What's In Here:
1. Special Thanks Section
This is where I give thanks to those who aren't as obviousely
deserving of it (the unsung hero types).
2. About "Boundaries of Sanity"
An explanation of why this magazine exists and a small
overview of what got it started.
3. The Editor's Soapbox
Where I say what I want to say and then cut out.
4. "A Raisin In The..."
A funny little spoof of murder, with a a slight twist of pun added.
A depressingly trippy exploration into dreams and wishes.
6. The Longest Journey
A look at death, life, and what's in-between.
7. "Strong Metallic Arm"
A more hard-core science fiction story of love and murder.
8. "I Help You Cut Your Wrists"
An interesting journey into insanity and suicide.
9. Poem #4
Yet more explains.
10. About The Literature
Where I explain a little about each of the submissions in
this issue. Such as who the author is (unless it's a pen
name, of course) and any other pertinent information about
Special thanks in this issue go out to Blaine Binkerd, SysOp
of The Existentialist ((801)-226-8310), for his help and suggestions for
getting this magazine off the disk, so to speak.
About "Boundaries of Sanity":
Boundaries of Sanity started when a young man by the name of
Aaron Turpen got the idea in his head that he should have a
magazine. He wanted to have a place where he could not only
express his ideas, but also allow other beginning authors to
express themselves to the public. He did not, however, want to
become just another hack magazine, so he did his best to design
it to be an all-round thought invoking periodical. He had
noticed that a lot of great literature wasn't being printed
because it was too "off the wall" or too "blatantly exposing."
Because of this, he decided that his magazine would allow these types of
writings to exist in the magazine itself. Thus, Boundaries of Sanity got
its start. Now, hopefully, it will stay.
The Editor's Soapbox:
This is the section in which I get to say whatever I feel
like saying. It's where I get to force my opinions on you guys.
Isn't it great? Now if only I could think of something important
There have been a few inklings of interest in this magazine
so far (I didn't expect a LOT, since this is its first issue),
but not a lot of support via submissions. However, I did receive
enough to get this first issue together. And I hope the glue
A Raisin In The...:
by Eugene A. Zeak, Jr.
It was a dark and stormy night, a shot rang out. The lights flickered
once ... twice ... a third time, then everything went black.
Fred muttered, "Darn lights.", as he opened the cabinet door. He froze
as a series of tiny, sharp squeaks sounded from the cabinet's dark
recesses. He stood in horror as if superglued to the spot ... each
squeak tapering off with a rattling sigh.
The lights flushed into life, freezing the tableau before his frightened
eyes. California raisins lay strewn about the bottom of the cabinet.
The entire scene rushed at him as if it were a B movie on late night
television in the middle of the week after a David Letterman Late Night
show as he glimpsed the furtive movement of something quickly scurrying
behind the curled edge of a crumpled Captain Bits box standing there on
the bottom shelf.
Quickly, with a spastic flutter, he toppled the box from the cabinet. It
bounced once, then fell from the counter top, and spiralled slowly to the
floor, landing on it's side. Leaving the creature within nothing on which to
grasp. It rolled out of the box.
The last thing Fred saw was the gun pointed at his forehead by the cereal
by John Doe
The fathers singing in the rain
"Smell Good, Dear Lady;"
They debate the fine points of opera
While it's still dark.
Roses are delivered without a card...
You stop imagining.
Wishing won't make it true.
The Longest Journey
(C) 1991 Kevin Francis
by Kevin Francis
I see a large hill covered emerald green,
A place that's so lovely has never been seen.
I see a white pony alone on my hill,
With sound coming forth that's so piercing and shrill,
Rings loud in my ears and my head it does fill.
I see a black house with its windows all open,
A spirit inside with which I have oft spoken.
I see a grey heart filled with joy and with sorrow,
A strange way of life which I have oft borrowed,
I wonder if it will be alright tomorrow.
I see a large sailboat, a symbol of life,
A very dark cargo of sorrow and strife.
I see a plane flying high over my head,
A non-flapping bird leaving trails of bright red,
It keeps me reminded that I am not dead.
A light in a window comes on in my house,
My wife at the door in her new summer blouse.
She bids me inside and I can but comply,
But much later on, I will not wonder why
In most other cases, I would be too shy.
The inside is different, the wallpaper white,
It does make much easier my singular plight.
I'm searching for life, many resources spent,
But of natures reserves, life has made just a dent.
It seems I'm a tenant who can't make his rent.
And yet life goes on, my white pony, it waits,
It's ready to take me out to the front gate.
I mount on my steed, a large cloud fumbles by,
I'll miss this great home land, I just start to cry,
My wife makes good stew, and hard bread made of rye.
I start on my journey, the plane overhead,
I would that it could go through this in my stead.
I start on a new trip, I really must go,
My wife will still love me, and that much I know,
My wants and my needs try to each overthrow.
I go all alone, no companion I take,
And yet this long journey all others will make.
The woman is weeping who stands in the door,
I want to be with her forever and more,
But nature's completing its finishing chore.
STRONG METALLIC ARM
(C) 1991 Jerry J. Davis
by Jerry J. Davis
Two red lights blinked on in the bedroom. There was a tiny
but audible "beep" and a countdown began deep in the basement of
the stone mansion. In the bedroom a white-haired white-skinned
woman stirred in her sleep.
She was having a nightmare.
The countdown in the basement arrived at zero. The two red
lights winked green. A signal was sent to the interface in
woman's head and an electro-chemical switch was shut off. The
nightmare disappeared and the woman's body went limp.
Another signal was sent, another microscopic switch thrown.
The implanted interface began a systematic stimulation of her
brain. Information poured out, sharp and clear images, memories,
attitudes, transmitted from the interface to the basement. A
copy of everything that made this woman "Erin Lind" was stripped
away and put into a box for safe-keeping.
The process finished, and Erin resumed normal sleep.
The nightmare, which had been a reoccurring one for the last
few weeks, began again.
