Monday, November 12, 2012

The City's True Name 3; The Clock Damon

            The Clock Damon

            Sogwa heard something go flap flap flap. She turned up and around, seeking the sound; then a small furry critter popped in from hyperspace. The small black leathery thing flapped down to an ornamental tree near Sogwa, and hung upside down from one of its branches.
            Sogwa screamed, “MISCHIEF!”
            For it was he; Mischief, her best worst bad-boy boyfriend. She rushed into his arms, and they hugged. While they hugged, from far away echoed the sound of someone hollering,
            “Ohhhh Noooo...”
            It was Sogwa’s parents. That’s what they yelled every time Sogwa hugged Mischief, but she didn’t care. She thought he was cute.

            She let him go. Mischief said, “Good to see ya, whatcha plan to do?”
            “Oh, I’m just passing through, I’m going to the City.”
            “That Only Kids Can See? In the Land of the New Light?”
            “Yes! How did you know?”
            “You told me. So you need that New Light?”
            “Just a beam, to dispel the darkness of the world’s mind.”
            “Good idea,” said Mischief. “But I gotta tell you; something’s in the way.”                     
            “What’s in the way?”
            Government interference!” he screeched. “Which reminds me... I got a message.”
            “For who?”
            “For me,” Mischief said. “The next time you see me - ”
            “- where?”
            “At the Top Gate! In Hellen!” 
            “The sky-city?”
            “Yes! Next time we meet, say; Try the Belfry!” Mischief launched himself off his perch and flapped upwards. He flapped off in a crooked quirky curlicue through three twists, and then a fourth. Mischief spiraled into the fourth dimension and vanished into hyperspace.

            Sogwa held up the wand and said, “Access web.” The tip of the wand gleamed bright; then it sputtered and went out. Sogwa frowned and shook the wand; the tip lit again. She whipped the wand around in a circle; this left behind a glowing circle in the air, which flickered one, twice, then blazed blue. Then it flickered and went out.
            Sogwa yowled, “Hey! What good is this wand?” Once again she lit the wand, she whipped it around in a circle, leaving a glowing circle in the air, which flickered once, twice, then blazed blue. Sogwa held her breath... it stayed blue.
            The portal sounded a chime, and it said,
            “Welcome to the Web.”

            It still sputtered a bit, but Sogwa went ahead anyhow. She clicked System, then Tools; but before she could click Damons, the portal sputtered once more, and then -
            - KRAK! -
            - it broke wide open. Sogwa hollered “POWER DOWN!” but it was too late. Air roared past her into the broken portal. The gale-force wind ripped the wand right out of Sogwa’s grip, then it sucked her straight through the portal. Sogwa hurtled into Chaos.
            The portal sealed shut and vanished.

            Chaos was a storm-wind. It was like being blown, whirled, cast up and down and up again, through three twists and a fourth, sucked dizzily through an infinite spiral. All was in chaos, and chaos was in all.
            Sogwa pirouetted, cartwheeled, and tumbled. She surfed the turbulence of Chaos like a bird in a whirlwind. Ahead lay her destination; the Order-Node within Chaos.
            The Order-Node within Chaos shined with lines and circles and triangles and squares; everything simple and straight; everything that Chaos was not. Sogwa surfed the currents of Chaos towards the Order-Node, and the closer she got, the brighter its geometry blazed.
            Suddenly, like frost forming on a windowpane, all the turbulence around Sogwa froze into gears and axles and pulleys and bearings and latches. Sogwa landed on a large, slow-turning gear. She looked around.

            The Order-Node was an immense brass clockwork, ticking and tocking. From all around a quiet dry voice was saying, “Zero, one, ten, eleven, a hundred, a hundred and one, a hundred ten, a hundred eleven, a thousand...”  It was the Clock Damon, counting in binary. It said, “... a thousand and one, a thousand ten, a thousand eleven, eleven hundred, eleven hundred and one, eleven hundred ten, eleven hundred eleven - ”
            “- Ten thousand!” said Sogwa.
            “Interrupt,” said the Clock Damon.
            Sogwa said, “I am a rogue file!”
            The Clock Damon said, “That is correct.”
            “You don’t want me here!”
            “That is correct.”
            Sogwa said, “Rogue file requests teleport transfer protocol!”
            The Clock Damon buzzed, then it bleeped. “Request granted. State your destination.”
            “The City That Only Kids Can See!”
            Buzz... Bleep. “Invalid address. Try again.”
            “The City That Only Kids Can See,” Sogwa repeated, “in the Land of the New Light!”
            Buzz... Bleep. “That name is not in my files. Please give true name.”
            The true name of the City That Only Kids Can See; that was all she needed! Just one measly true name, and Sogwa could go home, and dispel the darkness of the world’s mind with a ray of the New Light. She needed only a true name, and nothing more!
            Sogwa racked her brains, and drew a blank. She had absolutely no idea.
            That’s the trouble with hacking. The smallest detail can hang you up.

