There is a live cobra loose on the streets of Cleveland. Police are laughing, but afraid, and don't know what to do. One policeman wants to shoot the cobra, but he is told not to by the captain. Another policeman tries to capture it in a bucket. He runs away laughing when the bucket hits the cobra and the cobra hisses and slithers up the street. The police don't want to kill the cobra because it is beautiful and strange. They find an ad in the Yellowpages for Dan the Big Snake Man to deal with the snake. He advertises "muscles as hard as diamonds," but insists "ladies only." A lady police calls Dan.
Dan is an illegal gigolo and he is so afraid when he arrives and finds cop cars that he agrees to catch the snake. He forces it into a pillowcase using a shovel. He leaves in his '99 Chrysler LeBaron, vanity plates HOT2TRT, and take the cobra back to his apartment. He leaves it in the pillowcase in the bathtub for an hour, but his curiosity is too great, and untying the pillowcase, he is bit twice by the cobra and dies. The police never talk about it when they find his body and the cobra's, trapped inside the bathroom, because they know what they have done.
It is 1984 at a simple medical laboratory in California. The dog is a young adult German Shephered named Star. He has been taught to sit and roll over. He is partially sedated. Vascular connections are achieved at 10:25 AM. All blood has been flushed from his body within ten minutes and replaced with a chemical formula developed in-house. Clinical death and bloodless perfusion at four degrees Celsius is declared at 10:41 AM. Star is kept in this state through cryogenic refrigeration for one hour. Blood is reintroduced and core temperature is raised. Resuscitation is successful after 68 minutes of clinical death.
Star is asked to sit and roll over. He obeys. The experiment is declared a success, brain structures storing memories can be cryogenically preserved. There is no way for Star to communicate that he can now see the spirits of the dead arrayed along an infinite plane of time and space and that our entire waking reality exists as a fragile filament trapped in the dark currents of a deep, dead ocean. So he eats Milk-Bones and licks feet for 12 years and then becomes a ghost.
Kyle Albaach is a lieutenant in the New York Air National Guard's 174th Fighter Wing remotely operating a MQ-9 Reaper from inside an air-conditioned trailer. He is a part of the USA's transition from manned F-16 attack aircraft to unmanned aerial vehicles. He has nicknamed his drone "August" after the month his active duty ends.
While operating above the mountains of Afghanistan on June 8th, Lt. Albaach will exhaust his drone's entire compliment of Hellfire missiles. During his return flight to Bagram he will be called upon to assist a platoon of marines engaged in Kabul. His drone will lazily circle from an altitude of 17,000 feet, telescopic lenses recording the scene below as Taliban fighters using a mixture of VBIEDs and rooftop and alley RPG attacks immobilize four unarmored vehicles and kill five marines. Lt. Albaach will watch this fight unfold slowly, through the HD cameras of his aircraft, and he will have no weapons and can only observe as they die and are overrun and made prisoners and listen as they cry desperately for help. His help.
Lt. Albaach's name will be mentioned in a secret study called the Albaach Briefing on the psychological effects of witnessing friendly deaths during UAV operations. Due to the psychological impact it is decided that future drones should operate autonomously. Because Lt. Albaach shoots eight coworkers and then himself at a Nevada drone operations center machines will be given the free agency to choose to hunt and kill men.
Ernest Cline, writer of Ready Player One, shares his newest poem.
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