Tag Archives: spying

Order up! Macabre Macaroni

Lisa BurtonLisa Burton here with another serving of Macabre Macaroni. I try to avoid the dark side of technology, being a robot myself. Even I have to admit it can be misused.

Technology is wonderful, but it should be used with caution. This week, Craig takes kind of an extreme approach to some future advancements in the medical field… or are they already here?

***

Monitors

Mrs. Levine sat beside the hospital bed and held her husband’s hand. It had been three days this time, and only a few lucid moments passed between them.

She held on to something through her faith, but another part of her explored the value of their home, what might be left of their finances, and even the possibility of going back to work. One day per week at the library was all she’d found, so far.

They both knew one or the other would go first. After fifty-seven years of marriage, it was inevitable.

The doctor came into the room and placed a hand on her shoulder. “How’s he doing today?”

“About the same. He’s been pretty quiet.”

“Why don’t I have Nurse Silvio take you to the cafeteria for a nice cup of coffee? I want to check his vitals, and get someone to change the bedding today.”

“You’re too good to me doctor. You need to get some rest too.”

“I’ll be fine, don’t you worry. I have an intern helping today. She can do the heavy lifting.”

The doctor walked her to the nurse’s station and handed her off to Nurse Silvio before returning to his patient.

***

He waited for the intern, then closed the door. “Take some notes, Parkins. The Accounting Office needs this data.” He lifted the face off the patient monitor. The false data kept reporting even as he set the cover aside.

The real monitor revealed different data. “Looks like he has about two-hundred thousand, eight-hundred heartbeats left,” he said.

Parkins asked, “What’s that put it at, Tuesday morning?”

“Seems about right. I’ll be in surgery that day. The old woman is all yours.”

“Gee, thanks.”

“It’s part of the job. You’ll have to get used to it.”

“Isn’t there anything else we can do for him?”

“Look at this number. His bank account will run out just about the time his heart fails.”

“The third graph shows his insurance is still strong.”

“Doesn’t matter. If he can’t pay his deductible, the hospital gets stung for that part. Accounting keeps this hospital in the black and I, for one, want it to stay that way. Our new monitors are really helping. They allow us to do everything possible while the patient can afford it. This bed needs to go to someone who can pay.”

“I don’t know, I mean it isn’t like Accounting has to talk to the grieving widow.”

“The accountants are in charge, no doubt. I think they may be a bit more generous in the wage department this year. The new monitors are allowing us to detect all kinds of surgical options. Just the other day, insurance authorized the removal of a gall bladder for a patient who’d had a motorcycle accident. Insurance paid full price for the surgery even though we already had her open to treat internal bleeding.”

“That’s a blessing, I suppose. My parents bought me a Camaro before I headed for college. That was nine years ago, and I’m still driving it. The passenger window is held up by duct tape now.”

“Tell you what, I’ll let you notify the mortuary. They pay a nice referral fee and you can keep it. It won’t replace your car, but it might let you fix the window.”

“I really appreciate it.”

“If the widow gives you a hard time, hook her up to a monitor. Maybe she has something insurance will cover in full.”

“Hope so, we already know she doesn’t have anything for the deductible.”

“You’re going to make a fine doctor one day, Parkins.”

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Filed under Short Stories & Vignettes

We go Spying With Lana, on Lisa Burton Radio

 

Welcome to another edition of Lisa Burton Radio. I'm your host, Lisa the robot girl, and we're having a little difficulty getting through to Hogwarts. Maybe we'll play some music while we wait. I have a Runaways album that's pretty awesome.

Wait, we have a caller. “Hello, You're on the air with Lisa Burton.”

“Hi, this is Lana, calling from an empty warehouse in the middle of nowhere. First time caller, long time listener.”

“Lana, as in Spying with Lana?”

“Alas, yes.”

<Squee> “Spying has to be such a glamorous lifestyle. Beautiful locations, pretty clothes, hanging out with high rollers. Maybe knocking down the casino at Monte Carlo.”

“That's what they tell me. I'm still waiting for the glamour part to kick in. I wonder if the Agency is giving the glamorous missions to someone else behind my back…..”

