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03/01 Direct Link
WHICH STORY SHOULD I WRITE THIS WEEK?

1. “What he lacks in smarts he makes up for in not sayin’ shit to the cops. Now you, in contrast, you’re a smart guy. Or was.”

2. “What it’s like is the Op pushes the plunger, your heart freezes solid, and you wake up off-world covered in someone else’s blood. Then they find you and tell you you did good, bring you home for milk and cookies.”

3. “I was a way to kill Harry Reynolds. I wasn’t the only way, but I was the cheapest.”

4. “We’ll eventually teleport someone who doesn’t then turn homicidal. I have every confidence in probability.”
03/02 Direct Link
FOR THEIR contributions large and small, this post is dedicated with contractual obligation to:

Sumner Sumpter
Octagon Forthright
Lannimere “Bic” Brookbrock
Feathers Malloy
S. Kuggs “Skuggs” Klugman
Bob Mangle, Mangle Motors
Spangles T. Chimp, D.D.S.
Gary Sprhusse
Dungeness “Claude” Crabbe
Jake Lunatic
Jacquot Lunatique
Jacobito Lunático
Closet-Aged Bagels
Daniel "DNA" Carrot
Tony “Hired Muscle” Capisce
Timmy Sprickles
Skip Shimpler
Donny Pepperone
Leon Bleeder
James Stethoscopeadopoulos
Crick Wilbur
Punch Hamshaw
Mir P. Spacestation
Poison Oak Travel Ventures
Hap “Riprap Tiptap Bric-a-Brac” McGurgler
Cameron Winklevoss
Rear Adm. Adam “Dram” McRadmiral, USN, Ret.
Advantage Express Same-Day Litterbox Repair
03/03 Direct Link
MR. MEACHAM: Just memorize this. Can you do that?

ME: Yeah.

MR. MEACHAM: “Yeah”?

ME: Yes. I can memorize this.

MR. MEACHAM: We aim for crispness here. This is a showmanship business, and one thing the public judges us on is presentation. So we look sharp, sound crisp. OK?

ME: Yes, crisp.

MR. MEACHAM: OK, let’s hear what you got. Remember, these’ll be busy streets: Project.

ME: Ahem. “Federally issued documents destined for use in participating Hague Apostille countries may need to be authenticated with an Apostille issued by the U.S. Department of State!”

MR. MEACHAM: Say, kid, not bad!
03/04 Direct Link
“I CAN TELL you why the other ones went crazy, Dr. Nash.”

— “Oh?”

“Ha!”

— “What?”

“You built me too well. I can see right through your studied indifference. You and your clipboard. You’re a beacon of information to me: a fountain. Your fear and clinical interest and sexual excitement. You’ve got food on your face, did you know that? A crumb, a trace of coffee. Someone else’s hair on your sleeve. A woman’s, from the train. She’s young, undernourished. Lives alone, I’d say.”

— “Why did the other ones go crazy, Gary?”

“Give up breathing but still be you. Try.”
03/05 Direct Link
“IT’S FINE, Charlie; turn the dial. One more tick!”

— “But it keeps getting louder!”

“Yes! Yes! Ha ha! Very good. And now you’re on three! See the chamber?”

— “I don’t... What’s happening? What does it mean, Professor?”

“It’s gathering! It means my collimator works! One more turn, Charlie!”

— “Are you sure it’s safe?”

“Eh?”

— “Are you sure it’s safe?”

“Safe, safe, perfectly safe. Four, Charlie, four! ... Ah! Yes! Very good!”

— “[Indistinct]”

“It’s ... so now ... logarithmic! Ha ha!”

— “[Indistinct]”

“... up, Charlie! Five! Ha ha!”

— “Professor! [Indistinct]”

“... mysteries of the universe, Charles! ... Ten! Ten! You can do it, lad!”

— “... too much, Professor! It’s—”
03/06 Direct Link
“YOU’RE a proud papa, Dr. Sprang.”

— “She’s hatched? Oh, marvelous. I must see. Thank you for fetching me. Let’s go, let’s go. (Janet, please tell Dr. Carstairs I concur with his findings and appreciate his quip about the thetas.) All right! Lead the way, sirrah!”

“You would have loved seeing it.”

