Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

Mermaids

Katy was sleeping better. The dark patches beneath her eyes were disappearing. She even smiled now, occasionally. “I don’t mind the bad dreams about mermaids anymore,” she said.
“That’s good, why?”
“Daddy told me nightmares were the world’s only real treasure.”
“He said that?”
“Lots of times,” Katy said.
“He shouldn’t have. Those thoughts are unhealthy. They’re why he has had to spend so much time in hospital.” Continue Reading

November 13, 2019admin 1 Comment »
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Patience

§00 — Stuart Thorndike had never been a ‘morning person’. This basic trait, however, was only poor preparation for what now befell him. He woke from what hazily seemed to have been torments without limit. Memory would have been unbearable. He clawed his way out of the clammy sheets.
“My throat,” he gasped.
Cecily, his wife, looked haggard and ill-tempered. The sympathy that had still dominated the day before was wearing thin. Evidently she had been over-stretched.
“You were screaming,” she said. “It’s the same as before – perhaps worse. You were screaming as if possessed, for most of the night. It was horrible, again.”
“Bad dreams,” he ventured, unimaginatively.
“At least,” she snapped. “You should see someone. I’m serious. This can’t go on.”

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November 11, 2019admin No Comments »
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Bloody Mary

§00 — It required only a mirror. Initially, at least, it seemed like that, although it turned out there was more.
She had been known as ‘Hell Mary’ at times. There were many other names.

§01 — The ritual varied, but was never complicated. Its simplicity was essential. In that lay the danger, supposedly. The invocation could be realized almost by accident. It might begin as nothing more than a joke, or a dare. A disastrous non-seriousness is the core of the urban legend. The proximal agents, scarcely older than children, typically, are playing about with something they don’t understand. The Hell Prank is archetypal. Deadly foolishness, or worse, is not difficult to imagine, if only in broad outline. Teenage kids do it best. They’re trying to prove something, and then do, by mistake. Movie viewers like to watch them damn themselves. With younger children it’s more horrible.

§02 — Start at the exoteric level, at least in appearance. The point isn’t to make something happen, but rather the opposite. You are supposed to avoid the ritual, out of fear. It’s what might have happened, had you not been so chicken, that stokes the thrill. The dark potential preserves itself this way. It intimidates against disproof. This is where the legend and the real story part ways. They remain, nevertheless, confusingly entangled. Ironic twists thicken the obscurity. The legend itself has a real story. Actuality belongs only to the legend.

§03 — Divergence goes further than this. The legend is a central part of the real story. It’s the legend, alone, that protects Bloody Mary from examination. The ritual is structured as a challenge. An examination that is declined leaves its object, in principle, examinable. This is the ontological payload. Do you want to see what’s in this box? It could be something too horrific to bear.

§04 — Although the story is archetypal, there’s always a first time. Vanessa Sheridan had never heard it before. She’d never heard anything at all like it before. It thrilled and appalled her in equal measure. The idea split time in two. To go back was impossible. Innocence was Bloody Mary still unthought. Experience opened a new universe.

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October 31, 2019admin 15 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Fiction , Horror

Quote note (#321)

Heinlein’s dark arts:

Gulf is available free (and legally) online now, so if you’re not familiar with it, here you go. You don’t have to read it to get the rest of this post, but I suggest you do. There are enough new, intriguing ideas in this brief novella to keep you thinking about it for a long time: an artificial, highly compressed, efficient and logical language (“Speed-talk”); a secret society of “Supermen” working behind the scenes to discover and regulate major scientific and technological discoveries; bar codes (in 1949!); but what I note here is focus, mental attitude, and what are now called “Dark Triad” traits and their usefulness in getting things done, rather than emoting and “virtue signaling.”

January 8, 2017admin 8 Comments »
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Quote note (#296)

From Cixin Liu’s latest (and perhaps greatest), p.129:

When the deterrent is the complete destruction of the deterrer and the deteree, the system is said to be in a state of ultimate deterrence. […] Compared to other types of deterrence, ultimate deterrence is distinguished by the fact that, should deterrence fail, carrying out the threat would be of no benefit to the deterrer. [..] Thus, the key to the success of ultimate deterrence is the belief by the deteree that the threat will almost certainly be carried out if the deteree thwart’s the deterrer’s goals …

Hence the drive to mechanization of commitments. Trust evo-psych and cultural tradition passes the torch to game-competent machines.

