Disclaimer: This short story is in no way meant to demean Mexicans, inbreed midgets, tape worms, Taco Bell employees, cannibals, those with no
sense of humor or cyberneticaly enhanced individuals. Any occurrence of such hostility is merely perceptional and you should cease feeding off your
repressed aggression. And now, on with the show!
“Please spare some credit chips, sir!”
I have nothing left to spare anymore, neither credits nor sympathy, and so I continue unhampered towards my destination. Besides you could tell just
by glancing at this mud-caked scavenger that he had been hopelessly contaminated with Jrang worms. Onyx tubes swimming beneath the whites of his eyes
accompanied by the stench of decay clearly gives it away. Jet black lines under blood-shot red ones
; pulsating corneal highways
intersecting byways that even the most brazen of machines would not dare transverse. For this was the reason behind the boost in global sales of
cybernetic appendages, the rotting of flesh due to these parasites. New Europa had been like this for years. A dark industrial wasteland of twisted
metal shards stabbing at the sky…or just maybe reaching up in an attempt to reclaim the past, to recall the heavens. This was once the genesis colony
for foreigners who dreamt of peace and integration. I remember the shadow of what was, but now very few of these dilapidated buildings are even
structurally sound enough to provide residence for the most stubborn life forms. It seems as though New Europa and I share something in common:
desolation. We are both apparitions of a war that could not recognize this world afterwards and are unable to recall the true purpose of our original
Each step I commit to breathes life into the next and death to the last or perhaps it was the other way around. You see, Time and I had a falling out
years ago on account of my denial to accompany his brother Death in a speed buggy race to Sector 97 (aka Hades), but my rebreathers could never
effectively filter out the harshness of arid desert landscapes. I had hung on because I believed it to be justified, but who am I to differentiate
between right and wrong. I am just a man…well, for the most part.
This place now seems to excrete the odor of a bygone tomb to me. A static space soiled and littered with the weak residual energy of hope. Dust comes
to dust, but here even dust is too spent to find locomotion. The calmness of home rushes over me in blanket like waves.
Bathed in the shame of dirty neon lights
, I paused below the sign for Monochrome Red: the last building resilient enough to
accommodate a club in New Europa. It’s quite ironic that a town dubbed as such would mutate into this cesspool of disease and inorganic psudo-life
considering the moon Europa was once seen as the best chance for alien life in our solar system. The human race has only themselves to blame for this
monumental misunderstanding. It was my species that directed the first shot fired in this play for moral supremacy. The blindness of monkeys brings
the hammer down on their own toe nails out of the fear from spiders scampering across the floor. This is the birth right that would be carved into our
children‘s flesh, but we all have our crosses to bare.
When the Jrang worm plague began, most thought that it was just another terrestrial mutation of a prior organism, the result of hundreds of years’
pollution. Apparently some humans actually welcomed the visitors with open arms…as well as legs. The merging of human and Europian body fluids merely
acted as a catalyst for the dormant bacteria. Just add water some joked, but it gets difficult to jest when one is becoming a stiffy in a vertical
box. Humans began expiring in such large quantities that there was only enough room to bury them upright. Those able to be sterilized, at least.
Although the Jrang worms could not survive without a host for long, cremation became standard CDC procedure out of fear. This will all come together
in time, but currently the doorman is waiting.
Cronos, an old acquaintance from Cytec-corps, was the bouncer tonight. Well, at least part of him was. Barely considered half a man, Cronos had so
much left over flesh and bone from his melting that he had another Self constructed. Melting is slang for cybernetic enhancement, at least that’s what
all the cool kids are calling it. His humanity had been divided: one mechanized man and one humanized machine with a ego/id replicator, top shelf data
compressors and an emotion simulator. The android Cronos is quite astounding. Somehow the techheads were able to copy his personality down to the
facial tick he gets while drinking. I’m told that every night Cronos and Cronos meet up at their flat and exchange accumulated information via a
neurological interface processor of sorts. Cronos claims to have an override code on his ‘twin’, but Cronos states the same so who knows which one is
finally in control anymore. If we did not have a history together, even I would be unable to tell the difference between the two.
Pre-Cronos had been infected shortly after joining the corps, while attempting to assist in a transportation accident. He came in contact with the
bacteria and started showing symptoms shortly thereafter, thus being restricted to lower clearance Cytec-corps duty do to hysterical prejudice.
