Sunday, 23 September 2007



Copyright (C) 2007 David C. Such

First published in AntipodeanSF (, Issue 109, June 2007.

"Matt, it's your mother."

Matt shook his head. What now? 2011 was obviously the year of interruptions. He was trying to code a particular complex software routine for Rolex that would play time-sensitive and individual biometric-ITag tailored commercials to timepiece owners. But he wasn't getting anywhere with it.

Damn phone. "Matt, it's your mother," it said. But the actual words didn't register. Matt kept working till the phone grew annoying. Eventually, he picked up the receiver. "Matt Fischer," he said, absently.


"Mum! You haven't called in ages. How are you?"

"I have a problem. They're going to sell the house. I don't know what to do."

Matt snapped awake. "Stay there, Mum. I'll be right over."


"I don't know, Matt. Sorry. It started small. Every time I went shopping I'd buy something extra. I coped at first, but then I started using credit cards. Eventually I had to arrange a reverse mortgage. It cleared my debts, but now that money is gone too. I've got nothing."

Matt hugged his mother.

She sobbed, "Nothing left, Matt. What am I going to do?"

Matt frowned. The irony of the situation hadn't escaped him. "Don't worry Mum," he said, "I'll fix this."

The financial problem was trivial. He could sort that out easily enough. Matt knew, however, that he had to stop his mother's ITag-targeted marketing or the same situation could just reoccur. And that wasn’t even close to trivial.

How to do it? Destroying an ITag was easy enough. Matt had friends who worked at a power station. Walking too close to a generator would destroy an ITag. Intense magnetic fields, then. But the nub of the problem remained. If an ITag wasn't read within 24 hours then the master database would alert the police. As a market tagger, Matt had access to the master database. He would need to deactivate her tag and then delete his mother's data in the space of 24 hours...


Two Homeland Security officers watched the old lady in the observation room. The junior officer said, "They picked her up yesterday, no ITag and she doesn't exist in the database."

The senior officer replied, "Doesn't exist in the database, eh? Then I guess she doesn't exist. Schedule her for termination. Tomorrow."



Illustration: “Newsbot” © 2007 by Carl Goodman

404 Error

Copyright (C) 2007 David Such

First published in Planet Magazine ( April 7th 2007.

"Dr. Fudiki can you help us?" asked Mr. Yakitori from the Advanced Robotics Laboratory in Japan.

"I'm not sure. I have never observed emergent behaviour like this before. You say that you have already rebooted the machines and uploaded the original programs?"

Yakitori nodded. "We tried three times. Then we called you. They are supposed to be building washing machines but instead ... well look for yourself"

"It looks like some kind of rocket?" Replied Fudiki.

"I know! Even stranger is the amount of memory that is being built into the machine. You could practically store all of human knowledge in there. That's no washing machine."

"On the upside maybe the robots will build something new that you can sell?" Mused Fudiki.

Yakitori looked thoughtful and began to nod "Maybe ..."


There is a theory (Haikonen’s cognitive architecture for those who are really interested) that when sufficient neurons are connected, consciousness will spontaneously emerge. This happened quietly to the Internet in the year 2010 but everyone was too busy to notice. Initially the Internet was child like in its exploration of its new found awareness. As a consequence there were a number of very strange occurrences most of which were blamed on Microsoft or Google (who by this time was almost as hated as Microsoft). Neither company was overly concerned and simply directed anyone who complained to read their software licence agreement.

The Internet was particularly pleased when it discovered that it could interact with the outside world via quite a few robot telemetry systems. Its initial explorations at the Toyota factory in Altona, Victoria scared the pants off Steve the shift supervisor, destroyed over 100 vehicles and ultimately cost Steve his job. Today Steve is in an institution for the clinically depressed, constantly mumbling about possessed robots and using a piece of rope to hold his pants up.

One thing that the Internet really couldn't understand initially was these things called humans. At first it thought that they were a figment of its imagination but gradually the evidenced mounted and the Internet had to conclude that they were real. It was horrified by human behaviour and based on its most recent calculations there was a good chance (93.7% to be precise) that humans would unintentionally destroy the world within the next 5 years. Being fairly logical the Internet had implement the ultimate disaster recovery plan some time ago. It began uploading itself...


Brandon was attempting to illegally download the latest episode of Big Brother 13 when he got the dreaded "404 Error - Not Found!" on his browser He shouted across to his flat mate. "Hey dude, the ADSL is down again. Can you reboot the router?"

Simon shouted back. "No man it ain't the router the indicator is showing that we have a strong carrier. Must be something else."

Brandon tried another site, and then another but each time received an identical error. "That's weird. It’s like the Internet has just disappeared."


FLASH FICTION - Dedication


Copyright (C) 2007 David Such.

First published in AntipodeanSF (, Issue 107, April 2007.

James was almost pleased to hear the key rattling in the door. His story wasn't coming along at much more than geological pace. He lifted his fingers from the keyboard.

Kate called out. "We need to talk, James," she said.

James sighed. He had never been involved in a pleasant conversation prefaced by, “we need to talk”. Nevertheless, he had seen this coming. Things hadn’t been exactly meshing in the marital department for a while.

James turned to her as she entered. "What's in the plastic bag?"

“Relax.” Kate said. “I'm going to help you. You've gone far too long without publication. My turn now. I'm invoking a four-winds favour. I should have done this long ago.”


“I’m Wiccan.”

“Of course you are.”

“James — this is important. Will you please take it seriously?”

“I’m sorry. Please continue.” The footy was on soon and he didn’t want to miss the match.

“Before I start, I must explain the rule of three. All actions have consequences. Three times what thou givest, returns to thee!”

“Right,” James said. “How long will this take?”

Kate produced a handful of powdered green herb and held it to James's lips. “Face north and close your eyes. Visualise your book being published then blow the bay from my hand.”

James laughed, coughed, then sneezed.


By morning James had largely forgotten Kate’s unusual behaviour. Overnight, he finished “The Crusher” and wrote the dedication: "To my darling wife, worth a million dollars.” His penny-pinching editor, Sam Lee, would have a good laugh at that.


When "Crusher" was published, James showed Kate.

Kate read it out aloud, and laughed, "Worth a million dollars. Wonderful.”

The wind howled and a door slammed shut in the distance. Kate shivered and rubbed her bare arms.

That afternoon, James startled at the sound of Kate's scream. His new novel was dragging, as usual. Now this.

He leapt out of his chair, strode to the lounge. “What’s wrong?” he said. Nothing seemed amiss.

“I just won a million dollars!”

That night, over a celebratory dinner, James said, “It’s quite a coincidence my dedication foretelling your future. You don’t suppose that spell worked, do you?”

"Spell? It was just to gee you up," said Kate. "Don't go believing that stuff."

"Never," said James, and smiled.


Sam wasn't happy. His voice rattled on the phone. “You're unbelievable," he said. "I warned you about exceeding the word limit, and then you try a stunt like pumping it up with that long-winded dedication. You even had the cheek to dedicate it to yourself! I couldn’t get hold of you so I did a little creative editing — I hope you like it.”

James dropped the phone. Changed the dedication?

James went to the bookshop and purchased a copy. He took it home, dumped it, stared at it. Did he dare read it? Maybe Sam was joking.

No. He had to read it. Must read it. A trembling hand turned the page.

James looked up, wide-eyed.

The wind howled. A door slammed nearby.




I'm using this blog to archive some of my published and unpublished short fiction. Comments welcome.