Connection Lost (i)

Hey there cats n kittens:

This one was going to be a serious exploration of technological overreliance, existential bleakness, and the thin line that separates urban civilization from primitivism and the jungle.

Then I decided to write something that didn’t sound like Kafka with a tequila hangover.

Enjoy the story – it’ll probably work its way into The Cambridge Tales.



Alan Song was sitting at his desk in the Stata Center and thinking of new and exciting ways to kill himself. This happened every Friday afternoon. The week was over, lectures given and study sessions led, and he should have been on his way to the Muddy Charles to baptize his liver with a pretty ABD to either side. Instead he had a double block of office hours, and no will to live.

And this was no normal Friday. This was Prospective Students Day – let them shudder at the name! Instead of the occasional drop-in looking for help with the homework, there were enough mother-dressed pubescent prodigies roaming the halls to form an entire Eve Online corporation. As Alan was a captive audience, a computer scientist, and English-Chinese bilingual, he could not have been more attractive to them if he had been a naked cheerleader holding a Toblerone.

Over the last hour Alan had gone from looking with longing out the window to looking with longing at the window. And he still had two more hours to go.

The fifteen-year-old currently sitting across from him was trying to show off by going on and on about packet anonymization. Alan had no interest in packet anonymization. Alan had no interest in being recited at by anyone wearing an inside-out MIT hoodie with the price tag still on. The fact that he could feel a half-dozen other Little Professors hovering in the hall outside, their social skills insufficient for them to even form a line, and Alan let the ideation commence.

The kid was saying something dismissive about Tor. Alan was eyeing the doorknob with more and more attention. It was glass, vaguely rhomboid, and came to a dull point where his palm had gripped it so many times before. Now, he thought, if I get on my knees, place my head agaist the door frame, grasp the door, extend my arm as far as it can go, and then slam the motherfucker as hard as I can directly into my ear…

…no, probably wouldn’t do it.

Fucking shame.

The kid moved seamlessly from one declarative to the next. Those big steady eyes had either no interest in whether Alan was paying attention or else no ability to gauge one way or the other. Alan was looking at the pens on his desk, wondering if any were long enough to go up his nose and into his frontal lobe, when he sensed that the filibuster had come to a caesure.

Alan blinked. The kid just stared at him.

“That’s very interesting,” said Alan in passable Mandarin. “What’s your name again?”

“Deng Vicky,” she said, clearly pleased that she had earned a place in his memory.

Alan pulled out a pad of paper and made a show of writing down her name. Actually he wrote down Cockface O’Shaughnessy. But that was his business.

“Thank you, uh, Vicky,” he said to her. “You’re clearly very bright. And, um, enthusiastic. I hope you get in. I really do.”

She was already getting up, her work completed.

“Thank you very much,” she said to his door, and walked through it.

Alan stared after her. One, two, three…

A boy of about sixteen came into his office, wearing a yellow bandana and holding an empty liter Coke.

“I’m Richard Leibowitz,” the boy said, and sat down.

Vagildo St. Croix, Alan wrote, and then went back to studying his pens.


~ by davekov on 29 October 2011.

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