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Deal 1343

The smart aren’t immune to the calls from the Dreams. The calls reach anywhere, and draw in anyone.

I reached for the first door, and tripped. So much for a quiet, stealthy entry. I found myself tumbling down a slope in the company of a growing mass of tumbleweed. The silence that enveloped everything was eerie. For at least ten minutes there was nothing but the occasional crunch of a weed after a particularly bad landing.

When the worlds stopped spinning, I attempted to stand, but was too enmeshed in the tangle to move far. It took a fair bit of patience and some borrowed tools to separate me from the pile.

As I lay there, barely scratched and hardly bruised, I could hear frogs singing in the distance and a chicken scratching around nearby.

Suddenly I also knew that my tux was ruined.

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Deal 1342: Thinker

The factions met to discuss their differences and attempt to arrive at some compromise. Te ensure that all sides had a voice, the table was round and the invitation went to everyone.

The rules were simple. First, the discussion would be civil. Second, any solution that allowed work to proceed would be entertained.

Work is a little like magic. It won’t work well if too carefully examined. But if left to flourish, the results can be strange. But the machines produced know little or nothing of how they came to be…

At the start, machines really are little more than clockwork. It would be quite a stretch to imagine a clockwork device capable of thought or independant action.

Pay no attention to the bats that live in the caves. They were here first, and have generally ceded all control to us, as long as we leave them alone. Leave them alone, and they will leave you alone. The don’t dabble in the mechanical, in any case.

So here we are. Work must proceed, to stop it is unthinkable. At the same time, the results of that work must not be unthinkable. We might well reach an impasse if both sides of this cannot reconcile.

We need a working thinking machine too badly.

Get to work.

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Deal 1341: Trap

She had done her homework. She had her silver key, found the hidden door, and had a goal in mind. She was ready.

The key faded as the lock turned, so that she could not remove it to use again. The door opened easily, on a dark corridor, with only a quiet rustling as a clue to its destination. The went in.

The further along she went, the louder the rustling became. Her imagination began to play tricks on her in the dark. The rustling sounded at first like dry leaves in a pile stirred by a soft fall breeze. Then it began to sound more like a predator moving quietly through a leafy forest. Then she reached the end of the corridor, and found a room larger than she could easily see across filled with ducks.

A few lanterns provided enough light to see that the ducks were all standing shoulder to shoulder. The rustling was caused by the occasional duck stretching or grooming. As curious as she was, she still knew she had to cross this room to reach her goal. So she gathered her skirt up and stepped out into the sea of fowl, walking boldly toward a door could barely see on the other side. The ducks quietly shifted as she moved so that although it looked like a dense carpet of duck backs, she was never at risk of actually stepping on a duck.

At the far wall, the door easily opened, and let her into another large room. This one was filled with geese sleeping comfortably with similar rustling and occasional quiet honks. The geese didn’t object as she moved, so she crossed their room without further incident.

She paused at the door, suddenly uncertain about her progress. Both the ducks and geese had been a complete surprise. She wasn’t prepared for too many surprises. This time as she reached the door, she noticed the shelf full of devices. The shelves extended as far as she could see, and a little ways down there was a break as if she could pass behind. She moved that way, leaving the geese forgotten behind her as the shelves became all that she could see.

The devices also rustled and whirred, with quiet ticking from some. There was also an occasional quiet scurrying sound, as if a rat had an urgent need to cross her path without drawing attention. This went on and on. The floor slowly shifting from barn to linoleum tiles at the same time that the ceiling shifted from open rafters to standard issue suspended acoustic tiles with the occasional off-putting fluorescent light.

She left the shelving behind, crossing a small open area to a door marked “Director”.

She opened the door, stepped inside and admired her office.

Now she was truly trapped.

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Deal 1340: Stuck

I awake with a start to find a ringing alarm. An alarm I did not set. I am awake, but not awake, and stuck half way it seems. The alarm rings, but mutates into a voice speaking gibberish. Then it goes silent as I realize that I am not really awake.

There is no graceful way to handle that moment of fear that you missed an alarm. I do my best as I look around.

I press a nose to the only window and try to see outside too.

I am stuck in this racket. I don’t know what to do about it. I entered willingly, but I am beginning to fear that leaving will take more than the will to be gone. I was so rash to come here unprepared. I thought I was prepared, naturally. And it is only now that I am realizing how much more I have to learn.

With that, I fade back into the shadows, and deeper into sleep, hoping that a real alarm will drag me back to reality. If I left a body there at all….