28 April 2011

Page 20

(Later that afternoon in an unmarked lab, behind an unlabeled door, in a secret hideaway, stood a mysterious scientist whose last name was Jones. His first name was Lieutenant, but nobody except the VelkLaddeur, the National Security Agency, the VISA credit card company, and the payroll secretary knew this. Across an enormous ebony desk sat the VelkLaddeur himself…an even more mysterious gentleman who used no other name than ‘VelkLaddeur.’)

“You lost him?” asked the VelkLaddeur.

“No, Sir. We got him, but somehow he escaped,” said Lieutenant Jones.

“What do you mean ‘you got him.’ If you got him, he would be dead.”

“Yes, Sir. But you see, when we sent in the corpse collection unit, all they found was an old man named Maximus Dudley.”

“Didn’t Cerberus I see the unchipper in the plaza?”

“That they did, Sir. But there was some kind of electrical disturbance that confused Cerberus’s circuitry. The unchipper must have escaped then. The most likely explanation is the drone…once the electrical disturbance ceased…automatically assumed Mr. Dudley was the unchipped man.”

“Maximus Dudley was a chipped man Lieutenant. How could the drone assume otherwise? Machines never assume Lieutenant. Never. What kind of electrical disturbance was this?”

“We’re still uncertain. Our tech guys are checking it out as we speak. Nothing’s turned up yet. It seems in perfect working order.”

“Keep looking Lieutenant. And keep looking until you find the problem. The last thing we need is another unchipped cowboy running around footloose and fancy free.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“I want a full report of the problem ASAP.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“One more thing. See the safe nurse before you leave.”

“But, Sir.”

“You know the Law Codes. Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.”

“What if we don’t find him?”

“Thirty days Lieutenant. You have thirty days before the methyl butyrate is released.”

Lieutenant Jones left the VelkLaddeur’s office. The last thing he saw was his Cheshire cat-like grin. It unnerved him.

Lieutenant Jones grumbled to himself as he walked the long corridor to the safe nurse’s lab. He hated this building. Every conversation was under constant surveillance, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. One couldn’t even grumble aloud without it going on record. Secretly, he was glad when it was quitting time. Working for Z-Tech gave one a headache. One couldn’t even go to the bathroom without some roving mechanical Cyclops staring at you. Yet, this was the case for all government buildings…constant surveillance…always watching.

Lieutenant Jones entered the safe nurse lab where he instinctively held out his hand and passed it over the receptionist’s scanner. It beeped.

“We’ve been expecting you,” said a thin, middle-aged woman with short hair, plain face, who could easily have passed for a man. Her name tag said Leah. “Dr. Charan will see you now.”

She led him to a small room with pink walls and told him to sit on a table. Leah closed the door and left. He tried the door. Locked. The room was bare. No cabinets, tables, or anything to suggest he was in a doctor’s office, yet he knew he was monitored. A moment later the door opened.

Dr. Ali Singhe Charan was short, bald, possessed bushy gray eyebrows, and a wrinkly forehead. “You know how this works,” said Dr. Charan immediately. “Same principle as the V-chip in your right arm. This will be in your left arm. Roll up your sleeves.”

Jones rolled up his left sleeve and relaxed as Dr. Charan rubbed alcohol on his arm. Then he picked up a needle, inserted a rice-sized capsule, and carefully injected it in Jones' arm.

That’s it?” he asked.

“Yes,” replied Dr. Charan. “In 30 days the capsule is programmed to release 100 micrograms of methyl butyrate and 50 micrograms of Sucralose. First you fall asleep, then the heart stops beating. So quick, easy, and painless.”

“And the antidote?”

“There is no antidote for the red capsule. We remove it manually.”

Lieutenant Jones forced a grin. “I feel like Damocles.”

“You are Damocles,” said Dr. Charan.

27 April 2011

Page 19

He sensed the drone scrape cells from his skin. Just a few were needed for a complete DNA analysis. Out of the corner of his eye he read the name ‘Z-Tech Cerberus I’ painted on the drone’s metallic underbelly. Maurice closed his eyes and willed himself into something like a trance. As a scientist working in the industrial section of Z-Tech, he knew the machine was analyzing his skin cells and when it discovered he was not at the Hive Complex…or at work, he stood a very good chance of being zapped with an uncommonly large voltage usually reserved for the undesirable classes.

He could tell by the beeps and whistles sounding from Cerberus I that the initial results were calculated.

Heart rate: 80 bpm
Blood type: O+
Height: 1.98 m
Weight: 51.1 kg
ID Number: 63MX4R_hss

Why did the drone register me as 63MX4R_hss?” he thought. He had never been chipped before. Z-Tech kept prodding him to do so, but something about the process bothered him.

