by Stan Lee Werlin
Rrdvaah could not hide a growing irritation toward Ylaeeil. “This mission is too important to be compromised or postponed. Surely you’re well enough prepared to move forward by now!” It wasn’t so much a question as a direct order, and Ylaeeil knew it. Rrdvaah would tolerate no more delays.
“Everything is as needed, sir”. Ylaeeil conveyed only the most appropriate respect due a superior officer. “We’ve analyzed the event timeline through one hundred thousand simulations. Failure has never occurred. Our test runs have reached the target without suspicion or discovery. We’re ready to move forward on your signal.”
“Very well, then,” Rrdvaah commanded. “Initiate entry sequence in thirty seconds.”
Ylaeeil executed the order flawlessly.
Walter X. Tundo’s calling was invention. His work as a design engineer for the largest producer of virtual slot machines and advanced gambling technology in Las Vegas kept him on the leading edge of next generation gaming equipment, so no one was surprised that the thingamajigs and gizmos and doohickeys he created on his own time mesmerized everyone. He built contraptions that hummed lullabies and glowed softly and put babies to sleep. He made farquars that put on a light and sound show that was never the same twice. His skill and deftness in creating extraordinary playthings for children was astounding; his remarkable inventions hypnotized and delighted children and adults alike. And, in an era when high technology playthings were breaking down with ever-increasing frequency, no one could remember when any of Walter’s gizmos had ever stopped working.
Out at the farthest northwest reach of the greater Las Vegas metroplex, the late October night settled slowly on the desert like the dusting of a light, mid-winter snow falling gently on the sleepy small towns and villages of northern New England. Sky-pink merged into shades of gray and deepening, star-spiked blackness spilled over the distant mountains. Walter was in his workshop working on another gizmo.
A flurry of shooting stars cascaded through the dusk, purplish streaks trailing behind them as if sketched ever so lightly on the evening sky’s fading watercolor background. They seemed to be almost directly overhead, low in the sky, unusually bright.
Sarah could have sworn she heard them hissing through the air, a faint rumbling sound coming up from the desert floor somewhere close by just a moment later. She pushed the back door open, banging it hard against the house. The sound shattered the stillness, scudding harshly across the flat empty landscape to the north that led to terrain too difficult and too restricted for further development: a national forest, wildlife ranges, and then the rugged geography of the government’s Nevada Test Site and Air Force Range.
Sarah rushed into her husband’s workshop. Once their garage, it was overrun with Walter’s machine tools and box after box of parts and components: sound makers, speech synthesizers, light projection devices, lasers, slot machine reel assemblies of every color and style known to the betting public. “Walter, did you see that? You missed it, didn’t you? I’ve never seen shooting stars throw color like that! Walter? Come out back!”
Walter put down the gizmo he was working on and they stepped outside. He waited with Sarah for another five minutes, but there was no more excitement. “I guess it was just another wave of shooting stars. It seems like we’ve been getting an awful lot of them the past couple of weeks, doesn’t it?” He looked skyward a moment longer, then glanced out toward the open desert. Sarah watched him but said nothing. He wanted to get back to his tinkering.
“Hey, hon, you want to see the gizmo I’m working on now?” Walter’s enthusiasm was palpable. For anyone else, it would be infectious; for Sarah, it meant too much time alone without her husband. “It’s only about half-finished. When it’s done I think it’s going to be the best one I’ve ever built. The loudest and most colorful for sure.”
Sarah offered a quick smile. “Show me when you’re done. I’ll just stay out here until I hear Allie get back.”
When she heard a car door slam and their nine-year-old daughter’s voice thanking someone’s mother or father for the ride home, Sarah stepped back inside the house. “Allie, everything OK?” Alexandra grunted a reply and headed to her bedroom. Upstairs in his crib, Richard their baby son slept quietly. Eventually Sarah tired of waiting for Walter to join her and drifted to bed. Walter stayed at his workbench until long after midnight, designing and redesigning, building the gizmo.
Sarah woke early the morning after the latest round of shooting stars, seized by a powerful drive to get moving as if a great mystery would be solved by her action. She often took walks in the coolness of the morning, especially in the summer before the heat began to build. She liked to head out onto the flat stretches behind their house and sometimes would walk for two or three miles, stopping to examine the rock formations, dislodging them at will, digging in areas that looked interesting in one way or another
before heading back. She always carried a worn, oversized tote-bag, but she rarely found anything worth keeping.
