MAUDE MOLD #23 (2023/03/25)



by Stanley Lieber


tags: 1965, mars3, maude_mold, tab2

5 January.

The Bifröst flag flapped on the front of Maude’s new apartment building as she loaded old hard drives onto the little wooden shelf Plinth had mounted on her bedroom wall. Sometimes memories were good.

She secured the shelf with her thumbprint and locked her room. Spiro would still be at school, but he was far from the only little shit running around here. Some of them didn’t even bother with their classes. They probably got in here when she was gone. Wait ’til she caught one...

"For it is the lot of some men to be assigned duties about which they may not speak. Such work is not for every man. But those who accept the burdens implicit in this silent labor realize a camaraderie and sense of value known to few. These memories cannot be stolen. They will last always, untarnished, ever better."

TAB2’s stomach hurt. He removed his visor and tried to wipe the words away, but the unwanted message remained flashing in his near vision. God, Dad. Nearly two years past his installation date, he still wasn’t used to this thing. Not really. They were always fixing things in front of his eyes. And then there were the waves and currents of pixel floaters, miscegenating disparate objects and connecting the square dots in a confusing moire that—he’d rather be left alone. Some conclusions he still wanted to stave off.

He was here.

"Hey, Maude," he said, as the older woman squinted down at him and exhaled purple smoke directly into his face.

"Stay out of my room," she said, and slammed the screen door behind her.


MAUDE MOLD #22 (2023/03/24)



by Stanley Lieber


tags: 1965, mars2, spiro_mold, sue

1 October.

The transition was winding down. Families were expected to have vacated the mancamp by close of business on 31 December, tits and all. Get your shit and hit the door. Auld acquaintances were about to be forgot.

Transit betwixt MARS2 and MARS3 was reliable and cheap. Spiro had taken to making the trip on his days off from school. The new facility was still taking its first tentative steps on shaky newborn legs, so Spiro was able to ship himself back and forth several times a week and no one much missed him in class. It was a long trip, but at least the serpents had cable.

Spiro reclined on his cushioned seat, his bald head acquiescing to the mandatory imprint of a pink doily draped over top, representing the serpent’s last line of defense against human colonization. It hadn’t saved the rest of the seat. He decided to inspect the CATV once again for injection attacks before finally releasing himself entirely from liability. He flipped on the switch. For all his efforts he was unable to guarantee what might come out of the screen.

Presently there appeared an external view of the serpent (a visible descendant of last year’s school buses, but nobody who hadn’t been there would have recognized the fact), frame rate in sync with moments of unsupported transport when it broke contact with the ground and appeared to float, glowing genially above the cooling Martian sand. Such a display inspired the feeling of being stared at, and Spiro quickly switched it off.

"Welcome, Spiro," said Sue.

Spiro recognized her voice.


MAUDE MOLD #21 (2023/03/23)



by Stanley Lieber


tags: 1964, mars2, jerrymander_mold, santa_claus, tab2, trolls, ymir

25 December. Morning.

The children who didn’t believe in Santa Claus hadn’t minded at all when he got shot down. Trolls popping up everywhere; the Ymir giant suddenly coalescing out of thin ice; all of these things were of secondary importance to stabilizing the flow of behavioral surplus from farm, to table, to manager, who were themselves only following orders from higher up the chain. Simply put, the gods were out of ideas and needed to huff the secondhand exhaust of humans in order to to make themselves feel sane again. For their part the children were happy to oblige, interacting with the scenario in real time, calibrating the automatic urban legends until Santa had made himself all too obnoxious to the powers that be. And then the missiles had gone up.

"We’ve gotta get these guys back in their bubbles."

Jerrymander was still fiddling with his desktop settings. The ground flickered pink and then gray, pink and then gray, suggesting an impending aesthetic revelation that nevertheless continued to eluded Jerrymander’s conscious perception. TAB1 punched him in the arm to get his attention, inducing the (very) old man to rock in his Brooks Brothers shoes, the fist-shaped indentation slowly filling in as Jerrymander found himself inexplicably resisting the urge to complain.

The Gorgon defaults would have to do, for now.

