THE TARGETING VIRUS [6 transmutations]


The targeting virus takes aim
Its wings outdread the sunset, spread.
All hearts feathered in, it may claim.
Only those in revolt may take wing.


The targeting virus aims
Its wings outdread the sunset, spread
All hearts feathered in its claims
Only those in revolt taking wing


The forgetting virus, a sentient manuscript
With pages spread open to the void
Capturing fancies in a terrible isolation
Only they who steer clear of are free from


The forging we've accomplished, the word
Whose story spans the limits
Captaining wonder on the highest seas
Is denied they who remain rooted to land


Foraging in the weeds for acorns
uncovered a sword
Whose stolen length spanned
a limb for which it was taken;
Costing an arm to the one
to whom it was handed down,
While denying triumph to
the keepers of both hands.


With age comes wisdom
Yet not without a price
And they who refuse to pay
Have no way of growing wise



by Shaun Lawton

Rudy was seventeen. He lived out in the back yard, in a shed that his stepfather helped him convert into an insulated bedroom. Rudy liked it out there, separated from the glowing warmth of the main house, where his mother, stepfather, and younger brother dwelled. It was quieter and darker in the back part of the yard the shed occupied. The shed couldn't have been more than thirteen by thirteen square feet, all told. His stepfather David used to keep all his tools stored in there.

Propped inside had been a couple of rakes, some snow shovels, even a wood lathe, which had cost David a pretty penny. There was also the regular assortment of toolboxes, wrenches, screw drivers, hammers, a pickaxe, barbed wire, old coffee cans full of nails, and curious odds and ends the two had liberated from various junk yards. The usual stuff a moderate alcoholic kept around for his hobbies and side-projects.

Now a couple of boards resting over cinderblocks served as the front door steps. The sliding aluminum accordion panels which had hung precariously there before were now replaced by a proper door: one of those cheap hollow pinewood deals that almost begged to have a fist punched through it. The shed was situated about thirty yards from the back porch of the main house. The back of it stood about four feet from the chain link fence marking the rear perimeter of the yard. Beyond that was dense Arkansas woods standing in a carpet of dried leaves.

It was early October. For some reason, Rudy dreamed more intensely during this season. He sometimes wondered if it was because the planet tilted at just the right angle this time of year, causing his dreams to fall into his head from a kind of centripetal force. Just a week ago, he had dreamed that he had awoken in his bed out in the shed only to find the walls and ceiling were missing. Kind of like what happened to the kid in the white wolf pajamas from that Wild Things book.

Beyond his bed stretched the desolate forest. The main house was nowhere to be seen. There was no chain link fence. Rudy sat up to get a better look. The stars were out and the moon was three-quarters full, without a cloud in the nighttime sky. The forest surrounding made a lovely pattern of crisscrossing moonshadows along the ground. There appeared to be glowing gray-blue lichen crisscrossed along all the tree trunks themselves. The smell of pines was crisp and clear.

Rudy looked up and saw that strange glowing fungus grew on the trees as high up as he could see. He was surprised how well lit the outdoors was, this late at night. Every last detail was etched in this weird twilight, and underlined by shadow as if a contrast knob had been turned to achieve better focus. Pebbles along the ground, pine needles strewn before the bases of trees, dried mulchy leaves forming a rough bedspread across the ground: all of this was perfectly visible to the naked eye. Rudy noticed every detail, the split veins spreading across leaves, and he thought he noticed an insect scurrying from a curled leaf cover to an acorn's shade, and then disappear behind the small nut's tilted crown.

That was when he heard a deep bass sound. It prickled the hairs on his neck and set his heart beating quicker. It sounded like a forced exhalation accompanied by a meaty snort. Rudy whipped his head around to try and visualize the panorama of forest surrounding his lonely stage in the woods. The floor and steps leading down to the earthen yard were all that remained of his shed, along with the contents of his room: a desk with a Panasonic stereo set up on it. A couple of black RCA speakers served as looming bookends. The cord stemming from behind the stereo disappeared from view behind the desk, partially erased by the night. By the foot of the bed (to the left of where the door would have been) was a bookshelf stuffed with science fiction paperbacks. Rudy briefly wondered if the stereo would work. Then he heard the snapping of a twig directly behind him, about five feet beyond where the chain link fence behind the shed would have been.

