362 words by Stanley Lieber
The face of the moon is too close to the window, and there are no stars visible at all out there -- but just for the moment. The sun is dividing like a malignant cell and leaving a snail trail of orange glaze across the front yard. A hundred million other aspects rev up and bounce out of the cube before I can get the outer doors of the apartment to shut. Everything inside wavers back and forth, now blinking, now back on again; I, Shelton, am resigned to stay in here and keep trying until I get it to shut down. My capable partner shares, bolsters my resolve in this unlikable job.
We were called out here to talk the thing in off the ledge. They just won't listen to the machines -- they're not even on the mesh. My partner is all crumpled up into a little wad of uniform and gear over there in the corner. But don't be fooled by his slack posture. This is not his first time (by a longshot) and he's not just shitting himself or praying to extinct gods either -- we each have our own way of handling the bewildering influx of aspect. Me, I just walk right up to it and give it a whack with the EMP stick. But I'm like that.
Any normal primate coming within thinking distance of this gadget during one of these episodes would have their personality all chewed up and at least partially digested before they could reflexively blink. When one of these breaks down it tends to break down everyone else in its general proximity right along with it. It can't contain its mood, you see. Part and parcel with the nature of the entity. But people who get this job aren't what you'd call kosher, either. Inside my skull (and the skull of my compatriot over there) are otherwise useless bags of brain matter that for some strange reason are not affected by these little things.
We're ungrammaticals. That is, we never acquired written language. Damn little boxes can't get ahold of anything in there to garble up. So we get to smash them.
Photo by bluecalico