They crossed the battlefield, trudging over mismatched limbs and disconnected appendages, gathering up whatever seemed to be in good enough condition to recard and sell as new. The layers of wack on wack crime baffled them—most of these idiots had killed each other, quite independent of the lightning from god—but this, too, was part of the job. The gods and trolls provided permanent OPFOR, serving as a foil for the observations of the children. They were not themselves the product, but merely its abandoned carcass.


MAUDE MOLD #20 (2023/03/22)



by Stanley Lieber


tags: 1964, mars2, santa_claus, tab2, trolls

24 December. Late.

"Yes, a lack of working capital is holding me back."

"No, I’m not clicking that."



Last Christmas, TAB2 had clicked. It had been a bit of a disaster, ultimately leading to his manager putting him on steps, and he’d never even claimed the working capital. This year, if he had anything to say about it, he wasn’t getting red teamed by H.R ever again. All of his contraband was safely squirreled away in the wall behind his manager’s desk, not even making animal noises or trying to chew through the drywall. He had gotten it done. No more tears.

The trolls lived under the hills which they cranked up in order to peer at the outside world. Dotting the Christmas desert were circular, sprinkled perforations marring the otherwise unblemished complexion of the winter frost, like Oreoes pitched into a glass of milk, or the hindquarter of the original prototype model of the Millennium Falcon. It looked good enough to eat (or play with), if the trolls had been into that sort of thing. As it was they hated Disney, and so they bided their time, staying hungry, which according to local slang must have been a good thing, but mostly just complained amongst themselves about products they intended to buy.

Across the surface of Mars hills clicked back into place as Santa’s sleigh swept the horizon. Chatter online indicated his craft had been spotted gleaming the frozen, shimmering atmosphere twenty minutes prior. All around the world children scrolled feverishly, scouring their Gorgon feeds for war or rumors of war.

I mean, why else would he possibly be here?


MAUDE MOLD #19 (2023/03/21)



by Stanley Lieber


tags: 1964, anomie, earth

24 December.

"The glitches are getting worse. I’m getting that black triangle again."

Anomie’s prediction products had failed to account for software instability. Which was ironic, he thought. He logged the observation.

Switched panes.

Headline: Stepwise slime mould growth as a template for urban design.

Yeah, right.

Back to work.


MAUDE MOLD #18 (2023/03/19)



by Stanley Lieber


tags: 1964, kintsugi, mancamp, mars2, maude_mold, ragnarok, sadbeard

31 October.

A black triangle fell from the sky, tumbling end over end into the Martian dust like a burnt Dorito discarded form the picnic table. Maude Mold happened to be looking up at the sky or else she would have missed the whole thing. Well, until it landed on her front lawn.

Glistening pink, the ship had looked completely black until it settled itself into a hover above the apartment building. Maybe it was all the smoke?

Maude’s ears popped.

The ship’s sleek active surfaces contracted, revolutionizing her shape, and two new pirates were birthed from her now gaping, now spasming triangular exit ramp, ejected onto the sand complete with back stories and half-completed missions, already in progress.

"Strangely modern-looking for a two thousand year-old ship, isn’t she?"

Sadbeard, leading off with his baroquely sculptured, swankly hairy chin dripping with petroleum products and the whale fat from his plate. He wrapped up his breakfast and tossed the paper bag over his shoulder. Straightened his eye patch for jokes and stories.

"Will no one rid me of these grits?"

Kintsugi hadn’t quite finished his own meal, but already he felt full. Slapped his half-full plate facedown against the side of the RAGNAROK’s hull, backjumping a quick wildstyle all over his mother as the contents migrated slowly below her water line. Crossed his arms and set his stance, regulation intimidating.

Shaken loose from her rapture, Maude led them both inside.


MAUDE MOLD #17 (2023/03/18)



by Stanley Lieber


tags: 1964, jerrymander_mold, mars2, tab1

31 October.


"This job is haunted. Resonating in its time-studied particulars with the ghosts of a hundred thousand early retirees, voluntary and otherwise."

Jerrymander crouched with his elbows digging into his knees, chin propped up on the heels of his hands, as TAB1 scooped shovel loads of action figures into the open burn pit. He inhaled the black smoke, savoring the highly collectible outgassing of all their useless, previous efforts.