He felt the sensor remove from his body and recoil back to the drone. It flew away. Maurice relaxed.

Sometime later he heard voices on the plaza. He rolled over and gasped. The Can Man was lying beside him. His eyes stared directly into Maurice. A thin mucus covered them.

The Can man was dead.

Maurice rolled away and emptied his stomach. A minute later he left the tarp in time to see the first people emerge from the Hive Complex. “Something is different about them,” he wondered. “Their eyes. . .they’re glazy…hollow…lifeless.”

20 April 2011

The Maine Character

For those of you who are interested.

All these posts that begin with (Page 18, page 16, Page...) can be found, read, and perhaps even commented on at my latest groovy and wonderful blog called The Maine Character.

19 April 2011

Page 18

A high-pitched wailing cry pierced the air. Maurice inhaled deeply and felt a thrill run throughout his body.

Instinctively, people everywhere in the plaza emptied their pockets of everything-receipts, credit cards, pens, watches, necklaces, even cash, and immediately laid it down. He hesitated, even though he knew this would be classified as unusual behavior. They would scan him, and later…what would they do? Take him to the Sweep Patrols? What was there to hide? Surveillance cameras covered over 98% of Goshen. Still, he hesitated, thought better, and pulled out a wad of cash and a handkerchief, and shoved it in a crack in the nearby concrete wall.

Of all the times for the Call-it had to be now,” he thought. “I should have known better than to take a stroll through the plaza.” Most took taxis, but he liked wandering the plaza’s cobble-stoned streets with their quaint little shops-careful not to buy anything lest he arouse the Sweep-Patrols.

The countenance of everyone had changed at this latest Call. Everybody looked like hippies in a drug-induced stupor. . .hypnotized. And they all proceeded methodically towards the Hives. He felt ridiculous leaving his money out for the entire world to see. But everyone knew the Law and the Sweep Patrols were always more than happy to remind you.

I don’t care what anyone thinks. I’m not going to the Hives.”

In short time the plaza was nearly deserted. A few stragglers hurried past, but other than that, nobody remained. The many shops surrounded the brick-lined square remained open but empty. He walked in the opposite direction from the Hive complex keeping his head down to avoid suspicion. Not everyone, he noticed, headed towards the Hives.

Maurice picked up his pace, and came to a deserted street. He felt the Presence. It was the same Presence he felt during his dream about the great stone giant in his dream. This time he knew its name.

Velkladdeur is coming. He’s at the end of the street.”

Maurice’s uncanny intuition dramatically increased at the siren’s call. He felt Velkladdeur, the chief of the Prime Minister’s secret police, approaching in his mind's eye.

His hair stood on end. His skin crawled. He turned and walked back towards the shopping plaza.

The plaza was empty. A wave of nausea hit him. He gulped and ran towards the only door left open. Too late. It snapped shut.

This is not good,” he thought. “Hide. I must hide.”

Out of the corner of his eye he saw a tarp-covered park bench adjacent to a construction site. Velkladdeur’s presence was gone, but something else approached. Drone. A flying Z-Tech globe that detected motion. A flying machine, basketball-sized, that sensed the smell of blood. He felt the flying droid hovering around the corner. He turned towards the tarp and nearly ran into a homeless man-the Can Man.

The Can Man was a balding fellow with short, curly, greasy, brown hair. You smelled him before you saw him. The Can Man was recognized by his clothes, since he always wore the same thing; faded blue-jeans, tee-shirt, and faded denim jacket-even in the middle of summer. People said he had a wardrobe full of identical outfits, sort of like a regular Ernest P. Worrell of whom he bore a slight resemblance. The Can Man walked around the city with a black garbage bag collecting aluminum cans to get insulin money for his diabetic wife. There was a slightly devious look in his eyes. Not enough to commit a big crime like murder, but perhaps a pickpocket or two.

Maurice glared at him and then grinned.

Sorry,” said the Can Man in his soft timid voice. Maurice ran on.

He dropped to the ground and rolled under the tarp. Seconds later the drone rounded the corner and hovered over the very spot Maurice stood. It paused for a moment as if sniffing the air, and then silently buzzed through the air zigzagging to detect the subtle change in the air temperature. It hovered above the tarp-covered picnic table. Maurice froze. The flying drones, some no bigger than a sparrow, detected humans by heat and movement. Lay perfectly still and there was a chance one could avoid detection.

Steady. . .steady, Maurice,” he told himself. “Don’t move.”

Every muscle in his body relaxed. He could feel the faint metallic clicking of the man-hunter probe slowly ejecting from the drone.

