oscillator gun blues
pulling the oscillator gun from his shoulder holster, hollister wheeled about, took aim, and fired. i blinked in stunned surprise and fell to the ground, moonlight pulsing rapidly in and out of phase around me. patterns burned themselves onto my retinas. retching violently, i could just make out the strobing image of hollister legging it across the lawn. it would be hours before i was right again.
the day everything became diseased and died
santa bearclaw discredits men with hats.
energy drivers visit redpoint. this makes us uncomfortable.
dayglow fascists paint dogma on canvas shirts.
firing off shots into the air, i feign surprise.
feline matron spins her hard-luck tales of victory. but who has the time?
django rises early, and sets to work on his own misinformation campaign.
dogs bark. but only because they've no idea what's at stake.
for you, when did food first become a matter of semiotics?
"fuck your dreams, this is heaven" coos the rush-hour dj.
above, on the tram line, agent polsky, his fingers drumming in nervous time on an attache case.
"hey, i've seen that face before."
unlikely as it seems, skyview could get hit again. who among us expected the first one?
the world is full of angry young men.
give them all your paper.
give them all your jazz.
leaving the citadel
no matter where we drove, each star remained its own tiny diamond.
earlier, reed shoving pulse rifles into the dufflbag. carelessly, if you ask me. nobody did. i arrived here the usual way: head in bag, punted into van.
even in the citadel, each star, its own tiny lantern.
reed drove us south. battery fizzed, so we'd been on foot for hours.
he'd said it himself, "there's no freeing ypres contagion when he enters that cage." so we motored. city behind us, smaller and smaller, diminution a thing i never thought it capable of.
basslines. reed shoves basslines in the dufflebag. carelessly, ruthlessly. all muscle memory. pressbox zero. pressbox zero for what i heard. i rub my eyes and thump my head. that never happened.
sleep was hard to come by these days.
dust grits itself onto my front teeth and settles onto my tongue. the light here so yellow. the air flayed with dust. only at night looking up is anything close to unbroken. stars, and the satellites, stations, and those stupid orbital billboards masquerading as stars of their own.
so the horizon shimmers. "fata morgana" i heard reed jr. call it. like way ahead of us, all the earth was swimming, treating air as if it shared the density of water.
of course they insist i carry a gun of my own. its baking metal griddles my ass cheek. i switch pockets every twenty minutes. guns out here...pointless.
in the morning, i floss with barbed wire. reed whistles the theme to a noodle commericial while heating biscuits. everyday out here, an unbirthday.
the carnivale came to town
in a small town in the 1930s, a carnival comes to town. and doesn't leave. slowly, imperceptably, the carnival folk insinuate themselves into the community. they get part-time jobs in town, marry the townsfolk, ascend to positions of local office, attend church and sermonize, teach in the school system, etc. while dressed in full carnival regalia. the townsfolk eventually find themselves seeing nothing amiss or odd in this trend. and so, clowns, freaks, geeks, midgets, trapeze artists, and the like fully embed themselves in the town's ecosystem. soon enough, the townsfolks' own appearance and habits trend toward the outlandish and the grotesque. beauty queens become chicken beheading geeks. the mayor becomes a ringmaster. the town's star qb becomes a tightrope walker. blah blah. inevitably, the entire town becomes a carnival. then one day, the carnival is gone. off to turn another town.
circus as communism.
much later, on the other side of the world, bybee decides he is bored with china
so he packs away his consignment codes and sat phones
books a similar security contract in dubai
buys passage in a hover tanker's berth
his last night here in shanghai, b11 zone
like trying on a suit he knows he'll end up buying, he samples that inevitable pang of loss he'll feel when he's no longer able to walk these city streets
back in his stack cube, hunched at his desk
bathed in a codex in blue from the surround screens
and then he's asleep
he spends his night dreaming of paradise, courtesy of the zap pill he swallowed thirty minutes before
tomorrow, after a breakfast of algae and ice cream, he'll make his way to the docks and depart
last night we used up our limits. ran them out. not only that. in a fit of reality bending, we sloughed off the imprint of years. just so much snakeskin for the shedding. pirouetting off the edges of buildings. who were we to care? the sidewalks, the courtyards, the tram lines...they wanted nothing to do with us. death had another engagement. it was then that we saw you. captains of information, content-rich fatcats. in your gilded airships and subterranean velocity cubes. tinted windows. 24/7 comfort consultants at the ready. your atrocity package tours. those "dark tourist" visits to genocide sites, courtesy of discrete travel agents. the inhabitants simulating tableaus of carnage and brutality. "historical authenticity" the brochures promise. as if that were the point. pol pot loved the stooges and the velvets. and hitler was a dadaist at heart.
