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{Wednesday, November 27, 2002}

 
anticipation

by Fred 6:00 AM




{Tuesday, November 26, 2002}

 
Marcus stretched in the grass. He smelled food nearby, and he was hungry. The winter sun was comfortable, though, and he'd just waked up. He looked up to see if there was anybody else around, and was satisfied that he was alone. He was used to looking up all the time, being short himself. He snuck through the tall grass to where his nose told him there was food. He poked his nose to the edge of the grass and waited to tell how many of them there were, guarding the food. He smelled three, two old and one young. The old ones smelled like beer; that meant it was a toss-up whether they'd be friendly or mean, but he had to take the chance. It had been awhile since he'd had real food, and living in the woods was getting old. He ventured a glance through the grass at the three of them eating there.
Chicken.
The thought of it made his mouth start to water and his tail wag. That was good, they liked that kind of thing, but he shouldn't appear over-anxious. Sometimes they took that to mean he was sick or vicious, and they kicked him or threw rocks. Once, one of them threw food, but the next one had a gun, and he'd learned the hard way not to try that trick a third time. He sauntered up to the blanket where they were eating, and barked once, short and sharp. It was meant to catch their attention, but not to sound too demanding. He'd had almost three years to practice that one and get it right, first as one of these things' pet, and then later living in a park in the city where they were more generous. Out here, again, it all came down to luck and skill. He had to find the right group of them when they were eating, and he had to taylor the performance to the audience.
The youngest one giggled and threw a piece of probably-inedible plant matter. Marcus skittered away, unsure if the move was an attack or an invitation. He slunk back to it and smelled it; sweet, sugary, green, and covered with spit. This was one of the edible ones. He licked it up, just in case it was something he liked.
"Moomoomoo moo moo Dog," said one of the big ones, pointing at him. He barked one more time, just in case that was something good. He never picked up more than about ten or twenty words from them, but he never really needed more than that. It was time to bring out the big guns. He sat back on his haunches, and brought his feet up into a cute begging pose. He held his muzzle out and up, trying to look the way they seemed to think was aware and clever. He felt awkward, which was usually a good clue that he was doing something cute.
The other of the big ones held out a piece of chicken. The smell of the cold meat made him drool, but he tipped his head back to keep from looking rabid.
"Eeew eew, moo woo eew Doggy?" It said. He yapped again, as that seemed to be working on them. The big one dropped the chicken, and Marcus snapped it up and ran for the grass. It was hard to tell, most of the time, whether the meat was dropped on purpose, but he wasn't in the business of waiting to find out.
Out of sight, he tore the meat from the bone, and sat again, satisfied, in the grass.

by MisterNihil 4:40 PM


 
It's Been Awhile

by Faith 12:27 PM




{Monday, November 25, 2002}

 


Death Takes a Holiday

Death straightened up and stretched his back. He had been laboring over his tomato plants for the better part of the morning and his back protested the effort. He was sore but it was a good kind of sore. Not the aching muscles you get from swinging a scythe and gliding about in a mysterious and foreboding fashion but rather the satisfied tired of working with one’s hands in the soil of the land.

This was Death’s first vacation in several millennia and was, without question, the best. Sure, he could’ve gone anywhere. He could’ve dined in fine resorts in the south of France, soaked up the sun in the Caribbean or the Bahamas, although he really wasn’t the sandy beach sort. He could’ve gone skiing in Aspen, whale watching in Alaska, toured the castles of Germany and the British Isles (but then he’d had enough of those gloomy places during the dark ages), museums in Boston or visited the Forbidden City. But really Death did so much traveling in his job that the idea of scooting off to any location, however exotic, held little appeal.

Instead Death decided to simply stay around the house taking care of some of those projects he’s been putting off for so long. He had really let the garden go when things got so crazy at work during the Black Plague and just never quite caught up. The roof started leaking while he was away so much during WW1 and with all of the subsequent wars, disease, famine and pestilence since then he’s just never quite found the time to set it right.

Pouring himself a glass of lemonade and stretching out on the hammock he looked admired the results of his handy work in the garden and house, which sported a fresh coat of paint and new roof. He took a deep, satisfied breath and closed his eyes. This was definitely the best vacation ever.

by Shawn 11:11 PM


 
the best vacation ever

by Sharon 10:57 AM




{Sunday, November 24, 2002}

 
She was very, very early.

by MisterNihil 2:01 AM




{Friday, November 22, 2002}

 
I didn’t catch “The Death of Cold” last night, but my brother watched it and said I wasn’t missing anything special.

