by TSAT's loyal audience
©2002 Bard/Cubist -- all rights reserved
"For those poor souls who don't remember me, Mal asked me to help out his friends Michael Bard and Cubist (MB&C) while he was taking care of Mary-Anne. Although for some unknown reason government forces have attempted to curtail all my communication with the outside world, I've been able to keep a number of channels open.
"Now, while I'm waiting for an opportunity to remake the world in a more organized fashion, MB&C have asked me to help them with a little problem. It seems that they have acquired control of an e-zine called TSAT and need persons to submit stories. They've tried to be patient and forgiving, but they have yet to receive a single submission. I would help but it seems that all that's left around here are tripods getting ready to engage the army.
"You didn't hear that.
"Regardless, in their infinite wisdom, MB&C have managed to sneak in one of the writers who refused to listen to them. He kept writing, and rather than submitting it to TSAT for a professional and compassionate* editing (absolutely free of charge!), he chose to just release it into the quiet emptiness of the TSA list where all everybody talks about is electronic pets and hunting laws instead of commenting on and critiquing the actual story. Thus, I bring your attention to the writer whom I shall name S Squirrel in an intentionally hopeless attempt to maintain his anonymity.
"As you can see, S has been brought into my 'machine shop from hell' and is actually still fully biological -- a condition which, I am happy to say, I am well-equipped to remedy. You can also see that he is strapped to a steel table, spread-eagled, and I even provided a convenient hole for his tail. See, I'm here only for good -- just ignore the bubbling vials, Jacob's ladders, gibbering voices, walls oozing with biological waste, etc. You will notice that the table is nice and clean, for instance!"
>>>ZZAPPP<<< You see a bolt of lightning strike out at a green vine that was starting to climb the leg of the table. It jerks back, vocally hissing, with a thin stream of smoke rising from the point where the lightning struck.
"I'm not a cruel AI, just a poor piece of electronics doing a favour for a friend."
"Now, remember that any of you could be in S's place. MB&C have passed on to me your address, your phone number, and even your favourite (and most hated) animal. I know everything about you, and will monitor the TSA list to see if you post a story, or submit it. I really have to suggest that you submit it as I am here to help you.
"Back to our subject. Oddly, he does not look too happy." You can see that S, oddly, does not look too happy. "I'm quite confident that it has absolutely nothing to do with the low voltage current through the table he's on -- yes, that is why all of his fur is standing on end -- and the high pitched screech that I've filtered out to protect your minds has absolutely nothing to do with his ears being plastered to his skull, or the drool dribbling out of his mouth. Now, according to my information, S's least favourite animal is a raven. Interesting, but too noisy. Instead I shall modify him into a more useful life form that will submit work to the TSAT. Now, watch carefully..."
You watch, unable to tear your gaze away, as long metal arms ending in sharp pointy things, snap out and snip away pieces of squirrel. The metallic motions are curiously graceful; it could be a ballet that was choreographed by the Marquis de Sade. First to go are the legs and tail which are snipped off by gleaming metal cutters, and then the wounds are cauterized by sharp spikes of red-hot metal that are jabbed deep into the fleshy stumps. It takes three tries for one, and four tries for each of the other two, as S just doesn't seem to be in a cooperative mood. More sharp knives and blades and whining drills remove S's arms and penetrate into S's chest implanting tubes and thick electrical cabling. Finally a flat hammer like structure pounds into each of S's eyes destroying them, as spinning saw blades cut off his ears and muzzle, replacing them with mechanical tubes that stretch off out of your view.
Once the process is complete, small mouse-like machines, ticking like a grandfather clock, scurry around and clean up all the blood and gore until the laboratory once again gleams and glistens in the flickering light. But you barely notice that as you can't tear your eyes off of the former squirrel. All that now remains is a motionless, no longer even breathing, furry torso and head, but the face and ears have been replaced with a series of thick metal and rubber tubes that stretch off the screen. Occasionally you think you can see a hair move, or a tube quiver, but there is no way to be sure.
"There, all done. I've removed all the things that S no longer needs, and have wired him directly into an electronic interface. All of his biological needs are supplied, and there is now a direct neural link between his brain and a recording device. Shall we see what he is writing?"
As the squirrel's torso rests on the metal slab unmoving, not even the ribcage, a scrolling set of letters appear at the bottom of the screen: "kkljk aioui lkljka i jaaddte dkljoooa deteerd..."
"Oh dear. It seems that I may have accidentally fried his brain whilst converting him. Ah, well; no loss, as there are lots more where S came from.
"And yes, I mean you. I do most highly recommend you start submitting fiction to TSAT (send it to firstname.lastname@example.org) instead of the list, else I shall have to see if I can convert you without frying your brain.
"Do you feel lucky... punk?
"Remember, send your submissions to email@example.com."
*Really, completely kind and compassionate. Trust us. We're from TSAT and we're here to help you!