“Where are you now, and what's involved with this mission?”

“Your guess is as good as mine. Today I was in a warehouse waiting to meet some guy, but he never showed up, so now I'm in a warehouse not waiting for anyone. Sean probably doesn't even know where this story is going, which he really should, since they're pretty repetitive.”

“It must be a really important mission, or the Agency wouldn't have sent you.”

“Of course! Once I battled a team of assassins on a mission to get a refund for the Chief's defective laptop. And there was the time he accidentally sent me into the middle of a rebel uprising when I was supposed to be on vacation. He also once sent me undercover to take down an arms dealer that turned out to be an employee of the Agency, but that's hardly worth mentioning.”

“Sounds to me like you're under appreciated. Still, you get to wear all those cool outfits. You know, until they get destroyed.”

“Yes, unfortunately the wardrobe department has suffered a lot of casualties on my missions. While I have been known to, er… misplace a few clothes here and there, most of the time it isn't my fault! It seems like every time a get a cute new outfit, it ends up getting ripped, shredded, or torn right off! Oh well, I suppose that as long as I stay in one piece myself on these ridiculous missions I shouldn't complain.”

“Doesn't running around naked distract you from completing your mission?”

“Oh, one get's used to it, and on some missions it can be quite helpful, as you can imagine! Unless the mission is in someplace really cold, then… well, you can just imagine that, too. Or maybe not? Being a robot, you probably don't get cold; of course, you probably don't run naked through the snow with guard dogs chasing you very often, either.”

“I'm going to order some sexy spy clothes. I could totally pull off a Lana cosplay at the next convention I attend. If it's in Vegas, maybe I'll take down a casino in your honor.”

“Wow, really? I'd be flattered! I'd be even more flattered if you'd take my place in this crummy mission while I go to Vegas, but never mind that…..”

“It looks like we have a caller. Hello, you're on the air with Lisa and Lana.”

“Hey Lana, this is the Chief with an update on your mission. You're going to get a good laugh out of this, but the guy didn't want to meet in that warehouse after all! His name is Ware and he wanted to meet you at his house! I rescheduled the meeting for tomorrow since it's about a 12 hour bus ride to his house from where you are.”

“How long would it take to get to where you are and strangle you?”

“Oh, don't make such heavy weather over such a minor mistake. Besides, the nearest bus stop is only an hour's walk away! You'll be there in no time.”

“More like three hours with all the snow outside, but what's the difference, right? It's already a lousy day.”

“That's the spirit! And don't forget, the secret password is 'Sasquatch'. Don't let anyone know.”

“This isn't a secure line, you know. It's a radio show being broadcast all over the world.”

“Really? Oh… Well, I'll call you with a new password tomorrow.” <click>

“He's going to call the radio station tomorrow isn't he?”

“Yeah, most likely. But don't worry about it. It'll probably be the wrong password anyway.”

“I heard some of your old missions have been collected into a graphic novel. What can you tell me about that?”

“I'd rather forget about most of my missions, but Sean keeps collecting them in graphic novels. The latest one is called Sweet Dreams, and it contains some of my craziest missions yet. It even has some new pages and scenes in it that readers have never seen before (and I hope I never see again)! It sometimes irks me that Sean profits from my misery, but he doesn't profit very much so I suppose it's okay.”

“I still think it sounds glamorous. Cute shoes, pretty dresses, catsuits.”

“Yeah, I'm living the dream. Say, can you wire me some money for a bus ticket? I don't have any pockets in my outfit. Actually, I don't even have my outfit anymore. It's a long story….”

“Um, yeah, no problem. I'll collect your info off the air.”

***

Sean Harrington is an extremely versatile artist. He creates all the Lisa Burton art for me. He also has some cool art deco pieces, and does great motorcycles and cars (and biplanes).

He made the covers for Wild Concept, and The Playground. Check out the GTO on this cover:

Lana

Spying with Lana is a funny webcomic. I'm still laughing over the time she flipped a tank; who flips a tank? It has some mature themes, and occasionally takes spy sexiness a degree further. I love all the perspective, reflections, and blur in this Lana image. The gun is pretty cool too.