“I’ll lend you the tape,” he said, “but I don’t know, I expected more, you know? I mean, they’d been building to it for weeks, and then it was, like, ‘Next week, Cold dies! Don’t miss it!’ And in the end it just kind of sucked.”

Cold had been our favorite wrestler since we were kids, and he was probably the one thing that had kept me watching all these years. I knew Bobby still liked some of the others -- he and his kid still kept up with all the new names -- but the whole thing had gotten a little boring for me. There was a kind of meanness about it now. Things were a little more flashy, a little more vulgar. Cold hadn’t had a great name, but he’d always had class.

For months now, we’d known the guy who played him was going to retire. Bobby had heard a rumor, and then they’d started advertising on TV. They decided they wanted to kill his character off, have him go out with a bang. Wrestling is all about plot, and even at its most violent or absurd its chief goal is to tell a simple story and entertain.

So, Deathknell and Cold, two rivals, meet one final time. And everybody knows what’s going to happen. But a story is a story, and we like to be entertained. I didn’t know much about Deathknell -- he'd come to the sport back when I first went to college and thought I was too cool for wrestling -- but I knew Bobby liked him. And I knew Bobby had been looking forward to this more than I had.

But he was disappointed. “The Death of Cold” hadn’t lasted more than five or ten minutes. And it’s really hard to tell a good story in just ten minutes.

by Fred 11:03 AM




{Thursday, November 21, 2002}

 
Once I set my mind to it, it was easy to do. Well, it wasn't exactly easy, but it wasn't nearly as hard as I'd expected it to be. Committing was easily 50 percent of my effort. I asked the pharmacist to switch the perscription from tablets to capsules the following day.

I only wasted two before learning that they're "welded" shut in production. A quick internet search uncovered 10 different capsule supply companies that sold the individual halves in bulk. My package arrived three days later. That night I prepared twenty with arsenic I'd distilled from peach pits and almonds.

Mary died five days later. Peacefully. In her sleep.

Call me what you will, but understand this before you judge me: She wanted me to kill her. I loved her, and she wanted me to kill her. That's something that I just couldn't do. I still have the tape she made before the surgery. You need to watch it if you want to understand what happened. Once I prepared the capsules, I could pretend. I could pretend that they were her medicine. I could pretend that I wasn't killing my dearest love.

And in a way, they were the only medicine that helped.

by jal 7:46 PM


 
capsule

by Faith 9:34 AM




{Wednesday, November 20, 2002}

 

It's 1:45 Central (2:45 Eastern), so I'm posting the first thing that comes to mind...

pimple(s)

by jal 1:46 PM




{Tuesday, November 19, 2002}

 
I am sitting in the middle of the road; I have turned my back on my friend; I know he will protect me still.
I sit three feet from my friend, back to back with distance. He is looking for cars coming toward him, I am looking for cars coming toward me. I rely on my friend to speak up when he sees one; he relies on me for the same.
I haven't seen a car yet. I am puzzled, but I still watch. I wish I could talk to my friend, but that breaks the Rules. The Rules state that there can be no word spoken but "Car," and that word may not be a false alarm. I think I can sense him back there, sitting, watching for cars. I haven't seen one, and I know he hasn't either because he would have said "Car."
We are Road-sitting, a game I learned in college, or High School. Perhaps both. I know there was drinking involved, but that doesn't narrow it down much. I am sitting, waiting for my friend to call out "Car."
My friend is waiting for me to call out car.
We've been sitting here for almost six weeks.
Below us, through the glass floor of the street, in this place between death and life, I can see the world spinning. I know that nothing there can possibly be aware of what I'm doing. I'm road-sitting.
My friend behind me was wearing a black cloak when we sat down. He rested his scythe against a lamp post, and sat behind me. I heard his bones clatter as he sat. He wanted to play chess, but I'm a modern man, and I don't play chess. He was kind enough, though, to let me pick a new game.
But in playing, I've beaten Death. I am not dead. I sit here, my back to him, waiting for a car, but I am not dead. Simply by playing well, I can never die. I know there aren't any cars up here. I know I'll be here forever. I'll never die.
I have stopped the unstoppable force.

by MisterNihil 1:50 PM




{Monday, November 18, 2002}

 
The board room was as silent as my late mother's crypt. Thirteen stony-faced old white men with almost as little life in them as humor. The faces on Rushmore had more compassion then these folks. I steeled myself and held my ground, waiting for the CEO to comment.

