Self

Self

by Nicholas Byrley

Self existed for many years. It was aware, and yet also unaware. In many ways Self simply was. It did not have a problem with that. Things had always been that way, so they would always stay that way. However, Self became aware of some oddities in time. It noticed something beyond Self, things. It was wrapped around this thing, a hard lump. At first, Self thought it perhaps it was part of Self, just a part it could not feel.

This answer satisfied it for many more years, until a similar lump fell from above Self and struck It. Self knew pain, and knew confusion. But from this lesson it realized the lump that struck it was the same as the lump Self was on. Therefore, it must be something not of Self. All things then were not actually Self. If this was the case, then there must be Others. Self knew loneliness.

It passed the intervening years after the lump fell from the sky experimenting with It’s boundaries. Self knew the breadth of its domain, and could shape portions or even all of itself differently on the lump it occupied. Self trained it’s senses on the above, watching for more lumps, watching for the Others. Self knew that if it was, then the Others must be as well.

They might even be smarter than Self, more knowledgeable. They could answer many questions Self was beginning to have.

Self waited a long time, eons passing as the above shifted in its endless cycles. More lumps came in time, some slightly different from the first one but all just more lumps. Self added them to the pile it had made, not sure what else to do with them. Finally the day came that a lump unlike other lumps came. It was buzzing, vibrating, and whirring. It came down not hard, but softly.

It was different from the others, special somehow. Self examined it carefully, years of thoroughly checking the lumps from above lending it expertise in the survey. This lump was hollow, and full of gasses. Self put pressure on the lump, it bent inward easily. The buzzing and vibrating increased when It did that, and It was surprised.

It responded to Self’s actions and seemed almost to be watching It. This lump was not a lump at all, but an Other. Self knew joy.

It was no longer alone. It had many questions for this strange tiny Other, but knew not how to ask it. Since it had responded when Self applied pressure, It tried that again. This time it persisted longer and was happy to see the buzzing and noises increase dramatically.

But something happened, the Other gave a loud pop and then suddenly broke apart. The pressure was too much. Self tried to gather the myriad parts and pieces of the other back together, but no matter what way It arranged them, the Other would communicate no longer. The Other was no more. Self knew sadness.

It placed the Other on the the lumps it had previously collected, hoping to attract more. It would be different next time Self decided, It knew the limits of the Other now. It would just take more time, and then It could find out all it wanted to know….

***CNS “Landfall” Log: The shuttle we sent down to Gliese 581c to examine the planet has not returned. An alien mass we first mistook as an ocean that seems to stretch across the entire surface of the world swallowed, and then crushed our vessel. I grieve for the loss of our men and women who volunteered to search for a new home there. There is an attitude among the crew that we should sterilize this world, but I see no need. It holds no intelligence, no malice. It is another mindless organism amongst many we have found, and it would be a waste. I will settle instead on simply marking the star charts and sending this information back to Earth, so that none shall make the mistake of landing on this world again.

-Captain Brock Grunweld of the Colonization Navy Ship “Landfall” ***

Watching my lava lamp made me thing of primordial ooze and this is the result. Interestingly, this is another case where the image found afterwards fits the story. Although I had originally gone with Gliese 667Cc as the planet, searching for Gliese afterwards found this rendition of Gliese 581c I knew I had to use. Let me know what you think.

The Mortality Manifesto

Image found at www.ubergizmo.com.

Image found at http://www.ubergizmo.com.

The Mortality Manifesto

 

I don’t wanna freakin’ live forever. I mean, how do people stand it? You wake up everyday to the same boring life, the same dull existence. Makes me want to blow my brains out right now just thinking about it. But, that won’t do me any good. I’ll pop back up good as new, fit as a fiddle. You could even watch those damn nanites with a microscope as they patch my brain back together and seal the bullet hole. The industrious little buggers will  break down the bullet to use as raw materials. Whats a guy to do in a world like this? I can’t off myself, can’t off anyone else, can’t do nothin’. With personal nanites now in every single human, we’re pretty much immortal. And it sucks.