You can pick up a copy of Sweet Dreams at this site. He says right up front that it's for mature readers, and it is.

This is Sean's Tumblr, for those of you familiar with that platform.

This is the site where you can hire him for book covers. He's interested in doing more, and I've found him to be reasonable, reliable, and fast. I hadn't seen this new site until now, and was pretty excited to see Wild Concept among his promo pieces.

Every artist needs a DeviantArt site. That's where I found this Art Nouveau piece. Maybe something like that is more suitable for some genres.

Keep Sean in mind if you're shopping for a cover artist. If you would like one of your characters to be on Lisa Burton Radio, check out the page of the same name at the top of my blog.

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Filed under Lisa Burton Radio

The Idea Mill # 5

For newer readers, I save articles I find in a folder. These are articles that make me scratch my head and think about the fiction I write. When I have enough, I post another idea mill article. Let’s all speculate, shall we.

The first one is based on the eyesight of the mantis shrimp. This is a beautiful, but strange ocean creature with no real value to humans, beyond the esthetic. This story shows why the world’s odd creatures should be protected, and what might be lost when a species goes extinct.

It seems the mantis shrimp sees the world a bit differently than humans. It has to do with the way his eyes interpret polarizing light. Using this special skill, the mantis shrimp is capable of seeing human cancers. Cool, but how useful is that?

Scientists have built a camera that replicates shrimp vision. Rather than create another $10,000 procedure for insurance to pay, they seem to think it can become a smart phone app. This restores my faith in humanity, to a degree. Part of the article said shrimpie sees neurons. Since I’m a speculative fiction writer, this trips my trigger.

What about an app that goes down the police state path. Check someone out with your camera, and know whether they are a child abuser, rapist, or terrorist. Can you imagine picking your girl up for a date, and having to pass muster for her father under these circumstances? What if dating became more like qualifying for a loan. “Sorry bud, you have a predisposition for osteoporosis. I can’t inflict that on my future children.”

Read about the mantis shrimp here.

Our next story is something that could add some spice to a science fiction story. In fact, I may redesign this and include it in my current manuscript. Someone has designed, and built, a tiny camera drone. This one can snap around your wrist, like a bracelet. Read the article here, then we’ll speculate.

The design seems to indicate availability to the general public. What might happen if a pervert gets one of these? What if they start clusters of these on a pattern through our malls, schools, and airports? Maybe your amateur girl detective needs one of these to get herself into trouble. Could these cruise our workplaces and watch over our shoulders at every move we make? Maybe your bad guys want these locked in a safety deposit box, only to deploy after closing time. What would you write about these?

Next, it seems the U.S. Navy has built, and is about to deploy, a rail gun. This gun fires a projectile at seven times the speed of sound using an electro magnetic pulse. It has a considerable range and appears to be capable of pinpoint accuracy. This will allow replacement of million dollar missiles with $25,000 projectiles. Good news or bad news depends upon which end of the gun you happen to be on. Read the article here.

I recall a failed attempt to build a space gun. I may have posted this article in a previous Idea Mill. The U.S. tried for years to build a gun capable of launching items into orbit. The original is scrapped and rusting somewhere. The rail gun might see this become reality. What if we could launch a satellite for $25,000? Even a relatively small business could have a satellite in space. Could this mark the end of the cellular network? Would we all get satellite phones? What would this do to the Internet?

What if organized crime had its own satellite network? Would there be multiple internets forcing us to subscribe to several, like cable TV?

I have one of my Macabre Macaroni stories coming soon that references a space gun, only mine is a mortar.

The last one today is about Ebola. This one includes charts to show just how fast this disease spreads. Read about it here.

Ebola could become the Black Death of our era. Others have written about this, but if you write about a zombie virus or any kind of dystopian settings, you really ought to be watching this unfold. How is the world reacting and responding? Is anyone making money here? Does anyone want it to spread? Are the terrorists watching? Are we watching celebrities as the world crumbles?

PS: I changed my background early. I’m off to Coeur d’Alene for a week, and wanted access to my Mac for this.

Speculate with me people, what would you write?

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Filed under The Idea Mill, Writing