“Nah. Big bastard probably wishes it could though. We’d be
sooo fucked though if it did, could you bloody imagine?” Buck gives you a
meaningful look, then smiles.
You laugh. It all
seems so strange; stuff you never thought possible just laid out of for you so
clearly. ‘A deal well struck,’ you think.
“There’re a lot of other things people think the old Slug’s
kin can do. But they can’t really. That Beast didn’t need none of that fancy
Hollywood shit when it fucked the King up good and proper. No sir, just waltzed
in and stirred the Elsewhere up like you wouldn’t believe. Weren’t even meant
to be here in the first place,” said Buck.
He looked sad for a
second. Staring at the ground, his golden eyes glittering with old memories. You
almost feel sorry for him.
‘It’, you correct yourself. Not ‘him’.
At first glance, you
might’ve described the thing that called itself Buck as a person. But once you
had a closer look (if you were an idiot), you would quickly realise that Buck
was too perfect. He looked photoshopped; an immaculate black man with flawless
features, that smiled and moved just like a person. But Buck was not a person.
“And, yeah, now it’s just sitting around. Under the old
English building, doing fuck all. Lazy prick.”
Buck smiles again
and looks at you.
“Anything else you’d like to know, kiddo?” he says.
You think for a
“Yeah, actually. You mentioned…” You resist the urge to rub
the iron nail resting in your back pocket, “…the King. Is that like, um, I mean
I’ve heard about the Royalty and the…”
“The Queen?” Buck nods, his eyes flit around for a second,
searching the shadows with fierce glowing eyes. To you, it seems like it’s just
the two of you, but you can’t be sure.
“Sorry Pumpkin, not really my story to tell. Always a bigger
fish, and all that. Bigger teeth. You understand.”
You frown, a little disappointed, but you decide not to push
your luck any further. If even half the rumours you’ve heard about the Royalty and
the Queen are true, then you suppose that not knowing might be for the best.
“Um, no, in that case that’s all I’ve got, I think,” you
You double check
-Ask about the Good Neighbours (check)
-Where they came from (check)
-What they are (check)
-Why Elsewhere University? (check)
-What else was out there (double check; you just know you’ll
be having nightmares for months)
-The Royalty (better luck next time)
Buck was very
thorough with answering all your questions. For hours, the two of you had
explored all the angles and details of your queries with a forthrightness that
surprised you. The Fair Folk weren’t known for their candour. But then again,
that had been part of the bargain you’d made.
“Excellent. Glad I could help you out.”
Buck’s smile widens,
but in a human way. Not the ear-to-ear grin that you’ve seen from some of the
“Your turn now,” he says, “I kept my side of the bargain.”
“Oh. Shit, yeah.” You hesitate for a moment.
“Come on, just one kiss.”
The deal was one
kiss for all the answers to any question you could every want an answer to.
You’d brought a list to remind you, so you couldn’t leave with anything left
out. You’d found Buck, one of the more ‘human’ of the Fair Folk, and broached
an exchange with strict guidelines.
“One kiss. And I leave this meeting in the same condition
that I arrived, no funny business. That’s what we agreed.” You say, nervous and
sweating, your heart pounding now.
Buck rests his hand
on your shoulder, you feel almost at ease by this very human gesture.
“I know, don’t worry. No changes of any kind. You’ll leave
this meeting the same way you came. Mind, spirit, and body. I gave my word,” he
says, “now pucker up.”
You close your eyes
and he kisses you. Bucks lips are cold and clammy, pressed against yours. He
tastes like sour milk and rust, and you try not to gag.
He pulls away. You
realise that you’ve been holding your breath.
“You taste great. Minty. I like it,” you hear Buck say.
You open your eyes.
A sharp wetness hits
your pupil and the world blurs, stinging, as you blink franticly. It burns. It
throbs with an icy burn that blisters the insides of your lids. You rub at the
pain furiously and your palms come away wet with tears and fairy spit.
Then you squint
around, searching amongst the unfocused, too bright haze of Elsewhere
University, looking for Buck. You keep blinking, the pain recedes and you can
finally see with a vague clarity. The focus sharpens suddenly and you can see
Elsewhere for what it truly is.
You babble inanely
for a moment as your eyes stream, still tender with a dull ache. Madness
tickles at the edge of your mind. Shards of light and torrents of shadow swirl
about you. Eyes of all shapes and colours gleam out at you, attached to faces
born of pure insanity.
Buck smiles at you. The smile breaks, exploding with golden teeth, his body covered in filthy,
matted fur. It is no longer even remotely human, with fur that bubbles like
molten tar and drips like oil, ever changing. Long leathery fingers reach out
“Don’t worry. You’ll leave in the same condition that you
arrived. Mind, spirit, and body. But in the meantime,” Buck’s golden eyes flare
“Fancy another kiss?”
You awake on your
back. Staring at a dazzling sun, you wince. Thinking for a moment you remember
what you were supposed to do. You’d brought a list after all. You’d thought
Now all that is left
is to find the Other they call Buck.
There’s been some interesting developments recently in adversarial training, but I thought it would probably be a good idea to first talk about what adversarial images are in the first place. This Medium article by @samim is an accessible explanation of what’s going on. It references this talk by Ian Goodfellow, asking if statistical models understand the world.
Machine learning can do amazing magical things, but the computer isn’t looking at things the same way that we do. One way to exploit that is by adding patterns that we can’t detect but that create enough of a difference in the data to completely fool the computer. Is it a dog or an ostrich?
The good humans at Goodfellow Family Cellars are some of my fave humans ever. They make such good juice. Brown pears, browning apples, lemons, and green herbs on the nose. Pear, apple, waxy lemon, and vanilla on the palate wth a mineral finish and fresh, crisp acidity. Yum!
Yes, I’m a Summer fey and I’ll be the first to complain how hot it is, goddamn it. Just because I live in a land of eternal sweltering heat doesn’t mean I have to like it. Now move over, you’re blocking the fan.