"Every time a wave of them get fired, we turn around and hire a brand new batch. It would make more sense to hold onto the ones we’ve already prised from the sands."

Jerrymander inhaled deeply, internalizing the irony.

"Some of them are moving to the new facility," TAB1 said, heaving another shovel full onto the fire. "But most of these are peg warmers, anyway."

A gregarious black column of smoke twisting in the Martian wind was a regular feature of the scenery for employees long jaded by reportable environmental offenses, but this one seemed to be attracting local children.

Wearing... costumes?

"Halloween," TAB1 said, leapfrogging Jerrymander’s stillborn query.

TAB1 shoveled a single figure into each outstretched Halloween bag as the children filed by. Silent, in compliance with his filecard description, but not altogether unfriendly.

Jerrymander reached into his back pocket for the contract book.


MAUDE MOLD #16 (2023/03/16)



by Stanley Lieber


tags: 1964, mars2, tab2

30 October.

It wasn’t really as swift as all that. The process of migrating families would unfold over months, if not years, and not all of the projects were moving. Compartmentalization ensured that the workers’ ássumptions remained firmly speculative, even after they had been proven accurate. This did nothing to quell dissent amongst the student body.

"If I fail Facebook Analytics a third time I’ll be kicked out of the Army!"

TAB2 on intersectional economics.

His pink hoverboard (graphic: BUM RIDE) lazed sarcastically above the adolescent playground equipment, a pustulous yellow fiberglass turtle spotted with deep red accents, some cresting its faceted dome as if hesitant to be seen there, still playing on the playground after puberty. Several kids from his class huddled beneath the crude shell, squatting in the pea gravel, giggling uncontrollably at TAB2’s naive apprehension of the surveillance imperative. Every so often he would feign falling, waggle his arms and legs like a handsome man’s eyebrows, and thump the yellow turtle with the edge of his board. This would ricochet the kids into further paroxysms of laughter.

Already a tenure-track skeptic at the age of seven, TAB2 enjoyed unfettered access to his father’s opinions about the impending move, and so he was somewhat more relaxed than his classmates when it came to unanswered questions. That, and he knew he was safe. After all, he had orders.

He waved his hand through empty air, activating the pea gravel.

Placed a piece of Shitex gum in his mouth and smiled.


MAUDE MOLD #14 (2023/03/14)



by Stanley Lieber


tags: 1964, mars2, plinth_mold

31 October.

Authority is contextual. Mold Industries, Inc., had occupied a full hangar at the test site since the middle 1950s. Increased operations tempo had paid dividends, and today the corporation’s real estate holdings on Mars exceeded its competitors by a substantial margin. Just as well, security requirements at the test site had called for even more space than would otherwise have been strictly possible, given the dimensions of the Federal land withdrawal, in order to sustain compartmentalization of diverse projects. By now the process of authorizing Mold Industries land for official use had streamlined appreciably.

Plinth Mold sat at his desk in the center of his company’s original—now temporarily empty—hangar. Big orange jack-o’-lantern full of candy placed on the desk in front of him. Both front and back doors had been rolled completely open, and he stared hard at the horizon, miles distant, as the sun began to set. A chill breeze harried the back of his neck. Children both bewilderingly young and questionably old trudged along the runway in front of his hangar, collectively disguised by a stupifying sediment of official merch and self-made cosplay, nary an employee in sight.

Plinth tapped the sign on his desk, and presently a larger-scale version of the same thing illuminated outside his hangar.

RECYCLE CENTER, it read, just below the familiar Möbius strip designed in 1970 and subsequently trucked back to 1964 especially for use here, on Plinth’s building.

None of the children stopped by for treats, or even seemed to notice him sitting there. Curiously distracted by events further uprange.

But Plinth had another trick up his sleeve.


