WELCOME TO THE TEAM
Four years ago, I decided to start calling myself Fatale. It’s my
superhero name. I chose it from a list they supplied me in the
clinic, and at the time it seemed like the perfect symbol for my dangerous,
sexy new self, a cybernetic woman of mystery. Admittedly, I was
on a lot of painkillers.
Before this, I was an enhanced operative in an NSA-style spook
show. When they fired me, the government techs said I was having an
adjustment disorder, but I prefer my term for it. I’m a superheroine,
gifted with powers and abilities above the norm. I’m superhuman, one
of the good guys. One of the chosen.
I got my powers by accident, a random tourist mishap in São Paulo. It
wasn’t a fancy accident, just a runaway dump truck on the Rua Augusta
that plowed into me and scraped me forty feet along the side of a building.
I was on life support for four months and unconscious most of that
time. I’m going to be in a clinic for three weeks this year, and the next,
and basically for the rest of my life.
Why I was in Brazil, or even whom I was there with, I don’t know.
That went in the accident and the surgery that followed, taken out when
armor plate and dead reckoning and a prototype microwave projector
went in. I’ve looked at travel guides to try to jog my memory—was I
there to see the architecture? The zoo? I don’t even speak Portuguese.
But yes, I did it to myself. I signed the papers, medicated and prone in
a hospital bed, scrawling an illegible name with a fuck-it-all panache,
knowing vaguely that I didn’t have much of a shot otherwise. The press
release was of course bullshit, not that anyone bothers to look at my
Web site. They wrote it while I was still in recovery, all about cancer and
a miracle cure. I never even learned all the made-up details about my
grandmother and the old house, and how I wanted to be an astronaut.
The real story is much more complicated and stupid and isn’t a thing I
could explain fully, not even when I had all of my original brain tissue.
Protheon approached me in South America. The corporate doctors
came to see me several times during my conscious intervals; polite,
friendly men, in suits and in lab coats, to talk to me about a proposal
they had for me. I was the one-in-a-million accident they had been waiting
for, and they were my last option. They explained about the supersoldier
program. They told me I was going to be the next generation of
warfare, the forerunner of an army of people who looked and fought
like me. I said okay.
The Brazilian clinic had contracted the advice of a Swiss designer of
artificial organs, three American software engineers, a German military
contractor, and a Thai plastic surgeon famous for sex-change operations,
but the main design and modification was the work of an
Forty-three percent of my original body weight is just gone. Mostly
on the left side, ground into the pavement or discarded on the operating
table. Muscle, nerve tissue, bone, and skin. Hair, fingernails, cartilage,
an eye, and a good deal of brain tissue. A lot of my guts are plastic, too.
That was the unlikely beginning to my career as a superhero,
enhancile, trans- or super- or metahuman or whatever other term you
like to use to describe it. What I am now, and will be for the rest of my
I can see myself reflected in the curving metal walls of the Crisis Room,
a patchwork woman of skin and chrome, souvenirs of a bad day in São
Paulo. I lost a lot of skin, and gained four inches of height and a metal
I’m in Manhattan, on the forty-eighth floor of a midtown skyscraper,
sitting down with the seven most powerful heroes in the world, and I’m
lucky they even asked me to be here. A month ago, I was spending my
daytime hours watching television and listening to the police scanner.
It’s hard to make it on your own as a cyborg—we have serious overhead,
maintenance and supply issues I’d rather not explain.
I check my reflection again to make sure I’ve got the look exactly
right, a silver-haired, high-tech Amazon warrior, hair drawn back in a
long ponytail, a gleaming technological marvel. I was going to be the
next generation of warfare.
The past few hours are a blur. Flying up from Hanscom Air Force
Base, where it took me three hours to get through security, a private
helipad. A crowd of reporters stood around the Champions’ headquarters
shouting questions about CoreFire, but noone so much as recognized
me. Then another long security check before I could get a visitor’s
Even though I was running late, I stopped in the trophy room outside
the Champions’ crisis room to gaze at the old memorabilia and the old
group portraits of the finest superteam in the world. Two of those faces
are absent now, two empty places at the table. Nobody says anything,
but it’s obvious whom I’m here to replace. Galatea’s sculpted face
beams down from the glamour photographs, a metal angel.
So I’m the last to arrive. Nobody looks up—the meeting’s already
running. Being this close to so much power is a vertiginous sensation.
