All tagged the violet city

The human mind takes up fifteen terabytes of space on average, and accommodating the soul requires for an additional twelve to be available. When compressed into a single unit, however, the complete, disembodied self can be expressed as a mere eighteen terabytes: smaller than the sum of its parts, yet no longer separable into individual segments. This conversion of being, popularly known as the Styx Process, can be performed in under twenty-four hours, as long as the deceased’s tombstone features a sufficiently efficient central processor.

The android awoke with the sort of headache that only androids ever come to know: that anvil-strike reverberation that resounds throughout an orange-hot skull. It brought with it a sense of being molten, a tension between the factory that came before and the scrapyard yet to come. He knew that he’d felt such a thing before, though he couldn’t remember when. He lamented the fact that there were no painkillers available for his kind.

This far out in the wilderness, the gods could no longer hear her prayers; even if they could, the roaming charges would be immense. She’d thought about bringing a radio with her and relaying her messages back to someone who could pray on her behalf, but getting away from all that noise was one of the main reasons why she left to begin with. She had grown tired of her altar pestering her to download premium gods, as well as of the dull, smokeless scent of autocandles.

“GAME OVER.” Those eight capital letters scrolled across her field of vision in alarm-clock red, confirming her death in another world. Riley collapsed backwards onto the bed behind her, exasperated and soaked in sweat, hands still curled in futility around a non-existent sword. She’d been in-game for eight hours straight, not even stopping for food or water, yet all her efforts had all gone to waste. Somewhere, a pack of wolves was reducing her other self to a pile of crimson polygons, and there was nothing that she could do to stop them.

My father was a hologram, yet my mother was fully human; she didn’t have a virtual bone in her body. I am unclear of the process by which I was made flesh. All I know is that at some point after he left, I emerged from one of her eyes as a ray of living crimson.

The sea rolls back to reveal that the tides have not entirely receded; thick cubes of saltwater remain in place, with independent waves traveling along their sixfold faces. They look like aquariums that forgot to put on their glass in the morning. Fish that jump out through one surface are dragged downward by the gravity of another, trapping them inside indefinitely.

    She’s going to wear all six of her faces tonight, and needs something that’ll pull them together. The cloud that emerges from her little black bottle isn’t exactly a vapor. Thousands of tiny knots in space-time erupt from its nozzle, clinging to her skin and bending the light around her wrists. No physical matter is involved in the formula; it’s all a trick of subjective geometry. At this point it is nothing more than the empty fragrance of a hypercube: a hollow presence which the nostrils can experience, yet cannot understand.

She finds it waiting for her in a south side alleyway near the potion factory, digging its electric tendrils into the remains of an abandoned strip mall. In another city they might have called it graffiti, but the tags found elsewhere don’t squirm when touched with bare hands. Not many people can get their hands on aerosol data, let alone twist it into something algorithmic with their wrists.