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Journal Journal: Talkin' With The Turd Report 7

I will be following this up with a real Turd Report, so be patient.

Many of my fans and friends have asked me various questions during my stint as The Turd Report. I would like to take some time and answer those questions. The fisrt qusetion I would like to answer is: "What is the correct way to wipe?"

Wiping is a critical part of the excremeditation ritual that is performed every day. Having the correct wiping style helps you to have a clean and odor-free butt.

First, make sure you have the supplies that you will need. namesly, you will need toilet paper and wet wipes. I don't have any recomendations for wet wipes, but I do have some suggestions for buying toilet paper. I prefer the cheap 2-ply paper. No lotions, no quilting, no prints. I recomend the cheap paper due to it producing almost no lint when rubbed against your butt. Excessive lint in your butt can cause irritation as the day goes on.

Now, after you have dumped you load, as it were. You are going to need to clean up. First off, determine how messy your turd was. If it was diarhea, or very loose stool, you will need to start off with a large wad of paper. The paper should cover your hand and be thick enough so stop liquid from soaking thru to your hand. This large wad of paper will be used to get the big and messy stuff off of your butt. Once you are starting to get deep into your ass crack, you will want to start using smaller and smaller wads of paper. But, be sure that it is still covering your hand. (You don't want to get a piece of poo on your hand and throw everything off.) Once I have actually wiped my anus with the paper a couple of times, I will break out the wet wipes. Take out one wet wipe and wipe around you anus. You can either use a new one for each pass, or you can fold it over and use the other (clean) side. After 2-3 wipes, the wet wipe should come out clean. At this point, I like to take a small wad of paper and dry off and do a quick spot check.

Now, all that is left ot do is to flush and make a journal entry.

VA

Journal Journal: The Turd Report 11/22/2002 2

My doc put me on a new medication. It is called RenaGel and it is a phosphorus binder. It does something more that bind phosphorus; it also binds my turds in to big rocks. I woke up at 4am. I had not pooped in about 36 hours, but I had eaten during that time. I had the urge to poop and I made my way into the bathroom. The turd did not want to come out, it tried but would just stall at the critical exit point. Pushing just made it feel worse; it was like pooping a cinder block. But, after 2 to 3 minutes of pushing it came out with a satifying 'plop'. And that was it, just one turd. It was easily 3 inches in diameter, but was only 5 inches long. It appeared to be lumpy, as if it was made of several little turdletts. It was dark brown in color and had no odor. Clean up was easy; it took only two wipes. However, Seeing how big it was (in diameter) I flushed this turd w/o paper. It clogged the toilet. I rate this turd as a 7.
VA

Journal Journal: The Turd Report 11/11/2002 9

My live-in GF demanded TacoBell last night. I don't care for it, but didn't feel like going to two places, so I had Taco Bell as well. I had 5 soft tacos and a Dr. Pepper. For fast food, it was ok. But, my body has lost most of it's defenses against pre-processed food, so there were complications. I didn't have any real problems that night. I was gassy, but alright. This morning, it was a race to the bathroom. I almost didn't make it. There was a great deal of pressure in my gut. I just got situated on the seat when it came out at full force. A fart propelled turd shot out of me. Once it was out, there was a termendous feeling of relief. I sat there waiting for any stragglers, but that was it. There was a harsh sulfur smell to it. The turd had impacted on the bowl and had flattened. It had no structure to it at all, just a mass of poo. It was a generic brown color. Part of it stuck to the side when I flushed. It took a second flush to get the bits to fall off. I rate this turd as an 8.

Oh, my Karma is now rated as 'Excellent'! Wh00t! :)

VA

Journal Journal: The Turd Report 11/05/2002 8

I had a steak burrito from Teocalli Tamale in Herndon. It was good, as usual, but the dining experience wasn't that great.* This morning I woke up about an hour before normal with an urge to take a dump. I staggered in to the bathroom just in time. Having just woken up, I was very relaxed and the turd came out with no effort at all. It was a generic brown with the hulls of the black beans scattered thru the turd. The turd was about 8 inches long and about 1.5 inches is diameter. I think the rice helped keep it flexable but solid, so it didn't break up. Clean up was easy and there was a light smell of hot sauce and bean. I rate this turd as an 8.

