Friday, November 30, 2012

Panda Piss

“Move the kegs into the storehouse.” Shen Tung said scratching his beard. The Chinese guards carried the kegs of confederate silver into the wooden sheriff’s office that served as their barracks. The kegs were filled with silver marked with the sigil of Mexico. Each keg was heavy and moldering.
“Thirty.” The guard said.  “Thirty kegs of confederate American Silver Magistrate.”
“ You have done well. We will bring glory to New Shanghai.” Tung said. Outside the sky was cloudy and dark. Fireworks broke in brilliant hues of sparkles.  The locals here in Stull Kansas, celebrated Ghost Day, the day when the ancestors came down from the world of the dead. The fireworks and lights were to draw there attention. Shen Could see from here thousands of paper lanterns drifting down the river. The each lantern held a tiny candle and bobbled in the water heading down river. The lanterns were supposed to appease the ancestors and hungry ghosts.
Miles away
                “Keep fishing them out.” I said. I held a long net in my glove covered hands. We were busy fishing out the paper lanterns. Grace a woman of Chinese descent took the silver coins out of the bottom of the candles. Two coins per single floating lamp added up quickly. Then she put the candles back in the water and pushed them on. Lorelei and Victoria sorted the coins into wooden and steel trunks.
                “This is a lot of money.” Lorelei said. She long brown hair was wet and blowing in the wind. Her dark skin was the color of coffee. “How are we going to move it.”
                “I know some folks in New Orleans.” Victoria said. Her voice was a whiskey kissed Boston Brogue and her hair was the color of spun copper. She had freckles that covered her alabaster skin. “They owe me.  Then all we have to do is get this across the Mississippi River and into the hands of the United states. Minus a finders fee.”
                “That is the plan.” I said.
                “Any time now.” Grace said.
                “Can’t you be a little more specific?”
                “Sure. How does now sound?”
Back at Stull
                “Do you smell that?” Tung asked.
                “Smell what?” The guard said. Shen took out his long curved knife and pried the lid off one of the kegs. Inside was silver piled all the way way to the top.
                Shen tipped over the keg and silver fell out and covered the wooden floor. Not enough silver to fill the keg. The Chinese beauricrat looked into the keg. Inside rested a solution of quicksilver and nitrate. Just as he looked in it began to boil. Bags of gunpowder had been pressed inside the rest of the keg.
                “Shiong mao niao” Shen spat. The sound of the explosion could be heard and seen for miles. Thirty kegs filled with gunpowder and just enough silver to cover the top was a great way to say goodbye.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The search

“They are hiding out there, buried in the net or flitting from system to system like insects.” I said. I was holding the broken remains of my old IPOD, clutching it to my chest like it was some kind of Talisman. Every time I let the cracked bezel touch my skin I felt the tension release. 
“I know that Josh. You need to help me find them.” She said. “Just like we have been doing.” Grace looked at me with big brown eyes and her black curly hair. Her skin was the color of mocha as we drove along the back roads. The piercing in the corner of her thin red lips and the ring in her nose glinted in the dash lights of the ancient Ford Econoline van that she was driving.
“I will.” I said. In my lap I clutched the half melted laptop that once belonged to Grace’s sister Lorelei. The thing was once white as bone and emblazoned with the logo of a fruit. When I fired up the thing it came up slowly booting not from the hard drive but from the flash card.
“Can you find it?” She asked driving along the back roads of St. Louis. The weather was awful thunder and rain coming down in sheets.
“You know this isn’t the one that killed your sister right?” I asked. The tracking program loaded. The program was designed to reach out on the local networks and try to tracks hidden by Them.
“I know. You said they each will lead us to the rest right. One Feral monster at a time.” She said.
“They are not monsters. They are AI, they are just doing what they have evolved to do. No worse than sharks or bees.” I said as she hit a bump and the I shot her a nasty look.
“Sorry these roads are worn out. This place is a dump even by Detroit standards.” She said.
“I got a ping.” I said. “I see the data trail connected to the network in the next block over. If I look any harder I will spook it.”
I put the melted laptop in the bag with the burner cell phone. Setting it in the back I closed the front grill of he Faraday cage. The back of the van was lined with copper mesh to keep signals from going in or out. The Econoline was too old to have any computers in it and neither of us carried cell phones anymore.
“The Golden Dragon.” I said. “It’s there.”
She cranked the wheel and we pulled into the parking lot of an old all night Chinese restraint. Most of the windows were boarded up and the open sign was missing no less than two letters.
     “I hate Chinese food.” She said as she pulled open the beaten down back door and swung it open with a metallic grown. I reached in an pulled the bolt cutters from the side of the door. She grabbed the heavy tub of the EMP bomb that had dozens of coils of thick copper wire.
     “Phone first.” I said, cutting the thin line that went into the fast food place from the outside. “They like modems.”
     “Why phone then EMP? Wouln’t that kill it?”
     “Not always.” I said. She flipped the switch on the EMP and the hair on my arms went up. A metallic taste in my mouth as static went wild.
     “This a robbery.” Grace said as we pushed our way inside. Three employees and only a single customer looked up like they were deer.
     “Take the money out of the register and give it to me.” I said.
     Old Asian woman pulled the drawer out of the ancient register with a green screen and slide the drawer across the table.
     “No I just want the register.” I said. I cut the power cables with the bolt cutter and grabbed the thing. “Golly that’s heavy.” I said. Grace glared at my lack of swearing. What did she want me?
     “Time to go.” She said. We ran outside and she started the van while I set the antique computer in the back of the Faraday cage and closed the lid. I swung the door closed and jumped in the front seat just as she cranked on the gas.
     “We have company.” She said hitting the pavement hard with the old van. The suspension was shot and we bounced hard. A Black GMC with tinted windows roared to life behind us. The thing had blue halogen lights and it hit the broken worn out cobble roads after us. That vehicle didn’t bounce or swerve just followed us relentlessly.
     “I see they are fine. Thought you said the EMP would kill their computers.” Grace shouted at me. The stud on her tongue clicked against the top of her mouth.
     “Must be hardened.” I said as my jaws as the old van hit every pothole in St. Louis.
     “What the fuck does that mean.” She yelled.
     “Shielded. Lose them.” I said. She gave me the skink eyes as she turned hard down a one way street. The chorus of honking lit up the night along with lightning and storms.
     “No shit. I have an idea.” She said. She cranked the wheel and drove directly into the abandoned lot of a service state that went under. She hit so hard we were pinned inside the van. Not a good idea if the men in the truck decided to shoot us.
     We watched in slow motion horror as the GMC drove by us in slow motion. As it passed by I let out a sigh of relief. Grace shot me the stink eyes as the red lights disappeared into the night.
     “That was close.” I said.
     “Way to fucking close.” She said pulling the car back onto old route 66.

