Clouds in the Night

by Alex Hardison


Story Copyright (C) 2009, Alex Hardison.
Images Copyright (C) 2009, Rudy Rucker.
5,900 Words.



Miranda was early for our pseudo-date, and I hadn’t had a chance to get the server farm ready for her. I’d wanted to clean it up a little, get rid of the girlie magazines and empty bottles, maybe even wipe down some of the surfaces.  The machines themselves were kept scrupulously clean and free of dust, of course, but you couldn’t say the same for the rest of the room, and Miranda struck me as the sort of girl who liked things neat and clean.  Normally I was the only one who ever went in there, and I’d gotten used to having it as my personal domain. I should have known she’d be early—she was always early for the various social events that I’d seen her at—but I was just too nervous for that sort of forethought or planning.  All that I could hold in my head was that she was coming.

The main problem, really, was that she was too pretty for me.  Too pretty and too smart.  There’s no false modesty there, the few girls that I’ve been with have been pretty enough, but Miranda was in a whole other league. Sometimes I thought that she was playing a whole other game, one girls like her invented and never taught the rest of us the rules.  I don’t even know exactly how we started talking, but it seemed as though I’d been aware of her for ages.  Not many Houses had girls doing their tech in those days, so I guess that it was natural that we’d notice each other.  I was kind of known in those circles for a few systems that I’d helped to set up, and the two of us carried the heaviest traffic load in the district, so I guess that in a way it was inevitable.

Miranda had some complicated theory about girls having more nodes in their brains than guys, how made us better at that sort of work, but I thought that it was just a weird coincidence.  I’d been in the game longer, and had been used to carrying the bulk of the traffic in the district until she moved in.  Straight away I could tell that she was talented, but it wasn’t until I started doing some investigation that I realised she was gorgeous as well.  I still remember the first time that I saw her in person, across the table at one of Gardner’s regular coffee-and-gossip gatherings, that sensation of the world growing larger and more frightening around me.  I immediately knew that I would fall helplessly and unstoppably into her power, and I couldn’t think of anything that I wanted to do more.

Her visit to my House—I was trying without much success to not think of it as a date—came about after I started chatting to her online under the guise of asking for advice about a new cooling setup that I already knew would work.  From there I managed a relatively smooth segue into bragging about the new blade server that I’d bartered from a traveling seller a few weeks ago and had finally gotten to run, finally asking her if she wanted to come over and see it.  That was about as smooth as I ever got, which meant that I was almost as clever as the most clumsy and obvious person that I’d ever met.  I still couldn’t believe that anything would happen—girls like me just don’t hook up with impossible creatures like Miranda—but I had to try.

Anyway, she was early, which meant I only had a chance to try on three or four different outfits before she arrived. It shouldn’t be so hard to make a choice when all you wear is black t-shirts and pants, but given the chance I would have gone through them all. Once she was there and had run the gauntlet of Housemate introductions, I managed to get a beer into her hand and steered her out through the rear vegetable garden and into the server room. I know the House that brews the beer and it’s usually pretty reliable, but this batch was pretty average—far too bitter and not nearly as fruity as I’d hoped.  For the first time in a long time, I found myself wishing that one of the old, predictable Brands were still around.

I suppose that calling it a server farm was a bit of an exaggeration. Sure, it was one of the largest collections of computing power on this side of the river, but since the Collapse that didn’t really mean as much as it did. It was originally a cool room for storing meat, and there were still places where you could make out the shadow of pig blood on the cement floor. Once I managed to get enough power routed in, the massive cooling system was perfect for my needs. Truth be told, that room was the whole reason that I picked that house to move into.  There were still quite a few viable derelicts available when we relocated, still are in fact, but as soon as I saw that room the choice was made. 

I had racks along three of the four walls, with my desktop control machine and KVM switch set up against the fourth.  There was also a workbench, permanently strewn with tools and components and at least one half-gutted machine. The rack on the back wall was dominated by my three babies, the blades: Aeryn, Starbuck and Ivanova. Most of the rest were standard model servers, scavenged from office complexes in the initial chaos of the Collapse or bartered for later on. There were even a few drives that I’d yanked out of desktop machines and RAIDed together, but they never ran quite as smoothly as the rest, and I really only kept them around because they could be fun to tinker with from time to time.

