Inky, Blinky, Pinky, Nyarlathotep
by Nick Mamatas
Newspace was a lot like old space. Well, posters of old space stacked atop one another and constantly shuffled and re-shuffled. In the little waffle-iron spacecraft was the thunderous Niagara, any number of mansions on emerald hills, all piled up in a corner with Escheresque staircases going downwise and anti-spinward, marmalade skies and airships in the shape of giant, open-mouthed fish, the Pyramids of Egypt poking out from every horizon, and long, dark hallways in blue-and-purple neon everywhere, absolutely everywhere, as this is what the New Ones thought VR would look like, back when they were all children.
And the New Ones had fun playing like children. As it turns out, virtually all problems faced by Humanity, save the million-year war with the Old Ones, were resource problems. No Old Ones, no resources, no problems. Virtually no problems, anyway, which is an awful pun, it’s true. So, the New Ones spent their days naked and immortal, writing songs no fleshy ear could comprehend, inventing new languages to describe disembodied emotional states, engaging in virtual nucleic exchange and reproducing wildly to the humming databases, with beings unheard of and indescribable.
The waffle iron was busy, too. Zipping around space and whatnot, eating dark matter and printing copies of itself, in case something happened to it. And oh, yes, something was happening to it. Naturally, the poor little waffle iron didn’t quite understand that the something happening was the drive to laze-lathe meteoroids into replicas of itself. Oh, and then, within the guts of the waffle iron, ghosts started showing up everywhere, upsetting and terrifying the New Ones with their googly eyes and their siren howls. And they loved to eat the New Ones. Beautiful, tow-headed, pink children with cloth diapers and bows in their wispy hair. Lovely children with rich, brown skin and smiles to light up a room. Obnoxious children who sat on the couch all day, pretending to kill with their minds for fun. Children who flailed their hands about and slammed their heads against the wall because they saw the wrong kind of penny. Ghosts were indiscriminate—the ugly and the exquisite both were consumed, leaving naught but wrinkled husks behind.
You have to realize that words like eyes and children, and even husks, make little sense; it’s being dumbed down for you and the quaint bag of chemical reactions you keep in that bone bowl. We’re talking a density matrix, here. So, when a character is introduced, as one is about to be, understand that you’d be just as accurate, were you to imagine her as a blurry, yellow ball of light floating around in a black field, instead of as a person. Which is to say, you’d be much more accurate, after all.