3. Stoked

July 21, 2016

This was not the time to have the shits. Henson’s lower belly was heavy, he felt like he’d grown something inside. It bubbled and tugged, putting pressure on his asshole, it wanted out. To be free. To seek another poor fuck in order to implant its hideous and miserable watery offspring deep in their unsuspecting belly.

Henson had picked up this particular case of the shits on his last shore leave a mere eight hours previous. He’d been full of high spirits, a woman on one arm, a handsome young man on the other, both gladly spending his money and pretending to like him for the evening.

The underground bar they staggered into was a hovel of pornographic Filthmongers and depraved Cyperpeepers in booths, eyes glued to binocular periscopes that reached to the ceiling. They sipped pina coladas through long straws whilst looking up the skirts of the young women without underwear that strode across a floor of hand ground lenses.

“That’ll  be three whiskys for us” Slurred Henson, throwing an expanding credit on the bar. “and keep them topped.” This brought small cheers from the paid arm candy.

The barman took the credit and scanned it, good for a weeks worth of drinking so he poured three piss poor quality but large whiskeys into tumblers. Not bothering to say anything he pushed them across the bar and got back to cleaning booth cock suckers.

“Hey” shouted Henson, leaning across the bar and tapping the barman. “Hey, a little water.”

The barman, with his back to Henson poured a little water out of the cock sucker into a glass. He placed it with a small smile next to the whiskeys saying “Don’t fucking touch me again.”

“Pissy bitch”said Henson as he tipped a little into his whisky. “You could murder cats with this god awful whisky.”

Later, he had taken the arm candy back to a hotel room, hurt them real bad and they all went away happy. He was on the way back to the port when the creaking in his belly started. He’d stopped to shit in the street three times by the time he got back to the ship. The guard took one look at his grey, sweating face and thought better of searching him.

Now, in the middle of a fucking battle, greasy fingers were digging into his insides. Coiling around his intestines and squeezing his bowel. Instead of concentrating on his role, he was concentrating on squeezing his asshole as tightly together as he could.

“Henson!” shouted Petty Officer Brick, “fucking move it boy.”

They could feel the ship turning starboard, the order for full speed had been called moments before. Now they, the stokers had to give the engines enough fuel to ensure maximum capacity.

The engines of the ship were old reconditioned Darkstellar mk5 fuel cells that had been hacked into place by engineering. No one really knew where they had got them from, no one asked. The cells were powered by baryonic strippers, cavernous glass ovens that tore  dark energy  from material  before sucking them into fissile delivery tubes. The engineers had bolted on the optional waste disposal mod from an old interstellar cruiser so literally anything could power the ship as long as it would fit through the doors of the oven.

Right now, the stokers on duty were piling in bags of medical waste, left overs from breakfast, mangled launch control catch pads, the remains of a ship they had sank a month ago, a jeep that Bos’n Kendish had crashed whilst drunk,  any  pre-fuel from the engine storage hangar.

The job was hot and dangerous, the crew that worked in the engine room were hard, muscled and covered in scars. They used the robot arms to shift the heavier pre-fuel but still needed to use brute force to guide it into the oven. The glass of the oven was almost impossible to break but they all worried that a few years of old cars bumping into the door frame might test that.

Henson looked at Brick’s sweaty, oil smeared face and staggered forward. He was level with Brick when the ships aft guns fired a sudden volley without warning. The noise was dampened in the belly of the ship, but still loud enough to make ears whine for a moment. Some of the pre-fuel rocked on it’s shelf a little, a cup fell off the PO’s table. Everyone ducked slightly and Henson shit himself.

 


2. Stolen

July 17, 2016

Jessica had many names, from birth to six she was called Little Shit and Shut Up, from six she was called Go Away and Fucking Idiot. Now fourteen she is called Thief, Get Away and as a return to her roots Little Shit.