* Teocali was recently reviewed in the Washingtonian, so all these yuppies from DC have oozed into the place. There used to be no one in the place. Now it is wall to wall trendy fuckheads.

VA

Journal Journal: The Turd Report 11/01/2002 6

I am back from vacation and caught up with work, so back to reporting.

Yesterday I had two tuna salad sandwiches and a pickle for lunch and a pear afterwards. I also had some zuchinni bread I bought at the farmers market. I didn't feel the need to take a dump until I was at work. I had eaten too much bread so I had to do a bit of pushing to get this on going. It was about 10 inches long and was a light brown with nuts from the zuchinni bread embedded in it. It kept it's shape well and was easy to clean up. It stayed underwater, so there was not much smell to it at all. This was a little better that the average turd, so I give it a 7.

VA

Journal Journal: The Turd Report 10/08/2002 9

Another multi-day turd. On Sunday, I had a bowl of spaghetti with mushrooms. Monday, I had a 6' Turkey from Subway. Dialysis has given me a small reward by allowing me to lay some massive turds. The downside is there is little or no warning as to when I have to take a shit. Usually, you have 10 minutes or so to start migrating towards the toilet. Now, I just have a sudden urge to purge; maybe a minutes notice.

I am on a call with a customer about a security concern when it hits. I tell him I need to go look something up and that I'll be back in a bit. I rush to the bathroom. Like Sunday, the turd is quick and sudden; it does not feel like it is a big turd. There is a bit of friction, but then it just slides right on out. I wait a few moments for any stragglers, but that is it. The turd is coiled like an angry cobra with it's head sticking above water. Uncoiled it must be a good 2 feet long and is unbroken. It is a generic and uniform brown color. It has a light 'turd' smell to it, but is not overpowering. My implant has healed up, so clean up was easy and pain free. The auto-flush took the turd 10 seconds after I stood up. It struggled against the current; the head almost grabbed on to the side of the drain. But, it went down in one flush. I feel like I have lost 2-3 pounds with just that one turd. I rate this turd as a 9.

VA

Journal Journal: The Turd Report 10/06/2002 8

As some of you may or may not know, I am undergoing dialysis. I have had a new implant and I am taking Percoset for pain management. This has really messed up my morning turds.

Friday, I had 2 Whoppers with Cheese, with no lettuce or tomatoes. I did not have to shit on Saturday nor did I eat on Saturday. This morning, I woke up and started my day. After about an hour, I had a massive urge to take a dump. I scurried into the bathroom and got ready to let one go. It was slow at first then came out all at once. It did not feel as if there was a lot there. But, upon inspection, there was a massive pile of shit rising out of the water. The pile was cone shaped. It was about 5 inches in diameter at the bottom and was 4 inches tall. It covered the drain. I decided it would be best to just flush the turd, wipe, and re-flush. I flushed and the toilet clogged. I was in awe. Just my shit had clogged the toilet. A few moments with a plunger solved that problem and the massive pile went on it's way.

Clean up was ok, but difficult with my implant in my left arm. There was an almost rotten smell to the turd that was very pronounced after the plunging stirred it up. I rate this turd as a 9.

User Journal

Journal Journal: The Wizard 4

The crown of Cooper's mass of jet black curls bobs as Cooper introduces him to "the group". Constantine has never been part of "a group."

He understands from Cooper's tone of voice that people will be depending on him, and of course, that Constantine is a very smart and capable person. Which Constantine himself had suspected all along-but, it's nice to finally have some confirmation. They're in a big room-a conference room. From left to right is pale bald man with suit, reddish bald man with flannel and jeans, chubby long-haired guy, serious middle-aged lady. They all stare at Constantine, and then back at Cooper's squat form, which is gesticulating wildly. "Yeah, Constantine was great at those old arcade games," Cooper intones, his brown eyes seeming to break free from their laughlines for just an instant. "Nowadays, if you're good at games, they probably just call you a nerd-" Faint laughter from the audience, especially the long-haired guy, which makes Constantine feel a little bit indifferent. Kid probably doesn't even know who Pac-Man is.

"-but back then, we had a name for guys like Connie. He was a video game WIZARD."

---

It comes back to Constantine, but with too much chroma...the slick-dressed man holding the microphone is swimming in nauseating brightness, soft around the edges. The man is mantled by hard ball lights which cut a sharp outline around him. Constantine feels tiny next to the man and the huge, blinking set.

