Cities of Dreams (Part 2)

Bayer and his wife taken to a house in Rhode Island for debriefing, one of several facilities in the area near the Newport naval base. During his interrogation, Bayer gave several intelligence leads and locations of several previously unknown projects that the Soviets had been working on, including at least one munitions factory that had slipped the CIA’s notice. Notes from his interrogation mark Bayer as reserved but in high spirits, all too eager to share his information with the west. Of Julia, however, there are few notes- she is recorded as having little English and being little use as an intelligence asset.

Where the CIA and the broader military took great notice, however, was in Bayer’s knowledge of the plans for a Russian Arcology.
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Cities of Dreams: the history of Project LAPUTA and America’s arcologies (Part 1)

Recently declassified CIA files have shed new light on one of the most interesting secret programs from the Cold War

Ramadge Point, Alaska, is one of the nicer points in The Last Frontier. Today a national park, it’s hard to imagine that this quiet new-growth forest was once the site of one of America’s strangest top-secret programs

It’s no secret that during the Cold War, the United States and the U.S.S.R. were competing on a number of technological fronts. The most well-known of these is the space program, and conventional and nuclear weapons programs were new types of brinkmanship that these two global superpowers engaged in. There were the bizarre ones too, such as the LSD soaked MK Ultra program and the New Age First Earth Battalion Program. One area that doesn’t get much attention is Project LAPUTA, the US Government’s Arcology project.

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Fourth Floor (part two)

Continued from part one

I found myself in another hotel. Where the previous hotel had been in a rich red and gold theme with classical Chinese paintings on the wall, this one was an exercise in dark minimalism, with grey panelling and low lighting. The layout was similar to my hotel, but I sensed that it was somewhere else, a certain quality in the air that was different from before. I walked down the corridor, looking to see whether the key for my room matched any of the doors. I could hear noises from these rooms, snatches of phonemes and sounds of shifting on carpet.

I tried knocking on one of the other rooms, but there seemed to be no answer on the other side of the door, not even a reaction. I could again hear the machinery of the elevator moving in the walls, but no cars would come to my call.

I reached what would have been my room, and tried the keycard in the lock. The lock seemed to hesitate for a second, before opening for me. Once again I found myself in what could have been my room, but all of the signs and instructions were in a northern European language, perhaps Finnish, perhaps Dutch.

It was at this point I felt that I’d truly stepped into somewhere strange, an area beyond the usual. I opened the curtains, to see if I could identify the city, but all I could see out of the thick glass window was a soft white light. The room phone didn’t seem to connect to anywhere, and the television seemed to reach the menu and then hang.

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Fourth floor (part one)

I’m at a conference in Melbourne this week, and as tends to happen at these things I got chatting to a guy in the hotel bar. He told me this story, and I’m not really sure what to make of it.

It’s a common thing in hotels for there to be no thirteenth floor, and it’s a damn good thing. Too many people are superstitious and the anxiety isn’t worth the bother. What’s less known in the west is the unluckiness, in some cultures of the number four, which is perfectly rational.

I was staying in a hotel for a conference like this in Hong Kong, and I’d been out at a conference dinner late at night. Being a responsible adult, I’d drunk a fair bit, and stumbled back to my hotel late at night. Burbling at the front desk on my way past, I went into the lift, one of those key card jobs. I hit the button, or so I thought, for the fifth floor. Waiting, swaying in the lift, I felt a slight jolt and an odd sensation, like a held sneeze.

I walked out of the lift and staggered, I thought, to my room, slamming the key card in the lock. The door opened to the right, which triggered something in my brain. I’d been pretty sure that my door opened to the left, but I dismissed that odd sense memory- I’d stayed in hundreds of similar hotel rooms, must have beenn confused.

I went to my wardrobe to hang up my jacket, not registering the colour of the cupboard had changed. Hanging in the cupboard were my clothes, but something seemed slightly off about them all. They were all clothes that I woukd have selected- no garish shirts, and all colours that I would have picked. But none of the shirts were my shirts- all the stripes were slightly off, and my suits were all a different colour than they had been.

Going further into the room, I started to notice more changes. The lamp in the corner was different, and my notes were placed on a leather-topped writing desk, that I’m sure had been marble topped before. Now quite sober, I opened up my notebook. It was definitely my handwriting, neat and clear, but it was for a meeting I’d never been to on a topic I knew little about.

Not quite knowing what was going on, I grabbed the keycard from the door, and went back to the lift. The hotel seemed quieter than it had been, and as I waited for the lift I tried to read the sign above the lift. It looked like the Chinese character for four, but half formed, scrawled
I waited at the elevator for some time, hearing the machinery behind the door but no lift arriving. Getting impatient, I tried to force it, but I couldn’t even feel it rock a little on it’s sliders.

Hell, I thought, I’m only on the fourth floor, I’ll take the stairs.

I opened the stairwell door, silently hoping that the door wasn’t alarmed. The concrete stairs were lit by the green glow of the exit light, and I could see emergency directions on the wall. Looking over the bannister, the stairs seemed to spiral up and down for an eternity, slipping into darkness at the furthest edges of the parallax I could see.

I climbed up a floor and opened the door…

To be continued


Three concepts for stories

Thoe who follow me on the twitterz or interact in other forums may have heard I want to do something writerly in November. November, or course, is National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo), where people all over the world (yes, putting paid to the whole “national” thing) attempt to bang out a novel in a month. I’m not a writer by any means, but I’d like to try it some day. I figure I’d better actually get some practice in.

So for November I’ll be writing short fiction, vignettes, and other fictional stuff. Call it NaSho(rt)Sto(ry)WriMo. I’ve been kicking around two ideas for a while, and one just jumped on me that I’d like to use, so here’s some teasers:

  • An archaeology team uncovers something interesting from the cold war
  • Climbing a radio tower on a desolate planet
  • The logical endpoint of digital rights control

I’m hoping to spin these into… something, and I’m going to post it all or in part up here in draft form. I’d appreciate your feedback.