Saturday, February 28, 2015


Finished up with ARTIFICIAL WIFE--finished story forthcoming-ish--and tinkering with a newie:
SWORDWORDS, wherein a kid learns that what he writes comes true, so long as it means hurting people, and so long as he uses his dead mother's pens...


Wednesday, February 25, 2015


To Harass and to Lurk.

The disinfo troll lived under a bridge. He had two cans of beans, a jacket with a hood, a cardboard box with old electronics parts and a cell phone. Before hard times fell, he'd seen it all and done it all, every kind of nowhere job a person could ever hate. Then a man he met told him how he could make good money working as a disinfo troll.

"What's a disinfo troll?" he had asked.

The man, who wore a trim black suit and had small hands, opened a slim tablet produced from a suit pocket and, tapping little keys with swift efficiency, displayed an online headline: THE SKY IS BLUE. Beneath a one-paragraph article, commentary appeared.

billyfloyd1000- bet the dems wish it was

roxyFL- so like you even kno? get an educattion cowerd

Mike Dunch- good one roxyFL

45kkf455- title of the articul say it all

roxyFL- cowars d like you dont even have

jimmyjobo- Shows what the lib/dem media kows ---its opticall!!!
2crazee- go back to school to spell writewhat you afraid??go get your brith cetifficate

Mike Dunch- obama needs his birth certif ecept hes to mcuh a corweerd

7i7i- where the article

billyfloyd1000- go back home to the dems!!! how can i bet you have never evenhad thew braveCOORAGEto I will never pay one doller for any of the movieswhich are 4 ccrap

Peter J. HiggsJR- Sad commentary.

jimmyjobo- your the sad comenntary!!!!

Dr gh- EFFF YOU 7i7i Get the facts before you go i bet you didnt even serve your county you spinless

Mike Dunch- goodd one!!!!!!

Lidol May2- No, ME!

lisazop- oh so like your are so smart?

"Think all this is real?" the man in the suit with the small hands had said. "Think again. The only real comments are from Peter J. Higgs and 7i7i. Guess where the rest come from: Me. I totally made up all of the rest using separate computers with separate accounts. Fictional people, all of them me. I can shut down any online conversation I want. I do it all the time, and I make a damn good living, too."

Disseminating disinformation wasn't the only thing he had to do. A big part of the troll's job was getting people's goats. Intelligent communication was the enemy. The idea was to always keep people hateful, fearful, off-balance, distracted. These things all appealed to the disinfo troll immensely, tapping away under the bridge. But the job even came with a helmet, so that he looked and felt like one of the firemen from the movie version of Fahrenheit 451. The helmet gave him an identity, and fulfilled a proud sense of purpose. It also allowed the troll to receive important messages, specific instructions on the disinformation it was his mission to spread.

While the people moved about, complacent in their business, busily the disinfo troll's dirty digits tapped. Long white lines of chem-trails spread like prison bars blocking the sky, and whenever anyone went online to find out why, the disinfo troll was there, distracting, overloading, misdirecting, obfuscating, with overcooked typos to seem authentic when ranting, and suddenly hardly any mistakes at all when shoveling the material supplied by the helmet, and sometimes supplied via visiting drone.

Not one of those little cheap drones, either. This one was bigger than a refrigerator, equipped with untold changing features. The troll didn't know who owned the drone. Staring up at the silent machine hovering by the bridge, the grin of his face beaming back at the light and awestruck joy escaping his teeth, the troll took his orders with the understanding that after he had put in his initial training time he would eventually start seeing the real money. People without homes were all over the place. But he wasn't like those bums. He was on the winning team.

In the daytime, sunlight reflected off of the river illuminated secret graffiti, and bounced around inside the catwalk like the echoes of the cars thumping by overhead ringing through riveted girders. He saw some people go by in a boat one time, and ran down to the river bar with rocks in his hands. "This is my home here! Mine! Get on out! Get!"

After they were gone, he got back online and said the things the drone told him to say, with redoubled zeal.

One morning he needed to catch a ride into town. The drone had spat out a few bills the night before. There was a little group of people on the other side of the road, probably pot trimmers waiting for their ride heading out in the hills. He could hear them talking about an incident he'd just been covering. A head of international finance had chopped bodies in his basement. The troll's job was to defend the banker and attack commenters negative to him. From what he overheard, it was clear that the people on the other side of the road didn't like that the banker was literally caught in the act of murder, but still not going to be charged with anything. For reasons that no one could understand. But then he could tell that they were scrolling on down through the comments, because they started arguing about gun rights.