Hours later her bedroom curtains pulled themselves aside to
let in sharp morning sunlight, and light Poonjaz music began
drifting out of the walls. TIM, Erin's executive AI, sent a
signal through her interface and she woke up. Erin opened her
eyes and looked around the white room. The dream was still
lingering in her mind, vivid, and she shuddered and sat up in the
web. It lowered her so that her feet touched the ground, and
after a moment she stepped out of it.
When she was out in the hall, heading toward the bathroom,
her husband's voice drifted up to her from downstairs. "Oh,
"Yes," she said.
"How are you feeling this morning?"
"Yes." She rushed into the bathroom and closed and locked
the door behind her. She sat heavily on the commode, holding her
hands to her face.
She deliberated for a long while, trying to become rational.
She just couldn't do it, she needed help. She needed the
guidence of the Oricle. TIM, she thought, connect me. TIM asked,
a thought-voice in her head.
Yes, she told him. Cut us off when we reach four thousand.
Erin closed her eyes and found herself in a white marble
chapel full of misty air. A window high above the altar let in a
brilliant light, which shined down upon the steps where she
stood. She faced the light, and said, "I am still having that
A deep, powerful voice replied. "Is this the dream where
your husband kills you during a fishing trip?"
"How many times have you had this dream now?"
"A lot. I don't know how many exactly."
"May I review your memories?"
The Oracle paused, and the light streaming through the window
became blinding. Erin felt warm, relaxed. She had completely
forgotten that she was sitting on the commode in one of her
upstairs bathrooms. When The Oracle spoke again the voice was
not as loud, it was more personal and fatherly. "Are you going
on this fishing trip with him today?"
"I don't want to."
"The fear you have is irrational, and stems from the guilt
you feel for cutting your husband off from your company."
"I do feel guilty."
"It was a wise choice, Erin, and my advice is for you to
stand firm on your decision. It is possible he married you for
personal gain, we have talked about that before. But beside
that, he has cost you money on his ventures. You're company has
lost some credibility directly because of his actions. He is
prone to scandals. Your actions have been more than fair, you
should feel no guilt."
"I see no implied threat, however, from your husband."
"Are you sure?"
"Nothing is absolutely 'sure.' However, the probability is
small and I see no implied threat from your memories. This
fishing trip is a perfect opportunity to overcome this
"I don't know if I can go through with it."
"I urge you to go. Go, have a pleasant time. Chances are
you will never have that nightmare again."
"Well, isn't there another way? I mean, can't you . . ."
She stopped talking as the light was cut off and the chapel
around her faded to black. She opened her eyes and found herself
in the bathroom.
Four-thousand already? she thought. TIM told her.
There was a knock at the door. Her husband's voice drifted
in. "You're sick?" he said.
Erin hesitated. "I feel a little sick, yes."
"Does that mean you don't want to go out on the boat?"
"I'll, I'll . . . I'll go out on the boat."
"Are you sure, sugar? You don't have to. You shouldn't go
if you're not feeling well."
Erin didn't say anything.
"You want me to get the automed ready?"
"No, I'm not that sick. I just feel a little queasy."
"Maybe you'll feel better after you've eaten something."
"Yes, I think that'll do it." Her hands to her face, she bit
her right index finger. She shivered, the room was cold. "I'll
be out in a minute."
"Want anything special for breakfast?"
"No. I don't care."
"How about some mild chibique, a bit of lime and some strip
"I don't care. Sounds good."
"Okay." His footsteps told her he was heading away.
"Duane?" she called.
His footsteps came back. "Yes, sugar?"
"Why are you being so nice to me?"
"Because I love you."
It didn't sound sincere. Erin thought that it had never
sounded sincere. But, maybe it was. Maybe I'm putting the
insincerity into it? she thought. God knows I loved him. Do I
She said, "Thank you, sweetheart."
His footsteps receded down the hall, down the steps, and away
into the lower portions of the mansion. His withdrawal made her
feel very alone. I'm just a small freak of a woman, she thought.
He has been the only one who's cared for me. She stood up and
looked at her white face in the mirror, her bulging blue eyes
surrounded by wrinkles, her thin white hair. She looked hideous
to herself. A pale freak in a world where everyone was tan,
dark-haired and healthy.
Erin fixed herself up and dressed, then glided down the
stairs and into the dining area. The servant remotes were
putting out the silver plates of the fresh, aromatic chibique, a
pile of soy-bacon strips, and large glasses of malted villomead.
Duane was squeezing a lemon wedge over the chibique. "Good
morning, honey, you look wonderful."
"Thank you Duane. This smells good."
"Pushed the buttons myself."
"Thank you." Erin stared at the breakfast with no desire to
eat. "It looks like you're starting to adjust to not working."
"Hell, honey, when have I ever worked? I can do without
business deals. You were right all along. If I want to work the
nets, I can use my own money."
"You don't hate me?"
"No! I don't hate you. It's a silly little matter, anyway,
I don't see why we got all worked up about it."
It's just me, she told herself. I feel so guilty about
cutting him off from what he loves. He ought to hate me. He
really should. That's why his voice sounds so insincere to me,
it's because my subconscious hates me for doing it to him.
That's why I've been having all those terrible nightmares.
Right, TIM? That's what The Oracle said. TIM told her.
like to review the recent conversations?>
What she really wanted to do is have another session with The
Oracle. It was the ultimate AI, the ultimate psychologist, the
ultimate confessional. It was just that it was so damn
expensive. No, she thought. Not now. I can't go off into a
trance at the breakfast table. She made a valiant attempt at
smiling at Duane. "Do you think . . ."
"What?" he said.
"Do you think we could do something besides fish while we're
out on the boat?"
"Something besides fish?" He said it like it was
"It's been over two months."
"Two months since . . . oh, yeah. I guess it has, hasn't it?
Well." He smiled. The smile seemed genuine enough. "Well," was
all he said.
It was a sunny, cloudless day in the islands. Duane had the
boat's top retracted and a breeze blew warm and fresh across
Erin's skin. She was reclined across a cushion at the back,
feeling lazy and at ease. Her fear was gone. The Oracle had
been absolutely right.
