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Category Archives: Ashlock


They’re tourists, in Tasmania.

Ashlock flicks fragments of Twistie at the emus under the sign that says not to flick fragments of Twistie at the emus. Her new finger is clumsy, but she likes it. Nobody’s going to confiscate this brass knuckle.

“So,” she says finally, “any holes in your brain?”

“The first illegal number I ever memorized,” Tach says, “was set down in haiku. A clever form of transcoding. It unlocked certain rights for the management of digital media.”

“I’m sorry I did it,” says Ashlock.

“You did all right. One has to know something before one can forget it.”


Celesque idly slaves her machine over to the loic for some nightly mischief and touches off the lights, then locks up her little shell company’s office. Analog affectations. She’s fenced quantum keys that would crack a national treasury, but wouldn’t get through this door.

They’re waiting in the lobby, smoothing their tailored suits.

“We have a car,” begins the tall one, but she’s already ditched for the fire exit, clawing at the hacked emergency beacon in her blazer pocket. They are so fast. She broadsides the red bar handle, and they have her hammerlocked before she realizes the alarm’s been cut.


There are five of them, in sackcloth and a star pattern, rocking endlessly on a floorlike mesh of taut steel cables. The star’s missing a point. The taller suit applies pressure to Celesque’s joints until she kneels at the vertex.

Below her stretches sickening space.

Kirrily grabs her chin and Celesque sees that her head is half-shaved, one eye milky, ear a twisted keloid. “You tipped those two amateurs to my dirty laundry, didn’t you?” she asks in that beautiful, husky voice, and holds up a bluetooth. “You owe me some time.”

Celesque is terrified.

She really, really should be.


Phosphorescent hexadecimal crawls the web of wires.

Kirrily’s holding her with a tight grip on her hair. Celesque tries to keep her mouth shut but the bluetooth’s murmuring to her, a seductive sequence of piping numbers that tugs at her mind. Her lips want to follow. She can hear the ecstasy in the voices of the others around her, and hypnagoges boil out of the depth of the pit.

They pause, together, to inhale.

Ashlock steps out of the door, a thick black band tied across her eyes and ears. She bends to touch the trembling floor; and then she smiles.

Ashlock: Epilogue

I have heard in the cold of the long polar night
That a wind with no name takes your soul with no fight
But I’ve heard a few things. How can we even guess
Whether six-and-ten secrets in fact phosphoresce
Like a fleet acrobat down a high-tension wire
With her eyes dead as ice and her feet licked by fire
In an eoreum which no man’s eye can see
Save for those lost in trance; save for those lost to me
For that is not dead which can eternal lie
And with strange ashes even fire may die