Monday, July 10, 2017


Let the Goats Try

Charisse wouldn't walk on the new carpet, said it felt too much like grass. Nate could talk all he wanted about oxygen production, leaf-blade adjustment, stomatal dilation, and so on. It didn't matter; the stuff made her feet itch. Which is why they were in the back seat of a rented flyer hovering 2 m above the old Riverfront Park when a stretch of carpet in a well-traveled hallway at l'Hรดpital Charles de Gaulle in Paris went rogue. The carpet had assimilated home-grown subroutines from the fallen wing covers of insurgent arthrobots. The insectoids, AWOL from a corporate war the previous year, finally had been wiped out by a tailored virus. The global power and communication grid was well protected, but no one had thought to monitor carpets. There was carpet everywhere. The transition from self-repairing floor covering to green commando was almost instantaneous and, consequently, devastating.


The recorded voice said "This transport device requires emergency service" and went dead. The flyer bounced off a large crepe myrtle and crushed a recycling bin.

"Ow," Charisse said.

"Sorry." and "What happened? These can't fail." That didn't seem to call for a response.

Nate managed to kick one door open. Bruised, but no worse, they disentangled and climbed up out of the flyer. The wreck was leaking something pink that smelled of hot plastic. Nate shaded his eyes and looked around. Smoke rose from the power plant on the other side of the river.


"Flyers run on broadcast, don't they," Charisse said, following his gaze.

Nothing but birds moved in the sky, their phones were dead, and they were 30 miles from the lot where they'd rented the flyer. Something called out. A cardinal? "I'm _so_ ready to get out of here," Nate said.

"That might be a problem."

After a few minutes, they started walking.


The emerald city shone, a myriad tiny vanes tracking the sun, roots draining batteries and reservoirs, bioelectric networks running simulations, optimizing.

Publ. Daily Cabal, 2010

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