fourteen iced bears make their way to the stage. rico promised you everything.
jazz cops. heavyset men behind leathery faces. faces that have seen better days. skin like a worn-out brown shoe.
jazz cops. mystery loves company.
jazz cops. police the roads. banging out a heavy downbeat. collecting in back alleys and empty parking lots. always in twos and threes. stocky bowling pins of pent-up rage. violence their preferred brand of intimacy.
jazz cops. hands that have never touched a lover's thigh, but have squeezed a call girl's throat. improvising their vicious cabaret in sperm-stained hotel rooms.
jazz cops. a ballet of billy clubs. a tarantella of truncheons. a rash of stabbings. a penchant for pickaxings. a symphony of sex crimes. a banquet of beheadings.
jazz cops. hardboiled, two-fisted tales of alleyway etiquette. garbage bags filled with feet. pay the kid to dump 'em in the river.
jazz cops. beat heavy time. downbeats devoid of mercy.
jazz cops. throw nightstick parties in the alley. and nobody walks for weeks.
jazz cops. paint in the city in phlegm and blood.
jazz cops. we get the protection we deserve.
sunday driving with bella
sunday driving with bella, out near the exclusion zone. top down, trunk pumping electroclash, whooping it up and elbowbreezing past those dispirited shanty towns. behind wire, recessed red eyes set back in cracked blank faces watch us float by. i take a long swig of spring water and toss the half full bottle over the side. further along, bella guns it. 150. 180. now we're ten feet off the ground, rotors maxed, dodging wrecks, craters, exoskeletons. leaving the road behind. the green zone receding behind us. the ruined city's up ahead. tiny moving dots are outriggers, scavenging among the heaps.
off to the left, a quick glint of sun off metal, then a plume of smoke as a missile leaves its launch tube. tag.
i grab the sonic cannon from under the dash, bella slams a 90, flips up the blast visor and floors it. sonic array set to wide, i swivel the chair and wait for the warhead to come within range. i'll nerf it then we'll follow that smoke trail to its source then i'll smoke 'em with a blast of phased emitter bella had installed where the headlamps used to be. nobody ever sees that shit coming. thinking we're civvies out for a joyride. an easy kill. nobody even feels the p array until it rearranges their insides. post toasty to the bitter, organs knotting and sludging then leaking out their asshole. and us still 200 feet out.
bella maxes the volume and trance bass undulates throughout the vehicle in slow sinuous waves, like an amplified heartbeat. its consistency becomes my body's mantra as i zone in on my target. five, four, three, two. let's dance.
~love is your salvation. love is your undoing. love brings the fall.~
the parent company
the eyeless man has seen eternity. the devil is a bean counter, a placeholder for ghosts. the yuggothian ambassador lands at midnight. she’s dancing to the music inside her head, but no one else can hear it. people are not their shadows, not entirely. the kids gassed in the nursery of the satellite station. the molecular bond fits the flap to the envelope like a key, a signet ring left behind at the scene of the crime. there is a rumor going around that all the entities are one, but the owners are untraceable. a message to the parent company, if only you could locate the home office. an apartment in paris. a condominium in new jersey. a decaying manor home in scotland. this one operates a bank out of the car trunk of an antique convertible. mobile banking he calls it. encrypted digital transfers through a luna shell. cash pouches. a bloodless secretary with track marks on her neck passed out in the front seat. when pressed he’ll admit to a mailing address somewhere in the greater empire of uruguay, but nothing more. “perfect security is a pine box six feet underground,” she tells him, as she spools in to steal a few more lives, a few more hours of her fix. her pale white skin glistens with sweat as he makes love to her slowly in the back seat, under the broken streetlights, under the stars.