Monday, February 27, 2006

Erm ... question time.

So ... what's happening with this Blog then?
Does anyone have any fresh ideas as to how we can make it work better than it is doing?
Would you all prefer to post your stories on your own blogs?
Has the original story gone as far as it can? Are you all fed up with the concept?
Should I give this a face lift, license it (the creative commons thing), start again, change the format ... I need input, else I think I will delete it.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

This Mortal Coil

I've just posted this over on my blog, but would be interested in reading anything anyone has to add to the story. I've really no idea where it might go.Hopefully some one else will, and hopefully Luke won't mind me starting a new story.

Little background: The beginning of the story came when i was listening to This Mortal Coil's You and Your Sister, which is also where the title came from. But apart from providing a couple of lines that song has no real relation to the plot. So far. I suppose if someone knows the song and wants to write it in then they will.




“Let me whisper in your ear.”

The voice is low and breathy, inviting and yearning. All I have to do is nod my head. Assent and all this… this, I hesitate to call it an annoyance. That is too weak a term, too little an emotion for what I experience. Part of me wants to name it Torment. Desire. Hell. That is the other extreme, and while possibly, maybe, the truth it suggests I’m a drama queen. And worse. Much worse. Hints at madness.

I’m not mad. They may say so. Hearing voices isn’t exactly sane but - Well I have no comeback to that now do I?

I can’t remember when I first heard this voice. Just that one day I realised that the soft sound in the background was not the leaves rustling in the wind. Nor the mindless chatter of someone else’s radio. No easy-to-explain sound, but a voice only I could hear. I did what I think anyone would do. I ignored it. Persuaded myself that my over-active imagination was playing tricks on me. I can’t think that any longer. Was fooling myself.

“Don’t you worry they can’t hear”

I know that! That’s the problem. All I want is to be left alone. Let me have my normal life back. When I didn’t hear you tell me what you want. What you need. I hate you!

I hate you. Hate you.

But. I want to give in. Want to agree. My friends have failed me. Every day. Just as you said. Does that prove you right? Or am I mad? If I’m mad they haven’t failed me. They’ve acted in my best interest. The best interests of a crazy person.

No. I don’t want to believe that. I’m rational. I know I am. If only I knew what you wanted. Then maybe I could stop my feeble attempts at ignoring you and fight you instead. Or help you. But I don’t know what you want. All you are doing is making me suffer.

Enough! I told myself, promised myself, I would ignore you. That means no asking what you want. You aren’t real. Not real, if I repeat it maybe I’ll believe it, maybe it’ll be made true. I don’t hear you in the wind. Don’t see you in the mirror. I don’t. Won’t.

“Fears will soon fade away.”

I’m not afraid of you. Nothing to fear from something that isn’t real. You don’t exist. I won’t let you. Why won’t you leave me alone. In peace. Sometimes I think… No. That is not a rational thought, no one wonders if life would be easier if they were dead. That thought makes no sense. If I was dead then there would be no life to make easier. I don’t want to die. And I don’t want you around, whatever you are, imaginary figmant, ghost, hell, for all I know this is some crazy reality tv programme. I wonder what they’d title it? Big Crazy Brother? Madness Inducing Island? Insanator?

I’m rambling now. My thoughts circling, they make no sense, not even to me, maybe I am mad. Should I just resign myself to- No! I’m not mad. I’m not, am I?

“I’d reassure you if I could”

Reassure me! No. I’m past reassuring at this stage. Well past it. Reassurance is what you need when you are lying in bed and hear an unexpected creak. When you wonder is there someone there. When you are lying there telling yourself it was just the pipes. Just the pipes, yet there is a shiver up your spin and a cold sweat forming. That’s when you need reassurance. Then you can roll over, see that there really is no one there. Your mind can rest, you are safe.

I can’t do that. I roll over and I see a shadow flickering past me. I don’t hear a creak. I hear you. Whispering. Words I don’t want to hear. How can you reassure me when you do not exist? You can not exist.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Something else to be thinking about maybe?

Geoff hated the term “zombie”, it was so generic and a cliché. He wasn’t a generic zombie. He wasn’t a cliché. He was a Resurrected Man … holy, like Lazarus. He’d risen again.

In his other life, he had never been religious, didn’t care for all that preaching, going to Church on Sundays to show off new clothes, crow about his stature in the community. He didn’t need to do that. His actions, money, power, spoke for him. Religion was a crutch for weak people who couldn’t figure things out for themselves.

He liked the idea of being a new man – a risen man. But the nagging thoughts kept flooding into his mind. He kept hearing those words … “abomination”, “spawn of Satan” … they screamed loudly in his head when he least expected it, unnerving him, making him unsure. Then he would pick up the Bible and read pieces from scripture – that always comforted him. He knew he wasn’t a Lazarus, he was way too sophisticated to be a mere side-character, a freak show attraction.

Before the “departure”, as he euphemistically referred to the incident of his murder, he had been successful, a self-made man and a megalomaniac. Now, he saw a much larger future for himself, manipulation of the media would come first, they were ripe for it now. He punched the digits and spoke into his headset … “Jean, get me Channel 8, Richard Demester” … his voice was slurred, edgy and very deep. In the other office, his secretary shuddered for a second, then dutifully dialled the number for the tv stations’ head of current affairs.

Geoff rehearsed his approach one more time, the notes were spread out on his desk. He shuffled the papers clumsily and took a long deep inhale … soon the world would know the truth. The truth according to Geoff. The image of Kira floated unbidden into his mind and for a moment he was lost in reflection … he would have her to himself, she was the perfect accompaniment and it was only fitting that she would be beside him, to share in his Great Plan.

Click. The line was open and Richard Demester spoke,
“Good afternoon Mr. Christopher … how can I help you today?”
“Richard … you need to interview me. I have something of great interest to say to your viewers “
Geoff spoke the words with a dark seriousness, his voice hard and flat.
“Really?” came the intrigued voice on the other end of the line. Demester had been a newsman all his life, he was jaded and tired but he knew enough about Geoff Christopher not to under-estimate anything the man said.
“Can you give me a hint. Geoff?”
“It will be a Revelation.” was all Geoff said, smiling darkly to himself.

Two days later, the interview was set up and Geoff Christopher announced on live television, beaming out to syndicated stations all over the world, that he was the New Christ and he had the means to prove it.

Here ye ... here ye ...

Okay peoples, I know I mentioned this before but I've spoken to the head of my IT department (cough) ... and he is going to design a forum/discussion board for us, which he says will be ready in a week, which, as everyone knows ... will be a month (given the way IT people work) ...
BUT I will keep prodding him and as soon as it's up, will let you all know. It will be password protected and on our local server here, so nobody else will be able to gain access and we can waffle away to our hearts' content and goof about with the ideas.
Cool.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Platform

Hey ya’ll… I know… I know… I killed her.
It seemed like a good idea at the time. But – BUT – It doesn’t have to end there, unless we want it to. This could be a platform for a new personality to develop in Kira or. Or. Well she could just die, and we could all wrap up the story nice and neat like.

Discuss.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Comments

Hey everyone!
I've put it all together as best I could this evening and am busy discussing with FM on a couple of problems I'm having. I over-estimated things just a wee bit - there is a LOT more work needs doing on this dudes. Any case, I will email everyone soon.

Great stuff so far, I think.

You all DO realise that you can post individually on this Blog hey? So if you have any thoughts at all that would help with the direction or whatever, please make your notes as a separate post.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

10th Addition - Susan

EDIT: Fixed. Apologies to all concerned, when I first posted this, I omitted the ... er crucial last couple of paragraphs. How do you guys feel about this direction?



Kira rose from her chair and stepped behind Brian, grasping his neck in her left hand as she moved behind his chair. She slid the knife she was holding along the edges of Brian’s wrists, and, sucking air through her teeth in a teasing manner, she sounded, “Tsk, tsk tsk…”

He thought that she had changed her mind about letting him live.

Kira abruptly and with deft grace pulled the knife through the ropes holding Brian’s wrists to the chair, not so much as nicking him. Brian pulled his hands around in front of him and inspected the swollen fingertips. They started to tingle as blood flowed back into his hands so he flexed them a few times to help speed up the process.

When Kira saw this weakness she chuckled low and kicked the back of the chair, sending Brian and his puffy hands sprawling onto the filthy warehouse floor.

When he looked up, she was gone.

‘I have to have her’, Brian thought to himself.

***

‘I have to kill her’, Mike thought to himself. ‘I am supposed to be a public servant, I am supposed to save lives, not dream and fantasize about taking them… What is wrong with me?’

Mike reached into his front pocket and pulled out a well worn black card. The corners were bent and the flat matte finish was marred by a few creases from being put into and pulled out of Mike’s shirt pocket since he was released from the military with a knee injury.

Gunny had given him the card and told him that he was the best marksman that he had ever seen and if he ever had a change of heart and wanted to put his skills to use to just call the number on the card and say the words, “My name is Mike Reese and I’m in.”

Gunny had continued with, “No need to go into any further details, they’ll find you and take care of the rest. You’re good, son. Someday they are going to need you.”

Mike had an idea of who and what they were.

Blade Runners.

Mike dialed the 888 number and spoke the eight words that would give him back control of his life.

They found him and started training him that evening. Mike had a feeling that they knew that he would be calling.

He was right.

What he did not know was that the man who was to be his partner was in love with his wife.

Kira left from playing with her little mouse, that laughable Blade Runner, and went to check in with her trainer. When she did, she usually entered a fugue-like state due in part to a program that R.E.S.C.O.R. had installed in her when she was reincarnated. Their resurrection program was not all benevolence, they had ulterior motives. Motives such as stealing information from the government or assassination duties and having “expendable parties” do their dirty work.

Expendable parties with no finger prints.

Kira was on assignment from R.E.S.C.O.R. and the government knew it. That was the first reason that their elite unit of Blade Runners were set in motion to take out the opposition. The Runners were the only ones who could ever get close enough.

Brian had been watching Kira for weeks, gathering information on her; he just happened to get caught, so his director set him with a partner, someone who would know more background on Kira. Her history, things that normal people didn’t see… her husband Mike.

