Issue III -- Nanotechnology

Home

Oceans of the Mind®

 

Guidelines

Contact Us Archives Links

 

Read about the contributors to our third issue and see excerpts from each article or story. For more information on becoming a subscriber to Oceans of the Mind®, follow the Subscriptions link. 

Issue III Contents

Faith to Move Mole Hills                             Mike Moscoe

The Revitalization of Emily                        Kurt R. A. Giambastiani

The Two Secrets of Gaberdine Blue       Joe Murphy

Ad Infinitum                                                    John Alfred Taylor

 

 

Faith to Move Mole Hills -- Mike Moscoe © 2002 Mike Moscoe

      “So you’ve had a religious experience,” the nurse-in-training said, glancing at my paperwork.

      “Yes,” I admitted.  Religion wasn’t something I felt comfortable talking about with strangers.

      “Recently?” she asked taking the seat beside me.  Her name tag said she was Cindy.      

      “Last Wednesday’s afternoon mass at the Newman Center,” I said.  “The music kind of gets me.”

      “I’ve heard that one before,” she said, producing a wad of wires, all ending in needles.

      “I thought I’d only have to wear some kind of head band.”

      “Afraid of needles?” she asked with a wicked grin.

      “No,” I said, unwilling to admit fear to a woman.  “I give blood.”  Loans, grants and work assignments were covering the cost of my college.  It left little spare change for luxuries.  That hadn’t bothered me until I met Karen.  Now a movie or a hamburger off campus was no longer a luxury.  Now I gave blood and volunteered as a lab rat.

      “So, quit squirming,” she said, leaning forward to put needles in my head.  I tried saying a “Hail Mary” like the nuns taught me to do in time of pain, but the student nurse was pretty and her breasts were right in my face.  I began thinking of things I’d like to do with Karen, but hadn’t for fear she wouldn’t like it or more likely because I’d never done anything like that before and didn’t know how.  Soon, I was squirming to get comfortable in my pants.

      Cindy finished with the sharp things, took me in with a sly smile, and began fastening a band to my head.  It had some electronic gizmo on it that rested just above my left ear.  “Ready to meet God?” she asked.

      “I guess so.”  Now I was squirming in my seat for a different reason.  Did I really want to find out that what I felt in church as God’s touch could be turned on with a switch in the lab?  I thought of the fifty bucks and nodded.  “Go for it.”

      She flipped a small switch on the table beside her.  Nothing happened.  I closed my eyes, drew in a deep breath, exhaled slowly, centered myself on ... the darkness in front of my eyelids.  A second breath.  In slow, out slower, just like Sister said.  Strange, in high school, with the nuns, I’d never felt anything, them leaning over my shoulder, telling me how to pray.  But last month, at the Newman Center’s Wednesday evening mass with that charismatic folk group and Karen at my side....

      The darkness opened up before my closed eyelids.  I felt the infinite take me.  I floated a million miles from anything, but I wasn’t afraid of falling.  I was held there, supported in the palms of an infinitely loving God.  I could feel the tears running down my cheeks.  Boys didn’t cry, but it didn’t matter.  I was being hugged by all that mattered.

      Just as suddenly, the feeling was gone.  I opened my eyes.

Return to contents list 

The Revitalization of Emily -- Kurt R. A. Giambastiani © 2001 Kurt R. A. Giambastiani

            "You'd better sit down."

            Bad news a-comin', Jackson thought to himself as he looked out through the light autumn rain that shrouded San Francisco Bay.  That's what that phrase always meant, placing it right up there with "We regret to inform you..." and "We have a problem." 

            Jackson's mind ripped through the pages of possibilities.  The kids?  The grandkids?  No.  If that were the case, family would bear the news to him, not Hammerfield-Schmidt, Attorney at Law.  Business, then.  Lawsuit?  Takeover?  Nothing they couldn't handle, he felt sure.  Why then, his counselor's obvious concern?