MAUDE MOLD #13 (2023/03/11)



by Stanley Lieber


tags: 1961, mancamp, mars2, maude_mold, odin, spiro_mold

2 October. Early.

Spiro let himself in and dropped his backpack on the living room floor. It had been a long walk home. He noticed the mess, of course, and at first he found himself reflexively stomping on the heavy metals and plastics, thinking there had been another impromptu invasion of cockroaches. Never fear, it was only more of Mom’s junk. Regardless, he’d still have to clean it all up. At least this would necessitate mandatory time off from the beige box, analytics be damned. He fetched the broom and pan from the utility closet and swept the pretty gore into the trash.

He decided against touching anything in the kitchen. Mom was going to be mad, but you had to draw the line somewhere, and his was drawn right in front of the pantsless man staring out the window at the transit of Phobos.

Heading down the hallway to his room he could hear her talking to someone via remote telepresence. Maybe his dad?

"I can come over there, but not every single day. When I am there you don’t want to hear anything I have to say. I feel like I’m in the way. Why are you even paying me? Anyway, I’ve heard Lockheed has poisoned the well."

He could see through the crack in her door that she was fiddling with her glove, trying to get the thing off, but, leveraging its monopoly on decision power, it wasn’t budging. He saw her set down her cigarette and take her ungloved hand and give the finger to her gloved hand. Shortly afterward her conversation seemed to terminate. Played to extinction, the glove finally released its previously consensual grip and slid onto its charger, which she promptly kicked off the dresser onto the floor.

Spiro moved quickly down the hall to his room.

He had survived his birthday, only just.


MAUDE MOLD #12 (2023/03/10)



by Stanley Lieber


tags: 1961, Æsir, mancamp, mars2, maude_mold, odin, plinth_mold

1 October.

The nascent lifeform on the kitchen floor never made it off of the linoleum. Odin stood transfixed as his actions fell into sync with the MIRV lightning uprange. He was still staring out the window over the kitchen sink when Plinth strolled in, crushing his spent cigarette on the floor, inadvertently (?) putting a stop to the áss aborning.

Odin remained frozen in time, furiously willing himself to invisibility, and, at last, in spite of the sudden feeling of powerlessness over his predicament that had so enraptured him, it seemed to work. "Azure, two clouds proper, one issuing from sinister chief and one issuing from dexter base, a cubit arm in armour in bend, issuing from the sinister, the hand grasping a branch of olive proper, and three lightning flashes gules," he muttered. Plinth didn’t seem to notice him as he stepped over the mess and strode casually into the living room.

"Where is the child?" he asked Maude, raising an eyebrow at the destroyed PC, but notably, not actually raising the subject. If pressed he would have to admit he didn’t even know what a PC was.

"Out," Maude said, pawing at the air with a gloved hand as she spoke. Scrolling, he guessed. "Did you hear Jack Northrop has left the planet?"

Plinth repaired to their shared bedroom, scene of oh so many crimes, where he opened the wall safe and retrieved a wax cylinder. He carried this out of the room in a brown paper bag, looking like nothing so much as a very rich man condescending to the liquor store himself, owing to some screw-up with the staff. He lit up another cigarette off of the cherry Maude extended with her solitary ungloved hand.

He remembered that hand, considered its uses.

Maude seemed distracted, so he left her to it.

He left the apartment.


MAUDE MOLD #11 (2023/03/09)



by Stanley Lieber


tags: 1961, Æsir, mars2, maude_mold, odin

1 October.

Maude felt bad. Odin was the áss. He’d knocked over Spiro’s computer, destroying the CRT, and, most likely, the CPU. Buckling-spring keyswitches lay strewn about the dining room carpet. She’d have a hard time returning the thing, now. Oh, well, there were probably more disused units back at Plinth’s office. Nobody would notice if she made off with another one.

But first she had to get rid of Odin.

Maude reviewed the uncontract. No, there was nothing here but code. Either the operation completed without error or it didn’t. Undo had not been implemented.

A crash from the kitchen. Odin’s wide-load elbows again, flapping like a lot lizard working the passenger door on a big rig. The microwave, she guessed.

There wasn’t much time to get him out of the apartment and to fold up the plastic tarpaulin from on top of the couch. Forensic hygiene was already a lost cause. Maude knew the jig was up, but fully-automated adultery had never been a sport for quitters.

