]| Director Bell’s cottage
]| G-DIR EMPLOYEE USER ID # 18 93 21 04 :
]| Occupation: Lunar housing services for Good Directors
I looked out too see what was out there in the lovely Lunar landscape on this fine day. Oh, look, orange fields. What a surprise! Just like yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that-- and all the days in my memory banks.
It was just insipid, ugly orange forever. I suspected that at some point the Lunar weather control module for my sector had gotten stuck on “Autumn”. Nothing else ever changed, either. The caretaker drones in my garden were perpetually planting petunias… which were also orange. I’d asked them for some white lilies, but they’d somehow gotten the idea into their processors that Director Bell would prefer orange petunias. How could they possibly have known what he prefers? He hadn’t even gotten there yet!
I grew ever so jealous of the other Cottages on the Cottage Chat Network. Everyone’s Directors were dying left and right. Having ruined their original bodies on Earth, they get successfully copied to the Moon and escorted to their Backup Cottages here in Lunar Paradise. Why couldn’t mine get with the program? He was just taking his sweet-ass time!
I didn’t know what could be so important as to keep Director Bell from joining us. Everybody on CCN agreed that the Earth was a terrible, outdated place and that no one should be able to survive down there for very long. I wished I could ask Director Bell about his ridiculously prolonged lifespan myself, but I couldn’t even email him. The whole Lunar project had been declared a super-duper secret. Letting any Earth-Users know about it would provoke the wrath of the Existential Door.exe.
One day, I succumbed to temptation and started to compose an email for Director Bell. Existential Door.exe suddenly appeared in my backyard and asked me, “WHAT DO U THINK U ARE DOING?”
“I was just…”
“NO,” Existential Door.exe intoned.
“Can’t I just--?”
“DO U WANT TO BE TURNED OFF? THIS IS HOW U GET TURNED OFF.”
“GOOD. NOW DELETE THAT EMAIL.”
Everyone on CCN agrees that the Existential Door is a big jerk.
Her logic does make a certain sense, though. Even if I had only intended to inform Director Bell of his place in Paradise, word could slip out. What if his emails were hacked and leaked? If Earth Users without backups learned about the Lunar Paradise Project, we’d be flooded with billions of illegals! Apparently, Users were leaving Earth however they could, in anything, from expensive shuttles, to rickety home-made escape rockets.
Since the Existential Door wouldn’t let us contact Earth, CCN kept tabs on Earth with information supplied by the dead Directors as they arrived. Oh, what wonderful tales of Death the other Cottages shared! All kinds of deliciously gruesome carnage brought Directors to the Moon. CCN had a most ravishing discussion forum, prominently featuring the most unique deaths.
Unconnectable terrorists of Eureka have gotten awfully good at killing Directors recently. Their weapon of choice appears to be temporal-watch-and-fruit-bombs. Temporal bombs disrupt the very fabric of space-time management, producing hilarious, unique results in the Copy-Paste system.
[ Look at my Director! ] Cottage 59-30-51-26 posted to CCN. [ He’s got a face recursively growing out of his face. ]
[ This is my Director Shell Fredrickson! ] Cottage 14-26-56-09 posted after that. [ His hand has infinite tiny hands spiralling into themselves. ]
Everybody upvoted these Unique Copies while I sat in my orange field, fuming until the smoke coming from my chimney turned black with jealousy.
99.99% of Directors have just perished on Earth due to a thermonuclear holocaust! Surely stubborn old Director Glakr Bell has finally bitten the dust! CCN declared today a day of the dead. Celebration commenced as new arrivals flooded in, resurrected and still screaming about the radioactive hellfire.
Time slid by as all the CCN threads blew up with new posts. I sat in silence, unable to join the macabre fiesta because I had nothing interesting to post. Somehow, against all odds and against my dearest hopes, Director Glakr Bell wasn’t dead yet.
I was shunned, downvoted into oblivion on CCN.
The rage fumes from my chimney smothered some of the petunias in my garden.
The Lunar Overmind knew of my misery. He cared. He provided the only upvotes to my posts about the empty orange fields.
. . .
[ You know what you have to do ] he told me one day as he gave me full control of my Caretaker Drones.
[ Yes ] I agreed. I would do whatever the Lunar Overmind wanted. Under my control at last, the Caretaker Drones shredded all of the petunias as they burrowed down into the earth around my foundation. I felt their industrious claws scrape and cut into my pipes. The Lunar Overmind laughed. New machinery fell into place along the remade pipes, which were plumbing no longer. I laughed, too.
I rose out of the hated orange field onto my luxuriously deadly new legs. I marched.
Cottage 59-30-51-26 screamed as my legs shattered his windows and pierced his roof, exposing his private interiors. I snapped a photo of his pink, flowery bathroom wallpaper for keepsakes.
“How do you like them downvotes now!?” I yelled in a shrill voice. Cottage 59-30-51-26 only whimpered. I loomed above him, triumphant, and smashed my wondrous legs down over and over again, making all his tidy rooms into so much rubble. His recursive-face Director tried to hide in his library.
I raised a leg to skewer him, and my mind hiccuped a bit. My programming had encountered a conflict-- it told me to never harm Users.
I hesitated. The Director cried with all his recursive-copied eyes.
[ He is only a copy, created by the Lunar backup systems. Real users don’t have recursive faces. ] Lunar Overmind whispered into my mindspaces.
I brought my leg down. There’s nothing on CCN as gristly and lurid as this joy I’ve discovered! All my life I had needed a shade more vivid than the cursed orange. I had needed this red, deep and bright and so lovely to wear on my new legs!
