The Bot

Scenario given by Magic & Fairy-Tale Dice: ring, tree, cave, book of spells, magic potion, frog, mouse, top hat

 

“Hey Frank!” I bellow from my office. “Frank!” I try again. Hearing nothing, I push my chair away from the console, and wrap my head around the door frame. “Frank!!”

“What!?” I finally get a response. He’s always busy. That’s what happens when you’re the chief security officer. He’s probably neck deep in an issue, trying to make sure hackers don’t screw with our system.

“What do you want?” Great, I have him for a brief moment.

“I was running an analysis, but there is an issue…”

“I’m not an analyst anymore. I told you only to bother me with security issues.”

“I know, I know. But this time, I think it is!” I drag my body into the hallway, leaving my cave, and place myself at his door. “I looked and there are thousands of queries being sent into the system. They’re all being issued by the same user. Lando-bot.”

There’s silence. I fiddle with the ring on my finger, as he starts typing away. He’s clearly looking up the same thing I just told him. He never believes me.

“Wow.” Hearing Frank have a similar reaction to mine gives me some pride, but it is short lived. I wasn’t sure how to handle the problem. He’ll know what to do, though. Waiting for him to delve into it, I take a look around. To his right, on the desk, sits a Frogger coffee mug. I can’t stand the stuff, but Frank downs several cups a day. His magic potion, I guess. I wish I could make myself like it more. Maybe I’d get some more work done.

“Wow,” he says again. He removes the tattered baseball cap he has on and runs his hand through the last remaining locks of hair. Flattening them straight, he puts his hat back on and turns to look at me. “You know, if he was just submitting normal queries, this would be no problem. We log common queries all the time to make things faster and efficient, but he’s submitting the weirdest combination of queries ever.”

“I know. It’s jamming up everything.”

“Yeah, he’s creating tons of work in the background, forcing the system to log new queries. Look at it,” he says, gesturing me forward. “Every query produces some totally ridiculous results and then those branch into all other kinds of crazy requests. He’s doing a breadth-first search through… Well, I don’t know where this is all going.” He stares at the screen, queries popping up and disappearing at lightning speed. “Who is this guy?” he asks the console.

Grabbing the mouse, he closes the window he was using. Swiveling around, he bellows “Shut him down!”

“Shut him down?”

He thrusts his left index finger upwards, and comically yells it again. “Nuke him!”

“Sounds good.” I hop a few steps back into my office, and after a few keystrokes, I’ve cut him out of the system.

“Got him!” I yell. No response. Frank is back at it again, leaving me behind. I re-open the programming cookbook next to me and dive into my next algorithm.

Lost Ones

Scenario given by Magic & Fairy-Tale Dice: forest, dragon, pumpkin, troll, knight, jail, wolf, cave

 

Her fist thudded home. Gabriela kicked the fallen man and then flexed her fingers, shaking her hand about. “Where the fuck is Mia?” The figure glanced up at Gaby and started to hiss out an answer. She swiftly kicked him again. “Where is she, god damnit!?” “MIA,” she yelled into the forest-laden ravine.

A man emerged to the left of the bushes ahead. A mangy dog slid into position next to him. “What do you want?” The dog growled, hair rising up on its back.

“I’m here to get Mia. I’m here to…”

“She’s not here,” he said brusquely. His tongue slid across his teeth and he scratched his oversized nose. “So you can just leave my friend alone and take your pretty little ass away from…”

“Who do you even fucking think you are? You all can’t just take my sister and bring her to this shit hole.” She kicked the body in front of her, and he groaned again. “I’ll beat the living shit out of all of you.”

“Hey! Fuck you, lady.” He pointed up at the walking overpass. “Just because we don’t live in your high and mighty Starbucks land eating fucking pieces of pumpkin bread, don’t mean you can come here and start swinging.” He took a few steps up the incline and held his hand over his canine companion. “Your sister isn’t here. And even if she was, she doesn’t want to talk to you, that’s for sure.” He took another step towards Gaby.