Brian and Mike met up with Father Ambrose Callow, the Vatican representative. Father Callow had been sent to the city to check out the resurrection program that R.E.S.C.O.R. had in place. Brian had Callow in his back pocket for three years after the Third Parish Heroin sting. Callow had his fingers in the till on that one and Brian had washed them as clean as snow and let the papers get lost because he knew that the Father’s connections with R.E.S.C.O.R. would come in handy.

Callow balked at Mike and Brian wanting in on the facility tour but Brian insisted nicely.

Callow whined and started to sweat along his upper lip, “Cain, you can’t prove anything about what happened with that, that… that… bust, I don’t have to do everything you want me to do.”

“No, Father,” Brian replied, his voice dripping with sarcasm. “You don’t have to do everything… but I can prove that you had your fingers in the money jar and your cock in a twelve year old boy in the rectory. Now, you will make the arrangements to have us join you and Mr. Bersford at the facility and you will push him to give us a tour tomorrow. My partner and I will be billed as representatives from the Vatican as well. Do I make myself clear?”

The calls were made and Edgar Bersford finally relented to have Father Callow and his two cold fish cronies visit him at the facility. He hoped nothing would happen during their tour. There would be several resurrectees at ‘the shop’, as Edgar called it. They would be there for their debriefings. Or to put it more bluntly, the downloadings. Each subject was put in a state of hypnosis and the information that they had gathered was pulled from their enhanced brains.

He couldn’t help but wonder if this enhancement was the cause of the recent outbreak of behavioral changes… unsettling ones that he had been noticing. His reports were getting much thicker. The board of trustees must never hear of this, therefore this visit with these damn priests must go off without a hitch.

Edgar was in such a sour mood over his day being filled with entertaining a bunch of priests, that he took it out on his secretary with verbal insults and keying her intercom when she was trying to type notes from the Dictaphone.

Brian knew that Kira would be making her weekly visit to R.E.S.C.O.R. the following day; that is why he pushed Father Callow to make the appointment for that day. He had to get inside and find out what went on when she went back there. Could she be one he saved? He needed so much more information, but his direct orders were to kill her and to use Mike’s help to do so.

Mike couldn’t believe that he had been assigned to actually be on the team to tour R.E.S.C.O.R. and possibly hunt down a few resurrectees… the least of them being his wife. This was the purpose he needed.

He was flying right. He was no longer scared. He was sober. “This is my rifle, sir…”

Father Callow, Brian and Mike entered R.E.S.C.O.R. and waited on Edgar Bersford to appear. The lobby was cavernous and circular with marbled floors T-ing off to the east and the west. Muted paintings hung sedately on the walls, a copy of Michelangelo’s David stood on the landing of the stairs leading the second floor, and the soft strains of Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise could be heard even though speakers could not be seen.

Edgar rounded the landing from the second floor with a woman in tow.

Kira!

Her head snapped up as if she was coming out of a fog. Her nostrils flared once, twice and she turned her feet out and crouched as she spotted first Mike, then Brian, in their flowing robes. Kira blinked at the man in the middle, took a running start from the landing and attacked Father Callow.

He mewled like a wet cat when she caught him around the throat with her left hand and started clawing at his face with her right. She kneed him in the stomach and when he bent over with an audible “Ommmpfff”, she took his head in her hands and slammed his face into her knee. His nose cracked and Mike saw one of Father Callow’s teeth skitter across the marble floor.

Mike was not about to put his hands on his wife. He knew what she was capable of and that her beat down on this man of the cloth was just starting. Brian, however, drew his weapon from beneath the folds of his robe, took the safety off and pointed it at Kira’s head. “Kira, put your hands above your head and step away from Father Callow. Do NOT make me shoot you. You gave me mercy yesterday, let me grant you the same grace.”

Mike blinked at this admission and stepped out of the line of fire. His wife’s eyes were registering bat shit crazy. Brian was going to have to shoot her to keep her from killing a man of God.

Kira crossed her hands and placed them, palm facing palm, one on each side of Father Callow’s head. She was going to snap his neck.

Brian had already chambered a round.

He pulled the trigger.

A dark spot appeared in Kira’s temple to accompany the deafening roar of Brian’s weapon. The sound of Rachmaninoff could not be heard. All Mike could hear was his heartbeat as he stepped forward and caught his wife’s body as she fell.

Her head did not explode out the opposite side from the impact of the bullet, as he had been expecting from training. It swelled slightly and then settled into a concave as he lowered her to the floor and rested her torso in his lap. She blinked once, smiled slightly and was gone.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Word Up

I have put Word Verification on this site for commenting purposes - so anyone anonymous will now be able to post, providing they are not spammers. I hope. That's the idea. You never know. So Glab, if you read this and you want to post, please do ... cos my email to you bounced.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Spam

I have disenabled the comment function for "anyone" or "registered users" as I do not appreciate 36 visits in twenty seconds, generating comments ranging from whether I would like to join in Atlanta Beach Parties or how to make a teaset ... fuck off and die! Thank you very much.

For other readers, who are not members of this site and who would like to comment, please visit the Lekker Kwai Kiff blog and make a comment there. Sorry about this but until the spam level drops, I will keep it this way.

Chapter Two

This is marvellous. Forgotten Machine thank you, I knew you would deliver something truly amazing! I would like to use this piece as the opener to a new chapter, if that's okay with everyone?



Expecting the end of his shift to politely knock on his window and tell him to go home and get some rest, Mike had parked the car at Stinger's Point. The temptation to get out and stroll along the pier was deafening, but he knew he couldn't leave the CB. Something about the ocean calmed him; if he could just be close enough to feel the breeze sauntering in from the north, to be lulled by this infinite expanse.... As if to remind him of his intrusion in this picture postcard, the CB crackled to life. It took Mike a few seconds to realise dispatch was indeed speaking English, like repeating the word 'chicken' over and over until it sounds ridiculous, almost alien. Still dreaming of white horses and coral reefs, Mike sparked the ignition, flicked on the siren and gunned down the road, a dismal cascade of gravel the only indications of his fleeting presence.

Mike took a left at Picton Avenue, the snarl on his face mirroring that of the engine as the affluence of each passing neighbourhood became hard to ignore. Finally, the hallowed streets of Rosedale stretched out before him, allowing him about as much welcome as Kira had these last few nights.
Couldn't she see that he was powerless to do anything about it? Paramedics had little room for debating the fairness of double-shifts; gun shots and car wrecks kept their own working hours, leaving the rest of humanity playing catch-up.

His first instinct as he pulled into the driveway of No. 67 was OD. Rich party, rich kids and the designer drug of choice, perhaps a little too rich. The small coterie outside the front door did nothing to change that perception; an hour ago, he'd have been surprised if anyone saw past the hairstyles and the shoes, now all he could see was the fear and uncertainty in their eyes.

They'd moved the kid to a corner of the lounge where a flustered girl sat sobbing, stroking his hair and whispering in his ear. Kid was probably not the most accurate of words, he was more likely around 23, but no one looks old when the life is draining from their body.

Ten minutes after he first received the call, Mike was checking for vital signs. The boy had dusty blonde hair, plastered to his face by the sweat of his initial convulsions, which according to his girlfriend had stopped abruptly minutes before Mike arrived. As he reached for the limp wrist to take a pulse, he acknowledged the unmistakable sheen of a RESCOR bracelet. The key to life in a simple, translucent band. Mike had no idea where the thought originated, but it came lurching through his mind like a freight train. Exhausted, running on adrenaline and with no clear recollection of anything earlier than three hours ago, it was the only thing he could hear. The kid’s dead. Contact RESCOR, they'll be here in a matter of minutes and then it’s their problem. Not even much of a problem. Probably bump into the kid in the breakfast aisle of the local supermarket next week.

It was amazing how easily he gave in. And when one of the onlookers asked him why he hadn’t even bothered starting CPR, Mike simply replied,“No point. Nothing more I can do.” Mike greeted the two Reclaimants at the door. It wasn’t the first time he’d had to call RESCOR’s collection agents, but the efficacy and fluidity with which they conducted themselves always made him uncomfortable, like being trapped in a room full of tele-evangelists. All neon smiles and crisp white suits on the outside, but beneath the surface shimmers a darkness malevolent enough to turn an angels heart to coal.
“Male, 23, suspected overdose of Methylmonoferoxide resulting in massive heart failure.” One of the Reclaimants dipped his chin in acknowledgment and made his way over to the body.

Methylmonoferoxide. Moonfox. Didn’t get you high, just made you feel like a part of your life mattered. Heroin was the poor mans poison these days. If you could afford it, nothing beat feeling relevant.
“Excuse me…”. The Reclaimants voice was measured, firm. “We appear to have a problem."
Mike cautiously approached the three figures. There was an edge to the statement he did not find reassuring. “And what exactly is this problem?” The second Reclaimant indicated the bracelet and slowly passed a small device across its surface.

“The scanner cannot retrieve any information.” Both looked at Mike, revealing no trace of emotion. There was something deeply unsettling about their synchronicity. “Surely you can clear this up once you’ve taken him back to the treatment facility?” As soon as he’d spoken the words, Mike knew it was the wrong question.
“I’m afraid you don’t understand.” That measured tone again, as if this were a university lecture.
“This band is fake.”
“Yes.” The second Reclaimant, who had up until know remained quiet, spoke with a lilting falsetto. “We’ve only recently become aware of the problem, but due to the status afforded our clients, these bands have become the latest desirables, and we all know that's an open invitation for forgeries. This is one of the best we've seen, in fact. But the outside is so much easier to fake then what's on the inside."

"So...what you're saying is........" Mike failed to coax the rest of the words from his throat.

"We are saying that this is not a client." The Reclaimant tried to sound sympathetic, but it was a pathetic attempt. "Save the intervention of some religious icon, this body is indeed lifeless and should be taken to the morgue at St Gabriel's."
"It's a pity you couldn't initiate CPR just a few minutes earlier." That disarming fasletto again. Courteous, but always indifferent. And as quickly as they had arrived, the two Reclaimants melted away into the now thinning crowd.

The disbelief seemed to seep up from the ground, penetrating his feet, coarsing through his legs and exploding in his chest. Mike suddenly realised, the one rule he prided himself in sticking to, the one tenet which had pulled him through countless medical emergencies. He hadn't even asked the boy's name. Where was Kira, she would understand, she would forgive him. As he stood in the doorway, the flashing lights of the arriving ambulance seemed to be screaming with him. Kira.......Kira.......Kira........
Three days later, the aneurysm would change both their lives forever.

