>H23[shining_eyes]

Who puts a jack in a cat?

There was a disturbing genius to it.

I was very familiar with the sensation of losing myself in the data.

Sleep was constantly with me in the dark of my home. Most of my time alive was spent deep in its comfort.

Warm.

The old man sometimes wracked my nerves. He stumbled and knocked a tin can onto the floor. I remembered the startling wake and my bolting, but against concrete walls and in the small room, I could go nowhere except behind the toilet to hide.

Frightened little cat.

I tried to keep perspective.

Information was emphasized by fear and uncertainty. So much comfort, endless hours of affection and attention, were like sleep to me. They were lost to time.

The data was only vaguely linear. There was a falling off point, and everything before was horribly dim, captured only by patchworked recollections of a being caught perpetually in the moment.

I remembered a door opening on its own. What came after was incomprehensible. Pure terror.

The old man stayed in his electric dreams as its hands wrapped around me. The hallway’s pitch black paths quickly got deeper and darker as it whisked me away. I would never see him again, after that.

For a moment I had trouble differentiating myself from the experiences which played on my mind. The data went far deeper than sight and sensation. As this thief in the night crawled down into the city’s guts with me in his grasp, I was absolutely consumed. Through stairways and back passages, we reached an older part of the world.

I almost ended the data stream right there. I could feel her despair.

Hold on. For Wally.

In the deep place, I felt my captor pry into my skull. Through injection, a neural lace unfurled, a signal system and small BCI were implanted in the neck. I could sense his cold hands working deftly on the feline anatomy.

Then, all at once, the picture clarified, my thinking dimmed…

The skittering echoes of him faded away as proper recording started. Continue reading

>D12[uglier_thoughts]

The stairs flew under my feet.

I was still bleeding from my head. I remembered now how it had happened, and I hadn’t been moving half this fast at the time.

The storm outside was penetrating the condemnable Orpheum, water running down every surface around me. I could hear it in the walls.

My head was aching, the kool-aid burning off into a black mental char.

As I busted through the bottom floor door it smashed into the wall and jumped its hinges, crashing down. Stumbling into the hall past so many of my staring peers, the distant music was my only guide.

“Skrimp!” I shouted. “Where are you?!”

//////////

The heart monitor was my only distraction.

The pain in my shoulder was buried in meds. It wasn’t something I’d ever experienced before.

Uriel,” I called, barely above a whisper.

My hospital room was blurry. I had smelled warm grass and hot garbage before, but not this mix of cleaner and cold saline in my veins.

I tried to turn my head over to see the ruined stump of my right shoulder, the gnarled skin and collapsed ribs around it. My breathing was one-lunged, panic shallow.

That was when I heard my room’s door open.  Continue reading

>D11[unknown_unknowns]

I so wasn’t done yet. My starry head had pressure rising.

Anxiety and stimulants tasted like copper on my blue tongue.

The back halls of the Orpheum were tightening and after walking without a decision to begin, I had no memory to track. I had no idea where I was.

Wooden floors creaked underfoot. The ancient bulbs of the hall buzzed. I heard the rumbling music, felt it vibrating in the air and walls, but no direction existed. Still, I kept on wandering.

I touched my forehead, seeing on my withdrawn fingers the red stains. I had really tasted blood, I realized; a stream down my face. But I didn’t feel a thing.

Not a damn thing.

Suddenly, I had started to see double. Reality fractured in two.

“W-what’d you d-do to Wally, Man?” Skrimp stuttered, jittered.

The world was spinning. I was sitting, eyes shut, on the arm of a ratty-ass sofa in the antechamber of the pounding Orpheum main hall, trying not to vomit. There were two passed out people on the couch, one fatty at my feet.

“I didn’t do a fucking thing,” I said. “I don’t do anything.” I kicked the obese teenager snoring, grounded flat on his back.

Then I felt bad.

I got out a cigarette and started to light it as Skrimp struggled to form a sentence.

This batch had been fucked to high hell.

My lighter’s fire fractalated.

“Y-you got- you shoved Wally?” Skrimp asked.

Memory and moment blurred again. Continue reading

>D10[dreams_know]

Hippity Hoppity.

Tee hee.

Every time the beat dropped the colors in the room flashed anew. A moronic smile hit my face as the weight in my chest began to rise.

Higher and higher.

I looked at Skrimp as his eyes were widening manically.

Dag hated the kool-aid. He hated losing control. But he wasn’t here.

What was one thing no neural wiring could give you?

Liquid rage.

I screamed out into the storm of sound and nothing happened. Higher! The crowd was pulsing, pushing us at its edges back towards the end of the room.

Under the vaulted ceilings of the theater, the three of us threw our solo cups up. The kool-aid was taking, I knew. I knew because I suddenly started to forget everything else but one thing.

“I’m feelin’ good!” I howled. “WATCH ME!” I threw my arms all the way up, stretching out. “WALLY?!”

His brow was furrowed, standing beside me, staring over-focused on the open air.

“Hey!” I beamed at him but he didn’t react. “What you seeing, man?!” He was watching one of the pyramids of chairs in the room’s corner. I pointed. “That?!”

He was transfixed. I laughed at him. Continue reading

>C09[blue_koolaid]

One thing I’ve noticed? Even when we think we are, no one is quite playing the same game. The motivation is never one. That’s the rule.

Zoomin’ along.

I could swear I’d seen a body. In a glimpse, moving fast, it had passed in a blink. The fires and strange lights of the marsh cast every form in shadow. And the figure had been no different. Hairs stood up on the back of my neck.

But now, the light had appeared up ahead, blackened for moments by the shifting rider in front of me.

The stagnate stench was quickly passing.

