Category Archives: Fragments
The smoke billowing from the base of the rocket looked normal enough, but the purple flames added an unsettling, unearthly glow. That’s an astronaut joke. Unearthly glow. Get it?
Well, it isn’t my fault you don’t have a sense of humor. If anyone shouldn’t be laughing it’s me. And just for the record, the flames from the rocket’s ignition were purple due the high amounts of chlorrasiride in the atmosphere, which was also the reason for our three hundred pound EMARU Z-Suits. That trademarked string of garbage, by the way, stands for extravehicular mobility and reconnaissance unit, in case you weren’t paying attention during the mission briefing. Although, you got me as to what the hell the Z stands for since I nodded off during that part of the briefing. We just called them zuits anyway, so it couldn’t have been that important.
Those zuits may have allowed us to stretch our legs without our insides instantly liquefying and pouring out of us (I’ve mentioned the chlorrasiride-rich atmosphere, haven’t I?) from our most southern bodily orifice, thank you very much to this planet’s gravity that was nearly double what Earth’s used to be. But these zuits were also the reason Terry and I didn’t even try to make a run for it when we saw that purple smoke start to kick out from the prelaunch.
It had taken us just under an hour to walk to the primary target area. From prelaunch to full ignition and liftoff, we wouldn’t have made it a quarter of the distance between, even back on Earth at a full run without all this shit weighing us down. But in a zuit with a full load of oxygen and all our diagnostic gear? Fuck all, man. We didn’t stand a chance of doing anything but wasting our breath, and that was something we were suddenly very short on.
All we could do was stare off at the horizon, hailing nothing but static on the ship to shore. There we were, the only two people on this planet that I thought knew how to fly the Lamplighter—hell, I thought we were the only two people on this planet, period—watching their ride blast off to who the hell knows where.
Terry reached up to shield his eyes from the nearer of the two suns that AMC-IV circled around. He could have just flipped his visor down, I don’t know why he always had to be so dramatic about these things.
“Steve, isn’t that our ride?” he asked.
Last night, I overheard these two kids talking about the manga series they were reading. Have you ever listened to two nerds talk about manga? Use the buddy system if you do, it may be necessary for someone to drag you away before the sheer amount of information they retain, the convoluted plotlines, the talking gender-assigned weapons, and competitive fanboy condescension triggers a murderous berserker attack.
When I’d more or less overcome the urge to scale the shelves and attack from above and beat them both to death with a One Piece boxed set, I found myself thinking about what they were talking about, or at least about the few keywords of their conversation that had stuck with me.
So later, on my lunch break, I came up with this. I only had twenty minutes, so it’s rough and awkward. There is a lot sitting in the shadows, just behind what I was able to get down on paper….
Through the scope the boy slouched lower in his metal chair. One hand rested on the table, fingers around his cup. The fingers of his left hand drummed along his thigh.
He looked quite relaxed. Quite free. It was abnormal. No one looked like that. Since he had sat down, he had not once looked around, or over his shoulder. When two police officers had passed by the small patio, he did not look up. He did not even notice. The other customers had noticed. They had all put down their cups or silverware, they had watched the patrol pass by and continue to the corner, where they turned and headed for the last checkpoint on Zraly Street before the wall. Only after they were out of sight did anyone return to their paper, their conversation, their meals or tea. Except this boy.
But it wasn’t right to call him a boy when they were very near in age. He had always been like that to her, too. Relaxed. The city around them had never seemed to exist for him. The people, the places, they did, they were all there for him to interact with, to navigate through. But the real city—the one that built the wall, that enforced the curfew, and that armed the police patrols, that city never seemed to exist for him.
She had never been to this part of the city before.
When he slouched, the barrel of the rifle pointed at his chest from twelve stories up and half a block away lowered a fraction of an inch. The brain attached to the rifle hadn’t even noticed the movement. There was no realization that such an adjustment was necessary, no calculations to determine how much in order to keep the target perfectly within the crosshairs. The target moved. The rifle moved. The brain attached to it was no longer a part of the equation. The girl possessing this brain was no longer a part of the equation. Training had eradicated that, eliminated every trace of individual thought. Nearly.
“Take the shot,” the voice said.
The girl hesitated.
a fragment of a story…
Should you survive the journey by barge from the eastern harbors, you may find yourself murdered, robbed, beaten, assaulted, harassed, molested or unusually prodded by a variety of creatures, most of which are employed to prevent against such things. If you are fortunate enough to emerge from that cesspool of thievery and drunkenness and general debauchery that is Dante Place, you may be greeted by a rather unusual sight: electric streetlights.
Believed to be something between a miracle of the new scientific age and a modern day form of witchcraft, my father was the first man to be electrocuted by these marvels of the technological age.
The news account of the day varied as the journalists volleyed their outrageous claims of the dangers of the untested and unreliable phenomenon to increase their own paper’s circulation. But the general opinion, reinforced by the police inquiry’s official determination, was death by misadventure.