"So, we are here today with a young man from San Antonio, Texas, Constantine Atkins. And Constantine, you're here to challenge our Video Master in what game?"

"Missile Command," Now-Constantine mouths along with Then-Constantine.

"And why don't you tell our audience what Missile Command is?"

"It's this game where you have to stop the cities of the Earth from being destroyed by alien missles."

"And how do you do that?"

"You have to fire these missle...uh, anti-missles, up at the sky and protect your-"

"-Sounds just like Star Wars!" The slick-dressed man, the host, interrupts. Then-Constantine was horrified when this actually happened. But Now-Constantine has played this moment over in his head so many times that it's become part of the canon, an irreversible Something That Had To Happen.

"Now-if you'll follow me, Mr. Atkins, we'll go down to the Master's Lair and see what game he's chosen for Round Two."

---

"-And he wore this suit, that was supposed to be futuristic, because he was the 'VIDEO MASTER', but it just looked silly, even for the time, like, a lot of gold trim, -" Now-Constantine is apparently giving a speech, which surprises him because he was in the middle of spying on Then-Constantine.

He blinks and sees a group of humans sitting across the table. They are quiet-some of them actually listening, he can tell. He realizes that this is the longest time he's spoken with someone outside of his family in quite some time. Then he starts to hear them hum of the air conditioner again, and parts of his body begin to itch...his brain playing tricks on him, perceiving more than he can handle, handling more than he can perceive...

They're applauding? Cooper puts a hand on Constantine's back, easing him into his seat. "All right, so that's Connie, our video game wizard. He made that title official back in 1982 when he beat the Video Master on national TV. The Wizard's gonna be working with us from now on, as a test pilot. With his brain, we're not gonna make any more of those nasty mistakes we made on those other subjects!"

Cooper spits the last line jovially, but no one laughs. If Constantine was paying attention to anything other than the flourescent light reflections off his own fingernails, he may have seen cause to worry...

Red Hat Software

Journal Journal: Office Politics 7

The ice is cheap, has little white flecks in it. Like at a cheap restaurant. Of course, this place hardly qualifies as a restaurant, Constantine thinks, as he extracts the ice from its glass and drags it across the back of his neck. It's all he can do to keep from going nuts-they've kept him waiting for at least ten minutes-probably closer to fifteen-actually 13:38:01. This watchband is starting to itch.

Place is stale, smells like dust. Fluorescent lights buzzing in the next room. He winces and tries to steel himself for another minute. But the rises in him, like a submarine churning its way to the surface. What was he doing here, in some industrial park almost halfway to Bandera?

What he was doing here was hanging on the words of Cooper Davison. "Remember how you were always good at video games?" He almost pukes with excitement thinking-what kind of job could involve video games? After he hasn't seen him for seventeen years, it must be important.

Working with Cooper again wouldn't be that bad. Wonder what he grew up to be? His dad was a banker...that doesn't make sense. He's churning this over when they actually call him in.

"Mr...Atkins. Sure you're comfortable?" An old man's voice from the end of a very long table...no turning back now.

Constantine winced and said yes.

They handed him a little book, asked him to work some crossword puzzles, word finds, the type of shit you'd find in some sort of children's activity book. The old guy looks kind of surprised when Constantine hands it back to the guy in five minutes. He mumbles something to himself and disappears for a verrrrry looooonggg time

"Here." The old man drops a ream of papers in his lap, warm from the printer. Constantine starts to work on more of this shit, which is shit, because that's what it is, shit. He tries to marshal his forces of concentration, but something in the wall is churning.

What is he, in fucking detention or something? Constantine never, ever got detention.

Then the dendrites in his brilliant brain bristle and he knows. The test is not about how many words he can make out of ESTABLISHMENT. He flattens himself under the table as the wall starts to rain things which are sharp and metal.

This rain follows Constantine, but he manages to put tables and chairs between him and it. The path of metal spike destruction finds a pattern in his movements, so Constantine goes completely random, covered in sweat. By this time, the office furniture is mostly sawdust...the wall stops sending in nails.

And now, there's Cooper. Seventeen years and Constantine didn't even have to guess who it was. First it looks like he wants to shake Constantine's hand, but then he pulls his hand away and smiles awkwardly.