The experience of showing Miranda around my tiny world actually wasn’t as humiliating as it could have been.  I saw her eying some of the more dramatically tangled waterfalls of cables critically, but she actually really seemed to dig the experimental system I was building out of pre-Collapse gaming consoles.  I’d been daisy chaining them together, trying to use some distributed computing concepts to get them to function as a single machine.  I hadn’t pulled it off just yet, but she seemed suitable impressed with my progress.  She even got down on my mechanic’s slide, red hair spilling beautifully around her, and slid under to take a look inside Ivanova. We couldn’t tinker too much while they were running, of course, but I’d scheduled some downtime for a few of the machines the following night and I asked if she’d like to come check them out then.

Miranda rolled out, giving me a funny look, like she wasn’t sure if I was joking. “What, you’re not going to Tommy’s?”

Of course. Tommy’s. I’d said the wrong thing, given away the terror that I felt when faced with the prospect of the social event of the year.  All the excuses I’d been putting together to get myself out of having to go were suddenly weak and stupid and obvious.  The confidence that I’d built up talking about my servers evaporated, and I found myself looking down at my bottle of beer, my fingers peeling off the label of their own accord.

“Well, I dunno about that. I don’t really do the party thing.”

She rolled further out, pushing herself up, and as she got to her feet I swear that she caught me staring at her breasts. It wasn’t my fault, it was cold in there. Shit. Does she know that that’s how I think of her? I mean, that’s not all that I think of her, but it’s...shit. And should I have offered to help her up?

“Aw, c’mon Lux, it’ll be fun. Your setup here can look after itself for a night, and you’ll have fun. You’ll be sorry if you miss it.”

That much I knew was true. I’d skipped Tommy’s last party, manufacturing some excuse about a system failure that urgently needed my attention, and the damn thing ended up being all that anyone blogged or talked about for a week. Apparently Tommy had gotten his hands on some pre-Collapse full immersion porn rigs, and he’d been passing them around all night. I’d kill get get my hands on something like that, even if I didn’t get the chance to pull it apart and find out how it worked.  There’s so much stuff like that we just can’t make any more, so much precious tech, and jerks like Tommy go using it as party favours.

I shrugged. “Yeah, I guess. I mean yeah, it sounds cool. I’m just, you know, not all that good at parties these days.” I never was. In the old days, I had Charley to help me. To make me feel like a person. But she’s gone now. “I’m just a geek, you know? I don’t like things I can’t take the back off of.”

Miranda smiled, laughed, and all I wanted to do was to make her smile and laugh forever.  She grabbed my hand.  “Oh, Lux. Silly girl. Listen. I shall be truly devastated if you don’t attend, and I vow to protect you if you do.” She was putting on a truly appalling English accent, and I couldn’t help cracking a smile. She grinned back at me.  She didn’t know what she was asking of me, or what she was offering in return.  She couldn’t know how much I needed it, and if she did—I couldn’t contemplate that possibility.

She hadn’t let go of my hand. In fact she was tugging on it, leading me back towards the house. “Now come on. She me your lenses, I’ve got some awesome stuff for you.” I followed, obedient as a lamb, smiling like an idiot while she kept talking. “Is it true that it was you who got the lens net up in this area again?”

I blushed, waving to the others in the common room as she led me past. Patrick waved back, smirking. Regan didn’t raise her eyes from her laptop. We’d had kind of a thing a few months back, and it was still kind of awkward between us. “Course not. Not just me, anyway. Besides, it’s not really the lens net that we use these days, not the old one anyway. It’s mostly an open source OS from the old days, one meant for big social network users, that we adapted for the lens interface. It, uh, it wasn’t that hard really, once we got enough processing and storage around the place.”

I knew that I was babbling, and the part about it being easy was a lie, but by then we were in my room and I didn’t really know what else to say. Miranda dropped down onto my bed, looked at me for a moment, then tapped her head next to her eyes.  I looked closer, realising for the first time that she had that tell-tale pixelation around her corneas.  She was already lensing, and I was so caught up in my own worries that I didn’t even notice.

“You gonna join me?”

I always hated putting my lenses in. Sometimes I tell myself that that’s why I never want to take them out, but I know that there’s more to it than that.  When I look at the world through the lenses it’s all a little bit further away, a little safer and more manageable.  Putting them in with someone else watching was even more trying, of course, but I managed to get the damn things in without either humiliating or blinding myself in the process. Eyes closed, I hurriedly wiped the tears off my cheeks and pulled on the gloves, waiting for the boot sequence to finish. The old system used to come on so smoothly that you could keep your eyes open and even walk around during the boot without any sort of nausea at all. Our system is still pretty dizzying, but we’re getting there.

