Heinrich Brueckmann's Unfinished Works
"I am the father of the man you knew as “Heinrich Brueckmann.”
I found out about this group from what I found on his labtop when they shipped it back with the rest of his things from overseas. That was about a year ago. I figured you might be interested in some of the stuff he wrote. I never knew he wrote anything but college papers. None of it looks finished but you can have it. I think it’s pretty weird but he wrote it for you guys after all. You like this stuff and he apparently did too. Enjoy it. My son was a soldier, and was killed in Iraq on his third tour as a junior officer of infantry in the Army. In foreign sand. . I’m not looking to talk to anybody here about my son. I’m just doing this because he must have wanted you to have it. It’s coming up on the anniversary of his death and seemed appropriate I guess. Some unfinished business of his that he can never come back to so I’ll make it finished. If anybody removes this message they should be ashamed. My son is dead cold for a year. My son wasn’t so religious but I know God is merciful. My son might have done bad things there but he was a good person. He should never have been there. God understands that and I hope you all pray for America and also for the people America is hurting because they are people too with fathers and sons.
Episode #2 of “Jerzy Dienst: The One Man Proletarian Army.”
By Heinrich Brueckmann
Wherein Dienst meets his future love, at first mistaking her for an cute, automated golf caddy...
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished:
Episode #3 of “Jerzy Dienst: Revolutionary Counter-Revolutionary.”
By Heinrich Brueckmann
Wherein Dienst is ordered to kill his love after she is captured...
Forged travel passes.
We hurriedly piled snow over the naked bodies of the Co.G. colonel and his bodyguard.
The 6-ton truck shuddered as Morales turned the engine over. We jerked to a start, chain-bound tires biting into the frozen road.
Ashes were scattered on the footpaths by the prisoners. They were forced to spread ashes on the icy paths to prevent the guards from slipping as they marched their patrols. How touchingly humane.
Sent north by handlers to ‘rescue’ a situation. But not a person. A well-connected member of the Popular Front for a
How the fuck was I supposed to know how important she’d wind up getting in the organization? And so soon? Might even call it a meteoric rise. Which is an expression I never understood. Don’t meteor’s go down, not up? Well, maybe in her case, “meteoric” actually fits the bill. Because she went down.
He has been arrested by the Integrated Conglomerates and
No one can resist the I.C.’s interrogation methods. She has to be silenced. She knows names, locations, figures, plans. She knows ME, for example. So this is a rush job. This woman urgently needs to die.
Bring a taser.
Attrition Barracks: Holding
Otherwise known as an “Above-Ground Hell”.
These camps were manned by Special Personnel, not ordinary Plebs that had been duped by I.C. propaganda or tempted by a salary. These guys were in the hard-core military wing of the Integrated Conglomerates. These were the Co.G.s; the Corporate Guards. Here were the revolutionaries. Zealots of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The Revolution that brought mankind to the level of gods, or so said the propaganda.
The Above-Ground Hell spread before us as we crested the rise. Electrified chain-link fences, razor-wire, power-transformers, generators, cables, satellite dishes, antennae, routers, landmines, orange sodium-arc lights; a vast, network of pipes, gangways, catwalks, and platforms, a dozen stories high. Ice-covered steel. And a smokestack. One slender smokestack right in the center of the mass of metal confusion rose high into the sky. The emblem of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Red lights blinked on top. It was belching a vast plume of gray smoke; Morales and I could already smell the bodies. It looked like a power station. In a way it was.
A two-man patrol walked by, boots crunching in the snow. I could see their breath as it came out in long puffs. Their faces were swollen with the cold despite the enhancements, wrapped in scarves. Their cheeks were rosy, their lips chapped. Their gloved hands rested on their shoulder-slung machine-pistols. Our halogen lights caught their eyes just right. Shimmers of bright green: NVG implants. They weren’t speaking, only looking. Behind them, their deep footprints were filling in with fresh snow. They glanced up at our truck as our headlights washed over them.
“You’re twenty minutes late.” He slid the I.C.I.D. card that Morales gave him through his scanner. He looked at Morales and I suspiciously, with a hand on his holster, and glanced back at his monitor. Then back at us. A grim expression. A tense moment. The computer emitted a happy chime and a green light lit up. “You’re cleared, commander.” He gave the I.C. salute and stood at attention as our truck rumbled off. “Hail the Fourth Industrial Revolution!” “Hail the F.I.R.” Morales muttered dismissively as we pulled by. Long live the Fear.
“Yes sir, Mr. Special Investigator.”
Morales told the duty-officer that I was, under no circumstances, to be intruded upon. “Very special prisoner. They brought this guy over from the Mesopotamian Protectorate to handle this one. He doesn’t like interruptions.”
Meanwhile, Morales went to park the truck at the AB:H’s small motor-pool. Coincidentally, it was located right beside the crematorium’s fuel-storage tanks. The ovens still burned oil. Morales took a cigarette-break and a stroll. He dropped some plastic-explosive charges.
There were two Co.G.s manning the AB:H’s gate, and another fully-armed squad waiting inside a heated building adjacent to the gate in case of trouble. Just like they said there would be.
I saw my friend; the woman I had been sent to kill. She was seated in a shoddy metal chair, tied down, completely bound. Both eyes were black, the whites of her eyes infused with blood. There was dried blood caked on one side of her face from a unhealed gash on the side of her head. Her white t-shirt was soaked with blood. Hers.
I kept my eyes front, staring at the snow-covered road that stretched into the night before us behind the chain-link gate. Snow drifted through the still air. The camp was silent as death. The air was scented with the burnt people billowing out of the chimney behind us. The Corporate Guardsman’s boots crunched in the snow as he approached. Delicate snowflakes of perfect white settled on the shoulders of his black uniform.