The heroes pop out at you, impossibly vivid, colorful as playing cards,
but all from different decks, a jumble of incompatible suits and denominations
dealt out for an Alice in Wonderland game. A man with the
head of a tiger sits next to a woman made of glass. The woman to my
right has wings. This is where I want to be—the players.
The Champions have money behind them. A gleaming metal table,
arched ceilings, a dozen instrument panels blink. There’s a charge in the
air. This is where the greatest heroes in the world sat—their portraits
ring the room, images of the heroes they were ten years ago. Except two
of them, Galatea and CoreFire, are missing.
“Whatever this is, it’s global. The tides are off, and there’s a temperature
drop in the deep ocean. And CoreFire is still missing.” In the Crisis
Room, Damsel tells us the world is ending. We sit in a half circle, like
children. A U-shaped table spans the room, and Damsel hovers at the
open end before the wall of monitors.
Her force field flickers a moment, green and then indigo, over her
skintight red-and-purple costume. Her face is familiar from a thousand
interviews and magazine covers; a slender, pretty brunette, nondescript
save for the odd little markings on her throat. She has the glamour of a
film star, but her power is now illusion.
Damsel’s father was Stormcloud, the mainstay of the old Super
Squadron, so Damsel is that rare thing, a superhero by inheritance, her
name a half-serious play on her father’s vocation. His weather powers
may not have been genetic, but his strength and speed are there. She
wears a pair of swords to compensate, wire-wrapped hilts coming up
over her shoulders.
Behind her, a wall-size video monitor flickers, showing weather patterns,
locations of recent superhuman crimes, profiles of a few at-large
supervillains. The eight people scattered around the conference table
are some of the most famous superheroes in the world. People like
Feral, Rainbow Triumph, and Elphin. The air is thick with power. These
are people who have, quite literally, saved the entire world.
“Honey, we haven’t seen a serious threat for almost a year. I’ve been
This is Blackwolf. He doodles on a BlackBerry and twirls a combat
knife in the fingers of his off hand. Former Olympic gymnast, millionaire,
and onetime scourge of the underworld. Technically, he doesn’t
have any powers at all, the paragon of the bare knuckle and gadgets
style. His lack of a real superpower emerged as a point of pride—any
powered hero who cared to make a remark soon found himself challenged
to a friendly sparring match, and Blackwolf never lost. He’s also
Her field goes white for a split second. Then the cat thing, Feral, huffs
a sardonic laugh. “Maybe you should be back at work, then. Spend
some time on the streets.”
Damsel cuts him off. “He should answer his hail at least. He has the
same fail-safe signal device as the rest of us.”
“I know,” Blackwolf replies. “I designed it.”
“Could he be off-planet?” I ask.
“Not without saying something. He and I have a deal about that,”
Damsel says. I look for some sign as to whether this was a stupid question.
“You honestly think there’s something behind this.” Blackwolf says,
as if I hadn’t spoken.
“I, too, have felt it. An emanation of the darkness.” We all turn to
look. Mister Mystic’s voice is heavy with portent, and even in the sunlit
boardroom, the shadows seem to fall heavier in the corner where he
stands. He wears a tuxedo and crimson-lined cape, like a cartoon of a
stage magician, complete with a wand tucked into a sash at his waist.
Rainbow Triumph rolls her eyes. I would laugh if I hadn’t seen news
footage of him high above Colorado, crimson energy curling out of him
to hold a falling satellite motionless above a Denver suburb.
Outside, the East River flashes in the sun. A pile of bagels sits
untouched at the center of the table.
“Darkness? Crime, you mean.” Feral’s voice is a growl distorted by
jutting canines. He’s a mutant, a genetic metahuman. Massive, he catcrouches
in one of the office chairs—how could someone just be born
like that? It must have been a genetic program, but officially he’s an
accident. He has a long feline tail, and it’s lashing, thudding against the
I know these people—everyone does. They started the Champions in
the early eighties, just as the old Super Squadron started to retire, people
like Go-Man and Regina. They were younger and sexier than their
predecessors, the seemingly immortal heroes of the postwar boom,
with their statesmanlike demeanors and bright costumes like the flags
of strange countries. That generation had been compromised by the
alien-war intrigues of the seventies, and these people became their
newer, slicker replacements. If the Super Squadron were the golden age,
they were the silver.
