One more obscure influence on this chapter in particular is a book from the mid-Seventies called Decadence, a post-mortem of the Sixties counterculture by a certain expatriate named Jim Hougan (who was then living on Ibiza a decade before the rave culture of the Nineties started developing there and ended its backwater obscurity). Its one major point, besides identifying America as something of a giant robot doomed to move in one direction until (in our near future) it crashes, is his antithesis within pop culture of alpha culture and omega culture. Alpha culture is the decentralized culture of the people; omega culture is the hypercentralized culture of the Man. Omega culture is a parasite that continually struggles to assimilate all potentially threatening alpha culture and lock it into unthreatening stasis. More than ever, the Man has a huge edge. But now we have the means to subvert the Man’s omega-cultural tyranny: the Internet, social media, and file sharing. After the Neo-Confederate coup and the Infowar, the Man seems to have total control. But in its hubris it has spawned the cancer that will kill it: the Darknet. (Here’s the book on it, an article on it, and the reply by Freenet’s creator.).
Scenarios from the Project Notebooks of the early ’00s: the Doctor's visit and the terror group that calls itself the Socialist Revolutionary Organization. From the early Notebooks of the Nineties: the Rat Bastard (mostly on index cards, actually), the Pirate Television Network and its local station KCUF, and the cult known popularly as the TV Heads. The original cover concept for the proposed manga episode: a line of cartoon fish, escalating in size, all about to eat each other.
Special Mentions: Go-Man and Mister X!
Special Guest Star: Rupert Murdoch is News Corporation — literally!
Original soundtrack by Emergency Broadcast Network.
Now press play, and listen...
← ...from previous
Chaos Angel Spanner — Book 1: Rock City Blues
Chapter 16: Media Wars
Chapter 16: Media Wars
A monopoly on the means of communication may define a ruling elite
more precisely than the celebrated Marxian formula of
“monopoly in the means of production.”
Robert Anton Wilson
more precisely than the celebrated Marxian formula of
“monopoly in the means of production.”
Robert Anton Wilson
6 October 2014
Shira’s apartment. Shira wears her pink bathrobe and fuzzy white bunny slippers while she lies back in her mother’s recliner and waits for the Man. She wears her collar with the electrode connection still intact. Her ID tags still hang from the strap around her neck. Her Droid Mega is fastened firmly to her sash. Her personal area network remains active. She is alone in the flat except for Mikan, who lies blissfully in her lap as she gently pets the cat. The grandfather clock near the front door softly ticks.
Someone knocks hard on the door and keeps knocking. Shira glances at the grandfather clock. “Sure enough,” she whispers. “It’s the 2 A.M. Knock On The Door.” Mikan complains as Shira picks her up into her arms and sits up. She walks to the door as the knocking gets louder and more desperate. She peers through the peephole and sees a tall and burly gray-haired MIB surrounded by his praetorian guard of strike police. Shira smirks and chuckles.
Dr. Henry Becket stops knocking and grimly awaits his meeting with his nemesis. The door’s three locks unfasten, then the door opens to reveal a young bronze-skinned woman with wild red hair and a mischievous smirk, wearing a pink robe and a blinking collar. She stares into him with her mischievous green eyes.
“Well, well, well! What up, Doc?” Shira holds Mikan out toward him. “Wanna stroke my pussy?” The cat hisses and scratches at him and tries to kill him. He flinches to avoid the feline assault. The guards raise their rifles at her. She brings the terrified cat back to her body and pets her to calm her down, but Mikan stares at the Doctor with a warning in her eyes.
Dr. Becket points at her and spits out, “You! You were behind it! All of it! I know this in my heart!”
“You know in your heart that I’m always to blame for everything because you can never beat me in chess no matter how much you cheat. That’s the problem with you people. You don’t see what’s right; you feel what’s truthy. You people are too quick to assume. Do you know, Doctor, what you do when you assume?”
“You will say nothing!”
Shira takes her left hand off Mikan and spells it out. “You make an ASS out of U and ME. Am I right, or am I right?”
The armoured strike cops do not move. They struggle and struggle to move their robotic armour, but the armour refuses to move. “What’s the matter, boys? Can’t move anymore, like in a bad dream?
“It’s the rootkit! Devirus it! Now!”
“Boss!” yells the team leader. “We can’t even access our own computers!”
“Basic security, boys,” says Shira. “The whole building’s turned against you. It sees you as a threat.”
“You installed the rootkit!” spits Dr. Becket. “Didn’t you?!”
“No, I’m just taking advantage of yours, the ones Apple and Microsoft built into their operating systems. You’d be surprised at how many buildings run Back Orifice.” She stares hard into his eyes and speaks hypnotically. “As for you, Doctor... There’s a rootkit installed deep in your brain, yours and all those like you.”
“Doctor!” shrieks the terrified strike leader. “She’s using her RDF!”
“It’s called faith. If your faith is sufficient, any mind hacker can stare into your eyes and seize control of your mind. It’s how gurus like your father create cults. It’s also how I killed those terrorists the Caliphate sent.”
Shira breaks her stare. Dr. Becket, stunned, stumbles back into the opposite door. He twitches as if being shaken by a cat. He shakes his head violently to clear his brain. “I hope you’ve had your fun,” he growls.