Post-Cronos fell off the radar for a while until I bumped into him at Monochrome Red. It was only then that I realized the techheads had to keep
amputating and sterilizing parts in order to eradicate the Jrang worms. There is a preventative vaccine (Depro-Jartoxid), however it is reserved for
government officials and high ranking military personnel. I was one of the original test subjects; an eager guinea pig willing to do anything to
escape death, but it was not without a price. It seems as though the trial formulation incapacitated the section of the brain that causes emotional
responses. More than an adequate trade off for not being eaten inside-out if you ask me.
Looking down at my watch, I realize that it is winding backwards. A foreboding omen counting down to some unforeseen event. I feel anesthetized even
though it seems that I should not. The sensation one has when they know that they have forgotten something, but have no idea as to what it was. Time
has never been on my side and so I ignore this seemingly minor triviality. I’ll just acquire a new time piece in the morning.
Monochrome Red is not a place for the weak-stomached. Actually half of the patrons had wires and nanocarbon tubes in lieu of a digestive track and
abdomen tissue. If it was possible to build God out of machines there was enough illegal technology here to do it. I nonchalantly crept through the
rhythmic vibrations sprawled across the dance floor towards a dimly lit table in a corner of the room. As soon as I sat down, I was startled by a
waitress who materialized and requested a drink preference.
“The usual,” I mumbled half expecting her to just scan my thoughts for the answer. The waitress’s eyes arose as a sunless sky. One could just tell
that the model had been updated as the binary code, which relayed over her pupils, moved even faster then I could decipher. Within mere seconds, her
ocular lids shuttered and her eyes passed for human again. The words ‘Bockan Ale’ streamed over her exposed cleavage as the electric
danced across her skin like an old cinema marquee sign. No matter how many times I take a chair at Mono’ Red, I am always startled by
the immediate response of the attenders by the pressure sensors in the seat cushions.
The adhesive I have been softening as chewing gum is ready and I secretly place it beneath the table along with my ion cartridge pistol. Such things
are normally checked at the door (not that the weapon detectors are of much benefit with all the cyborgs trotting about like race stallions), but like
I said…Cronos is an old friend. I have been modified, there is no doubt of that, however my work has been more organic manipulation then alkaloid
replacement. Enhanced muscle growth hormones, elevated skeletal density, heightened auditory & tactile perception, accelerated tissue regeneration and
twin optic filters (heat & night vision which give birth to a reptilian appearance once I flicker my extra eyelids) are among an array of more exotic
modifications. Blue pill
, red tablet
, green gel-cap
…I could administer a black eye to
pharmaceutical sales with what it takes to keep my nervous system in check. There is also a small plasma emission cylinder in the underbelly of my
right arm, but that is only to be used as a last resort. It bears three close range shots from a non-lethal exit in the skin, but it still hurts like
A repetitive data hum hangs in the air, just another mindless industrial dance beat played until the dj forgets whether it is the end of the song or
it’s beginning. My mind becomes sidelined and I think of Jacob, my promise and the Earth/Europa war. If you listen carefully you can hear the
executed of this town still resonating in the air, still reasoning with a race that cares not to be reasoned with. It was once a safe haven that
became a concentration camp…a death sentence for those who came here seeking alliance. Our grand old government covertly sent in Cutters (level 3
mercenaries) to eradicate the visiting team and hid the evidence by sending military personnel to cleanse the area afterwords. Everyone suspected what
had really occurred, but the fear of contamination had grown to such a fevered pitch that a communal blind eye was turned to the incident. Humans can
not coincide with their own species, let alone an alien presence. I appear to have surpassed myself as I was speaking of Jacob. He was in the same
covert Cytec-corps team as I and transferred part of his chi to mine when had I became near fatally wounded. I owe a favor; a favor that binds us and
brings me to this moment in time, but as we all know each moment consumes the next and the god of time must eventually be sated.
Monochrome Red is in fairly decent shape these days despite being in the most heavily bombarded section of New Europa. One could witness the sky
dripping in from the disintegrating roof membrane if an upward view was so desired. It might sound dilapidated to you, but the mere fact that ninety
percent of the ceiling was still intact is more then could be said for most establishments in this town. By scanning the surroundings, one could
almost tell that this was once a restaurant. The chipped brick walls, semi-liquid metal railings, chains hanging from the ceiling…yeah, definitely a
restaurant. An androgynous individual with eyebrow horns scampers past the Elvis impersonator at the pool table. By the second-rate job on the horns,
one could tell that they were implants and not the cause of genetic modifiers. Although the techno-Joan of Ark impersonator did not seem to care as
she was pulsating her groin against his hip like a super nova in transition. In the corner, a troop of little female day-glow goths giggle and crawl
the walls in full tilt fashion. It seems as though they had acquired some Dargo root and could not contain themselves. An over enthusiastic android is
getting his ear drilled by a human female‘s tongue, perhaps she is searching for iron ore. Pretty much an average night. The clientele consisted
mostly of local hoodlums, Triad members, cyborgs, the chronically suicidal, orgmods (mostly organically modified like myself), those searching for
the next trendy drug and the occasional tech mage that wandered into a place that he instantaneously realized he should not have entered. It is
amusing to watch a tech mage attempting to nervously blend in. It’s like a cat pretending to be a piece of toast; eventually the toaster is going to
get wise and cough up the fur ball.