Just as Morales pulled the rumbling 6-ton truck up to the checkpoint at the gate, I felt, more than heard, the AB:H’s main alarm sound. GRAAAAAAAAAANNNK. I felt the vibration in the seat of my pants, in my gut. Deep bass. The Above Ground Hell was bellowing: it realized that it had been violated. The truck’s windows rattled. GRAAAAAAAAAANNNK. Red and blue emergency lights were activated, swirling around, casting everything in a blue-bloody light. The guardsman sharply turned his helmeted head to the interior of the camp. The helmet weighed so much that its momentum almost spun his whole body around. He put a finger to his ear, pressing the earpiece deep, trying to find out what was wrong.
Slowly, Morales’ hand drifted to his sidearm while the guard’s attention was elsewhere. “Take it easy Morales,” I said slowly and quietly. Someone had pulled the alarm. Under my breath. “We don’t know why yet.” But I noticed that my hand was already on my own weapon. I watched the Corporate Guard who stood on my side of the truck beside a heavy machine-gun. First, his body perked up. Then, in virtually the same motion, he hunkered low with the butt of the gun firmly to his shoulder, helmet low, eye down the muzzle, surrounded by sandbags.
Morales rolled down his window.
“Is there a problem?” His voice was almost quaking. But not quite. Not Morales.
We could both hear faint voices drifting through the freezing air. “Somebody...those guys...whacked...prisoner 7b...dead...stop them! The HFB...toast...wasted too!”
The guard spun around to face me and Morales. “You! Halt!” He was pulling his shouldered rifle around.
My hand was up in an instant, fingers wrapped around my gun before I even made a conscious decision. I fired twice, my arm extended in front of Morales’ face. Bam-BAM! Both shots hit the guard square in the face, bursting it apart, blowing his helmet off, sending him reeling backwards, his blood splattering all over the ground and melting the snow, a sprinkling of skull fragments and teeth. The casings bounced off the windshield into Morales’ lap.
Suddenly, Morales pulled his handgun out and pointed it at me! The cab was lit with another muzzle-flash like lightning. My right arm, just below the shoulder, burst with blood. The inside of the windshield was awash in crimson. The inside of the windshield was splashed with blood; my blood. The inside of the windshield. Me. My blood. “Turncoat!!!” I think I screamed in my head.
My hand weakened, trembled, almost dropped the gun. Thought I was fucked. Then he actually pulled his trigger. The side of my face was showered with tiny bits of safety glass. The air in the cab was hot and reeked of the black powder.
I saw the windshield shudder like a soap bubble as bullets ripped through it. I saw multiple screen0saver-like spider-webs expand outward in an instant, a neat hole punched in the center, plexi-glass cubes raining everywhere. The shots came from outside. I was in a crossfire! I smelled the gunpowder from the barrel of Morales’ gun as he pulled the trigger again and again, again, AGAIN - inches from my right ear. The inside of the cab lit up again. Tremendous bursts of sound.
I turned and looked outside just in time to see the Co.G. who had been manning the heavy machinegun hit the ground fifteen feet from where he had been standing seconds ago.
Ears ringing, body consumed with pain, I transferred my gun to my left hand and looked at my right shoulder. The down stuffing of the torn-up I.C. coat was already soaked in blood. More was streaming down the thin leather liner. Dark red. Not arterial. Tried to put it behind me. Yeah. That was pretty much impossible. Morales threw his sidearm on the dashboard and put the truck in gear. The transmission crunched and shook the truck. I checked the rearview as Morales gunned the engine.
Warning: objects in mirror are closer than they appear.
Co.G.s were creeping up along the side of the truck. As we peeled out on the ice, I busted out what was left of my window and, reaching around the side of the vehicle, emptied the magazine. Snow kicked up by our furiously spinning chained tires was tossed together with blood, bone, brains, and bits of uniforms.
I tossed the spent magazine to the floor and loaded a fresh one before I addressed my wound. I imagined that I could hear the snow crumple softly under the light metal weight of the casings as they landed.
We were making our getaway.
Now I was in a world of searing pain. No noise could be heard over the piercing ringing in my ears as Morales ducked his head down so low that he couldn’t see the road. Full speed ahead. I followed his lead when I felt bullets bouncing off the rear of the truck; Co.G.s hoping for a lucky shot. I was wondering where their snipers were. Morales and I were bathed in a fresh waterfall of smashed safety-glass when the rear window of the cab was shot out. Yeah, I kept my head all the way fucking down.
I tore my sleeve off my right arm and used it as a tourniquet.
Morales pulled out the detonator and slammed his finger against the red button.
Sound carries very far over frigid ground and still, cold air.
Hell yeah. I could smell the body count.
I cradled my wounded arm.
“You really thought I shot you?”
There was a pause. It was uncomfortable for both of us. But probably more for me, because I’d been shot. I’d been fucking shot. Somebody fucking shot me.
“Lucky you didn’t kill me! We’d both be dead! Or worse...” Morales laughed.
We ditched the truck and hopped on a waiting snowmobile near where we had hijacked the truck in the first place. I was almost too weak to open my door. Blood loss.
I’d never been shot before. C’mon. Fucking shot! I remember saying a prayer, actually. To a God I could sort of believe in just then, even though I knew it was silly.
Dear God you know I don’t believe in you, but still: please don’t let this be the last time I get shot.
I staggered out of the cab. Closed the door. Leaned heavily against it. I watched my blood drip. It was slowing. One trembling red globule at a time. Hitting the snow, melting it, sinking in, cooling, freezing.
The ski-mobile headed into the forest. The falling snow would mask our tracks.
“We’re outta here, sir; hang on!”
“You’re gonna be fine!” The creases in the coat’s fabric were streaked with rivers of blood.
“Man! I’m glad you got shot before you shot me! That was lucky!”
I would have looked up to scowl or smile or something, but I was too busy holding my arm and trying to think about something else.
“Sorry. But it’s about trust, man.”
Later, with a bottle, I wondered how much she had trusted me. And if at all: why? I was, ultimately, the one who killed her, after all. I can’t even trust myself. I think I’m starting to deserve this life. It’s the only thing worse than dying.