            Jackson ran a flat palm backward across the warm smoothness of his bald scalp, letting it come to rest on the thin ruffle of wispy gray at the back.  He walked slowly around to his desk, the gaze of his attorney's holo-image following him as he moved.  As he sat down, the chair gave voice to the aching of his old bones, the leather creaking in the way that synthetics had never been able to duplicate.  Jackson leaned back into its plush, surrounding warmth.  The discomfort of his seven-plus decades made him irritable.

            "Should I pour myself a drink?" he asked the image, eyeing it with an arched eyebrow.

            "That might not be a bad idea," the attorney replied, deadpan.  Jackson snorted in disgust.  He hated dealing with AI's--they responded to neither sarcasm nor humor--but he knew Hammerfield-Schmidt was the best legal construct around, the best commodities could acquire, and so he dealt with him.

            "What's the problem?"

            "It's CryoCorp," the AI told him.  "They've filed for financial restructuring."

            Jackson swallowed, his mouth gone dry.  His gaze drifted, moving beyond the well-dressed, sharp-eyed holo-image, and focused on nothing in particular.  He asked his financial/legal counsel a question.

            "Emily?"

            "Correct, Mr Clift."

            Jackson, still staring at a point miles beyond the eighteenth-story office wall, reached blindly forward with his left hand and opened the lower desk drawer.  Leaning forward, he pulled out a glass and a bottle of Lagavulin, and placed them on the desktop.

#

            "Coward!" 

            His epithet echoed from the hard, hospital walls.  Emily's eyes, already filled with tears, brimmed over at his shout, diamond droplets falling from river-green pools.  She still wore the teal-green scarf of Chinese silk that he had given her months ago, just as she had started her chemotherapy.  She looked at him, not coldly, as he deserved, but tenderly, openly.  Jackson regretted his outburst, but could find no words to replace it, no voice for his sentiment.  Emotions filled him, but he could find nothing with which to express them. 

            She nodded, then, to the orderly behind her, and was wheeled back towards the lab, the cold steel of the swinging doors flapping loudly.  To Jackson, the sound was like a slap in the face, sudden and unexpected.  He blinked, and found he, too, was crying.

            The month before, he had been shocked: emotionally shredded by Emily's announcement of her plan to have herself cryonically stored.  She had given up on the present and was placing her bets on the future. 

            "What would you have me do?" she had stammered.  Her voice had been slowed and weakened by the tumor that had web-spun its way into the very corners of her personality.  "How much longer do you want me to wait?"  It had been painful for him to listen to her garbled mouthings; she was so different from the woman he had married.

            Gone was the Emily that had appeared before him on the college quad, glorious in her tumbled curlings of cedar-red hair, green eyes shimmering like a sea at noonday.  Gone was the woman who had inspired in Jackson a tremendous personal change, exorcising his timidity and fearfulness.  In her place had grown this yammering shell.  All dried-up and withered, her inner being sucked away, she was nothing more than the leavings at the cancerous feast.

            And Jackson loved her so much it hurt.

Return to contents list

The Two Secrets of Gaberdine Blue -- Joe Murphy © 2001 Joe Murphy

"Suit, will you look at her," Arim, my Wearer, actually said aloud.  I felt his hormone levels spike, the jump in his heart rate as the new woman entered the office.  "Just look at her."

"So stand up."  I quickly adjusted our collar and cuffs.  "Remember, she'll be working with you."

            Snoops swarmed the air around us.  The microscopic flyers, unseen by the Wearers but green points of protein upon my visual field, contrasted with the red Wearer heat and ambient gray furniture.  Busy snoops, sampling all kinds of data.

They danced in the currents and backwashes as Wearers moved about.  All airborne nanotech must be identified; some, like those of Pod-leader Orgim, must be placated with relevant data, others like Gerad Din's, must be neutralized, and destroyed.

Such things took time.  Planetary Design's office was a large, conservative cube in Emulus Octave, the largest of eight orbiting habitats circling Emulus.  The unfinished planet filled the wall-sized window, a dark blue half-disk, framed by stars and the glinting habitats.