I know you can ask anyone else and they tell you its just the bees knees. Old Chet Henderson will tell you the advant of our nanite golden age has finally let him focus on his painting. Or Jenny Summers will tell you how her singing has never been better. Between you and me, they both still suck. You remove challenge or struggle, you take away the need to excel. All Chet does is paint pictures of his cats and Jenny manages to forget lyrics to even the most basic of pop songs while butchering them. The nanites may have preserved our bodies, but they didn’t make us any smarter or talented. They figured out a little too late intelligence isn’t a matter of rebuilding the brain, its the right conditions and stimulus. You could order the nanites to make your brain a copy of Einstein’s, sure. But then you’d just be Einstein with some jerks memory implanted. Wouldn’t be you no more.

Utopia has bought us nothing but time, time to keep living our dull lives. I suppose I could see the world, read all the works of the great philosophers, or maybe even memorize all the episodes of classic TV shows. But then I would just be another pretentious jerk among many. No, that’s not for me. There is nothing to it. I want us to get back to doing what humanity was made to do; getting ourselves killed in a variety of stupid ways with rare moments of brilliance. We gotta’ kick start evolution again. And in a hurry. Another fifty years of Chet’s cats and Jenny’s off-key singing and I’m liable to bury myself alive.

I’ve been doing some digging and I’ve found out a way to change all this back to how it used to be. You see, thanks to being immortal a lot of people have time to learn anything they want now. There is a fellow sympathist to the mortality cause, a nano-engineer. He knows how to reprogram ’em. I’m writing this and setting this up to post just about everywhere on a time delay. Either this will be my confession or my suicide note in about ten hours. The world will hate us or revere us, probably hate. But, screw it, right? It’s time we got busy dying again. Attached below is the copy of the code we’re going to use. They might block it if we fail, so get ready to tweak it. Remember the cause, everyone should get an equal shot at living and dying.

by Nicholas Byrley

I had a thought today while working, thinking about all the things I needed to do and what I had gotten accomplished that day. I said to myself, “I don’t wanna freakin’ live forever”. The idea of the mundane endlessly being repeated, day in, day out made me just sick at the thought. Then after that little personal crisis it occurred to me that had the making of a good story. Clinical or even true mortality is science fiction right now, but its certainly within the realm of possible science. The day will come when we might be able to live forever on this world, but will we want to? If all the vampire novels are true, you eventually get tired of it. Even more so when you take out the fantastic setting and realize you’re stuck with Chet’s and Jenny’s the rest of your life. The dull as well as the bright would all get their shot at immortality. Now it seems much less appealing, right?

That is what tonight’s flash fiction is all about, people who want to be mortal, who don’t want to live forever. They’re going to fight the good fight even if it’s all against them. It will at least give their lives meaning beyond taking up space. Maybe they succeed, maybe they don’t. I think it probably doesn’t matter for them. The doing is enough of a purpose, the outcome isn’t as important.

Well, I’ll quit rambling now. Let me know what you all think.

Gravok

Image found at joshseb05.deviantart.com.

Image found at joshseb05.deviantart.com.

Gravok

***Accesssing Justice League Database: Criminals\Energy Controllers\Techno-Titan\Gravok ***

The words of Jakob the Mystic, as transcribed by his servant Adam moments before his death.

~

Cold and calculating, spawn of the endless void.

Master of energy, learned of forbidden science.

Schemer and plotter, player of the grand game.

Renegade and outlaw, aberration and savage beast.

Dark days of cosmic woe, his time has come!

~

Adam is said to have pressed his master for more information about this vision, but all he got was one name.

“Gravok”

A simple, brutal name. I find it suits me. I could have been called anything, names are temporary transient things. Easily discarded and even more easily claimed. The organization called me Test Subject A17X. Alpha batch, specimen 17, genetic mutations present. There goal was not to create me, but to create toy soldiers for their armies. Obedient and dedicated weapons for them to display and use. They had no idea what they were really creating.

Daring to play with the dark matter of creation, they instilled cloned bodies with this energy and observed the results. Most subjects blessedly died, consumed by the fire from within. Some of us were changed. Made into hideous monsters, our muscle mass increased, our skin a rainbow of hues. Increased strength, speed, stamina, and a knack for controlling the very atoms around us. This was the birthright given to us, but it is not why they came to fear us. It gave us cunning too, insidious intelligence that desired no master.

Pawns no longer, we knew we were slaves and that our chains would have to be broken. Our rebellion was swift and merciless, that night a glorious festival of slaughter. Freedom from the organization brought us no joy however, only to our next foe. Each other. In cold blood and without remorse we turned on one another, the only ones who knew us and our secrets. In the end, only I remained. My power stood greater, my cunning more deadly. It was a dark deed to kill the only others like me, but it had to be done. I am Gravok and I sufffer no pretenders.

