Flash Fiction : Tales of King City – Graveyards


“So what happens when you visit the graveyard of forgotten heroes?” John Elden asked to the sunshine, the chasing monarch butterflies, the quiet river nearby, and his travelling companion.

Edwina, turned her head, one green eye and one yellow backlight cybernetic implant studied him. “What do you mean forgotten? And heroes? We come here so I can get some rest from that noise that’s out there.”

“You’ve been more cynical since Cincinnati.”

The pair strolled amongst the gravestones and markers.

“No, just more up front.” She placed a hand on a chest high marker. “Fletcher? Wasn’t that an occupation name?”

“Yes, and the husband was much older than the wife.” John rubbed down the marker. “Thirteen years, wait how old…”

“He was seventy, she was fifty-seven. He died 3 months after she did. Born… in that century and that old? That’s really defying the odds.”

“Yes, and that quote, old biblical hymn. Till the day break and the shadows flee away. I’ve heard that someplace else.”

Edwina laughed, “It’s surprising how much you automatically filter out the ambient fiction that is on the wide-cast. You should be going in for a sub-conscious cleaning every month with the amount of travelling we do.”

“Yeah, and when was the last time you went in for a tune-up? Hence why our visits to these places are becoming more frequent. Why aren’t we moving from this spot?” John asked, looking at the trees around them. The smells were foreign. Were these endangered plants the same two centuries ago?

“It’s literally a dead zone. Something with the harmonics and the lack of electrical fields. Doesn’t interfere with my implants. I can feel where I end, and the tech begins.” Edwina patted the grave marker. “Wait, what about heroes?”

“Somewhere, in my fleshy memory bank. The Fletchers, came from some money, not too much though. Back in the day where they had to keep their Talents hidden-”

“Why is that?”

“They burned the ones even with a little bit of access to the global sub-consciousness. Made impossible trials of death by water, by fire, even bludgeoning of stones. So there was a time when these Talents weren’t even recognized as such. The aberrant, the ones who wouldn’t fit into society. Witches, mutants, non-conformists.” John studied the marker. “And this is King City. One of the most widely accepted locations on the planet for such. Most of the world tries to forget that there are Gods and Giants and Aliens and Living Poetry that walk amongst us. Send it all here in one spot.”

“There are no Heroes anymore John. Just Talents that have been mass marketed. The average housewife can now get her own heat resistance factor just by paying three easy payments. No more burning hands when cooking.” Edwina moved off to another marker, her left leg dragging a little. She thumped her thigh with a clenched fist. “Hurts so good.”

“Well there were Heroes back then. Fought the good fight, made this city their home, and found ways to protect it. All under the cover of darkness and secrecy.” John felt a wave of dizziness flow over him. He gripped the marker for a moment, feeling warmth flow down his spine. “Whoa, okay, so I guess the ambient wide-casts have been a little too much lately.”

“Why do you think I’m going to get the Faraday cage woven into my cranial space?”

“To stop those pesky bug-eyed monsters from space? Because they are reading your thoughts?”

“To stop the magnetic and electrical marketing fields from having effect on me.” She sighed and then tapped three times on her cybernetic eye. “Stupid thing is, I’m putting more technology into me to make me more human. To stop the Corporations that be. I make my own decisions. I am my own person without sponsorship. And then I have to come to places like this, to remind my own flesh. To give that razors edge of tech a chance to settle down and not connect with the biological.”

The two of them turned, a man in a black suit carrying a briefcase walked up to them.

“The estate of Fletcher recognizes John Elden and Ed-”

“Don’t say it, professional handle please.”

“Also known as Ruby RUR Security. The estate would like to thank you for accepting the gifted heritage-”

“What?” John looked to Edwina, then to the stranger. “Oh you bitches. You did this on purpose. That’s another reason why we-”

“It had to happen John. You have no worries and no spot on the horizon to shoot for. You didn’t seek out any destiny, so it chose you. I’m immune to these things. My own mono-filament myth has been discovered. It was about time you did. ” Edwina smiled and then walked up to the man, “Papers? I’d like to scan for my friend here.”

John looked back to the marker, remembering the foreign smell. Activation pheromones from the local fauna, triggering response back through the body. The grave marker itself probably had a genetic compatibility matrix involved. And that quote… Till the day break. They were fighting the forces of darkness.

It was a hell of a way to lose your Talent cherry.

“What am I going to do with this Talent?”

“I apologize Sir, but in this case, the Talent does require training. We have taken steps to protect those within your genetic heritage and social relationships. They will not be used as leverage they could possibly impose or threaten you with.”

“This is stupid. I have a date tonight.”

“And afterwards, the transport will take you to India, the transit to Shambala is ready. There you are to begin your training.” The man in black spoke and stood with his hands behind his back.

“Don’t blame me for this John. We can actually blame the western civilization for putting up the barriers between good and evil. Light and dark. The original nomadic tribes of this place didn’t have words to do this. They had love and fear. That’s it. Only until the mass religions starting imposing their mental patterns into the lands, then all of this good and evil business reared it’s black and white dual faced head. What’s immoral… oooh, therefore it’s bad. Who’s morals again?” Edwina finished scanning the last page. “It’s legit.”

“And the madam, is also invited for clearance with her association to the newly selected Guardian.”

“Guardian?” John winced, rubbed his tanned hands into the corners of his eyes. “Sounds so generic.”

“Trust me Sir, the role is bigger than the title.”