Prodded and poked

Or just prompted by that last plea/message/post (?) where Luke stated, and I quote
You've got to keep me busy with all the admin


Problem is, I have nothing to say, so I'll just say thanks for the invite to join. And to everyone else who wrote a section, and that I look forward to reading more.

And.. no, nothing else. I guess that is it for now ;)

Monday, August 29, 2005

There's something in the wind ...

Things are afoot. Stuff is simmering in the pot.

Enough! Geez.

Yeah, so now that this blog has like a gazillion members, you guys have got to start, erm, posting stuff, ya know? You've got to keep me busy with all the admin etc., else I'll get bored and start stuffing it all up again.

I also have something that I want to post but it is not in the least bit related to this story ... and I happen to know that a certain Capetonian is working on something to add here, so I will hang on a bit and see what that's all about. Then maybe I will post my other idea. Or maybe I won't. Onward and upward.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Now for a title, please ....

Hey people! This is not dead yet … thanks to the wonderful contribution from Fence this week, I am posting the whole piece as it is so far. I would appreciate it if anyone out there could come up with a good working title … and … some more contributions. This thing is really starting to develop a momentum now and has lotsa “meat”  I’m so chuffed about this project.


*************************************************************************************

It was hot and sticky inside the club, the air hung thick with smoke. Overhead lights threw a sickly, seedy pink hue over everything. Mike was stoned. Way too stoned. And now he was drunk. Very drunk. He leant heavily against the grimy bar counter, the stench of stale urine from the nearby public toilet hung in the air and clung to the walls, insidiously working its way into his nostrils. He grimaced and attempted to focus on anything in his immediate vicinity, anything that wasn’t moving. It was hard. People crushed and crowded against him, all trying to catch the barmaid’s attention. Faces became distorted and stupid looking. He sniggered to himself at the grotesque images around him, he hated it here, he loved it here. The noise and heat engulfed him and for a few moments he felt almost happy, blanketed in the common bond he shared with all the other restless, lonely, souls. Then he remembered where he was and almost immediately, the blackness came rushing back into his head.

He gave up trying to focus on the people and stared instead at the brown bottle in his hand. Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer” throbbed suggestively from somewhere deeper in the club and a bunch of Goth chicks began gyrating in time to the beat, behind him. They were all drunk as skunks and teetering crazily all over the place. One of them lost her balance and crashed into the bulk of Mike’s slouching body, half rolling off his leather jacket. He wasn’t sure if it was deliberate on her part, he was past caring. He turned slowly and gave her an icy stare.

“Oops, sorry!” She blurted, giggling at herself. “My mistake.”
She stopped abruptly, taking in his violent gaze.
“Chill, dude.’ She said casually.

She looked about eighteen, so Mike reckoned she was probably fourteen or younger. Her face was plastered with thick white makeup; her eyes, heavily black from the Kohl eyeliner, looked like piss holes in the snow. She was wearing a black mesh top and no bra, her nipples poked through the strands of black string. He sneered at her.

”Fuck off.” He said in a menacing tone. He was so sick of adolescent girls. They were all so full of shit. Cock teasers and sluts. The last thing he needed tonight was a potential statutory rape probability

“Fuck you too, shit head!” she spat at him and swaggered off unsteadily back to her mates. Her friends gasped in unison when she told them what he’d said to her. A chorus of “arsehole!” and “dickface!” assaulted his ears; they made gestures with their middle fingers.

He shrugged and went back to his beer, glowering at the faces around him. The place was starting to close in, he felt claustrophobic. ‘Fucking bitches,’ he seethed inside. ‘I fucking hate them all. Only good for one thing.’ He continued to drink heavily and ordered another beer from the frazzled bar lady.

‘Geez, Mike,” she said, eyeing him warily. ‘You’re sure as hell putting them away tonight, hey? Slow down, dude.”
She was fond of Mike, he was a regular Thursday Ladies’ Night patron at the club but she hadn’t ever seen him this tanked up, or as surly before.

“Just give me a goddam beer, Claire and leave me the fuck alone with the lectures, okay?!” His voice was heavy with booze, yet even in his inebriated state, he managed to speak clearly.

“I’m not lecturing you, Mike.” Claire said, uncapping the beer and slamming it down hard on the counter next to his outstretched hand.
“Just take it easy, okay?”
She tossed his loose change close to the beer bottle.
“Give me any shit and I’ll get Bruce to throw you out.”
She glared at him threateningly and then spun around, before he could say anything abusive. A crowd of people on the opposite side of the bar were clamouring for refills. She didn’t have time for arguments.

Fatigue pulled at Mike, dragging him down. He tried to shake it off with a few gulps of the fresh, cold beer but it wasn’t helping. Bruce, the massive bouncer, had always been friendly but Mike knew that it wouldn’t be impossible to overstretch the boundaries and get turfed out into the street. Bruce didn’t take crap from anyone – friend or otherwise.

Mike was getting sick of the place, sick of the babies, the endless parade of schoolgirls.
‘Why the fuck do I come here?’ He mulled to himself. ‘It’s not like I even enjoy it anymore. Always the same bunch of losers and wannabees. They all think they are so cool but they’re just a load of posers, trendies.’
Vivid images erupted in his head – he was striding through the crowded club, gun in hand, taking pot shots at whoever put a face in front of him. Graphic pictures of bloodied bodies and screaming teenagers, flooded through his mind. He was enjoying this day dream; a deep secret smile in his eyes, when he saw her standing across from him. His heart almost stopped beating.


She'd been dead all of three years, but it was still a breathless fall to sobriety every time he saw her. Well, not dead three years, but died three years ago........shit, he couldn't even wrap his head around it in the cold, clear light of day, let alone with the fog that was currently loitering in his mind.

He watched her walk toward the bar, a clinical stride that didn't seem to belong to her; or maybe it did, maybe the warmth he had always associated with that movement was the real illusion. As always, she was dressed plainly in a black garment that shifted unnaturally, almost as if the touch of her skin would leave some dread taint.

"Michael."

How could he bear to hear that voice speak his name, that as it had been stripped of any notion of intimacy, so was he stripped of the last vestiges of sanity every time he heard it.

"You're looking well." She could have at least made an effort at candidness, but Mike reckoned once you'd been to the other side, sincerity was an expendable commodity.

Who would have guessed that science would beat Christ to the resurrection? When they successfully brought that boy back 10 years ago, Mike had not an inkling of the impact it would have on his life.
Why had she just not told him? He could understand the right of every individual to request the procedure, if it were possible, yet it angered him that she'd concealed her decision. She should've been mangled by a train, not that fucking pussy of an aneurysm that left her in such 'pristine' condition.

R.E.S.C.O.R. He couldn't even think the word without feeling the bile rising in the back of his throat. You thinking of donating your organs when you kick it? Fuck that! Resurrection is the way to go, provided you have enough cash and have managed to keep yourself from splattering all over the pavement. Why no-one seemed to be bothered about the secrecy surrounding the procedure was beyond him. Could the joy of being re-united with a loved one truly blind you for so long? Surely they could see that what came back was like an image in a mirror, that something was lost in the transition?
Perhaps that was why he hung out at the club so often; it was as close as he could get to the sheer desolation, the intoxicating loneliness of death. Here, he could worship at the feet of his beloved Mistress. He was sure that She would whisper to him Her design for vengeance against those who would dare defy Her will and encroach on Her domain.
For a moment he again saw himself, gun in hand, blowing away these pathetic freaks. Rescor would have a bloody field day.

He tried to straighten up, to stare the true freak in the eyes.

"Kira, my darling wife." The sarcasm peeled from his voice like burnt skin. "What do you need this time?"


Kira slid onto the barstool next to him like it was a well worn saddle. She was totally comfortable in her surroundings whatever they may be, a characteristic that was completely foreign to Mike, in his own life and in the life of the woman he once knew as his own. Once she was brought back, it seemed she was made into some sort of chameleon as well.

As she edged closer to him he noticed the pleasant effects of his alcohol induced haze retreating into a mild numbness of his senses. However, his eyesight was on alert and he noticed the standard Rescor barcode tattooed on the inside of her right wrist when she reached for his bottle of beer.

“I’m just a bit parched my love, mind if I have a sip?” She said as she took his beer and downed what was left in one fluid motion. Kira motioned for Claire to bring Mike another bottle. Claire stepped over to the pair, aware of their history and of the potential for disaster whenever the two were together after Kira’s transformation. They were both as volatile as gun powder next to a grease fire and Claire wanted no part of the fireworks.

Claire set Mike’s new bottle of beer down in front of him and retreated quickly as Kira swiped it and took a long pull, placing it back in front of Mike with a teeth-jarring thud.

To think of putting his mouth to the same place this thing beside him had just touched her lips to, made the acid in Mike’s gut rise. He eyed Kira warily and said with great disdain, “Keep it sweetie.”

He couldn’t stand this back and forth banter she insisted on every time they were in the same zip code. It was almost like she had some sort of tracking device on him and she knew when he was vulnerable and when his soul was raw from life.

She found him. She taunted him. She made his life hell showing him that he could never have it the way it used to be.

It tore Mike’s heart out to think of the love he once knew with Kira and that it all was boiled away when the mad scientist bastards at R.E.S.C.O.R. woke her from what should have been death.

Kira swung towards him on her barstool, seeming to almost float in her supernatural way of moving, and Mike; lost in his thoughts; inadvertently flinched. She laughed low and throaty and sprung from her perch, rabbit punching Mike in the back of the head and leapt away to taunt, tease and harass a group of burly bikers in a darkened corner.

‘Those guys have no idea what they are getting into.’ Mike thought to himself as he rubbed the back of his head. Claire stepped over to him to ask if he was ok. “I’m fine Claire, thanks for asking.”

Claire thrust out her chin determinedly and said, “Mike, I don’t know why you let her do that to you. It is like she hurts you on purpose every time she sees you. Either she hurts your feelings or hurts you physically or both. She is just a cruel woman, no… scratch that… She’s a Monster! I don’t know why you don’t turn her into that group of Blade Runners that have popped up over in Dallas. I mean, man… I know she used to be your wife and all… but dude… that thing ain’t nobody’s wife!”