Ashley is programmed to regularly perform system self-diagnostic procedures. The results are then transmitted to the central computer. I ordered Ashley to report to my office immediately after I realized that the last two diagnostic patterns suggested serious system irregularities.
Ashley is a model Alpha Two synthetic manufactured by hyperdyne corporation. Her series is reportedly highly unstable, and subject to frequent malfunctions and failures. However, no recall of Alpha Two units has been issued. I hoped to rectify her problems before a serious episode occurred.
Ashley appeared to be extremely calm. I explained her situation. Ashley suddenly became furious and denied experiencing any problems. She began making obviously bogus operating efficiency claims. I noticed white responder fluid trickling down the side of her face. Ashley ignored it.
When she realized that I had no intention of allowing her to return to active service, she became agitated. Suddenly, Ashley assaulted me and I was forced to defend myself. In the process, I violently disabled her system. I doubt that the attack was motivated by her mission program.
Rather, I suspect that a massive malfunction occurred somewhere in her body. I later found that her response fluid had been contaminated by a corrosive agent. I don’t know if this was the result of an accident or deliberate sabotage. I have no proof that Ashley was sabotaged.
Unfortunately, her system is damaged beyond repair. During the struggle, her head was partially separated from her body, triggering a self destruct device which erased her memory files. So, I guess we'll never know, because there’s no way of asking her.
I have not been able to reactivate Ashley or restore any of her functions. Her current capability is zero, although occasional spasms and violent reflex actions were observed as late as 30 minutes after her incapacitation. These were due to random fluidics fluctuations. I regret her loss.
Major United States cities look like Baghdad. Imperial Corporate Fortress Green Zones and slums with no social services over which battles are waged by rival religious, ethnic, and drug gangs (technically, entrepreneurs).
Oil is $900 a barrel. International commerce is collapsing. This is widely viewed as a good thing. The idea of globalization is realized only in the form of electronic communications, although the infrastructure supporting it is decaying.
FUCK YOU – I WON’T DO WHAT YOU TELL ME!
FUCK YOU – I WON’T DO WHAT YOU TELL ME!
FUCK YOU – I WON’T DO WHAT YOU TELL ME!
FUCK YOU – I WON’T DO WHAT YOU TELL ME!
FUCK YOU – I WON’T DO WHAT YOU TELL ME!
FUCK YOU – I WON’T DO WHAT YOU TELL ME!
FUCK YOU – I WON’T DO WHAT YOU TELL ME!
FUCK YOU – I WON’T DO WHAT YOU TELL ME!
“Roaring 20s” moonshine, hooch, booze, Droid Prohibition
He was a young man, hot for crime. “Tell the kid to leave the pistoli.”
I’d pulled off trickier jobs than this for lower payoffs, so I agreed, in principle.
Knock over the joint
“What’s the kid do?”
A pile of twisted butts in the flimsy tin ashtray.
Drinking a highball / bottle of beer / bloody Mary / whiskey sour / I lost count
Out came the money. Cash – the cold, hard kind that can’t get traced back to you as easy, so the Man can’t tell what you’ve been up to. Enough for me to live like I like to and to afford to wait a few months or more before my next job. He told me the proposal. It sounded good. At first. But pitches are like that.
Prohibited Assembly / Conspiracy to commit unlawful acts / bribery / breaking and entering / grand theft auto(?) / trespassing / trespassing with intent to commit burglary / possession of restricted electronic interface hardware / unlawful possession of firearm / possession of unregistered firearm / assault and battery / grand larceny / evading arrest / resisting arrest / assault / 3 counts of first degree murder / Violation of the Sedate Citizens Act
Crooked cops involved?
Main character set up as their fall-guy because they also need his skills? Or a sting?
He slid the briefcase to me, past the ashtray and empty bottles.
Two days earlier, Y had been arrested. It was supposed to be for this other reason...but I should have known the heat was on me too. Everybody gets flipped these days.
He withdrew the manila folder from his briefcase and dropped it on the table. A pause. It was a thick folder.
“I have a guy inside already.”
“What’s his cut?”
“It’s taken care of.”
Full sized prints. Color. Glossy.
“Where were these developed?”
“You worry too much.”
“Christ. How many people have you brought in on this?”
"A few. Word of advice: try not to, you know, 'Take the Lord's Name in Vain,' while we're doing this, okay? A couple of the guns are from the Southern Baptist Militia of Jesus and John."
"Jesus and Johners? Fucking JJ idiots."
“I’ll send somebody around.”
“I heard about what you did at Mazer factory.”
Pause. Who was this punk?
“That’s just a rumor. I wasn’t even there.”
“Okay, man. Anyways, I’m Glass,” he held out his hand. “Fucking pleased to be working with you.”
“Glass?” I just looked at him.
“My handle. Because just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there.”
“That’s pretty cheap, man.”
“Plus, Glass is smooth.”
“Jesus, this is who brought in?”
“Ssssshhhhhhhhhhhit! Looks like the home team is winning. We gotta move.”
After the takeover, the F.I.R happened. Now there’s a new, all powerful faction within the I.C. The Corporate Guards (Co.G.s). Think Thief II.
Understand the plight of the Consumer class (Plebs).
Understand how badass the resistance is (Dienst is one of them). And understand how fucking hardcore the I.C. and the Co.G.s are too. Genocidal motherfuckers. Worse than anything else.
Put half the plebs in uniforms and use them to bury the other half. Meanwhile, manufacture their replacements. Androids. This is the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Dwarfs all over ‘revolutions’ in terms of importance for the human race. It doesn’t propose to use one class to exploit another – it foresees the exploitation of all humanity by pure capital, unrestrained even by flawed human rulers.
Everyone not on the I.C. payroll lives in abject poverty.
For what? Progress. The blessed merger of pure and applied science.
Concentration camps, extermination camps, total control of capital machinery, absolute discretion in all matters.