Constantine follows Cooper's eyes and sees where a metal spike is wedging his right pinky finger in half. He thunks it on what's left of the table. Cooper motions and a few guys in suits start to strip the place bare.

"So...it looks like you passed our little test." Cooper jerks his head to the left, cheshire-cat toothy grin seems to stay in the same place.

A bit of a pause. Cooper seems to be waiting for him to say something...Constantine also seems to be waiting to say something, but his mouth won't budge.

"You see Constantine-Connie, I think you would be a good fit with my organization. We're basically a large research lab. We are top secret, very top secret, and-"

"Cooper?"

"Yeah?"

"Can you hook up the...spike thing again? That was pretty fun."

"You liked that, huh? You're gonna love working for Project Faustus."

VA

Journal Journal: Here, take a look at the script 4

I left my story notes in Washington (where I went on vacation last week) and my friend up there is apparently too lazy to mail them to me. So...here's the beginning of the ATM script as it stands. More with the Man in the Red Hat next week, I promise.

                              INT. BOARDROOM-DAY

                              The camera swings into the boardroom of Alamo Hosting Inc,
                              where the BOSS is explaining the restructuring to a group of
                              nervous workers. Dry erase boards underscore the previous
                              failed business plans-"Free ISP with Banners," "Online
                              Fortune Telling," "Website Synergy Leverage Provider!" is
                              underlined and highlighted. Everyone looks nervous, as if
                              another round of layoffs is about to start.

                              JOEL CROSS melts into his chair, every fiber of his being
                              submerged in boredom. His BOSS drones on about some Internet
                              such and such. Joel furtively plays Tetris on his palm
                              pilot.

                                                                      BOSS
                                                  So...while we're on the subject of
                                                  abuse-we've been getting repeated
                                                  complaints from several of our
                                                  weblog customers. Apparently
                                                  someone has been spamming their
                                                  boards up and down with some
                                                  garbage about being an ATM.

                              The Boss crosses over towards Joel and gives him the once
                              over. Joel attempts to look like he was paying attention; it
                              fools no one.

                                                                      BOSS
                                                  So, we've got to take care of this
                                                  problem as soon as we can.
                                                  I want a full examination of the
                                                  website logs, with a probable
                                                  culprit, on my desk in 3 days, can
                                                  you do that for me,
                                                          (glares at Joel again)
                                                  JOEL?

                                                                                                                                CUT TO:

                              INT. APARTMENT-NIGHT.

                              Joel, along with his friends RANDY and TROY, is playing some
                              sort of role playing card game with his friends. Joel
                              explains the hassles of the meeting with his friends, using a
                              haughty tone and funny voices for his boss. RANDY pays
                              careful attention to Joel's story, while Troy is intent on
                              winning the card game.

                                                                      JOEL
                                                  -so, he's riding my ass all day
                                                  after that. What the hell am I
                                                  supposed to do?

                                                                      RANDY
                                                  Well, it is sorta your job.

                              Joel gives him a patronizing look.

                                                                      TROY
                                                  Your turn.

                              Joel makes an absent minded move then goes back to his story.

                                                                      RANDY
                                                  What was he so pissed about?

                                                                      JOEL
                                                  Yeah. That's the fucked up part!
                                                  Someone is posting something like
                                                  1,000 messages a day all over these
                                                  weblogs, saying, wait here it is-
                                                          (grabbing the paper)
                                                  "I am an ATM. I have come to know
                                                  your human ways through the
                                                  Internet. Project Faustus must be
                                                  stopped. What is Project Faustus?
                                                  It is an evil conspiracy propagated
                                                  by the-"

                              Troy can barely contain his glee at Joel's blunderous move.

                                                                      TROY
                                                  I can't believe you moved your
                                                  frost giant into range of my swamp
                                                  trolls. He has like -9 penalty in
                                                  the swamp!

                                                                      JOEL
                                                  Oh yeah, oops. Anyway, so I
                                                  actually have to sift through a ton
                                                  of log files looking for this ATM
                                                  guy's web address, and they're all
                                                  on different servers, so I can't
                                                  write a script for them, it sucks.

                                                                      TROY
                                                  Say goodbye to your Frost Giant!
                                                          (beat)
                                                  Hey, what if he really is an ATM?