She’s stick thin but wiry and her hair loops like properly cooked spaghetti. This morning she is sat at the back of a scummy supermarket, warming herself on the exhaust fans, watching the rats steal her breakfast from the skips. They weave from side to side sniffing the air and then leap with joy at the smell of donut and rancid mince and banana and expensive smashed chocolates.

Jessica is tired, she slept for an hour or so when the synstim overtook her and forced her into dream. She can feel it’s dirty claws nipping at her thoughts, demanding darkness and scary moments of evil desire. Trying to push them to one side, Jessica scratches her forehead, more dirt and grease under her chewed nails.

The drunk that tried to rape her last night is lying on his face next to her. His eyes stare at the gum stains and a single piece of brain matter in amongst the grit. He had stumbled down the alley, roaring and swinging his fists, tumbling onto her and smashing her chest with hard knuckles, she cried despite herself as he pushed his hands up her top. Then she stabbed him through the temple with a piece of sharpened rebar. He stopped immediately, pausing only to say hogh and then rolled off her, his limbs jerking and twitching.  He coughed once and then was still. Jessica laid where she was for a while, then once she felt human again she went through his pockets and took anything that was worth taking. Her haul included a travel pass, a handful of credits,  a comb and three fat vials of synstim, opalescent chemical head fuck that was a superb way of dulling life.

Two rats were stood on his back, paws patting up and down, trying to figure out if he was food yet or a dangerous flailing arm, unsure they decided to hop over to the skip as that never tried to hit them.

“Morning” she said, mildly curious about the hole in his head. Her voice sounded like someone else’s, she wasn’t used to speaking generally and after a brain full of drugs the words felt like old cheese being grated in her throat.

The plan for the morning was to get the fuck out. She walked amongst the real people without being seen, huddled in her blanket, her few belongings in a military bag she had found next to a dead old bastard  lying under the rail bridge that used to cross 5th. The bridge had been hit by a small rocket fired from Eastside last week and was now a drystone wall across 5th.

The rocket attacks had increased recently, mostly launched into the commercial district, the impact being loud fuck you’s rather than any real damage as a vast majority of them were poorly made duds. Occasionally an unfortunate consumer was hit by the rocket itself, piledriving their shoulders through their stomach and popping them open like a dropped bottle of milk.

Jessica saw it happen last week. The woman had hoverbags full of purchases, a drugged smile and a hawk eye on the sales offers seeping from the stores into her virtual peripheral vision. The rocket whistled G# and she looked up in time for it to hit the woman in her gaping mouth. The pop of the explosion was not much more than a firework, another misfire, but it was enough to send the woman’s face across the road while the body of the rocket buried into her, an obscene misogynistic invasion that made Jessica briefly wonder about the universes rules of engagement  before she walked quickly by the woman’s smear, swiping a hoverbag and disappearing into a crowd of amateur Wes Craven’s who bustled to the scene with live cast enabled, gasping and grinning, desperate to be the first post.

A few blocks from her bed for the night, Jessica hit the busy 10th Street commercial district. The sidewalks were packed with bags of new possessions and their slaves carrying them, all ages hypnotised by commercials offering unbelievable savings and lifestyle necessities. Jessica moved between them, being elbowed and bumped, looking for a sellall. Busting through the rapids she stopped outside just such a store and made to go in.

“Get the fuck off my step” said the fat guard, his uniform starched grey, he was looking slightly towards the sky checking his list of undesirables for her image, scratching his tit under the the bronzed registration badge.

“I’ve got credit.” said Jessica, waving the plastic quickly, sliding it back in her breast pocket before some other little shit tried to swipe them. She tried to smile at the guard but only managed a grimace.

The guard, bored of looking at streams of Inferiors blinked them away and pointed a leather covered finger at Jessica. “No fucking around”.

Half an hour later, pockets full of stolen items, Jessica walked past him whilst leaving, he was zoned out, watching some video, the little glow from behind his ear flashing rapid data transfer and his eyes wobbling in waking REM. She wiped snot on his sleeve and rejoined the the river of people.

