Archive for November 10th, 2022


NaNoWriMo 2022, Fling Seventeen

Alissa dreamed, there in the enclosed place of Sonoraneldan, where the bold Glomorominith had brought her, through the dangers and humming buzzing stingers of the night. She slept, as people like her had to do when they became very tired, and the ragged edges of her mind knitted up, and the thin-rubbed places filled out again.

Out on the ledge outside the entrance to the enclosed place, Glomorominith slept also, as the encounter with the bad things, while enormous fun and a chance to show off for the good friend Sonoraneldan, had also been exhausting in various ways. Sleeping was good.

Sonoraneldan did not sleep, not being tired, but went further into the complex of enclosed places, and mixed and smelled and tasted various things, and put other things in careful piles.

In Alissa’s dream, she rested again at the top of that rise, and mammals came to the woods before her, down below in a green and humid dell. The ghosts of mammals, mammals like those in the stories and of a thousand other kinds, blowing around in the wind, streaming from here to there in wisps and shards.

She heard moaning in the dream, but also it was silent.

In the old stories the mammals are always the threats, the predators, the invaders, to be escaped or outwitted, to be fooled or tricked into falling from high cliffs into the torrent below.

No one knew, any more, what mammals had really looked like. Or even, in a way, if they had really existed. Everything in the stories might as well have existed, that was the point, there would be no purpose in stories if they weren’t true. But the mammals in the stories were never very well described, and when they were the accounts were not consistent.

There must have been a great number of different types of mammal.

In her dream, the mammals were strange deficient beings, with only a few arms and legs, most with just two of each, and they walked on their two legs awkwardly and on arms and legs slowly, because their legs could not bend like the legs of mud-walkers, and their arms were singly-jointed.

In Alissa’s dream, the mammals had no antennae or mandibles, and no visible eyes. They drifted through the air, on the breeze, as though they were searching for something, and Alissa, on the top of the rise in the dream, did not feel that they were searching for her.

Alissa went down, in the dream, into the humid dell, into the soggy lowland, among the ghosts of the eyeless mammals.

“What are you looking for?” she asked them.

But the mammals did not reply.

“Can you see me?” she asked them.

And the nearest mammals turned toward her, and she saw that they did have eyes, but only a few, two or three or four, and they were sunken into the fronts of their heads like stoned in pits, and she felt afraid.

“Who are you?” asked the voices of the mammal ghosts, voices that seemed to come from the other side of the world, “Who are you and where are you? Where, where, where?”

Then, in the dream, the ghosts of the mammals were long strips of fiber, vines or supple bark, and she had to pull them, with her arms and her front feet, in through the opening of the enclosure in the trunk of the tree, before they were pulled away and out into the darkness by a freshening breeze.

She pulled and pulled to keep up, but they continued slipping away, out into the darkness, where she knew there were humming buzzing stinging things.

And then she was pulled away by the breeze herself, and she was a long ribbon of something flowing in the wind, and the ghosts streamed along with her, and she was cold.

Fling Eighteen


NaNoWriMo 2022, Fling Sixteen

“So, shit, am I dead?”

Steve Diaz, Kristen Lewis, and Colin Colson sat together in what felt to Steve like a version of Kristen’s virtuality Hints of Home, only without the “hints” parts; it just felt like Home.

They seemed to be sitting on soft but somehow also solid rolls of cloud that stretched off forever in all directions, broken by handsome mountain peaks that poked through here and there. The sky was a lovely pink / orange / blue, and a gigantic and friendly-looking sun saw on the horizon.

“No,” Colin chuckled, “not dead yet.”

“You got banged up pretty bad, though,” Kristen continued softly, “and we thought you might like a therapeutic virtuality to hang out in for awhile while you heal.”

“I thought I might be in heaven,” Steve said, “because there’s no one else in the universe I’d rather be with than you two.”

All three of them looked startled for a moment.

“Fuck, what the hell?” Steve said, “I did not say that out loud.”

Kris reached over as if to touch his hand, but stopped just short.

“Yeah,” said Colin, “there might be some funny effects like that.”

“Effects like what?” Colin said quite loudly, “What does that mean? Is my brain mush? Am I an AI or something?”

“No, no,” said Kris, looking at him fondly and with concern, “not that, but they’re worried about concussion, and you have a head injury, so the connection to the virtuality is just a little bodged.”

“Bodged,” he repeated.

Kris nodded. “Hacked,” she suggested, “kludged. Perhaps a bit jury-rigged.”

“Because my brain is mush.”

“Because you’re injured, and they are being careful.”

Steve looked doubtful. “Maybe that’s what you’d say if my brain were mush, to make me feel better.”

His eyes narrowed, “How do I know that you’re even you?”

Colin and Kristen exchanged a glace (a suspicious one, Steve thought, and then thought that was a stupid thing to think), and then she leaned over and whispered something in Steve’s ear. Then Colin whispered something in his other ear.

They all snickered at each other familiarly for a moment, then Steve looked doubtful again.

“So you know things that only you and me know,” he said to them both, “but you could be figments of my imagination, or they could have extracted them from my brain while I was sedated, and coded them into you.”

“What would that make us?” Colin asked. Kristen rolled her eyes.

“You could be bots, obviously,” Steve replied.

“For what nefarious purpose?” Colin replied, looking to be settling in for a long philosophical discussion.

