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Salon Magazine

I wrote this story for a meeting of the Turkey City Writers Workshop at Bruce Sterling’s house in Austin, Texas. The critiques there really helped me whip it into shape, and Salon published it soon after.

The story is based on a bunch of stuff that is really going on now: Indian bands in Canada are really experimenting with high-powered cognitive radios to allow for unlimited wireless communication, despite Canadian federal laws that prohibit this; wireless hackers are really figuring out how to make radios that are so much more efficient than today’s devices as to make them look like tinker-toys.

The tiny multinational lumbered across the Niagara Falls border in its tour bus, Lee-Daniel at the wheel, sipping iced mocha from the flexible straw threaded through the eyelets on his jacket. All the way since the Akwesahsne debacle, he’d been steadily consuming the lethal blend of bittersweet chocolate and espresso and reciting mnemonic sleep-dep chants. But after twenty straight hours he was in deadly danger of falling straight to sleep and head-onning the bus into a Jersey barrier. Or a bullet train. Or a minivan.

On U.S. soil, he pulled the bus over at a temporary roadhouse and set the handbrake. He eased off the driver’s perch, chafing his narrow ass to get the blood flowing, and gave forth a drawn-out “gaaaah” as pins and needles stabbed his sweat-marinated muscles. He heard the multinational rousing itself behind him. First, the major investors in the front row. Then the rest of the board of directors in the row behind them. Then four rows of middle managers and finally the great mass of frontline workers, techs, customer service reps, troubleshooters, antennamen, switchwomen, chicken pluckers and left-handed bottle stretchers.

Lee-Daniel flipped the windows to transparent and let the sun shine in, provoking groans from the corporation. MacDiarmid, the angel investor who’d been in since the multinational had been able to fit in a sedan, threw a strong arm around Lee-Daniel’s shoulders. “You OK?” he said. The tone had phony solicitousness. MacDiarmid had been a stand-up guy through half a dozen disasters, from hostile takeover attempts to roadblocks to high-speed engine failure, and Lee-Daniel knew a fake when he heard it.

“I’m fixing to lay down and die,” Lee-Daniel said, stretching theatrically, his pipe-cleaner arms straining.