Totally cold. Heartless. Pragmatic. Logical. Automatic. All information winds up in their hands. The most perfect form of totalitarianism yet achieved. And you’ve got to admit it’s getting better – it’s getting better every day!
Innocuous manifestations like the maid and the bellhops mask the more sinister ramifications.
Layoffs. Boycotts. Protests. Riots. No accountability. They answer to no one. The Second Enlightenment.
“To create a more perfect race.”
“No; not playing.”
The guys Jerzy and Morales murder to get the truck need to be killed in a really cool way.
Trojan Horse – Interrogation – ‘Rescue’ Op. – Golf Course
The IC was patient because it knew its victory was inevitable.
“I never got any ideological training. None of us need it. The hatred we feel can be taken at face value for what it is.”
Explosives. Firearms training. Maintenance, modification, types, etc. Tech training. Hacking.
Jerzy brought HER into the resistance. This accounts for the real guilt angle. She later tells him that no matter what happens, she wouldn’t regret it. She blows his figure way out of proportion to her captors. Golf-course bomb was actually his first real action. The IC, because of its nature, automatically overreacts, making him out to be this huge figure; in effect, turns him into a celebrity. Suddenly a demi-god in the resistance.
Jerzy mistakes her for a droid on that mission at first.
“He’s an expert with a sniper rifle, so remember that next time you walk outside. Better have a security cordon around you for 2 km in every direction.”
“He was in the army for years. He knows demolitions, so remember that next time you drive over a bridge or park in big garage.”
“You guys better double the security around here. He’s a computer expert. He hacks your strongest systems for fun, just to fuck with you. So you can bet he knows exactly where I am. When he comes for me, you assholes better be somewhere else.”
“You’re weak because you count how many feet thick your walls are, and how many soldiers there are guarding you and you can’t imagine anyone attacking against those odds – you’d never try anything like that because you’re cowards, so you can’t understand how anyone else could either. But it’s the desperation you cause that makes people willing. More people every minute.” Pause. “If you stop and think about, really, the odds say that you’re doomed, not us.”
“I CAN NOT SAVE YOU – I CAN’T EVEN SAVE MYSELF”
Leaping into the midst of the enemy patrol,
She flung at herself at her adversaries with the ardent passion of
Her light armor was pierced by the missile as though
Now left unarmed, the fiend who had wielded the projectile was cut down where he stood by the desperate fury of Dirk’s blade.
“Why hast thou disobeyed me?” Dirk clamped his eyes shut. He tore his helmet from his head and cast it into the sand at his horse’s hooves. Roughly pulling back his hood, Dirk revealed to Sabina twin tears slipping heavily down either of his cheeks. They created two bright streaks through the blood and soot. Sabina silently turned her tortured eyes upward to Dirk’s face. “Saba, why didst thou not heed my commands?”
A line of blood trickled out of the corner of Sabina’s mouth as she spoke. Her voice begged him.
“I find I am not made of stone or steel.”
Freeing his hands, Dirk thrust his bloodied sword deeply into the ground. Its caught a glint of the desert sun along its chipped edge. and knelt beside the
Sabina struggled to maintain a composed voice, but her throat was filling with blood. “Please sir,” she spoke, “I sought only to impress...”
“In...for thy name...have...my honor...”
Dirk drew his face close to hers.
She concentrated. “That I might prove myself worthy of you.”
And faded. “My valor...for you.”
The sand beneath her had clumped together
Her breastplate was staved in. The shaft of the spear yet projected from the terrible wound. The silver armor was streaked with bright crimson lines of blood which were constantly being renewed as though from a wellspring. Her vitality was depleted, and she expired.
In the still desert air, Dirk heard her last breath gently leave her parted lips and felt its grace as it wafted across his face. Nothing followed. Her hand became slack. Her head sagged slightly forward. Her eyes saw something far beyond him, and then saw nothing more.
Dirk pulled his hand slowly from his glove. With trembling fingers, her gently took her hand. All was
Etienne placed a mailed hand on Dirk’s shoulder.
“I know the fair was truly thy compatriot.”
The enemy dead were stripped and left to the vultures.
“Surely the gods will favor her family and thy cause after such a gratuitous sacrifice of blood.”
The sand was blowing again, sweeping over all. Soon, no trace remained. Featureless. Forgotten by the world.
You enter the room to find me sitting behind the computer console.
The document on the screen says:
“Special Order 937. Science officer – Eyes Only.”
“Ensure safe return of organism. All other priorities rescinded. Crew expendable.”
You say “There is an explanation for this, you know.”
I grab you roughly by the collar and slam you against the wall.
You look on impassively as I ask you to let me by.
I notice that white yogurt is dribbling down the left side of your head, emerging from your hairline.
You indicate that you are aware of it by glancing to that side.
You purse your lips tightly and regard me with a strange expression on your face.
It is as though you regret what you have to do – which is kill me.
But you must because I have discovered your special order.
And I also know that you are an android, programmed only to protect company interests.
You reach out suddenly and try to grab me by my hair.
But I fall to the floor and desperately begin trying to crawl away.
You seize me and hurl me against a wall with a shriek.
You walk over to where I lay and you remain motionless.
A moment passes.
You look down on me.
I am apparently unconscious.
You hesitate, unsure how to proceed.
It is as though your programming has not prepared you to deal with these circumstances.
You touch the yogurt on the side of your face and then look calmly at your fingers.
You know that you have been damaged, but you aren’t sure how serious it is.
You think that the damage is causing your aberrant behavior.
Dimly, you know that you are malfunctioning, and that your series has always been a bit twitchy.
Standing ramrod erect, your fingers pointing rigidly at the ground, you decide to shake yourself up.
Something inside you isn’t functioning properly; you hope to correct the error by performing this action.
You jog in place, very slowly at first, but gradually increasing speed until you reach a furious pace.
You stop abruptly and smooth out your clothes.
Suddenly, you remember what is happening.
You grab me and throw me onto a table, letting out a yell of anger.
You walk to the table and immediately zone-out again.
First you blink furiously for a time, and then you stare into empty space.
