Else City – Part 3: Suited Not Suited

O’Halligan was told to suit up — to FESS up as they termed it; First Encounter Suit Situation. He hated to think what in the hell it was that they were going out there to look for — he didn’t want to go, but like everything that had happened to him from his death onwards he didn’t have much choice. They had struck it lucky — Langston Through had only had one appointment on the day of his death and the property had been standing empty for a fair while — long enough that something might have been able to lay eggs there and for them to have come full term.

Forbes was all gung-ho about the whole thing; really stoked to have something that she might be able to work her frustrations out on. The way she told it — if they couldn’t immediately recognise the species of whatever it was that had killed the victim and couldn’t establish sentience pretty quickly thereafter then they got to basically pump it full of bullets and do the research later. This kind of shit happened all the time — beings from other levels escaping and making their way here for a snack; sometimes it turned out that it had been sanctioned and these creatures had immunity from prosecution. She was looking forward to finding out what the case was with this one.

The suit was uncomfortable: it was unwieldy and it was hot inside there; claustrophobic. He did not like this situation in the least. They both had their weapons drawn. The back-up team — three examples of varying incapability had just EMP burst the house to shut down any systems that might be operational in there and to open the locks. He got to go in first — a privilege, he supposed, afforded to newbies who were obviously more expendable than an experienced officer, of which there were few.

They stepped inside the house and their visors immediately steamed up, the humidity was off the charts in there and it seemed like some kind of new ecosystem had been established. The EMP had apparently been unnecessary — nothing had been working in here for a while. It made him wonder when was the last time Through had checked out this place. He thought he saw something edge by in his peripheral vision but he couldn’t be sure. He stepped on something, it gave under his foot and burst like a boil, hot gobbets of pus shooting up his leg. He took a step backwards and tried not to vomit inside his suit. The suit’s monitors began to beep — whatever it was that had coated him was eating through the suit.

‘You need to get out of here, ASAP,’ said Forbes ‘We both do. This is going to need the big guns. Look over there,’ she said, pointing.

In the corner, thrown in a pile that nearly reached the ceiling, were human ribcages stripped of meat and to the side of them were the shattered remnants of spinal columns, broken skulls, other smaller bones. He turned and moved quickly towards the door, surprised that nothing had suddenly leapt out at them. He made his way to their vehicle and began to strip out of his damaged suit.

‘What the fuck was that in there, Forbes?’

‘No clue, I suppose we’ll find out when clean-up get out here.’

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Grit – Family Matter 2

He’d been kidding himself if he thought this was going to go smoothly — there were no buried hatchets; or at least not permanently buried ones. Sometimes when people went through a person’s effects they would find something that troubled them and they might see that it was fitting for them to resurrect old ghosts; old vendettas. Guilt made you imagine debts that needed to be paid to the deceased were now owed to you as you had inherited everything else that was theirs.

As soon as Grit laid eyes on Terry he knew that he had been nosing around and that he had found something he shouldn’t have; something he didn’t like. He stared daggers across the church at Grit. He did that most childish of things: gestured with his finger across his throat in a slashing motion. Grit got the message.

When they prayed he closed his eyes. It was out of respect and not out of belief and was one of the few times that Grit would ever close his eyes in a room full of people. The service was short: two hymns and a speech from Terry and that was pretty much it. Grit would not go to the cemetary after all — all it would do was cause trouble and he wasn’t here for that.

‘So, what exactly did your sorry arse turn up here for, eh, you cunt?’

‘Just come to pay my respects, Terry. John was my brother.’

‘And? Didn’t mean much to you while he was dying in that fucking hospital, did it?’

‘I was busy Couldn’t get there.’

‘I know why you couldn’t get there. I know what you did to my father. I know what you owed him and I know what you owe us.’

‘You don’t know anything, son. Don’t go making any stupid mistakes — you don’t know enough about me or about what happened to go getting yourself in trouble over either one.’

‘Don’t call me son. Damn, you come here and you threaten me at my own father’s funeral? You’re a dead man; that’s the only way we can settle this.’

‘Didn’t threaten you. Don’t want any trouble with you — I have no grudge with you. Don’t you think if your father wanted me dead he would have sorted it out a long while back?’

‘I have a burial to go to. Don’t come. I’ll be seeing you soon, uncle.’