She was off again down the street, not really looking at anyone, trying to ignore the shoves and trips, keeping her eyes on the paving slabs, watching where her feet were landing. Out of her pocket she pulled the apple she had stolen from the store. It was bright green and luscious red, unwaxed and beautiful. She had an apple yesterday out of the skip but it had been smashed and coated in something that might have been cold lasagna.

Stupidly, whilst mooning at the apple, she forgot to look where her feet were going and she stood right on a law line. These were placed every three hundred metres along the sidewalk, scanning any person stepping on them, monitors for the general populace aiding ad placement and for criminals, back breakers.

“Oh shit” Jessica said trying to get out of the way, but the response time of the law line was legendary, no one escaped, not even Fast Feet John had managed to move his dancers legs in time. Jessica was no dancer and the intelligent catch net shot from the floor with incredible accuracy, a cross between expanding foam and an airbag it hit her full force in the legs and back. “Thief, accusation code 23” the rough generation said. “Third and final violation.”

Jessica had a moment after being catapulted into the air where her spine flexed beyond its normal stress point and she thought that was the end, before she smashed into the pavement and felt her cheek split and her teeth loosen in her jaw.

Everything was blurred jelly vision, unreal representations of leering faces, one thin faced  grinning asshole shouting “First Post!” feet moving quickly by, expensive shoes, a kick that was quite deliberate and then as the colour faded and her confused mind shut down very big black boots in front of her face and the grey sellall guard’s voice”That’s the Inferior”.

Jessica woke strapped into a form fitting seat, the straps a five point harness bit into her body, she was unable to move. She realised she could only see out of one eye and was struggling to gain an idea of where she was. Either side and in front of her were equally sorry looking people, blood soaked and bruised all immobilised and ball gagged. The air smelt of copper and shit. The aisle groaned as one when a single guard began to walk the aisle, he wore a shiny black displacement officers suit, his face covered by a golden blast shield.

“After serious infraction of various penal codes and social agreement 4, you are hereby condemned to banishment. Sentence has no recourse to appeal. Any attempt to return will be seen as treason and you will be executed.” The guard walking up and down the aisle looking at each prisoner. “Now fuck off and die” he said quietly. He walked towards the rear seats and a door cranked open letting end of day sun into the gloom as he left.

The transporter limped into the air, gathering speed then struggling to keep balance and with a belch of black exhaust it travelled out of the city limits. Inside the lights flickered and the oxygen levels occasionally dropped below life sustaining levels causing muffled panic that no one could hear over the undampened go-jets.

Jessica cursed over and over again in her mind, a fuck mantra of fear, concentrating on breathing in the dull air through her nose, more fart and carbon dioxide than oxygen, trying to keep her lungs action slow. She saw the old man across from her dribble vomit from his ball gagged mouth his eyes shining ovals. The woman next to her must have shit herself and at least two people had given up and slumped forward dead.

They flew for hours, maybe days, sometimes rising, sometimes falling, gravity pushing and pulling on weak bellies. Head vibrating and half mad, Jessica panicked as the door at the end of the aisle suddenly shuddered open. The hydraulics were old and hissed fluid, Jessica realised she could hear the hiss amongst the static in her ears. The go-jets had stopped. They had landed.

The constraints released with a loud click, finding her legs on the way, Jessica joined the stinking piss stained wretches heading towards the blinding light. On the way they passed the dead and near death too weak to remove the gags. Nobody looked twice. Nearer the door the pace picked up as the cool fresh air billowed against the hull, Jessica managed a smile which lasted precisely as long as it took for her to get outside.

The beach lazily rolled up to a small cliff, beyond that desert dunes and cloudless blue sky. Jessica was jostled out of the way as those behind her scrambled out of the craft. She thought for a moment about getting back onto the transport, but it roared into life, incinerating those sheltering from the sun under the stubby wings and staggered vertically into the air. The rear door was still open and the slow to rise tumbled out screaming to dull fat thuds on the sand. Thick exhaust in the air, the transport ship rolled away towards the horizon.

