042. Playing Chicken With The Blue Pen

Tendrel Plaint dropped some words into his Bloop Hen’s feed and watched as its eyes rolled back into its skull and it began to rattle like its brain was boiling in its skull. The localspace was sick; most of the underpinning logic broken … fallen into disrepair in ways that he hadn’t seen in too many places.

The Bloop Hen spat out a chicken’s tooth and he caught it as it arced out over the marbled surface of the table. If he fed it enough and it spat out enough teeth to fit an adult head he could build himself a dream engine and use it as a metaphor anchor to control the space with a self-proliferating correction protocol.

He felt like half of these people that he had to deal with were over-invested in this whole game of the universe in motion. As he looked at it, it all seemed frozen. Hokusai Freeze Frames hung everywhere – deep paint in need of new strokes pushed through it.

He joked and called the Reality Engineers he dealt with, and everyone else, Player Pianos. He was jazz, and this Bloop Hen was his instrument. He had toyed with naming her, but it seemed a little perverse.

He put a little bowl in front of her and he waited as she delicately spat out tooth after tooth. 32 links in a bitemark necklace. Good girl – churning all that crap up inside her and making it into something he could use.

It wasn’t always teeth – some days it would be eggs – impossible eggs like those dropped from one of those machines you turned the handle on in the arcades. He was always surprised, and he wondered at the pop art sensibilities of the people who designed her.

Quint Essential – you had to write robust code to move the universe around that particular logical speed-bump. Could Tendrel complain about the man though? Sure, he could, but who would look at that hero’s resume and listen to him? Not many.

Sheridan – most reputed of The Living Elements, now a huge fucking magnet for Dying Elements, and the rock upon which the Quantum Elements had been built. He was a tricky one – add some kind of narrative tide in for him and he swam through it.

Carter Brecht resisted edits, as all well-seasoned field operatives from the Reality Engineers did. You could put them in place and the bastards would wriggle out of all the binding logic, and might even turn a headitor’s world upside down instead.

Then you had Coran Andress, and a part of him called David Arnover, and something they created as a control mechanism called Ardenti In Mundo, and all the complexities an Immaculate Author was capable of creating.

Where did you strike with the blue pen to make the most effective edit and craft the best story?

Some days he wondered what it might be like to be like Spay – to go around cutting lines, and changing meanings left right and centre. It were almost as if he were an embodiment of the Unscripted Realms.

He took a sugar skull and he plugged the teeth into, and then he gave it a line of dreamcode to chew on. The Bloop Hen pecked the air – it never said anything, though it could if it wanted to, but he always knew. It wasn’t just that they were bonded either, because that kind of thing didn’t preclude listening to someone … you still had to let the conversation play out as it needed to, or you might end up with the person feeling like you really didn’t value their conversational contribution at all.

He’d done what he said he would do, and he had made the edits that he thought were best. Would they stick? Who knew? It was a dynamic text that he was editing, and there were so many other cooks there to spoil the broth, that you had to make your peace with it at some point, or you might be driven insane.

The Bloop Hen flapped its wings and pointed upwards. Time to leave. He nodded. Let the chips fall where they may.


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