Mike thought for a second and then replied, “I guess I just feel a little responsible for her Claire.” He shook his head sadly and walked out of the bar.

If only he had read the fine print on the medical release form at the hospital.


But he had always thought he was better than the rest of them, hadn't he? That no one could ever screw him over because he had all bases covered. Well, screwed him over she had, good and proper.

The day she... died, it had all started with a headache. He'd thought nothing of it at first, she was tired from working all hours at the office, and her father's heart scare had kept them on edge for a few days. The worry had only come later. Much later. Too late. By then, Kira was weeping from the pain, and her skin looked taut, stretched across the cheekbones, and glistening with sweat. Very unhealthy. Very worrying. That's when he'd realised that she needed the ER.

Every time he'd thought about that drive to the hospital, inevitably the words ‘movie clichés’ came to his mind although, it had definitely not felt that way at the time.
He had driven like he'd never driven before, clutching the wheel with both hands, aware that if he took Kira's hand, he might crush it with the sheer strength of his worry.
He lifted her gently from the passenger seat after a screeching halt right in front of the entrance, and run to the first nurse he’d seen. He was nearly incoherent. They'd thankfully taken over from there.

"You OK, Mike?" Claire inquired, snapping Mike out of his memories. It took him a second to actually remember where he was – in the bar’s parking lot, absently standing in front of his car, dangling car keys in hand – and it came crashing down. Kira was back. Again. Yet, somehow, this time, he had a nagging suspicion that she very much wanted to outstay her welcome.
"Yeah, just, y'know, had a few too many, I guess".
Claire didn't insist. She'd told him that Kira was bad news. There was nothing else she could do. And she couldn't afford to get tangled up in the lives of her patrons, however nice the patron. Not that Mike would listen anyway. She threw the stub of her cigarette, and went back in.

"Sir, hi, I’m Dr. Edwardes. I'm going to have to skip the niceties, here, time's running fast. You are aware that your wife signed up for Rescor procedure?"
"Er, n... no...?"
He'd hated the sound of his voice at that moment. Whiny, scared, choking. He wasn't like that.
"We found the acceptance card in her purse. Unfortunately, she was in a coma on arrival, so we couldn't get her formal confirmation."
Dr. Edwardes proceeded to brief him on what exactly the resurrection entailed. Mike hadn't even paused to consider the consequences: Kira was dead, Kira could live again, the answer shot out of his mouth like a hot breath.
"Yes, go on, do it."
Just like that, he’d allowed his wife to live again.
She’d stayed at the hospital for a couple of days, and he took her back home with the same kind of feeling he’d had on their wedding day.
The trouble became apparent fairly rapidly. He’d first noticed the mood swings. And it escalated fairly rapidly; she needed more and more time on her own, locked up in the bathroom, or out, just out, he’d never known where. Up until the point when she’d simply vanished. She’d even kissed him goodbye that day.

“Hey, Michael.”
Kira caught up with him sitting in his car. Not surprising considering that the old piece of shit he used for transport usually required a few minutes warming. Fuck.
“Kira. I’ve asked you before. What do you want?”
She was bending low to his level, showing more cleavage than he cared to see. It made his skin crawl that at some point he’d loved making love to her. She was so alien to him now.
“Michael, darling, don’t do this. What do I want? I want my husband back.” She started toying with the buttons on his shirt. The way her nails would grate the fabric against his skin used to drive him insane with desire for her. With love. That’s what it was then.
“I want children. A home. A fa-mi-ly.”, she sing-songed.
“Oh Kira, give me a break. You don’t want a family, you want new toys. What? That bunch of apes in there didn’t perform? I have to go.”
He gunned the car. He felt sober. He felt scared

A slow smile played across Kira’s face as she watched Michael flee, the tyres squealed and spun, sending dirt and dust flying into the air. She lit a cigarette and leaned back against the wall, plenty of time to catch up with him again. She inhaled deeply, loving the feel of the smoke and the nicotine rush. No more worries about lung cancer, yet another reason to thank Rescor - to thank Michael for bringing her back. She glanced at her reflection in the bar’s darkened window. Not a hair out of place, since Rescor she always looked pristine.

She thought about his earlier question. What do I want? ”Just to be happy”, Kira’s lips curled mockingly as she spoke softly to herself, practicing her reply, saccharine sweet, for next time he asked. And yet, in a way, it was the truth. But she knew he couldn’t understand. No one could. Not unless they’d seen what she had. Not unless they too had been brought back from death. As she dropped her cigarette she noticed a frown on the Kira in the window, marring her smooth forehead. Kira summoned a cold smile, she didn’t want to be upset by anything anymore. Nothing was worth getting upset over. Life was for living, she knew that now. No more wondering about what other people wanted, what they needed from her. No more thinking she owed anyone anything. She’d been dead. She had died. It still sounded strange to her.

”I was dead,” she whispered to the empty car park. ”I know what happens next, I’ve seen the other side.” Her voice had turned bitter, the frown had returned.

Kira could still remember the feelings that had swamped her the moment Rescor had brought her back. At first she had merely been slightly confused, but as the hours had passed and she realised that she hadn’t been sleeping, hadn’t even been unconscious, or in a coma, but had been dead!

Yet it hadn’t been a shock. In a strange way it actually made sense to her. If what she had experienced was true, was the ”afterlife”, well, it explained why she didn’t care that she was upsetting Michael. At first she had tried to at least act troubled. To pretend it bothered her that he was upset, but in the end it really didn’t matter, she decided not to waste time on pretense. All that mattered to Kira was Kira.

She slipped another cigarette from its packet, her reflection flickering as she lit it. For a moment she stared at the red glimmer, as it deepened when she inhaled. The only thing that should matter to anyone was themselves. She knew that now. Before Rescor, before death, she had worried about so many insignificant details. About other people, about their feelings, or what they thought of her. Not any more. Death had freed her of guilt and remorse. No more shame or disgrace, no fault or failing. Now she could divide the world into what she wanted, and everything else.

And that was the reason she still trailed after Michael. Memories of how happy he had made her. She didn’t care that she had once made him happy, that it had been a mutual joy. The important thing was how she felt. Besides, it amused her to see how uncomfortable she made him. Seeing him squirm was as good a result as anything else. If death had taught her anything it was that you only get one life.

She laughed at that, dropped the butt of her cigarette on the ground, turned and headed back into the bar. Michael may not have wanted to play tonight, but Kira knew she could always find some entertainment.

Brian Cane watched the car speed away, tires squealing and grinned. Soon the case would come to a head; soon it would be his time. He watched the woman, the sweet apple of his eye, his target, with that look of cruelty and the attitude of distain in her stance, adjust the moot perfection of her looks, finish her smoke and go back inside the club. He ached for her, as he ached for all his targets, but this one pulled at him more than any of the others, and he wanted to know why.

Brian Cane was one of the new breed of bounty hunters. For centuries the title "bounty hunter" had graced many heads, changing in definition as the time demanded, yes, but always meaning killer-for-hire, no matter what language you spoke. The only language Brian understood was money: he heard in money and spoke in blood. Some of the citizens referred to his kind as "Blade Runners", an allusion to some movie or other Brian only vaguely remembered as a kid and from what he remembered, he didn't mind the name. Now was the perfect time to be a killer-for-hire.

Since the advent of R.E.S.C.O.R. and the announcement of their revolutionary technique, Brian Cane had sat on the edge of his seat, awaiting the inevitable. In his head, the world was full of zombie flicks and now, heavens be praised, those fools who called themselves scientists had brought zombies into the real world, big as life and twice as colorful. He knew there'd be problems -dying changed people. Society wasn't prepared for an influx of people who knew what it was like to die, of people knowing that death wasn't the end any more. Religious groups were up-in-arms over the scientific and therefore sacrilegious resurrections and the courts didn't know what rights to award the growing minority of people who were essentially the property of R.E.S.C.O.R.

Oh yes, there would be problems, and then, there would be him.

***

He felt sober. He felt scared.

Mike could feel his sobriety, a sharp white feeling lodged in the center of his brain. The car hummed and shook at the speed he forced it to go. That Bitch, he thought, and then liking the taste of the thought he said it out loud: "That Bitch."

Ever since her reincarnation, for that was what it was not a resurrection. Sure she looked and sounded like his wife but that was not her. The woman he had lived with and loved was dead and he just had come to grips with that.

"My wife is dead." he said to the universe in general and his voice sounded shaky, unsure like he was fighting back tears, like he didn't want to and couldn't believe it. So he tried again. "My wife is dead!"

This time the words came out the way he wanted them to, like the way he wanted to face her: sure, steady and above all, in control of himself. But he wasn't in control, not of anything. Damn R.E.S.C.O.R. and their need to defy death, life and God. Damn them for what they did to her, to him. If she was gone, dead and buried, then he could move on with his life, move onto mourning and get out of this slump he was in. If she was gone!

Mike shook his head to clear it. The anger was leaving him, draining away and all the alcohol he had downed at the club was coming back to him, a red mist threatening to totally overthrow his composure. He tried to disgorge thoughts of Kira, to focus on where he was going and what he had to do. But he didn't care where he was going. It was enough that he was going away from her.

That bitch masquerading in his beloved wife's visage, pretending that they still had a connection. It was fine for him to think these thoughts when she was not around, but the constant reminder of her presence, when she sought him out to torment him, did nothing but make him feel guilty. Guilty for letting her die, for not seeing the signs before, for not loving her anymore. What could he do? Every time he saw her, his heart thumped and for a minute wanted to throw his arms around her and ... but then he'd see that look in those lovely eyes. The look that told him this wasn't Kira, not his Kira anyways. That look hungered for his pain for the world's pain, said the world owed her something and that she was going to take it, one way or another. A stranger parading as his dead wife, a zombie. Damn R.E.S.C.O.R.. Mike reached over, opened his glove compartment and took out the small bottle of whiskey he hid there for emergencies. He took a swig.

If she was gone, dead and buried, he could move on with his life.

Edgar Bersford, vice-president of Onyx Unlimited and head of R.E.S.C.O.R. subsidiary, was fretting again.