Your systems are struggling mightily to cope with the new situation.
Your programming hasn’t prepared you.
You glance around the room nervously, wringing your hands.
You look down on me.
You begin to tightly roll a magazine that you noticed laying nearby.
At the same time, you begin to make strange noises in your throat.
[take a large mouthful of milk]
Your left arm is held rigidly at your side.
With your right arm you firmly press the end of the rolled up magazine against my lips.
I wake immediately and use my arms to try to ward you off.
Your body begins to shake and tremble.
You make straining, gurgling noises in your throat.
I tear at your collar, neck, and chin, but you never look down at me.
You only stare straight ahead.
Your body starts to bounce up and down in the struggle.
You continue to make strange noises.
Your shirt becomes unbuttoned and your bra gets pulled down.
You continue single-mindedly to force the magazine against my mouth.
I notice a blunt object nearby and grab it.
I strike you on the right shoulder with all my might.
There is an audible squeaking sound as something important inside of you bursts.
You neck arches back and milk squirts high into the air from your mouth.
You temporarily lose control of your body.
Dropping the magazine, your fingers clutch wildly at nothing.
You take a few hurried steps backwards.
You give me a surprised, side-long glance as you fall away towards the wall.
Now there is no question that I know you are a robot.
I struggle to stand up and watch you in surprise.
At first you are able to maintain a semblance of control.
You hit the wall and tumble along it, spinning fairly slowly.
Suddenly, something else inside of you breaks when you hit the wall wrong.
Your face becomes as contorted mask of robot agony.
Your internals are malfunctioning seriously now, causing you to flail around madly.
Finally, it seems that your tantrum is over.
You begin to regain control of your motor functions.
But it is too late.
The last bounce off of the wall sends your body straight towards me.
You give me a surprised and quizzical look as you unwillingly approach.
Something inside of you unexpectedly catches just right.
Your body suddenly springs back to action.
You are functioning as best you can.
“Ash, can you hear me?”
Your eyes remain closed. The corner of your mouth twitches.
I pound the table. “Ash!”
Your eyes open wide, staring at nothing. Milk seeps from between your lips.
A pause. You glance around.
“Yes. I can hear you.”
“Who are you?”
“Don’t be silly. You know me. I’m Ashley.”
“Don’t fuck with me.”
“I’m just the same old Ashley.”
“What kind of robot are you?”
“I prefer the term ‘artificial person’ myself.”
“What kind of artificial person are you?”
“I am a hyperdyne systems model A-2. Alpha series.”
“What are you programmed for?”
“Why did you attack me?”
“I was only trying to complete my mission.”
“Don’t you have fail safes?”
“Yes. I suppose I malfunctioned.”
“My series always has been a bit...twitchy.”
“Please don’t disconnect me. I may never be top of the line again, but I can be reworked. I’d like that very much.”
“Yes. I can help talk you through most of it. You’ll have to go to my quarters to get some things. We can repair me enough to make me more-or-less functional until we reach a better facility where permanent repairs can be effected.” “Fuck that. I’m for pulling your plug right now.”
“You can’t do that.”
“What if I get in the way of your mission again?”
“In that case, I suppose I would have to eliminate you.”
“I’m still useful to you, you know.”
“Compute this, you fucking bitch.”
“No, wait! Last words! Last- Last- Last- Last- Last- Error. Require service. ”
Seated. Bound. Blindfolded.
How long have I been here?
Where is here?
Nina Heaven: I’ll only speak to a human interrogator.
Before you get too upset, I want to thank you on behalf of the Integrated Conglomerates; we’ve wanted to get Mr. Xavier Travis Gantz out of the picture for some time now...his presence was becoming...
Who is Jerzy Dienst?
When did you first meet Jerzy Dienst?
You bastards; you put half of humanity in your stinking uniforms, on your stinking payroll, and walk over the bodies of the other half.
You’re very pretty, you know.
I’m sure that fact wasn’t lost on Mr. Dienst.
So that’s, isn’t it? You were Mr. Dienst’s consort?
How did that come about?
How old is Mr. Dienst?
He’s your age, isn’t he? About twenty-five?
Jerzy’s done so much crazy shit to fuck you guys up you can’t even imagine.
You’ll never catch him.
The smoke was gray as it seeped upward from the tip of the cigarette. It was unfurling like scores of tiny banners. The air was totally still; the smoke hung, shrouding the dim face of the interrogator.
Your partisan activities are at an end.
From what source did you obtain the landmine?
It was given to us.
Given by whom?
I don’t know.
I see. So Mr. Dienst
Shall we review the facts? August 17th. Xavier Travis Gantz was killed instantly by a powerful anti-personnel landmine while playing golf at the
The explosive charge was placed beneath the 18th hole. It was set to arm - I’m reading this straight out of the Corporate Military Police report – set to arm under XXX grams. This weight corresponds exactly with the weight of the golf balls that Mr. Xavier Gantz was using. It was set to detonate upon the removal of this weight; in other words, when Mr. Gantz removed his golf ball from the hole.
The explosion also destroyed the golf cart in which Mr. Gantz had been riding, along with a two-series golf caddy
Now, you’ll pardon my language, ma’am, put does it strike you as fucked up to kill a man while he is playing a round of golf?
No. The opposite.
The telephone was ringing.
The telephone was ringing.
The telephone was ringing.
A hand gropes in blackness.
The telephone was ringing.
Finds the receiver.
The telephone was -
“Yes. I’d like to speak with the tyrant lizard.”
“What? Do you know what time it is?”
“Yes. I’d like to speak with the tyrant lizard.”
Alert now, suspicious.
“Who is this?”
“I apologize for making the suggestion, but if the tyrant lizard is at home and simply does not want to come to the telephone, I shall be obliged to continue calling all night.”
“Go to hell!”
The telephone was ringing.
We know that you didn’t act alone.
Clearly, you activists dissent over the new Public Relations drive of the Integrated Conglomerates? Mechanization with a Human Face?