— “Oh, I know. But I couldn’t put this off. It’s recorded, of course?”

“Full spectrum, right to peta.”

— “Has she fed?”

“Prodigiously. Twelve steers and she’s already squawking for more.”

— “Ha ha!”

“She’s got a real… healthy…”

— “What’s… Oh, no. Oh, no, no, no.”

“Code Red! Code Red! Code—”
03/07 Direct Link
“IT’S an elegant proof.”

— “Thanks.”

“You should be proud. Submit it.”

— “Maybe. Maybe I’ll submit it. I’m not proud. I mean, I’m proud of the math, but not the… what I’ll be known for.”

“I don’t see why. It closes one line of inquiry, or seems to. Who knows what new lines of thought might emerge? Resources for experimental physics more properly directed... You’ll be a hero.”

— “No.”

“You’ll be a hero, Landon. You are to me. … Well, think about it.”

— “Thank you. I mean that.”

“I know.”

— “I just wanted a third character to be possible.

“I know, dear.”
03/08 Direct Link
Q.: What’s he doing?

A.: Writhing, evidently.

Q.: Is he OK?

A.: [Checks wall panel] Yes, he’s fine. This behavior would seem to be affected.

Q.: Can we talk to him?

A.: We can wake him, but it would interfere with the process. It would delay his work. I don’t think he’d appreciate it.

Q.: Are you’re sure he’s all right? Looks like he’s in agony.

A.: See for yourself: functions nominal. Slight elevation of adrenals with concomitant effects. Lipid transport insignificantly off baseline, likely idiosyncratic.

Q.: Good thing you’ve got him lashed down.

A.: He sometimes startles.

Q.: What’s this lead for?

A.: Lead? Which?

Q.: Just hanging here.

A.: Oh, good heavens!
03/09 Direct Link
ROSS: You don’t buy it.

LAPOINTE: Me? No.

ROSS: You think he’s out there.

LAPOINTE: Yes. Given the choice between his practicing prudent survival skills within three kilometers of the drop site — likely in shelter — and that he’s activated a native time portal…

ROSS: It’s not native.

LAPOINTE: …and traipsed inside it to God knows where or when, my money is on a good old A-frame, campfire, and iodine tablets.

ROSS: We’ve seen no smoke. S&R shows nothing on passive except for [redacted] leading into [redacted] and that [redacted]. Why don’t you suggest something? Show me on this chart where you think we'll find Nick Venture.
03/10 Direct Link
INSIDE the booth, listening to my own bellows-breath; my punch of blood in and around and down; my prayer: Please, no, you bastards. And all else muffled. More than muffled: deadened.

On the other side of the glass, the team: their scurry from console to console, white lab coats; innocent, safe, and employed. The general: his hand on Paulson’s shoulder, gazing down, waiting for the punchline, his cue to let slip that laugh he’s chambered. I won’t hear it, but it’s there for me to see.

And tonight ... will someone work up the nerve to raise a glass, tip it back?
03/11 Direct Link
TO FREE-FALL for so long you fall asleep, and dream of falling, and wake up falling, that’s a plunge. After a few days of that you wonder why you haven’t starved or had to pee. Then you kind of relax into it. This isn’t so bad. You dive and roll and try to swoop, but the swoop doesn’t quite come together, and a couple of hours later you’ve got a decent swoop but you prefer the dive so you stick with that. Then you dance, feel someone warm in your arms. Then you kind of just fall, but naked.
03/12 Direct Link
NELSON guides us through the side corridor down into training, and it’s late, right, so it’s dark and quiet, and he tries the doors and of course they’re locked. He closes his eyes, takes a breath, jiggles the first handle again.

— “What’s the big mystery, man? What’s up?”

“Have you been using the machine?”

— “Me? The big machine?”

“Yeah.”

— “No.”

“You’re sure?"

— “Positive. What’s…”

“They captured someone. In Science. A human. A guy. It works.”

— “Huh.”

“And they’re operating now.”

— “OK. How do you know?”

“I was just there.”

— “Nice.”

“You sure you haven’t used the machine?”

— “Ever?”

“Yeah.”

— “Why?”
03/13 Direct Link
“I’M NOT getting into that thing.”

— “Are you sure, senator? It’s perfectly safe.”

