Cockroach 1

They call it the Cockroach Initiative — building the ability to survive for a certain amount of time without your head into their armed forces. I was the prototype.

The data that would usually be stored in the brain was redistributed amongst the nanites in the host’s bloodstream. The reasons they just held the data there and ran the body without a head were twofold — firstly it scared the living shit out of the enemy, and secondly they thought it was a waste of resources to effect an immediate rebuild. For any of the in-built lizard-tech regeneration hardware to be employed took too much energy away from killing.

So, they tried to deal with me last night. They manufactured a terrorist threat to scare me into accepting the offer of moving me and my family to a safehouse and then, once we were there, they sent in their butchers to kill us in our sleep.

I am a soldier but they had drugged our food and most of my systems have been offline since they decommissioned me. They were offline because of the neural implants they had drilled into my base ganglia. Now those implants, along with my head, no longer exist. My family – my wife and son – unfortunately had no such technology in them and they are not coming back from their beheading.

What do you do when you have no head? Well, you either run around like a headless chicken or you go looking for a new one. I knew where to look. As soon as I came back online, all my faculties as an enhancile freed from the restraints, I knew where to go. Did they not check the specs on me? Did they not exactly what I was and what I am capable of? If they did then they are idiots; if they didn’t then they are also idiots – either way their actions are sloppy, and they will pay for their lack of professionalism.

I am going to take the head of the man who gave the order, then I am going to take apart the organisation that killed my family piece by piece.

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Grit 4

The map was good. Who knows, perhaps Gary was worried about Grit coming back for him? This was not going to be one of those situations where you could sit there and work out the best line of approach – this was going to be a case of walk in armed to the teeth and empty clip after clip of bullets into whomever the fuck walked towards you. Well, shoot them if they looked like they might shoot you. Uncle John was not a nice man – he was well known for that fact. John was a rung down on the ladder from Grimoire but he had muscle and he had brains so it wouldn’t be too long before he was ready to make the move up the foodchain.

Why the hell John would take in someone that Grimoire was after was anyone’s guess. Perhaps he thought the kid deserved a break, or maybe he thought it might draw Grimoire out and allow him to make a move on him. Could just be a fuck you to Grimoire; could just be a fucking stupid mistake. He supposed he would find out soon enough.

He was scoping John’s farm house out, making sure that it wasn’t going to be any more complicated than it first appeared. He was lighting up a fag when he heard a twig snap behind him. It was sloppy as hell to just turn into the swing of a club though. Grit’s last thought was: what the fuck is wrong with me? And then he went down into the dark curl of unconsciousness.

Grit 3

Hanging someone upside down by their feet and extracting one of their eyeballs with a screwdriver is not a first course of action; it is not a second course of action either – that kind of behaviour occurs to you pretty late in the day as a good idea. When someone has some information and they know you are going to hurt them to get it you would think they would go for the easiest route and just surrender said data. Reasons not to? That you think that person who will be affected by your sharing of the information might be able to hurt you more. But if the person threatening you has you upside down and your life is in danger then nothing worse can happen to you – why persist in the pretence of ignorance? It makes no sense.

So now the guy was screaming the answer out and it was hard to understand – Grit was having to listen intently. He made out the words “Uncle John’s”. Christ, it could have all been so easy.

‘Draw me a map?’

‘I’m in pain.’

‘You’ll be dead if you don’t. Look the eye is still attached by the optic nerve – perhaps they can save it.’

‘You mean it?’

‘Sure. Christ, Gary, you’re a dumb fuck – if you’d told me this back at the pub I might have even bought you a drink.’

‘Really?’

He lowered him to the floor, told him to keep a hold of the eye so it didn’t get squashed. Once he had the map he’d give him money for a taxi and send him off to the hospital. This had taken much longer than he had intended it to. If everything took this bloody long to get accomplished then getting Grimoire his man was going to be one hell of a job, and with Slight’s goons after him he was going to be knee deep in human offal before this bullshit was over.

Reduce 1

The step from minimalism to asceticism was not a large one for him — it seemed a natural evolution. One he had been ready to take for a long time before he finally plunged headlong into the lifestyle.

Time was a slow accretion of layers, associations, chains to different things. He had been breaking the chains, disassociating from the things that lay claim to him, shaving away the old skin of dead layers. He was making himself into something new — through becoming materially lessened he believed himself to be spiritually increased.

Some people didn’t like the balancing act — this accounting exercise that he was embarked on. People didn’t see it as a progression they saw it as a cold hearted cutting away of the things that mattered. He looked to them and saw them staring balefully back at him and he edited them out — took the blue pen and made the necessary marks to divorce himself from their presence. It surprised him briefly how little their absence mattered.

