell you, but there it is, all checked. 

Well, I read the whole thing.  So here it is:

It would be cool if anyone around the underpinnings gravitational of said idea would be subject to real world extrapolation.  This is only an opinion to others.

Action completed for ‘hot’ Israeli international special police government agent.

And if it isn’t obvious to the most blind of individuals, double agents DO NOT EXIST. 

And if Captain Kirk doesn’t sound in a great mood, Captain Kirk may very well have bought into a Polish video game company a few months back, before the recent stock market what, with the Cyberpunk coming out.  Which, obviously will be full Hollywood nonsense in terms of double agents, but hopefully fun.

And in case you all are wondering, cost of current issue will be covered by Ivana Trump, as I am pretty good with digits.

Captain Kirk has the music at 120 frames per second.  See you all next round.  

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after working as a luthier for a year in 2013, I decided to try working in retail. The harp & hammered dulcimer market is incredibly finite, and I wanted to be in a thriving type of industry rather than a dying one. 

     My first retail job was managing a bodega type storefront for a Pakistani entrepreneur in Belltown, Seattle named Bali. His brother had stayed in Pakistan when he moved to the states employed as a squash instructor. Once a year,  Bali would go back to the village he'd been born in, which was Indian when he was born in the 30's, but is Pakistan now. His brother owned a salt mine in the Himalayas, and he would arrange for two tons of salt rocks to be shipped from Pakistan to Washington. (If you've ever tried to ship anything from Pakistan to the US, let alone 2 tons in a shipping container... well, imagine the logistical nightmare potential...) While the shipping container was in transit, Bali would travel from Pakistan through India and China along the old silk road, picking up fabrics, minerals, semiprecious stones, wood and electrical components to make salt rocks into 'Himalayan Salt Lamps'. I remember once, when we'd gotten the shipment stateside and had been drilling and constructing salt lamps all day, covered in salt dust, Bali looked at me and said, "When I was a boy, I would see the old men coming out of the salt mines covered in dust, and I said 'Never will that be me'. Now look at me! I am those old men!" He was a kind man, and I learned a lot from him. He was sort of an anachronism, in that he didn't keep records of anything. He also leased PO boxes out of the store, and had memorized everything. When billing time came around, he just picked up the phone and started calling all his clients that were in arrears. I never could convince him to keep a ledger. Of course, he didn't really need one... 

     The time came when Bali could no longer afford to keep me employed, but we parted on good terms. HIs little store is still there in Belltown, an oasis of old world charm and sensibility. The day I left, I was walking to the bus stop, and I saw a "Help Wanted" sign in the window of Federal Army & Navy Surplus, which was only a few blocks away from Bali's store. I walked in, filled out an application and asked to speak to the owner.

     The owner, or one of them, was named Henry. Henry co-owned the store with his Brother, Jack. They'd inherited it from their father, who'd in turn inherited it from their grandfather. They were in the process of passing it on to Henry's daughter, Davina. They were an old school, traditional Jewish family. My job interview that day with Henry consisted of one question: "So, are you a good worker?", to which I replied, "Yes, sir. I don't believe there is ever nothing to do. There's always something that needs to be done, even if it's sweeping or cleaning the glass." 

     "You're hired." Said Henry.

     My whole goal going into retail was to learn the basics, find a niche and eventually work my way to fashion retail, specifically: Nordstrom. Seattles local darling, one of our founding families and a dictionary definition of successful.  Federal Army Navy, while being far different from Nordstrom, was nonetheless a very similar organization. Both families had immigrated to Seattle from Europe. The Nordstrom's were Swedes, the Shalom's Jewish Germans. Both families had been in the area for multiple generations, and both started their businesses in 1901, outfitting Yukon travelers and investing in the city that was growing up around them.

     Working at Federal Army Navy was a LOT of fun. As an avid outdoorsman, I found that I could easily move product off the shelves simply by talking about the ways I used it. My specialty was knives, specifically folding ones. I actually sold a switchblade to a secret service agent. Had to photocopy his ID for it, as they're illegal for anyone in Washington state other than law enforcement. Selling was fun, but I started noticing a certain type of individual that frequented our store. The type that doesn't actually purchase anything, but manages to walk out with it anyway. You spot their eyes, first. A certain dodgy flicker that illustrates the word 'furtive' perfectly. When you see that flicker, watch their hands, cause that's where the magic happens.

     The first time I caught a shoplifter, I had a hard time not fighting with him. He'd take a couple ineffectual swings, but managed to clip my left ear with the third swing. Rather than duke it out with him on the sales floor, I stepped between him and our only door and showed him our best taser model. I didn't taze him, I just puled it off the counter and deployed a burst while staring him in the eyes. He dropped the merch and I stepped aside. Henry was laughing like a hyena over the implied threat of the taser. I had found a skill. I could see shoplifters, their intent, their desire. It was palpable and thick and they moved slowly, as if in an opiatic haze. Later, i realized most of them were...

     After a year of selling military surplus, camping gear and pocketknives and catching shoplifters, I saw an ad on the Nordstrom job board. It was a posting for an opening in loss prevention. I applied, and was hired. It wasn't immediate, like at FANS. In fact, later on I found out the assistant didn't want to hire me and that the manager had liked me and took a chance. Turns out, that chance paid off. I was really, really good at preventing loss. 

     So, i gave my two weeks at federal army, and when the time came i had set aside a pair of Belleville ST800 boots that I wanted to buy while I still had a employee discount. I went to pay Henry and he said, "You're the first person in five years that gave 2 weeks and stuck it out. The boots are yours. Thank you." I was hella chuffed. Them boots are the shit. Look 'em up.

 

to be continued.

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The particular Nordstrom store I had gotten hired at happened to be their flagship, store #001. Five floors of retail fashion, A spa, three restaurants and a bridge to the mall across the street was all nestled underneath six floors of executives, purchasing, product group, buyers, and all the rest of their corporate HQ. Mr. Bruce Nordstrom, the father of the three Nordstrom brothers currently overseeing the franchise, kept an office near his three sons, and still managed to walk the sales floor on a regular basis at 85 years old. 

     My first day was kind of overwhelming. I'd gone from a team of three sales associates and two owners to a building that housed over 1,300 people all working toward the same goal. It was intense and a little scary. I shadowed the LPM, or loss prevention manager all of my first day, just getting to know the job, the building and the people. There was a TON to remember, and I managed to remember about half, which was a damn sight more than most people. 

     They don't tell you about making an arrest on your first day. They tell you about the store history, the family, the vendors. The sweat and blood comes later... The position I'd been hired into was referred to as LP ambassador, and mainly consisted of watching entrances and exits and relaying any suspicious people to our agents and camera operatiors. I made my first "call-out" on my first day. We had codes for skin color, camera positions, doors and other things, so it would have sounded something like, "Ninty-nine male, came in pine west. Blue hoody, torn jeans. Eyes all over the board and moving fast to accessories. Hands look like inflated hamburgers..."

     And Emelio, my camera operator would usually reply a beat later, "Got him. Entering sunglasses, selecting a pair of Chanel... " something like that..

 

TBC

Edited by Boogerhead
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