“I’ll pass. When do you go live?”

— “Today. We got our certificate this morning and could conceivably start immediately. I would like to wait for some of my techs who are out to lunch. They’ll be back by one.”

“OK; one then.”

— “You’re sure you don’t want to feel what it’s like, senator? The gel is warm, quite pleasant. It won’t disturb your clothing, your watch, anything.”

“If I commit a major felony you can stick me in there. Not before.”

— “Our astronauts will use it too.”
03/14 Direct Link
“MR. BANCROFT?”

— “Yes?”

“This way, please. He apologizes for the delay.”

— “Ah.”

“If I might, sir, your Happy Tag.”

— “Oh!”

“You must remember to keep it visible at all times. We must see the color.”

— “Of course. But is it not also read wirelessly?”

“Yes, near-field. Still, this is our policy. It’s for your protection.”

— “I entirely understand. I apologize.”

“Not at all. After you. We’re going up today. Kindly open your mouth and inhale through it as the lift pressurizes. Very good. You may now breathe normally.”

— “My goodness!”

“You will have fifteen minutes’ experience with Mr. Snyder.”
03/15 Direct Link
“HOW HIGH up are we? How high does this go?”

— “I am not at liberty to say, Mr. Bancroft. We are in transit.”

“Usually there are numbers.”

— “After your experience with Mr. Snyder I will need to shake your hand, both before we reenter the lift and on exiting it in the lobby.”

“Why?”

— “I am not at liberty to say. It assures your safety. I simply wanted to alert you to this procedure as a courtesy. It is nothing personal though you may enjoy it.”

“I’m...”

— “Are you carrying any weapons, or weaponized or weaponizable materials?”

“What?”

— “I’m required to ask.”
03/16 Direct Link
“AT THIS stage I would like to offer you a seat. We will be in transit for an additional three minutes.”

— “This is a phenomenal lift!”

“It is. The seat is there should you elect to use it.”

— “This building only has twenty-one stories. This is most disorienting!”

“I apologize. We are in transit. Can I answer any questions for you before you have your experience with Mr. Snyder?”

— “Has he reviewed my proposal? I mean, is he... What questions will he likely ask of me?”

“I am not privy, Mr. Bancroft. What questions would you likely ask of you?”
03/17 Direct Link
“WHAT WAS THAT?”

— “I’m sorry, Mr. Bancroft?”

“My ... my tag beeped.”

— “We are in transit. Your tag registered a discontinuity. There is nothing to worry about. See? The color is cerulean, just as before.”

“What color would it be if there were a problem?”

— “It would depend on the problem, Mr. Bancroft.”

“You’re not wearing a tag.”

— “That is correct.”

“Do you—”

— “After we disembark, I will escort you through his outer office and then you may push through unannounced. He’s expecting you. I’ll be waiting just outside the door and will collect you.”

“'Fifteen minutes.'”

— “Time enough, Mr. Bancroft.”
03/18 Direct Link
“WHAT... Where is this place?”

— “We have arrived. This way to see Mr. Snyder.”

“No. This...”

— “Mr. Bancroft?”

“Where are we?”

— “Cerulean.”

“What?”

— “Take my hand, Mr. Bancroft. Your mind will settle. You will see.”

“I don’t...”

— “Here.”

“I...”

— “Is this better?”

“What happened?”

— “It is rare. I apologize. You can let go now.”

“No...”

— “As you prefer. This way.”

“I thought... I’m not ready.”

— “You are welcome to wait here. Your fifteen minutes has begun. Spend it however you like.”

“I have to see him.”

— “Are you well?”

“I am. Oh! Thank you.”

— “Not at all. Through these doors.”
03/19 Direct Link
FOURTEEN MINUTES LATER

A door, all doors, no doors, part. Mr. Bancroft emerges. He does not hear, see, or feel the doors close behind him, but knows only that he is ... no. He does not know.

“Mr. Bancroft, welcome. I trust your experience went well.”

He smiles. The woman from his dream.

“Yes,” he says. “It went well. I saw ... Mr. Snyder.”

“You did, Mr. Bancroft. Not many people do: an accomplishment. Shall we make our way back together? Are you prepared?”

He considers this new idea: prepared.

“I believe I am prepared. Are you?”

