Tuesday, August 11, 2015

In Transit Monsters 11 (A Story of the Hecate Project)

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Moira/Morgan Hobb (H minus One Month 26 Days)

#InTransit Morgan Hobb

Stupid machine never could keep my name straight.  Then again, I shouldn't let a bare bones computer interface bug me.  It wasn't been offensive on purpose, it just always seemed unable to know which I had become for the day.

"And I've been Moira more often than Morgan the last three years anyway."  I told myself.  "You're just frustrated that the stupid machine keeps misunderstanding and using the old ID."

@Ozzi_SBC: @M_Hobb, you on location then?

I rolled my eyes.  @M_Hobb: You just saw me leave.  Five seconds ago.

@Ozzi_SBC: Sorry.  I know, its the anniversary.  You sure you are good to work?

I should've listened to Ozzi and just left.  But she'd voiced the thoughts going through my head.  The last eight years I've taken this day off.  I had to try to break the cycle.  To make it go away.

It'd been ten years since Ghale and I had made that decision.  You'd think I would've learned to
let it go by now.  Even though we still were married, we'd spent the better of the last five years apart.  We can't stand looking at one another.  We remember killing our baby each time.

Some people think that's an easy choice.  That one doesn't blink at an abortion.  We did.  We
dragged out feet getting to a decision.  We couldn't allow someone to live only to die.  Or worse.

There was always so much more worse.

The word abortion is cold and clinical.  Makes it easier to hate that word because it sounds uncaring.  Wrong.  Like some sort of mechanical process, like osmosis or even the word conception.

Call it what it really is.  The removal of potential life.  We didn't like doing it.

No one likes to lie to themselves either.  But most of us left here do that.

@M_Hobb: @Ozzi_SBC I'll be fine.  

Stoic regrets don't really matter now.  Kid never got a chance to even be born.  Time to live my lie for myself.

@Ozzi_SBC: Everyone has regrets and hang ups.  You two made the right choice.

Our kid would've been ten.  Crap.  I resisted the tears trying to climb out of my eyes.  I needed to work.  I needed something else to think about.

@M_Hobb: Old News.  Drones on site?

@Ozzi_SBC: You sure you don't want to talk?

I gritted my teeth.  @M_Hobb: :|

@Ozzi_SBC: sigh.  fine.  Drones online.  Seattle feed will be streaming you once you 
give the go.

@M_Hobb: Good.

Work.  Good.  Time to slip into the net-perfect image of a reporter.  Time to find some of way to
exorcise the image of a little kid that was in my head.  The echoing dream of a child.  A child who
we never wanted to see the world.

You don't give your kids a delayed death sentence.  Not when your species is on the way to its
extinction.  It had been a harsh choice.  But on days like today, you still felt it tugging on your heart.

@M_Hobb: #ActivateDrones.  

My BrainSys flashed my QR code over the net to the Drones.  It took a minute.  Then my BrainSys
connected directly to the Drones' feed, a little window appeared in my vision of myself standing
outside the Space Needle at Seattle's self-named Seattle Center.

Drones On.  #Stream?

I gave my internal neural cyber-interface the ok.  I didn't know how people survived before these
things.  People used to have to access a device, like a tiny phone or wristwatch.  Yikes.  Signals
and power issues.  I'd go crazy if my little box lost its power when I was in the middle of doing

Tech is amazing.  The BrainSys alone is a miracle.  The kind that I can't help but love.

Focusing on the tech kept the imagined image of my kid-that-never-would-be at bay.  Yay workaholic attitude.  Fight back that healthy confrontation of emotions.

#Streaming M_Hobb.

I gave my best Net-quality smile.  No one on the net knows the difference from a real or fake one.

We could use some virtual avatar instead, but alas, that would require a high-level artificial
intelligence.  Not allowed to have one of those, at least we weren't.

I knew there were UN classified projects toying with such AIs.  I had always avoided that sort of
work.  Not out of fear.  Ghale worked on a program that dealt with that.  Conflict of interest if I
got involved.

"Moira Hobb here."  I smiled, my black, curly hair matching the nice black blouse I wore.  Stylish
and perfect for the Net.  Made me look casual twenty-something, not the tired thirty-or-such I
really was.

"I'm at Seattle, where I'm going to talk with people on the street about-"

There was a shout from the Seattle Center.  A crowd had started to propagate, growing larger and
larger as I moved toward.  Hovering camera drones watched me and the crowd intently.  They were the size of bats, each darting quickly like hummingbirds with roters and cameras strapped to them.