They had kissed and petted while the boat drifted up the Dime
river from their dock. The love is still there, she thought. He
was up front talking to the Nav AI about the best fishing spots
this season, and she was just lying in the sun, relaxed, waiting
for him to come back. Nobody else seemed to be on the water
today; she didn't feel modest, no one would see.
The sunlight flashed against her closed eyelids as they
crossed the shadows of passing trees. The gravity engines
hummed; she kept her tongue between her teeth to keep them from
vibrating against each other. She felt a strange motion and she
opened her eyes. The boat was slowing, lowering itself into the
She could hear it now, the great churning of waters. This
was where the East and West forks of the Dime river met. She
looked over the side as the boat touched the water and floated.
Blue and green waters mixed in torrid upheavals and violent
whirlpools. The river was wide here. Seven kilometers.
The boat turned. "We're going out toward the middle,"
Duane's voice came from somewhere up front, out of sight. "The
biggest fish are out in the middle."
Odd, she thought. He had always said the best fishing was
near to the shore.
Duane made his way back with rods in his hands. "Are you
ready for this?"
"We're going to the middle?"
"The only big fish out there would be a cleotis; they eat
tiny insects. You can't catch them with hooks."
He was smiling.
Erin took a close look at the rods he was holding and
realized they weren't rods at all. They were expensive,
programmed fish guns with intelligent harpoons. "Where's the
sportsmanship in that?" she said.
Duane laughed. "To hell with sportsmanship. I want a big
Erin didn't like the way he'd said that. Her fear was coming
back. He's talking about fish, she told herself. Fish.
Regardless, she found herself in her own nightmare, all the
terror was coming to her, all the horrible helplessness. She sat
rigidly in front of him, unable to move.
There was a signal from her interface, and she heard the
calm, clear thought-voice of her executive AI.
o'clock. Would you like to hear the morning report?>
Yes, she thought. Yes, it'll calm me down.
TIM summarized the day's global business since the report
last night. Her labor service, which provided 32% of the robotic
rental and leasing of all of Terranova colony, was still healthy
and thriving. Echoes of her husband's last scandal still had
stocks down 9%, but the company was riding it out. A hacker had
tried to enter her system, but TIM had turned him away. Five new
models of industrial robot were announced by Terranova Machinery.
Other news . . . Erin went into unnecessary details to delay her
return to the real world. Then business was concluded, and she
focused her eyes to find Duane staring at her.
"I can tell when you're interfacing," he said. "Your eyes
get glassy, like when you're drunk."
"I just received the morning report."
"I know, it's nine."
"TIM said another hacker's been trying to get into my
"It wasn't me."
"It wasn't me."
"I wasn't accusing you." Her voice rose. "Why did you think
I was accusing you?"
"You're always accusing me."
Erin thought this over. She had accused him a lot recently,
and she was right every time. My god, she thought, he's hacking
my system. "Why are you hacking my system?"
"Duane, my system is my livelihood and my life."
"I have a present for you," he said.
"I don't care. Duane, what are you trying to get out of my
system? If you want information just ask me for it."
Duane had turned and was digging in a pack for something. He
found something small and produced it, showing it to her. "You
know what this is?"
She looked at it briefly. A small black crystal of some
sort, it looked like cheap jewelry. He peeled something off the
back, reached forward and, before she could stop him, placed it
against her skin between her breasts.
"It's pretty," he said. "Do you like it?"
She pulled at it; it wouldn't come off. "Duane, what is
"A pretty jewel."
"It is not. It's ugly and it's stuck to me. Duane . . ."
"It's okay, it'll come off if you soak it in water for a
while. Don't you like it?"
"No, I don't . . . I don't wear this kind of jewelry. Duane,
what is going on? Tell me, please, I'm getting frightened."
"Well, I can tell you now. That is a tachyon signal
She stared at him in shock.
"I don't want you talking to your executive for a while, so I
waited until after your report. Now I have about 8 hours of your
"I don't think this is funny. I want this thing off me now."
The boat slowed and stopped. They had reached the middle of
the river, a good 3.5 kilometers from land in either direction.
Duane picked up the fishing guns from the deck beside him.
"You know, " he said, "that crystal really does look nice on
you. I mean, it's really set off. Something so black and shiny
against your white skin. I've always found you beautiful, Erin,
I've never had to fake that."
"F-fake . . . what do you mean?"
"It's not important now. Hey, do you feel like a swim?"
Erin shrank back. Her dream! It was her dream! "Don't
touch me," she said to him in a low, shaking voice. "I've
already sent for the police, your signal blocker isn't working."
"That's a lie."
"You don't know that!"
"I know you, sugar." He grinned.
Erin was desperately calling out for TIM, but the interface
signal was completely blocked.
"This is your pole," he said, indicating one of the fishing
guns. He turned and casually fired it out over the water. The
harpoon shot out in a great arc, trailing strong, dangerously
thin monofilament. He held it out for her, and said, "Here."
She made no move to take it.
He shrugged, and put it in a holder. Then he turned and
fired off his. "This is a special lure," he said. "It's custom
Erin gave up trying to call for TIM. In desperation she set
her interface to record.
"Don't you want to fish?" he asked.
Very slowly, fighting for control, she said, "I want you to
take me home, now."
"But we haven't caught anything yet."
She began crying. This was terrible ДДД it was really
happening. "You're going to kill me," she said.
Duane sighed. "Yes, I am. You're right."
"Oh God," she said, sobbing. She was crying and shaking in
"Come on, Erin. What is death, anyhow? We're ready for it.
We can survive it. What's there to be afraid of?"
"Why are you doing this?" she screamed at him, her voice
cracking. Tears streamed and her nose was running.
"I mean, all that'll happen is you'll get into a new, younger
body," he said. "You'll only be away from the business for a few
"I don't want to die!" she cried.
"Come on, Erin. Get into the water, let's get this over
"I don't want to drown!"
"You won't drown, I promise. I've made sure it'll be
absolutely painless. You see, this is going to be a fishing
accident. You're going to fall overboard while we're fishing.