An eyelid flickers, the quick flash of sensation and then it is gone.
My eyes become distracted by the cadaver revolving on a spit in the eatery. Some poor Europian spinning to the beat of a Covenant song. The more
suicidal, technologically hung cyborgs see the marinated body as a delicacy and strip off ribbons of flesh as it rotates. It is sort of like how
expensive sports cars were once used as an extension of the penis when men were lacking. It’s a testosterone trip for those who now have their gray
matter suspended in motor oil. I hear that they have some sort of support group for it these days, but such is the organs of another story. I have no
idea as to what the seasonings are, but I always envision the same thing when I witness it: the phantom of a child’s face, the death of innocence.
I notice my contact stroll in while I sip my Bockan ale. Well, actually my third I believe, it seems as though I have misplaced time again. As he
saunters across the dance floor like a balloon in a room of needles, I see the reaper coming ever closer towards me. Not in my contact, but around him
as if it was a yet unmaterialized activity. I can feel it…I was there…but time transcends itself…and now I am not.
“Dark tea”, he confidently states almost before he even sits and the chair sensors are activated. The waitress oscillates and is gone again. He slides
an engorged package from one pole of the table, across its equator and towards me. Opening the poly-synthetic flap, I see a Europian bile-filter gland
packed in frozen cryo-tabs. I ease my finger off the trigger
Before we go any further let me explain. After the Earth/Europa war any form of Earthling/Europian biological hybridization was deemed illegal
according to the Cross-Germination Act (UN128-23R) of 2043. They feared a loss of purity in the human race more so then the Jrang worm. The fools
never realized that the means of incubation for the parasite was not more then a nacro-frog’s leap from the filtration gland that could destroy all
toxins in the human body.
I slowly pull another envelope out of a sub dermal pocket in my alien Triog shell bio-armor and slide it over to him, changing the polarities of the
copper table back to normal in the process. A normalcy which I pray goes unnoticed and unexposed in this atmosphere of social and cultural
degradation. He taps the table twice, stands up and is consumed by the haze of the room. As I start to remove my pistol from under the
ring-watermarked table, my attention is drawn to a commotion at the bar. That was that moment at which it all fell apart; the instant at which my life
inconveniently caught up with itself.
The wall clock flutters and returns within a cycle. There is a shadow within the room that is both there and not there. The sense of calmness is
shattered. Accelerate the beat.
The visions overtake me in waves and I am left with the peculiar sensation of choking on a hospital bed. This is not the first time I have experienced
this odd feeling; the inclination that someone else is peering though my eyes, that I was connected to another. I think that it bothers me most when I
am getting out of the shower. It is not that I am overly modest, but rather that I am in a physically vulnerable state at the time. I clamp my eyelids
shut and on release it is gone. Just ignore it, Jonna!
Demion, the club promoter and a first class dreg, attempted to lather a new comer in his ego, but this mechanically overstuffed burrito was not having
it. No seriously, he was some sort of spicy
Mexican cyborg just looking for tequila. From the tilt of his head, it seemed as if he
was not even aware of where he had stumbled. One bar too many, but you can not blame the type these days, not after the assimilation of Mexico by the
United Territories of Brazil during the South American free-for-all buffet. He is just attempting to desensitize himself from the pain. Well, whatever
parts could still be affected by alcohol that is.
Before I could even commit to the deep inhale I knew was coming, the kind that one reflexively takes to appear frightfully looming, the nameless
Mexican reached across the bar and twisted Demion’s head clean off his shoulders. Quite impressive strength I might add, but perhaps I am being too
generous as I had never cared for him. The next few moments became blurred in time, so being an anally organized individual, I will construct a bullet
list for you.
- Bartender reaches beneath the spare marinating Europian and grabs a Gravi-spin pulse rifle. Unloads the graviton wave cartilage forcing the
Mexican into the crowd against his will. The club owners had eliminated lethal staff weaponry a few years ago. It was not so much for humanitarian
reasons as it was because of the paperwork required to process and possibly sterilize accidental homicides.