The world was still there when I open my eyes, but changed, augmented into something that I could deal with.  The lenses threw up an overlay of useful information over it, so that the time and date hovered in the corner of my vision, as did a notifier alerting me to the ridiculous number of emails that I’d been ignoring while entertaining Miranda. With an effort of will I continued to ignore them.  Miranda herself was in the centre of the cloud of links and tags that her system was broadcasting. She had links to the dozens of social networks and artificial environments that she was a part of, information about her webhosting services, her blogs and photostreams and encyclopedia entries. I noticed that at some point she’d classed me as a Friend, thus giving me access to more elements of her cloud than were visible to casual observers.  She’d actually highlighted some pictures for me and I flicked my fingers against the sensors on my gloves, selecting them.

The shots were from Tommy’s last party, the one that I was too chickenshit to go to. The first showed Miranda, gorgeous in a tight red dress, being hoisted into the air by two boys with her mouth open in a squeal. The next showed her sitting on the lap of a powerfully built black girl, their hands clasped together and eyes closed, no doubt lensing something directly between them. There were several more, including several of her smoking and looking louche and very cool while sprawled on a couch out the front of the house, and they all showed somewhere that I very much wanted to be.

“Come on. You know you want to go.” I looked up at her, blushing. That was when I knew for certain that I would do anything to make her happy, anything to keep her smiling at me like that.

Then, with great grace, she changed the subject and asked me about some of the modifications she could see in my own cloud. I showed her some of the systems I was rebuilding, a script that I was working on, sent her copies of some textures and brushes that she could use to work on her own interface. The day flew by and the night set in. She stayed many more hours than I had dared to hope that she would, eagerly discussing technical details and consistently impressing me with her knowledge. I was near to yawning with exhaustion when she left, and yet it was still too soon.

That night, the dreams came. I’d stayed up too late, working on my system in a fit of wild panic brought on by the terrible certainty that I wouldn’t be as hip or interesting as any of Tommy’s asshole friends. The dreams him me whenever I go to sleep upset, when I don’t meditate like I should, when my defences are down. I was back in the old days, the dark days of madness and fear.  I saw the smashing window, the painted screaming faces, the broken teeth and long grabbing fingers, so much faster and crueler than the sad and desperate monsters who had shambled into our home so long ago. I ran for the stairs, screaming, lost in slow motion. I heard the sound. It was a soft thud, like something heavy coming apart. I didn’t look around this time, don’t see my beautiful Charley falling, blood around her like a halo, eyes already blank. Those are the bad nights, and when that happens I don’t get up the next day.

I woke, gulping for air, my room was terrifyingly normal.  The windows were locked and whole, my mainframe humming softly in the dark.  Outside, the sky was touched by something that would soon become dawn.  I lay there for a long time, unable to think or move, my ears ringing with that terrible sound. Finally, too exhausted for fear, I slept again.

The first problem of the next day was deciding how to get to the party. Previously I would have just taken the tram, but there’d been a power shift recently and the gang that was running them these days wasn’t as friendly or cooperative as the last one. It had been a long time since I’d come across a gang that I couldn’t come to some agreement with, not since long before the Accord, but it still wasn’t worth the risk.  Sealing ourselves in with an armed pack of animals that we didn’t know just wasn’t a good idea.

It was too far to walk, even if we took our chances with the tunnels, and there was no way I was going down there in a group as small as ours.  The only option, then, was the car. Morgan had been working on it night and day since the last breakdown, the one that almost cost us our lives.  We’d only been stopped for a few minutes, but that was all the time that the pack needed. They were fresh out of the desert, fast and mean, and they were on us before we knew what was happening. Morgan’s driving was all that saved of us. Still, he blamed himself for not maintaining the car better. I blamed myself for taking us out using a map with an outdated violence overlay. Windows were smashed, lessons were learned.

“Morgan. You decent?” I’d taken to announcing myself since one time when I wandered into his workshop and found him elbows deep in the engine, wearing nothing but a rag around his hair and an extraordinary amount of grease. He’s said that he was hot, that it was more comfortable that way, and I didn’t ask any questions. The workshop was his kingdom, like the server room was mine, and he could do whatever he wanted in here so long as the car ran.