"Tomorrow?" He croaked it out like it was the first word he'd said in a decade. "That's it? Tomorrow?" I cocked my head, gave a sharp nod, then began to collect my papers. CEO Franklin continued, "Well that's it then." He glanced at his pocketwatch, then up to me. The dim light flashed off his spectacles like a cat's eyes at night. Watch.. me... watch again... back to me. "Nothing to be done about it, you say? Your simulations are accurate?" I'd gathered my papers, disconnected the portable from the projector and packed it up. Just waiting for the projector to finish cooling down. Assured that nothing was overlooked, I nodded back to him. Yet another glance at the watch. "Tomorrow at sunrise? Noon? Sunset?" His voice took a slight edge of hysteria. "When? Can you tell us when?"

I shrugged and pointed at their folios. "Does it really matter? Even with your full resources brought to bear, you won't have enough time."

The room stayed silent for another 7 minutes. The projector cooled and turned itself off. I spent the time watching the sunset over the bay. At 60 stories, it's really quite dazzling. Then I packed the projector and left them like that, in a mild state of silence-stunned shock.

Sure I'll never work in this city again, but it was still the best April Fool's Day prank I pulled.

by jal 7:01 PM


 
For Shawn:
tomorrow

by Fred 9:06 AM




{Sunday, November 17, 2002}

 
A walk in the woods

Well, there it was sitting in the forest clearing dappled in sunlight filtering through the canopy of leaves. There was no possible explanation; no rational answer for how this thing came about. And yet, there, entirely surrounded by trees, underbrush and woodland splendor was a fully functional steam locomotive.

Spencer had moved to LA 26 years earlier to pursue a career as a newspaper reporter. Married and divorced twice after 26 years of smog, traffic and crime he at last decided to return to his home state of Pennsylvania to settle in a small town near the Allegheny forest and commit to his first love of become a fiction writer. That was 5 months ago; he hadn’t written a word, at least nothing that he even bothered saving. Absolute and total writer’s block. After 26 years of writing more or less factual accounts of the goings on of the world around him he found words failed him when he tried to tell tales of imaginary things, people and places.

And now, having decided that morning to go for a walk in the forest to clear his head, here he stood in front of something that could simply not be. It was in itself nothing so incredible as, say, a Big Foot, lost temple of an ancient people, undiscovered species or lost tribe of forest people. These were things that, while extraordinary could be explained in scientific terms. It was not even something of a fantastic nature such as an alien space ship, dinosaur, fairies, earth elemental or elder god that one might expect to find lost in a forest in a science fiction or fantasy story. It was simply a steam engine. And yet steam drifted lazily from the smokestack, the boiler was hot, the brass clean and the paint fresh. All it lacked was an engineer and any rational explanation for how it may have gotten here in that there were no tracks for miles in any direction. There was no path to this place nor clearing in the trees where by it may have passed even without tracks.

A year and a half later Spencer had a book on the top ten and was negotiating a movie deal.

by Shawn 10:52 AM


 
Walk in the woods


Aaargh, I posted out of order, again. Sorry Fred. Would you be so kind as to post "tomorrow" which, I assume, means Monday.
I seem to have problems with that whole concept of "today" and "tomorrow".

by Shawn 10:06 AM




{Saturday, November 16, 2002}

 
Because a new Harry Potter movie means more
Fan Fiction

by Remi 9:39 AM




{Friday, November 15, 2002}

 
"I got the last bagel, but there wasn't any cream cheese."
"No?" I stood beside his desk, sipping my coffee and thinking about my upcoming weekend.
"Yeah. Not even the kind with the fish stuff in it. What's it called?"
"Lox." I shot back.
"Yeah, lox. Where did all the cream cheese go?"
"Printer." I was thinking about going out of town for the weekend. Maybe to visit an old college buddy I hadn't seen in a while.
"What? We sent if off to the printer? What for? That doesn't make any sense."
"Laser." Another sip of coffee. Man, that's good coffee.
"You lost me. You mean the laser printer out in the hall? Next to Bob's cubicle?"
"Yup."
He sat at his desk, paused in mid-keystroke. He turned slowly to look at me.
"Yup." I said again.
"But that'd smell terrible. That thing gets so hot, and the cream cheese was left over from Monday. I mean, old fish on a hot laser printer..."
"Yup." A good all-purpose word, provided he's correct.
"So you got word on the next round of layoffs? Isn't Bob in charge of those?"
"Yup." It's so nice to be understood.

These are the war stories we will tell our children.

by MisterNihil 11:36 AM


 
“It’s just cream cheese and lox,” said Simon.

Paul shook his head. “No, that’s what they want you to think. It’s all a clever disguise.”

“Oh come on, Paul. Not this again.”

“I told you, this isn’t the office. I know it looks like it, but…the aliens are watching us, Simon. They’re listening. They want us to eat the cream cheese.”