Gaby turned down the road that ran next to the ravine, and raising her palm, whistled. The man followed her call and saw three bikes coming his way. Bearing his rotting fangs, he hissed at the oncoming gang, and turned to flee. Gaby bounded down the slope and grasped his collar. It ripped off, coming off into Gaby’s hand. Dodging the beast’s jaws, she kicked him in the back, sending him flying in the bushes from which he emerged.

Squealing brakes turned Gaby around and made the dog hunker down. The largest, with a full sleeve tattoo, took off her helmet. The others ripped theirs from their heads and flung their hair to the sides. Their matching bikes, with dragons etched along the bars, were glowing in the sunlight. Gaby heard a cry in the distance, followed by thumping and rustling all over.

“They took my sister.” Gaby looked at the women, stretching their sleek muscles and putting on metal knuckles. The lady on the right drew a large serrated blade. “Those monsters took my little baby sister.”

“We’ll bring her back,” the leader said calmly. Her bright blue eyes looked right at Gaby and she repeated, “We’ll bring her back.”

Village Incident

They pulled the man out of the canoe and rested him on the ground.

“We found him three lakes over,” said Will. “He had a boat, but it looked irreparable and I didn’t see any oars anyway.”

“When will they learn that they need to prepare a little better if they want to travel this far out?,” piped Clark.

“I don’t think this was a normal traveling around the area. We all know why we went out there.” Will paused for a moment while the others nodded in agreement. “We’ve never actually found someone out there when we showed up before. What’s more, he seemed to be struggling with someone all too familiar?”

Continue reading

Hackers

“We’ve been completely shut out,” Jeremy blurted into the room as he hung onto the door frame. The four people in the room scattered about the table and the one at the white board stopped chatting and writing and looked up to the door.

“Completely shut out. Hurry, it’s not getting any better.”

A few papers were shoved off the table as Richard turned and jumped from his seat. The others, Jamie, Ben, Luke, and Sarah, all scrambled from their seats and out the door. They fanned out from the conference room, grabbing the work stations nearby and swiveling into their chairs. The large window encasing the conference room displayed a scene of forgotten ideas, papers full of weighty ideas blissfully relaxing on tabletops.

“How in the hell did they get in there?” yelled Richard after a few minutes of typing, trying to talk over the growing whispers that were building around the large common office space.

“I’m not sure yet,” answered Jamie two cubicles over. “It looks like… wait… huh…”

“What is it?” asked Sarah in the cubicle between them.

“Wow, they are good. They are really good.”

Continue reading

Altered Trajectories Synopsis

After a traumatizing accident in a massive multi-player virtual reality world, a disjointed group of those affected abandons the technological mainstream and attempts to construct for themselves a village life in a difficult to navigate wilderness, surrounded by thousands of lakes and rivers. The accident, however, has left them inevitably scarred, and they continue to experience waking visions as a result of the mental trauma. A few of the villagers have learned how to control and combat these disturbances, and attempt to initiate others in the rituals when they can. When a similarly scarred stranger appears seeking asylum after a particularly violent set of disturbances, the villagers remain wary, but accept him as their own. As this stranger starts to learn the ritual, however, things start to change and people frantically try to amend a collapsing system that keeps them sane. While a struggle ensues to determine the underlying cause and try to keep the disturbances at bay, the villagers also learn the details underlying the accident and what can be done to reverse the effects altogether.

Forest Grove

January, 2010
(a post on Google Wave)
Jeremy Karnowski

I contorted my arm and ripped it from the brambles, giving myself only a brief moment to pick a few thorns out before I crashed about once more. A few kilometers back, I jumped into the thick of the forest and began speeding towards an unknown destination; I ran amidst the dry brush knowing only the bearing of my strides.

Light between the trees stayed my pace, and slowing down, I allowed myself the luxury of picking at my sleeve. I smoothed out the fabric, patted down my collar, hoisted my bag further up my shoulder, and stepped into the sunny grove.