John glared at Edwina. “Why couldn’t we have done this in Las Vegas?”

“Werewolves.”

“Right. Forgot about that.”

“Sir, the airship awaits.”

“Airship?” Edwina smiled.

“How much is the role and the estate and the-”

“Sir, the legacy has been waiting for two hundred years and faithfully maintained for over twelve generations, prior to the world bank system, and individual bank system. The Guardian is as how you say these days, monetarily endowed. Or stinking rich.”

“I will have enough time to recover and enjoy the good life?”

“Indeed Sir.”

John looked to the marker, pulled out his wallet, looked to the tattered identification cards. “I like the sound of John Fletcher. Ed, let’s go India, get training, and get you that Faraday implant. And some new shoes.”

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Flash Fiction : Word Association


It all started off so simple.

A little trick, a hack. Just a little quirk on the way people read and interpret symbols.

The technology was developed by a disgruntled undergraduate at NYU. Frustrated from the hours of working on his supervisors mathematics study, he needed a distraction. Just a little side project. And then after reading a self-help book ‘Your dream, Your reality’, he decided to make the impossible, possible. It was a dream of his, to see his own name in the comic books he read as a child. No longer would it be Peter Parker, or Bruce Wayne, on the panelled pages. It would be Jonathan Sibekowicz. With all the powers and abilities fit for any modern myth.

It was just a matter of finding the core root symbol which people would interpret with their own name.

He started delving into Symbol Grounding, memetics, cognition computation, tribal symbols, evolution of language. Hours at libraries, random phone calls to people who wrote articles. Jonathan became so obsessed with the idea, that his supervisor began questioning if he was on drugs. Coming in at strange hours, smelling like he had not bathed in weeks, slept in clothing, snapping at people for no apparent reason.

After several months, Jonathan had the breakthrough.

Then slept for thirty-two hours straight.

He quickly made it back to the lab, and straightened his work hours altogether, putting in new time and new ideas to his supervisor. Theories which were once dismissed were now plausible now taken from the new point of view. Jonathan was going places.

He took time off from his work. A sabbatical, something that he needed to do for quite some time.

Three weeks later, human consciousness began taking a turn.

***

The symbol appeared in a small press electronic comic book which had become quite popular amongst the 7 to 16 year age. Kid hero, was aimed at delivering long-term stories which helped educate and subtly deliver life lessons. It was quite typical to read the climax of a story arc where Kid Hero would have forgotten his new weapon against the powers of evil, because he was too busy looking at other things on the internet. On a following story, the new weapon would be missing the power pack, because he forgot to write it down.

The media began showing this new comic book where your child could become Kid Hero. The style quickly spread, and other publishers began using this new type of code. A simple little symbol. New types of fiction emerged.

It was something new, and it was very marketable. The phenomenon and style had spread. Further research by John Hopkins Hospital found other core symbols. Shapes and colors, tonal sounds could be all translated into making similar images.

Jonathan signed different agreements with major publishers, newspaper pushers, audio and video producers. Overnight he became a very wealthy to the point where he could disappear. The last mention of him in recorded history (which could be understood), showed that he had won a small church bingo in Christchurch.

This new type of language was embraced equally and quickly from all nations. And then human consciousness began changing. The amount of interconnectedness with information had become not only habit, but essential to the wellbeing of people. And it was being rewritten by the core symbols which Jonathan discovered.

That was the scary part. It was stronger and more ruthless than the English language.

People with dyslexia had protection. That little reversal which rearranged letters and numbers had actually saved them. They had their own mental firewall against the information virus which appeared in all forms of media. Eventually, their own efforts to stop the information from entering their memories were futile.

Others, whose brains were still developing, tried to keep their grip onto the basic concepts of life. That which had names, no longer had them. Mom, Dad, door, book, red, yellow. They were meaningless. There was a break in the distinction between object, name and meaning. Soon, they began withdrawing from everyone. Behaving quite distinctively anti-social. Running directly on instincts, these children became feral and tribal. Groups of them would be spotted in urban cities, running in packs, gathering and hunting for resources.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t an isolated incident.

Religious leaders across the world, simultaneously met, speaking only. Those who were found with paper and printed material were banned and removed. They were isolating themselves, against a virus that could be spread just as easily by drawing it on a wall. The new theory was that the Babel virus was rediscovered. A wave of destruction which would spread through the minds of everyone connected to written word.

Scientists who studied infectious diseases were baffled. How does one stop a type of information that spreads like a virus? Information shut outs? The human mind is curious at best, and will seek out new sources when it has not been fed.

Ironically, the illiterates were partially affected. People who were indifferent, and didn’t remember too much, they would skim media. Some of them were obliterated with the information that had jumped into their consciousness. Their subconscious trying to chew away at that unsolvable symbol, slowly degrading the associations had been built into a lifetime. Some of their doctors were baffled, as it appeared to be the same symptoms as some types of brain cancer.

The symbols continued to propagate themselves, taking on a new life. Groups of people would gather together, in trance states, writing them, drawing them in all sizes and forms on any available surface. The language itself had turned viral, and people were the host.

Then there are us. Those able to relearn, rebuild from the crumbling remains. We’re the ones trying to rebuild society. Unfortunately, the only ones who will are able to read these records are ourselves. We’ve become meaningless graffiti, only noise in the background from the pure signal of core symbol languages.

Because there are a lot more of them, then there are of us.

For once, in a very long lifetime, I’m glad I’m blind.