Leaving Walter to take care of Richard when he woke, she hurried off. A half-mile from their house, she found the first signs of a field of debris that had not been there the previous day. Twisted, darkened pieces of something unmistakably metallic were strewn across the landscape in a path that extended for about a quarter mile. Later in the day, the unrelenting sunshine would bake into the metal until it became too hot to touch, but in the early morning hours Sarah could pick up and examine the pieces she liked. She knew immediately that Walter would want to use them in his gizmos.
“Maybe something went off course, crashed here,” she thought to herself. High-performance aircraft constantly criss-crossed the sky in this area. Then, too, there were the distant test ranges with their missile firings, their manned and unmanned experimental items being flown and, on occasion, deliberately shot down. From time to time there had been rumors of failures and crashes, but nothing ever came to light. Not to mention the highly secluded installation a hundred miles north that the government denied was there.
If what she had stumbled upon was indeed the ruins of an Air Force test or a downed experimental item, Sarah knew it would not be long before a squadron of helicopters would fly over, or a convoy of dark, unmarked SUVs approach the area. It had happened before. She decided to gather what she could and head back.
She left behind the smaller and most twisted pieces in favor of items that looked intact. There were a number of pieces that seemed to oscillate between a highly polished, intensely reflective black hue and a more muted set of reds, oranges, yellows and purples. A few others looked like powerpacks or electronics boards. Hadn’t she seen metal that looked like this before? Burnished copper when sunlight reflected off it at a certain angle? No matter. There were no helicopters or SUVs in sight. She hurried home, just in time to find Walter impatient to hand over the baby and race out the door.
“Honey”, she called after him, “I think the Air Force lost something about a mile out back. I found some pretty interesting stuff you might want for your gizmos. Come on, take a look!”
“Sarah, there’s no time,” he called back to her. “I can’t be late to the lab today. Show me when I get home tonight. Oh, and Allie’s still asleep. I couldn’t get her up, Richard was a handful.” She watched his car roll down the hill and turn out of sight.
Walter wasn’t easily impressed by gadgetry, but that evening the items from Sarah’s morning walk captured his attention.
“I’ve never seen anything like this stuff”, he said. “Can’t find markings of any kind. No serial numbers. Don’t see a barcode or an RFID chip.” He looked at Sarah quizzically. “You found this stuff out back on your walk?” He turned one particular item over and over, first in his left hand, then in his right, a three-inch square object, maybe an inch thick, with several ports for multiple-prong plug-ins like the ones used in the latest generation of laptop computers. There was no doubt in his mind that this object was a powerpack. He tried to imagine who had built it and how it might be used.
“Out back this morning,” Sarah confirmed. “And there was a lot more like it. But most of it was wrecked, twisted and burned. I salvaged some of the things that looked okay, but left the rest behind.”
Walter turned to Sarah. “Never seen batteries like this before, that’s for sure. Looks like somebody lost something important out there. They’ll be searching soon, tomorrow, the day after.” Walter gathered up Sarah’s finds. “I’m going to try to attach this to my gizmo, see what happens. Watch the sky tomorrow morning, Sarah. If you see those Air Force helos we saw a couple of months ago, don’t go walking. Stay inside and for god’s sake don’t tell anyone what you took. They’ll figure it out soon enough anyway if they come looking for this stuff and don’t find it.”
Walter headed to his workshop. He was seeing newspaper headlines in his mind. Defense Secrets Drop From Sky, Local Couple Arrested. Advanced Bombware Found in Red Desert Home. Connecting Sarah’s object to his gizmo was child’s play. He was right; it was a powerpack, though it would be pure guesswork to figure how long it would last and how much power it provided. It was the last thing he needed to complete the new gizmo. Watch the sky, Sarah, he told her again as they fell off to sleep. Tomorrow, watch the sky.
The two SUVs from Nellis Air Force Base departed through a little-used side gate just after four A.M. They were painted black and they bore no identifying marks, no government license plates, nothing an observer could use to puzzle out who they belonged to and what their mission might be. Their engine noise was muted by a layer of sophisticated acoustic baffles attached to the interior front hood and side panels. In an era of advanced stealth technology that minimized the radar signature of high-performance aircraft and even featured genuine scientific breakthroughs like the creation of a cloaking device right out of Star Trek, it was almost laughable to think that the Air Force had at its service a fleet of stealth SUVs. Almost.