Some of them don’t even wear masks anymore. They don’t have
secret identities as working-class chumps; they date movie stars and
attend celebrity charity events. Even their powers are cooler—fast,
fluid, nonlinear. Monumental blocks of muscle have gone out of fashion,
and these new powers seem to emerge as pure style. The team roster
changed every few years, but these were the core, the ones who had
been there for the big breakup nine years ago.
I take a few stills out of the camera in my left eye in case I never get
this close again, catching details you miss in the magazines, the precise
way the light glints off of Lily’s skin. If Damsel looks almost ordinary,
Lily never could—the daylight miracle of her skin is always there. I can’t
believe they asked her here. No one is talking to her. Even Blackwolf
keeps a wary eye on her.
“I don’t want a high-profile event. I’m not talking about getting the
team back together, okay? I thought it would be smart for a few of us to
just look into things. Informally.”
Blackwolf shifts in his chair. “This is CoreFire we’re talking about.
The big guy can take care of himself.”
I watch him unobtrusively, aware of those preternatural reflexes. His
hands as he holds the printout in front of him are strong but graceful. I
can see scars and calluses. Hands of a pianist turned prizefighter.
“We’ve got some new faces here, so let’s make some introductions.
I’m Damsel.” The famous face is carefully neutral behind the mask.
They all know one another, but we go around the room anyway. I
can’t help but feel it’s a courtesy to me.
“Feral.” It comes out as a breathy cough.
“Blackwolf.” He nods, looking just like his GQ cover. In costume, his
black bodysuit shows up that perfect musculature. Almost forty, he
looks twenty-five. Genetically perfect.
“Rainbow Triumph.” Rainbow Triumph’s is a bright, chirpy cartoon
of a voice.
“Mister Mystic.” Mystic’s is baritone perfection, crisp and resonant. I
wonder if he used to be a professional actor.
“Elphin.” A child’s whisper, but somehow ageless; the voice that once
lured naïve young knights to their doom.
“Lily.” The glass woman. Her name brings an unmistakable tension
into the room. She worked the other side of things for a long, long time.
She’s stronger than almost anyone here, and some of them know that
firsthand. Now she’s come through the looking glass, into the hero
world. I wonder how she got here.
When it gets to me, Damsel says a few polite words about my work
on the sniper killings. No mention of the NSA. I stand awkwardly to say
my code name, conscious of my height.
“Fatale.” There’s a digital buzz at the back of my voice that the techs
never managed to erase. When I sit back down, one armored elbow
clacks noisily against the marble tabletop. I don’t wear a mask, but I
fight the urge to hide my new face behind the silver hair they gave me.
Most of it’s nylon.
They found me in Boston, living on the last of the reward money from
that sniper thing, plus a kill fee from the NSA when they voided my
contract. Becoming a superhero doesn’t happen all at once, and by that
point I was working the bottom end. Spending nights lurking in Allston,
or Roxbury, or Somerville, senses open to the police bands and 911
lines, sprinting to be there before the authorities. Supposedly, I grew up
around there, but I didn’t remember these neighborhoods. There was
no particular money in it or even superhero glamour, but I needed to be
working. I was lucky to find that sniper thing.
Damsel was just there one day when I got home, standing on the
shag carpeting in front of the television. She gave me an appraising
stare. I knew who she was, obviously, and apparently she knew me.
“You must be Fatale.” She glowed a little. She was being projected
there as a hologram, the superhero phone call. Her left foot wafted
through a thrift-store coffee table—there hadn’t been much room to
materialize. I wondered where the transmitter was.
“Damsel?” I ducked a little to come inside.
“I’m here to offer you an opportunity. Part of a group effort we’re
putting together. If you’re willing, there’s a meeting tomorrow night at
the Manhattan facility. I understand you’re temporarily at liberty.”
“Uh, right. Of course. Well, of course I’m interested. And no, I’m not,
uh, engaged right now.”
“Excellent. Details will arrive by courier. We’ll expect you.” She
winked out. Whatever level of technology they used, it was pretty far
from anything you’d see on the street.
I noticed she didn’t promise anything. And she didn’t use the word
team, like the old Champions were. They’d been more like a family, even
before Blackwolf and Damsel married. No one expected that to happen
again. They wanted an available hero who could be a technician, like
Galatea was, but they weren’t pretending it was going to be that relationship
I could picture the conversation that led to my selection.
“So whom can we get? Somebody who does machines.”
“Calliope? Argonaut? The Breach?”
Chorus of shouts: “Not the fucking Breach!”