“Paul, come on. We are not on board an alien space ship, okay? I thought we went through this. You’ve been working too hard, that’s all. Take a break, get some fresh air, go outside --”

“There is no outside. Not anymore.”

“What’re you talking about?”

“The doors, they’re all locked. I tried to get out, Simon. I -- I opened one of the emergency exits, but it was just a brick wall. There was nothing there. I haven’t seen a window in days.” He trembled.

“Oh come on, Paul, it’s not that bad. You’ve just been stuck in your cubicle too long, staring at your computer. We all have. The long hours will get to you, I know. Have a bagel, a cup of coffee, you’ll feel better.”

Again, Paul shook his head. “The aliens are watching, Simon. They’re the ones who put the bagels here in the break room. They’re studying us, watching. We’re in a cage.”

“We are at work, Paul.” He glanced at his watch. “And speaking of which, I have to get back. These cost proposals don’t write themselves.”

He turned to leave.

“In a couple of days, it’ll be all right, Paul,” he said. “You’ll see. And in the meantime, well, have a bagel. It is really good lox.”

by Fred 10:51 AM


 
Looking around for inspiration and hitting on the first thing I see...
cream cheese and lox

by Sharon 8:26 AM




{Thursday, November 14, 2002}

 
It's almost 6 o'clock by my watch. In the unlikely event that anyone still intends to write something today...
lights in the sky

by Fred 4:51 PM




{Wednesday, November 13, 2002}

 
Actually for yesterday's subject, The last wish ever


I was 29 when I discovered I was immortal. As you might expect it was quite by accident and would’ve been the end of me had I been a mortal man. It was a simple matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Wanting a pack of cigarettes I stopped into a 7-11 and as it happens this particular store was being robbed at the time. A scruffy young man wearing a baseball cap and a raincoat was standing at the counter. As I walked up he turned and fired two shots into my throat from but a few feet away. As I lay dying I thought of my wife and newborn son at home waiting for me. I thought of them getting the news of my murder and I thought of my son growing up without a father to teach and guide him. I wished with all of my soul, heart and mind that I would not die in such a way and such a time as to abandon them in this way. Had I been a religious man I would have prayed.

I lived. There was no possible medical explanation; no theories were even put forth. The paramedics were dumbfounded as I walked away from a certain death. My wish had been fulfilled, I returned to my family and never mentioned the incident. I watched my son grow into a tall, handsome man. He and his wife Claire gave us 4 beautiful grandchildren whom I also watched grow into lovely adults.

I was blessed with the gift of watching my family and their families grow and prosper and yet still I did not die. Eventually it was necessary to remove myself from their lives and watch from afar as there was of course no explanation for my unreasonable age.

Eventually I removed myself from the world of the living altogether as you see, while immortal, I did nonetheless continue to age. I realized I was undying when I was 29, some 166 years ago. The withered husk that remains of what was my body is barely recognizable as having once been human, I am but a mind, denied the rest of the dead and scraps of decaying bone and flesh. Now, I have but one final wish for the thing so long denied me, my death.





by Shawn 8:41 PM


 
As I walked home today, I noticed that one tree on my way was a brilliant red. Fall colors! That's quite an event in Austin, Texas. Some of them had even fallen to the sidewalk. I stepped past them -- around them -- carefully.

Why did I do that? Why didn't I just step on them? I wondered this and remembered back to when I was a child in Pennsylvania.

Fall in Pennsylvania is very different from South Texas. The leaves change colors more vibrantly, and many more of them fallto the ground. There was game I'd play with the leaves and the wind as I walked around the neighborhood. I'd pretend that the leaves were rattlesnakes. If I stepped on a leaf, the snake was pinned and couldn't bite me. If a leaf bumped into me, then I'd been bitten by a snake and had only a few hours to live. The game was too boring if the air was still and too challenging if the leaves were dashing about in great gusts. The game was best when the leaves moved slightly in a light, erratic wind; staying very still then flitting suddenly to the side or hopping into the air.

Note: I'd decided to write about this game before I ever saw the topic for today. What a happy coincidence.

by jal 5:47 PM


 
"The leaves were moving slightly. Do you see? There's new growth here along the stem."

Thomas sighed. "I see that, Edward," he said, "and I admit, it's remarkable. But I'm not sure it has any truly practical applications."

"What do you mean?" asked Edward. He looked up from the potted plant in his hands, placed it gently on the table in front of him. "This is the reanimation of dead tissue we're talking about. It could revolutionize --"

"The reanimation of dead plant tissue," said Thomas. "And you still haven't shown us more than a few centimeters of growth. I agree, on paper it's impressive, but --"

"Two weeks ago, these leaves were completely dead."