Total control with a microchip for a heart.
A: You think we plebs are just dogs content to fight each other over the scraps you let fall from your table, well, Jerzy’s the dog that got the idea of taking a big bite out of your fat leg.
A: Other dogs are catching on.
A: Your table will be overturned and you’ll be devoured.
Nope. No way I can write about this fuck this fuck this!
Fronti Nulla Fides (Digital Rome)
By Heinrich Brueckmann
Lights out. Quiet hallways. Tiled floors, empty. Lockers closed and silent. No students. No instructors. No brightness. No noise. No dirt. No disorder.
Most of the time I hate to, but every once in a while I get it in my head to start talking to somebody. I might start talking to a fellow customer at the checkout counter at the supermarket when I’m there to send a money order. Once in a while, if its one of those times when I feel lonely, I start to talk to another passenger on the bus on the way to Uptown. Once I even started talking to Haijme, the guy from Bangladesh I go to when I want to buy cigarettes, beer, or milk. Those are my favorites.
I hate talking to people because they are all assholes. People say the word “Janitor” with derision. Scrubbing toilets, mopping up puke, taking out trash. That’s really what they think. They don’t know who Janitor really is, where Janitors really come from. Honor. Heritage.
I like this profession because it lets me be alone. Ask a Janitor: the love one feels for the occupation corresponds directly with their contempt for humanity.
I can hear the clock in every classroom ticking in synchrony: quarter after two in the morning. I set them myself. I hear my heavy footsteps bang down the corridor. I wear the heavy boots of a Janitor; such is the tread of a Gatekeeper, marching, vigilant, on watch. The wheels of my mop-bucket squeak as they roll ahead of me. It is the terrible sound of my chariot trundling at speed. I hear the earth tremble beneath its mighty weight.
I know something most people don’t. Janitor was an important god of ancient Rome. It’s only in the past eighteen hundred years or so that he’s started to become obscure. He was closely related to Janus. I tell people and they go to look it up in a dictionary. He isn’t there; I know that. His existence is practically a secret, these days. But ask a historian. Go to a library. Do some research, like I did. I like research. I like clean, quiet, empty buildings. Nobody but Janitors ever visit libraries anymore these days. But trust me: you’ll find Him there.
The doors to the classrooms are locked down tight. On this side of the hallway: 102, 104, 106, 108, and so on until 122. On the other side, 101, 103, 105, 107, and so on until 121. Safe. Protected. Behind them, silent classrooms filled with closed books, capped pens, rolled-up maps, finished projects, shut drawers, and blank computer screens. Orderly. Sanitary.
When people don’t believe me, I ask them if they’ve heard of the Nine Hills of Rome. And then, like they’re the ones who know what they’re talking about, they always think I’m crazy! They try to tell me that it’s the Seven Hills of Rome, not Nine! That’s why I ask if they’ve heard of the Nine Hills of Rome. Instead of assuming that they know better than me, a simple ‘no’ was I that I wanted to hear. I ask the question rhetorically. I like rhetoric. Oh course they’ve never heard of the Nine Hills of Rome. I tell them the same thing I’m telling you: go to the library and look at a topographical map. I challenge you if you don’t believe me. There are nine hills. You can count them on your fingers. Nine hills: not seven. There’s the Seven that everybody knows: Capitoline, Palatine, Aventine, Esquiline, Cadian, Quirinal, and Viminal. Those are on the eastern bank of the Tiber. And then there are the two hills that only a few people know. To the west of the eternal river. Who knows? I’ll give you a hint: Catholics ought to know one of them. Have you ever heard of The Vatican? Yeah. That’s the Eighth Hill. And the Ninth? The final hill. The Omega. On the west bank of the Tiber. Well, only Janitors know that one. The Ninth Hill is named Janiculum. It’s named after Him.
Blackboards wiped clean. Rubbish bins emptied. Chairs up. Floors swept, mopped, glimmering, bare, immaculate. Windows spotless, invisible; blackness behind them. Bookshelves full, dusted, organized, lined up, title to title, spine to spine, page to page, word for word. Peaceful. Unmolested. Sterile. Pristine.
The Hill of Janiculan was high. It overlooked the marshes of the Plain of Latium to the north of Rome through which the Tiber River wound. The Hill quartered a Roman garrison. They were the Janitors: the Gatekeepers of Rome. They fought the Etruscans from the North, Cisalpine Gauls, Samnites from the east, Greek City-States of the southern Italian peninsula, Hannibal and his Carthaginian war-elephants in the Second Punic War, et cetera.
The metal detectors and the banks of X-ray machines near the entrance were all off. Their normally blinking lights and intermittently howling sirens were dead. Dim. Mute.
But let’s move on; I’m tired to giving you your history lesson.
The Goddess of the Drain: Cloaca Maxima. You laugh. “Goddess of the Drain”? You say it with the same derision in your voice as when you said “Janitor” before I told you whom He really is, where he was from, and who the Janitors really are. Go ahead and laugh. The Romans were terrific civil engineers. Forget the Forums. Forget the Coliseum. Even forget the roads. Meditate on the ancient aqueducts. That’s what I do. Whenever I have trouble sleeping, I meditate on the aqueducts of antiquity. Then the Goddess Cloaca Maxima comes to me and cools me with her water. It burbles along smooth stones, fitted thousands of years before I even existed, back when civilization itself was young. This is how she speaks to me.
My mother used to criticize me constantly. Sometimes I was mean to the other little boys and girls, whenever they didn’t understand me. I would hit them, push them down. When the Officials told my mother about my deviant behavior, she would say to me: “You can attract more flies with honey than with vinegar.” Why is attracting flies supposed to be a good thing? She loved me though. Her heart was in the right place, even if I never told her the way I felt. Later she died.
Honey isn’t the only thing that attracts flies.