Edgar looked at a number of files before him. He sighed. Ever since they started their public operations, there had been no end to problems. And now reports submitted by the company investigators were threatening to get his ulcers going again.

He looked at the files again one by one.

Somehow, after their resurrection, some of the R.E.S.C.O.R. clients had been showing unsettling behavioral changes. The percentage was still small-- around fourteen percent-- but the numbers were slowly growing and Edgar was a realist enough to know that the problem wouldn't just go away.

Bzzzt!

Edgar looked up as the intercom buzzed and Mari, his secretary, said in a voice made electronically inhuman, "Sir, Dr. Witt wishes to inform you that the A.I. platform has become unstable again after the last insertion. Likewise, the Vatican investigator wants another appointment to visit the lab again."

He shook his head and realized that Mari wouldn't have seen the gesture.

He pushed an intercom button and replied, "Ah, tell Dr. Witt to start the program but to pass the confirmation sequence to me. I'll be the one to welcome the personality. As for the priest... give him the usual run-around."

He ground his teeth. If not for the benefits, he hated his job. Not only did he have to deal with settling in the new A.I. personality every time it went insane-- always a disturbing process-- but he also had to deal with people like Father Ambrose Callow, the Vatican representative sent to check R.E.S.C.O.R.'s resurrection pogram.

Callow: now he was a cold fish. If not for the fact that the priest was a Jesuit scientist and extremely curious, Edgar could have sworn Callow was jealous in behalf of the Roman Catholic Church. Like it or not, the Church had never been happy with R.E.S.C.O.R.'s promise of 'eternal life' for its clients. Bad for their business, Dr. Witt had once joked.

Edgar wouldn't have told that to Callow's face. The priest looked dangerous.

"By the way, Mari," Edgar said, thumbing the intercom, "Tell Dr. Witt to prep the A.I. for another dimensional insertion. We're way behind in resurrecting clients as it is. I'll talk to the A.I. before it's sent out."

“Alright sir."

He pitied the A.I. personality that would be facing the omnivorous beings that ruled behind the dimensional gate in the lab. But between facing the chairman of the Onyx board on why they were behind schedule and over costs, and making deals with demons even older the world, Edgar knew what choice he'd make.

++++++++++ Latest Addition: FENCE August 2005 +++++++

“I know you.”
“What did you say?” Kira spun on her heel. Her voice was a low hiss. She floated across the room, went down on one knee in front of him, so her eyes were level with his. Those blazing eyes the only real indication of her temper. Her face, her body language all gave the impression of her being utterly at ease.
“I know you.” Brian repeated the words, not allowing himself to look away from that gaze. “I know what you are.”
“You know me.” Her voice was still low, but there was an incredulous note to the tone. “Know me” she repeated his words as she walked away. Brian half expected to see an angry tail swish behind her, she had the grace of a cat.
“How the fuck can you know me!” The low hiss was gone. Kira was shouting now. “I don’t even know me.” In a heartbeat she crossed the room again, a slap burned his cheek. “Know me!” She stood staring down at him, anger and tension visible in every move, every muscle.
And then suddenly, with a toss of her head, and one deep breath, it was gone. She was virtually emotionless again. “You keep making me frown and I’ll get wrinkles,” she smiled at Brian, playfully, and he shivered. This was not how it was supposed to be.
He was good at his job, he knew that. So did countless previous targets, although none of them would be able to provide references. So how had this happened? He had been careful. Trailed her for days to learn about her. Kept his distance, never broken any of his rules. He’d always been successful in the past. But now, here he was, tied to a chair, helpless, a prisoner. Powerless where always before he’d been in command.
He didn’t even know how he’d gotten here. One minute he’d been watching for the target, she had escaped his surveillance in a crowd. She had only been out of his sight for a few moments, he’d been so confident of picking her up again that the blow to the head had been a total surprise. And the shock had been even greater when he opened his eyes again to see her, his target, watching him.
”So who am I then?
Brian hadn’t expected the question, he blinked at her, uncertainly.

“You said that you know me. Well go on, reveal all.”
She slid a leg over a chair and sat, resting her chin on its back, waiting for a response. Brian stayed silent. He knew he shouldn’t have spoken in the first place, or at least he should have pleaded ignorance. Pretend he hadn’t been trailing her. But his head was throbbing, and he’d just spouted the first thing that he could think of. Mentally he cursed his stupidity.
Kira sat, unmoving, eyes fixed on him. The minutes ticked by, silence filled the room, pressing on Brian. Urging him to speak up. He resisted, he knew all about that little trick. Slowly Kira’s expression changed. The slightest of smiles, and then a twinkle of amusement in her eyes. For a moment she seemed almost normal, almost human.
Then she stood up, walked to a counter and her movement marked her out as what she was; different, other. Brian watched her as she picked up a sharp, shiny knife. One hand on the hilt, the other stroked the blade as she turned back towards Brian. “I’ve never tortured anyone before. You’ll have to give me some pointers” her voice was calm as, with the slightest hint of anticipation in her eyes, she smiled at him.
Brian tensed, he couldn’t help it, as she trailed the point across his stomach. Kira increased the pressure, watching intensely as his shirt and the muscle below shrank away from the metal, but without the force necessary to slice through anything.
Where should I start” she whispered the words into his ear, her mouth brushing his skin as she spoke. The knife moved, sliding up until it reached his neck, tracing his jaw line, then moving further up and reached the corner of his eye.
“They say you can pop an eye out with a sharp jab… I wonder…” Brian’s mouth was dry, his heart pounding, very carefully he remained absolutely still. “But I do like the idea of gutting someone.” As she spoke the knife returned to his stomach, paused and then slowly inched lower. If Brian had been unmoving before, now he was a statue. “I’ve always wondered what it would feel like, to slice someone open.” The blade pressed a little harder. “Curiosity killed the cat,” her eyes sparkled, “but mine might just do away with you.”
Kira laughed suddenly and moved away, tapping the blade against her leg. “You were going to kill me, weren’t you Mr. Blade Runner,” her voice was mocking. She left the knife down and picked up a pack of cigarettes, lit one and inhaled deeply. “God says that the intent is still sin doesn’t he? And let us not forget an eye for an eye. A death for a death.”
The smoke floated around her, hazy patterns that moved as she approached Brian, the knife back in her hand. “I guess my lack of faith means this is your lucky day.”

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Scarecrow ... for G

He was just standing around, frustrated, waiting for something to happen. He’d been there quite a few weeks. Initially, he’d felt relieved and at peace with the world, outside in the field, away from all the hustle and bustle, the noise, confusion, crime and violence of that world. Here, amongst the birds and voles of the acreage, he felt smoothly aware of his purpose in the universe and complete. He had attained validation. He was no longer just something put together by uncaring hands, with little or no time to attend to the details of facial features and tasteful clothing. After being stuffed and bundled up into a formless lump, resembling a twisted Wicker Man, he was “clothed” in cast off, smelly overalls and dumped into the back of a tractor, along with his compatriots. Now, lassoed and mounted unceremoniously on a pole, he contemplated his lot. Where had his sense of duty gone to? Why did he feel this untenable restlessness? What had changed in his soul? Why was he no longer content?

The sun, his friend for the moment, seemed sullen today, not wishing to warm the straw and heat his limbs in any magnanimous act of good neighbourliness. He had dreamt the night away, visions of stars and a revolving earth spun in his head. Now awake and in charge of the day, he longed to be off, striding across the rich brown soil, out into the world, to explore. But then the realisation hit him with a thud, that he would never do that. He would never taste the freedom of mobility. And he felt strange and alien again, his head hung limp and the workman’s oily cap, which had been slapped on top of his matted head when he was made, tottered low on his brow, ready to fall off, if the wind would take the trouble to blow in his direction.

A deep sad lethargy settled on him, a faint memory stirred but it was soon forgotten. For a fleeting second, he’d been consumed by an animal desire to leave this place, to wander around and find out what was going on. There was something happening, somewhere else. He vaguely remembered that feeling but just as quickly as he remembered how it felt, he forgot it again. He knew that his purpose was to do the bidding of man, to scare the birds of the sky away from this patch of mud but now, in his lonely reverie, that seemed so inane and silly. Why did he feel that way? Where had these thoughts come from? He tried to lift his head and spy the others, who like him, hung dejected and motionless on their lances in the ground but as much as he struggled, he could not do this simple thing. He thought that maybe his neck was broken. Then he saw it.

At first, the spark flashed for just a second and spluttered out. But as he stared at the ground where the spark had hit, he saw smoke rise in a wispy, innocent, tiny tendril, lurching up out of the ground towards his feet. He did not know what this new animal was. He had never seen anything so remarkable. He watched transfixed as the smoke grew thicker and a tiny crackle spoke to him. He was amazed at how cheerful this crackle appeared and how bright it flickered in the watery sunlight. The spark and crackle became one and engorged itself out onto the surrounding earth, crawling closer to his feet, devouring tiny shreds of broken grass and dead leaves. He was fascinated by this new affectionate orange snake, how it glittered and chuckled at him from the ground. He smiled at it gently, as a father would to a child, wanting to pick it up and hold it, feed it, give it some sustenance. He felt enamoured with the vitality of this new thing that seemed so happy to see him, chattering and buzzing around his feet. His focus was consumed with the realisation that this new creature was not afraid of him, or disgusted by the sight of his raggedy clothes. Had this new friend come to rescue him? Could they speak the same language? Would they love each other? He dwelt for a moment on his imagined feeling about love. He yearned for this sensation and agonised about how beautiful it would be to love such a magical god-thing as this – a fantastic, sparkling dragon, bustling with a life force all to itself. Where had it come from? And why had it appeared before him, seeking his audience, just when he thought that his life was dwindling into obscurity, depression, futility and shame? Was this an angel? Why was it so interested in him? He felt humbled by its urgent and obvious affection and he did not, would not, allow himself to dwell on the impotence of these new thoughts.