Engine Ear – Part 2: Interface

The first thing he was shown as he walked in the door was a bicep sporting a red spanner in front of a broken cog – the symbol of SPuMe. The guy smiled at him bearing capped teeth and beckoned him to follow after. They weren’t overt with the scans but he knew that they were being conducted – it was the only concession to technology a lot of these guys would allow in their lives – something to capture their enemies. You had to be pure or you were out and they ran regular and intensive scans. He was lucky that all that was passing over him at the moment was a light level sensor. He hoped that all the extra tech that he was running to mask himself wasn’t going to play up while he was here right in the middle of the most dangerous place in the city for a borg.

Gallivant sat there in front of him and he barely recognised him, which he considered slightly odd as it was him that had gone in for the extensive body modification supposedly. How did he still know that it was his one-time friend despite the obvious steroid abuse that had brought him to this overinflated state of self? It was the stare – that gaze was hard to hold but you knew even as you looked away he was boring into you with those dark cocoa coloured eyes. There was something slightly unhinged behind those eyes; something obsessive; something that didn’t tick in quite the same way as everyone else.

‘One has to ask themselves why a journalist would be interested in a hot potato like us and our little disagreement with the Engineers. One has to wonder what propaganda opportunities coming to visit a bunch of rabid pro-humans might offer to a pencil pusher such as yourself. It’s been a long time, Fervent, how have you been keeping?’

‘Well … and yourself, you look …’

‘Good, yeah, I know – perfect specimen of what the human form can be given the right attitude and the right exercise regime.’

‘Yeah. So, you’re in charge here?’

‘Not exactly, but I have some pull. It isn’t exactly a hierarchical structure that we’re operating within here. This is more of a life choice than a job or a gang or an organisation, if you catch my drift? Are we on record by the way?’

‘Always. I’m a journalist.’

‘Slippery bastard.’

‘Some might think so.’

‘So, Ferv’, would you mind me asking you a question? Just one, that’s all, and then we’ll continue as planned.’

‘Of course. Go ahead.’

‘Okay, here goes. Why exactly would a borg be stupid enough to walk into the heart of our territory and expect to walk out alive again, even someone with journalistic credentials like yours? Do you think we don’t read or something?’

Else City – Part 2: Grave Talk

He wasn’t exactly sure what he was expecting the doctor to do in order to revive the body but the implement he produced looked simultaneously arcane and futuristic. He brandished it with a flourish and a grin that nearly skinned O’Halligan. Too bloody theatrical — that, he thought, was his problem with the whole bloody place: full of drama queens and amateur dramatics enthusiasts. He was not going to fit in here and that pained him because God knew how long he was going to have to spend here. These dimensions had weird rules about death and the existence you spent here.

‘And that is?’

‘The Lazarus Redial.’

‘Jesus, give me a fucking break.’

‘What?’ said Forbes’Let him have his fun. You try doing what he does on a daily basis and not feeling the need to spice it up by giving things crackpot names. The Doc is one of the more normal people you’re going to meet so you should savour this while you can.’

The doctor turned that manic grin on him again and spinning the the device around his fingers, paused briefy, then like lightning pushed the needle that sprang from it’s end into the flesh of the corpse.

There was a loud farting noise and a sigh.

‘What was that?’ asked O’Halligan.

‘The body on the slab just farted.’

‘Oh.’

‘Excuse me,’ said the body sitting up ‘Didn’t expect to find myself back here, what’s going on? Goddamn, it hurts.’

‘You were killed by something and we were wondering if you might be able to provide us with some information as to what exactly did it.’

‘And you are?’

‘Detective Forbes, Else City Police Department, Homicide Division. Your name please, for the record.’

‘Langston Through. I worked in real estate — I was showing a house — you’ll forgive me but I can’t recall where but it should be in my diary — anyw-a-a-y we distu-u-u-rbed a ne-e-s-t.’

The corpse’s eyes rolled back in its skull and it slumped back onto the slab.

‘Well, that was interesting,’ said O’Halligan sparking up ‘A nest? So we just call the exterminators, eh?’

‘He’s funny, eh, Forbes?’

‘Rib-crackingly hilarious, Doctor. We’ll run a check on Langston Through — shouldn’t be hard to find; real estate isn’t big business out here. If you can k-print him and snap me some aura pics that would be a big help.’

‘No problem. Good luck, O’Halligan.’

‘Thanks.’