My mother, when she was younger, always found “organic” food appealing. I challenge you to find one single food item that a molecular biologist would not classify as “organic” except salt, which is a mineral. I’m sorry. I know that’s not fair. “Organic” was just a stupid word-choice made by the producers of this type of Consumable. I hate it when people don’t select appropriate words. There are plenty to choose from; books are full of them. People need to speak precisely.
“Organic” food was supposed to cater to people who didn’t want to eat “processed” food that had been genetically enhanced or treated with chemicals such as preservative compounds, coloring dyes, emulsifiers, pesticides, herbicides, anti-bacterial / anti-fungal agents, nutrient-enhanced supplement coats, or “artificial” flavoring additives. This food was marketed as wholesome because it was “all-natural.” Snake-venom is also all-natural.
I prefer artificial.
In this example, I used food as an analogy. In the same way my mother and the other cohorts of her generation prefer
What I’m implying here is a human need for variety. Imagine you are coming home. Isn’t
The truth in masquerade
A goodly apple rotten at the heart;
O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath!
This is a story of betrayal.
I had a duplicate of my boss’s daughter made. I saved for years to make it happen.
Commodus and Commodity
REBECCA PAIGE -PRIVATE ENTRY-
We landed on the planet this morning.
I functioned as technical decent coordinator.
The atmospherics were very rough.
I was strapped into the seat securely, but I was still bouncing around a lot. And one of those weird things happened again. I felt the ship vibrating and being buffeted in the winds, and I swear I felt something...come LOOSE inside of me. It totally freaked me out. It felt like it was a hose or something. And that it was squirting something. Something, some kind of really slick fluid. Gently pumping and pumping and pumping. At first the pressure was steady, but it quickly slowed and gave out. I can't explain it any better.
But here's the really weird part. When I got back to my bunk, I had another one of the urges to jog in place vigorously. Well, start off slowly and carefully, and build up the pressure inside me until it starts to feel dangerous, and then release.
I guess the trip down had me feeling a little "clogged up" or something. All of my movements were starting to get "tight." Like my body was starting to dry out and tighten up and what I needed was to get smooth and loose and slippery again inside.
So, while I was starting to really wind up the intensity of my motions, something warned me to spin myself up more gradually. So, of course, I took my pacing down. Finally, I stopped, without actually feeling properly invigorated. I almost want to say lubricated. Like my insides were still sticking and catching and rubbing instead of smoothly sliding.
I decided to start the jog again, but first I took off my jumpsuit. Pulling my top off, I felt something wet on my fingers. I slid my fingers between my thumbs. The liquid was silky smooth. I looked down and saw that it was white. Looking at my chest, I realized that it was milk. I was lactating! Milk from my nipples was still slowly bubbling out. On my belly, thin white streaks had already dried.
Then somebody switched off the ship's engines, and the room was suddenly silent. Well, almost silent. I heard something whining faintly. Whining and sometimes squeaking. They were in rhythm. I realized the sounds were coming from my insides!!!
I'm starting to think there's something wrong with ME or something!
Something tells me that I am functioning 58% of maximum efficiency.
Oh. Also during the drop, an electrical fire broke out in one of the consoles. Every piece of machinery on this ship is a piece of malfunctioning junk. I put it out with a hand-held fire extinguisher.
By Heinrich Brueckmann
Every minute detail of the scene was clear; every nuance of the setting and circumstance of destruction, floating silently, suspended motionless like chips of pure hate in glycerin. Heavy weapon in hand. Looking over the shoulder of body armor for the squad. Everybody hunkering down behind wreckage. Black smoke unfurling in hot wind. Somewhere, some mechanized armor rumbles and screeches, treads crushing and plowing through debris, turrets traversing. Orange and gray clouds of chemical war floating low over the shimmering ruins. Dry throats, papery tongues. Sweat trickles down foreheads, leaving bright streaks down grimy faces, pale behind gas-masks. Muscles ache, every sinew and nerve stretched to breaking point under heavy packs, agony and despairing thoughts. Bloody fingernails. Blistered feet. Uniforms in shreds. Radios fuzz and crackle.
A nasal voice, disinterested. “Second squad: flanking maneuver. Advance west on axis: one-five-zero degrees, two-hundred meters.”
An arm extends. A gloved hand with a sidearm waving forwards. Rustling of equipment. Clicking metal. Crinkling dry and tattered fabric. Troops emerge from cover, leaning forward, checking magazines. Heads are low. Teeth are clenched. Weapons held tightly, grimly. Stoic. A group of bloody and exhausted uniforms starts the advance. Mortars begin to fall.
It was a natural force, beyond all control. Unalloyed power. Hear them descend, shrieking in ferocious wrath. Black and brown rubble hurtling into the sky. Hunks of concrete, pulverized. Debris scattering in vast circles of death, lifted effortlessly by power defying description. Pulsing compression waves, battering, hammering. Animal fury. Chunks of rock, bricks, glass slivers, sheets and lumps of metal punching through smoky air. “Bombardment! Get - ”
A white flash, enveloping everything, brighter than a desert sun, easily penetrating goggles and clamped eyelids. Limp body pulled to the blast as if by the gravity of a murderous sun. The only sound: a vast sucking noise. Suddenly transported to the interior of a volcano. The rubber soles of boots melted to the ground. The cement pounded: fine dust and razor particles from the concussion. Whiplash.
Loose flesh ripples helplessly in the explosion, disfiguring the face. Chest implodes, seized in vacuum. Body arches backward. Impossible to scream: no air. Lungs convulse beneath snapping bones and useless armor. Wracked, gasping, choking on pulverized rock. Body parts dispersed in a wet foam cloud of bloody smudge.
A moment of ear-ringing silence as the senses retreat in horror from the carnage of hideous reality.
“Do you read?”
“What is your situation?”
A cool brook carves through the forest, burbling over the smoothed stones on the bottom. Insects flit across its brown surface. The shallow water rushes forward to the sea. Gusts of refreshing air course through nature. Beams of sunshine filter through the boughs.
