Apocalypse Cow

apocalypse cow

Never get out of the boat. Absolutely goddamn right. Unless you were going all the way. Kurtz got off the boat. He split from the whole fuckin’ program.

And me? I was off the boat the same time as Kurtz. Sure, I’d been obeying orders, but my mind was gone. I was in fields of green and clover. With milkmaids.

Oh man, those bullshit milkmaids…

But I had a job to do, and there would be no welcome, supple fingers pulling on my teats when we got to the end of the river. Only charcoal briquettes.

The barbecue … the barbecue.

Alltop is the catastrophic cattle baron of humor. Originally published on Name Your Tale, 2009.

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.

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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