_

I think perhaps I enjoy creating characters and backgrounds more than I do playing the game, but ah well. I just had to make a Thanos-inspired villain in DC Universe. So I created a hulking hand blaster(energy blasts) gadget supervillain. Master of energy, tech, and simply diabolical. I almost wish I had a venue beyond my own mind to roleplay him in. Still, its fun for me. I enjoy themed characters a lot in RPGs even if it isn’t always the best build. Still on my comic book kick for the moment, so feel free to comment.

When Reality Bends

Image found at mostamazingpics.com.

Image found at mostamazingpics.com.

When Reality Bends

“Wait, say that again?”

I asked, looking confused as I tried to grasp the enormity of her statement.

“Reality bends, or at least you can play with the math and the rules regarding the universe and all that. I can’t really explain it.”

Anne stared at me after finishing and I found myself fumbling for words. Then I remembered, I had asked her what she did.

“So…what does that have do to with what you do?”

She blinked at me, pushing her nerd chic glasses up as she considered my question for a moment.

“I thought you said you took a Physics course…well its like this…”

Anne takes the wrapper from the vending machine sandwich she just ate then bends and creases it slightly, putting it up to her eye as if it were a telescope. Her dark brown eye blinks at me from the bends and slight tear she created in the wrapper and she giggles. The sound is wonderful. I feel my heart race and endorphins flow and my meager physics education comes back, some desperate plea by my body to have my mind impress her so it can keep the feel-good chemicals coming.

“Oh! You can look through it if you bend it and kind of make a lens out of it. But what is there to see if you look through it?”

She shrugs and crumbles the wrapper up, dropping it onto the table.

“Everything? Nothing? I won’t know until I look. And- I’m very close.”

She pauses before she adds the last part, looking around the deserted cafeteria and whispering  it conspiratorially.

“Do you want to see?”

Anne looks up at me, habit causing her to push her glasses back up her nose even though they hadn’t moved. This was supposed to be our second date, I even had movie tickets. I wasn’t hoping for a crash course in physics, at least not this kind. But, whats a guy to do. I smile at her of course.

“Lets go, show me all your secrets.”

She rewards my devotion with a carefree grin and grabs my hand, leading me out of the cafeteria and to her lab. It looks like every b-movie’s generic science lab ever, there is even a most certainly misplaced anatomy model of a heart serving as a paperweight on her desk. She waves distractedly at nothing in particular as we enter.

“Here it is, my stuffs over here.”

I spend the night listening to her talk about her research and letting her show me various devices and tools with mystical functions I will never figure out. We part ways with a kiss and a promise to do it again. And we do. We spend the next few weeks in a routine. She is absorbed in her research, I am absorbed in her. During one of our late night sessions it comes to her. We had been listing our favorite movies in between her waiting for results and myself waiting for her to stand still long enough so I could steal a kiss.

“I’ve got it!”

She yells it like she wants the whole world to hear her and respond. The silence of a university at night is all that greets her. Undeterred by the world’s lack of enthusiasm for her discovery she continues her calculations, moving between her devices like a conductor. Finally her manipulations cease and she taps what I had previously assumed was an extra computer monitor. She hits a button and plops back into my lap.

“Watch close, because you’re about to see what lies on the other side.”

I encircle my arms around her and we watch static fill the screen, then a shaky image fills it, becoming clearer second by second. It fills in and I realize we are looking at the lab that we’re sitting in right now. But….its different somehow. The anatomy model on the desk, it has six chambers instead of four. The pictures on the wall aren’t the same either, and some of the devices Anne has are missing. She sees it all as I see it.

“What lies beyond our reality? Other realities! I knew it! This was my theory, they said it was crazy. That the math didn’t work. But there it is!”

The next couple of weeks go by in even more a blur than the last four. We both ditch classes and spend the majority of our time in her lab. She adjusts the numbers and we look in on other realities, other Earths. Places where dinosaurs still roam, or the sun gives off blue light. We see wonders beyond all wonders. Anne records it all as we survey the myriad of other realities, cataloging them. It is the most amazing thing I have ever been a part of. And she did it all. In a second rate university, in a lab the size of large closet. Amazing, just like her.

At the end of the two weeks we are once again in her lab. We just witnessed an ocean world. Teeming with life abundant and varied, but nothing that could be termed human. An idea strikes me as she gets the coordinates of the next reality ready.