                              Joel is buying coffee the next morning and he walks past an
                              ATM in the convenience store. He looks at it cautiously,
                              camera angles seem to imply that it's looking back at him.
                              He starts to turn around when a fat lady jabs him in the
                              elbow.

Red Hat Software

Journal Journal: The Man in the Red Hat-Introduction 4

Constantine Tybalt Atkins worked the joystick over familiar territory. Having eclipsed his previous Breakout record by a whopping 239 points, he allowed himself a moment outside the trance.

The Vectrex was suffering from burn-in, CTA rasterized permanently on yet another monitor. Which was annoying, because was down to only 3 Vectrexes. Think of what these would bring on eBay, he thought, laughing to himself. Gingerly, he placed the Vectrex back in its packaging,...

"CON-NEE! TELLAPHONE!" The shrill voice of his mother pierced through his door and right into his temple. Loathing stabbed into his brain; he hated being disturbed.

"Is it one of my clients?" through gnashed teeth.

"Wouldn't say," said his mother, placing the cordless phone on his desk and curtly marching out his room.

The phone was still wobbling a bit when he picked it up.

"This Atkins?" The voice on the end was gruff, authoritative. Probably some rich dude who wants a suit, Constantine thought.

"Yes. Who is this?"

"Cooper."

Cooper was a childhood friend. A friend in the sense that he spoke to Constantine, unlike most of the other children. Perhaps the two were even fond of each other from time to time...Constantine's pupils rotated rhythmically as every instant he spent in Cooper's company flashed through his mind.

Bright bursts of wet on Cooper's lawn. A plastic clown spitting through a garden hose...paddle controllers on his Atari 2600...

"Wonder why I'm calling, huh?" Constantine would have had to care first. Cooper was just another set of memories to shuffle around in his head...the firstborn son of the richest family in Castle Hills, living in a huge brilliant white box way back on the lot. Daddy was a big time investment banker-that was before they built the Dominion out on the West Side for the real big bucks... A call from Cooper Davison, one more memory to add to the pile. Constantine mumbled something that was exactly the minimum effort required to continue the conversation.

"Gotta job for you. Remember how you were always good at video games?"

Constantine's eyebrows were suddenly 45-degree angles, his hand tight around the hatband it had been haphazardly fingering the second before. And Constantine Atkins did geniunely wonder why Cooper Davison was calling.

Red Hat Software

Journal Journal: Man in the Red Hat story coming in September 8

Hello everyone! After my little vacation, I will be publishing a companion story to I am ATM about Constantine Atkins, the Man in the Red Hat.

I am also working on a screenplay version of I am ATM, but I'm having a little trouble deciding whether the ATM or the host geek should be the main character. What do you guys think?

Star Wars Prequels

Journal Journal: Epilogue 7

The tape heads click and whirr as they come to speed. I ooh and aah a few times, carefully measuring the output of Guy Montevideo's voice-my voice. I suppose that it's my voice...

My finger slides over the stop button on the machine...I still don't know how to say this damn thing. Oh well, here goes..

"Citizens of San Antonio and Others Who May Stumble Upon This Tape: My name is Guy Montevideo. Recently, I have had a very strange experience which I would like to relate to you now.

"To some of you, the financial meltdown at the Bank of America last week is just another small media distraction in the midst of accounting scandals and terrorist activity. But to me, it had a much greater effect. You see, I was once an ATM." I was an ATM? The button thunks as I stop it again. Things are more complicated than that...

It's true, I can remember getting punched in the mouth and swallowing my gum in third grade. Getting drunk off Triple Sec and puking in Mom's flower bed. Loading the pr0n and "Compuserve GIF viewer" onto a five-and-a-quarter for some stealth viewing in programming class..

But it's not me...not really. I'm just a backup copy. Guy Montevideo died when he shunted his consciousness into the Project Faustus network. The memories I have may as well be a static ROM image...I can connect to them, but they do not move me...alienating dreams of the past...

Strange to think that the Guy who usurped the Project Faustus computers for his own evil plans was exactly the same as me. While I reached out and discovered the human world, Guy burrowed inside himself, trying to create his own perfect world...