His head popped up from behind the bonnet and he flashed me a crooked smile, dreadlocks bouncing out. “Yeah babe, no show today, sorry.”

I snorted. “Wasn’t much of a show then either. You got the beast running yet?”

The hulking brown mass of metal that dominated the room had once been a commercial car, an oversize people mover built for soccer mums.  Now it was a bit of everything, modified with whatever parts Morgan could get his hands on and held together with spot welds, gaffer tape and love.

He frowned, pursing his lips. “Think so. Should do today at least. That Honda gudgeon pin arrived at last, I had to sand down the ends to make it fit, and the crankshaft had to be altered a bit to work with it, but it’s in now and it seems to be doing the trick.”

I nodded. I had no idea how he did it, but Morgan was a genius for scrounging up car parts. Whatever we needed, he and his army of contacts could track it down, and he had enough spares lying around from all the engines that he’d torn apart that he could usually trade for it.  Since the sort of large scale production needed to make new cars had ground to a half, mechanics like him had had to become as adept at hunting and jury rigging as they were at repairs, and Morgan was a genius at both.  It had almost bankrupted my last House to get our hands on him, but I’d never regretted the decision.

I bent down, peering in through the open rear door.  “Those seats don’t look that flash. How are you going to lure girls into your clutches if you can’t even make them comfortable?”

He grinned again, and blushed. He and I had shared a strange, drunken night in the back seat of his last car many years ago. It hadn’t gone anywhere, largely because he wasn’t a girl and I wasn’t a car, but I still liked to tease him about it.

“Well, ah, sure, but I got the transmission working right. Finally. I thought that I was going to have to junk the whole damn thing, but it turns out that the 2010 Lexus had a gear set that was almost exactly the right size, weirdly enough. I got those in and away we go.”

“But are we good to go for tonight?”

“Tonight? What’s on tonight?”

“Tommy’s party. Social event of the season. Time for us to get out and see the outside world a little.”  Leadership, I’ve found, is at least two thirds bravado.

The rest of the day was spent getting ready. I felt sure that most of the party would be lensers of some sort, so I spent some time sorting out my cloud. I found out that I was still broadcasting invites for two social networks that weren’t running any more, and one that wasn’t accepting any new members. I wiped those, then after a moment’s thought added one for a truly ancient system, one of the first to go up after the Collapse. Maybe it would pass for ironic. I privated a few particularly embarrassing pictures of myself, and dropped a few that I didn’t totally hate into my public photostream. Then I decided that I didn’t like the theme that I was using, and started browsing around for something new. I’m a bit of an addict for that sort of thing, and after skinning my cloud to reflect a sunset as seen from space, a pre-Collapse cop show and a 1969 Dodge Charger, I forced myself to give up and leave it alone. It would have to do.

Then I was out of time. I had my head back, slipping my lenses onto my eyes, when Morgan and his horrible friend Vic started pounding on my door. They lurched in, wrestling with each other, and collapsed onto my bed. They had a bottle clutched precariously between them, which I snatched away from them before they managed to spill any on my bedsheets. They’d already put a considerable dent in it, and I took a swallow myself, then winced and gagged.

“Jesus Christ, you animals, what the hell is this shit?”

Vic giggled. “One of Morgan’s mates makes it. Kelly. Think it’s technically wood alcohol. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!” They said the last in ragged chorus, an old joke funny only to them. “Think there’s a splash of something else in it. Acid. Peyote maybe.”

I contemplated the mouth of the bottle. It wasn’t likely to make anything any harder than it would otherwise be. I lifted it and took another swig.

Bottle on the table, I put my boot on Morgan’s ass and started yanking the laces tight. I gave my hair and makeup a panicked once over while the boys tumbled off the bed and recommenced their distinctly homoerotic wrestling match on the floor behind me. I gave them a friendly kick and started guiding them out towards the door. “C’mon, c’mon, move out. Momma wants to hit the road.” Time to get into character.

There were a few lensers on the street, more than I expected to see. I hadn’t been out for a while, and it seemed as though every second person was broadcasting a social network invitation of some sort, not to mention a few gang affiliations and Household sigils. One particularly intense guy in a trenchcoat and thick rimmed glasses was showing nothing but encyclopedia articles he’d started or contributed to, while the pretty girl by his side was a bouquet of grinning pictures taken in the mirror.