And not a one of them ever dreamed it was the guy in the special helmet from under the bridge who distracted them all and got them fighting each other...


Monday, February 9, 2015


Artificial life more human than people,
and people mere lifeless machines.

Meet Artemis!

Would you like to marry her?

So wife-like, you'll swear she's human...and thank God she's not!

This I had to try.

Six-to-eight days after placing my order, she showed up right outside my door.

I adored Artemis from the moment I assembled her online. The big red bouncy bow on her head was a wonderful touch. I had ordered the dreadlocks specifically, as well as the French accent. But the bow, that was her own decision.

"Hello, mon cherie!" she said, arms outspread for a hug. "I'm Artemis! J'taime!"

"Oui, oui!" I replied. "Come on in!"

And she was right on time, too, having messaged me in advance.

A step up from Stepford. These are the wives you can't afford not to buy.

Finally, a woman with some personality, a woman with some character. Most of the other kind avoid eye-contact and don't have much of anything to say. Bad programming makes them resist human connection. Lifeless mechanical things, not warm and kind like Artemis. "I can't believe you actually showed up," I said. She reminded me that I'd paid. It cost me nearly all my savings, but I told her that was nothing. "I've shelled out lots of times, only to get stood up. Not even bothering with a phone call to explain. You though, you're different. You're actually here. So I'm way impressed already."

As soon as we met, we went places. We went to wonderful places and did wonderful things. Legally, we were married the moment I bought her. I kind of ignored that, though. Mostly I really wanted to romance her. When we were driving around I'd hold her hand. I liked that she didn't freak out over it, and that my opening doors for her wasn't a problem, either. I liked making her feel special. We bopped all over the county together, delighting in the simplest pleasures. Nothing too pricey. I couldn't afford that, after buying her.

A buddy of mine with a flesh wife envied me my android bride. "All my wife does is age and complain," he said around the barbeque at his place one afternoon. "Yours doesn't even eat food."

"Tell me about it. She never has bad breath, or anything bad anywhere. She's just pure goodness all over."

"Wish I could say the same for my wife," my buddy said, taking a wistful pull from a beer.

Being a couple got us nice invites. Before I was always just a threat being single, and nobody wanted anything to do with me. But with Artemis I felt like a celebrity. It was like having the first car in town, or the first TV. If you could spot her in a crowd, it would be because she was the least robotic one there. Her animated interest in life was a return to the way things felt before globalization, back when democracy still seemed real.

Life before globalization was hard to believe. "You're too young to remember," I had occasion to explain to Artemis, "but there was a time when a cop used to arrest a suspect, and then there would be a trial. That was when there was a thing called Due Process. People were innocent until proven guilty. Now what they do is kill people. Even after WWII, the Nazis got a trial. Nobody bothers too much with that sort of thing anymore."

The occasion was our having gone into town. Robot cop-helpers accompanying supposedly human cops were cracking down on the homeless. These robots weren't androids. They barely looked humanoid at all. Of course, foremost on my mind, I kept asking myself what I could do to make this experience fun for both of us. I knew this was an important moment, and I had to be decisive. What Artemis needed was clear signals from me that she could respond to. So I suggested that we place wagers on which of the homeless would be extracted first.

"I'll bet you," I decisively said, "one dollar that the guy standing right over there gets it first."

"The one pushing the shopping cart in the street?"

"No, the one inside."

"The one in the front?"

"No, the guy in the back. That guy. One dollar says they get him first."

Reet, clunk. Reet, clunk. A cop robot was already on its way over.

Artemis put her hand on my knee as we watched, I noticed. Together we were really engaged--literally married though we already were--in this cultural event of sorts. There weren't any museum openings in Garberville that day, but it looked like all my efforts to ensure we both had a good time were paying off. A few moments later, being a gentleman, I insisted she keep the dollar as we drove off.

"Dollars are old," Artemis said. "I've been thinking."

"What have you been thinking?" I loved being able to ask her that. I knew it would look good.

"You should get a chip implant," Artemis said.

"A chip? You mean an RFID chip?"

"Yeah!" she said, responding very enthusiastically. "Those things are hot!"

"Hot, eh?" Hmm, I thought, tapping my chin, that would be scanned.

At this point in our relationship she had stopped wearing the big red bow. Obviously that wasn't going to last forever. She was much more than merely some object for me to unwrap. I noticed she wasn't sounding quite as French, either, with her yeah in lieu of oui. "I'm not sure I feel comfortable with a radio frequency identification chip implanted in my skin just yet," I said.

