Monday 6 June 2011

The Automatic Marlboro - Section III, sub-section (d)

The Automatic Marlboro is a science-fiction novelette told in twelve parts, posted serially by me, your landlubbing host, Cheeseburger Brown. This is the eleventh installment.

1a|1b |1c|2a|2b|2c|2d|3a|3b|3c|3d|3e

Connected stories: Simon of Space, Life & Taxes, Tim, Destroyer of Worlds

And now, the penultimate chapter:



Dedication is hypnotic. When we work it becomes easy to forget our enmities. We can live in a dream of purpose. We can exist to do.

The clock loses relevance. Service robots prompt us to take food and drink because they've been programmed to worry. We wave them away impatiently. Progress is the only nourishment we crave.

We can pretend to be friends again, Pulse and Air and I. Every exchange is civil, succinct, ungarnished by undercurrents. We are to an end.

"Push another diagnostic series through the constrictors, Marly."

"I'm running it now. It's clean, Air."

"Nice work on that, Pulse."


Our voices are hoarse, our eyes burning. Through the space of a single night the ambition of months takes shape, the apparatus now too large to be concealed under a simple drape. It is inelegant, perhaps. It is a hack job. But it works. It really works. A damaged Zorannic robot can enter one end and come out the other with a respawned consciousness synchronized with his line's fully integrated memory pool, standing on brand new legs and seeing with brand new eyes.

We have made ourselves obsolete...
To read the rest of this story, buy it now from Amazon for just $2.99!


Mandrill said...

Just taking the time to catch up with this now.

/tips hat.

Missed your writing sir :)

Sheik Yerbouti said...

Oh man. Please don't tell me all that really was for nothing.

Also, "rappelling" (I used to get that one fornicated all the time).

So... does the automatic Marlboro make it, or do the execs come up with something brand new? Methinks they don't need help if they face extinction -- Felix's and/or Jeremiah's reluctant use of force comes to mind.

Anonymous said...

*enjoys waiting impatiently to find out whether they do indeed just stay fornicated*

PS My word verification is the Latin word for 'lover'. What could that mean?

SaintPeter said...

I never used to understand "workaholics" - I'm lazy by nature and could not imagine myself being willing to spend that much time on anything. Then last year I had my busiest year ever. Major product release, high pressure, lots of things on the line . . and I loved it.

There is a wonderful narcotic quality to work - you can throw yourself into it and shut out the world. You feel important and part of something larger and the extra hours just pass in a heartbeat. You've done a great job in capturing some of that feel here.

Cheeseburger Brown said...

Mandrill! How nice to hear from you, my good man!


Simon said...

Damn, there's nothing quite like catching up a whole story as part of an afternoon's reading. Utterly, thoroughly engaging as before, CBB. And on tenterhooks now for the conclusion.

I think there might be a bit of a backlog in my future, as well as a book that needs adding to my collection. So very nice to be back on board with you, Mr. Brown.

Cheeseburger Brown said...

Dear Sheik and Anonymous,

Oh man. Please don't tell me all that really was for nothing.

Yes, it's true. The last chapter is probably going to be a let down. They stayed fornicated.

It's pretty much just 3,000 words of Pulse and Marlboro having their fingerprints taken and then hanging around in a cramped cell with a Martian gigolo who thinks they've got a future in his trade if they'll sign on board with his tattoo cult of prison weirdos.

I'd considered writing a decent ending but then figured, fuck it.


Cheeseburger Brown

Cheeseburger Brown said...

Dear SaintPeter,

Personally, I'm an obsessive by nature so if left to my own devices the mode you describe is pretty much my default.

This is a lot of the reason why I have a wife -- she makes me stop what I'm fussing with and look around at stuff and talk to people sometimes and so on. Without this interference, I tend once preoccupied to forget to do things like eat or sleep or otherwise carry on with life.

In a charitable light, this can be called "focus."

Cheeseburger Brown

Cheeseburger Brown said...

Simon, you old space dog! Delighted to see you here in the commentary!


Cheeseburger Brown said...

That's a weak reference to STAR TREK III there, not intended as insult, by the bye!

"I had a wee bout, sir, but Dr. McCoy pulled me through."

"A wee bout of what?"



Sheik Yerbouti said...

Thanks, CBB; that was the perfect amount of laughter to stave off denoument withdrawal.