He sensed rather than felt the tip of the long, snaky probe rest against the back of his neck. He wasn’t sure if the probe registered his existence or not. An alternate thought struck him.

It thinks Mr. Can is me.”

18 April 2011

Page 17

A change was coming. A most large change that would alter Goshen for a thousand years. He felt it in his blood, sensed it with his intuition, and dreamed about it.

The Call. The Call which brought change. A new beginning, a new chapter, a new type of life in Goshen. He remembered three such Calls and knew beforehand they were coming. This next one would be more profound than the previous three combined. He narrowed his eyes and averted his vision. Maurice’s intuition had grown since the third Call-now 5-years-ago.

The first Call, he barely remembered as he was 2-years old at the time, saw the building of the walls around his hometown of Bethel, Maine. The walls separated the techno city from the radioactive wasteland surrounded the now city-state. “It was chaos then,” said the old-timers and Mediacon. Many people were sick and deformed from the War of All Nations (WOAN), yet were allowed to go on living…until the second Call.

Then, the Hives were built. All city-states had them. It was around this time Maurice moved with his family to Goshen, VA. His grand-parents were one of the first to go medical cleansing. Sometime later the mal-formed were eradicated, though a remnant escaped to the scarred lands and gave rise to the Nekton. Laws were passed requiring mandatory euthanasia for those above 70-years-old and couples with undesirable genetic markers were given contraceptives. Contraceptives were eventually put into the food supply so that only Type IIA Goshenites could reproduce.

17 April 2011


All good stories are inspired by homesickness, lovesickness, and an intense melancholia caused by a longing for the unseen.

11 April 2011

Page 16 (The Saga Continueth)

Maurice simply stared at the man. Then, on a whim, decided to take the day off.

He re-entered Goshen Station, boarded the same mag-lev train, and sat down by a perky blond girl that was evidently enjoying a private rock concert of her very own if her gyrations were any indication. Maurice tried to avoid her and pretended to read a newspaper he’d found in the station lobby. After a minute or so, the perky blond took out her com-tel.

“You don’t look so chipper,” she perked “Take some Lifequil.”

“I’m fine, really.”

“You don’t look so happy,” she sighed. “You should look happy.”

“Are you happy?” he asked.

“What kinda’ question is that? You’re not weird are ya’?”

“No ma’am. I’m a biological researcher at Z-Tech Pharmaceutical, Industrial, and Culinary Consultants. We have a policy against weirdness…it’s in the SOP.”

(ed. note) This is actually true…Weirdness, oddness, introversion, avid book reading, religious activities, woodworking, non-tv watching, and uniqueness-in-general were frowned upon and documented in the official employee handbook under a chapter called ‘Deviant Employee Behavior and what to do about it.

"Lifequil doesn’t make me happy-it makes me hyper. There’s a difference you know.”

“Oh my Gaia, you ARE weird,” she frowned. “I’ll tell the Controllers about you. HAL will make you happy. HAL makes everybody happy.”

The blond stared at Maurice for a full twenty seconds blankly then re-inserted her com-tel. Somewhere, someplace this conversation was being recorded…if not watched, and the words automatically sent to HAL for a keyword scan. He felt sure the conversation would pass the alerts. Maurice had a knack for carefully monitoring his conversation. Lately, there had been reports of increased crackdowns of possible terrorists and HAL had been busier than usual. He wasn’t sure if there were more terrorists or not. The media said there was, so it must be true, he thought. Or was it? In truth, he wasn’t sure about anything seen on the media anymore. Some of it seemed too far-fetched to be believed. Mediacon said the population of Gaia was holding steady at 6.6 billion, the optimum carrying-capacity of the planet. He figured this was about right. Goshen’s population was 300,000, average for a city-state, and one of 2,200 such places in the merry ole’ Virginia Commonwealth. The population of the Badlanders and Nekton was unknown. Everyone was happy, and healthy, and safe. The pre-ill were carefully monitored and at the first sign of illness, sent to the Hives for treatment. Need a new liver? The Hives could make you one.

The train lurched to a halt. The blond girl put a packet of Lifequil in his hand.

“Take these. Please. They’ll do a body good.”

Maurice nodded, “Thanks…”

“You’ve got to get in the groove, man. Get with it. You gotta’ be running high.” She smiled.

He put the pills in his pocket and walked the half-block back to his apartment under the watchful eyes of countless probes. He felt a twinge of sadness, not a good sign, and blamed it on being pre-ill. Soon, he would hear The Call and make his way to the Hives for medical testing.

"Thank HAL it’s not today,” he thought.