"About the protests."  I finished my sentence with a wince.  Angry faces glared at me.

I moved toward mob of white signs and holos.  Some read "We Should We Die?" and "We Killed The Earth!  Why Not Us Next?"  Little children clung to their parents.  Tense emotions clung to the
air.  Someone cried off in the distance.

I walked up to the first protester.  I used my best Net smile.  A bit of a pose to try to get on
their best side.  He stood at equal height with me, which meant we both hit the six feet.  The
lanky man's eyes were bloodshot.  His shirt was brown stained camouflage, and he didn't carry a sign.

Instead, a holo of a human hugging one of the alien in caricature played out in the air above him.

He looked at me.  It took him a moment to register, that yes, I indeed was a woman the same height
as him.

"Sir, Moira Hobb with SBC-"

"We join them or we die!"  He almost sprayed me with spittle.  "Big corporate greed is too fixed on
killing this planet to embrace our only chance of redemption!  Their enemy is our salvation!"

"Right."  I didn't let frustration enter my voice.  I tried to let his rudeness slide off me.

"Sir, are you okay with surrendering to that slime?"

He fixed his gaze on me.  "Humanity shouldn't die for greed."

"Even if no one knows what happens to those who are affected by the enemy's, er, slime?"  I hated
that no one had a better term for that.  Something that really explained what it meant to embrace
that slime, to join with the Enemy.

"Death.  We get death chosen for us."  He intoned.  "We don't want to die because they chose death
for us!"

"What about your individuality?  What if joining the Enemy kills what makes you, you, in the process?"

"Between the corporate brands, the transit created infections, the ecological disasters, what
individuality?"  He shook his head.  "No one here!  No one here!"

The crowd joined him in that chant.  "No one here.  No one here.  No one here."

I paused, letting the drones capture that.  That got their message down.  I didn't agree with the
idea of surrendering.  But these people deserved a bit of attention.  Maybe that would keep things
from escalating like they'd had in Tokyo and Bombay.

Then, through one of the drone's vid feed I saw a muzzle flash.  Police were forming a line on one
side of the crowd, out of my direct view.  The muzzle flash had come from the crowd.  Then more
came.  And more.

Little children had been lined up between the police and the crowd.  Angry men and women pointed
handguns and fired at them.  None of them had to be any older than three or four years old.  Then
each parent pointed their firearm at themselves.  They fired, slumping into a pile mirroring their dead kids.

The police had tried to stop it.  But the shock of it, the shock of seeing someone kill unarmed
children.  I stumbled backward.  Police rushed the crowd.

"What-"  I tried to keep it down, but I couldn't.  My stomach knotted up.

@M_Hobb: @Ozzi_SBC Get me out of here.  ASAP.

I cut the stream feeds off.  I tried to get clear of the riot in progress.  My body lurched.
Vomit expelled from me as I crawled away from it.

Guns.  Twenty years after banning them in the continental US, and they still kept reappearing.

Someone had a stash of illegal guns and these folks used them to murder a bunch of kids.  As a

Some kept screaming as tear gas flooded the Seattle Center.  "No One Here!"

I crawled.  Tears and vomit covered the front of me.  At some point I must have crawled all over
broken glass, my left arm and leg gushed out blood.

#InTransit @M_Hobb

Aftermath 11
I love having given BrainSys and internal cybernetic prompts their own font.  Makes things like the phrase "#InTransit" feel meaningful to me.

I'm writing this from Spokane, on my birthday.  This project still thrums heartily.  And I think it's my best writing yet.  New characters like M here sort of are unexpected, but felt needed.  My plot didn't include her/him.  The last chapter with Ghale kinda made it feel needed.  Here is the other end of Charlie's parentage I suppose.  And this is what's going on in the world too.

Technology as Messiah is the goal, but I can't lie.  There are always going to be problems like this as long as older systems are allowed to decay and not be replaced.  The world of this book isn't a dystopia- its going through its own way dealing with the seeming eradication of humanity.  A world on edge, a world that feels trapped and doomed.
Thanks for reading #InTransitMonsters!  If you enjoy this #SciFi #Firstdraft of mine, please share it or even comment on it.  Feedback does two things: it keeps me writing, knowing people read, and second, it catches my mistakes.  And I know I'll make them.  Hence doing things this way, and not trying to polish up a manuscript first.
See ya around the bend.