Colonel J. J. Ames and his aide drove carefully on their route through the north side of Las Vegas. They encountered little traffic. By the time the first glimmer of dawn appeared in the east, they were parked exactly where they wanted to be, on the desert floor a mile north of the northernmost point of Walter and Sarah’s neighborhood. They collected as many articles of interest as they could in thirty minutes in the debris field Sarah had stumbled upon the day before. They also observed disquieting signs that others might have been there before themselves. They were on their way back to Nellis by six A.M. No one had seen them come or go.
They deposited their findings at the Department of Energy’s Special Materials Processing Laboratory housed on the Air Force Base. As ordered, they sat back to wait for the Lab’s analytical results. Dr. Kurt Ansbach, the Laboratory Director, did not emerge until the early afternoon, pale-faced and grim.
“Are you certain you were in the right location, gentlemen?” he asked.
“Exactly where the radar track and residual heat signature sent us”, Colonel Ames replied.
Dr. Ansbach looked carefully at the two Air Force officers. “The materials you collected are quite fascinating”, he went on. “There’s only one problem.” He paused, took a deep breath and let it whistle out slowly. “They’re not ours. They don’t resemble anything our Asian friends are working on. Some of them oscillate between two physical states in a way we can’t begin to explain. We don’t understand why the radar didn’t pick up their incoming trajectory until the last few miles, but because of that we don’t know where they came from. And we don’t know what they do.”
Colonel Ames was on a maximum level secure phone in an instant. He made a call to a facility that did not exist, located about one hundred miles north. He spoke to a Commanding General who also did not exist, requesting that a fully deniable search mission be deployed with extreme haste to the location of a small but very real debris field a few miles north of Las Vegas. More precisely, he acknowledged, a search and destroy mission.
Wandering through Walter’s workshop early that afternoon while Richard napped and Allie was still at school, Sarah had plenty of time to admire the gizmo Walter had shown her the previous evening. This one is something special, she thought to herself. He really does have a gift. They were miniature people, Walter’s gizmos, each design reminiscent of a sophisticated marionette or a ventriloquist’s puppet. The new one was propped up in the corner nearest Walter’s workbench, sitting there with its head bent over and its arms slack, its legs folded in underneath itself. Walter had used especially colorful parts for the eyes and mouth, but it was the cutaway torso with its internal symmetry and the remarkable seamlessness of the places where one part joined another that was so impressive, almost hypnotic.
Sarah stood in front of the gizmo for another moment, absent-mindedly studying the elegance of Walter’s work. She turned to leave the room. When she reached the door, she thought she heard something behind her, a faint whirring sound like the blade of a very small fan. She stopped and sucked in her breath. She turned back to survey the room, and her eyes fell on Walter’s laptop computer. It was probably the cooling fan. He must have forgotten to turn it off last night when he came to bed.
She stepped over to the laptop, but it wasn’t on.
She heard the sound again, as faint as before. She felt a flash of panic, goosebumps rising on her arms, her neck tensing. She turned toward the gizmo. Its head was upright. Its left eye, a small red and silver sphere taken from an abandoned 1960s pinball machine, was open. She thought she saw one of the many small slot machine reels Walter had embedded in its chest spinning very slowly to a stop. Whirring.
The lights on its voicebox lit up.
Sarah’s hands flew to her mouth. Frozen in place by pure terror, she turned away, willing herself not to believe what she had just seen.
“Giz”. A tiny sound, hoarse, metallic, the stuff of nightmares. And then again. “Giz. Gioz. Gizmo. Gizmo!”
Sarah screamed twice, already running as the thing moved an arm and a sound like knuckles cracking and metal scraping metal filled the room. She did not look back.
Racing upstairs, she grabbed Richard from his crib, flew out the front door into the street, the baby now crying hysterically. She fumbled with her cell phone, frantic to push the speed-dial for Walter. He answered on the third ring.
“Walter!” she shouted into the phone, her breathing spasmodic, her fear still rising. “I was in your workshop. That thing you built, that gizmo, oh God…” She was panting now, crying, unable to catch her breath.
“Sarah! What is it? Try to stay calm. What is it?”