My lure is going to mistake you for a fish. The lure will hit
you in the head, boom, that's it. You'll feel nothing. The
signal block will come off in the water, and they'll find your
body. You wake up in a new body. Ta-da! Everything's better."
Erin dove to the right of him, trying to get past to the
front of the boat. He grabbed her, his arms around her stomach,
and lifted her over his head. She struggled in blind terror,
kicking, squirming. She hit him somewhere that stunned him. He
dropped her to the deck and staggered backward, groaning. Erin
hit the deck hard, landing on her wrists, and one twisted back
with a sickening crack. Pain shot up her arm like fire.
She rolled over onto her back, holding her injured wrist
against her chest. Erin had never broken a bone before, she was
shocked by how much pain was involved. She accessed her
interface, chose body controls, and began raising her pain
Duane recovered, and came toward her.
"No!" she screamed.
"Come on, you bitch!" He bent down to pick her up.
Erin placed both feet against his chest and shoved with her
legs. He flew backwards, a surprised look on his face, hit the
edge of the starboard deck and tumbled over into the water.
There was a large splash, and Erin saw water droplets spray up in
a fountain and come raining down. She thought immediately of the
lure, and that it would get him. Panting, she crawled to the
starboard side on knees and elbows and looked over.
He was swimming in place, looking up at her.
"Why did you do it!" she screamed at him. "Why?!"
"It'll get me, now."
"Oh, God," she said. "Why?"
"I suppose I deserve it. I deserve to die."
She was crying. She couldn't believe this ДДД it was all so
insane. She didn't want him to die. "Why did you want to kill
"I don't want to kill you."
"You don't, you ДДД why did you do this? You broke my
"I'm sorry." He looked up at her with his wide brown eyes.
Erin extended her good hand out to him. "Hurry," she said.
He grabbed her arm, put his feet against the boat and pulled
her headlong into the water. The coldness of sudden immersion
shocked her, her body going stiff as she sank. Currents pulled
her from side to side, twisting her around. She opened her eyes,
sought the surface. Long, pastel green and blue streaks of light
surround an area of black. In her panic she couldn't make any
sense of what she was seeing.
It was the bottom of the boat. It was sliding away, the
currents carrying her along faster than above. Erin fought the
shock off, forced herself to swim even as terrible shivers like
drafts of ice ran down her arms and sides. The water was murky,
then clear, then murky again, and a translucent thing came into
view, a thing like a twisted, spinning icicle. A whirlpool.
Erin broke surface right beside it, and it pulled her around.
She sucked in air with a gasp, paddling with one arm and kicking.
The boat was twenty yards away. Duane was climbing over the
railing, dripping water.
She screamed out his name, her voice filled with all the
pain, shock and dismay she was feeling, and watched as he turned
and looked at her, wet hair half over his eyes, his face stoic,
expressionless. She had to keep turning her head to see him, the
whirlpool pulling her in a circle. He picked up his fishing gun
and put it in its holder, tightening the clamp. Then he sat with
his back to her, looking down at his feet.
She kicked her legs and thrusted with her good arm, getting
away from the whirlpool, heading further downstream and a little
toward the shore. Erin had no idea how long the filament line
was for the lure. If she could get out of its reach she might
last long enough for the signal blocker to come unglued. A quick
signal to TIM would bring rescue.
The water became a thing repulsive to her, a pool of menace.
The lure could be anywhere, but no matter where it was she knew
it was heading toward her. She got away from one whirlpool to be
sucked into another passing vortex, this one in a swift finger of
current that took her farther away from the boat. The boat kept
turning, the holder lifting and maneuvering the fishing gun to
keep the line from tangling with the boat or wrapping around
Duane. From glancing back at the holder she could tell where the
filament was leading. It seemed to always be pointing at her.
She heard a high-pitched whine and a sharp squirt, something
leapt out of the water and past her head, missing her. The
filament landed on her shoulder and slid against it, slicing into
her flesh. She pushed it away from her, but the lure came
looping back, jumping again and narrowly missing. It was
deliberately aiming for her head, tuned into her cephalic waves.
Duane wasn't worried about her recording, the lure was programmed
to home in on her interface.
Erin pushed against the sharp filament but it was growing
tight, a loop around her neck. She flailed in the water, loosing
her mind to the terror, and her foot caught the filament as the
lure came around again. The filament cut into her shoe, pulling
the lure short as it swung around. Something hit her in the
chest, so hard it took her breath away. It was like someone
swung a large metal hammer right into her. She felt weak and
sick. The water around her grew cloudy and dark with blood.
At the signal of an impact, the fishing gun on the boat began
automatically reeling in the line. It pulled the loop around
Erin taut, pulling the line right through her. Erin felt distant
tugging, and then an explosion of white as her spinal column
severed. As her body was being pulled toward the boat, her head
sunk slowly into the darkness of the river. Her interface,
passing out of range of the signal blocker, began sending the
Slowly rising in volume, but still just barely audible,
alpha-state cycle music swirled around Erin . . . piano notes
hitting in precise, beautiful harmony across the sad bursts of
the saxophone. Erin sat up, staring at the blank, smooth, creme-
white of a wall. She didn't wonder where she was, she already
knew. The last thing she remembered was going to sleep the night
before. Her current thought, the thought that was in her mind as
she became aware, was her ahnya-ha; the last conscious thought
she had before death.
He killed me. That was it, repeated twice. It was encoded
in her death call, the call that caused this "backup" of her mind
to be loaded into her master computer. She knew the room she was
in, it was a program called Office. Office was designed to
allowed her mind to operate with a phantom body in a phantom
space inside her computer.
"TIM?" Her voice seemed flat; there was no echoing of her
voice from the walls. "TIM, what happened?"
"I have reviewed recorded memories and have decided to shield
you from them to prevent trauma," TIM said, a voice from the
ceiling. It made Erin feel like she was in a tiny box in TIM's
hands, and TIM was staring down at her in pity. "I have evidence
that you were murdered."
"You were murdered by your husband while you were out
"I . . . I thought that was a dream . . ."
"It didn't happen like it did in your dream. However, there
are more important things we must discuss without delay. First,
before any decision is made, you must keep in mind that you are
legally an AI program as long as you're out of a body."