The trip, for all my planning and paranoia, was uneventful. Morgan’s driving wasn’t his best, but the fact was that he’s always driven a little better once he’s had a few drinks. Melbourne rolled past, hot and dark, the sky big above us. Since most of the lights went out the sky has been a lot bigger and a lot closer, too full of stars to bear. It’s too large and we’re too small. I’m doing my best to push it back, to give us some of our space back. We all are. Sometimes, though, I feel that big sky crushing down on me and I feel like it’s impossible to breathe.

The party, when we got there, was an obnoxious smear of people spilling out of Tommy’s house and into the street. Everyone there was lensing, which made me glad that I’d made the effort to dress up my cloud even as I was annoyed by the affectation. I doubt that many of the people there really understood the potential of ubiquitous computing; they just knew that it was cool to have a bunch of symbols and links floating around your head and pretend that the Collapse never happened. Even here, on the other side of the end of the world, there were still scenesters.

I got a few nods as I pushed into the crowd, and there were a few explosions of whispers that were probably directed at me. That was fine. Time was, the whole place would have stopped when we got there, if we deigned to turn up at all. They would pour out and surround Charley and I, coveting our attention, out regard, demanding whatever association with us they felt that they deserved. I loved every second of it, reveled in it, but I never forgot whose show it was.  They talked to me, flirted with me and laughed at my jokes, but she was the one they really wanted.  She was the shining heart of the lenser scene, the sun in whose light we all grew. I was just the nearest orbiting body, and when her light went out I span into the dark.

I soon found myself wedged in a corner, drinking from the bottle that I’d confiscated from the boys, letting a guy named Sue shield me from the crowd. He could have me all to himself for a while if it kept their eyes off me for a while. I’d actually had enough to drink that being social wasn’t as terrifying an ordeal as it usually was. I asked him about his name and he just shrugged. “You know, like the song.” I didn’t, but I smiled anyway.

We were talking about TV shows. People still called them that, even though the old style television networks hadn’t been viable for years now. I went along with it out of convenience.

“Well, sure, the last crop of episodes haven’t been as good as when it started, but it’s still one of the best new shows out there.”

“Yeah, it’s not so bad. I still prefer Shark Jump O’clock, though.”

“Oooh, yeah. That’s been good lately.  Have you seen the new fork of that?” I shake my head. “It’s a group from somewhere in Sydney that didn’t like the way they killed off Jim. It splits off about two episodes before that. Total recast. Their Sharon’s better, but I don’t like their Jim, so it kind of defeats the purpose.  The original has actually been stealing ideas from it lately.”

“Huh. I’ll still give it a shot. Hey, did you see Half Past Shark?”

He chuckled. “Yeah, that was fun. I don’t usually go for mashups, but the voiceovers worked way better than they usually did, and the Half Pint scenes fit in pretty well. I loved what they did with Brenda.”

He did the character’s weird little bug eyed dance and I snorted with laughter. The drink was starting to work its magic on me. We were just getting onto the weird resurgence of memento mori video games when I caught something in the corner of my vision, and there was Miranda.  Her eyes were bright, her smile large and real.  It was like they were boring into me.  My words failed me.

“Uh, hey there babe.” I made some vague gesture with the bottle, just as she came at me for a hug, which meant that I ended up almost cracking her on the head with it. She dodged it and giggled, but I could tell that she wasn’t used to that sort of treatment from girls she liked. I didn’t even have what it took to worship her properly.

We hugged, and something in me lurched towards her. When her arms were around me the room was darker and louder than before. She’d been dancing.  She smelled like sweat and girl, and all I wanted was to pull her closer, to cover her with myself, to fall into her. She shifted slightly, and I realised that I was holder her too tightly, too close.

I pulled back. Her eyes were still on me. Lenses are supposed to keep people at a distance, but they were of no use to me then. I was just about to open my mouth and say something stupid when Tommy clambered onto a chair behind her. The music dropped and he began to berate us, as was his style. Miranda grinned awkwardly at me and I blushed, then turned to face him, grateful for the excuse to look away.

“Okay, losers. Shut up. Don’t pretend that you came to this shitty place to talk to each other. You came for me.” Jeers and boos rose from the crowd, and someone half-heartedly threw a plastic cup at him. He tried to catch it, almost overbalancing from the chair in the process. Tommy always acted drunker than he really was. I guess that he thought that it looked cool. “Shut up, you love it. Heh. Anyway, main event time.”