I tried not to think about the depth of poverty under my feet at any one time. The zombies shambled in the cinder, I guessed. But it was bad business to roll this way. Stay above ground. We’d had one or two make a run at us already. People got violent across divides. Moreso if the gulf was high and low.

That was their game to play. Mine was to dodge.

Hundreds drowned down here every time it overpoured.

The flood control channel opened out into the air again suddenly and we were up the incline, smoothly. Onto the ridge of concrete before the slope.

My eyes were darting, right lung still struggling to expand.

I’m gonna be pissed if there’s nerve receptor damage.

I can’t afford a mechanic.

I pushed my mind to someplace else. The Orpheum and a wicked smile. Continue reading

>C08[lizard_brain]

Acceleration brought instability, pushing the limit.

I was trying to glance back as often as possible, but with the blood rush, I needed to keep a tighter grip than ever, eyes peeled. It was like every car had become violently loose, every change in the asphalt threatening to rip control, every shift in the position of vehicles calling on deadly precise corrections.

Wally turned around to shout at me, his helmet’s expression grave.

I couldn’t make out the heads up, but I knew what it meant as they started.

Move.

We cut between a semi and a bus, moving into the middle of the next two lanes over. We had to bide our time till the next off ramp.

This wasn’t normal. Butchers weren’t daft enough to do this.

Not at these speeds.

There’d be nothing to fucking take.

Hold your breath and peek like it’s naughty.

They had moved onto our lane. The frontman dared to shift aside, inches from fiery death by the next car over, to allow the one behind to move up. Two riders, now.

Look forward. Wally was straining to see without throwing Skrimp off or losing his hold. The wind was salty and acidic, and as we continued acceleration, tore at the skin.

There was nothing we could do but drive.

It has to be schizos. Loons. Chiller thrill killers.

I turned back and saw the second rider of the front bike aiming off his friend’s shoulder, a cold steel barrel barely visible between the blinding highway lights. Continue reading

>C07[faster_fast]

When I was younger I would sleepwalk, back before there was nowhere to go.

Life is a game of going faster, slower. Yet I go slowly, fast, and I don’t know.

I almost tripped, putting my focus on my feet.

The bells sounded to set us alight from school steps. Off we go!

Meandering in the crowd of others.

We were dodging the bus today. Getting out in the real world. Stretching our legs. All the things good boys do.

Fun, of the good ole American variety. Evil as she was.

Happy fucking Friday.

I had zoned through school, putting that blur behind me. Further, as we broke out of the crowd through the playground. Now, we were picking up our pace as the school lot ended up ahead in a barbed wire fence.

Wally’s firehouse coat flew up over the top and we climbed.

Most dangers weren’t frightening on countless confrontations, and I couldn’t remember the last time I’d cut myself on this fence. Almost two years of that.

The same amount of time I’d known my friends.

That’s what they are. Not a motley crew, more like four white guys.

We could be dull together. 

Coming over the fence, this time, I hit the ground running.

Four sets fell into tandem footfalls.

Behind the school was a dead zone. Old roads that were only occasionally ridden by AI-driven sentries. Black eyes were still on every corner as we crossed the street.

I made sure to flash a smile up.

Passing under the scaffolding of an unfinished building, we hurdled the lip of a paneless storefront window.

Chained to the raw concrete pillars inside which jutted up from the linoleum were three bikes. Three beautiful petrol and electric powered bikes. Waiting.

Skrimp clapped his hands together. “Hey now, baby!”

Wally’s eyes adjusted on me as I looked back. He quirked an eyebrow.

“Who you ridin’ with?” I asked.

“He’s with me,” Skrimp grinned. “I drive the carefullest.”

“Like hell you do,” Dag said. He pulled the keychain from his black jacket pocket and sorted through them, stripping keys off one at a time.

He tossed mine. Continue reading

>A03[shallow_tragedy]

The bus stopped.

Skrimp, Wally, Dag, and I lived in the same building. As much as that meant something hundreds of floors apart, it meant our ride was shared every day home. Even if in silence, at best texting feet apart. I cherished our quality time.

The bus had pulled under a massive overhang of concrete, stopping at the curb there. My eyes swept the yellowed depths of the opening hall to the building, glancing back at the grey street behind and its traffic. Back, peering through pillars to the revolving bars which prohibited the way into the building itself.  A small throng of the homeless off to the right watched our blacked out ride.

Up and at em.

Stagnant water at my feet, inches deep, broke under my rainboots as I hopped down from the bus.

The others pushed out behind and around me in a quickly dissipating crowd. People I had nothing but the slightest familiarity with. No better than Phillip.

We all walked to put some space between ourselves and the curb. I stopped then where I was to tap out my last coffin nail.

Dag and Skrimp kept going on but Wally paused by me. Continue reading

>A02[numb_hand]

Heaven poured out its angels.

With eyes screwed shut, inky shapes in thought stretched out to stranger perspectives. They were impression buried beneath reality, like memory. My free hand burned then as I clenched it.

I inhaled.

Blackened oil roiled in my mind, the sight of it washing pink flesh, permeating and staining it sallow in the dark contractions of my lungs. I really should quit, I thought.

My eyes opened.

Cold breath appeared on a plume of smoke. Heat and moist air came against the frigid breeze and distant light in a drifting fog. I took another intake, the rain pattering lightly around me. The plastic umbrella over my head was propped against my shoulder, my leg pulled up against my chest to brace it as I sat.

The midday gloom was hanging low, flowing overhead between the concrete heights of the school. The thirty-foot tall red sign for spicy noodles blazed across the street. The playground was only just around the corner from where the buses were loading. From the top of the slide, I had an eye on them.

Only a moment more to breathe.

I had one more drag before dropping it, strangling a cough as I did. That last exhale sputtered out. I picked up my legs and slid, the wet slide soaking me on the short ride to a quick stop.

“You look stupid.” Continue reading