“Its chest lit up by itself, Walter! It was purring. It, it…it spoke to me, I think it said ‘Gizmo’! Oh God, I can’t breathe!”
“Sarah, that’s impossible! It’s no different than any of the others. It can’t talk. It can’t light up or do anything until I turn it on, which I haven’t. It’s not alive, for God’s sake, that’s just not possible!”
“I grabbed Richard, we’re standing in the street. I can’t go back in the house! And I’m scared to death!” She was shouting more loudly now, her words coming in short staccato bursts. “Walter….it said ‘Gizmo’. I’m…not….hallucinating! Come home now!” She was crying again, gasping out a high, insistent wail. He knew he couldn’t talk her through the panic. “Sarah, just stay where you are! I’m heading home! Fifteen minutes!” Walter grabbed his keys and bolted.
Three of their neighbors were standing with Sarah when Walter’s car raced up the hill and screeched into the driveway. They had heard her screaming and had rushed outside to see what was wrong. In the few minutes it took for Sarah’s crying to reduce to a whimper, none of them had noticed the faint purple light that was becoming brighter as it shone through the small square windowpanes in the door of Walter and Sarah’s garage. It was not until Emily Durkin turned away from Sarah thinking she might step into the house to take a look herself that anyone saw the purple illumination. Now they were riveted to the sidewalk, staring at the garage, stricken and silent as the color strengthened and began to pulsate.
Walter jumped out of the car and slammed the door, looking back and forth from the garage to Sarah and Richard several times as he raced to her side and threw his arms around them.
“We just called the police, Walter. They’re on the way now. And the fire boys too. What’s that purple light all about? What the hell did you build in there?” It was Paul McGee, their meddlesome next door neighbor.
Walter ignored him. “Sarah, are you and Richard okay?” Sarah was nodding yes. “Where’s Allie?” He realized immediately it was too soon for her to be home from school on the bus. He turned to the small group of neighbors. “Why the hell did you call the police? I’m going in there and figure out if something short-circuited. Maybe the gizmo I just finished fell over and landed on its power switch. Be back in a minute.”
“No Walter!” Sarah grabbed at his arms but missed. “It’s no short circuit! That thing looked at me and talked! I heard it say ‘Gizmo’! I know it did! It moved its arms! Please wait! Wait!”
Walter was halfway up the driveway when he heard the first distant sounds of something whooshing through the air. The unmistakable clatter of helicopter blades rapidly coming closer. It was impossible to tell how many there might be. He knew there wasn’t much time, and he raced inside.
The workshop was bathed in a blindingly bright purple, the light pulsating from the gizmo’s chest cavity every few seconds. The cycle time between oscillations was collapsing. Both eyes were open, and every reel in its chest was spinning far more quickly than they had ever spun in the slot machines down on the Strip. It raised itself straight up, all four feet of it, and as Walter approached it the gizmo levitated off the floor and paused for just a moment, suspended a foot in the air. It turned away from Walter, displaying its backside, its upper torso rotating slowly like a radar array scanning the room. Walter reached toward the powerpack and pushed a switch. A matrix of white hot cinders burst from the gizmo’s fingers as if they had been seared by a welder’s torch.
Gizmo spun around like a figure skater pirouetting more and more quickly at the end of a dizzying performance. With flashes of laser-like purple, it vaporized the light bulbs overhead, then the wall clock audibly ticking away each second, and finally the laptop quietly humming on the workbench. It seemed to grow slightly brighter, and slightly taller. It turned toward Walter again as he back-pedaled away, his eyes never leaving Gizmo’s chest. Suddenly it was…speaking. The sounds emerging from it were machine-like, monotonic, underlain with a high-pitched whistling. “Gizmo, gizmas, gizmat, gizmamus, gizmatis, gizmant!” More loudly, the words came a second time from its voice box. “Gizmo! Gizmas! Gizmat! Gizmamus! Gizmatis! Gizmant! GIZMO! GIZMO!” Its mouth had twisted open, grotesque and threatening. “GIZMO! GIZMO! GIZMO!”
It flew to within a foot of Walter’s chest, hanging in the air, its left eye emitting a strobing light that seemed to scan Walter’s face slowly from the forehead to just below his lips. Walter did not move or breathe. He knew instinctively that if he made any sound at all it meant certain death. His face collapsed for just an instant in the light of Gizmo’s scan, becoming a shimmering silver surface reflecting the light-scan back to Gizmo’s receptors. He waited for another blinding purple flash, but instead Gizmo turned away and flew through the door and out into the street, suspending itself ten feet in the air, spinning, scanning, sensing.