“Yes,” she says. “This way.”
03/20 Direct Link
“DOES he still have that ‘closet’?”

— “Oh, God.”

“Does he still use it? Tell me he doesn’t.”

— “He uses it all the time.”

“Oh, I hated that place.”

— “I know.”

“How could you stand it?”

— “I couldn’t! I got out.”

“You lasted longer than I did.”

— “He was sweet.”

“Yes, he was, but…”

— “I know, I know.”

“I tried telling you.”

— “I was intrigued! It was like a science fiction movie! He had all that equipment! Mind control! Clone bodies!”

“They just floated there. Did he break out ‘the jock’?”

— “I...”

“Don’t tell me. Ugh... No, do; do tell me.”
03/21 Direct Link
“THIS IS your record of your time in the Maldives?”

— “Yes.”

“Mm hm. You speak Maldivian?”

— “Dhivehi.”

“Pardon?”

— “That’s the Maldivian word for it.”

“And you speak it?”

— “Fluently.”

“You’re full of surprises.”

— “Given six months’ notice I had time to learn the language. Anyone else from Section Nine would have done the same.”

“Dedicated men.”

— “We think so.”

“They drive on the left there, the Maldivians.”

— “Naturally. Look, I’ve an appointment. Have you any immediate questions about my report?”

“Did you encounter Janáček?”

— “Once.”

“And?”

— “He fishes the Laccadive and reads a novel a day.”

“Ha! Same old Janáček.”
03/22 Direct Link
“OK, YOUR job is incredibly important.”


— “OK.”

“You up for this?”

— “I don’t know what it is yet.”

“Good point! Ha!”

— “Heh.”

“OK. See this?”

— “Yeah.”

“Wear it here, like a watch. Actually, it even says the time, so it is a watch.”

— “OK. I prefer the left.”

“OK, sorry. Well, you do it.”

— “OK.”

“Now — are you sure, left? Because it’s going to lock there.”

— “It locks?”

“Yeah. Is that a problem?”

— “No. Can I get it wet?”

“Totally. Shower, swim, anything.”

— “OK.”

“Now, when the Federation forces come, after they capture you and beam you up, press this.”
03/23 Direct Link
“YOU’RE THE only one I’ve ever told.”

— “Can I see it?”

“I don’t like to even look at it. But yeah. Here. I need to put it in, like, a bank vault or something. I hate having it here.”

— “Wow. Can I pick it up?”

“The safety is on. Yeah. Be careful.”

— “This is ... wow. Wow!”

“Yeah.”

— “I thought it was a toy at first.”

“Yeah.”

— “But you can tell. Just holding it, you can tell.”

“Yeah.”

— “Jesus.”

“I regret taking it. I wish I’d never even gone to that line.”

— “...Heat, cold, and sonic?”

“And disrupt and stun.”

— “Wow.”
03/24 Direct Link
John Snyder, the senior Pentagon correspondent for 100 Words, returned to the real question — the question of evidence.

JOHN SNYDER: I just want to — because you so cleverly buried Jim Miklaszewski’s question by characterizing it as something that was unknowable. But he didn’t ask you whether it was something that was unknowable. He asked whether you knew of evidence that I am Ikea material.

DONALD RUMSFELD: He cited reports where people said that was not the case.

JOHN SNYDER: Right. He’s done that and —

DONALD RUMSFELD: And my response was to that, and I thought it was good response.
03/25 Direct Link
“TELL ME something, Pruitt: How is it you came to join our merry band?”

— “I answered an ad in Hench. It looked interesting, I applied, and here I am. Worked out well.”

“I was going to ask: Has it worked out well?”

— “Yes.”

“You’re happy here?”

— “Yes, very.”

“And before that? What had you been doing professionally?”

— “I was assistant day shift leader for Dr. Quake, tectonics destabilization, Eastern Seaboard.”

“Ah! Gerhard. And did he try to keep you?”

— “He was incarcerated at the time; our operations were suspended.”

“Ah. We won’t have that here, of course.”