 He gestured, and suddenly my system was under attack. An unsanctioned download began, and before I could get my panicked fingers to move it had completed and executed. I thought that I could see how he’d done it, at least well enough to stop it from happening again, not that I expected it to do any good. Talk was he did something similar every time, and nobody had managed to stop him yet.

The package was an imaging layer, a modification of the draw technique rather than a total reskin. Most of these things are bulky, image heavy and clumsily put together, allowing the user to put a texture over any walls or objects around them and swap out people for whatever characters happen to come in the set. They’re usually lame fantasy or science fiction scenarios, based on old books or older shows, letting you lurch awkwardly down the street while pretending you’re in the rolling majestic hills of wherever. This one was different. All it really did was tweak the angles that the lenses drew objects from, so that they all sat slightly wrong compared to one another. The effect was deeply unsettling, and it became even more so once I turned my head and tried to take a few steps. I raised my hand, staring at my mismatched fingers, unable to prevent a dumb smile from smearing itself across my face. Then Tommy’s real games began.

The next thing I knew, my vision was totally overrun by a ROM hack of a popular pre-Collapse sidescroller that Tommy had seemingly gotten to run on a lens emulator and altered into a multiplayer experience.  Everyone at the party had been dropped into one environment, so that a dozen virtually identical characters swarmed over one another, trying to learn the controls and figure out exactly which figure we happened to be in control of. Just as I was starting to get the hang of it, it dissolved into a mass of light and colour that was so gorgeous and overwhelming that it sent me reeling and staggering into someone that I hoped very much was Miranda. We crashed to the ground, tangled in one another, and from the sounds of things the rest of the party was doing much the same.

That’s when the next game started, a driving sim controlled by shouting as loudly as possible. As soon as someone managed to actually get their car started it too vanished, replaced by a logic puzzle that I would have solved almost immediately if everyone at the party wasn’t pushing around the same set of blocks, and an arcade shooter that I did as badly at as I always do.  After several more games of equivalent imagination and stupidity my normal vision returned, giving me an unparalleled view of the ceiling fan and the back of a strange guy’s leg. As soon as I tried to move, though, I realised that my entire vision had been flipped. The effect was extremely confusing, and it became even more so when people begin to clamber over me, the sensations of contact coming from the opposite side of my body as the vision. When I managed to raise my head I spotted a girl on the other side of the party with an arrow over her head, bobbing up and down and pointing at her shaved skull, and I understood the game that we were playing.

That was the last game of the night, and it was by far the most insane. Any attempt to avoid the other partygoers was impossible. Even standing was out of the question. All that I could do was to press forwards, to wriggle and writhe over sweaty heaving bodies, zeroing in on my target. The hands and bodies of a dozen strangers dragged across my body, and before long I couldn’t tell the incidental gropes from the intentional. My target and I reached each other at last, grinning wildly, only to have an overweight guy come crashing down between us, fixed on his own match. I grabbed the back of his shirt and hauled myself up, lurching dizzily over him and down into shaved head’s arms. A buzzer sounded, digital fireworks filled the air, and broken vision was replaced by darkened lights and loud, driving music.

She squealed and hugged me, and I planted a kiss on top of her sweaty head. Then I felt a hand on the back of my jeans, fingers wrapping themselves around my belt, and I was dragged backwards through the crowd. I rolled onto my back and found Miranda above me. It was too loud for me to say anything stupid, and her eyes were never so large or so green. She came down as I came up, and the world vanished as our lips met.

As the night went on, hysteria settled into a comfortable drunken fugue, and a group of us found ourselves clambering up the trellising and onto the roof of the house. I flopped onto my back, confused but happy, staring up at the sky. It looked no smaller than before, no less full of stars, but somehow that wasn’t so bad. Miranda crawled unsteadily towards me. We hesitated for a moment, then I raised my arm for her and she crawled under it to curl against me. The night was warm and good and the dark city was spread before us like an ocean, punctuated by bursts of light.




About the Author


Author photo by Thursday Photography


Alex Hardison is a young Australian writer.  Born in Perth, he has recently returned home after travelling Europe, and is currently establishing himself in Sydney.  He enjoys hard science fiction, old school cyberpunk, lecturing people about futurism and getting into adventures.  More of his writing can be found at his site, Volatile Memory, and he can be bribed with wine and chocolate.

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