Everyone ran. A police car arrived with blazing red and white flashers, its siren cutting loudly through the air. A purple beam discharged from Gizmo’s chest, and suddenly the car and its two officers were simply gone, the lights destroyed, the siren quieted. Like a roadrunner gone berserk, Gizmo crashed through the door of the house next to Walter and Sarah’s, silencing the CD player, the plasma screen TV, the telephone now ringing meaninglessly, knocking out every light source in the house. Flying back outside as fire engines roared up the street, klaxons wailing, engines straining, it waited until they came into view around the corner. Purple burst from its chest three times, and the engines vaporized.
Huddled with terrified neighbors further down the hill, Sarah saw Gizmo slowly rising into the air, ten feet, then twenty, then thirty. It was unmistakably brighter and larger. It was beginning to project sound as well, a low-pitched rumble like the distant noise of a freight train or a tornado grinding closer and closer across the landscape. For a moment, Sarah was struck by the thought that this gizmo, this thing, whatever it was, was absorbing the energy of the light and sound it was destroying, drawing it back through each purple beam into its mass. Growing stronger. And she was helpless to stop it. They all were helpless to stop it.
She grabbed her cell phone, dialed their home phone number, then Walter’s cell. Where was he? What had he done? No answer. And then she heard the yellow school bus lumbering up the hill, the first and second and third and fourth and fifth and sixth graders shouting and laughing the way they always did at the end of the school day. She heard the bus stop once to let off a few students, then start up again and round the corner into Gizmo’s view. It stopped a second time, its red lights flashing, its engine idling loudly. Her eyes turned toward the bus as its door opened.
Time seemed to stop completely for her. As if in slow motion, she saw first one foot descend and then a second in the orange and black running shoes she knew so well. Allie was stepping off the bus. Sarah covered her mouth, willed herself not to look, stifling a terrible sharp cry and beating her eyes as the air exploded in purple.
When the first helicopter came into view over the horizon, Gizmo was ready. Three hundred yards behind it in the fourth helo back, Colonel J.J. Ames saw the lead helicopter simply disappear in a bright purple flash just as he heard a threatening, ear-splitting rumble. When the second helo vanished, he turned to look at his co-pilot and threw the emergency switch that radioed the nameless Commanding General to the north. An indescribably bright object rose up into his view, purple seared the sky, and the words reporting the results of his failed mission died in his flaming mouth.
Red Desert was silent and still. The last lights in the town had disappeared by early dusk; every sound had been silenced. Miles to the north, the military was mobilizing, but the few reports that had made it out of Red Desert were incomprehensible and conflicting. Homeland Security threw up an unprecedented quarantine; nothing on the roadways or in the air for five miles around the town’s borders. Nothing. No movement of any kind. A counter-action, if there was to be one at all, was still hours away.
The mass that was Gizmo hovered silently for a moment, and then it began listening for the quieter sounds that remained, the muted, rhythmic sibilance of human breathing. With the energy it had already gained, its senses were heightened far beyond any human scale. It would not miss any sound, anyone. In seconds, it found them all, rooted them out and absorbed their energy.
When it was completely satisfied that every source of light and sound was gone, Gizmo rose up, suspending itself thirty yards off the ground in a crescendo of purple-blue flashes, alternating between bursts of low-throated rumbling and piercing high-pitched shrieks. It vibrated like an enormous hummingbird, spinning and scanning and shaking the air, hurtling through the night toward Highway 95, southbound, as if drawn by the world’s most powerful magnet straight toward the garish, malignant lights and the incessant twenty-four hour cacophony of the valley. The vegas. Las Vegas.
The honeymoon couple driving back to their casino hotel from a day trip to the national parks in southern Utah was dead tired from hiking in the canyons, more thirsty and hungry than they could ever remember. The time was long after sunset, the pitch-black sky incredibly brilliant with stars the way it can be only where little ambient light exists to mask the starshine. They had been watching the Las Vegas metropolitan area gradually brighten as they drove, and were certain they could now distinguish the neon-dominated southern stretch of the Strip itself.