Maurice’s last visit to the Hives was 3-years-ago. He passed the med-alerts with flying colors. Sure, he had a genetic predisposition to melancholia, solitude, and obsessive-compulsive-reading disorder, but Lifequil took care of that. Yet the pangs of it began to hit him more frequently.

Perhaps, I’m building immunity against Lifequil. They say it happens."

Lifequility-the wonder drug of Goshen and all Gaia. Mental-stimulant, muscle-builder, happiness-maker, sleep-suppressor (in high dosages), and sleep-repressor. Lifequility came in a variety of colors-all pastel, never melted, and lasted indefinately. “How did we ever survive without it,” he thought.

“Ahh…the Dark Ages. It must have been a miserable time. Who knew that changing a few molecules of McDonald’s secret sauce was all it took

Z-Tech manufactured Lifequil for the Goshen city-state. It’s production was ceaseless-24 hours a day, six days a week, 360 days a year-including X-mas and Aquarias Day. X-mas was also the date HAL first became functional, yet some people still insisted he was born in the springtide.

09 April 2011

Good Reads

Staunton Yellow PagesStaunton Yellow Pages by Verizon et al. My rating: 2 of 5 stars The Staunton Yellow Pages...aka The Phone Book...was one of the more interesting creations I've read recently. I might add that it was a pleasant surprise to my name listed! Granted, I had a very limited role in the general plot of the SYP, but still... The SYP is a bit of a quick read, fortunately it has pictures. The first part contains maps of the general area. I didn't find them of much use as I would...say Mapquest, but they made great origami creations. The government section was one of the slower parts. And truthfully, I scanned this section fairly quickly. Things really got interesting once I got to chapter 18. Who knew there were so many interesting places starting out with the letter 'Q'? Chapter 23 was also cool. I felt like I was magically transported to my Sesame Street days when Grover and Oscar were discussing TVs, telephones, tambourines, trains, and tea. Chapter 25-concerning X's, I felt, was a bit short and needed some proofreading. I did find a remarkable company that manufactures homemade xylophones and pan flutes. Inspired, I called the place and talked to a fellow by the name of Zamphir. He seemed a bit disgruntled and directed me back to the 'T' section and mentioned something about trash. As far as I can tell, the pan flute business wasn't doing too well and with the (apparently failed liquidation sale recently held) he was planning on a mass trash pick-up and invited me over for tea. View all my reviews

05 April 2011

Page 15

"Sometimes the ridiculous is wisdom," said Jakob. He then walked over to the checker game, pulled up a chair, and watched Russell and Buck stare at the checkerboard in the faint hope that sometime in the near future, and hopefully before closing time, one of them would make a move. "As arachnodiculous as it sounds, I think Mr. Walder is right, Polly. We should work together on this thing." Polly leaned her face on her hand and slowly stirred Earl Grey. There was a faraway look to her eyes that writers, poets, artists, and husbands on shopping trips with their wives at Christmas oftentimes have. "My intuition tells me this will be dangerous, but you know Mr. Perez…I need a good adventure." "Just to be on the safe side," Maurice pulled a dark-blue matchbook-sized box from his coat pocket. "Stick this on your MG’s dash. It should keep our drones from zapping…Malachi." "Why-it’s adorable," said Polly. "I’m sure he’ll love it." "Another thing. Nobody else need know about this little machine. It’s a bit of a trade secret." "Mums the word," said Polly. * * * The next morning Maurice decided to take a train to work. At 7:50 A.M. he stepped from the train and entered the mob of workers. Wednesdays, he noticed, were one of the busiest days of the week, but Goshen Station was two minutes walk to Z-Tech. This particular Wednesday was like any other; people jostling one another in the streets, people standing in lines at St. Buck’s Coffee, everyone happy and medicated with varying amounts of Lifequil (a substance similar to caffeine and Altoids, and incidently produced by Z-Tech’s culinary division) coursing through their veins, com-tels (bluetooth devices) in nearly every ear…voice-activated to a mouthpiece in every shirt collar. Maurice felt uneasy. Something was wrong. He did not want to go to Z-Tech this morning, nor ever again. Something like a tangible presence told him to stop. He removed his com-tel and listened. He swore somebody told him to stop, but nobody approached him. Five seconds later he again stopped, and felt like he ran into a wall. Half a second later a short hairy man walked into him. "Watch where you’re going will ya'," growled Maurice. The man, sans com-tel and wearing a dirty janitor suit, glowered at him and passed by. He looked like an anemic chimpanzee. It wasn’t so much he had a lot of hair; he had a normal amount, but it covered proportionately less area compared to a normal man, and this fellow was only five-feet tall.