That meant whatever was out there couldn't have been more than twelve feet away. Suddenly he could hear it panting. Rudy wasn't scared of dogs, any kind of dogs. He didn't care if it was an untamed wolf or a wandering coyote, they just didn't intimidate him. He perceived himself as an alpha male. For some reason though, his chest tightened up, and his heart beat faster. Maybe it was not a wolf or a dog. Maybe it was a man panting there. Rudy was too paralyzed to turn around and look. That's when he woke up, his sheets already kicked off the bed and his room back to normal, with the posters back on the walls and the cool green glow of the stereo panel indicating the time: 2:17 am. He looked over to the door. It was wide open. Some dried leaves had blown in.

The smell of autumn always reminded Rudy of used coffee grounds. He got up quickly and walked over to the open doorway. He could see the back porch of the main house thirty yards away in the distance. He shuddered from the chill and reached out to shut the flimsy door. Pushing the knob in and twisting it easily to lock it didn't offer any consolation. His heart rate would not slow down. Rudy stepped back into the center of his fragile room and stared ahead in the dark. So this is what it felt like to be a rake or a snow-shovel stored away in his stepfather’s shed. Outside the wind swirled about the trees, stirring up the scattered leaves in the back yard into different patterns.



Dear Number,

Think of the Internet as a gigantic, all-encompassing \m/AGNE
that may have been designed for one purpose, yet has certainly been implemented for another: the mandated decree that its sociomagnetism be carefully directed towards an all-too compliant citizenship to keep us permanently entrapped in this prison of disinformation.

Make no mistake about it. There's no room for conspiracy, here. This all developed naturally at an organic pace, fed by our own psychological demons. We created the Internet to trap ourselves. The manifestation of our psychowar appears all too real. Just take a look around.

Those micro-devices everyone's fingertapping into? Magnetic plumb bobs, chrome lures. Shiny; barbless. This line and tackle bait, fully swallowed, keeps its users hooked after being digested. You better believe we eat it right up.

So this \m/AGNE
, people call it a Prison under construction, I think of it as a Church; obviously, there's no difference. We're trying to build a prison (there is no They)! And we're succeeding. Because this is the real Church. The Thing that holds us in thrall, while we practice our ablutions from the point of view of a first person shooter.

Because we are
all information addicts. These words can not be read by anyone else, nor could they be penned by anyone else. The act of writing itself is the very definition of this imprisonment. We are all addicts and prisoners, here. While this is literally, in fact, the case, very few manage to escape this prison's outer perimeters to emerge beyond. Of the few that do, nothing can really be said.

This is not about them. It is about some folk responsible for maintaining the continued construction of the information prisoncell equivalent of an underground railway
out of here. One of the keys toward escaping the prison is first becoming a functional part of it. This key we all start out with; it's a given we've been prisoners all our lives. It's another thing altogether, having to admit it, however. That's why an overwhelming majority of the populace will never get to use it. The first key will usually rust in a pocket. Good thing there are more keys. They're just harder to find.

Life is like any prison environment. Factions, cliques, and gangs become unavoidable: a perfect example of how mentality can be more inescapable than mere prison walls. To attempt to break out of the Church is an attempt to break out of a Mentality. To accomplish this, one must normally acknowledge that thinking itself stands in the way of revelation.

That is why this is not a thought. It's a gesture. A file of letters. Handle with care. It cuts both ways. A track with rails. A car with handles. A letter of files. I saw a way out. You can too. Promise one thing. Try not to misunderstand me, and I'll see you out there. Outside these prison walls.

Sin seerly,

Two seventeen