            "Welcome, welcome aboard, Vera Stam," Arim said.  I'd already supplied him with the name from her envoys, nanotic carriers of good will that filtered through the ranks of her own snoops.  I glanced into Emulus Net where the rest of her data was easily found.  Arim's attraction was obvious; the woman contained more nanotech than Grid Defense on a Saturday night scramble.

            "Good to meet you, Mr. Laroim."  Her fingertips brushed my Arim's with unconscious ease, guided by infrared receptors in her nails.  The skin not hidden by her azure suit was darker than any genetic inducement.  Her eyes were deep living shadows.  Hematite teeth peeped between the upturned corners of her black lips.  Glossy raven hair rose up on her scalp and coiled questioningly towards us.  Arim's blood pressure took on a life of its own.

            I couldn't believe the heat Vera generated when their eyes locked so I double-checked the snoop infrareds.  Everything correlated.  Her face would have been flushed had it not been so dark; her pulse and respiration both jumped. 

Cross-checking Em-Net showed that she'd had several involvements with Semi-Purists, and even one actual Purist.  Real Purists were non-existent on Emulus Octave; even with suits, the risk of nanocontamination was too great.

But my Arim had forsaken his Purist ways and left their Europan Enclave two years ago.  I had tried to advise him, but a suit can only do what its Wearer wills.  Arim insisted on keeping my hood up, uncovering only his light green eyes, oval face, and lean chin.  He'd tinted his skin green at my urging, but kept my color as crimson as the day he bought me.  Red suit and a hood, Wearers either think Saintly Claws or Purist.

            While Arim showed her their workspace, I noticed two squads of Gerad Din's snoops had escaped me.  A slight shift against Arim's throat got his attention.  Usually he ignores such intrusions; this time he allowed me to retaliate. 

I accelerated a squad of avengers to office-regulated speed and calculated Arim's current Prestige Rating; it was just high enough to get away with minor infringements, so I increased the avenger's speed by half.

            Across the room, Gerad's silver eyes looked up.  His chromium skin stole the blue from the planet, the brown from his desk.  His fancy tri-lobed brain stole too--other people's ideas.  He'd taken several of Arim's projects, craftily inverting them into stylistic opposites. 

            Gerad's multi-hued suit stiffened as my avengers slammed into it.  His lips thinned, a squared-off jaw worked harshly.  Inside he was probably screaming at his poor suit to reset the communication breakdown.

Return to contents list

Ad Infinitum -- John Alfred Taylor © 2001 John Alfred Taylor

Except for his containment web Henry would have bounced off the ceiling. He woke with the autowatch beeping on four different channels, emergency messages flickering across the whole infowall, and Anna tangled in her own web and cursing a blue streak No other shocks had followed the first, but the room was wobbling sideways and up and down- and after the engineers had worked so hard to regularize the axial rotation.

"What the hell is happening?" Anna yelled as the objects that had come loose sank slowly toward the floor.

"Don 't know," Henry said, exiting his web while he called Perez on the phone tattooed down the right side of his face. He was used to zero-g and micro-g, and even with the irregular movement of the room, had no trouble reaching a handhold at the comer of the infowall. 

CONTAINMENT UNBREACHED

PRESSURE STEADY

TEMPERATURE AND HUMIDITY STEADY

reassured him, though nothing on the wall explained the wobbling.

"Yes boss?" Fernando Perez' voice was too loud, and Henry flexed his jaw muscle to turn it down.

"What's going on, Nando?"

"Don't know," his chief of engineering said. "Something big docked with us maybe."

"Docked? But the docking ports are on the central axis-- why are we wobbling?"

"I think it's at the other end."

"So try to get a picture of it right away."

"Will do."

Return to contents list

 

horizontal rule

 

Please send any comments about our site to webmaster@trantorpublications.com

Last updated on September 9, 2007

Copyright © 2001 to 2007 Trantor Publications LLC. All Rights Reserved Worldwide

g