He started to think of it as surgery of a kind. He had some kind of far-reaching existential dysmorphia that required the wholesale removal of people instead of just limbs. He was finding it hard to see the worth in any of the people he had once associated with. They had let him down and not just once but consecutively and in increasingly significant ways. He was beyond disappointed. He was not sure he could properly verbalise how their fall from grace in his eyes had made him feel — perhaps there was no explanation.

If there was no explanation that meant there was no reason for their behaviour. Did the lack of a reason make their behaviour wrong? Maybe, maybe not — what it did do however was make it behaviour that he no longer needed to have affecting him. He was done with it and therefore it was simple to say that he was done with them.

Cut it away. Let the cancerous growths — the badly programmed cells that trapped you — let them all fall away to nothingness. It was like stepping into daylight. It was like stepping through the heart of a nuclear maelstrom being stripped down to nothing, leaving of the old self only a shadow, and stepping through that transformation to radiate a new truth. This was him post apocalypse.

People acted like he was poison. The whole of society was geared towards collecting things — people, objects, money, symbols. You could own as many virtual things as you could real things. Everything was about what you could claim as yours. Consumer society had gone rampant, rabid. It was heading toward collapse and he chose to sidestep the crumbling edifice; this modern day tower of Babel.

He gave away what money he didn’t need at the end of the week. He would buy exactly as much food as he needed, pay the bills, the necessary ones, and then he would find someone who needed it more than him and he would hand it over. People though that he was an idiot. It appeared to make no sense. People didn’t really want to find out what was going on in case he truly was mad.

He didn’t care what they thought — he honestly didn’t. If they didn’t understand then he didn’t need them in his life. Trim it back. Never add more and especially don’t add things that are detrimental to the self. That goes against the whole spirit of the project. That is in contradiction to the philosophy. It is contraindicated on the packet. He smiled: he was happy — he was free of so many things at last.

Grit 2

Grimoire had been expecting him. He knew Grit’s reputation – knew he wouldn’t run from what he had done; that wasn’t his way. Grit was one of the few old school gangsters still out there – one of those that you could rely on. If he had done Slight in then the guy had probably deserved it. That was all fine, but Grimoire had a target that had now gone to ground – one that would not be easy to flush out into the open.

‘I hope you don’t expect to get paid for that cock up?’

‘Course not. I came here to see what you needed me to do to set this straight.’

‘Hunt down and kill the fucking turd I sent you out there to kill.’

‘OK.’

‘Need I say that if you fuck up this time then our business will only be concluded when you have a bullet through your skull?’

‘Goes without saying.’

Grit made his way to the door. One of the goons had moved to block him. With a slight turn of the head he noticed Grimoire raise his hand and the door ape stepped aside.

‘Oh, Mr Grit, I just thought it would be sporting to let you know that Slight’s family and some of his old crew want your head on a plate. They’ll know you’ve been here – they probably have us staked out, unwise as that kind of thing is.’

‘No surprises there then.’

Grit got outside and his eyes drilled the angles with a sniper’s vision. Nothing. Perhaps they were scared. If they didn’t attack right out then he had to be careful of sneak attacks. He checked under his car before he got in it. He started it up and was just pulling out when a loud crack was followed by the side window showering him in glass.

‘You wait until I’m in my car, you dumb cunt?’

Grit drove straight at him and the idiot just stood there like he was the immoveable object. His head cracked the windscreen and he hit the roof like a sack of spuds. Grit watched him hit the ground and guessed his wrists probably shattered with the impact. Hmm, he thought, broken wrists are the least of your problems. Grit drove a volvo – it was like a fucking tank; he didn’t need any fancy shit to get him around. It worked a treat in this case – crunch, and there was one less dumb fucker from the Slight clan to trouble the world. Grit didn’t care who the fuck it was – he had things to do; he had to track down this guy for Grimoire and he had to end his life.

He had to watch Grimoire though, that much was definite. A warning that close to an attempt on his life seem too much of a coincidence.

Savant 1

To work for the people, and by that I mean to resonate with them as an idea, you have to appear dumb as fuck while being as smart as a whip. Marylebone had the maths down to a fine art. He managed to be a spokesperson, a commentator and still remain inestimably cool. How many people can achieve that?

He was a ticking timebomb that the establishment wanted removed. They tried to discredit him but they underestimated him. Each time they sent someone in to upstage him it was them that ended up looking the buffoon.

He smiled, arched an eyebrow and lit up the joint he had been treating like it were a super model’s leg he was turning in his hand. It tasted good — good shit; hydroponic; from the farms out in the sticks. He had money tied up in that shit — the market had slumped as of late but he knew there was a boom around the corner; these things went in cycles and the whole methamphetamine kick was dying down.

