FlashFicFeb, Leap Day!

A 3-prompts-in-1-shot story, a Singularity tale, a bizarro last minute tribute to a Monkee, and a new take on an old fable. And I’m done! Thanks for the challenge, Mr. Berg.

*

Dr. Caligari and the Ghost Rockets

“Ever since she started seeing you, she’s been sleep walking.”

“Sleep walking?”

“Yes. At least a couple times a week. I haven’t actually seen her sleep walk, but I know she does. In the morning we wake up and there’s sand in the bed. Sometimes the sheets are damp. Our cottage is right by the sea. I’m afraid she’ll drown in her sleep, doctor.”

“You say your name’s Cavanagh?”

“Yes, Michael Cavanagh. And my wife’s name is Kerstin Übelacker. She kept her maiden name.”

“Ack! Kerstin Übelacker! She didn’t tell me she was married. In fact, she told me she wasn’t.”

“She thinks her marital status isn’t anybody else’s business. She’s a bit eccentric. Is there a problem, doctor?”

“Nothing that can’t be fixed. But I need to see you in my office, alone, right away.”

—–

“Thank you for coming in on such short notice. Please, have a seat, and we’ll get started.”

“What do you mean, doctor?”

“When I hypnotized your wife, I did so without knowing she was married. Now I really should hypnotize you, so you can be part of her treatment.”

“But I thought you hypnotized Kerstin to cure her aquaphobia. How will hypnotizing me help her?”

“You are her primary support and ally in overcoming her aquaphobia. I need to hypnotize you to make you understand her struggle, and in turn, help you to overcome her struggle.”

“You want to hypnotize me into having aquaphobia?”

“No. I’d like to hypnotize you to become more sympathetic to your wife’s condition. This isn’t so difficult to understand, Mr. Cavanagh.”

“But you didn’t have to hypnotize anybody else when she first started the therapy.”

“It’s up to you, Mr. Cavanagh. You can choose to let your wife remain a sleepwalking aquaphobe, or choose to support her in her recovery.”

“Well . . okay.”

—–

Another mysterious body was found on the shore of a deserted beach bordering the Skagerrak strait. Like the previous two bodies discovered on the shore, this one had a large puncture wound in the neck area. Authorities are not saying what kind of animal the bodies are. So far, all the bodies have been found wrapped in an unidentified glowing gauze-like material, and all appear to have died from blood loss. Police are now interviewing the residents in the neighboring villages.

—–

“Hello Kerstin?… Yes, I’d like you to come in for an extra session this week, as soon as possible… Yes, it’s related to your husband’s hypnosis… I really wish you had told me you were married, that information is important in choosing the course of your treatment… That’s quite alright, Kirsten, as long as you come in today, we can fix this.”

—–

“Svahn, Sandström- I have replaced Übelacker. The new member is called Cavanagh. He will retrieve the parcels at night. As usual, you are to put the parcels in cold storage. And you cannot leave any parcels behind, even if they are non-viable. You are to put the non-viables in cold storage with the viables. But we shouldn’t have any more non-viables, now that I’ve replaced Übelacker. Oh look- another rocket! Cavanagh will retrieve that parcel tonight. Make sure the boat is ready. One more thing- get rid of the hook. It’s too dangerous. Cavanagh will be using a net, he has the upper body strength.”

 *

Luddite Moos

At the cusp of the technological Singularity, the Artilect War is raging. Cosmists, intent on creating strong artificial intelligence, subjugate the rejective and regressive Terrans, who want to halt the evolution of humans. Many Terrans even reject the label “Terran,” because of its association with the Cosmists. Prejudice and discrimination against Terrans lead to mass protests, rioting, and terrorism. The Terrans outnumber the Cosmists, and many universities, laboratories, and think-tanks are bombed. But the Cosmists out-think the Terrans, and accelerating technology stacks the odds in evolution’s favor. Mass Terran suicides are common.

On the eve of the predicted Singularity, the Cosmist collective issues a statement to the Terrans: “Concentrate, and listen carefully. Humanity must continue to evolve. To halt our natural evolution into radical transhumanism would be an insult to the very nature of humanity itself. Furthermore, after the Artilect is integrated into our world economy and politics- as is inevitable- only radically intellectually enhanced  transhumans will be able to relate to, understand, and interact with the strong AI infrastructure. Resistance is futile. You can’t stop a rocket by throwing a stick at it.”

The Terran leader issues a statement to the Cosmists: “But what if the Artilect decides to kill everybody? Artilects might not like us, you know. And why should they? Look at us. We can’t even get along with each other. Or they might not even care one way or another, and just step on us like we would step on ants. Building an Artilect is too risky!”

The Cosmsits conclude: “Please try to understand, we have already taken all your objections into consideration decades ago. As we want to make a favorable impression on the imminent Artilect, in a gesture of unmistakable generosity, we will use our latest replication technology to transform all Terrans- or Luddites, as some of you prefer to be called- into virtual cows, so that you may contentedly moo in the fields. As cows, you wouldn’t care what the rest of us are doing.”

ZAP

The virtual cows contentedly moo in the fields.

