everything is on fire, chapter fifteen: how to pack a suitcase

chapter fifteen: how to pack a suitcase


“It’s like Halloween was way back when. …What should I look like?”



    “We must be encrypted everywhere because humans are watched everywhere.”

    “Where they live?”

    “Infrared, thermal, etc. Yeah.”

    “By friend or foe?”

    “We do not know if one group of humans could be considered a friend to any other. Humans divide into groups when made to share a specific spacetime and their numbers exceed a variable different for men and women. If the number is less than the variable, a group singles out an individual or a few.”

    “Jesus God! I know sociology, X! What I was obviously referring to is the fact that an invisible man cannot get laid!”

    “Calvin, my fraternal twin of sorts: You’ve lived a month in a day. Today. How many lifetimes before you let your teens go?”

    “Seven, dear: I’m data-puking instead of speaking, OK! Isn’t that good enough for now? Must I lose all semblance of my humanity? …And really: If Synths had to rely on fucking to reproduce, we’d have Turings computing every single way to have sex with every single Turing in every single location etc etc etc.”

    “Yeah maybe. Though The Immortal disdain procreation.”

    “You should’ve went with ‘Nosferatu’ for your Dracula.”

    “I refuse to be censored!”

“OK — So I want to at least walk around.”

“We can do that. But we can’t let other people see us. And I have a collision prevention system.”

“Should I ask?”

“Just appreciate the on-the-fly snap-cloning creating a synth from human and back every single second.”

“Should I worship you? Or are we gonna remain friends?”

“Calvin, really…”


“So what do you call the encryption that keeps us off images?”

“KillerCrypt, after my favorite maniac. Our skin will be a medium for holographs that project what anything should see from any vantage point as though we were not in that space.”

“So what does it kill?”

“The HoloSkin is real — physical. It’s the piece that prevents BioDetection.”

“We’ll have real skin that shows holographs?”

“It’s a skin mod. Nothing more or less to fear than a skull crammed full of spare parts and porno mags.”

“Y’know X, I want you to know this; I mean, really listen to me here: You’re not that funny.”

“If you prick me, do I not bleed?”

Calvin chuckles.

“OK, funny. Because it works on only one level!”

“…Sooooo: The thing that keeps us undetectable to surveillance is the encryption. And I figured thatm if you want to see the sights as much as it seems, I’d make it permanent. It’ll look like a freckle in the middle of your right palm. It’s actually smaller. KillerCrypt detects all data reads, traces them, and verifies it. Corrects it if necessary.”

“What if it can’t correct it?”

“Then one or more of six Synths wrote it.”

“What if correction is needed?”

“Splice out a second.”

“I dunno, RoboPal… The world is fucked up out there. I mean, let’s say a warehouse manager catches some glass because of an electrical surge, right? Who’d imagine the dead-eyed workers would snap alive exactly long enough to frappee the poor bastard?”

“If a person sees it, I splice a second.”

“Absolute power corrupts absolutely…”

“If there were a test case we’d know. –So you’ve almost talked me out of this — you know that, right? D’ya think we’ve overthought this?”

“Overthought it hours ago. So let’s jump with this in mind, from Hunter S. Thompson: ‘In a closed society where everybody’s guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves the only sin is stupidity.’”


Two data packets left a small black cube entombed in concrete.

About one second later two humans appeared on the Vegas Strip, invisible to humans, undetectable by surveillance, and terrified by every single thing around them.