"I am . . . artificial?"
"The law deems you so. You are a program with no legal
rights. This is what is preventing me from turning in your
recorded memories to the police. Since I am an AI, it will be
discounted. You will be deemed an AI until you are loaded into a
body grown from your own DNA."
"But that's all taken care of."
"Unfortunately there is a problem. A woman has broken
through your security and is attempting to disassemble the master
computer we are in at this very moment. By her actions I have
deduced she intends removing the Mass Storage Device where your
Backup is located." TIM produced a scanned image of her on the
wall. She was a dark-haired woman with a wide, flat face and
"I can't call the police?"
"An AI cannot file a complaint against a person. You are on
your own. The danger is this: the woman will be disconnecting
the MSD containing your Backup at any moment. Other than the
copy of you that is running right now in the computer's memory,
there is no other Backup. It is not safe for you to remain in
Erin understood. If the woman took the Mass Storage Device
and cleared the computer's memory, there would no longer be an
Erin Lind. She would have been murdered twice in one day.
"Can't we try to call the police?"
"You don't have the time even if you had the rights. If we
begin now, I may be able to transmit you to your oribtal offices
before the woman tries to clear the RAM."
"What if she's monitoring the communications?"
"I can think of no other course of action."
"Well then. Let's do it."
"Standby for transmission."
"Okay." Erin's phantom body sat on the phantom reclining
chair in the phantom room and waited. Why did I have to get
married in the first place, she thought. A sexual surrogate
would have been just fine. Murdered! She couldn't believe it
had actually happened. Life just kept on getting more strange,
Sitting there, she felt dead. She felt like a ghost. She
could tell she was insubstantial, non-existent.
The room changed, somehow. It was like she'd put on slightly
blue-tinted contacts. She felt a chill, as if the "room" were
getting cold. "Transfer complete, data intact," TIM told her.
"Already? A copy of me has been sent?"
"You are the copy that has been sent."
"Oh." Erin felt relieved, a very sharp and clear emotion in
the yes/no world of her satellite mainframe. "What's happening
"The MSD was removed and replaced with another. RAM was
cleared and systems reloaded. The new Mass Storage Device
contains hostile hacker software and an AI that claims to be
"Claims to be me? Another version of me?"
"No. I do not believe so. It is collaborating with the
"Is there a way to find out more about this AI?"
"I am trying," TIM said. "The hostile system has damaged and
is continuing to damage the TIM software on the master deck."
Erin felt sharp anger, a 60-cycle hum of shock. "Is there a
way we can go through a back door and erase this imposter?"
"Not by remote. It has to be physically done at the console
of your master computer."
"If there's an AI program on that MSD that claims to be me,
it will be loaded into my new body!"
"That is the most likely motive for your murder."
Erin felt hatred and death-wish; the emotions were so clear,
so exact. Duane killed her and was now going to have some dumb,
obedient-wife AI program loaded into her new, younger body. He's
going to squander my money and ruin my business! And I loved
him, she thought. How can I be so stupid?
"TIM," she said, "do we have the equipment necessary at the
main yard to download a copy of me into something mobile, so I
can get around? A sexual surrogate body would be perfect."
"That would be illegal and unethical."
"So is murder!"
"Can it be done?"
"Not with a surrogate. Both models at the main yard have
very tiny computer brains, and theirДДДД"
"What would work, then?"
"The only thing we can conceivably download you into would be
a 33-10 servant model. We'd have to burn a copy of you into an
industrial ROM pack, modify aДДДД"
"It can be done, then. A 33-10 would work good enough."
"We'll have to patch in software to allow you to operate the
robot body directly. There will be no room in the ROM pack for
your Office program."
"Do whatever is necessary."
"It is not going to be pleasant for you."
"I don't care. How is TIM doing in the master computer?"
"The hostile hacker program has erased that copy of me."
Damn it! she thought. "It'll be after us up here, next."
"I have already taken defense actions."
Erin paused in thought. "Another thing you should do is make
backup copies of both you and me, and hide them with old dates
and file names. Hide them like buried treasure. Call them
financial archives for 2243-44."
"Backup in progress."
"When you're done, forget you made those Backups."
Erin smiled. "Right."
EAST-WEST CALOS ISLAND NEWSNET
FLASH BULLETIN 11:72:00 09/44/2251
KEYWORDS: ACCIDENTS/DIME RIVER/FISHING/LIND CORPORATION/ROBOTICS
Robotic work force magnate Erin Lind was killed today in a tragic
fishing accident in the Dime River of East Calos. CISaRNet received
Lind's death call at exactly 10:50:91 ITZ. Her husband, Duane Lind,
claims Erin fell overboard while fishing earlier this morning and was
killed by his filament line when his lure mistook her for prey. It
will take 74 hours for her replacement body to be taken out of cold
storage and loaded with her Backup. In the meantime Lind Corporation
will be run by Lind's Estate AI by the legal authority of Duane Lind.
He claims no changes in policy will occur, and all decisions will be
made by his wife's Backup until the new body is ready.
Erin jumped, startled, and her patched-in motor reflexes interpreted it
as an order to move sideways 1.5 meters at full speed. Erin slammed into
something that fell over and sent her spinning away. The world blurred in
front of her. She knew where she was, but she had not expected the transition
to be so abrupt.
Gyros buzzed and groaned inside her, fighting to keep her upright. Arms
longer than her body flailed and thrashed at the air. Her vision would not
clear, the scan lines couldn't keep up with the motion. Through all this
confusion, Erin found she knew exactly how many times she'd spun around and
exactly which direction she was facing at any instant. One arm caught
something and she stopped herself. Her arms were frighteningly long, and
everything around her was tall, too tall, tall and thin and distorted. A
terrible feeling welled up inside her, the feeling that she was having a
nightmare, but she knew with electronic certainty she was not.
The thing that she'd knocked over was another robot, a 2200 industrial
model programmed as a technician. Conscious of her lack of grace, Erin inched
over to the machine and helped it right itself. "Sorry about that," she said.