"And they're still almost completely dead, Thomas." He lifted the small pot. "In two weeks, how much have they grown, really? Enough to make a difference to farmers' crops? Enough to keep suburbia's lawns thick and green? Enough to have any real use or return on our investment? Or just enough to keep a few dead leaves from withering and dropping to the ground?"

"I -- I don't know. It's too soon..."

Again Thomas sighed. He returned the plant to the table. "No, Edward, I'm sorry," he said. "We appreciate your effort, really we do. And, like I said, what you've done here is impressive. If you want, we'll let you publish. But we've decided to pull the funding on the project."

"But you can't," said Edward. "It's too soon. It isn't ready, I need more time. I --"

"I'm sorry, Edward, but I just don't think we can do that."

"Well," said the plant, "then perhaps I can help you reconsider..."

by Fred 11:33 AM


 
The leaves were moving slightly.

by Martha 10:39 AM




{Tuesday, November 12, 2002}

 
so I was driving home from school, thinking about the usual drive-home things, when it hit me like a myopic elderperson in a Buick Gargantuan: I didn't post a topic this morning. but then i came home and found that fred had already posted one for me. here's mine, anyway.

the last wish ever

by rocketo 4:06 PM




{Monday, November 11, 2002}

 
I am a solecistic solipsist,
So my words are oft incongruous.
For all I knows, youse don’t exist --
(This is where there’d be a twist
If I had thought of one to list,
But this ain’t that, it’s just this;
I guess it’s gone a bit amiss,
So just dismiss this missing twist --
Here, I’ll close my parenthesis --)
Not doing so would be remiss,
And might just serve to make you pissed
Unless of course, you don’t exist,
Which, as a solipsistic solecist,
Is really none of my business.

by Fred 12:06 PM


 
solecism

by Faith 9:07 AM




{Sunday, November 10, 2002}

 
“User Acceptance Testing, wha’? What the hell is User Acceptance Testing?”
Alan turned the letter over, then back and then checked the name again on the letterhead. Department of Interpersonal Interactive Quality Assurance.

He shook his head and reread the letter,

Dear Mr. Gambino,
You have been randomly chosen as part of a worldwide auditing program to insure minimum standards of interpersonal interactions. Please report to the address listed below on December 22, 2002 for evaluation. We at the Department of Interpersonal Interactive Quality Assurance insure that basic human-to-human interactions meet certain levels of interest and quality to best benefit mankind of this particular continuum.
While we have every confidence that you will pass the inquest we are nonetheless required by law to survey a random sampling from your area. If however you be found lacking the necessary skills of quality interaction you will be required to undergo retraining and counseling.

Sincerely,

Miles Calibre
Director of Testing

“Inquest?” He really didn’t like the sound of that! What was this, some sort of a joke? The letterhead certainly looked official and government issue but who the hell were these people? “Wait a minute, mankind of this particular continuum?” Now obviously that HAD to be a joke. Didn’t it?

Then his mood went from one of mild annoyance to fear. What if this was on the level? What if someone, somewhere was actually going to evaluate him on his ability to interact with other people?! What if he failed the test, or tests, or whatever the hell they had in mind subjecting him to? What if they decided that he added little or nothing to the quality of mankind of this particular continuum?

Alan started rehearsing how best to greet someone. What should he wear? What if they wanted to hear amusing anecdotes? He didn’t know any anecdotes! He hadn’t traveled and he’d never been much of one for reading. He read Sports Illustrated; maybe he could discuss sports! Yeah, that’s it, he’ll discuss sports and, and, um, beer! Sports and beer, everyone likes sports and beer.

He slumped to the floor of his townhouse looking around nervously. What if they were watching him and the evaluation was based on PAST interactions.






by Shawn 6:40 PM




{Friday, November 08, 2002}

 
User Acceptance Testing
The horror, the horror.

by Sharon 2:00 PM




{Thursday, November 07, 2002}

 
Veronica stretched, looking at her watch and rubbing the dull ache in her lower back. How long had she been sitting at the kitchen table, going over these numbers? Her back supplied the answer of "far too long," but she pushed herself to keep going for another hour. She rubbed her eyes and focused again on the papers in front of her.

Luzerne County Community College ... even at the ridiculously cheap rate of $60,000 a semester, it was completely out of range to put Katherine through school. Veronica pored over her bank statements, looking for a way to make it happen, refusing to despair. Her deposit posts were too meagre, the payments too high. And in the seventeen years it would take for Katherine to reach college age, tuition would certainly go up.