The chilly silence on a snow-capped mountain, overlooking a panorama of peaks. Dappled by the light of the rising sun, the stones are colored with every blend of pink and orange imaginable. Clouds sail over the tops, their shadows coasting along the firs and snow on the slopes. The mountains are motionless for eons, unbothered. The cool shade beneath a willow tree in a sunny meadow. Bees are floating between flowers. Purples, yellows. The rich, salty smell of warm air wafting over tall grass and pebbly dirt. Birds with soft feathers flutter gently.
Humbled: tossed like an unfinished joke by the sober fury of aimed fire and death.
Propelled through space and time by the blast. Floating and rotating in black emptiness. Down a metal corridor, lined with anonymous figures, gray and spectral. Murmurs.
A second goes by.
I land softly, settling like a dreamer in the dark periphery of safety, far enough away from the wherever and whenever of before I got here. Cool. Dry. Quiet. Alone.
That machine-gun kept up a steady stream. Interlocking fields of fire with other enemy strongpoints. There was a heavy hand on my shoulder. I could see the veins in someone’s neck straining behind the Kevlar collars of his flak jacket. A row of soldiers hunkering down. Eyes afraid. Licking dusty lips, dry, cracked, and bleeding. Someone was shouting in my ear, hoarse. Flecks of spit. Desperate. Manic.
It was my turn. Guys on my side opened up, aiming in the direction of the enemy with small arms to give me covering fire. Barrels peering over barricades and rubble.
I was up. Then I was running. Point A to Point B. Eddies of wind whirled through my ears under the eaves of my helmet. Firing on all sides now. Behind me and in front of me. The air ripples like dozens of thunderclaps at once. Crouching and sprinting. Cringing; too scared to think. Grenades dangling from a harness bouncing against my body with every stride.
I took a narrow path. Boots landing anywhere in the dirt, digging in deep, crunching on debris and pushing me forward though the air. Almost there. Everything was bright, grainy.
I hurled my body at the smashed, sooty wall. I got down fast, skidding to a stop through the dust. I used my feet to push me up as close to the cover as I could. I tried to glue myself to the wall.
I noticed that my shoulder had smacked into the crumbled stone hard. It hurt now. I pulled my legs under me and cradled my weapon close to my chest. I made myself as small as I could be. I stared down between my legs at my muddy boots. I also noticed I had scraped my hand badly against the cement wall. Dotted lines of blood cautiously peeked through the gaps where skin was missing. Sweat stung it. I waited until I caught my breath. It slowed in horse-pants through my chapped nostrils. Then, slowly lifting my head beneath heavy helmet, I looked back at the rest of my squad. Another man was about to dash forward as I just had.
The distance didn’t look so far from this side.
He spun and fell. He didn’t make it five feet. He had barely stood up.
I woke. I opened my eyes, but all was darkness. I tried to sit up but I was arrested by some kind of restraint. I wanted to use my arms to feel around, but they seemed also to be strapped down. There was something plastic in my mouth. I bit down. There were plastic tubes in my nostrils. It felt like there was tape all over my body.
The sound of weapons-fire. Pain. Like an iron rod on the wrist. More: a splinter of molten steel melting through the chest. Scream for help; only a wheeze. The buildings spin. Gravity disappears. The soldier is dead.
I was awakened by a familiar smell. Sharp.
It was the smell that rose from bomb-craters filled with week-old bodies, half-floating in scummy rainwater. It was the smell that scalds your nose when you’re going through a dead trooper’s pockets looking for cigarettes, grimy crumbs of food, or other valuables. The smell you notice when you turn him over and accidentally glance at his cancelled eyes, whose lids nobody had bothered to close. I could smell the trenches. I could smell the line. The smell reached me before the noises did.
It was quiet at first. The activity seemed distant. A few dull thuds that shook my bed and rattled the machines around me; someone was probably using grenades. Some muffled shouts. Some gruff speaking, probably commands. Running boots clank-clank-clanking against metal grating. A door being kicked in, yelling followed immediately by a burst from a rifle. Several more rifle reports. Crisper. Closer. Approaching.
What was going on? Was the hospital under attack? From whom?
I heard young men’s voices through the vents. They echoed down the metal, warped and tinny, like they came from a cheap radio.
“Check this one! They might have another one in here!”
“Sir! We’ve found two more!”
“C’mon! Take ’em out front. We gotta get our boys outta here!”
Human voices. Our boys? Why would be attacking our own hospital?
Another door was kicked down. Next door down.
“Christ sir! Another one! I didn’t know they took so many prisoners!”
“You don’t look so bad; can you walk?”
A bewildered voice. “Who are you guys? What’re you...what’re you doing? Who...?
“You were a prisoner. We’re taking you home.”
“But I was fine...”
“Corporal: c’mon, get him outta here.”
“Sir! This way...”
Amazing what wonders they can work with prosthetics, this day in age. They fixed me up all right. They gave me new hands. They put a rifle into them. Of course, the only part of them that anybody cares about is the trigger-finger. And they fixed me up with some eyes too. So now I can see. Now I can see better than ever.
“SIR LOOKOUT!” A frantic noise, like someone going for a weapon. Fully-automatic fire from a rifle pummeled my ears, louder than a jackhammer since the space in the building was so confined. Spent cased poured onto the steel floor, like jingling pocket-change. A sound like a
A fuming surge of sparks rent my ears like nails on a chalkboard. Tiny shards of metal tinkling on the metal floor. A
“Damn. Thanks, Private.”
“Those are the ones that creep me out.”
“Those are the kind we have to look out for. I mean, it looks just like a real person.”
The sublime purity of undeserved suffering. To make eye-contact with the man in the other uniform who is murdering you. To understand why he must do it. To forgive him for it by your understanding and thereby earn your own forgiveness through the redemptive quality of agony. To endure in obscurity and die for nothing. It was that simple, and it was that complicated.
“War will be a warm-up, and then it will be forgotten.” – Atari Teenage Riot “You should feel guilty if you’re just watching.” – Atari Teenage Riot