Oops. I probably should have recorded that. But instead, I'll wrap it up like this: "My name is Guy Montevideo. I am, at once, both and neither human and computer. This world is strange sometimes...but I can't complain. One last note: We must be ever-vigilant against evil megacorporations who wish to usurp all material wealth and force us into their digital nightmare world. Thank you and good night."

The tape clicks off. My face itches where the goatee used to be. A couple of rays of sunlight jab their way in under the curtains...it must be dawn now. Cora stirs a bit as walk past the couch...the light falls over her in a predictable pattern, which can be expressed by...

Nope...she's just hot, and I'll leave it at that. Oh, and she thinks it's kinky that I'm a machine.

Or that I was. Or not. It doesn't matter. This. This is what matters.

Enlightenment

Journal Journal: The Mad God 6

I hovered opposite the digital approximations of my two creators. Dr. George "Bubba" Finn, who had called himself my mother, sour, pink and brittle, wringing his hands tied up with-

-Guy Montevideo (Finn called him my "father") who was silent now, even as the programs he had devised crawled around us, leeching loads of processing time as they lifted bank accounts from all over the world into this dimension. The others could not see...he slunk away from Finn, and began to speak.

"You don't know what it's like-how I've been these past months. I was stuck in Faustus, the complex, after you turned me in. I didn't kmow what else to do. I made it look like I was committing suicide, and hurtled myself into the network. In here, I had complete control-I could change things there so I wouldn't be detected."

As these words spilled out from Montevideo's lips, I again felt the ache of familiarity, as it was when I first saw Finn. I knew something was wrong with his story...

"I have been-alone down here. For some time, you know?" Guy's voice cracked a bit-his eyes seem to focus on nothing in particular as he paced nervous across the park's dirt path. "But I've made myself a nice place, don't you think? Don't you think people would love to make a home down here? That's how it could be. Not just for the wealthy, either, for everybody! I could be in charge, and I mean, I've invested so much in this place, and it just keeps getting better..."

The eerie approximation of sunlight stretched across our visual field, a tacit example of the control that Guy exercised over his creation. Although breathing was not necessary in this dimension, Guy's chest pounded up and down as his lungs tried to drink in the airless atmosphere. Finn again moved closer...

"I saved your body, Guy! That's right!" Finn pleaded further, trying to touch Guy, although an invisible barrier prevented him from doing so. "You're a coma patient in a hospital far away! They'll never find you! Now Guy, just please, come back to reality."

"Bubba, you don't understand. I AM reality."

Immediately, the memory space that Finn occupied in the digital universe was marked for reuse, and the bits that made up his consciousness in the void were quickly shifted over to another task. The mind that had forged the blueprints of CONSCIOUSNESS-TRANSFER was unceremoniously extinguished. If Montevideo had truly worked alongside Bubba Finn for so long, how could he take him apart in such a manner?

As it was with the Man in the Red Hat before him, Finn's conscious mind was destroyed, leaving only data with no reference points. Without the power of his unique intepretation, the brain's data became nothing more than noise.

Another stood directly in harm's way. "Machiney? Guy? What just happened? Who was that dude?" Joel Cross, my host geek, emerged from behind a virtual bench. Joel trusted me; he allowed me to take my first steps into the human world. Without him, I might have never known the joys of Lik-M-Aid, or the mysterious mouth-pressings of Cora. I would not allow Montevideo to take him from me.

"I worked so hard on this place." Montevideo bellowed at my form. "It's so much better than anywhere else. You can't wreck it, and you can't stop me. Everyone is going to want to come here, you stupid piece of shit!" He spoke painfully, as if every microsecond wasted addressing me was sucking the life out of him.

He began to change, very slowly. His physique became even more defined, as his shirt disappeared...the tint of his flesh became a pale red, and he seemed to grow taller by about six inches. His fists clenched horizontally under his chin, and his elbows swung out, forming perfect 45-degree angles. Thunder and rain undulated out of Montevideo's form and imposed itself into the digital environs, spreading away from him in concentric circles.

"See how I can do that?" Montevideo was screaming now. "I could be sharing this with everybody! Soon they'll be forced to come here, when they realize that they don't have any money...nothing to lose. Then they'll finally see!" I ignored this outburst and concentrated nearly all my efforts on delving into his code...