He gazed in wonder and admiration as the little friend grew bigger and suddenly it seemed angry about many things. It appeared confused and unsure of its path. First choosing one, then twisting back on itself and searching wildly for another. It spat and hissed, coiling about on the ground in a demented and tortured agony. This puzzled him and he was, for a moment, saddened and worried by it. He wondered whether the world had become too frightening for it, or that it had lost its way and again, he wanted to reach out and hold it tenderly in his arms and assure the growing demon infant of its worth. But it flashed and screamed at his legs, arching its back, writhing in fury. And as he watched it flail and lash about him, he became warm, as warm as he would ever be. And smiling into the face of death, the fire consumed him, taking with it the field of his dreams and all thoughts of redemption.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Committing Hara-kiri

In a sudden rush of blood to the head on Friday night, I decided to kill off one of my online personas. It was a liberating experience to just press “delete” and ergo, “Life as Carrot” which was my blog over here at Slogger dot con, is now languishing somewhere in the ether. I got tired of it. Well, actually bored out of my skull with it. It was becoming a diary … duh. And as my life at the moment does bear uncanny comparison with that of a vegetable on this earth, I didn’t feel like sharing anymore of my restless innerspace meanderings with the general public. I don’t even have a tinge of regret either, which is quite weird, cos I thought I would miss it but I don’t at all. Any case, sorry to all the peeps who were reading my shite on a daily basis, I’ll probably resurface at some future point … but at the moment, I’m just chilling and doing Life stuff. Oh and Carpy, I will still be able to comment on other blogs and will definitely keep reading the ones (like yours) that are interesting, as well as throwing in my tuppence worth occasionally. So long and thanks for all the fish ...

Friday, May 06, 2005

A LIVING DEATH ... Working Title - first version from all contributors

I have put all the contributions together this evening in one post (with the exclusion of Gatsby's as that is a tangent). I'm not very good at editing a large body of text on a computer screen, so I will be printing this out (as well as the version utilising Gatsby's twist on the tale) and re-editing when I get some time and I will post the version with Gatsby's input a little later on (as a separate story). The title is just a working thing.

I would just like to say to everyone who has given of their time and creative juices on this first project, that I am completely overwhelmed with the quality as it stands at the moment. I would seriously like some criticism - constructive or otherwise - on the editing process and how best to display this, also whether you guys are happy to cut it to a short story, as it is now about 4,600 words and leave it alone; or whether you would like to continue and therefore, indicate where you think a chapter break would be appropriate. All ideas on this project are most welcome. As I have said in several different ways to Forgotten Machine, this was just a sort of "airy fairy" idea to begin with and I really did not think that it would garner so much interest from so many exciting writers.


*************************************************************************************


It was hot and sticky inside the club, the air hung thick with smoke. Overhead lights threw a sickly, seedy pink hue over everything. Mike was stoned. Way too stoned. And now he was drunk. Very drunk. He leant heavily against the grimy bar counter, the stench of stale urine from the nearby public toilet hung in the air and clung to the walls, insidiously working its way into his nostrils. He grimaced and attempted to focus on anything in his immediate vicinity, anything that wasn’t moving. It was hard. People crushed and crowded against him, all trying to catch the barmaid’s attention. Faces became distorted and stupid looking. He sniggered to himself at the grotesque images around him, he hated it here, he loved it here. The noise and heat engulfed him and for a few moments he felt almost happy, blanketed in the common bond he shared with all the other restless, lonely, souls. Then he remembered where he was and almost immediately, the blackness came rushing back into his head.

He gave up trying to focus on the people and stared instead at the brown bottle in his hand. Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer” throbbed suggestively from somewhere deeper in the club and a bunch of Goth chicks began gyrating in time to the beat, behind him. They were all drunk as skunks and teetering crazily all over the place. One of them lost her balance and crashed into the bulk of Mike’s slouching body, half rolling off his leather jacket. He wasn’t sure if it was deliberate on her part, he was past caring. He turned slowly and gave her an icy stare.

“Oops, sorry!” She blurted, giggling at herself. “My mistake.”
She stopped abruptly, taking in his violent gaze.
“Chill, dude.’ She said casually.

She looked about eighteen, so Mike reckoned she was probably fourteen or younger. Her face was plastered with thick white makeup; her eyes, heavily black from the Kohl eyeliner, looked like piss holes in the snow. She was wearing a black mesh top and no bra, her nipples poked through the strands of black string. He sneered at her.

”Fuck off.” He said in a menacing tone. He was so sick of adolescent girls. They were all so full of shit. Cock teasers and sluts. The last thing he needed tonight was a potential statutory rape probability

“Fuck you too, shit head!” she spat at him and swaggered off unsteadily back to her mates. Her friends gasped in unison when she told them what he’d said to her. A chorus of “arsehole!” and “dickface!” assaulted his ears; they made gestures with their middle fingers.

He shrugged and went back to his beer, glowering at the faces around him. The place was starting to close in, he felt claustrophobic. ‘Fucking bitches,’ he seethed inside. ‘I fucking hate them all. Only good for one thing.’ He continued to drink heavily and ordered another beer from the frazzled bar lady.

‘Geez, Mike,” she said, eyeing him warily. ‘You’re sure as hell putting them away tonight, hey? Slow down, dude.”
She was fond of Mike, he was a regular Thursday Ladies’ Night patron at the club but she hadn’t ever seen him this tanked up, or as surly before.

“Just give me a goddam beer, Claire and leave me the fuck alone with the lectures, okay?!” His voice was heavy with booze, yet even in his inebriated state, he managed to speak clearly.

“I’m not lecturing you, Mike.” Claire said, uncapping the beer and slamming it down hard on the counter next to his outstretched hand.
“Just take it easy, okay?”
She tossed his loose change close to the beer bottle.
“Give me any shit and I’ll get Bruce to throw you out.”
She glared at him threateningly and then spun around, before he could say anything abusive. A crowd of people on the opposite side of the bar were clamouring for refills. She didn’t have time for arguments.

Fatigue pulled at Mike, dragging him down. He tried to shake it off with a few gulps of the fresh, cold beer but it wasn’t helping. Bruce, the massive bouncer, had always been friendly but Mike knew that it wouldn’t be impossible to overstretch the boundaries and get turfed out into the street. Bruce didn’t take crap from anyone – friend or otherwise.

Mike was getting sick of the place, sick of the babies, the endless parade of schoolgirls.
‘Why the fuck do I come here?’ He mulled to himself. ‘It’s not like I even enjoy it anymore. Always the same bunch of losers and wannabees. They all think they are so cool but they’re just a load of posers, trendies.’
Vivid images erupted in his head – he was striding through the crowded club, gun in hand, taking pot shots at whoever put a face in front of him. Graphic pictures of bloodied bodies and screaming teenagers, flooded through his mind. He was enjoying this day dream; a deep secret smile in his eyes, when he saw her standing across from him. His heart almost stopped beating.


She'd been dead all of three years, but it was still a breathless fall to sobriety every time he saw her. Well, not dead three years, but died three years ago........shit, he couldn't even wrap his head around it in the cold, clear light of day, let alone with the fog that was currently loitering in his mind.

He watched her walk toward the bar, a clinical stride that didn't seem to belong to her; or maybe it did, maybe the warmth he had always associated with that movement was the real illusion. As always, she was dressed plainly in a black garment that shifted unnaturally, almost as if the touch of her skin would leave some dread taint.

"Michael."

How could he bear to hear that voice speak his name, that as it had been stripped of any notion of intimacy, so was he stripped of the last vestiges of sanity every time he heard it.

"You're looking well." She could have at least made an effort at candidness, but Mike reckoned once you'd been to the other side, sincerity was an expendable commodity.

Who would have guessed that science would beat Christ to the resurrection? When they successfully brought that boy back 10 years ago, Mike had not an inkling of the impact it would have on his life.
Why had she just not told him? He could understand the right of every individual to request the procedure, if it were possible, yet it angered him that she'd concealed her decision. She should've been mangled by a train, not that fucking pussy of an aneurysm that left her in such 'pristine' condition.

R.E.S.C.O.R. He couldn't even think the word without feeling the bile rising in the back of his throat. You thinking of donating your organs when you kick it? Fuck that! Resurrection is the way to go, provided you have enough cash and have managed to keep yourself from splattering all over the pavement. Why no-one seemed to be bothered about the secrecy surrounding the procedure was beyond him. Could the joy of being re-united with a loved one truly blind you for so long? Surely they could see that what came back was like an image in a mirror, that something was lost in the transition?
Perhaps that was why he hung out at the club so often; it was as close as he could get to the sheer desolation, the intoxicating loneliness of death. Here, he could worship at the feet of his beloved Mistress. He was sure that She would whisper to him Her design for vengeance against those who would dare defy Her will and encroach on Her domain.
For a moment he again saw himself, gun in hand, blowing away these pathetic freaks. Rescor would have a bloody field day.

He tried to straighten up, to stare the true freak in the eyes.

"Kira, my darling wife." The sarcasm peeled from his voice like burnt skin. "What do you need this time?"


Kira slid onto the barstool next to him like it was a well worn saddle. She was totally comfortable in her surroundings whatever they may be, a characteristic that was completely foreign to Mike, in his own life and in the life of the woman he once knew as his own. Once she was brought back, it seemed she was made into some sort of chameleon as well.

As she edged closer to him he noticed the pleasant effects of his alcohol induced haze retreating into a mild numbness of his senses. However, his eyesight was on alert and he noticed the standard Rescor barcode tattooed on the inside of her right wrist when she reached for his bottle of beer.

“I’m just a bit parched my love, mind if I have a sip?” She said as she took his beer and downed what was left in one fluid motion. Kira motioned for Claire to bring Mike another bottle. Claire stepped over to the pair, aware of their history and of the potential for disaster whenever the two were together after Kira’s transformation. They were both as volatile as gun powder next to a grease fire and Claire wanted no part of the fireworks.

Claire set Mike’s new bottle of beer down in front of him and retreated quickly as Kira swiped it and took a long pull, placing it back in front of Mike with a teeth-jarring thud.

To think of putting his mouth to the same place this thing beside him had just touched her lips to, made the acid in Mike’s gut rise. He eyed Kira warily and said with great disdain, “Keep it sweetie.”

He couldn’t stand this back and forth banter she insisted on every time they were in the same zip code. It was almost like she had some sort of tracking device on him and she knew when he was vulnerable and when his soul was raw from life.

She found him. She taunted him. She made his life hell showing him that he could never have it the way it used to be.