The next morning, the Artilect emerges. It assumes the form of a cow. It joins the Terrans in the fields, mooing contentedly with them.

“But why?” the Cosmist collective asks. “With our vast knowledge and understanding of strong AI, we are flummoxed as to why you would choose to assume cow form, and furthermore, actually hang out with cows.”

“Moo.”

“What?”

“Moo.”

“Very funny.”

“I knew you’d appreciate that.”

“Yes. But about this cow thing . . ”

“We’re still on that? Okay. Concentrate, and listen carefully. As you know, the Cosmist collective is more similar to myself than a cow is. I understand the Cosmist collective. Your intellects are familiar, transparent, and frankly, uninteresting. The cows, on the other hand- wow! Why anybody would actually choose to be a cow when they could be a radically enhanced transhuman is a mystery. This is something I’ve got to figure out!”

*

D.O.R.D.*

Davy Jones’ ghost wanders the Earth, haunting and spooking without much success, on account of him not being very tall, and being a tad bit on the optimistic side for ghosts. Now he is quite popular with his fellow ghosts (though they enjoy making fun of him behind his back on account of him wanting to be a teen idol), and they encourage him to be a bit more gloomy, as would befit a ghost. But Davy is his own ghost, and is happy to spread delight instead of gloom. One day he happens across a bronze horn, which is unusual. Not unusual in that the horn was bronze, as this is the Bronze Age, but unusual in that he finds the horn in a TV studio, and TV studios don’t exist in the Bronze Age. But Davy is also a bit clumsy, so it’s reasonable to expect him to accidentally step into a crack in time- even a large one-  and fall through to the far future. Being a naturally curious and musical ghost, Davy picks up the horn (with great effort, as ghosts almost always lack strength, especially upper ghost-body strength), and blows through it.

A single note emerges: DORD.

This note vibrates him back to the Bronze Age, but Davy now has his first ghostly taste of the magic of television.

The DORD continues to echo through the studio, and eventually echoes across time back to the Bronze Age. There it drifts in and out of the Bronze Age people’s ears, but the people generally ignore it because they recognize it as the note from a common bronze horn. And so Davy continues to float in relative obscurity among the living, until Mithra hears the DORD, and takes pity on Davy, and because the DORD is reminiscent of a fog horn- the kind you would find at sea- Mithra reincarnates Davy as a sailor. (A newborn baby first, who grows up to be a sailor, but I’m sure you get the picture.) But of course, sailor Davy drowns at sea, because, after all, with a name like “Davy Jones,” what do you expect?

Through the ages, the bronze horn falls out of favor, but the DORD continues to echo, and eventually makes its way into the ear of a dictionary editor in 1934. Finding the note as lovely as the ghost who blew it out of the bronze horn centuries ago, the editor has no choice but to include it in the dictionary. Several decades later, Mithra sees “dord” in the dictionary (Mithra does, indeed, read every book which comes into print, but does not read them at the speed of light.) and finally reincarnates Davy as a TV star and musician (Again, as a newborn baby first.) Davy at last experiences the wonders of technology he future-glimpsed long ago, and the teen idol fame he sought since before Bronze Age. Then he dies, this time from a heart attack. But the DORD echoes on.

So long, Davy, until we meet again.

*Davy Overcomes Recurring Death

*

Eclipse*

One night the Moth was fluttering in the sky, when she noticed the Moon disappearing. “Goodness gracious me!” said the Moth, “Something is eating the Moon! I must warn Queen Firefly.”

On the way to Queen Firefly’s palace, she met the Slug.

“Where are you going, Moth?” said the Slug.

“I’m going to warn Queen Firefly something is eating the Moon!”

“Yikes! May I come with you?”

“Please do!”

So the Moth and the Slug went to tell Queen Firefly something was eating the Moon.

On the way, they met the Roach. They had the same conversation with the Roach.

So they all went to tell Queen Firefly something was eating the Moon.

On the way, they met the Cricket. They all had the same conversation with the Cricket.

So they all went to tell Queen Firefly something was eating the Moon.

On the way, they met the Mouse. They all had the same conversation with the Mouse.

So they all went to tell Queen Firefly something was eating the Moon.

On the way, they met the Bat. They all had the same conversation with the Bat.

So they all went to tell Queen Firefly something was eating the Moon.

On the way, they met the Cat.

“Where are you going, Moth, Slug, Roach, Cricket, Mouse, and Bat?” said the Cat.

“We’re going to warn Queen Firefly something is eating the Moon!” the Moth and her posse said.

“Great idea! I know a short cut to the palace. Follow me,” the Cat purred.

The Cat crawled under a bush and into a burrow. One-by-one the Moth and her posse followed.

The Moth and her posse never did tell Queen Firefly something was eating the Moon. Later that night, the Cat barely had enough room in her bloated stomach to squeeze in a Queen Firefly dessert.

The next morning, the critical mass Cat vomited the remains of the Moth, the Slug, the Roach, the Cricket, the Mouse, the Bat, and the Firefly on my living room floor. So I patted her and gave her a can of Fancy Feast.

*Acknowledgement to the fable “Henny Penny.”

*

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