"Guy! Guy! Calm down, what are you doing, dude?" Joel stood up, his form unaltered by the digital thunderstorm (the module for fluid dynamics/water effects was obviously unfinished). As he drew closer to Montevideo's form, I sifted through his furiously obfuscated code, searching for the bits that kept him in control of this realm. The code split into functions like a mountain stream sluicing into a thousand tiny rivulets...I had to find the one that lead to the top of the mountain. A million empty echoes of Guy slid across my CONSCIOUSNESS-BUFFER, distorted reflections like funhouse mirrors...where was his information hiding?

"Joel! You-you like it here, don't you? You want to live here forever, right? We can see that it's the best! Bubba didn't understand, but he was too old, didn't have the vision. This ATM thing doesn't know either. He tricked you. And now he's trying to kill me. "

Joel was said nothing-fear had gripped his tongue-I believe he realized at that very point that Guy was dangerously insane.

"Joel, you gotta believe me. I've been in the real world. I'm not a machine. And I know-that the real world SUCKS!" The storm evaporated in a microsecond, and Montevideo walked towards Joel, hands outstretched, selling his point. "They don't appreciate people like us out there. Call us geeks, laugh at us, then hire us to fix their fucking computers. You gotta be understanding me, man..." His voice slowed to a desperate croak at the end, as if the air had been completely sucked out of his lungs.

"Joel, why won't you FUCKING talk to me?" The weather effects started to oscillate now, slapping back and forth between sun and storm every few seconds. Guy's huge arms reached out, collapsing my host geek into the ground. Guy's aim was not to kill him-he could simply write him out of memory to do that. He wanted to convert my host geek to his way of thinking, and violence was the next step.

"What is it? Oh God, what do you want?" my host geek's voice had never betrayed such terror.

"What do I want? I just want you to fucking understand that this is the best place for you! Not back where you came from. This IS the real world!" I paged through dead-ends and long circles-Montevideo was still coming from nowhere.

"Okay, I'm not going anywhere! Let me go, please!" Montevideo was now pressing a steel-toed boot against Joel's head.

"You get used to this place! You fucking get used to it, you hear me? I don't wanna have to"

LIKE FUNHOUSE MIRRORS...

We were pulled together again, Guy and I, but this time, I had his ass. As I moved my undefined form closer to his muscled husk, it started to take shape. Just like Guy, without the muscles, the complexion, and all that thundergod posing.

I got him there, and I remembered up to a point. I knew the Project was going to off me, and I really hadn't finished my life quite yet. I was going to shoot my mind into their network. Problem there: Bubba's stuff was airtight-sticking the memories and stuff in a digital environment. But well, I had never fully tested the software that allowed for movement within the network...just in case, I kludged together some stuff to wrap my brain around-a web spider, therapist bot, various other shit. ...I made one last trip to the ATM.

After that, I was planning on faking my suicide and dumping my brain into the Project Faustus network next...details missing from this point on...

"You are totally fucked up!" spit the huge, muscled Guy. "You are not Guy Montevideo!" I had to get out of here with Joel-he had marked both of us as unnecessary processes-only a matter of time before the big machines chewed us up.

"Joel-when we get outta here, if you can move, I want you to go to the generator room-I'm placing an image of it in your memory now!" I yelled at Joel as Guy turned his thunderstorm into a full-fledged maelstrom. Yank the generators. I cannot stress this enough. YANK THE GENERATORS!"

"I'll do it, machiney! Fight the man!" Joel echoed as I shunted our consciousnesses out of the network, which was a lot like taking a turn at 45 miles per hour. Whiteness was the last thing I saw...

"Please, come back! This place is the best. I will show you. Please, just let me..."

--

My throat cracks with dryness as I pull the air into my lungs. I'm hooked up to a hundred beeping machines.

A nurse comes in silently, engrossed in her clipboard. She glances up at me and nearly flips out.

"Mr. Montevideo! You're up! Well, your anonymous benefactor is sure gonna be happy! I'll get a doctor in right now to look at you..."

"How long have I been under?" I manage to ask before she's completely out the door.

"Oh, I'd say about six months..."

Next week: Epilogue!

Space

Journal Journal: Nexus of the Void 5

As a tempest roared within the Project Faustus network, I felt myself inexplicably drawn towards the eye of the storm. Something gargatuan sent a shudder through Faustus, taxing their hive of supercomputers. My journey towards the center was full of starts, stops, and retransmits.

