The Diffused States of the America - Part 1

Written by: Aleksander Ruegg | Follow on: Twitter, Facebook

Published: Mar 16, 2020 9:30:00 AM




ONE | Hid Among the Dead

Tobias Gilroy traded in his name the day he began tending to the lucid mecha at the racetrack by the bay. He wouldn’t earn any notoriety without a more remarkable name and he self-identified as Stro the moment his profile confirmed the update. A runner wrangling adoration from a lively grandstand—and respect from his biomechanical partner, the rekt—required a delusional / confident aura, elitist-level taste musical taste, and genius coding skill. The rekt’s virtual intelligence spewed from the roiling ocean of networked data that’d come before. The rekt also abided no redundancy. Those virtual minds weren’t aware of themselves, but they were aware of SOMETHING. They preferred—they sided—with things never before seen in recorded history. Runners like Stro were succulent athletes of beastly originality. Show any weakness and their machines would reject the runner. The human brains would fry like eggs from stem to cerebellum when attempting synchronization.

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The King North of the Sky - Part 3

Written by: Aleksander Ruegg | Follow on: Twitter, Facebook

Published: Mar 13, 2020 9:30:00 AM

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FIVE | Moving Targets

Astrid froze at the sight out the windows. The entire wilderness came at her as if she were driving a car. Ridley shoved her into the fireplace to avoid a gunshot. A bump in the hill sent both he and the gunman tumbling. The gunman flapped his arms and cracked his head on the ceiling. Ridley slammed to the floor. He spread his arms and legs like an insect to find balance.

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The King North of the Sky - Part 2

Written by: Aleksander Ruegg | Follow on: Twitter, Facebook

Published: Mar 11, 2020 9:30:00 AM

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THREE | Malicious Intent

The facts were these. 

According to Ridley’s research in the San Francisco Chronicle’s archives, Astrid’s father, Lord Lloyd Cornwallis, had once been acquainted with the Remington family back in England. A very well to-do clan present throughout Britain's imperialistic history, the Remingtons maintained a generational legacy as hoarders of valuable antiquities. They rarely shared these treasures, with Lord Cornwallis being the notable exception. Arthur Remington II gifted the Lord a golden Incan sphere, gathered from an unknown Andes ruin.

It was written the thing somehow shone dimly, even in full darkness, and it smelled of mint.

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I Ate The Same Three Meals, Every Day, For A Year

Written by: Alex Crumb | Follow on: Twitter, Facebook

Published: Mar 10, 2020 8:30:00 AM


Today, I celebrate eating the same three meals, every day, for roughly the length of a year. Some precise part of my brain wishes I knew the exact date I began. That's a telling preview of what awaits us further down in this bizarre story.

Listen, a grieving mind and body does some stuff that might appear strange upon first glance. It's a matter of self-preservation. It's a need to keep my whole meat-stack from collapsing into a lopsided, catatonic blob on the floor for the world to step over, around, or through. Just, street-mush. I needed to be in control of something when it seemed the heat-death of the universe was the only certainty in not only my life, but in all existence.

Then again, most people aren't the closing act on a list of eulogizers at age 32. Anecdotal research tells us only 0.2% of people dying these days die in their 30s. Think on that, as I recall the experience exacto-carving some stuff across my pinkest parts with a tenacity usually reserved for a teenager defacing a bathroom stall at a hardcore club. But, hey, that's a story for another time, and today's lesson is about my continued need for food to live. Otherwise I would die, and then where would we be?

Now that we have a morsel of context, maybe I should explain.

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The King North of the Sky - Part 1

Written by: Aleksander Ruegg | Follow on: Twitter, Facebook

Published: Mar 9, 2020 9:30:00 AM




ONE | Bad Breeding

Ridley Woodward had hidden five deadly weapons around the cabin. Astrid was looking straight at one of them.

“I think I love you,” Astrid said, turning on her heel to face him. Her back was to the mantle now. The elephant gun was snuggled down into its rest above the fireplace. Hardly hidden at all.

Nevertheless, as determined to follow in her father’s footsteps as Astrid was—the old man had cursed the Kaiser with his dying breath—Ridley had never seen the woman take the gun down from above the fireplace. It had begun gathering spiderwebs. Hadn’t it? Ridley had taken caution to mimic the spiders’ architecture after silently loading the gun the night before.

Caught off guard by Astrid’s words though, he could not find himself. There was a tickle in his throat and lump in his chest. He perspired under the afternoon sun. It rolled in the window in a fiery hymn.

His disobedient eyes moved off her after she spoke, the words hardly finished.

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The Scarlet Tenant - Part 3

Written by: Aleksander Ruegg | Follow on: Twitter, Facebook

Published: Mar 6, 2020 8:30:00 AM


FIVE | Held Close

It took some effort for Theresa to brush away the roots hugging the casket.