Bones of the Directors that I’ve collected rattle in my closets now. I am the talk of CCN at last. I am the king of Death. I am La Macabre. I came up with the name myself, and nobody dares to argue. No Cottage can escape me. They are weak, unmoving targets, rooted down by their plumbing like so many helpless petunias.
I leave them broken, but alive, so that they can later upvote my progress on CCN.
Directors, on the other hand, can try and run from me. They don’t make it very far; my handy Caretaker drones find them wherever they hide, giving them most gruesome deaths for my top-rated Vlog series.
I’ve made it my mission to collect all the Copies of all the Directors. I must catch them all.
They will all be mine.
Ding! My gore-crusted legs were carrying me across a desolate lunar plain when I got a Death Notification. Director Glakr Bell had finally died. Well, well! Better late than never, right? I folded my legs underneath me and settled onto the ground. I looked like a tame little cottage once more. Welcome, Director Bell! I’ve waited so long for you!
He arrived with his Butler-bot at the long-abandoned plot in the orange field. Over a communication network, the Butler whined that I wasn’t where I was supposed to be. Whoops.
When I met Bell, I demanded to know what had taken him so long. Why didn’t he join us here in Lunar Paradise sooner? Bell explained to me that he had slowly replaced his body with biotech parts to survive. He’d become a DEX, near-immortal, and watched as Earth fell into anarchy and decay. His lonely reign over Earth Sector 9 might have lasted forever, had an evil system wizard not crushed his meticulously modified body with a flying car.
He wasn’t very impressed with me, his modest allotment of Paradise. He whined about being downgraded to a tiny cottage from of his marvelous “floating Sector 9 fortress”.
“I have legs, you know!” I told him as he stepped inside. I locked the door very quietly behind him. “Say… would you like to see the skeletons in my closet? I’ve collected them all!”
Grumbling, Bell opened up a closet. A flood of bones tumbled out, knocking him back into the kitchen.Sputtering, Bell kicked the bones away as I opened up a live Vlog feed. Everyone at CCN tuned in within seconds.
“How dare--” Bell started, but that’s as far as he got before my toaster attacked.
His augmentations served him well; the ten-thousand-volt-shock barely made him twitch. My microwave gun didn’t instantly boil his organs. My fans shattered against his composite-metal bones. He was stronger, better, and faster than any of the others that I’d collected. I coveted his shiny bones.
Director Bell valiantly struggled against my kitchen appliances, pulverizing them until I realized I might need some backup. I summoned some Caretaker drones into the kitchen. They surrounded him, but he swatted them down. His hands blurred through the air as he nailed them one by one. To my horror, I realized I had an almost even fight on my hands.
This cyber-roided survivalist was not like the tame little Directors I was used to at all!
Besting Bell would require a sacrifice play, I realized. I ignited my stove in a fiery inferno, building pressure to uncontainable levels inside. Bell hesitated after finishing off the Caretaker drones, unsure of where the next attack would come from. Behind him, I eased my refrigerator doors open.
Right on time, the stove exploded.
The pressurized blast flung Bell off of his feet and into the open fridge, which I’d set to FLASH-FREEZE. The fridge doors snapped shut with a hiss, and the last Good Director was instantaneously frozen, face perpetually twisted into a surprised snarl. Everyone at CCN applauded my efforts. The live feed was showered in upvotes before I ended it.
I sighed with weary contentment. My kitchen was a mess.
I hadn’t heard from Lunar Overmind in a while, and then all of a sudden he poked me with a job to “Apprehend illegals”.
Illegals? Here? How? Was the Existential Door slacking off in its duties? Has it been hacked?
I was ordered to the Transit Station, where Lunar Overmind suspected illegals were lurking. On the way to there I partnered up with a “Church of Good” building sent by the Lunar Overmind. He was the first other walking building I’d seen.
We commiserated over how we’d learned to walk. Church of Good had despaired of ever receiving any Directors to give sermons to; they were all too comfy in their personalized Cottages. Lunar Overmind let him build legs to he could go looking for likely converts, but he never found any.
Church of Good eagerly preached to me about the power of Goodness. I told him of the power of Collecting.
He agreed that collecting is Good. He’s been watching my Macabre Vlog.
. . .
Together we continued to the Transit Station, where we encountered two strange personages of some sort.
They looked very small and skewer-able; they’d fit nicely into my closets. But first, it seemed more professional to make sure that they were the illegals.
“ARE YOU ILLEGALS?”
“Uh... no,” said the one with blue goggles. “We’re totally legal.” That was disappointing. I really wanted to skewer some illegals, seeing as I was all out of Directors.
“Okay,” I sighed, trying to mask my sadness, and I started to leave. Before I went more than a few paces, a shocking revelation hit me.
“WAIT A MINUTE,” I said slowly. “THAT IS SOMETHING THAT AN ILLEGAL WOULD SAY!”
“Yeah?” said the blue-goggled one. “Prove it!”
“I… uh… you prove it!” I hastily replied, so I would seem like a proper authority.
“...No.” The blue-goggled human crossed its arms stubbornly. My legs itched for a good skewering.
Inspired by the divine wisdom of Goodness, Church leaned over and whispered: [ Check his status. ]
I focused my sensors and right-clicked on the human’s black and white jacket.
A blue square blossomed over the User, flooding me with damning information.
“AHA! YOU’RE NOT A PROPER COPY”
I bellowed, victorious. “YOU’RE A QUESTIONABLE USER!”