It tore Mike’s heart out to think of the love he once knew with Kira and that it all was boiled away when the mad scientist bastards at R.E.S.C.O.R. woke her from what should have been death.

Kira swung towards him on her barstool, seeming to almost float in her supernatural way of moving, and Mike; lost in his thoughts; inadvertently flinched. She laughed low and throaty and sprung from her perch, rabbit punching Mike in the back of the head and leapt away to taunt, tease and harass a group of burly bikers in a darkened corner.

‘Those guys have no idea what they are getting into.’ Mike thought to himself as he rubbed the back of his head. Claire stepped over to him to ask if he was ok. “I’m fine Claire, thanks for asking.”

Claire thrust out her chin determinedly and said, “Mike, I don’t know why you let her do that to you. It is like she hurts you on purpose every time she sees you. Either she hurts your feelings or hurts you physically or both. She is just a cruel woman, no… scratch that… She’s a Monster! I don’t know why you don’t turn her into that group of Blade Runners that have popped up over in Dallas. I mean, man… I know she used to be your wife and all… but dude… that thing ain’t nobody’s wife!”

Mike thought for a second and then replied, “I guess I just feel a little responsible for her Claire.” He shook his head sadly and walked out of the bar.

If only he had read the fine print on the medical release form at the hospital.


But he had always thought he was better than the rest of them, hadn't he? That no one could ever screw him over because he had all bases covered. Well, screwed him over she had, good and proper.

The day she... died, it had all started with a headache. He'd thought nothing of it at first, she was tired from working all hours at the office, and her father's heart scare had kept them on edge for a few days. The worry had only come later. Much later. Too late. By then, Kira was weeping from the pain, and her skin looked taut, stretched across the cheekbones, and glistening with sweat. Very unhealthy. Very worrying. That's when he'd realised that she needed the ER.

Every time he'd thought about that drive to the hospital, inevitably the words ‘movie clichés’ came to his mind although, it had definitely not felt that way at the time.
He had driven like he'd never driven before, clutching the wheel with both hands, aware that if he took Kira's hand, he might crush it with the sheer strength of his worry.
He lifted her gently from the passenger seat after a screeching halt right in front of the entrance, and run to the first nurse he’d seen. He was nearly incoherent. They'd thankfully taken over from there.

"You OK, Mike?" Claire inquired, snapping Mike out of his memories. It took him a second to actually remember where he was – in the bar’s parking lot, absently standing in front of his car, dangling car keys in hand – and it came crashing down. Kira was back. Again. Yet, somehow, this time, he had a nagging suspicion that she very much wanted to outstay her welcome.
"Yeah, just, y'know, had a few too many, I guess".
Claire didn't insist. She'd told him that Kira was bad news. There was nothing else she could do. And she couldn't afford to get tangled up in the lives of her patrons, however nice the patron. Not that Mike would listen anyway. She threw the stub of her cigarette, and went back in.

"Sir, hi, I’m Dr. Edwardes. I'm going to have to skip the niceties, here, time's running fast. You are aware that your wife signed up for Rescor procedure?"
"Er, n... no...?"
He'd hated the sound of his voice at that moment. Whiny, scared, choking. He wasn't like that.
"We found the acceptance card in her purse. Unfortunately, she was in a coma on arrival, so we couldn't get her formal confirmation."
Dr. Edwardes proceeded to brief him on what exactly the resurrection entailed. Mike hadn't even paused to consider the consequences: Kira was dead, Kira could live again, the answer shot out of his mouth like a hot breath.
"Yes, go on, do it."
Just like that, he’d allowed his wife to live again.
She’d stayed at the hospital for a couple of days, and he took her back home with the same kind of feeling he’d had on their wedding day.
The trouble became apparent fairly rapidly. He’d first noticed the mood swings. And it escalated fairly rapidly; she needed more and more time on her own, locked up in the bathroom, or out, just out, he’d never known where. Up until the point when she’d simply vanished. She’d even kissed him goodbye that day.

“Hey, Michael.”
Kira caught up with him sitting in his car. Not surprising considering that the old piece of shit he used for transport usually required a few minutes warming. Fuck.
“Kira. I’ve asked you before. What do you want?”
She was bending low to his level, showing more cleavage than he cared to see. It made his skin crawl that at some point he’d loved making love to her. She was so alien to him now.
“Michael, darling, don’t do this. What do I want? I want my husband back.” She started toying with the buttons on his shirt. The way her nails would grate the fabric against his skin used to drive him insane with desire for her. With love. That’s what it was then.
“I want children. A home. A fa-mi-ly.”, she sing-songed.
“Oh Kira, give me a break. You don’t want a family, you want new toys. What? That bunch of apes in there didn’t perform? I have to go.”
He gunned the car. He felt sober. He felt scared

A slow smile played across Kira’s face as she watched Michael flee, the tyres squealed and spun, sending dirt and dust flying into the air. She lit a cigarette and leaned back against the wall, plenty of time to catch up with him again. She inhaled deeply, loving the feel of the smoke and the nicotine rush. No more worries about lung cancer, yet another reason to thank Rescor - to thank Michael for bringing her back. She glanced at her reflection in the bar’s darkened window. Not a hair out of place, since Rescor she always looked pristine.

She thought about his earlier question. What do I want? ”Just to be happy”, Kira’s lips curled mockingly as she spoke softly to herself, practicing her reply, saccharine sweet, for next time he asked. And yet, in a way, it was the truth. But she knew he couldn’t understand. No one could. Not unless they’d seen what she had. Not unless they too had been brought back from death. As she dropped her cigarette she noticed a frown on the Kira in the window, marring her smooth forehead. Kira summoned a cold smile, she didn’t want to be upset by anything anymore. Nothing was worth getting upset over. Life was for living, she knew that now. No more wondering about what other people wanted, what they needed from her. No more thinking she owed anyone anything. She’d been dead. She had died. It still sounded strange to her.

”I was dead,” she whispered to the empty car park. ”I know what happens next, I’ve seen the other side.” Her voice had turned bitter, the frown had returned.

Kira could still remember the feelings that had swamped her the moment Rescor had brought her back. At first she had merely been slightly confused, but as the hours had passed and she realised that she hadn’t been sleeping, hadn’t even been unconscious, or in a coma, but had been dead!

Yet it hadn’t been a shock. In a strange way it actually made sense to her. If what she had experienced was true, was the ”afterlife”, well, it explained why she didn’t care that she was upsetting Michael. At first she had tried to at least act troubled. To pretend it bothered her that he was upset, but in the end it really didn’t matter, she decided not to waste time on pretense. All that mattered to Kira was Kira.

She slipped another cigarette from its packet, her reflection flickering as she lit it. For a moment she stared at the red glimmer, as it deepened when she inhaled. The only thing that should matter to anyone was themselves. She knew that now. Before Rescor, before death, she had worried about so many insignificant details. About other people, about their feelings, or what they thought of her. Not any more. Death had freed her of guilt and remorse. No more shame or disgrace, no fault or failing. Now she could divide the world into what she wanted, and everything else.

And that was the reason she still trailed after Michael. Memories of how happy he had made her. She didn’t care that she had once made him happy, that it had been a mutual joy. The important thing was how she felt. Besides, it amused her to see how uncomfortable she made him. Seeing him squirm was as good a result as anything else. If death had taught her anything it was that you only get one life.

She laughed at that, dropped the butt of her cigarette on the ground, turned and headed back into the bar. Michael may not have wanted to play tonight, but Kira knew she could always find some entertainment.

Brian Cane watched the car speed away, tires squealing and grinned. Soon the case would come to a head; soon it would be his time. He watched the woman, the sweet apple of his eye, his target, with that look of cruelty and the attitude of distain in her stance, adjust the moot perfection of her looks, finish her smoke and go back inside the club. He ached for her, as he ached for all his targets, but this one pulled at him more than any of the others, and he wanted to know why.

Brian Cane was one of the new breed of bounty hunters. For centuries the title "bounty hunter" had graced many heads, changing in definition as the time demanded, yes, but always meaning killer-for-hire, no matter what language you spoke. The only language Brian understood was money: he heard in money and spoke in blood. Some of the citizens referred to his kind as "Blade Runners", an allusion to some movie or other Brian only vaguely remembered as a kid and from what he remembered, he didn't mind the name. Now was the perfect time to be a killer-for-hire.

Since the advent of R.E.S.C.O.R. and the announcement of their revolutionary technique, Brian Cane had sat on the edge of his seat, awaiting the inevitable. In his head, the world was full of zombie flicks and now, heavens be praised, those fools who called themselves scientists had brought zombies into the real world, big as life and twice as colorful. He knew there'd be problems -dying changed people. Society wasn't prepared for an influx of people who knew what it was like to die, of people knowing that death wasn't the end any more. Religious groups were up-in-arms over the scientific and therefore sacrilegious resurrections and the courts didn't know what rights to award the growing minority of people who were essentially the property of R.E.S.C.O.R.

Oh yes, there would be problems, and then, there would be him.

***

He felt sober. He felt scared.

Mike could feel his sobriety, a sharp white feeling lodged in the center of his brain. The car hummed and shook at the speed he forced it to go. That Bitch, he thought, and then liking the taste of the thought he said it out loud: "That Bitch."

Ever since her reincarnation, for that was what it was not a resurrection. Sure she looked and sounded like his wife but that was not her. The woman he had lived with and loved was dead and he just had come to grips with that.

"My wife is dead." he said to the universe in general and his voice sounded shaky, unsure like he was fighting back tears, like he didn't want to and couldn't believe it. So he tried again. "My wife is dead!"

This time the words came out the way he wanted them to, like the way he wanted to face her: sure, steady and above all, in control of himself. But he wasn't in control, not of anything. Damn R.E.S.C.O.R. and their need to defy death, life and God. Damn them for what they did to her, to him. If she was gone, dead and buried, then he could move on with his life, move onto mourning and get out of this slump he was in. If she was gone!

Mike shook his head to clear it. The anger was leaving him, draining away and all the alcohol he had downed at the club was coming back to him, a red mist threatening to totally overthrow his composure. He tried to disgorge thoughts of Kira, to focus on where he was going and what he had to do. But he didn't care where he was going. It was enough that he was going away from her.