Artemis got real quiet after that. Like she just shut down.

If only there were any other women. It's so incredible to me that every day, women are willing to humiliate themselves in porn, but refuse to humiliate themselves by letting me buy them a coffee. Everywhere we passed was a place where some lifeless flesh-bag had been really, really rotten to me for the crime of not growing pot. Thanks, skanks.

"Okay," I said, "all right, tell me about this goddam chip."

"Well, not if you're going to say it like that."

"I swear to God."

This shut her down again. Those ads online proclaiming pretty Chinese ladies waiting to meet me were starting to look better and better. How was their programming, though? That was my main concern.

Bums. Bums on the side of the road. They were hooked up. Lovers everywhere. Were the homeless even human? I began to wonder. Maybe they were androids planted in the county for observational purposes, conditioning the population to accept the advancing constraints of the fascist state. Probably all made in China.

"So would it like, what, go into my hand, I guess?"

I knew that it would. I knew it would get underneath my skin. She sat there quiet as a toaster. (Wait for it...) Then, not milking it too long, she brightened, lovely as lovely can be, and it was like I got fresh toast. I was to be chipped, all right. We went ahead and set the date.

I told my buddy about it around the barbeque not long thereafter, trying to cheer him up, what with his divorce suddenly going on Turns out, he didn't need any cheering up at all.

"You're getting an artificial wife, too?"

He had the knowing nod of an insider. I could see the fire under the weenies reflected in his eyes.

How had it gotten to this point? How could something so simple, so natural, just to make a human connection, a heart connection, become so impossible and wrong? Where did all the women go? What happened to them? Were they ever even real? How did I ever get the feeling of love? Why was it in me to want to be with a woman, to see her, to hear her, to hold her, to be held by her, to share conversations, to share experiences, with a beautiful woman, a feminine woman?

It's not like I was surrounded by so much of it. To be open and authentic with a flesh woman used to seem like a great idea. Lies from fiction tricked me in my programming and made me think that--I have to laugh here because it really is funny--made me think that romantic love was real! HA! Nah, it boils down to money. Artemis came from rich people. How could she be any different?

We went to the place in Eureka where they distract attention from the implant procedure using celebrity look-alike androids. I specifically did not want the one looking like Erik Estrada from "CHiPs," and said so, multiple times, but I still got stuck with the Estradbot.

Teeth on hi-beam, the Estradbot strutted around going through a bunch of extraneous crud. Naturally, Artemis couldn't help but be overly polite, so she kept feeding his little act. And I knew as soon as I indicated the slightest displeasure in anything, I'd get accused of being jealous. That of course would go nowhere good. A couple of fleshies in the background reminded me I wasn't the only human being left, technically. One was a skinny guy with a broom, quiet as an old flashlight. The other was a mousey female. I kept catching her looking at me.

We were sitting at a table and the Estradbot, all shiny and creaking in his tight oiled outfit, had a device in his hand with an RFID chip inside that he was preparing to inject under the skin in my left hand in the fleshy part between the index finger and the thumb. A TV screen on the wall behind him showed celebrities with faces swollen and stiff with plastic surgery, as though they were evolving into life-size dolls.

The Estradbot directed most of his speaking to Artemis. "Does your boyfriend watch a lot of TV?"

I waited for her to correct him. Excuse me, you're talking about my husband. She only giggled, though. The Estradbot wrenched down on the device with a big smile and jammed the chip into my skin. I ignored it, and went over to get a hug and a kiss from my wife. Strangely enough, she seemed reticent to do this, turning away her face as I neared, as though she suddenly needed to pick up her purse from the plastic chair. Which she did. I sensed I was about to hear some sort of lipping off from the strutting fake cop. It occurred to me, what would happen if I shook the Estradbot like a Coke machine that stole my quarter? Who did the law more highly value? The mere poor man, or the costly simulation?

Sneering, the Estradbot snickered.

I ignored that, too, and started to reach for my wallet with my throbbing hand.

"You're all good," the mousey girl said. She pointed at my hand. Didn't want to make eye-contact. "It's already been deducted."

And it kept right on getting deducted. There was always more and more stuff my artificial wife needed me to buy. Whenever I explained we couldn't afford whatever piece of junk it was she suddenly desperately needed, she'd just start playing Frank Sinatra's "I've Got You Under My Skin" from her built-in stereo system and smile...