His sidelines in providing prescription drugs for those who couldn’t afford them was reaping dividends. People thought of him as just a TV presenter; they had no idea that he was staging a quiet revolution. Even the government goons that had been following him around had no real clue what he was up to.

He had been lacing the water with psychotropic drugs for about two years now in certain areas — mainly the ones that suffered from racial tension. He stuck amphetamines in the water of the areas that seemed too peaceful. He had friends on the various waterboards that controlled the supplies around the country. He was an agent provocateur and he had countless contacts in the art schools and amateur dramatic societies that would stage little skits for him to amp up a feeling that he wanted to be floating through the universal mind.

He had to be in the public eye to make him untouchable. If they came after him — if the shit hit the proverbial fan; then he needed to have a sympathetic public behind him to give him some kind of crawlspace. Revolutionaries could no longer hide — they had to be in plain sight and use the same tools that the big boys were playing with. You could be a one person media company.

He had to cut with the reckless shit though — like lacing the chief of police’s food with female hormones; like doctoring up a digital rendering of the prime minister going down on the president. Shit like that just wouldn’t fly. Shit like that might get him caught. Couldn’t have that. What could you do if you got caught? Not much — that was what.

Shit, he was stoned. Fucking out of his tree. Put some Marley on and float for a bit. Business could wait — revolution could wait. He needed to get high. Getting high made sense — it switched you off, and he spent all his life switched on.

Dreamcatcher 1

They called him Dreamcatcher and I tell you I am not sure what they built him out of but I know that he was fucking dangerous. he would sneak into your room, sit on the thin ledge of your headboard, and he would suck the oneiric energy straight out of your sleeping head, and man, some of the shit that he could do with that stolen energy was scary as fuck.

The last time we came across him all the mere mortals that were walking around with us gengineered mercenaries had their minds taken apart by the kind of infoviral self-replicators that used to rip data to shreds in computers. There was nothing for the psyche-wards to work with; nothing human left in them. And he smiled like he’d just been laid. Licking his lips like some kinky freak.

We were trained combatants. He was jungle warfare to our nice clean rules of engagement; he was guerrilla tactics. If we were Julius Caesar he was Vlad The Impaler. And he did it all with flickbook images taken from the brains of kids in the nursery. He could set Disney characters dancing through your skull in a way that would have you climbing the walls for weeks.

How did I survive him? I was designed for exactly that purpose. I was built to leech off of any kind of energy that was out there so any shit that he threw at me just made me stronger. I won’t say he didn’t fuck me up somewhat though. When you have been up against him you get a variant of the thousand yard stare that is unique to having dealt with him.

Ask someone who survived the Dreamcatcher what it was like and you see them the redialling the number he did on them. Sometimes survival is a relative term — I have seen a grown man shit himself at the thought of the Pandora’s Box that was once opened up in his mind by this individual. Who needs big production values when you can tap into someone’s reality engine and generate whatever sick and twisted fantasy you want to? Whatever sensory stimulus drives the person you are attacking suggests itself by how their memories are organised and you, being a creature that innately understands dreams and memories and things of that nature, can play them like they were notes in a symphony.

I have been following for I don’t know how long. I have followed him through his serial killer phase; his counter-revolutionary phase; his hero of the people phase — through every single delusion that he sold himself and the poor unfortunates he has in his thrall. I have stomped after him with my leaden feet and it is as if I were some child chasing after a god. And who is to say that isn’t what he has become? He has his own mythology — his fact is stranger than most fictions, and he has miracles to back up any promise he makes. So perhaps his madness makes more sense than all our sanities put together. God, that is a scary thought. What if I have been charged with killing the one true god that has ever existed?

Am I David against Goliath? Jack the giant killer? Or am I Judas? Am I Lucifer? I hae to think in this way — to make myself some bound binary opposite. I believe I dwell in the grey areas always; introduce the machinations of grey matter and all the certainty evaporates. Perhaps I am just tired. I haven’t slept in so long. they put me on that machine and push me through a rapid cycle of REM sleep so I don’t die on my feet, but I am beginning to wonder if the lack of real honest to goodness sleep is starting to catch up with me. Perhaps I am sleep walking through this.

Do I need to stop? Sit down; lay my head on a pillow and rest? How can I trust that he won’t take my head in his hands, twist my world around his finger and throw me into a hell of believing all he tells me? But maybe if I throw a big enough dream at him and he catches it then it will infect him and I will win by reprogramming him. Can I make myself into some compressed supermeme, some viral cultural building block that will move like a retrovirus through his fabric, re-programming him into what he should be?

Perhaps that is the way. Perhaps. One can dream, can’t they? Can they? Damn, my eyelids are heavy all of a sudden.