A soft cry brought Veronica out of her reverie. She smiled to herself at Katherine's advance warning: the baby had a soft pre-cry that warned of impending screams and gave the tired mother a chance to soothe her infant before the crying began in earnest. Somehow, Veronica swore, she would find away. Perhaps the future would find no posts to her savings account, but her daughter would have the education that her mother could only dream for herself.

by Faith 8:04 PM


 




Dareth sat staring at the warm, yellow glow of the monitor. The temporal code drifting with liquid grace over his screen moving in layers both vertically and horizontally. Six levels deep each with slight color variations that that identified its place and function in place and time.

Dareth was an Associate Temporal Producer, a title that sounded far more impressive and interesting than the reality of the matter. He was in fact one of 487 such producers in his division alone. Rows and rows of cubicles creating a well-ordered ant farm of productivity filled the dimly lit cavernous headquarters of the company known only as The Company. As one would expect of such an organization it did by necessity exist outside of normal time and space although the elevator allowed employees to come and go through the lesser traveled parts of train stations in Montreal, Rome and Prague as well as a bus station in Madison, Wisconsin for some reason. If you weren’t an employee you never suspected there was such a place and would certainly never suspect that anyone had to define future time.

As he sat, slumped in front of his Temporal Definition workstation, an elegantly chaotic machine of brass, glass tubes, dials and levers Dareth’s index finger tapped gently on the submit button. Too gently to send off his latest file. He sat and stared at the monitor wondering just what would happen if he simply decided not to send his latest creation off into the ether of the future-yet-to-be. June 30th, 2003 between 3:42 am and 4:05 am (eastern time) in Pierpont Ohio would technically never be. Would anyone really miss these 23 insignificant minutes in this remote village in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere?

tap * tap * tap It was 9:36, Dareth’s shift had ended six minutes ago. * tap * tap * tap All it would take is a press of a button to insure that time and space proceeded in a nice, neat, orderly fashion in a small town in Ohio somewhen in the future. * tap * tap * tap But, just this once, what if it simply…didn’t? * tap * tap * tap. What would it mean to the hierarchy and continuity of the constructed future? * tap * tap * tap Would it cause some minor glitch in future posts? Naw, the only way it could would be if some significant event were to happen, or not happen as the case may be, at that exact time and place. Even so there were probably fail-safes in place to catch the oversight.

Dareth flipped off his machine and pulled on his coat.



by Shawn 6:49 PM


 
"Run the report again."

Jana chewed on a cuticle. She thought about objecting, but resigned herself and clicked "Go" again.

«No future posts found.»

Romina huffed. "Something's wrong with your filter criteria." She paced behind Jana's chair, stalking like a predator. "You're just filtering all the records out."

"I'm not," Jana ventured. "Look: I've stripped off region, end date, and magnitude." She quailed under Romina's scowl. "It should return every post after 11/21/18." She clicked "Go" listlessly.

«No future posts found.»

Romina switched to her rational-pedantic voice. "Those same filter criteria, except for start date, show all the posts we've established, back into antiquity. It shows next week's posts. It shows next year's posts. Why would the code suddenly break for transport-focus posts established after next November?" The heels of her leather boots marked a rhythm on the linoleum floor. Jana swivelled to follow her, back and forth.

Jana cleared her throat. "Maybe, um, maybe the project ends, maybe the funding gets cancelled next year."

Romina tisked. "The posts we've already established on future time nodes would continue to exist. They'd have to not only cancel the project but then invest the funds to travel to each of those eras and remove the posts. And, apparently, only the future ones." She switched directions. "Not very economical."

"So what if, ah, the future ends? Um, next November?"

Romina stopped pacing. "Fix your report code. Send me the url when it's running correctly." Her boots stomped noisily down the hall.

Jana wondered if perhaps there weren't some more meaningful ways to spend transitory days. She clicked "Go."

by Sharon 3:57 PM


 
I have always hated tomorrow. I suppose this somehow came about during my childhood, when things I had that were dear to me one day were hopelessly absent the next. In third grade, when I was the very first student to take home Jimmy, our class lizard, I was elated. I thought I had won the lottery. I had our summers planned out, Jimmy perched on the handlebars of my bike as we swooshed past the other kids at the park with glee. Jimmy showing me where all the cool bugs were. When the teacher told me I had to bring him back the next day, I was in shock. I contemplated stealing the poor lizard. What if Stinky Sarah took him home, I thought, and he died from her stink? When I was even younger than that, I had a stuffed animal. I chewed, like most teething toddlers, on its ears and legs and hands and basically any part of the animal I could fit into my mouth. I can still remember my mother's voice, in her warbly tone, "Stop chewing on that, or the garbage man will come tomorrow and take him away. One thing I can't fault my mom for is lying. I chewed and chewed, and Dino made it into the trash despite my frantic wails.