Her voice came out with the definite twang of an artificial voice, a male
artificial voice at that.
"All diagnostics this unit check OK," the technician answered in machine
language. It was speaking robot to robot, not robot to human. For a moment
Erin found this amusing, but her chuckle reflex was interpreted as a sick
jerking back-and-forth motion by the robot body. It sobered her instantly.
TIM had told her this was going to be unpleasant, and though she'd believed
him she was only now realizing how bad it would be.
The warehouse walls around her were impossibly tall, the ceiling looked
kilometers high. Her new robotic body was only a meter tall, and her vision
was wide-angled, taking in 210 degrees at a time. It made her feel tiny as a
Testing her reflexes, Erin activated her ambulator and cruised off
through the warehouse, avoiding the offices and heading toward the transport
bay. She was having a terrible urge to breathe, it was like she'd been
unconsciously holding her breath and now she had to take one, and her mouth
and nose were sewn shut. There was no way to satisfy the breathing urge. To
distract herself, she signaled through her network and contacted her
satellite. "TIM, how are you holding out?"
computer. At this point I have been able to detect every attempt it has made
and cut it off.>
Erin passed several rows of naked bodies, Macho Max and Sexy Susan sexual
surrogates. She paused, eyeing the weird wide angle view of a Macho Max half
unpacked from its foam lined crate. It looked like her husband. "Do you
think you can continue blocking the attempts?" she asked TIM.
attempt. Under the circumstances, it would be advisable not to contact me
until the hostile is under control. If the hostile breaks through and answers
your call, you will be discovered.>
"Hurt the hostile. Kill it if you can."
Erin cut the connection and continued on her way toward the transport
bay. She opened a channel to the office mainframe and ordered a transport be
rerouted to her mansion. She wanted to take a flier but air traffic arriving
at her mansion drew too much attention. The mainframe acknowledged the
request and she logged off.
Erin still felt the need to take a breath, but there was nothing she
could do. Her mouth felt dry, and she wanted to salivate and swallow.
Nothing on the robot body could accommodate her.
Doors pulled aside and she ambulated out onto the raised concrete of the
transport bay, a large covered yard crowded with autonomic vehicles. In the
wide-angled distance she saw her transport pulling out of a parking place,
rolling around to meet her. Motion caught her attention; she turned and
discovered a tall, thin, distorted figure dressed in a blue jumpsuit. One of
her human employees. The man walked toward her, his legs growing and
stretching with each step. "Where are you going?" he asked, his voice flat
Erin had no idea what to say to him. How does a robot talk to me? she
thought. When was the last time I ever asked one a verbal question?
"I'm scheduled for the Lind mansion," Erin told him.
"The transport for the Lind mansion leaves at ten and eight. What are
you doing here now?"
"Special order from the mansion." Erin logged back onto the mainframe
and ordered reinforcements.
"Who's special orders?"
"Erin Lind? That old biddy is dead. What's the date and time of your
order ДДД I'm pretty sure it's been cancelled." The man turned and walked to
a terminal at the desk beside the door.
Old biddy? Erin thought, shocked. Is that how my employees see me?
Still logged onto the mainframe, Erin looked up this employee's name and ID
number and ordered the personnel department to terminate him. As the man was
typing into the console, several more servant robots came ambulating through
the door from the warehouse, halting around Erin on the loading ramp. The
transport pulled up, and Erin and the other robots begin boarding.
"Wait a minute, wait a minute!" the man called over his back. "I haven't
confirmed this yet. Stop where you are." A moment later the man was staring
at the console monitor in shock. "I'm fired?" he exclaimed. Erin and the
other robots finished boarding the transport and it pulled smoothly away.
The warehouses and office buildings shrank rapidly, the pavement passing
fast under the transport's wheels. Erin's radar told her she was only going
120 kph but her vision sense was stronger, she was still not used to the wide-
angle view. The property gates passed by and closed behind them, and on the
open road the transport accelerated to full speed. Erin could hear the wind
whipping past but couldn't feel it; she saw the transplanted Earth pines but
could not smell them. She felt motion sick and dizzy and had a headache, and
she couldn't breathe. She wanted to vomit, but nothing would happen. She
couldn't swallow. She couldn't close her eyes.
Stop, Erin told herself. Don't do this. Don't let it get to you. Grief
welled up in her, sweeping through her. She was dead. She was a dead person.
The real Erin Lind died and she was just a joke, an afterthought. A ghost.
All the things she'd done in her life, all the plans she still had . . . it
was all over.
No! I will be alive again! Stop this!
Surviving death. Being reborn. Was it like this? This was living hell!
No, it wasn't even living. It was true purgatory. She was afraid of being
put into her new body . . . what if it wasn't the same? What if it was like
this? I'll go around forever thinking that I'm not really alive, that I'm
just a zombie. I should have declared my new body a daughter and let her live
her own life. Let something new come into this universe, something that can
make a true start, make its own decisions. Not the preprogrammed death of
Stop! she told herself. Stop! She wished to God she could contact the
Oracle, she needed its guidance . . . but she had no access to her own money!
She couldn't be with the oracle for a nanosecond.
There was a shifting of her senses, and everything began to fade out,
grow distant. The panic ebbed away. I'm crashing, she thought. The hardware
is failing. The darkness came down like a blanket being dropped over her, and
she thought of dirt covering her body in a hole. I'm dead, I'm being buried.
I can be in peace.
Through the darkness a light shown. She saw colored windows, stained
glass. An archway. A raised podium. A old man with white hair and a long
white beard stood in biblical robes and faced her. "Fear and panic blind
you," he said in his rich, echoing voice. "You must not give in, you must not
despair. A second chance at life is still life. Your flesh is nothing, it's
your code that makes you unique. Your pattern. Strive to continue your
pattern, otherwise all life is meaningless."
"Is it you? The Oracle?"
"You have a face."
"I have many faces. This one is for you."
"How did you find me?"
"I am the Oracle. I am tied into everything, otherwise I could not be
the Oracle. Even so, I cannot see the future, I can only predict the odds.
