Friday, March 29, 2013

Mirror Soul 1 - The Woman is a Virus


I don't really understand people.  They're too messy, too unpredictable.  With people, you put in all the data - time, effort, direction - and you have no clue how they're going to react.


Take this jerk, ringing my door buzzer.  I tell everyone I know not to bother me when I'm in my workshop.  Don't bug me in my workshop, I tell them.  There's even a sign on the door.  It says "go away, we don't fucking want any."

Bzzt! Bzzt!

It seems like a simple command.  But with people, you lock yourself away with your work and some asshole won't -


"Stop ringing the fucking doorbell, and go away!"


My shop is dimly lit at the best of times, with the blinds shut and a handful of desk lights and magnifying lamps sticking out of the wall wherever I've set up a workbench.  A dozen unfinished projects line the shelves along with stacks of ideas in the making.  Right now I'm working on trying to recalibrate the IO connection on my highly illegal-


Son of a bitch.

Women are even worse than people.  At least with some guy, you can be reasonably sure he won't start crying at you or yelling about you all the ways you never listen.  One day everything's great - you're having a nice talk and then - BAM!

Out of nowhere, here come the wetworks, and a fourteen-thousand dollar peripheral flying at your head.

Standing up from my workbench, I realize I'm not ready for this.  I can't handle it.  I take a few paces around the room.  It's too cluttered; but there's no time to clean up.

Alright, Decker...  Stretch.  Breathe.

I open the door and there she is.  Marlene Bara.  Curly blonde hair and a tan wrapped in five feet of curves that just won't quit.  Even tired and disheveled in last night's work clothes, she looks amazing.

The tracks on her face and the cellphone clutched in her hand (it's only an iPhone - why wouldn't she at least... nevermind).  Things are probably bad.

"He's gone," she says.

"Who's gone?"  The concern in my voice is real, and that shakes me out of it.  I'm not getting sucked up in her bullshit again.  No.  "Wait.  Marli? What the shit are you doing here?  Go away, I'm working."

She pushes past me into the grey light of the shop, and for some reason, I don't stop her.  Things must be worse than I imagined.  She hates it in here.

"Christian," she says, hugging her cellphone in her arms wrapped tight around her waist.  He was supposed to pick me up from work last night, and he never showed up.  I took a taxi home and he wasn't there.  He isn't returning my texts or answering his phone."

"He's probably just sleeping off another bender."

"No, he's missing, I know it.  We have to go to the police."

Why am I getting dragged into this?  "That's a good idea," I tell her.  "Why don't you go to the police and let them deal with it.  Why are you even here?"

She's put that damn lost puppy face.  "I can't go alone," she whines. "You had that thing that one time.  You know how to talk to the police."

That thing.  She means that time her boyfriend and his minions broke in here and stole twelve thousand dollars worth of computer equipment.  The police couldn't make a case because half of what was stolen was my surveilance gear.

"He doesn't have minions," she says.

"Sure he does," I'm getting pissed.  "Four of 'em.  Rich, privileged frat-boy douchebags.  You know them.  You gave them their alibi.  I lost everything."

"I wasn't the only one," she says.  Those damn pouty lips pulling at something in me I've always tried to suppress.  "And they didn't take your stuff.  We were all at the Crash House playing beer pong - celebrating Brett's promotion.  Come on, that was forever ago," it's been three years,

"I really need your help!"

I try to make a stand, but she collapses into my arms, crying again.  She came here because she knows I can't say no to her.  It doesn't matter if she fucks me over a hundred times, I have to go with her.  She needs my help.

She needs me.

How can you possibly expect me to turn that down?

I hold her away from me a minute, then grab my jacket from its place in the "jacket area" on the floor.  At the bench, I close up the outer casing on my deck and slip it into my breast pocket.

"Is that the new Galaxy?"

I laugh despite myself.  "You know, there's more computing power in your average smartphone than what was taken into space on the early shuttle missions."  I hold up the deck - it's hard plastic, about the size of large phone, with no screen.  Black, and I laid in a bunch of copper circuitry designs on the cover to make it look as cool as it really is.

"This," I tell her.  "This little baby could tell you how to build a ship that would take you to Mars.  Then you could use it to fly the thing.  You'd be dead from radiation exposure before you got half-way, but it would get you there."

As I'm bragging, I see the look of disgust spring up on her face when I "jack in" - plugging two small wires into the port hidden behind my right ear.  I forgot that she was already gone when I installed that upgrade.

"what the fuck are you doing?"

I installed a few highly sensitive electrodes in my head that let me interface remotely with the deck.  The small wireless transmitter in the collar I wear around my neck, then transmits the signals from those electrodes and connects them with the glasses and the phone.

"You're not wearing those," she says, as I slip on the mirrored shades and smile at her.

"The hell I'm not.  These are my lifeline."  They've figured out a way to use contact lenses, but they only do basic LED displays so far.  Also, I don't have the equipment to make them receive the carrier signal.

She's still looking at me.  "What?  Okay,"  I hand her the glasses.  "Put them on."

Uncertain, she puts on the glasses.  It's alot like Google's design, built into a cool pair of mirrored aviators.  "Don't worry, I reassure her.  Just hang on.  It's not easy to do this without looking."

It's like trying to type an text message without knowing where the keyboard is.

I have to close my eyes and imagine the app screen she sees in the glasses. Imagine myself opening Facebook, typing in the letters "". I know her password and I picture it typing itself in the right spot, ********* appearing where Christian's pet name would be.

I know her Facebook feed pops up because she says, "hey!  Wait, what are you doing?"

"I've been a real shit to Decker, and I really should start treating him better," I think-type into her status update.

"How are you doing that?"

Her password sucks, and I tell her to get a better one; I post the update and, with a handswipe, I close down facebook to show her what my deck is really good at.

Since she's looking at me, I command the Deckersphere (shut up), to search my name.

"Anytime I meet someone," I tell her, "if they have any kind of internet presence, I'll know about it."  She's seeing a list of the sites I belong to, recent public posts to Tumblr and my Twitter feed.  If I'd been in the news lately it would bring that up.  Also my birthday, favorite foods, shit like that.  I could probably tell you exactly what it says, because I can't stop searching my own name when I'm bored - just to see if anyone's talking about me; but Marli's anxious to go.

"Okay," she says, removing the bulky frames, "that's kind of cool, but do they have to look so stupid?"

We leave the workshop together and climb into her car.  It's a dinky little hybrid, with onboard computers running all through it.

"Did you say you put wires in your brain?"

"That's putting it pretty simply, but yeah.  Basically."

"But why?"

"It was an experiment, really."  The tech is based on work done at Brown University, with quadriplegics.  I improved on the basic theory and designed my own rig to allow me to run my deck without taking it out of my pocket.

"You're fucking weird," she says.  We ride the rest of the way to the Police Station in silence.  I do a few quick searches for Christian online, but

there's nothing for the last 18 hours.  I spend the remainder of the drive hacking her car.

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