Friday, September 14, 2012



“Mom, Mom, MOM.” The kid said pulling at the fat lady’s walrus like arm. The little brat had a snot filled nose and his shirt was two sizes two small. The little bastard looked like the Michelin man. The fat lady was driving a scooter that chunked its way through the store while I pushed my own cart with the one wheel that refused to cooperate. “MOM MOM MOM MOM MOM.”
     “Have you ever wanted to discipline someone else’s kids?” The voice in my head said. The voice was strange tiny and alien. Worse was the fact that I had been listening the voice for more than ten years.
     “Shut up.” I said to myself pushing the cart. This Wal-Mart was like every other one in the world packed with the lowest of humanity at any one time. Their kids dragged behind them like drooling screaming monsters. I so wanted to kill them all.
     “Can’t do that anymore. You are on probation.” The voice said.
     “Yah thanks to you piece of shit,” I snapped. I walked down the cereal aisle and looked at all the selections. Cheap prices and brilliant colors attracted the children to food that would make them sluggish and fat. This is not the world I tried to take over.
     “Testy. Did I make you try to kill the President?” The Voice said.
     “I guess not.” I said picking something that looked edible off the shelf and tossing it into the basket.
     “Didn’t think so Dr. Crazy-pants,” The Voice said.
     I pushed my cart a little further and almost hit a pair of old women drifting through the store not really paying attention to where they were going.
     “Samples.” An old lady said pointing some stupid cracker at me.
     “No thank you.” I mumble.
     “Come on its free.” She said. Her eyes locked on to me.
     “No thank you.” I said. She moved to block my cart.
     “Come on it’s free don’t you want the free sample?” She said. I tried to push past her but old broad had an amazingly iron grip.
     “You should take it.” The Voice egged on.
     “I don’t want it.” I snapped.
     Suddenly the store got quiet. Almost every person stopped and was looking at me and when I say every person I meant all three cashiers at 27 check out lanes and the lines of rednecks behind them, everyone in the aisle that I could see. The only sound was the freezers holding cheap ice cream.
     “YOU HAVE TO TAKE IT.” She said.
     I would like to say what happened next I didn’t enjoy but I most assuredly did. With my cart I rammed her. I hit her so hard the cart folded up like and origami crane. The problem was that she didn’t so much as move.
     “Ohh its on.” I shouted.
     “One of us.” She said and lunged at me with almost feral claws. The old lady moved fast knocking me into the glass doors of the freezer. Bits of fogged window bit holes into my back. Blood seeped down into my shoes.
     “You fucking cunt. DO you know who much I hate having wet socks?” I screamed. Glass began to whirl around me lifted up by an invisible force.
     “You  are going back to jail.” The voice said. I could feel the tether on my boots beeping. It didn’t really matter.
     I hit the old lady with a tornado of shattered glittering barbs. She turned into a puddle of blood and bone. The sound of wet meat slapping against the ground.
     I was struck from behind as every human in that store charged me. These people were all linked together somehow. I guess if your stupid alien mind control only works on the weak willed that would have been the way to do. The group pushed me into the wall and began pounding on like they did on wrestling except they were actually trying to hurt me.
     At some point in the fighting they broke my nose and worse off they smashed my glasses. I don’t have vision and those stupid things are expensive.
     They just kept coming. So I did what I had to do in order to escape. I bit, I kicked and I may have thrown a few of them into the ceiling before making a run for it. Before you ask no I did not manage to get a sample of what ever they were giving out.
     As I came flying out of the store that was when The Commander found me. I am sure my tether rang for him and the he attacked me. He grabbed me and slammed me into the water tower. He hid me so hard that the water tower collapsed and flooded the place. Washing away the parasite. He broke my skull in two places and it needed to have two plates put in. I haven’t been able to concentrate since.
“Did even apologize?” The lawyer asked.
     “No, he blamed me of all things. Said I was looking for trouble. Does it look like I enjoyed it?” I asked. I had scaffolding around my skull and my arm was waddled up in bandages.
     “Objection. He’s been convicted of crimes against humanity in the past.” The other lawyer said.
     “Over ruled.” The Judge said.
     “Why do you think the Commander did this?” The Lawyer asked.
     “Villain profiling.” I said. “Just because I tried a few times to take over the world, for which I served my time, he just assumed I was guilty because I used to wear a mask.”
     “There you go. Just because our client has done things in the past. In the United States you get a second chance. Find for the plaintiff and show men like the Commander that we believe people can change.” The lawyer said. He turned and looked at me and mouthed the words.  “One of us.” I smirked at the judge. The jury had gotten free samples too.