That bitch masquerading in his beloved wife's visage, pretending that they still had a connection. It was fine for him to think these thoughts when she was not around, but the constant reminder of her presence, when she sought him out to torment him, did nothing but make him feel guilty. Guilty for letting her die, for not seeing the signs before, for not loving her anymore. What could he do? Every time he saw her, his heart thumped and for a minute wanted to throw his arms around her and ... but then he'd see that look in those lovely eyes. The look that told him this wasn't Kira, not his Kira anyways. That look hungered for his pain for the world's pain, said the world owed her something and that she was going to take it, one way or another. A stranger parading as his dead wife, a zombie. Damn R.E.S.C.O.R.. Mike reached over, opened his glove compartment and took out the small bottle of whiskey he hid there for emergencies. He took a swig.

If she was gone, dead and buried, he could move on with his life.

Edgar Bersford, vice-president of Onyx Unlimited and head of R.E.S.C.O.R. subsidiary, was fretting again.

Edgar looked at a number of files before him. He sighed. Ever since they started their public operations, there had been no end to problems. And now reports submitted by the company investigators were threatening to get his ulcers going again.

He looked at the files again one by one.

Somehow, after their resurrection, some of the R.E.S.C.O.R. clients had been showing unsettling behavioral changes. The percentage was still small-- around fourteen percent-- but the numbers were slowly growing and Edgar was a realist enough to know that the problem wouldn't just go away.

Bzzzt!

Edgar looked up as the intercom buzzed and Mari, his secretary, said in a voice made electronically inhuman, "Sir, Dr. Witt wishes to inform you that the A.I. platform has become unstable again after the last insertion. Likewise, the Vatican investigator wants another appointment to visit the lab again."

He shook his head and realized that Mari wouldn't have seen the gesture.

He pushed an intercom button and replied, "Ah, tell Dr. Witt to start the program but to pass the confirmation sequence to me. I'll be the one to welcome the personality. As for the priest... give him the usual run-around."

He ground his teeth. If not for the benefits, he hated his job. Not only did he have to deal with settling in the new A.I. personality every time it went insane-- always a disturbing process-- but he also had to deal with people like Father Ambrose Callow, the Vatican representative sent to check R.E.S.C.O.R.'s resurrection pogram.

Callow: now he was a cold fish. If not for the fact that the priest was a Jesuit scientist and extremely curious, Edgar could have sworn Callow was jealous in behalf of the Roman Catholic Church. Like it or not, the Church had never been happy with R.E.S.C.O.R.'s promise of 'eternal life' for its clients. Bad for their business, Dr. Witt had once joked.

Edgar wouldn't have told that to Callow's face. The priest looked dangerous.

"By the way, Mari," Edgar said, thumbing the intercom, "Tell Dr. Witt to prep the A.I. for another dimensional insertion. We're way behind in resurrecting clients as it is. I'll talk to the A.I. before it's sent out."

“Alright sir."

He pitied the A.I. personality that would be facing the omnivorous beings that ruled behind the dimensional gate in the lab. But between facing the chairman of the Onyx board on why they were behind schedule and over costs, and making deals with demons even older the world, Edgar knew what choice he'd make.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Seventh Addition - The Banzai Cat

The Banzai Cat has added something great and I copy below the opening statements, as well as the contribution:


Okay, so forgottenmachine gave me a quiet nudge about Story-crossing, an on-going collaborative story started by his friend, Lucretia.

Normally, I'm kinda shy about joining collaborative stories since I'm not exactly sure if all the contributors will be amenable to the ideas (or direction of the story) I'll be contributing.

I know, I know... that's just me.

However, I particularly like how this story is going-- especially how the contributors seem to be ensuring a well-written story. For example, they change character viewpoint of the story to get a larger picture of the situation, they add sections in order to enflesh the characters, etc.

So I figure, what the heck, right? Here goes Word Vomit (part 2)...

In brief: In what seems to be a near future time, our protagonist Mike is being harried by his former lover, Kira, after the latter was resurrected by R.E.S.C.O.R.

Unfortunately, ever since she was brought back from the dead, Kira has been different and Mike is running scared. More unfortunate is the two have caught the predatory interest of a bounty hunter, Brian Cane.

What is happening to Kira? What did R.E.S.C.O.R. do to her? And what is R.E.S.C.O.R.?


*************************************************************************************

Edgar Bersford, vice-president of Onyx Unlimited and head of R.E.S.C.O.R. subsidiary, was fretting again.

Edgar looked at a number of files before him. He sighed. Ever since they started their public operations, there had been no end to problems. And now reports submitted by the company investigators were threatening to get his ulcers going again.

He looked at the files again one by one.

Somehow, after their resurrection, some of the R.E.S.C.O.R. clients had been showing unsettling behavioral changes. The percentage was still small-- around fourteen percent-- but the numbers were slowly growing and Edgar was a realist enough to know that the problem wouldn't just go away.

Bzzzt!

Edgar looked up as the intercom buzzed and Mari, his secretary, said in a voice made electronically inhuman,"Sir, Dr. Witt wishes to inform you that the A.I. platform has become unstable again after the last insertion. Likewise, the Vatican investigator wants another appointment to visit the lab again."

He shook his head and realized that Mari wouldn't have seen the gesture.

He pushed an intercom button and replied, "Ah, tell Dr. Witt to start the program but to pass the confirmation sequence to me. I'll be the one to welcome the personality. As for the priest... give him the usual run-around."

He ground his teeth. If not for the benefits, he hated his job. Not only did he have to deal with settling in the new A.I. personality every time it went insane-- always a disturbing process-- but he also had to deal with people like Father Ambrose Callow, the Vatican representative sent to check R.E.S.C.O.R.'s resurrection pogram.

Callow: now he was a cold fish. If not for the fact that the priest was a Jesuit scientist and extremely curious, Edgar could have sworn Callow was jealous in behalf of the Roman Catholic Church. Like it or not, the Church had never been happy with R.E.S.C.O.R.'s promise of 'eternal life' for its clients. Bad for their business, Dr. Witt had once joked.

Edgar wouldn't have told that to Callow's face. The priest looked dangerous.

"By the way, Mari," Edgar said, thumbing the intercom, "Tell Dr. Witt to prep the A.I. for another dimensional insertion. We're way behind in resurrecting clients as it is. I'll talk to the A.I. before it's sent out."

"Alright sir."

He pitied the A.I. personality that would be facing the omnivorous beings that ruled behind the dimensional gate in the lab. But between facing the chairman of the Onyx board on why they were behind schedule and over costs, and making deals with demons even older the world, Edgar knew what choice he'd make.

*************************************************************************************


So. Are the hints enough for the story?


Lucretia Again responds: I am amazed by this, truly believable and elegant development. Thank you very much for keeping this alive!

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Sixth Addition - Mysfit

Brian Cane watched the car speed away, tires squealing and grinned. Soon the case would come to a head; soon it would be his time. He watched the woman, the sweet apple of his eye, his target, with that look of cruelty and the attitude of distain in her stance, adjust the moot perfection of her looks, finish her smoke and go back inside the club. He ached for her, as he ached for all his targets, but this one pulled at him more than any of the others, and he wanted to know why.

Brian Cane was one of the new breed of bounty hunters. For centuries the title "bounty hunter" had graced many heads, changing in definition as the time demanded, yes, but always meaning killer-for-hire, no matter what language you spoke. The only language Brian understood was money: he heard in money and spoke in blood. Some of the citizens referred to his kind as "Blade Runners", an allusion to some movie or other Brian only vaguely remembered as a kid and from what he remembered, he didn't mind the name. Now was the perfect time to be a killer-for-hire.

Since the advent of R.E.S.C.O.R. and the announcement of their revolutionary technique, Brian Cane had sat on the edge of his seat, awaiting the inevitable. In his head, the world was full of zombie flicks and now, heavens be praised, those fools who called themselves scientists had brought zombies into the real world, big as life and twice as colorful. He knew there'd be problems -dying changed people. Society wasn't prepared for an influx of people who knew what it was like to die, of people knowing that death wasn't the end any more. Religious groups were up-in-arms over the scientific and therefore sacrilegious resurrections and the courts didn't know what rights to award the growing minority of people who were essentially the property of R.E.C.O.R.

Oh yes, there would be problems, and then, there would be him.

* * *

He felt sober. He felt scared.

Mike could feel his sobriety, a sharp white feeling lodged in the center of his brain. The car hummed and shook at the speed he forced it to go. That Bitch, he thought, and then liking the taste of the thought he said it out loud: "That Bitch."

Ever since her reincarnation, for that was what it was not a resurrection. Sure she looked and sounded like his wife but that was not her. The woman he had lived with and loved was dead and he just had come to grips with that.

"My wife is dead." he said to the universe in general and his voice sounded shaky, unsure like he was fighting back tears, like he didn't want to and couldn't believe it. So he tried again. "My wife is dead!"

This time the words came out the way he wanted them to, like the way he wanted to face her: sure, steady and above all, in control of himself. But he wasn't in control, not of anything. Damn R.E.S.C.O.R. and their need to defy death, life and God. Damn them for what they did to her, to him. If she was gone, dead and buried, then he could move on with his life, move onto mourning and get out of this slump he was in. If she was gone!

Mike shook his head to clear it. The anger was leaving him, draining away and all the alcohol he had downed at the club was coming back to him, a red mist threatening to totally overthrow his composure. He tried to disgorge thoughts of Kira, to focus on where he was going and what he had to do. But he didn't care where he was going. It was enough that he was going away from her.

That bitch masquerading in his beloved wife's visage, pretending that they still had a connection. It was fine for him to think these thoughts when she was not around, but the constant reminder of her presence, when she sought him out to torment him, did nothing but make him feel guilty. Guilty for letting her die, for not seeing the signs before, for not loving her anymore. What could he do? Every time he saw her, his heart thumped and for a minute wanted to throw his arms around her and ... but then he'd see that look in those lovely eyes. The look that told him this wasn't Kira, not his Kira anyways. That look hungered for his pain for the world's pain, said the world owed her something and that she was going to take it, one way or another. A stranger parading as his dead wife, a zombie. Damn R.E.S.C.O.R.. Mike reached over, opened his glove compartment and took out the small bottle of whiskey he hid there for emergencies. He took a swig.

If she was gone, dead and buried, he could move on with his life.