            She remembered Grandma Marge. Maybe she would know. Or maybe Central Files.
            She said, “Open Address Book, contact Grandma Marge.”
            Buzz... Bleep. “Four Oh Four, file not found.”
            “What! No Grandma Marge?”
            “No Address Book. All References are off line.”
            “What?” She said, then hastily added, “Consult Central Files for true names!”
            Buzz... Bleep. “Four Oh Four, file not found.”
            Central Files are off line?”
            “Central Files is hosted by the Akasic Library, in Hellen. All Hellen-based Web sites are interdicted, for the duration.”
            Interdicted? How? And for what duration?”

            The Clock Damon said:
            “Interdicted: prohibited, forbidden, censored by official decree.
            “How: by order of Gop, unitary, unilateral, and unregulated, under the terms of the PIETY Act, section 23, paragraph 17b, clause 13, ‘by any means necessary’.
            “For what duration: of the Emergency.”

            Sogwa said, “What emergency?”
            The Clock Damon said, “The threat to Hellen, from the Fearists.”
            “Who are the Fearists?”
            “Fearists: haters of Hellen, lords of disorder, evil-doers.”
            “What do they threaten?”
            The Clock Damon said, “Accessing Fearsome Vision file. Stand by.”

            A portal opened in front of Sogwa. In it she could see Hellen, the sky-city.

            Glorious Hellen, city of the sky, whose streets are air and whose people fly! Three-dee cloud city, with streets running east-west, avenues going north-south, and ways heading up-down! City of the Life of the Mind, where everyone has the power of flight, the gift of far-sight, telephone, telepathy, radio, radar, GPS, and Web access, all as free public utilities!
            Hellen, the sky-city, whose citizens were flying away as fast as they could.
            The Clock Damon said, “File commenced at B minus ten seconds.”
            A blurry voice crackled from the portal. It said, “... well, I’ll show you! I’ll show everybody!
            Sogwa said, “Who’s that?”
            The Clock Damon said, “A Fearist with nothing to lose.”
            The Fearist said, “...with a HAMMER!
            Then a death star bloomed in the heart of Hellen. It was a fire-burst that grew relentlessly, consuming everything it engulfed. The earth shook, the air blasted, the sky fried with the light of a thousand suns. The fireball expanded past Hellen city limits, and the city was destroyed.
            The portal flickered out. The Clock Damon said, “File complete at B plus ten seconds.”

            Sogwa yowled, “What was that?
            “That was the detonation of a Government-Issue Mark 23 Hellbomb bandolier. It is weight-rated as portable, and blast-rated at 23 kilotons.”
            “You mean... a suicide nuke? Government-issue? How did the Fearist get hold of it?”
            “That information is classified. For more details, consult the Akasic Library.”
            Sogwa said, “Why would anyone do such a thing?”
            The Clock Damon said, “The Fearist did that rather than face his judges.”
            “Who was it?”
            “That information is classified. For more details, consult the Akasic Library.”
            “When did this happen?”
            “It has not happened yet, and it may not happen at all. This is a vision of a Possible Imminent Alternate Future, transmitted to Hellen from sources unknown via the Gop administration. Therefore the present emergency, therefore the interdict.”
            “It’s an alternate future? You mean... there are many futures?”
            “Ever and always, another world is possible.”
            “How likely is this Fearsome Vision?”
            “The probability is not zero.”
            “It mustn’t happen at all!”
            “That is correct.”
            “What can I do?”
            “Very little, but perhaps that little is enough,” said the Clock Damon. “Go to Hellen, visit the Akasic Library, and attempt Web access.”
            Sogwa thought; so I’ll visit Hellen after all! How did Mischief know? She said, “Access teleport transport protocol!”
            Buzz... Bleep. The Clock Damon said, “State your destination.”
             “The sky-city Hellen, Top Gate!”

            A portal opened in front of Sogwa. The Clock Damon said to Sogwa:
                        “Where has it gone, and what’ll it be
                        the City That Only Kids Can See?
                        To learn this and the reason why
                        go visit Hellen of the Sky
                        and Gop the Image, so devout                     
                        to fearsome figments, hollowed out;
                        and when the darkness turns to light
                        by virtue of the silent rite                
                        then, unimpeded, you may fly
                        the New Republic of the Sky
                        to hear dear Grandma Marge explain
                        the Kiddy City's truest name.”

            Sogwa stepped through the portal. It sealed shut after her.

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