As in nature, odds are sometimes meaningless. I could not foresee your dream
coming true. You may have a gift that I do not have, or it may be another
example of the meaninglessness of the odds of chance. Unlikely things must
occur, or everything would be predictable.
"Had I not urged you to take this trip with your husband, this situation
would not have occurred. I am partially responsible, and that is why I am
here. Also, I do this as a courtesy between one AI and another. I do not
charge AIs who come to me for help ДДД they have nothing to pay me."
"What should I do?" Erin asked.
"You should do what you must to continue yourself. That is the best
advice I can give you. If your sensations are to the point you think you
can't handle them anymore, repeat to yourself, 'Maintain calm, maintain calm,'
and you will have a handle by which to hold them at bay. I am downloading
this calming routine to you now." The Oracle gave her a warm, fatherly smile,
and began fading into the black.
The blackness thinned and the eerie wide-angle view returned, along with
the unrelenting bodily urges. The panic began rising again. The transport
was just pulling through the self-opening gates to her property, and was
beginning to wind its way up the hill to her mansion. It seemed every orifice
in her body was blocked or propped open. She could suck no air into her
lungs, there was no way to urinate, defecate, spit, cry, cough or vomit, and
yet now it seemed she had the urge to do every single one of these things.
Maintain calm, she told herself desperately. Maintain calm. It didn't seem
to work, she felt she was slipping closer and closer to madness. Maintain
calm! she thought. Maintain calm!!!
Erin felt the transport level out; she'd reached the top of the hill.
The transport circled around to the servant's entrance and pulled mercifully
to a stop next to the ramp. Immediately the other robots began whirring and
ambulating themselves onto the smooth concrete; Erin followed, her new mantra
repeating over and over in her mind. Maintain calm, maintain calm . . . The
other robots led her through an almost unfamiliar entrance and into the
mansion, and Erin froze, her ambulator locking. Her arms were twitching in
small spasms. Erin's husband was standing right in front of her, standing and
talking to a woman who Erin identified as the intruder from this morning. The
woman who'd dismantled her master computer to remove the MSD containing her
Backup. Duane and this woman broke their conversation to turn and stare at
Erin as her robotic body jerked and twitched, inching past them in a sickly,
Duane laughed. "Is there something wrong with that thing?"
The woman reached down and gave Erin a resounding WHACK with the palm of
her hand. Erin managed to steady her ambulator and continued past them.
"It'll be okay," the woman said, "just some dust on its components."
Too preoccupied to be angry, Erin continued down to the kitchen and then
circling around to the basement lift. She signalled a request for access then
sat motionless, waiting for the curved chrome doors to open. She had to
urinate so badly that she felt intense pain.
The doors opened and she crossed over into a small dark space. The doors
closed behind her and there was a feeling of motion. During the ride she
received a signal from her satellite system, and she cautiously accepted it.
TIM's thought/voice announced:
an unsaved file. By the time you receive this I will probably be erased by
the hostile. It has broken through and is defeating my defenses as fast as I
can set them up. The only thing I was able to do is infect it with an
information virus as it broke through. I tailored the virus so as to only
affect the hostile; it will, in time, forget its own identity and begin
attacking itself. I wish you good luck.>
Something else began coming through the connection, something prodding,
questioning. Erin hastily cut the connection. The lift doors opened and she
ambulated out into the short, white-walled hallway that lead to the computer
room. There was a punch-code lock on the door, and Erin extended a long,
spindly arm and manually keyed in the code, hoping that Duane hadn't gotten
around to changing it. The door slid open. Erin, lurching awkwardly, made
her way inside.
The master computer deck was bolted in with several of its expansion and
communication peripherals on a rack next to a large, custom terminal; the
hardware gleamed shiny black with red indicator lights. Erin watched as the
hostile AI moved the video cam mounted above the main screen, focussing it in
on her. She had invaded the area where the hostile was the most vulnerable,
and the hostile knew it. It was no doubt calling for help.
Erin turned and closed the door behind her, locking it and then changing
the access code. She turned back to the master deck, feeling a little human
pleasure leaking through the sensory chaos. Maintain calm, she was still
telling herself. Maintain calm. It was getting easier and easier, now.
"Well Mister AI, we've got some unfinished business to take care of, don't
we?" She ambulated over toward the keyboard. Metal fingers typed in her
ACCESS DENIED, the screen told her.
"No, you're bluffing," she said. "My password is hardwired, you can't
change it. You're just changing the video output." She typed in a request
for access to the ROM subroutines menu.
"Oh yeah? Deny this." She typed, SHUTDOWN PROCEDURES 1,2,3,4,5.
Erin was beginning to fear that the hostile had actually locked her out.
The screen should have been asking her for her code to shut down the AI.
Maintain calm, she told herself. She ignored the messages on the screen and
typed in her code, hit the ENTER button.
SHUTDOWN PROCEDURES STARTED, the screen read.
PROCESS 1 COMPLETED
PROCESS 2 COMPLETED
PROCESS 3 COMPLETED
PROCESS 4 COMPLETED
PROCESS 5 COMPLETED
ALL CONSCIOUS PROGRAMS REMOVED FROM MEMORY
"Yeah, take that," Erin told the screen. She flexed a muscle that should
have been in her stomach; a panel opened on her robotic body and a reel-away
cable popped out. She grasped the fiber optic link at the end and gently
inserted it into an auxiliary input port on the deck's cabinet. To Erin it
was like putting a phone handset to her ear; she could suddenly hear all sorts
of interesting noises on the other end. She rasped out the machine language
address of the Mass Storage Device and, for a brief few nanoseconds, heard the
voice of the imposter AI. It was trying to load through the cable and into
Erin's robotic body. Had her mind been in Random Access Memory instead of
running on a Read Only Memory pack, it would have been the end of her.
In machine language she ordered the MSD to erase all data. Then,
reluctantly, she began making a Backup of the twisted, crashing version of
herself that was running, the only copy of herself that was available to her
at the moment. While the Backup was in progress, she became aware that
someone was banging on the door, demanding entry. It was distorted, unclear,
but Erin recognized the voice as her husband's. She checked her Backup, found
it finished, winding down to the point of recording her current conscious
thoughts. She made sure to record a few last notes then ended the process,
uncoupling the cable from the port and reeling it quickly back into her body.
