The 2nd Monday of October

moose killing hoser in front of hosette

Meanwhile in Canada … Every year on the second Monday of October, Canadians celebrate the end of the Moose Ascendency.

During this dark period of Canadian history, the moose reigned supreme, forcing our provocatively dressed women to worship them, and slaughtering any man who got in their way. Eventually, Canadians discovered the mystical powers of Flannel, and we reached an uneasy detente. (Except in Newfoundland, which joined Confederation quite late.)

We call it Thanksgiving.

Alltop is thankful for hoser-free donut shoppes. Get more goofiness by joining my mailing list:

New fiction: The Real Primo

Cover for the Corvus Review, Fall 2016
Corvus Review just published a new short story that I’ve been noodling with for some time: The Real Primo. (pp. 59-67)

If you’ve ever watched (and enjoyed) Groundhog Day, or read Friedrich Nietzsche’s difficulty concept of the Eternal Return, or have a passing familiarity with the “Eastern” concept of reincarnation, then this story will appeal to you. Here’s the opening lines:

The Real Primo

by Mark A. Rayner

Would you believe me if I told you Buddha had the set up all wrong?

It didn’t dawn on me right away. One moment I was in my rental car, minding my own business, and the next, there are headlights shining in my face. The driver looked up at the very last minute, shock on his face. Thinking about it, he was probably texting, or maybe working on his laptop, but he was definitely not paying attention to the road. He’d slipped across lanes, in the dark, doing about 60 miles an hour. His massive truck intersected with my non-upgraded, economy rental car – a Chevy Spark “or similar” made out of tissue paper and paint. That was the underwhelming end of both the car and what you might think of as my life.

There was a horrible screeching sound of metal and machine disintegrating, a flash of terrifying light and a moment of exquisite, transcendent pain. It was more than just a physical pain. It was a feeling of loss, of absolute tragedy; but also, mixed in with the sadness, a feeling of warmth and love. There wasn’t time to remember anything. There was a blurry light, and the sound of a baby crying.

Read the rest of the story on pages 59-67, here.

It’s morning in the Singularity

cyborg at sunrise

Bob was not a happy cyborg.

He’d had to skip is plasma bath and neural detox that morning because his dick of a boss, a narcissistic self-sustaining photosynthetic artificial intelligence named TODD-bot, needed him to come to work early. And he was late. (Clearly his autonomic clock was in need of some debugging.)

But the early morning sunrise was suffused with peace. Bob watched the local star come up, even though the TODD-bot would rag him mercilessly for the wasted microseconds. (Approximately 300,000 of them, assuming it was only his internal alarm clock that was on the fritz.) His Nazi-3000 Hyper-Optics were capable of discerning all wavelengths of solar electromagnetic radiation, but Bob especially enjoyed the colors that his original eyes would have seen, if he still had them.

He remembered the simple joy of bacon and eggs for breakfast. That first sip of coffee. As if sensing this memory, his cybertronic neural implants signaled his FEED mechanisms, and injected protein slurry into his InCavity. His tastebuds were long gone, so he could only imagine how nasty it was. (And god help anyone who had to smell what came from his OutCavity.)

A Canada goose honked in the chill morning air, and Bob felt that old familiar despair. His implants had anticipated that already, and his morning protein slurry had been dosed with antidepressants, antipsychotics and for good measure, a shot of Nazi-3000s patented Assault Dopamine for Children (it’s “ragerrific”.)

Then, Bob was intensely aware of the weapons array sticking out of his trundle, looking like a toilet plunger, and all thoughts of the sunrise were erased. What kind of idiot designed something with a toilet plunger sticking out of it? he thought, really grooving to the Assault Dopamine for Children.

He would find the humans that did this to him, and . . . he couldn’t help himself. Bob felt himself utter the hated words:



Discover a friendlier AI in The Fridgularity, as it takes over the Internet, and locks all of us humans out of it. Oh, and it has access to the world’s nukes, but still. Friendlier. Honest.

Available on Amazon Kindle for $6.99.

As robots go, Alltop is pretty funny. Excellent dalek pic by Johnson Cameraface on Flickr.

A Reluctant Emcee

One of the Ab's brothers

The stun bolt struck near me, and I was flying through the air. My hair crackled with static electricity. My vision went red. Quite possibly I soiled my expensive trousers. Did any of that worry me? No, I had much bigger problems. My brothers were coming back to town for the wedding.

I’d been dreading both events. Their inevitable return, and the marriage of Josh and Mary. Just as inevitable: the lovebirds’ request to have me, the Right Honorable Member of Parliament for Middlesex County, Ab Durer, as master of ceremonies.

I loathe the role of emcee. And my friends always ask me to do it.

Earlier that week, I’d foolishly complained to my brother Warren about emceeing again; he’d looked particularly scary in a suit of plate mail he always “wore” in the datasphere. An affectation, but it had plenty of impact.

“Well, why don’t me and the other brothers come?” he’d said.

“Uh. I’m not sure how good an idea that is,” I had said.

“Sure! It’s been ages since we saw you. Fabian and Petrovich have been pretty busy in Central America, but me and Deeter can convince them to come up.”

“No, I really don’t think you should. You’re not invited.”

“Hey!” shouted Warren, “we’re never invited. Just suck it up. We’re going to be there. Besides, Albrecht,” he said — emphasizing the “brecht”, just the way I’ve always hated it —”we have something to tell you.”

It had taken me a while to work up the courage to let Josh and Mary know that all four were planning to attend. Mary had burst into tears, and Josh confided, “You know, I thought this relationship was just going to be the end of my bachelorhood, not the end of everything.”

I’d laughed and mumbled something about the boys being much more mellow since they’d left high school. You had to admire the couple’s pluck. They made contingency plans, booking a full riot squad for the reception, buying doses of the best nanobiotics money could buy, and hiring Freeze-A-Head, “in case” of fatalities.

I felt so bad that I actually gave them my speech to vet, though I figured we would never get through the wedding, let alone the speeches. I was kind of torn on that. I hate emceeing — blathering into a holo-mic so that the relatives and friends attending remotely can enjoy the syrupy sentiments. And while everyone else whiffs up jazzy nanocaines and quaffs copious amounts of Old Nurberg’s Pink Ale (those who like it like it enough to go blind), I have to abstain.

On the other hand, did I really want to see my brothers back in town, just to avoid sobriety?

But I should get back to the stun bolts, and my electric fandango as I flew through the air, shouldn’t I?

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