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October 23, 2016admin 15 Comments »
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Sentences (#65)

Peter Watts in pursuit of abstract horror (Echopraxia, p.297):

The less he found, the more he feared.

Plus vampire acausal trade bonus: “… they’d acted in perfect sync, knowing that others they’d never met would have worked out the same scenario” (p. 289). — A classic Age of the Basilisk threat structure.

And one more (p.292):

“A stealth supernet fine-tuned for the manipulation of pawns with a specific skill-set suited to military applications. And it just emerged?”
Moore smiled faintly. “Of course. No complex finely tuned system could ever just evolve. Something must have created it.”

July 17, 2016admin 13 Comments »
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Quote note (#268)

From Peter Watts’ Echopraxia (p.213):

“Word of advise,” the Colonel said from the other side. “Don’t tease the zombies.”
“I wasn’t teasing him, I was just chat–”
“Don’t chat with them either.”

July 16, 2016admin 19 Comments »
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Deadlines (Part-2)

Screaming is rare. Outside the movies, war zones, or psychiatric institutions, it’s unusual to hear anything more than an exaggerated squeak. This wasn’t that.

Alison Luria was screaming. She stood in the middle of the cluttered office, rigidly upright, arms by her sides, head angled slightly back. Her mouth was locked open, eyes tightly shut. The sound she was emitting, in a continuous, only slightly uneven stream, overwhelmed apprehension. It was less a specifiable noise than an abstract inaudibility, the unheard manifested as a monstrous positive entity, insensibility made palpable.

It had begun at almost exactly the moment of entering the room. I had not quite finished closing the door behind me, still uncertain whom first to address, when – as if out of nowhere, without the slightest warning – a shard of sonic shrapnel sliced into my head, making any further thought impractical.

It was my second visit to the company, and the small team was already vaguely familiar.

Fred something, the tech guy, was (incredibly) ignoring the phenomenon, and seemed still to be working. Alison’s editorial assistant, Xu Ling, had retreated beneath her desk, where she now lay perfectly immobile, coiled into a tight fetal knot. Millie Zhang, the sales director, had missed it. Her tidy, south-facing work-space was unoccupied. It had been set up as an oasis of light and order, semi-withdrawn from the gloomy debris-field of the larger open-plan attic area. She was probably out on a sales call.

I had never fallen prey to mystical inclinations, and problems of an esoteric nature seldom detained me. If, on rare occasions, hints of hidden profundities over-spilled the dikes of dismissal, they elicited vague repulsion, rather than enthusiasm. I would, at that time, have reacted with instinctive aversion to any claim that the suspension of reason opens secret gates. (No one had ever bothered me with such suggestions.) Yet as the threads of intelligence were severed by the scream, it was as if access were being granted to the inner substance of the world, violently unwrapped from the distractions of visual identification. Something was poking through the wall of sonic oblivion – a clicking or crackling. This isn’t a message, said the click-code, it’s just the sound of your auditory nerves dying.

Would it ever stop? Had it, in reality, ever begun? Its duration had become a matter of no significance, because this breakage of the world was no longer Alison Luria screaming, but the scream as it existed in eternity, freed from the bonds of fact. It was the primordial scream, vast beyond cosmology, anonymous and inexpressive, the pure howl of being now perceived as it always had been …

… and then, as suddenly as it had begun, it ceased.

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April 10, 2015admin 19 Comments »
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Deadlines (Part-1)

If you believe in yourself, you’ll believe in anything. – Nicola Masciandaro

Based – very roughly – on a true story.

[Subsequent content carries a vulgarity and decadence warning, for sensitive readers.]

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November 28, 2014admin 25 Comments »
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Halloween XS 2

A (short) exercise in bombastic Halloween fiction

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October 31, 2014admin 12 Comments »
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