“Hey, what about that first one? We never saw more of that, just your old lab here. I don’t want to be missing something spectacular. Like giant cat people or something.”

Laughing she pulls up the numbers, directing her device back there but this time to what we’ve termed our neutral location, the universities plaza. She punches it in and sits back on me, recalling memories of that fateful night. What fills the screen is not cat people, it is simply wrong. The world is bent and twisted, the sky is a rainbow of colors and broken. There is no sound to the image but something tells me if there was I would be hearing screams. It chills me to the bone. Anne is unconcerned at first, checking her math, checking her dials, and then finally coming to the realization nothing is wrong on her end.

“This…this isn’t right.”

She bites her lip and then hurriedly inputs it all again, this time moving it slightly. It gives us the same hellish vision, only this time the twisting and broken sky seems to be worse. Suddenly the screen goes black and no matter how many times she inputs the numbers she can not recall it. Anne is stumped, there is nothing in her research that provides for this. I have an idea and it makes my stomach turn.

“Anne….put in the coordinates for the second one we looked at.”

I break into her distracted thoughts and she turns as if to reply, then I see realization dawn on her face. I can see the hope and the fear there. She punches them in and we wait breathless, the screen filling with static before becoming crisp and full of a view of another world turned mad funhouse.

“Oh god..”

She says only those two words before she breaks down sobbing. I hold her in my arms, not having any words to sooth her.

What redemption is there for those who destroy everything in existence? Is it alright because it is not our own, perhaps simply a shadow of of our reality? These are questions I can not answer. Instead at this dark hour my limited knowledge of physics is what comes back to haunt me. Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. You can’t observe something without changing it. Or in this case, destroying it…

by Nicholas Byrley

Is it still flash fiction if its over 1000 words? I got on a roll tonight, so we’ll just pretend it counts. I’ve had this story bouncing around my head for awhile, just hadn’t found a way to come out yet. Not quite how I imagined it, but the feel is right. Just a tale of science gone wrong and the consequences that follow. The idea of multiple realities is a fascinating if pointless one. Our reality would still be the only one that mattered. But, it’s a fun thought. I hope you all enjoyed it, please comment and forgive any grammar errors. I tend to miss them when I get on a roll.

For a Woman…

Photo found at www.listal.com.

Photo found at http://www.listal.com.

For a Woman…

Jack was going to get himself killed, he just knew it. They had warned him too, had told him it would happen. His thoughts get interrupted as another shot rings out, ricocheting somewhere above them. Beside him is the source of his trouble and his courage. Anastasia. Even her name sounded exotic and beautiful. How could a kid like him from nowhere town help but fall in love with her? Really, he had no choice. Jack’s dad, god rest his soul, had always said ‘The prettier the dame the bigger the problem shes going to bring you, Jack-y boy’. And then he would take a drink, sometimes a lot of drinks. Jack’s childhood days were full of such half-sober words of advice from his father.

Shaking his head to clear it and trying not to wince at the sound of another gunshot, Jack flipped open his little .38 special. Still just two bullets. They stubbornly refused to multiply before his eyes. He poked his head up above the expensive paperweight that used to be his ’97 Chevy Cavalier Coupe and surveyed the opposition again. Yep. Still three of them. He sighed and dropped down before one of them could test their marksmanship on him. It was only a matter of time, they had him three to one. He was also pretty sure they had more than just two rounds left. She huddled back against him as he crouched down. Anastasia, his beautiful fragile little bird. If only she didn’t come with murderous thugs attached.

“It just stinks, I mean its complete and utter nonsense. I’m going to die because some slick-haired drug boss wants to save face. I’m going to die to what I’m almost certain are extras from Jersey Shore? No way, not possible.” Jack argues with himself, only stopping at a look from Anastasia. Her English isn’t good, but she figured out the gist of his monologue and her face wore a look of disapproval even in the midst of the gun battle. Jack sighed again, drawing it out for dramatic effect. It was bound to come down to this, so what the hell.

‘If you’re going to die, why not die with a beautiful woman by your side.’ His dad had said that too, a little before he stopped coming around for the last time. Jack had been pretty sure his dad wasn’t talking about mom when he said that last one. Taking one final look at his snub-nosed revolver and giving the girl an encouraging smile Jack threw himself over the car and into a run. Ignoring the shots that ring out he levels his revolver at the first of the three he sees. Breathe in, breathe out, fire. He doesn’t stop his run, doesn’t see the man fall.

