(with Charlie Stross)
Forthcoming in ReVisions
This is the third collaboration I've written with Charlie Stross -- the other two are Flowers From Alice and Jury Service.
This time around, though, we're doing it in public, using a Movable Type blog. We're exposing the whole process to the public, letting everyone see (and participate in!) the writing process.
The cops caught Roscoe as he was tightening the butterfly bolts on the dish antenna he'd pitoned into the rock-face opposite the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. They were State Troopers, not Fed radio cops, and they pulled their cruiser onto the soft shoulder of the freeway, braking a few feet short of the soles of his boots. It took Roscoe a moment to tighten the bolts down properly before he could let go of the dish and roll over to face the cops, but he knew from the crunch of their boots on the road-salt and the creak of their cold holsters that they were the law.
"Be right with you, officers," he hollered into the gale-force winds that whipped along the rockface. The antenna was made from a surplus pizza-dish satellite rig, a polished tomato soup can and a length of co-ax that descended to a pigtail with the right fitting for a wireless card. All perfectly legal, mostly.
He tightened the last of the bolts, squirted them with lock-tite, and slid back on his belly, off the insulated thermarest he'd laid between his chest and the frozen ground. The cops' heads were wreathed in the steam of their exhalations, and one of them was nervously flicking his -- no, *her* -- handcuffs around on her belt.
"Everything all right, sir?" the other one said, in a flat upstate New York accent. A townie. He stretched his gloved hand out and pulled Roscoe to his feet.
"Yeah, just fine," he said. "I like to watch winter birds on the river. Forgot my binox today, but I still got some good sightings."
"Winter birds, huh?" The cop was giving him a bemused look.
The cop leaned over the railing and took a long look down. "Huh. Better you shouldn't do it by the roadside, sir," he said. "Never know when someone's going to skid out and drive off onto the shoulder -- you could be crushed." He waved at his partner, who retreated into the steamy warmth of the cruiser. "All right, then," he said. "When does your node go up?"
Roscoe smiled and dared a wink. "I'll be finished aligning the dish in about an hour. I've got line of sight from here to a repeater on a support on the Rainbow Bridge, and from there down the Rainbow Street corridor. Some good tall buildings there, line of sight to most of downtown, at least when the trees are bare. Leaves and wireless don't mix."
"My place is 4th and Walnut. Think you'll get there?" Roscoe relaxed imperceptibly, certain now that this wasn't a bust.