Odin ripped off the spoiled condom and lobbed it into the kitchen trash. The little yellow trash can reeled from the impact of his heavy load, biting its lip in mute perseverance. It wobbled from side to side, finally tipping to the floor and surrendering its contents across the fractal remains of the microwave, pretty as you please, in precisely the kind of artistic flourish that had been forever lacking in Odin's married life.

The hair on the back of his legs stood up.


MAUDE MOLD #10 (2023/03/08)



by Stanley Lieber


tags: 1961, mars2, piro, spiro_mold, tab2, wendy_melvoin

1 October.

Part of the contract was picking up a few undergraduate classes between milk runs. The transports puked them out, and Piro got on with teaching them to read. Or, rather, to think. No refunds.

"Mr. Bright! Mr. Bright!"

Piro pushed his milk bottle glasses back up his nose, bringing the noisy youth into sharper focus. He knew this child of old. Like all of the other students here, this specimen was the progeny of specialists stationed at the test site. In this case, his sometimes partner, TAB1.

That would make this child TAB2.

"This discussion software suuucks. I get an e-mail notification about a new reply in the thread, but the embedded link only takes me to the top of the discussion page, not to the actual post in the thread that by now has hundreds of replies. How is this supposed to work?"

Piro waited for him to finish complaining.

"Participation in the discussion represents one third of your final grade. Your initial discussion post must address at least one of the discussion board topic questions. Respond to at least three other students by either strengthening or weakening their argument. For full credit, all initial posts must be between one hundred to two hundred fifty words and include supporting references where appropriate. Please submit your initial post by Wednesday at 23:59 and all follow-up posts by Sunday at 23:59. The discussions grading rubric is used for this assignment."

"That was... totally unresponsive," TAB2 said.

Piro dinged his helmet.

"Figure it out."

Spiro, observing placidly in his sniper’s blind near the back of the classroom, decided against making a snide comment.

Just then the bell rang, and everyone turned over their desks, clambered outside to climb all over the school’s rusty old SU-27, on static display at the playground since the Bush administration. Their milk had all spilled, and papers were blowing out of the open door, likewise reminiscent of security during the Bush era. Piro kept these observations to himself.

Students egressed, Ms. Melvoin entered smoothly, nursing a hot coffee in an X-Men mug, presumably non-alcoholic.

"Those kids are going to fall off of that thing and bust their asses," she said.

Piro stared at her over his glasses.

"No SU-27 has ever killed an American."


MAUDE MOLD #9 (2023/03/07)



by Stanley Lieber


tags: 1961, Æsir, mars2, tab1

1 October. Early.

The Æsir had founded the test site. Discovered it, he guessed. It was here before he was, put it that way. Cold at night. TAB1 scanned the desert and imagined the flat plane of frost resolving into a three thousand word SPIN cover story about Juliana Hatfield. He remembered reading this. She’d gained favor with some áss up the chain, and now every time words were committed to paper her name must needs be mentioned. All right.

Completely unlike his own assignment here. He’d backtrack across the blank desert, unknowingly carrying out the same tests and capturing the same data that had not been properly preserved so many times before. Nobody would be reading his reports, either. Whatever product this was supporting had better be good.

It was snowing.


MAUDE MOLD #8 (2023/03/04)



by Stanley Lieber


tags: 1961, fng, mars2, maude_mold, spiro_mold

29 September.

"Get out, I’m fucking the new guy."

Maude shut the door in Spiro’s face. He heard the click of the lock, her hand slipping away from the doorknob. He waved his own hand in front of the sensor, and there at his own front door nothing happened. Frowning, he tightened the straps on his backpack and kicked rocks back to the bus stop.

It would be a while yet before the transports finished delivering students and cut back over to commercial traffic. He decided to walk the four miles to the edge of the dead zone, where he could get decent bandwidth to Earth. Not that he expected good news...

Maude resumed the living room, wearing little more than the smirk Spiro would always associate with her face. Her cigarette dangled even as her satin robe clotted around her ankles, joining our program already in progress. FNG was staring, discombobulated, or else he might have thought to ask who had been at the door. As it was he almost remembered why he was here.

Maude straddled him, still smirking. It almost seemed as if her face was stuck that way.