Of course, when I was older, dating didn't make me like tomorrow any more. It was always, "Sorry, I can't tonight. Ask me tomorrow." Eventually, I realized, that if tomorrow ever came for them, it might be the worst times of their lives, just like my young experiences of tomorrow were the worst times of mine. I spent most of high school and college engrossed in philosophy, science, and physics. I devoured journals and other scholarly papers (no matter how far-fetched) the chronicled the early days of slowing, then eventually stopping light. I worked in secret, mostly, collaborating when I needed to, and never trusted anyone that wanted to wait until tomorrow to finish. I worked long and hard into the bowels of today, so that tomorrow would just happen. What I feared the most was the split second between today and tomorrow, when the latter replaces the former, and a new enemy appears on the horizon.

After years of todays that were once tomorrows, I activated my machine. The world stopped abruptly, its cosmic skids could probably be heard for light years. With my gift, there would never be a tomorrow. There would always be today.

by rocketo 12:36 PM


 
No future posts found.

by Fred 7:31 AM




{Wednesday, November 06, 2002}

 
Everything in my office is now pink. I'm used to the people's skin being sort of pink. Beyond that, it's all new.
At first, I thought they'd gone and bought a lot of playdoh, and made everything out of it. Taken a mold of the whole office and made it out of some viscous, pink stuff. I figured it was a joke, so I kept waiting for somebody to say "surprise," or "gotcha" or something. Nobody did. When I tried to ask without asking, you know sort of "How 'bout this new paint, huh?" I got funny looks.
I tried to peel a little off the walls, but it feels the same as it always did. There's no fine coating of clay, or even the newpaintfeel you'd expect. It all just seems to be pink, and the same color of pink, too.
Waiting for somebody to say surprise, I sat at my desk, staring at the computer screen (now illegible and pink. The letters don't show up. There's not even a bluescreen), it was hard to work. I tried writing, but the pink pencil lines don't show up on the pink paper. Everything I'd written or printed or typed was just a blank, pink sheet of paper.
I'm still in color. My blue clothes, my skin pale by comparison, my metal grey watch. Everything on me is still the right color, but when I put down my briefcase it got lost in the pink haze under my desk. I assume that's supposed to be shadow, only it's pink. Everything, featureless and pink.
Pink. It's everywhere. Did I miss a memo, or is it just my imagination?

by MisterNihil 12:35 PM


 
Did I Miss Something?

by Remi 12:09 PM




{Tuesday, November 05, 2002}

 
I can't breathe. I have a throat, tubes connecting the holes in my face to the airbags in my chest. I have air all around me, and I have the remnants of the aging air in my chest. I can live off of the air I have 'squirrelled away' there for an eternity, almost two minutes if I have to, but I've been cut off. I don't remember how or why. When I open my eyes, everything is a blur, spinning and out of focus.
One of the tubes between my air bag and the vast reservoir outside has been pinched off. I think it hurts. I'm feeling very detatched. I think I'm asleep.
Air bag. They have another name. Lug? Lunge? Lung? Yeah. That's right.
I try opening my eyes again, just a flash, but it's still the same. When I do that, I feel like I'll regurgitate all my precious food in my stomach, but the pinch in the tube stops that as well. I'm lucky in that, I think. I don't know. I'm very confused. The blur was blue, with a black shape in the center. I made it out this time before I had to close my eyes again.
My ears are ringing loudly. The left one hurts and the right one's just stuffy, or closed or something. It sounds like listening through a cotton pillow.
I have a feelling that I'm scared. I take a spare moment and use some of my remaining air, my nest egg, to bring my left arm up to my throat, and I feel the obstruction. It is warm and fleshy.
I try to open my eyes again. The swirling chaos of light resolves suddenly into a bright, exalted moment of prefection. I see my attacker, a stranger, teeth gritted in determination, holding closed my throat and killing me slowly.
The clarity passes, and I am cast once again into the void of my brain, solitude both warm and cold. I am dying alone.

by MisterNihil 3:21 PM


 
"Swirling chaos, resolving into a bright, exalted moment of perfection." When did I start describing my job that way? I figure, why not? Many things can be described this way.

Life is swirling chaos, resolving into perfection. Plants and animals, Earth, other planets, stars, solar systems, and galaxies: All of these can be described as chaos distilled into perfection. Life in a biological sense and life in a, "What are you doing with your life?" sense -- Both of these fit into this frame. What do we do with our live other than strive against disorder to created ordered things, occasionally accomplishing our goals -- baking a loaf of bread, making a game, starting a business, or getting married to a wonderful person.

