"That which is overdesigned, too highly specific, anticipates outcome; the anticipation of outcome guarantees, if not failure, the absence of grace."
-- William Gibson, All Tomorrow's Parties
Cubeville fragmented.

I vaguely recall writing the following early last week, early one morning, so I could get some sleep.

No idea what's going on in it, so here it is with only a few minor tweaks from what was scrawled. Barely legible, it was bracketed by weekly meeting and automated Linux install notes in my work notepad.

Downstairs I can hear the Polyglot banging around, punching holes in the walls, scratching obscenities into the windows. I can hear him hissing in languages no one speaks anymore. Forgotten tongues filling my living room with who knows what sort of talk.

The Polyglot isnt so bad; getting rid of him doesnt take much of a trick: Counting a hundred while naming all the flowers Ive left on the headstone up on the quiet hill. The flowers loop around, but there isnt anybody to worry about it.

He knows Im counting, so he starts screaming in Sumerian or something to mess me up.

My ex-roommate, who in a past lift was also a programmer, suggested I use range operators. The was back when my incessant counting every night was something to pity even if you could hear it down the hall. If they cant hear me, it doesnt count, so I have to yell. They make more noise, so I have to yell louder. Eventually itd get to anybody.

Range operators are a good idea, but they dont work. The Polyglot, the Sleeping Wall, theyre old-school. They listen to the numbers, they mean something to them; you cant just say 1 .. 100 and expect to get anywhere. Cant do it in binary, cant think up clever algorithms or transforms. I tried it a few times, each time it ended up worse. The next day my boss asks me what wall Id run into and I almost tell. After that, I just count like they want me to.

There have been others who dont listen to the numbers, who needed other rituals or sacrifices to get a little peace. Its been a dogs age since theres been anyone but the Polyglot or the Wall, though.

In the corner of my darkened room I can see a greyhound with no eyes watching me. It looks flea-ridden, and half of its left front paw is caked in mud. I get to a hundred and the noise downstairs stops. The dog doesnt seem to be doing anything, not even scratching at the lightning bug fleas dancing around its head, so I close my eyes, recite the Presidents backwards, and fall asleep.


Going in the front way to work means getting through the automatic sliding glass doors, and they still have it out for me. A month ago, they caught the heel of my shoe and wouldnt let go. Like a domesticated animal that gets a taste of hot blood, I know theyll do it again. Or worse. So its the back door for me, which isnt automatic; just a door, and anyway considering the shade of brown slathered on it, it doesnt seem capable of intent.

The way the office is set up, everyone can see who is coming and going through those blood-thirsty front doors. A month of going in the back way, theres a rumor I dont show up at all anymore. No one bothers to come by my cube, they just assume the vanished me wont be there. My boss checks the keycard logs and releases a counter-rumor that I was just getting in sooner and leaving later than everyone else. Its like elementary school all again, only instead of apples for teacher, Ive got deliverables to get QAd. The cafeteria is pretty much the same, though.

I hear about all this later, after being resurrected and dumped into the kiss-ass box. Being dead for a few weeks explained the way everything looked like fogged glass, half-real. It didnt explain why birds followed me everywhere; what was their angle? The Polyglot wasnt a fan of fowl, and the Sleeping Walls dignity wouldnt allow for help. It was starting to seem like there was another player, someone working through animals. Maybe that was what the greyhound had been about. Hard to say, sitting in the air conditioned sensory-deprivation tank of corporate America, my tie whispering filthy lies to the staplers.

Weird as Cubeville could be, it didnt cater to real movers. Id have to look elsewhere for those kinds of answers.

August 11, 2006 12:38 AM