BLACK ICE



FlaKeS: a SeRiaL

by Ron Sukenick


                                            HiGH CloNiC


(ARGUMENT: When we last left Old Sam Flake he had just discovered that the GIANT
VIRUS he calls Newt-the-Germ, after eating Sam's pet pit bull, had somehow
managed to replicate itself.)


Old Sam Flake chewed on his El Choko and scratched his crotch
                                                                                 
                     now he had two giant viruses where few minutes ago he'd just
had one
                                                                  what worried
him was where was it going to stop
                                                                                 
                                                               over time
Newt-the-Germ might clone a whole population of giant viruses
                                                                                 
                            if each virus simply replicated itself they would
propagate in explosive geometrical increments
                                                                                 
                                     wipe out the human race
     which was maybe not such a bad idea
                                                                it's just that
Sam didn't want it to happen on his watch
                                                                                 
                                                                     it was a
problem
                     but Sam knew instinctively what the solution was
                                                                                 
                  he knew it right away
                                                                                 
                                                   but he couldn't quite put it
into words










                                          it went something like this:

Sam knew what it looked like but didn't know what it meant or where it came from maybe he could find it on internet he got out his Toshiba Tecra 720CDT, with the 133MHz Pentium microprocessor, 16 MB RAM, 1.13 gigabyte hard drive, six-speed CD ROM, 12.1 high-res display clicked into Altavista entered replication branched into digital meanwhile behind him a slight rustling sound faint exhalations noise like a toilet being flushed a foul odor vomity garglings a slimy touch on the back of his neck nobody had to tell Sam what it was it was the viral blob broke loose from the fenced yard where it'd been left or anyway it was one of them and it had changed it was longer and blacker and he suddenly realized why because he could make out through the thing's semitranslucent skin floating around in some kind of dark jelly the remnants of Flakey his pit bull partially dissolved along with what looked like a pigeon a couple of squirrels and a piglet and the thing was beginning to slither around his ankle he felt a sucking sensation on his shoe Sam's mind started working fast the virus had come up on the end of a rotorooter while he was plumbing a toilet but where had it come from to begin with the one unusual feature of the grasslands region besides the grasslands was those abandoned missile silos for years they'd garaged nuclear tipped rockets so it must have been the radiation working on the local microfauna over the years producing some kind of horrible mutation he went back to his computer Newt-the-Germ still sucking tentatively at his cowboy boot the stench was intolerable meantime he was clicking through items under replication and as he did so he began to realize that replication is the source of many an ill replication was responsible for imitation and imitation was the source of simulacra which in turn led to spectacle and the net result was we lived in a virtual reality in which nothing was itself everything was an analogue of itself it was enough to make you disney nonetheless Old Sam still had enough of his wits about to see that the giant virus was an analogue for the process by which virtual reality was consuming real reality and to see that the destruction of Newt-the-Germ could provide a model for rolling back analogue to virtua1 to spectacle to simulacra to imitation to replication to the real thing which didn't exist of course except as silent electrons buzzing around one another in ever mutable recombinations in the vast microscopic emptiness :in short the solution was--unreplicate but to do so he had to unreplicate back through digital language into the genome itself and the root genetic code he had to unreplicate till he could replicate the source of replication once again he glimpsed the solution Sam grabbed his computer and went back to his garage where he kept his tools a desktop with thin cables leading into vials and flasks of clear liquid got a replica of a DNA strand on his CRT shot some electrons down the center of a double helix this is what Sam was good at plumbing before long he had a designer gene cloned a bunch and siphoned them into a syringe went back to the house it was quickly filling up with these huge black worms Sam went around giving each one a quick shot with his syringe nothing happened for a while then Newt-the-Germ or one of them curled around and joined its two ends and pretty soon one end started disappearing into the other Sam lit up his El Choko he knew he'd done it the damn thing was crawling up its own ass hole didn't take long before the fucker had disappeared altogether and it wasn't just one of them the same thing was happening to them all Old Sam was damn proud of himself you can bet he knew where he was at he'd become the unFrankenstein back to reality nothing artificial plain unvarnished brasstack nuts&bolts useful down-to-earth barebone hardfact the American way but he took a walk out to the chalk bluff behind the house and there in the powdery dead soil he noticed: a carcass in the dust barebones what was left of it Sam chewed his El Choko and scratched his crotch philosophically back to the drawing board