- An over zealous dreg wishing to protect his leashed manwife jarred by the incident, extends a swing at the Mexican, but only gains a gleaming metal
fist through his head. As you can tell, chivalry is not held in the elevated esteem that it once was.
- The mad burrito cyborg then turns in a blind rage and unloads his roadside produce machine arm-gun blindlessly into the crowd.
- The dance floor inhabitants not so much scatter as fall to the platform writhing in pain. I’m sure that being raped by projectiles was not
necessarily on anyone’s To-Do list for this evening.
- My armor absorbs the brunt of the fire, but unfortunately I take a hot pepper in the neck.
of the seeds are what you need to be cautious of and I always forget this simple fact. As much as I try, my hands fail to
absorb the fluid spewing from my neck. So I lay there, inappropriately bleeding all over myself. A lobster bib would really be helpful at this moment
in order to capture the escaping occupants of the red and white cells, but convenience has never been on my side and this prison break is not within
my power to quell. The warden has taken a vacation day and his second in command is masturbating in the corner. I hope he catches a bass, but the lure
he’s using is not at all appealing and the tides have seemingly changed.
“Code Red! Room Alpha 27-H!” The medial facility intercom belts out across the floors in varying pitches and tones. Strange that they would still be
using telepathic midgets roosting in oversized speaker boxes, but I suppose that everyone needs a job. P.R.A.s, psychic relay announcers, seem to be
one of the few occupations that the vertically challenged can get, considering their grotesque appearance brought along by generations of inbreeding
and the infestation of alien microbes. In this world of disintegrating flesh and tarnished metal, beauty has become highly subjective.
Nearly transparent streaks of white and blue paint the corridor air as medical personnel race to the residents sector. The heat in the patients room
rises seven degrees as his heart pounds at an expedient rate. Having grown a mind of its own, this organ wants out. It desires freedom and lucidity.
Perhaps someone should have mentioned that neither exist in this realm, a realm in which her distant cousins, Mr. & Mrs. Hand, have created. Psychic
midgets are not the only relatives procreating in this reality.
Oceans of crimson dipping sauce
gush through the dam, foolishly masquerading as fingers. The onset of panic begins, but not before
I inject the emergency adrenalin solution from a hair-like needle hidden in my ring. This hand-dam is not completely without merit. My flesh shivers
from the shock tsunami that rumbles over this shell. I can hear the commotion about me, the frantic sweat being flung from body part to body part. An
exquisite ballet of perspiration and machine oil creating symphonies in the atmosphere, but I dare not applaud during this overture as a work station
has been pre-assigned to my hands and they already have their fingers full.
“PATTLES, CLEAR, CLEAR, CLEAR,” screams the medical doctor! The near transitional life form on the operating table levitates from the metal slab for a
moment, hangs in the air and crashes back down with a sickening meat thud. Again and again the doctor spasms as does the body in some sort of sexual
role play. I half expect them to start making out right then and there.
Wait! How can I be seeing this? How is this possible? I am handing the doctor a syringe, some gauze and a packet of Ultra-Chicklets, but I am not
controlling any of this; these are not my hands! Time has caught up with me, as I always knew it would, and I am seeing the single moment of my last
without the illusion of space through the orbital sockets of another. It is sort of like watching a film from inside the lens of the camera; one is
not quite sure where fiction ends and fact begins.
“Forget it,” the doctor concedes as he cancels any assistance with a wave of his hand. “Next of kin?” he sighs as stripping off his gloves.
My lips separate, my tongue recoils and my vocal cords vibrate although I am numb to the sensation. I simply have the remembrance of sensations. The
painfully twisted face laying dormant is obscured from my vision, the nurses vision, but I feel as if I know what is coming. “There is no family or
contact listed for Jacob Harron,” states the nurse.
I have become the edge of the waterfall spilling my essence down into the obscured mist below. All of the expensive tinkering the Cytec-Core has done
will not lead to my salvation this go around. Time has finally caught up with me. I turn and slowly nod to him in a degree of silent assurance, which
acknowledges the inevitable without a word or emotional response of any kind. I suddenly become aware of the fact that I am no longer incorporated
within my body. It is not that my consciousness has risen or anything of the like, but that I am simply not connected in a corporeal sense any longer.
A curtain of gray seems to obscure my vision and my phantom limbs fall impotent as I realize that I was correct all along. I simply have nothing left
“I hope that you can now find your way,” the nurse whispers as she turns off the bio-data monitor and pulls the cool, crisp linen over our
Edited for formating.
[edit on 29-6-2004 by Jonna]