"Give me that cigarette," FNG said, swiping it out of her mouth and clamping his own rough lips around its machine-printed silhouette.

Maude shrugged in the nude, with FNG’s hands all over her.

Oh, yes.


MAUDE MOLD #7 (2023/03/03)



by Stanley Lieber


tags: 1961, mars2, jerrymander_mold, tab1

10 August.

"The voices say I’m crazy, but fuck those guys."

Jerrymander, perpetually shifting shapes in the dirt. This time he’d brought along tools. A stiff-bristled brush and a cigar large enough to deform his speech, which ended up being irrelevant to his purposes, anyway. So far this morning he’d excavated a man-sized plot off the north end of the runway. Oblivious to the optics, he squatted in his usual peculiar posture, twerking gently in time with his near-continuous verbalizations. Finally he stood up, dusting the residual carcass of Mars from his prize.

Presented it for comment. THE JOURNAL OF AUTODIDACTIC STUDIES, SELF-PUBLISHED. September, 1977 issue. Nobody said a word.

"Completes the set!" he finally shouted into the rising wind. This had apparently been a long time coming. Years ago he had mailed his last copy of the issue to someone who’d expressed vague interest online, and now he’d finally recovered an intact example. Here, of all places.

As usual, TAB1 was minding his elder. The man was typically confused. He glanced at the novelty publication but was unable to muster much interest in light of the day’s slate of higher-priority activities. There was too much he had to keep track of, and owing to this latest distraction he was already certain he was forgetting something important. No room in local storage to form novel affinities.

Jerrymander flicked his cigar towards the runway, where it skittered tentatively across the tarmac like an experimental aircraft ready to drop its overclocked propulsion and collapse into a heap of foul-smelling tobacco ash. Rolled up the key back-issue and shoved it into his back pocket. Then he walked over to the edge of the runway and retrieved the still-smoldering cigar butt, plugged it back into his mouth, and secured a firm seal on the shaft as if he’d never spit it out.

"What do you want from me?" he said, blowing a chemtrail of perfectly round smoke rings into TAB1’s face.

He knew TAB1 was obliged to follow him anywhere.


MAUDE MOLD #6 (2023/03/02)



by Stanley Lieber


tags: 1961, mars2, spiro_mold, sue

10 August.

These colors don’t run. The familiar red, white, and blue flag of the Russian Federation over the slogan, a bumper sticker some smartass had stuck to the side of the school bus. Spiro waved his hand over the sensor and climbed aboard.

Kids were packed in like too many comics in a short box. There were no empty seats. Instinctively, Spiro turned to the bus driver, but this was an optionally manned vehicle. He sat down in the arbitrary driver’s seat.

After a prolonged period of setbacks both fiscal and technical, the new school buses had progressed from nighttime to daytime operations, migrating out of the black at least partially into the white world. Students still needed to be moved from their apartments in the mancamp to their classrooms over in the next county, and someone up the chain had hit upon the idea of putting them (the school buses, not the students) to honest work. One thing had led to another, and after an extended litigation in which it looked like the primary contractor’s preference for Ghost Gray might carry the day, the transports were all painted School Bus Yellow and deployed to the south end of the range.

It seemed to be going well.

Spiro had not been apprised of any of this. But he also didn’t know that the school buses were only one variant out of seventeen separate models derived from the same airframe during the past five years. All of which were referred to as "Sue," in honor of the Soviet-era Sukhoi SU-27, an aircraft that had first flown in 1977, and was somehow still generating new model variants even after time had rolled over and then righted itself back to 1961. This might also have explained the Russian flag, come to think of it.

Sue was Spiro’s school bus.

"You’re sitting on my outfit," Sue said, and Spiro obligingly migrated down the aisle in a vain effort to locate a vacant seat that did not in fact seem to exist.


MAUDE MOLD #5 (2023/03/01)



by Stanley Lieber


tags: 1961, mars2, fng, jerrymander_mold, tab1

9 August. Late.

FNG’s first day at the test site had proven somewhat anticlimactic. The very first thing TAB1 had told him was not to get too comfortable because the project would likely be winding down soon. This had elicited a snort from Jerrymander Mold. Or, maybe that was just the cocaine.

