Wednesday, June 29, 2011

New Story: Higher Consciousness

Higher Consciousness
                “ I haven’t seen Tom in a few days. Is he sick or something?” Asked Karen.
                “I haven’t seen him either but he must be here, he’s responded to my emails.” Said John.
                “I checked his desk, he’s not there, but his bag is.” Karen said.
                “Tom was in my dream last night. Dreams rather, it was strange, he was everywhere.” Said John.
                John went on to tell Karen about his dream. John was walking down a busy New York City street. The air smelled like roses, and the sun was shining like a spot light, centering on the hundreds of people walking. John approached a woman, as she got near he could see her face. It was Tom’s face, he smiled and continued to walk. Then John woke up in a field. He slowly rose to his feet. A voice called out, “John, are you there? Come to the house.” It was Tom’s voice. John looked around the field, then glanced up the hill and saw an old farm house. “Yes, there you go, walk towards the house.” John’s legs started moving, one foot after the other. He continued to look around. His brain told him to stop, but his legs continued to move. He climbed the stairs to the porch. He walked to the door and knocked. A small boy came to the door. His face was hidden by a large baseball cap, pulled down close to his eyes. The boy looked up, it was Tom’s face again, superimposed on the boy. “Into the living room.” John lazily meandered into the living room. Tom was sitting on a chair looking out down the field.
                “I called you here to tell you something. John, you’re my best friend, you should know what’s happened to me. About a month ago I discovered how to upload my personality to the internet. I became immortal in cyberspace. My consciousness could dart from webpage to webpage. It was easy to write a program that would give a response to any sort of question. I programmed it to narrow the questions down to a list of two hundred thousand answers provided by me. I could communicate with millions of people at once. I was essentially everywhere, but nowhere at the same time. I mean essentially because I was in virtual reality. The things you see and hear on the internet are not fully grounded in reality. It’s like TV. The videos you see are not real life. I needed to find a way to be immortal in real life. I soon reached a higher level of consciousness. I could penetrate dreams, your dreams. Tonight was my first attempt at dream intrusion and I succeeded. Tomorrow I will attempt to achieve the highest level of consciousness. I will become immortal in reality. I will go to work tomorrow, but you won’t see me because I’ll be everywhere at once. I will achieve light speed. I will travel anywhere faster than sound, faster than anything man has discovered so far. I will become light. Yes John, I’ve discovered my own potential. You should try being immortal and omniscient, it’s really quite fun.”
                Tom continued to talk as he looked out the window. John eventually sat down, but only at Tom’s whim.
                “So, anyway, see you at work in 5 hours. I hope your other dreams are less intense.” 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