“Who, then? We’ve got no psychics, nobody technical . . .”
“Please, just find somebody who’s not going to be a total disaster.
Have the computer give us a list.”
They’d looked at my schematics, and my references had checked out,
so they’d put me on the list. The official invitation came later in a heavy
envelope of crisp, velvety paper. I was to report to their headquarters at
a certain time for the informational meeting two days later. They sent
me a plane ticket along with. I’d never flown first-class before.
Talking about CoreFire, they fall into old rhythms. They used to be a
team—once; they did this for a living. They all seem rusty at first.
Damsel’s just a part-time crime fighter now. For all her power, she
spends more time fund-raising for groups like Amnesty International.
Elphin has a line of beauty products. Mister Mystic works as a consultant,
to an odd and exclusive clientele.
“All right, say he’s missing. Now what?” Blackwolf’s natural charisma
seems to make him cochair of this meeting.
“Who saw him last?” Damsel asks.
“I did.” Blackwolf answers her levelly. “He looked fine.” Blackwolf
holds the distinction of being the only human ever to knock CoreFire
unconscious. He still patrols in costume, part-time, but it’s mostly publicity
for his corporate holdings.
“He always looks fine,” says Feral. He’s one of the few heroes on this
level still working the streets, still busting up drug deals and foiling
muggers. “Damsel? I know you two kept in touch.”
“I haven’t seen him in a year. When we took down Impossible
together last time. He was on form. Untouchable as ever.”
I follow the conversation, feeling useless. I’ve never met CoreFire. I’ve
never even seen him in person.
“He always had that vulnerability to magic. I saw an arrow go right
into him one time. Some kind of magic arrow thing.”
“A magic arrow is not an object you understand, Blackwolf,” Mister
Mystic responds. “In my current pursuits, I seldom traffic in such
things, but I will inquire.”
“The forest realms say nothing,” Elphin offers wide-eyed, wings
Damsel takes a deep breath.
“Look, this is what I’m proposing. CoreFire’s never failed to answer a
hail before, and if he’s over his head, this is going to be serious. If this is
Doctor Impossible, it’s the moment he’s been waiting for. We’re setting
up a . . . group. People from the powered community. You people are
the short list.”
That makes them think. The Champions meant a lot to the community
before they split, but the core members haven’t all been in the same
room since then.
As a group, they seem to have trouble keeping still. Feral paces and
lashes his tail. Damsel rewraps the cord on one of her sword hilts while
she speaks. Elphin flies up to perch on one of the computer banks, her
long eldritch spear held lightly in one hand, the barbed metal tip nearly
touching the curved ceiling.
Rainbow Triumph taps one foot, glances over at me or at the ceiling,
and drums polished fingernails. She was an obvious choice, a highprofile
hero with great approval ratings and generous corporate backing.
The invitation had probably been cleared through Gentech, and her
agent. I’m a little surprised to see her still in the field. Child superheroes
so rarely turn out well—look at the Impkin now; look at poor
I rub one arm at the line where the steel alloy bonded with my skin.
No seam at all—it’s like two layers of Neapolitan ice cream, flesh and
alloy, some protein voodoo they managed mostly by luck. Underneath
it’s a lot uglier; wires run everywhere like bad kudzu, and there’s still a
lot more human tissue in the right half than anyone thinks. Only the
Protheon team knows for sure.
Blackwolf watches everyone else, eyes flicking to elbows and knees,
all the weak spots. He puts a lot of time and thought into working out
exactly how, if it came to it, in a fight, he could hurt the person he’s
looking at. It’s not personal. It’s the only thing he’s good at, and it’s
amazing he’s survived this long. He was diagnosed mildly autistic
before he was a superhero.
Only Lily keeps utterly still, in a chair a few places down the table, a
sculptured Plexiglas form. She raises one liquid glass arm.
“So . . . why do we think it’s Doctor Impossible? Isn’t he still in jail?”
Lily’s voice sounds carefully neutral. Damsel answers, looking straight
“I don’t, personally, but who knows what he’s capable of? And something
this big doesn’t happen without his knowing.”
“Do we know where he is?”
“That setup near Chicago, locked down tight.”
“Look, if so you’re worried about him, why not just ask him yourself?”
Lily looks almost amused. She and the Doctor were an item back
in her not-so-distant villain days.