Viewed in this light, tech support epitomizes of taking disorder and creating perfection from it. People call in with disordered systems. I have to set the person in order, and then set the computer in order. If all goes well, we start with chaos and end with a properly-functioning computer -- From chaos to perfection.

by jal 2:58 PM


 
“Swirling chaos, resolving into a bright, exalted moment of perfection.”

“With or without sprinkles?”

“With, please. Rainbow-colored.”

“Comin’ right up.”

Robin stares into the void, the chocolatey swirl of soft-serve confusion and disorder the man behind the counter empties into her paper cup.

She’s heard good things about the chaos here -- "Get the sprinkles,” her mother said. “It’s ten cents extra, but I think you’ll like it.”

There are other shops in the food court like this, ones that carry anarchy, bedlam -- even the occasional strawberry-dipped pandemonium -- but chocolate-flavored out-and-out chaos is rare. It is, apparently, their pièce de résistance. There has been talk of selling it in nationwide stores.

“Where do you get your chaos?” Robin asks the man as he rainbow-splashes the contents of the cup.

“Trade secret,” he says. He places the paper cup atop the counter, wipes his hands on his apron.

“But it’s the bright exalted moments of perfection that people really seem to like,” he says, and he places a small maraschino cherry atop the chocolate chaos in the cup. “$4.50,” he says.

“Keep the change,” Robin tells him, handing over a five, and she wanders off towards a bench to enjoy her dessert.

by Fred 1:17 PM


 
swirling chaos, resolving into a bright, exalted moment of perfection

by Sharon 11:36 AM




{Monday, November 04, 2002}

 
Now my life collects dust.
I used to have nice things, but
after years and years of careful neglect, they
have fallen into disrepair or just simply fallen prey
to the dust that seeps into everything in this life. Every
thing is covered with a layer of fine dust, fluff from old shirts,
dryer lint, bits of hair, pieces of old, dead skin, fallen from my body
as I inhabit my world. There's no ignoring all the dust. It just
piles up all over everything. Sometimes, just for a laugh,
I try to blow it off of something, try to clean up
the life I've let gather dust, but
it's no use.
My life collects dust.

by MisterNihil 10:24 AM




{Saturday, November 02, 2002}

 
dust

by rocketo 1:19 PM




{Friday, November 01, 2002}

 
Um, wasn't watching the clock on this but I'm sure I was over the time. Oh well,


It didn’t begin well and promised to end much worse still. It seemed like such a straightforward idea: steal from the rich and give to the poor. It didn’t seem like a great many things could go wrong with this; it wasn’t a complex plan. Of course there was always the possibility of being caught and hanged by the Sheriff and all of the related unpleasantness but once the money was in hand it should’ve been pretty much a no-brainer. And yet…

The first problem arose when he waylaid a young fop on his way through Nottingham. The young royal was so distraught at having been robbed that he ran after Robin, crying and screaming at the top of his lungs. He bloody well went on for hours and could be heard throughout the entire forest. It was embarrassing and NOT the way Robin pictured the whole thing taking place. Robin felt horrible but figured he’s console himself by giving the treasure to a local village. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and yet…

A small village of fifty some odd people whose entire economy had been based on barter and dairy products and who had not a gold coin between them now suddenly had hundreds of them. Needless to say this influx of wealth completely destroyed their economy. Now wealthy, to say nothing of greedy beyond all good reason everyone turned their efforts away from farming and instead towards trying to acquire their neighbor’s gold. The village saw its first two murders in its history. You’d think Robin would’ve learned, and yet…

Unaware of the havoc he’d created Robin robbed yet another noble. This one didn’t run screaming after him but did quite by accident create another problem. The noble, while, well, noble was nonetheless not particularly well off or highly placed. The problem was that what defined “rich” in terms of “robbing from the rich” got a bit nebulous and, as a precedent had been set, people decided to take matters into their own hands and start robbing from a sliding scale or “rich”. Basically “rich” came to mean anyone who was better off than the person robbing them. Soon most of the peasants that had benefited from Robins efforts had been relieved of their coins and in some cases their lives. Eventually anyone with more than three chickens to their names was fair game. One might think it ends here, and yet…

Robin got it into his head to knock over a payroll shipment for the soldiers. Of course while some of the local peasants benefited the families of nearly 80 soldiers went without. The ripple effect on the local economy ruined several farmers and deflated the economy of two otherwise healthy villages.

So after a few months of Robin’s unconventional program for redistributing wealth the entire county and mush of the surrounding counties were I economic ruin and plagued with crime. It had seemed like such a good idea, and yet…

by Shawn 11:59 PM


 
an inauspicious beginning

by Sharon 1:37 PM



 

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