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Sunday, December 02, 2007

Tales of the Cypherpunk 11

How had fate caught Shilo at such an impasse? He hung thousands of feet above the concrete jungle by a wire. He pulled himself along a flimsy metal rail attached, by suction cups, to the smooth concrete undersurface of a great bridge. These suction cups were not particularly strong or technologically advanced; occasionally, Shilo could hear one pop loose. There were, simply, a lot of them.

His heart did not skip. Hooks on his instep rested precariously on the rail; a pathetically thin wire was stretched from his belt to a third hook; His hands were held fast by the strength of their fingertips. Hand over hand he pulled himself forward, unable to look ahead. Behind, the bridge and clinging rail disappeared into darkness. Below, far, far below, the lights of the city illuminated an atmosphere like smoke, but there were no details or sounds.

Shilo himself was nearly invisible, clothed from head to toe in darkness. The whites of his eyes were dimmed behind lenses that sat flush with a skier's mask. Was it worn for warmth in the night sky? Was it caprice to emulate the burglars of fiction past? Seen from some meters away, Shilo's movement was just another twinkling of the stars around him. Hand over hand, he continued.

The silence, unheard in the lower levels of the city, was nothing new to an antisocial cypher. What irritated him was the silence in his head. It was unconscious, like a two-day growth of stubble. He'd turned off his AI, Misori, last. How long had her image been running, handling his housework? She had shut down every process, and then his wireless chip, and then, in an unusual fit of interaction, asked for confirmation that he really wanted to shut down the core.

Her soul evaporated instantly when power failed to refresh the core capacitors.

Now, alone, without even the subliminal whine of EM in his brain, Shilo felt a mass approach below. It was a clinging droplet of city, anchored to the bottom of the bridge by a cubist's interpretation of a hyperboloid. To someone, anyone, unfamiliar with modern engineering it would appear that the structure hung from the bridge's keystone; in fact, the bridge was supported by the structure and an enormous reservoir of Hydrogen gas inside. It was onto the impossibly steep and slippery slope of this thing that Shilo fell when he released his grip.

He did not fall further. He turned like a cat and landed with hands and feet, back arched, center of gravity nearly over the abyss. He slid his hands and feet across glass, never lifting one until he reached a gently humming air intake.

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