“Guys,” Kristen interposed, “guys, guys, guys, do we really want to do a big semantic analysis of Steve’s paranoid–“

“Paranoid, eh?” Steve said, simultaneously objecting and chuckling at himself.

“Perfectly understandable post-trauma paranoid ideations,” she said, nodding.

“So tell me about my trauma,” Steve said, letting the subject change, “how bad am I?”

The other two exchanged another glance.

“It’s actually — pretty bad,” Kristen said, “although obviously you’re going to live and all.”

“Will I have to live in this virtuality forever? Not that isn’t a very nice one.”

“Not that, either,” Colin said, “okay, look, you broke one leg pretty badly, one elbow just a little, and cracked a few ribs.”

Steve winced. “I know that’s not all.”

“You also banged your head, Steve,” Kristen said, with a softness that didn’t encourage him.

“You said that. I have a concussion and all.”

“There was also this… piece of metal under the sand, they think.”

“A… piece of metal?” Steve winced again. “And now it’s, let me guess, sticking out of my skull or something.”

“More or less,” Colin said, nodding.

“Shit, that sounds bad.”

“You seem pretty okay,” Kristen said.

“Wait,” Steve looked at her, “is this, like, a cognitive function test or something?”

“We couldn’t tell you right up front, because it would have interfered with–“

“Fuck,” Steve said ,”fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.”

“It’s really okay, babe,” Kristen said.

Steve sighed, “Fuck, fuck, fuck, I didn’t mean to say those out loud either; doesn’t that seem like a fucking problem? Gah, sorry…”

“That’s probably just the virtuality connection; it’s having a hard time telling your intentional speech from stuff you subvocalize, because –“

“Because there’s this piece of metal in my head in the way, right?”

Kristen put out her hand again, and stroked his shoulder, looking at him with concern.

“I felt that,” Steve smiled, a little mollified. Touch between users in a virtuality was always rather hit-and-miss (a great disappointment to the porn and sex-toy industries, but top scientists were working on it day and night).

“So Steve,” Colin said, lying back into a bubble of lovely soft cloud that rose upward to cradle him as he did, “that is the status: you have serious but routine arm, leg, and rib fractures, some head trauma and a possible concussion, and then this bit of metal that–“

“That snuck in somehow through my helmet to get me?”

“… that through an unfortunate chance penetrated your helmet at rather high speed, and is now lodged approximately two inches into your–“

“Ouch, Colin,” groaned Kristen, “you don’t have to get that exact and detailed.”

Steve nodded, his head hurting just from the words.

“Right, so, the piece of metal has interacted with a small but nontrivial amount of –“

“… of my brain, right; got it, no details please.”

“Right. And so now as we interact in here, the medical team is taking various records and readings –“

“Are they listening to us now?”

“No, I mean, not really; in principle they could reconstruct our words from the –“

“No, Col, not in principle! They aren’t listening to us, Steve babe.”


“They are recording medically-relevant readings from the connection and the virtuality, so that when they remove the intrusion –“

“Oh, good they’re going to take it out.”

“Can’t just leave it there.”

“So that when they remove the –“

“They can see if they break my brain any more as they slip out the steel bar?”

“It’s not a steel bar, it –“

“Oh, shut up, and they aren’t going to break your brain.”

Steve closed his eyes. The place was beautiful, and the air felt soft and sweet. His friends talked too much. He hoped he really wasn’t going to die. He hoped he wasn’t going to have brain damage.

“Will I be able to use the rig again?”

“The fractures are expected to heal just fine.”

“But my brain?”

“Prognosis is good also, but it’s important to be –“

“… careful, right.”

The giant warm sun, a gorgeous gentle yellow, easy to look at, had been rolling clockwise around the horizon as they talked. He liked that. He sat there breathing, his head down, thinking “fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck”, but pleased that he wasn’t saying it out loud.

He felt Kristen’s hands, somewhat ghostly but definitely comforting, on his back. That felt good. She was so good to him. He wondered if she would love him if his brain was broken. Would he be able to tell, if it was broken?

Two, four, eight, sixteen, thirty-two, he thought, sixty-four, one hundred twenty-eight, two hundred fifty-six…

He got to one million forty-eight thousand five hundred seventy-six and decided there was no obvious problem there.

“So what’s the plan?” he asked, or tried to ask, but he didn’t say anything.

“Shit,” he said, or tried to say, then took a deep breath.

“So what’s the plan?” he asked, and this time it came out.

“The plan of treatment?”

“The plan of no more metal in my head.”

“Once they have the initial measurements taken, including us here, either you’ll be woken up–“

“Woken up?”

“You’re pretty heavily sedated right now.”

“Oh, right, okay.”

“EIther you’ll be woken up, or someone will come back in here–“

“We will, Steve; Colin and I will come back in here.”

“Right, okay, either you’ll be woken up, or we’ll come back in here maybe with a doctor, and the full plan and some forms, and you’ll sign them–“

Steve snickered.

“– and then they’ll take it out, and you’ll be fine. The month to wait for your bones to set will be more annoying.”

“Always the optimist,” he said, but managed to smile at Colin as it said it, and not to yell anything inappropriate.

The three of them sat there for awhile, as the breezes moved softly around them, and the huge sun rolled slowly around the horizon, until the medical team had enough data, and enriched the drip into Steve’s IV, and he slipped gently off to sleep.

Fling Seventeen