Under the Blue Curve (Short Fiction)

pacific ocean and sky with curved distortionWhen Elisa sat down for lunch, Henry Overduin had no idea how much she was going to change his world.

She and her colleagues from the Department of Corporate Oversight sat in Henry’s section, but he would have noticed her even if they hadn’t. There was something different and magnetic about Elisa Taper. The rest of the diners at Le Fou en Mer were unreserved cyborgs. Most of them wore their cranial implants in a showy style that was the vogue among the rich; Henry found the fashion tasteless. But Elisa’s jet black hair was cut in a bob that just covered her implant. It was elegant. Her eyes were a startling emerald green, and there was something about the intelligence in them that captured Henry’s attention.

She seemed completely natural — just like Henry.

Of course, he had no implants of any kind. Even on his waiter’s salary he could have afforded one, but there was no point, because Henry was noneact. He had been unable to access the datasphere his whole life. When he was young, the world had begun integrating with it, and now the world was the datasphere. The latest generation of implants let humans access sensory experiences as well as information. Apparently, it was more real than real, his regular customers told Henry. Henry never wanted to be a waiter — he wanted to tell stories. But he had no audience. Without the datasphere, he didn’t even have a medium. There were no books, no magazines, no newspapers. There wasn’t a real movie industry anymore — it had all been swallowed by one all-encompassing ubermedia. Even conversation had been subsumed by it. The irony was there was a desperate need for Henry’s originality in what the Germans called the weltgeschichte — the world story. But Henry’s tales weren’t part of it, because he couldn’t be heard.

At least, not beyond the routine of taking orders and fetching drinks. Henry tried not to resent his job. In some sense, he was lucky he was able to work at all. Le Fou en Mer wasn’t so expensive that a human chef ran the kitchen, but it was trendy enough that the clientele were all served by real humans. In addition to Henry, the other staff that day included two students from the city’s main academy. For them, the job was something they would remember fondly after they had graduated to work remotely, or dynamically in the datasphere, depending on their abilities.

But for Henry it was one of the few jobs that he could hold, all thanks to his faulty, noneactive mind.

He tried not to dwell on it, while he walked over to the table where Elisa sat with her colleagues. He let them know the chef’s specials that day, trying to be pleasant, and asked for their drink orders; it might have been obvious he found Elisa attractive, but he tried to disguise it. No matter, Elisa saw. She asked him his name, and was somewhat perturbed when he completely ignored her routine subvocal query.

Read the rest of the story at Abyss and Apex …>

Originally published, October, 2007. Original photo by Evan Leeson.

Time Travel Sucks

Nothing worse than the hoseIf you asked him, Bertie could never really tell you what he disliked most about time travel.

Obviously, having to arrive in each new era stark naked was not the most pleasant experience. It usually meant having at least a few embarrassing moments (though it could occasionally have its upsides, such as the time he dimensionally slipped into that alternate reality where women had the same psychosexual visual response to nudity the way that men did in his reality . . .)

He was bothered that he could not change anything. He’d taken Causality 101 in college, and was fully conversant with the Heisenberg-Lurie equations relating to the Novikov self-consistency principle. He’d even tested this idea by trying to kill Hitler. (Every first-year time traveler tries to kill Hitler at least a couple of times.) Yes, not being able to alter history bothered him.

Then there was the HOSE. He hated the HOSE.

Alltop considers itself a hoser. Thanks to Whatsthatpicture for the historical snap. Originally published in 2007.

Batman Lashes Out at the Other Members of the Justice League of America After Spending the Weekend at the Jack Nicholson Film Festival

Batman loses it

You know, I’m getting a little tired of all the snide remarks about the way I fight crime.

We live in a world that has villains, and those villains have to be defeated by men with Batarangs. Or superpowers, if you’ve got them. (Yeah, and females too, don’t get your star-spangled knickers in a knot, Wonder Women.) I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for the psychotic killer that I sent to the hospital last night, and you curse my “methods”. You have that luxury.

Green Lantern, you can always capture crooks with that weird glowing shit from your alien ring. And you Wonder Woman, I wonder if that golden truth-telling lasso is as innocuous as it looks? You have easy options.

You know that when I beat that punk to within an inch of his life, while tragic for him, I saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. I find it particularly ironic that you, Martian Manhunter find me grotesque, but you do, don’t you, you green uni-browed freak!

I’ll grant my methods are extreme, but they work. You people with your superpowers don’t dare admit it. You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me cruising the streets of Gotham in my Batmobile, you need me in my Batmobile! Who else is going to clean up that bat-hole?

I use words like discipline and detective work and a lot of made-up words starting with “Bat”. I use these words as the backbone of a life spent intimidating the criminal classes. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to you, who succeed because of the detective work that I provide, and then question the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a Batarang and solve a few crimes without your superpowers.

Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think is “excessive” or “brutal” or “verging on insane”. Continue reading