New Story: Hack Part 4

Hack: Part 4
                Muto had been working for the government in Complex B for several years. His relatively large flat was basically a one room apartment. Half of the room was dedicated to several wall mounted monitors, each displaying views from a complementary security camera. Scrolling across each screen were blood pressure read outs from various public spots throughout the city. Muto was in charge of monitoring each one of the cameras and to watch for abnormally high blood pressure readings, simple tasks for a genius such as himself.
                The kid climbed the high stairs to Muto’s room. He approached a ramshackle door and knocked. He listened for Muto’s voice.
                “In” Muto said in a booming voice. He used a toggle switch to transport himself, via wheelchair, to the door. The kid walked in and greeted Muto.
                “Hey man, how are you doing?” He asked.
                “Good” said Muto.
                “Walk?” Muto asked.
                “Yeah, it took a little while. Some poor sap got eaten up by piranhas in Open Park. You should’ve seen it! Holy cow.”
                “Oh” Said Muto.
                “Here?” Muto asked.
                “I need a Banshee 7, I brought some homemade Stim with me. Hopefully we can work out a trade.” The kid proposed.
                Muto hasn’t always been like this. There was a time not too long ago when he could carry on conversations without having to speak using one word sentences. That was before a viral brothel bot fried him real bad. Muto, previously known as Steven, used to frequent virtual brothels using his trusty BCI and Vengeance laptop computer. He tried out a new site. The simulation loaded, he was in a dimly lit room. Crimson and pink drapery decorated the walls. Steven looked at himself in a mirror. He was tall, extremely muscular and very handsome, a complete opposite of his real physique. He smiled and sat down in a fuzzy chair. Within a minute, in walked 4 beautiful women. Each one had different clothes on and different hair color. He chose the tall blond with toned legs. Upon choosing her, he didn’t realize that she was viral. They went into another room with a rotating bed. She gave him the goods but sent a powerful current over his BCI, messing up his temporal lobes, which affected his speech. Some sick frigs write code for nasty viruses. The brothels have always been sketchy, but rarely do you run into a viral brothel bot.
                It may be tough to understand Muto, but its well worth the time. He’s the go to guy when it comes to computers.
                “So I have 5 USB sticks, containing about 50 programs total. That should be good enough for a Banshee 7.” He said.
                “Sure” said Muto.
                “Great, then it’s a deal,” said the kid.
                Muto cruised in his chair away from the door, the kid followed. He stopped before a filing cabinet. Opened a drawer and took out a small, matchbook sized processor, the legendary Banshee 7, the envy of many hackers. He handed it to the kid.
The kid reached into his pocket and removed the USB sticks and handed them to Muto.
                “Thanks” said the kid.
                “Welcome” said Muto.
                “So how are you doing, still working for big brother right?” The kid asked.
                “Good,” Muto said. He nodded to answer the kid’s second question.
                “While I’m here, what can you tell me about algorithms based on a horse shoe shape? This might sound friggin weird but I came across one during a session.”
                “Omega” said Muto.
                “What?” the kid asked.
“800” said Muto.
“What the frig?” the kid asked once more.
“Ugh” said Muto. He manipulated his toggle switch and moved over to his computer. He quickly typed some commands and loaded a program. A video initiated behind the kid. He quickly turned around to watch.
I large omega symbol came into focus with the number 800 below it. A voice then narrated the video slide show:
“Omega” the voice said, “has a value of 800, making it a rarely used algorithm base for computer programming. Several esoteric programs run off of the omega engine. The omega engine is code for programming using 800 as the base. For instance, 40 would have to be complementary to another binary set of 40 which would equal 800 when multiplied together.” The voice continued to narrate as the screen now displayed possible numbers that could be multiplied together to form 800. 200 and 4, 800 and 1, and so on.
The kid’s eyes doubled in size as he watched the video. His pupils grew large and his mouth was ajar.
The voice went on: “the omega engine, as previously stated, is a rarely used language for programming. The main drawback is its ability to be vulnerable to hackers.”
“Ah ha! I’ve seen enough.” Said the kid.
“See?” said Muto.
“Yeah, I get it now, thanks.” The kid said.
The kid quickly moved to the door and turned to speak as he walked. “Thanks, now I got some pieces to this friggin puzzle.” “Good” said Muto as he wheeled back over to the surveillance camera monitors.
   The kid left Muto’s flat and headed home. It was now getting close to sun set over the drab city. It would be dark before the kid gets home.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

New Story: Hack Part 3

A little late but here it is:

Hack: Part 3
                He set off down the long barren street. The wind blew ash and dust into his face, blowing his hood off his head. He zipped up his jacket and put his hood back on. He turned around to check his progress. The abandoned apartment building was about 200 feet away, he was slowly making progress. Complex B lies on a street parallel to his but is 8 blocks away. A little further than he had wanted to travel, but he needed Banshee 7. His computer was too slow without it. He was ready to endure headaches if that meant virtual peace and happiness (for himself of course). With a faster processor he would, potentially, always be one step ahead of the hosts. Unless of course they were running on Banshee 7 or better, this is always a possible scenario.
                He reached the end of the street and took a right. This stretch of road was always dangerous due to the high frequency of police activity. He could see city hall, and Open Park a little ways down. The hazy afternoon sun barely lit his surroundings. He strained his eyes to see only 20 feet in front of him. Although he knew this area very well, he could traverse the city blind folded if he needed.
                City hall was soon on his right. He could hear loud shouts and booing coming from Open Park. He didn’t want to stop but it sounded like there could be an execution today. Some poor sap from The Ware Syndicate must’ve slipped up and got busted. Every once in a while there is a public execution. The point of which is to discourage others from selling Stim. He’s witnessed plenty of executions and still refuses to give up coding Stim. It’s too lucrative.
                He soon approached Open Park where people were standing around encircling a large tank. The device was similar to a dunking booth. He thought: “this could be fun.” A top the dunking plank stood a man. He wore traditional WS colors, black and red. He stood tall and stoic, accepting his sentence.
                An officer stood on the ground with his hand on a lever. The lever caused the plank to drop, sending the man into a piranha tank.
                He got close enough to penetrate the circle and see the execution up close. “Oh, friggin yeah, a piranha tank! This guy is really in for some trouble. He must’ve screwed up bad.” He thought to himself. It was stupid of him to get so close to an officer, but he’s obviously too busy to check papers of some lowly kid.
                The officer read the man his conviction. “You, Death Adder, captain of the Western Division of The Ware Syndicate are hereby sentenced to death for facilitating Stim transfer between bordering states. Do you have any last words?” The officer asked.
                “Yeah, I got some. Flip off you measely maggot infested….”
                And with those last few words, the officer frowned and moved the lever. The crowd was silent. The fish swam in darting passes. Each one of the 30 some odd fish were about a foot long, pretty large for a piranha. The man sank to the bottom of the tank, but could not get to the surface. The starved piranhas tore him apart. His screams were drowned by the water. His limbs were chewed to nubs. Blood rushed out into the tank, turning it from clear to red. Thirty seconds was all it took to finish the man and devour every inch of flesh. The only thing left were his tattered clothes. Red and black scraps floated to the surface.
                The crowd, including him, cheered and clapped. Everyone had eerie smiles on their dirty faces. The officer laughed. Soon the crowd was silent. The officer just kept on laughing.
                He backed out of the circle and resumed his journey. He crossed another block and was soon behind a feeble looking man. The man turned to him and huddled next to a stoop. He removed a BCI and a small rusty laptop. “Hey man, I wouldn’t do that right there if I was you.” He said. The man turned and said: “flip off, I can get high wherever I want.”
                Just then an officer approached from behind him and grabbed the man. He lifted him up and starting beating him senseless with a billy club. The laptop and BCI fell to the ground.
                “Oh crap!” The kid said, and he ran up the street. He was soon out of breath and looked back. The smog didn’t fully conceal the horrible beating taking place. The officer kept swinging his club. The man was soon unconscious.
                The kid kept walking. Only 6 more blocks to go.
                The wind picked up and blew a gust of ash and grime at him. He had to stop and steady himself against the assault from the concrete jungle. The kid past the 4th block away from Muto’s place and approached an old woman who was walking ever so slowly. She called out to him as he passed:
                “Where are you going?” She asked.
                “None of your friggin business lady,” he responded.
                “Just asking. You know, life hasn’t always been this bad. The Stim revolution ruined our lives and society for that matter.” She said.
                “You can’t blame this all on Stim. The government took away our happiness so we have to get it somewhere else, from an artificial source. People have to gain pleasure from somewhere else. We don’t have freedom so the only choice is happiness from using Stim and from other simulations. We’re like prisoners in this friggin state. A lot of people are too depressed to work, and especially since the main employer is the government, no one is happy working for the government. They hire people to spy on other people. Everyone has to go about their lives without enjoyment, and those who have to work, do so constantly, with little to no breaks” the kid said.
                The old lady stopped and agreed with the kid: “I suppose you’re right, this isn’t all because of Stim.” She stopped talking to cough. “Have you seen all the abandoned apartment building? People are leaving this state; they’re running away from their problems.” The kid stopped walking, he nodded “yes they are” he said, and then continued.
                Only one more block to go. He soon entered Complex B. There were security cameras everywhere. He stopped to pull up his hood and bury his dirty face in his jacket. He reached the mud room before the main lobby to Complex B. He scoured the directory for 202, which was the number for Muto’s flat. He pushed the button waited for Muto’s voice. “Who” said Muto.
                “It’s me, open up you friggin freak.” Said the kid.
                “Ok” said Muto.
                The door buzzed and unlocked, he walked into the lobby.        

Saturday, June 11, 2011

New House

So, we've been moved into the new house for two weeks now and it's all starting to feel like home. The cats are settling well, adjusting to the basement at night and chasing each other around the new expanses during the day. My commute is a little shorter and my wife's is a little longer, but it's about the same distance for each of us (mine might still be a little further).

I found a local store that hosts magic tournaments and played in one last night. Went 2-1 and missed the top four, but I did better than I thought.

Just got back from seeing the Hangover 2, it was pretty funny. A lot of people have been saying that it's the same plot from the first one with predictable outcomes. This is true, but I don't care. I liked the first one and to me, the plot can be done a thousand times and I'll still like it. Anyway, that's enough for me tonight. Catch you guys tomorrow with a new story. Peace.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