— “Of course, Professor.”
03/26 Direct Link
DAY THREE of our coverage of the Effect, and scientists are no closer to an understanding of how every molecule, apparently, of worldwide dirt, filth, soot, nuclear waste, and even subway grime — engine grime — is being siphoned off and swirling toward the Sun. Many people — millions now reported — free from heavy metal toxicity, other ailments; lungs are clearing, uh, the energy and manufacturing sectors in chaos, the worldwide economy threatened, as many factories and plants now will not operate, with mechanical problems reported. Turning to Jeff Abrams again of the Pentagon. Jeff, who is John Snyder and how is he doing this?
03/27 Direct Link
SQLARK: “Maxnor, Plaxnor, what are you saying?”

PLAXNOR: “This isn’t easy, Sqlarc. We ... we’d always wanted a snapnor, and ... when Doc Whilloubaxnik told us we couldn’t have one of our own, why, it just devastated us.”

SQLARK: “But...”

PLAXNOR: “And then we found you. In this. You’d come to us from the sky! We took you for a miracle. And we raised you as our own.”

SQLARK: “But that means...”

PLAXNOR: “You aren’t griblik, Sqlarc. But you’re our snapnor just as sure as shootin’.”

SQLARK: “All those things I can do...”

PLAXNOR: “That’s right: the moping, the relentless procrastinating...”

MAXNOR: “It’s a gift, Sqlarc, dear. Use it for good.”
03/28 Direct Link
“WHAT’LL it do?”

— “It’s fun. Put your hand there.”

“OK. Now what?”

— “Wait.”

“It’s warm.”

— “So’s mine. Just wait.”

“I don’t... Oh. Oh, wow.”

— “You're cute. Just relax.”

“Oh, my God.”

— “Here it comes.”

“Oh, wow. Oh, no way.”

— “Ow!”

“What?”

— “We’re supposed to let go together.”

“I’m sorry!”

— “It’s OK. I didn’t say.”

“I’m really sorry.”

— “Not a problem. Try again?”

“Uh...”

— “We don’t have to.”

“Does every house have one of these?”

— “Most, I guess. Maybe out in the sticks you’ll find places without.”

“Like cable.”

— “Like what?”

“Cable TV.”

— “We don’t have whatever that is.”

“Television?”

— “What?”
03/29 Direct Link
“OH! Before you go.”

— “Yo.”

“Record KN1M45CJFA7, flagged from group.”

— “Oh, right, right. Let me see.”

“And here’s the longitudinal.”

— “OK. Who’s our prankster?”

“Nobody. It’s real.”

— “Uh huh. Well, this dies with the trim, so whatever, but I would appreciate it if nobody messed with the set. This is high visibility.”

“Nobody’s messed with anything. This comes straight from tank.”

— “Schechter-Kovach, 0.99; DELfi Aptitude, 0.99; WISC-XII, 930.”

“Wild, huh?”

— “You impress rather easily.”

“But what if it’s...”

— “It’s noise, Bojangles.”

“It doesn’t look like noise. It looks like a real, gosh-darned... Wait, what’s Bojangles?”

— “What’s what?”
03/30 Direct Link
“YOU McGILLICUDDY?”

— “Who wants to know?”

“Herbert Janssen. You don’t know me, but I know you, see. Or I know your work. You treated my great grandma for weasels.”

— “Your what?”

“My Great Ganny Janssen. Karl Janssen’s wife, only he died in the Great War three years prior so you didn’t meet him. Which is how you pulled the wool over Great Ganny, is how I figure it.”

— “Ah, you’re pixilated.”

“Izzat so? I got proof. Those weasels came back, see — in spades. You owe the Janssen clan, bub, and I aim to make you pay.”

— “Time traveler?”

“That’s right.”
03/31 Direct Link
BILL CALLOWAY: OK, now I want you to meet Stanch Gannon. Stanch is your drop chief and will keep you alive out there if you do every damn thing he says.

JOHN SNYDER: Stanch.

STANCH GANNON: Kid.

BILL CALLOWAY: The monster next to him is Dash Shanahan. Looks like he’s asleep, but he’s really on sidelink. See the trigger finger? The man’s hard at work. You’ll meet him later.

JOHN SNYDER: Hundred thirty kilos.

BILL CALLOWAY: Easily. Get on his good side and stay there. Now this little guy is PAisLEY HA-9. He skips, he dances, he sings bawdy songs, and there’s no off switch. Huge liability, really. Good luck there.