They were still forty miles away when Bobby-Ray thought he saw a cluster of greens and blues suddenly disappear.
Marla’s eyes had drifted off to the barely visible outline of the mountains beyond the city when Bobby-Ray grabbed her hand. “Honey, didn’t we see a swatch of green and blue down there just a minute ago? I can’t pick it up now. I swear I just saw those lights a minute ago.”
Marla purred in his ear. Just at that moment, she wasn’t interested in lights at all. She began licking the inside of his right ear, placing his hand firmly on her breasts until he began to move his fingertips in the slow circling motion she loved.
“Must have been a mirage,” she laughed. Her fingers began dancing on the inside of his thigh, but she didn’t intend to stop there, and he knew it. “Don’t worry about your silly old lights, Bobby-Ray. We’ll come up on them soon enough. You just pay attention to keeping us on the road while I have a little fun down around here.” She pressed her fingers firmly into his groin and began a rhythmic stroking that she knew would please Bobby-Ray like nothing else.
“Marla, geez!” Bobby-Ray gasped, but she knew he wanted what she was doing and she did not stop. Soon he began moaning between breaths. He blew the horn, once, twice, blew it in rhythm with her fingers again and again and again. When he finished, he screamed out her name. Neither Marla nor Bobby-Ray noticed that the lights of Las Vegas seemed to blink out completely, first the Strip, then the entire surrounding valley. A low persistent rumbling was building, replacing the desert’s silence.
“Where are all those lights?” Bobby-Ray called out. “Must be a mountain or something blocking our view.” Marla was nestled into his side, thinking about what they would do in their hotel room when they got back. She whispered something in his ear. Bobby-Ray laughed hard, then began blowing the horn again. It was a sound like thunder, a booming sound all out of proportion to itself there in the vast stretch of desert they were driving. They began singing their favorite song together, blaring out the words, “Bad to the bone! B-b-b-b-b-b-baaad to the bone!” until an immense, impossibly loud, impossibly bright light seemed suddenly to rise up on the roadway and accelerate toward their windshield. Their corneas burned, their eardrums exploded, and Gizmo was upon them.
In the thousand year-old Vyi spacecraft that had eased out of its lunar holding pattern and descended into earth orbit next to the disabled American intelligence satellite, Rrdvaah turned to its companion Ylaeeil, intoning a series of sounds that approximated low-pitched growling forced through clenched teeth. The equivalent of a smile appeared on the left side of Ylaeeil’s anterior bodyprism.
“We have been waiting far too many Nnep-cycles for this moment, Ylaeeil. Contact Supremator Clloren. The lifeships can join us now. And deactivate the sleeper agent. Its work has been completed.”
Somewhere in the darkness far below where there was no longer anyone to observe it, a body slumped suddenly to the ground, its human avatar gone, its Vyi bodyprism restored. It had been standing outside for hours, staring at the sky, looking up at the brilliant stars, radiating electromagnetic impulses toward the Vyi ship. Its message was well-received.
“Yes, Walter,” Rrdvaah radiated its reply. “You and Ylaeeil planned an exquisite deception. Particularly the delivery of the final components. Much more civilized than another tiresome display of naked Vyian power, dropping out of the sky with our shock-lasers and Pteronnic lightbombs raining down all that random terror and destruction. Your approach was so much more elegant. Unusually artistic for a warrior of such limited experience. The environmental preservationists will be pleased. I should not have become impatient with you as quickly as I did. Our faith in your skills was well deserved. Your promotion is assured.”
Ylaeeil turned itself expectantly toward Rrdvaah. Rrdvaah paused, savoring the moment. “You did well, Ylaeeil” it said. “The creation grows stronger by the hour. It is already unstoppable. In a few more earth-days, the planet will be ours”.
About the Author:
Stan Lee Werlin’s short stories and poetry have appeared in Southern Humanities Review, Los Angeles Review, Sheepshead Review, Prime Number, Glassworks, Futures Trading, Soundings East, Saranac Review, Bacopa Literary Review, Zone 3, Gargoyle, Reunion, The Write Launch, Waymark, and Roanoke Review. His humorous children’s poetry has been published in numerous children’s magazines and anthologies. He was a Harvard undergrad and received an MBA from The Wharton School. “Gizmo” is his first science fiction publication. Twitter @natsnilrew