“Oh fuck”. Said Jessica.

Some of the people wandered off towards the desert in small groups. Others fell to the floor unable to even begin to think of anything beyond their sense of despair. No one spoke. It was starting to get cold.

After a frigid night huddled together the desultory sun rise did little to raise spirits.

A fight broke out a few metres away from Jessica, she watched the fight with mild interest, it was short and not particularly bloody. Both combatants sat down abruptly, too tired to cause any real damage. They were lost without the city, without the despondent disregard, the quiet spite and the sense of urgency. Here there was nothing. Nothing to steal. Nothing to kill for. No way of surviving. They were doomed to a dry, bleached, sandy death. Those that had stayed on the beach were resigned, those that had left towards the apparently vast sandy desert the hopeful. Jessica hated them and their hope.

Two people had died during the night, a night crawler with big fake tits and a scrawny old man. A small group had gathered around them. “If we find something sharp we can skin them and dry their meat” said a weasel. “Are you fucking insane?” Said a paedophile teacher rubbing nervously at a welt on his cheek. “What the fuck else are we going to eat speccy?”said a monster of a man, a mass murderer from Milwaukee who’d been on a busman’s holiday when he was caught.

Jessica looked away, wondering if she was willing to eat human. her eyes looked out to sea, grey green and churning. Her stomach was trying to tell her maybe.

Then…

out at sea…

…a fucking boat.

“It’s a fucking boat!”she shouted, pointing and those around her turned to look, except the Milwaukee monster who had a finger in the mouth of the fake tits night crawler.

The boat rapidly approached the beach, “That ain’t nothing good” shouted the paedophile over his shoulder as he raced up the beach towards the desert dunes, pushing his glasses up onto his nose as he ran. “That really is nothing fucking good!”

The boat beached and twelve very big men with small vicious looking guns jumped on to the sand. They wore a uniform that no one on the beach recognised. The expression on their faces, everyone recognised. Hate filled and dangerous.

“Nobody fucking move.” shouted the one with the moustache in a surprisingly high pitched voice. “You cunts are either dead or fucking drafted.”


1. Wiping the slate.

July 16, 2016

Flat grey.

Darkening cloud. Dull stains, ink shedding, feathered edges that leak heavy thuds of rain.

The sea, passively hate filled, a monochrome void eats the tumbling horizon.

The cold wind skims the surface whipping rough peaks and punching troughs in diminishing perspective. Mean persistent whispers of  thick water rise to white static, bleak and utterly alone.

Against the gloom, sudden yellow billowing flashes of anger tear separate the sea from the sky, unnatural blooms that whither to oil smudges catching on the wind and dragging, heavy alien cloud, westward in uneven smears.

The sound takes a moment to fill the air. It’s sudden announcement sheer coke can in the desert surprise, it smacks the waters surface as it evaporates into the persistent. Whisper. White. Noise. Whisper. White. Noise. Whisper.

Calls cling to the air, screams. Echoing across the cold dispassionate grey. Muffled hundreds. Those that can shout help. And hello. And fuck. The sea, the sea remains grey. At one with the sky it absorbs and ignores the flailing, burning, mutilated shivering and begging. It laps at wounds and fills lungs, hands slapping on the glutinous frozen surface, terrified, terrified…

… another bloom, this time closer, orange and red. Sudden and fleeting, gaudy against the gloom. Igniting rounds free fire fireworks that thud and skim, Nokia snakes, filling the sky with bees, pocking the sea momentarily with white spouts then losing momentum fading down.

Again thick dough smoke rises, but the war ship it pours from drags itself forward whilst the fire eats from the inside. Men tumble from the sides, consumed then slaked, silent flaming tissue, insane, instinctual and animal. Grabbing and pulling, ducking, blind rage stoked for one more brief moment of terrible hope.