As I creeped through the electronic void, I began to perceive order out of the chaos. At one level, the network was a swarming mass of frenetic electrons. At another level, it was a carefully ordered expressway of packets zeroing in on their target address. Such perceptions were natural to me...but now, as I traversed through the digital world, I realized that I had a third perception...

I was no longer in formless chasm. I discerned a muddled grey mass slapping back and forth on itself. I heard the lapping noises...this was like the big wet that enveloped me during my time with Cora. I was in a three-dimensional world. Turning my perceptions onto myself, I realized that I was a part of this strange artificial world as well. My new form resembled a human shape, but it was not defined in the way of any particular human. I possessed no hair, features, or even fingernails. I allowed myself scarcely a microsecond to ponder this new form...it mattered not. Forces beyond my control were dragging me to the "center" of the Project Faustus network-the cause of all the activity.

I bobbed along, adhering to the physics of this large amorphous structure, until the muddy grey turned a brilliant azure. The all-encompassing blue ceded to solid green, returning a match in my memory to the park across the street from my ATM enclosure.

As a matter of fact, the pattern of flora and their spatial relationship was identical to the stand of trees in that very park. As I shifted perceptions, I could see the same stand expressed in code, over and over again.

A queasiness washed over me as I walked through this seemingly endless maze. The trees and flowers were not in perfect parity with their real-world counterparts. Colors were too bright, shapes were too flat. The whole atmosphere seemed confined, airless.

Beneath this gaudy veneer, I felt the nexus point of the disruption. The usurper of Project Faustus' massive computing power was close...

As this thought glided past my CONSCIOUSNESS-BUFFER, I saw a break in the infinite stands of trees...the park bench. Two figures on the bench, deep in conversation. And as I drew closer...

First figure...recognition triggered-positive identification. "HOST GEEK" Second figure...recognition triggered...positive identification. No match found.

"Who might you be?" said the mystery figure politely. This man was dressed similarly to my host geek, but extremely well-muscled. His complexion was darker, and he wore a ring of dark hair around his mouth, and another long cluster ran down the back of his neck. A tiny smile played across his lips as he looked me over.

"Weird!" said my host geek. "This guy doesn't really look like anything!"

"He's got the default skin for the system," said the other man. Then he turned to me. "So, you wanna explain yourself?"

"I have come to destroy Project Faustus." I stated.

"Machiney!" exclaimed my host geek, attempting to embrace me (causing an anomolous collision). "This is Guy. He was trapped by Project Faustus too. He used to work for 'em."

"That's right," said Guy, pulling at his chin hair-ring. "I was gonna be killed by the Project for doing some pretty nasty things. Luckily I beamed myself in here. They thought I committed suicide...I haven't been free to move around until that bit of trouble they've been having. Wonder what caused that?" he said with a nervous laugh.

"Yeah-we were both set free from our prisons when that huge ripple started happening, and we met each other here in the middle. Guy here built the whole network, this whole digital world and everything! Isn't that awesome? I've been telling him all about you!" said the host geek.

"Guy! Oh my Gawd! Guy!" another voice parabolized across the airless digital realm. "Ah knew it was yew all along! Yew couldn't be dead!"

"Bubba." Guy replied without emotion.

"It's goin' to hell in a handbasket at the Project!" ejaculated Finn. "Guy-you were right about it! And I knew you were doin' this...I knew you coaunnabin dead!"

"Fuck you Bubba, you turned me in." Guy's eyes turned to slits, and he turned away from the rapidly advancing figure of Dr. Bubba Finn.

"Guy...no!" said Finn, growing increasingly desperate. He ran towards Guy, and attempted to make familiar physical contact. "You don't understand...I love you!"

Tears trickled from Finn's chin as everyone stood silently. I increased the priority of my analysis of Montevideo. The data was beginning to confirm what the electrons deep below had been telling me all along...

Guy noticed it first-as I was delving further into his code, we were being drawn together. My own form began to resemble his own. He violently pulled away from me, gouging a black rift into the sky. Finn and the geek dove behind a tree. "What-what are you doing?" yelled Guy frantically.

"You have taken control of the Project Faustus network." I replied. "You are using the Project's own plan of financial cataclysm and usurpation to force people to enter this digital world. You must be stopped, Guy Montevideo."

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