MONTAG SHORT FICTION #008
MONTAG publishes curious short fiction, exploring our strange future and what it will feel like when we get there. They take the technology you're interested in as a starting point and show where it might take us. The stories are outré, evocative, and atypical; they're also closer to today than you think.

We're now surrounded by easy-access information and questions are answered in moments thanks to the ubiquity of internet-connected smartphones. In the this fictional future of Rijnkileak, information can be stored directly onto chips implanted in the brain – but what happens if that information gets corrupted?


Born July 15, 1606, in Leiden, in the Dutch Republic now known as the Netherlands, as the ninth child of his family.

Of course I got the chip.

I was so excited not to have to carry a huge ugly backpack like a turtle and exacerbate my scoliosis – and those wheeled backpacks look so lame.

His mother was Roman Catholic and came from a family of bakers, and his father was a miller who belonged to the Dutch Reformed Church.

I pirated my textbooks, we all did.

Information is wicked expensive, and we told our parents that we could share them, or borrow them from the library.

He apprenticed with the artist Jacob van Swanenburgh and was also a student of Pieter Lastman.

I had a major migraine right after they put it in, it hurt like hell, but they said that was normal.

A day after, the pain went away, and they said I could start uploading.

He opened his first art studio at 19 and began teaching at the age of 21.

Their faces flash through my mind constantly: those dark, earthy backgrounds; the chiaroscuro; pale dutch faces with ruddy potato noses and pointed beards floating above lacy ruffs and under big black hats.

In 1631 he moved to the city of Amsterdam where he started his professional career painting portraits.

I remember that afternoon I went to a shake shack with friends.

Emily got the chip too, and she helped me braid my hair to cover the patch of scalp they shaved to put in my implant behind my right ear.

We laughed about how much easier it was going to be for us to get into college - we could learn in our sleep!

Militia Company of District II under the Command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq, also known as The Shooting Company of Frans Banning Cocq and Willem van Ruytenburch, 363 cm by 437 cm, completed 1642, is his most celebrated work.

I set up Transmission that night before bed and clicked into my uploading port for the first time.

The Life and Works of Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn was streaming in from a network of unknown peers, and would finish downloading in time for art history class the next day.

The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp depicts the Dutch surgeon and the later mayor of Amsterdaman Dr. Nicolaes tulp holding an anatomy lesson on the corpse of the executed criminal Aris Kindt. 216.5 cm by 169.5 cm, completed in 1632

I shouldn’t have been so calm about letting strangers’ raw data in my head.

But it was surprisingly easy to get to sleep while packets of information streamed in.

The Storm on the Sea of Galilee is his only known seascape and a brilliant example of his propensity for biblical themes, 160 cm by 128 cm, completed 1633

I woke up and knew I had a leak: his face was all I could see in my mind’s eye.

He’s holding his palette and brushes, with his weird crumpled off-white cap; looking at once both stoic and jolly.

Scholars now believe, by analyzing 36 of his almost 100 self-portraits, that he suffered from stereo blindness.

Self-portrait, 1629, 44cm by 34 cm; Self-portrait wearing a white feathered bonnet, 1635, 90.5 cm by 71.8 cm; Self-portrait with beret and turned-up collar, 1659, 84.4 cm by 66 cm

It doesn’t really bother me. I'm not going to go crazy or anything.

It’s kind of like having an earworm, or a song stuck in your head.

In 1634, he married his art dealer Hendrik van Uylenburgh’s cousin (although some sources say she was his niece) Saskia van Uylenburgh.

But obviously I couldn’t tell my parents I’d been pirating straight to my chip, they’d freak.

And they say everyone’s a little leaky, they’re still working on figuring out how to keep data from flowing freely between the chip and brain reliably.

I’m sure when I upgrade I’ll stop involuntarily regurgitating information.

Died October 4, 1669, outliving his wife and only son.

At least, I hope so.

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