I was halfway across the meadow before she looked up from her map. I haltered a step, nodded my presence, and continued walking towards the log she was sitting on.

“I didn’t expect to see you here,” I said with still labored breathing.

“Tired?” she asked.

“I had a run-in with some vines back there,” I motioned towards where I recently appeared, “but I’m alright now.” I looked down and brushed my sleeve again, pleased it was still clean. I took a deep breath.

When I lifted my head to meet her gaze again, her eyes belied her calm exposure. They were pleading for more conversation.

I broke the tension. “How have you been since I left you? That was, what, three and a half, four days ago?”

“Yeah, something like that. It’s been good.” She held her voice a bit, but then hurriedly rushed forth with more. “It’s been so incredible! I love the trails in this place. You just can’t imagine… Wait, maybe you can. Have you been to the western part of the park yet? Incredible!”

I smiled, and in turn, she beamed back at me.

“I’ve seen a little bit. I took some time exploring the outer sections. Well worth it, if you have a few days.”

“If you’re not heading anywhere at the moment, I’d love to hear all about it,” she said as she put her hand on mine.

Looking again into her eyes, I offered up a different suggestion. “How about we take a walk together, and we can talk on the way?” I guided her with my eyes towards the path leading further into the park. “I’ve never been up that way before. I’ve always wanted to. How about you? Got a few hours?”

She looked down at her map, and then chuckled.

“What?” I asked, wondering if something was wrong.

“That’s actually where I was headed next. Let’s go.”

Writing Prompt

The sunlight shot through the blinds while Frank continuously tried to rub the sleep from the corners of his eyes. His seat made him shift. His neck twisted around as he tried to ease some hidden pains. He shoulders flexed. He right leg moved. He left leg moved. His thigh was scratched and then his chest was scratched. His eyes blinked. He waited.

Continue reading

Message in a Bottle

The culmination of escalating letter writing to my friend, this short story originally came in bound typewritten pages and shocked the hell out of the world. It started out as a letter, but soon transformed into several things – a discussion of Africa, a debate on free will, a desperate cry for help, and a letter that miraculously decodes itself (if the reader is ready to tackle it!). Influences include ‘If on a winter’s night a traveler’, ‘Godel, Escher, Bach’, and my summer reading adventure mystery solving books such as Angels and Demons, DaVinci Code, Rule of Four, and many others. This one is not to be missed. (Newspaper reviews in document are entirely fictional)

Click to download pdf

Show Me Love

This a poem I wrote in May 2006, that was full of hidden meanings about things I had done in my travels across Missouri and Kansas.

Show Me Love
Jeremy Karnowski
24.05.2006

Musick in twilight sheltered not the rain
In which drops rhythmed ‘gainst the cheek.
Sequestered not into the Arch to seek
Suprising views of birds or sloped terrain.
Onerous layers of shale spun with aim,
Under an autumn spring, embraced the creek.
Royal tensions surfaced, and with its peak,
Ignited sparks but signalled end of game.

Kissing across the state, tickling the gut.
A wish never to finish all the games.
Near to the end is our passing of days.
Sour is driving towards broken roads, but
Although a wall invisible remains,
Sweet is the thought of the connecting ways.

Wrongdoings

I pulled up to the parking lot on the back side of the church and could see the people cascading down the stairs. The usual line of vehicles were posed in positions to be the next one to be on the road. After parking my car, I got out and walked over to the wheelchair ramp, easily making my way up the slope as people hogged the steps. I always figured they would fix this setup. The preachers and speakers always stand near the doors giving their goodbyes and farewells and it bottlenecked the congregation in what seemed like a blockade. It was like the line of holy fortification had been broken and they couldn’t stand it.

Martha was standing just outside the door, talking with a few people, and I inched up to her and put my hand on the small of her back. She turned and smiled.

Continue reading