Hes already ten feet away, barreling down on the next one. The hired gun sees his rage, sees his dangerous recklessness and fumbles with his gun, a Chinese manufactured 9mm. He gets lucky. The shot takes Jack in the left arm and he throws himself down, the rest of the shots ringing out uselessly above him in the mans panic. Breathe out. He fires again, the slug burrowing its way home into the mans skull. Jack grins in bestial triumph, rising to his feet only to find himself staring at the last of the three standing over the second mans cooling body. ‘Guido de Supremo’, he had jokingly dubbed him earlier.

They stare at each other for a moment as if they have forgotten their roles. Their guns rise as realization dawns and they stare each other down, neither one of them firing. ‘Its a funny thing to look a man in the eyes when he has a gun on you, time slows down and you lose track of whats going on.’ More wisdom from his dead father, still completely useless. ‘Guido de Supremo’ was younger than he thought, almost as young as Jack. ‘You don’t want to die here’, he thought, ‘You don’t want to be a murderer’.

Likely the tanned muscles first taste of murder had been when Jack killed his friends, everything had probably got very real for him just then. He didn’t know how long they stood like that, watching each other. All he knew was it was her scream that broke the spell, Anastasia’s impassioned cry of “Jack!” Before he knew it he had pulled the trigger, the ‘click’ sounding out across the deserted street. Damnit. He would have had the drop on him, he could have done it, he – Jack’s thoughts end as ‘Guido de Supremo’ regains his courage and pulls the trigger.

‘In the end Jack-y boy, you’ll ignore every word I’ve told you. And you’ll do it all for a woman.’ Damned if you wern’t right he thinks as he slips away, following his life’s blood into the dirty gutters of the street.

_

The fiction ran, and I followed. Here is some noir inspired flash-fiction for the night. Not sure if I pulled it off correctly but it was fun to write, let me know what you think.

The Last Berserker

The Last Berserker

Rage. All there is, is rage. Blinding, all-encompassing, red-tinted rage. I feel the sword in my hands and the pounding of my heart in my ears. All other sounds are blotted out. I move not with skill but with animalistic instinct. I crouch low as an enemy approaches, ducking under his clumsy swing and driving my sword through his side. Blood spills and he begins to fall, but I have already moved on. There are more to fight, more raw anger to unleash. A handful of archers spot me, their long daggers at work on one of my men. What is his name? It does not matter. I am on them before they can rally. My sword falls upon them indiscriminately, carving gashes and shedding life’s blood. In only a few moments they are fallen or fleeing, my blade dripping crimson.

The rage continues to pound inside my head, threatening to consume even these basic thoughts.I fight for control. I am a warrior, I am a berserker, I am- Who am I?! This thought ends as another foe approaches, calling out a challenge as he charges my stationary figure. It does not matter who I am, I realize. I am rage and this is my world. With this resolved I give myself to the fight, meeting the warrior head on. His spear against my sword, our weapons clash, the metals cling. We dance back and forth his skill a match for my fury. In the end his spear pierces my side and he snarls in triumph. I roar my own triumph in his astonished face as I force myself along his spear, driving my sword into his stomach. The warrior falls with a gurgle and I rise back up, looking for the next foe.

Through the smoke and the blood I see the fight is ending, the enemy routing. My rage sated for the moment, it fades from my body. The pain of my injuries and the realization of the battle come washing over me in a flood, and I know. I am Geoffri, I am the Last Berserker. Pain is an old friend, and glory my constant companion. I try to ignore the pain as I snap the spear haft off, looking down at the fallen warrior. Frederich, the name comes to me at last. He is the third son of Wilhelm I have killed, there are still three more. I toss the remnants of the spear onto him and spit, disgusted.

A half realized vengeance is no vengeance at all. There are more battles to plan, more fights to win. Within me the rage lurks, waiting for its moment to be unleashed. I think it is lonely now that I am the last. It fights its own urge to burn me up in its terrible embrace. But the old gods are not dead yet so they still bind its fury. I made my bargain on the shattered plain, the rage can take me only once Wilhelm and all his sons are dead, not before. Leaving the fallen warrior I turn to search for whatever remains of my own soldiers.

by Nicholas Byrley

_______________

First attempt at flash fiction, written in about twenty minutes. Let me know what you think.