“He knows us. He won’t talk to us. Unless you think you could do
better?” Blackwolf’s tone is even, genial; he’s watching to see how she’ll
“I was hoping that between us we’d have a few leads, Lily.” Feral holds
her gaze, his tiger face unreadable. They say he has a drinking problem
now, but he’s pure havoc in a fight.
“I don’t have all my old connections, as my presence in this room
ought to tell you. CoreFire has a lot of enemies. Any one of them could
have found that stuff he hates. The iridium.”
“We scan for that—always,” Damsel shoots back.
“I’m just saying, there are a lot of people trying to figure out how to
do this. And you haven’t been watching. You’ve been out
doing . . . whatever you’ve been doing.” Lily watches their reaction; this
part, I now realize, is her job interview.
“You have, maybe. I do my job. I always have,” Feral rumbles, and
leans back in his chair.
It’s an uncomfortable silence. Too many heroes in this room, and too
Most of them are naturals, superpowered since puberty or before. Powers
that came on their own. Naturals are the wild talents that form out
of the ever-churning soup of the human megapopulace by accident or
fate. Once in a hundred million times, a lifetime of factors align, and at
the right moment something new coalesces out of high-tech industrial
waste, genetic predisposition, and willpower, with a dash of magic or
alien invention. It started happening more often in the early 1950s, and
no one knows why—nuclear power plants, alien contact, chlorinated
water, or too many people dancing the Twist.
A very few of us got this way on purpose. Manufactured, treated with
chemicals, surgically altered. Sheer force of will, or radical educational
measures, or a willingness to take insane gambles for power. Blackwolf,
for example, is little more than a superbly gifted athlete.
His father, legend has it, taught him most of what he knows in their
backyard with only a baseball bat, a German shepherd, and an old rubber
tire hanging from a tree. I’ve been snubbed before, for doing for
myself what destiny did for others. But it may be a nobler thing to claw
one’s way up, to seize by an effort what others had handed to them.
What they were born with, or what dropped from the sky one calm
Damsel breaks the silence. “If someone out there has figured out how
to beat him, we need to know it.”
“We owe it to the man, don’t we?” The question hangs in the air.
Whatever had split them up made that an actual question.
“He was one of us,” says Elphin with finality, in the clarion tones of
an Amazonian warrior. “If he truly has fallen, we cannot let him go
Elphin sits to my left, looking around with a disturbingly avian stare.
We rode up the in elevator together. She’s not a teenager; she only looks
like one. According to her press kit, she was born in tenth-century England.
She’s a fairy.
They say she’s the remnant of an elite fairy guard, a warrior woman,
one of Titania’s picked few. When the rest of the fairies departed this
world, Titania asked her to stay behind. Where her friends had gone, no
one knew. All those years, she’d lasted it out with no word from her
own people, sipping tea from acorn cups and hunting the shrinking
forests of England with flint arrowheads, fairy tech, while the centuries
And then she’d come out of hiding to battle the enemies of
humankind. That’s if you take her word for it. I admit she looks like a
fairy. She’s around five feet tall, with ethereal blond hair. Big bright eyes,
high cheekbones, tiny breasts, check. And she acts like you’d think a
fairy would act. Cute and flighty, blond, haughty. Merry without projecting
anything much like happiness. Pretty, but only approximately
Her wings look about right; long and iridescent, they whir like an
electric fan when she’s in flight. She shouldn’t be able to fly at all, but
should can’t be depended upon to mean what it’s supposed to when
she’s around. I don’t like to look at the place where they join her back,
where the insect anatomy joins the human, where the whole thing gets
touched with horror. She carries a long spear or pike, a shaft of pale
wood tipped with a barbed curlicue like a corner of spiderweb. In her
hands, it’s like a willow wand, but I’ve seen her punch it through the
door of an armored car.
I don’t know what she is. Sometimes she acts like the heroine of an
epic fantasy novel and sometimes she acts like she’s about nine years
old, which might be cute if she didn’t kill people. But if you tried to
make up a list of reasons why a person would look and act like she does,
“fairy” would be about the least likely. Maybe it just suits her to say
that—better than “wacky elective surgery” or “spy from evil wasppersons,”
or whatever it is that made her this way. God knows, my story
is no better than hers.
I had four major operations, the longest lasting seventeen hours. The
bones and armor went in first, to support the weight of the rest of it. I
gained 178 pounds overnight, most of it lightweight alloy steel, bonded
by an electrochemical process they wouldn’t explain.