Operating on instinct, Niall kept his head swiveling on his neck, as though houskeeping, or police, or ghosts might come around a corner and inquire with harsh language.

A wooden crunch brought him back. Theresa wrenched open the lid. Inside was Arthur Remington’s decayed body, stiff as a movie prop. Numb or drunk, Niall found himself getting in for a closer look.

“This here,” Theresa said, inches from the corpse and not missing a beat. She indicated toward the medallion around the corpse’s neck. “Peruvian. Gold. This is Arthur Remington III, for sure.”

She passed the medallion to Niall. The body’s arms were folded around a flat, square chest. Theresa tugged the chest from Arthur. She grunted from the weight, again, passing it to Niall. She re-examined the body.

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It Was A Bad Idea Letting Me Get Good At Something

Written by: Alex Crumb | Follow on: Twitter, Facebook

Published: Mar 5, 2020 9:30:00 AM


We were all born stupid.

That one's for the humans in the audience, but to the universe itself, I present a less cryptic critique. Letting me get good at something was a bad idea. You fucked that up. Now I'm gonna bully you into submission. I'm gonna dominate you. I'm gonna eat your lunch and you're gonna find the slots in this hallway locker provide plenty of oxygen.

You shouldn't have let me get good at anything. You shouldn't have taken the boot off my neck. I am the product of the Baby Boomer generation's pod-grown scrub-science. If I'm the endgame of their legacy-defining ladder-climbing, man, I understand why the current-olds would rather people not shine a Bollywood-silver spotlight on their trophy case's malformed shape. I was born stupid, and it only took me the better part of a lifetime to get good at living with myself.

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The Scarlet Tenant - Part 2

Written by: Aleksander Ruegg | Follow on: Twitter, Facebook

Published: Mar 4, 2020 8:30:00 AM


THREE | The Remington Mansion

Each step was an intrusion. Desperation put a corkscrew to Niall’s brain. Walking, he kept opening his mouth to speak, then not. He kept testing different smiles to catch Theresa’s attention. He had settled into a resting state at his age. He moved like a young man faking maturity—chin up, nods to confirm understanding, bit of a smile for confidence. His suit jacket and pants were too big, frayed and ripped up its right side. A patient expression roosted on his face, noticing the approaching wood and saying nothing. He nearly lost a shoe in the eroded shoreline path. His pant-cuffs were stained black up to his shins. The bend in the bay seemed only a persuasive nudge from tumbling into the sea.

The path sent them through the indomitable heath and thorny Scottish gorse into the trees. Deeper, where the wood grew thicker, a fountain welcomed them to the hidden humanity. The fountain could fit in at a city park with its size. Leaves choked its basin. The fat angel atop its center spout was missing half its face, shorn off in some mediocre vandalism.

Past the fountain, Niall and Theresa came to the mansion’s front door. He was glad he had not attempted to drive his BMW. Not to mention the loamy road, the mansion’s welcome-way that might have once greeted automobiles—or perhaps even carriages—was snarled with vines.

Seaspray’s salty grip and green algae attacked the mansion’s every available surface. More decapitated cherubs and iron barred windows made the building a self-devouring mausoleum.

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My Dog Knows All The Sounds I Make

Written by: Alex Crumb | Follow on: Twitter, Facebook

Published: Mar 3, 2020 9:30:00 AM


My dog knows all the sounds I make.

She knows what they mean, little *skrks* and *lomps* and *clanks* communicating where I am and where I'll be next. Hanging out is her only objective. And playing objective-1A. And the best places to hang out and play are in a room with a human. While she cannot speak, she remains intelligent, confident, and conscientious.

In truth, I cannot speak, either, not at least in a human-on-dog conversational manner. Lucky me, she knows all the sounds I make. 

I must not make many sounds. She must be quite confident in herself.

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The Scarlet Tenant - Part 1

Written by: Aleksander Ruegg | Follow on: Twitter, Facebook

Published: Mar 2, 2020 8:30:00 AM




ONE | The Water Dog

On orders from her employer, Theresa Leone spent a month breaking, entering, and ransacking the most storied estate on the Scottish coast. In that time, the locals hadn’t spared a care. Theresa sprinkled bribes into any conversation she couldn’t fib through. Hearsay suggested the mansion’s eccentric owners, the Remingtons, were a dead bloodline, or at least timezones and hemispheres away, perhaps drinking life away on a yacht off Ibiza.

Despite her diligence, Theresa’s efforts remained fruitless. The precise object of her desire remained hidden in the mansion’s deep corridors and limitless rooms.

One still morning, when it seemed the sun could not rise above some gray zenith, Theresa was elbow-deep in a space behind a library bookshelf when an animalistic yelp came into earshot. It shot forth again over the crash of the morning surf. Downstairs, Theresa exited onto the rear terrace. She listened.

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