The ship, lurches, bursting across the seam, spreading in a wide arc. Those on board with lungs not melted scream and scratch at the deck as it tilts. The engines howl, breaking loose into gears and chain and pistons and gaskets and bolts and things that only arcane engineers love, shredding shards slice and the groaning ship  ceases to displace and plunges the hull starboard, clumsy death, bubbling breath cumulating and bursting through semi formed ice and then the sea… forgets.

Those alive in the water, peeled and poached, flip and turn. They scrabble. They clutch. And they all die. Pale grey remnants on the dark grey sea.

Their victor hunched and angry cuts to the wind, no time to cerebrate as it prepares to round on its next prey. All hands at battle stations. Cooks, technicians even the environmental health officer, predatory in their urgent and practised rhythm.

No damage or losses and two bastards down. Confidence rising, trust in their captain rising they ride the swell with ease a mile of engineered mayhem and steel with two thousand crew squinting at dials, oily screens and into the dark.

Several stories up, beyond the armoured safety of the green glowing bridge where the captain and officer of the watch yell profanities with little guilt and machine gun orders into infallible tubes and put hands on shoulders to steady the nerves of blue faced youths with video game reaction times who intently watch for pixel aberrations on wide screens filled with speeding real time location data, in a nest no wider than two asses sit Bob With The Face and Two Turd Terry.

Bob slaps on his helmet with hands, that look as ridiculous as clown’s feet, in thick insulated gloves. His comms are full of static, useless. So he pops the shield, pulls the bib on his fire protection away from his face and immediately regrets it, the stinging barbs of ice rain micro slashing his cheeks and making his teeth feel like the taste of steel.

“Fuck Terry, I can’t feel my hands, help me with with this link.” His arsehole ugly face over exaggerating his expression of urgency.

Terry, who still has his face shield firmly in place can’t hear him and carries on adjusting the sights for the monstrous gun that protrudes from the side of the ship a metre to the left of them. In the last run, they had been several metres off target. That wasn’t unusual considering the gun was supposed to be strapped underneath an ancient fighter plane and the linkage system cooked up by Chief Engineer Schiegel, though undeniably brilliant, was originally designed to accurately place a Class 2 diamond core drill.

The gun was a beauty though. Stolen from a museum in Belgrade during a land assault last year, it’s nearly six metres long and fires Road Runner explosive hate at any poor bastard unfortunate enough to be in the way. The bullets are slightly shorter than Able Gregg’s 12″ dick and Terry had a photo from a particularly drunken night to silence the unbelievers.

Bob slams his puff pastry glove against Terry’s helmet, rattling his teeth. Terry, pops his shield and blinks against the bitter mist giving Bob a what the fuck look.

Bob’s mangled face frozen, jawed like a puppet. “Hydraulics.” Unable to wait any longer he pulls the shield back in place and feels his face thaw as the warm flow of air seals him from the elements.

“Useless” says Terry, crackling in Bob’s ear at last.

“The link’s popped” Bob points a Cumberland at the hissing hydraulic housing. It’s on Bob’s side so really it’s his job to fix it, but Terry with a comment about his mother leans over Bob’s lap and pulls off a glove to replace the popped seal. Schiegel has designed it well for easy maintenance but it takes effort to reseat the mother fucker.

Bob feeling slightly warmer and less human takes the stick, a wicked smile and the gun silently swings, metres of black death scanning the void.

Terry points 30 degrees NNW, almost unseen tiny white daisys on the horizon, Bob rotates the gun, Terry yells into his comms, then streaks deviating slightly on gusts, white hot singing multitudes converge and poc poc poc poc the steel around them punched, a sharp tug on Terry’s shoulder nothing but a sliver slicing, then roars across comms as inside the ship small explosions and blood and bones and last breaths and begging and morphine to shut them the fuck up and then Bob opens fire with blazing golden light that illuminates the world in two second bursts of frenzied retaliation.