For the next six days, I wasn’t allowed to move, not that I could have
easily. I lay on my back and watched movies and healed. The worst part
of it was my skull and jaw. The way it runs across my face like a stripe of
silver paint, that took getting used to. My jaw too heavy, my tongue
fumbling against metal teeth and cheek, like a strange metal cup always
at my lips. At that point, it was all dead metal, like a suit of armor that
wouldn’t come off.
Next came the first muscle enhancements, basic nerve grafts, and the
power plant that would run it all, light as they could make it, but still
heavy and bulky in my back. Don’t ask how they made room for it. I can
feel the warmth of it all the time, hotter when I’m working hard. I had to
be strapped down most of the time while I learned to access the motor
functions of a new set of skeletal muscles.
For months, I walked like a drunk staggering in a high wind. You
learn to think and move with it. You have to accept that you’re not the
same person. It doesn’t work if you try to be. You move, then it moves,
and then you’ve gone a step. When a situation’s happening too fast,
when a gun goes off or I’m hit from behind, the machine takes over and
executes everything for me—by the time my regular brain catches up,
I’ve already returned fire, already thrown an elbow, rolled forward,
come up in a cat stance, and my HUD is showing me half a dozen
options. After awhile, you start to like it.
Everything afterward was refinement. Enhanced senses gradually
layered in to include light amplification, infrared. Reflexes, sped up bit
by bit over four weeks so I could adjust to the idea of superhuman
speed, think in smaller units of time. The arsenal of gadgets that line my
arms, legs, and torso—grappling hook, sonics, aqualung, dozens of
tricks to get me out of any situation they could think of.
Sensation isn’t quite what it was. It feels like half of me is standing in
another room, one where there’s always a warm, soft breeze blowing.
Sometimes I wake up in the night and panic, thinking half of a department-
store mannequin has gotten into bed with me. At least I don’t get
my period anymore.
I’m not complaining. They did a good job. My enemies call me “Tin
Man,” which would be less offensive if I had an actual boyfriend. Maybe
I had one before the accident, but if I did, he can’t have been a very good
one. He ought at least to have sent me flowers while I was having my
body replaced. Good riddance. Or maybe he doesn’t know I’m still
And, wait, what exactly was the Tin Woodman’s problem anyway? I
can’t remember, except that he had a magical ax that chopped him up,
limb by limb. Someone must have put a curse on the ax, and there must
have been a third person—a tinsmith?—who put him back together
again, who stuck on tin parts as the living ones came off. But who was
so mad at him in the first place? Why didn’t he throw away the ax and
get another job?
The joke of it is, there never was a super-soldier program, not one
that appears in any Pentagon budget. The Protheon Corporation disap-
peared without a trace—it was just a front, rented office space. Somebody
put a lot of money into making me what I am, then disappeared,
leaving me feeling a trifle rejected, if you must know.
That’s the part not even the Champions know, my own secret. One of
The meeting breaks up into several private debates that sound like
they’ve been argued a hundred times before. Lily pushes her chair back
and walks out; I stay and try to catch Damsel’s eye, but she’s caught up
in a back-and-forth with Mister Mystic. I get the impression that the real
decisions get made behind closed doors, just the old crowd.
Blackwolf gives me directions to the guest suite, and I wander off
down the brushed-steel corridors to the brushed-steel room. We’re way
too high for the street noise to come in, but I lie awake anyway, thinking
about the apartment waiting for me back in Allston. Even at home,
sleep doesn’t always come. I can send my onboard systems into standby
if I want, but the rest of my brain does what it likes.
Sleeping, I dream about my cyborg half, that it’s a monster that has
half-devoured me, its teeth sunk in the right half of my body. Or it’s a
forest I’ve wandered into, and I’m lost amid its mazy pathways, deep
pools, strange trees whose long fronds brush my shoulders. In the center,
there’s an enchanted well I can never quite reach. Night falls and the
sky shows strange new constellations. Waking at night, the world glows
Tonight, I have a whole long dream about a list of assembler instructions
and their possible uses and then about the team that wrote them,
a bunch of engineers in the 1980s. It turns out to be obsolete documentation
that got left on an install disc for a chip series three generations
before mine, made by a Protheon-owned company out in New Mexico.
Just before waking, I catch a glimpse of red earth and a storefront office
window in an Albuquerque strip mall, the smell of air conditioning and
bad office coffee, the glass door swinging shut, as if whoever made me
has only just left the building.