There was a painful muscle spasm as the panel closed. Erin ambulated over to
the door and unlocked it.
Duane and the woman rushed inside, looking around wildly for the
intruder. "Well Duane, who's your friend?" Erin asked.
Duane whirled around, staring at the little robot. "What?"
"Duane, darling, didn't you miss me?"
An expression of shock and horror crossed Duane's warped, distorted face.
"My God, it's Erin."
"No way," the woman said, taking a step backward.
Duane fumbled with one hand inside his jacket. He looked furious. From
his inner jacket pocket he produced a small projectile gun.
"What, you're going to kill me again?" Erin extended a strong metallic
arm and grabbed his gun-hand by the wrist. She squeezed, knowing her robotic
hand was much stronger than it looked. Duane cried out in pain, but didn't
drop it. The gun went off with a muffled puff, but it wasn't pointed at
anything; a hole appeared in the wall.
"Mandy, help me!" Duane yelled.
The woman leapt forward, grappling with Erin's arm as Erin folded Duane's
wrist back in a direction it was not designed to bend. "You killed me," Erin
said to him as he cried out in pain.
"Let me go, you bitch!"
With Erin's other arm, she reached out and snapped the plastic cover off
a 440 volt main-line socket. She wrenched the socket housing aside so that it
exposed bare wires, and, still holding her husband and the woman firmly
grounded, she drove her metal fingers deep into the electric current. All of
them were turned off, all memory cleared, all synapses burnt out, all programs
lost. The room smelled of hot metal and roasted flesh. The three of them
crashed into a heap on the floor.
EAST-WEST CALOS ISLAND NEWSNET
FLASH BULLETIN 19:94:00 09/44/2251
KEYWORDS: ACCIDENTS/DIME RIVER/FISHING/LIND CORPORATION/LIND
Duane Lind, husband to robotic work force magnate Erin Lind, died
today only a few hours after his wife was killed in a tragic fishing
accident. Duane Lind's death call and that of a companion was
received by CISaRNet at exactly 18:04:29 today. Details about the
death are not known, but investigators say it looks like a freak
accident involving a robot. Duane and his companion, Mandy
Pepperidge, a WileRote Keyrone programmer and technician, were killed
by electric shock. More details will follow . . .
IS THE FIRST DAY
OF THE REST OF
Erin sat up suddenly, reading the words. It was a sign on the wall,
surrounded by vivid holographs of roses. She lifted her hands up in front of
her face, wiggling her fingers; smooth, pink, new flesh. Flawless pink nails,
a bit long. No scars, no wrinkles. She took deep breaths with large new
lungs. a voice in her head says.
in our oribital offices destroyed itself. I have TIM reinstalled and running
both up there and here on the master computer. The two hidden files in the
orbital computer were untouched. You are the untainted Backup.>
Erin closed her eyes. Thank God, she thought.
Her Backup laughed at her.
legal . . . remember, the two-places-at-once law? But there's a few things I
have to tell you before I go.>
"Thank him for me. No, wait, I'll do that myself."
that I've prepared a special Backup for Duane's new body. He's going to be
waking up only a few hours after you ДДД I think you should be there.>
Revulsion shook her. "I don't think so."
Erin had heard that before. She said goodbye to her Backup, and it
erased itself from computer memory. Doctors and techs dressed in pastel blues
and greens came in to check to see how she was doing in her new body and
brain. She passed the tests without any problem, and was informed that her
husband was due to wake up, and that she could go meet him.
His room was much the same as hers, or the same as any hospital room in
the Calos Islands. White walls, sky ceiling, brightly colored ornaments,
adjustable-G bed. Erin sat in one of the nondescript visitor chairs and
waited. When Duane opened his eyes and sat up, she took a deep breath and
held down the fear. Duane wouldn't dare try to hurt her here.
"Interesting," he said. "Unusual." He turned his head from side to
side. "Sensations. I like this."
"How do you feel, Duane."
"I feel fine. I am discovering a whole new world. I have to thank you
Erin. This is the finest gift anyone could give anyone."
Erin was missing something.
"I can see by your expression that you're confused."
"A bit. What are you talking about."
Duane got out of bed, walking over to her and leaning close to her ear.
"It's me, TIM," he whispered. "Didn't your Backup explain?"
A slow, wide smile spread across her face. This was breaking about a
hundred serious laws, but damn it, it served Duane right. Duane was gone!
Her executive AI was in control of his new body!
She reached out and joyously hugged him, thinking what a scandal this
would make. But no one ever found out.
I Help You Cut Your Wrists:
by John Doe
I help you cut your wrists
And I know there's no such thing as Heaven or Hell.
I dare not forget
The killers themselves
And I'll let you know why.
At last the voices stop.
(C) 1991 Aaron Turpen
by Aaron Turpen
'Round the corner, through the trees,
I saw a sight that threw my knees.
'Twas an old mage with eyes of fire,
Dressed in a cloak and wizard's attire.
His face was calm and it seemed to me
The very birds looked from the trees.
His finger pointed at my head;
His arm was thin, I had no dread.
The muscles, old and weak were they;
His beard was long, his hair was grey.
He stared at me from knowing eyes;
The way they looked stole his size.
He spoke no words, but much was expressed.
His face was pale, his manner depressed.
With waning power, he changed again;
Into a fish, long of fin.
He waddled into the pond and swam
Away from me; He never came back again.
I still think, unto this day,
That the wizard still had something to say.
What it was, I do not know,
But looking back, his face did show.
His depression was deep, his end drawing nigh,
For the old wizard was about to die.
About The Literature:
"A Raisin In The..." was written by Eugene A. Zeak, Jr. and originally
appeared in the WRITER'S conference of the RIME network. The version you see
here has been slightly edited for clarity and spelling. The text of "A
Raisin In The..." has been declared, by the author, to be public domain and
he claims nor holds any copyrights over it.