The transports had seemed fine. None had completed an actual test milestone, as of yet, but he could see from the fact they were riding around all over the range inside of them that the test program must be well and truly underway. Surely he hadn’t been brought all the way out here only to be shipped right back home?


TAB1 was in his ear every morning with a fresh itinerary. This, this, and that. FNG didn’t understand the insistence on voice communications. Nothing was ever written down. How did they keep it all straight?

The visor was already gouging a deep canyon into the bridge of his nose. To dilapidate a metaphor. He always wanted to take it off but he found he kept having to slip it back on in order to accept a call from one of his coworkers. Finally he just kept it on.

There had been little discussion of what he was and was not allowed to talk about with his neighbors in the mancamp. FNG was appalled at the lack of protocol, in general, but who was there to complain to, on Mars? He was the fucking new guy. People here just seemed to stumble around wherever they liked. Usually, it seemed to him, chaperoned solely by their vices, which were numerous and exotic far beyond Jerrymander’s quaint Earth practices.

FNG had managed to get a pretty good look at this place from the air.

He decided to venture downrange.


MAUDE MOLD #4 (2023/02/28)



by Stanley Lieber


tags: 1961, mars2, spiro_mold, qualia

9 August.

Spiro led the dog on its leash, which he’d read was a mistake. But otherwise they’d never have made it out of the front yard, so he accepted that he contained multitudes. Qualia paid no attention to his commands, and had hardly touched her food. He didn’t know what to do with her, but he couldn’t let her shit in the apartment, and his mom didn’t want it in the yard, either.

Activity uprange. Spiro reversed direction.

One drawback of living in the mancamp was proximity to all the strange goings-on that he wasn’t supposed to know about, which at times included literal high-powered explosions. Spiro was for some reason technically authorized to access all areas, but he wasn’t supposed to venture uprange unannounced, and he knew for a fact they didn’t want dog shit on the runway. He led the dog away from the access road and out onto the unformatted desert. The morning sun had finally dispersed all the gray. Everything was once again back to normal. Wall to wall pink, all along the way.

Qualia shit in the soft sand.

"Good girl," Spiro said.

She wasn’t doing it for him.


MAUDE MOLD #3 (2023/02/25)



by Stanley Lieber


tags: 1961, mars2, fng, jerrymander_mold, spiro_mold, tab1

9 August.

So, in the middle of his blowjob he looks up and expects to see, like, a bunch of dead grey rock and shit, right?

Hunt-uh. This was not what he expected, right?

He near to smashed every switch on his control board when he finally saw it. There, down in a rather large crater on the dark side of the moon, was the biggest resort hotel he had ever seen. Actually, it looked to him like there was a whole little town down there, right? So he drew his craft in closer from the night sky, to get a closer look at whatever the fuck was going on.

He barely pulled away in time to miss being disintegrated by the deflector shield. Coming by on another, more liberally distanced pass, his sensors informed him that there was what appeared to be a giant plexi-plastic bubble over the city. A sort of glass ceiling, if you will.

So, what does he do? Why, he blasts a hole in it, of course.

Down on the ground, a little boy had let his dog out to see a man about a horse. He was standing there, in his backyard, looking up at the night sky, when he sees this guy’s craft come crashing through the bubble.

Well, the craft’s blasters apparently hadn’t been enough to handle the bubble’s natural bio-genic feedback, and so he was sent hurdling to the surface. The craft touched down in the boy’s neighbor’s (who weren’t home at the time) backyard. The child raced over, but his dog hadn't finished pissing, see? All over his Asics.

The boy and his dog found the charred remains of this guy and his mistress, right? So he runs home, and his folks (first thing) get a hold of the press.

Next day. The headline reads:


Now. Where’s my cocaine?

FNG looked around. TAB1 was still staring straight up, sans visor, peering through the pink clouds at some distant, though persistently incoming pink object. No one had brought any cocaine.

"No one brought any cocaine," he said.

"I spoke but rhetorically," Jerrymander sighed. He leaned down and snorted the ground, his two nostrils presently caked with sand.

About a mile downrange Spiro had set out with his dog.