New Story: Hack Part 2

Hack: Part 2
                He had a flash of insight: “The blood masked symbol must be important. It looked like a horse shoe. If only the bald friggin idiot let me stay just a little bit longer, maybe I could have discovered something. Arrghh.” His face turned red, sweat beaded on his fore head. He began to shake, then he listened to some distant voice, or maybe no voice at all, it might not have been real. Some times people talk to him, but they aren’t real. They help with things, but sometimes they tell him what he’s done wrong. Sometimes they laugh at him, sometimes they praise him. Maybe they are real.
                He stopped listening and continued to sit. A skinny young man with arms like rulers sat in a foldable lawn chair. He barely fit in the storage closet. He was able to bring in a small desk, soldering equipment, various computer parts and, of course, his computer. Each piece of it was black market exclusive. He had four 24 inch monitors mounted on the wall. Along the west facing wall was a large chalk board with equations and diagrams scrawled across it in horrible handwriting. The electronics were kept as far away as possible from the leak in the ceiling. A small crack formed about 3 months ago; every week or so he’s noticed a change in size of it. The ever increasing wound is now leaking a strange brown fluid. Aside from the ceiling, the room was in fairly decent shape.  There were no books in this room, however. He learned most things himself and when in meetings, exchanged ideas with other hackers.
                He continued to sit, and think. His hands rested on the desk. Within, were stolen tools, wires and his revolver.  
                “The symbol must have been an Easter egg planted by someone within the host’s circle. Some disgruntled member who wanted the secrets to get out. He must have wanted me to find it. He is like god, and I the messiah. Yes, of course, I’m Jesus!” He yelled, and then quickly lowered his voice. If the police find him, they’ll kill him for sure. According to the police state census, he died 5 years ago, at the age of 15, in a fire. Every 3 months he changes location, constantly running from the police. Although he broke his own rule, he’s been living in the storage closet for 6 months now. It’s too convenient to leave, located in the basement of an abandoned apartment complex. He scans the news daily; there are no plans to demolish the building, he’s fine for now. In addition, the police have been busy combating the recent wave of criminal activity.
                There have been numerous busts and ongoing conflict with the Ware Syndicates, the illegal traffickers of stimulant software. Stimulant software is analogous to illegal stimulants used by humans of centuries before. The WS evolved from drug traffickers once internet use and Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI) became accessible to the mainstream. Many hackers he knows dabble in stim, but he’s never tried it. Some are even stim addicts.
                He opened the third, left most desk drawer and removed 5 small USB sticks. He then slowly rose from the chair. Weak, ghostly, white legs lifted his emaciated frame. He removed a zipper up sweatshirt hanging from his seat. He covered his chest and arms with it. He searched for his pants and continued to dress. He found his jean jacket within a pile of food containers and slipped into it, dropping the sticks into an inner pocket. He walked to the door and cracked it open a bit. He stuck his head out and listened, silence, silence as usual. He smiled and stepped out. He closed and locked the closet. He walked up the 4 flights of basement levels. He muttered to himself during his ascent: “I gotta find a faster processor. There’s no way in friggin hell the hosts would be able to catch and boot me if I was running on a Banshee 7.” For the most part, the Banshee 6, his processor, was the best. It was compatible with most computers and didn’t give you a headache, like the Banshee 7 does when using a BCI. He needed something faster, he could build something if he had about a year, but he was short on time and processors were not his expertise. He continued to mutter: “Muto will have what I’m looking for, that freak always has 7s for sale.” He’ll have to trade a lot for one. Within his pocket were 5 USB sticks, each one contained 10-12 stim programs. He developed each of the programs over the course of a year. He never sold them, that was illegal, but he would gladly trade them. The inner workings of the brain were no mystery to him. He could design a program that, when run using a BCI, could perfectly simulate all sorts of pleasure. Some of the most popular were euphoria, happiness, the feeling of accomplishment and pride, super human strength, flight and omniscience. They were all but simulations, but damn good ones. Each program had varying durations of use, most were about 10 minutes.
                All of his programs were highly illegal, punishment for possession was death. There would be no trial if caught with a stim program; execution was enacted on the spot. The government banned any form of entertainment and pleasure. They reasoned that pleasure would lead to addiction. Addiction would then lead to sedation and thus, loss of productivity.
                He reached the 5th floor, ground level. Gray sunlight beamed in through the filthy windows. He passed through the lobby and stopped at the main entrance. The apartment complex was on a dead end road. The other buildings along the street were abandoned as well. There was no purpose for someone to venture down the road. Occasionally junkies would spend an evening in one of the abandoned homes, carrying their archaic laptops and rusty old BCIs. But a person of importance never explored the vacant street.
                He peered down the length of the cracked street. It was cold outside, very cold. He stood shaking in his thin layers, brittle bone under dirty clothes. He pulled up his hood and set off to Muto’s flat. Muto lived in Complex B. This was a section of the city dedicated to watchers (government employees hired to monitor the several thousand surveillance cameras and blood pressure checkpoints around the city). The blood pressure monitors were installed in the entrance of public buildings. Upon entry, citizens were required to use the monitors. Readings were sent to Complex B. High readings were suspicious, which led to investigations.
                It would take an hour to reach Muto’s place by foot.