“If I wanted to have fun with you, I’d have your muscle-brained mooks bodyslam each other on the pavement outside and make bets with my gambler friends. But I’m tired, and I just wanna defend myself and my home against people with badges that may or may not be fake and who are trying to break into my home, loot it, and kidnap me for ransom. Which is why you’re here, Doctor. You’re pissed because you can’t get my mother, so you have to pick on me instead. I don’t get you ‘gummint’ types. I’m going to bed now and taking my familiar with me. Goodbye, Doctor. Oh, and queen to E6. Checkmate.” Shira slams the door in his face and relocks it.
Alex’s apartment. The official news outlets are calling it the Great Police Robot Riot of 2014 and speculating on what caused it. Some claim that malicious hackers did it for kicks or glory or to strike out at the Man; some claim foreign cyberagents hacked them from abroad as an act of war; some claim internal sabotage by disgruntled Imperial bureaucrats; some put the blame squarely on that all-purpose bogeyman, Spanner, even though he never made a personal appearance. But the Angel of Chaos, like any self-respecting deity, is everywhere now. “Angel” is defined in Greek and Hebrew as “messenger god”; this time, the rebel angel has sent his message directly to the Gods of Power who built their heavenly cities on earth in Holy City and the City of London. The Cartel, the Confederacy, and the Church of America are beginning to fear. The hysterical denunciations spewing from the mouths of the spokesmen of Church, Caliphate, and Klan reveal that the very lords of the angelic hosts, Ba‘al Moloch and his eternal enemy Ba‘al Satan, have finally taken notice.
“It’s all the same,” says Alex.
“It’s always the same,” says Wellspring. “It’s the voice of one entity.”
“Lord News,” says J.T. “But how could it all be his one voice? Isn’t he just a man?”
“Not anymore. Cyborg conversion technology has sufficiently advanced to the point where a man can eliminate his human body and turn a corporation into his body. We no longer speak of Rupert Murdoch, Incorporated. He is News Corporation. The news is his voice, and his alone.”
“Didn’t old man Becket do the same thing?”
“He was the first. Back in ’08, if I remember right. I know ‘Lord Dictel’ well enough that the King Patriot we see in person isn’t the real Roger Becket. His human bodies are all clones. They’re as much exobodies as the Predator and EATR drones he operates in Afghanistan. The actual posthuman entity can be found within the server farm beneath Pike’s Peak.”
“You mean NORAD.”
“So every TV set is the eye of Lord News.”
“Not quite to the degree that traitorware makes every iOS device the nose of Steve Jobs.”
“You mean Lord Apple.”
Alex, Nick, and Wellspring stare at J.T. After a pause, Alex says, “Oh my god, he knows.”
J.T. smiles enigmatically. “And so does Spanner.”
cyberspace. The virtual meeting room is a replica of the opulent boardroom, overlooking Boston Harbor, that the board of directors of Dictel Corporation once called home. The long table has six chairs on each side. At the head of the table sits the former Roger Steele Becket, who was once a man and is now Dictel Corporation. The images of his nine children sit at the table, looking the way they did when they were in their prime.
Current Dictel chairman Thomas Drake Becket, the eldest, says, “This Spanner fellow is beginning to be a serious nuisance.”
Dr. Henry Becket says, “He is a danger to the empire, and to the very nature of reality itself.”
“Are you saying he’s a reality warper already?” asks Drusilla Becket AMERICA!, the youngest.
“No. Not yet. But if we don’t stop him, if we allow his reality distortion field to grow in power, he will be.”
Richard Astor Becket, second eldest son, president of the World Bank and chairman of the United Corporations, says, “Unless we can control him.”
The others stare at him skeptically.
“This ‘Spanner’ is himself a media creation, a persona created by some disgruntled anarchist hacker from the criminal underground and manifested in action rather than flesh. Our publicists can seize control of this persona so that we can wield it ourselves. ‘Spanner’ is no more real than that other hero fiction, Go-Man.”
“You mean the reality TV star?” asks Drusilla.
“The very one. It is well known in media circles that the first two men to wear the persona are now deceased. Today we control the persona. It serves our purposes now. We can do the same to Spanner. And I know just the man who can do it.”
Shira’s bed. Shira wakes up shortly before noon and finds J.T. sitting beside her. She rolls over, letting the covers fall off her breasts, and smiles at him mischievously. “A cop can go anywhere, huh?”
“Hey, you gave me the keys.”
He looks at her. “What’s your opinion on... terrorism?”
Shira’s mouth twists in disgust. “Just a fancy word for bullying.”
“Those wingnut militias the media calls terrorists? Just a bunch of disgruntled cops. The religious ones are all trying to be the Holy Inquisition. Only difference between the cops and militias, really, is that one side get their badges from the government and the other side buy theirs.”
“You buy any badges?”
“They’re a dime a dozen on the black market. That’s a hundred bucks in Confederate toilet paper.”
J.T. chuckles. “You’re pretty brazen, saying this in front of a cop.”
“So what’s the cops to you?”
“A dime a dozen on the black market.” They both laugh.
Shipyard Plaza. When the copbots rocked and socked each other to bits, they smashed a few windows and cars but did not touch the fountains of downtown Bremerton. The town begins to come to life again as the millions fleeing the King’s visit to Metropolitan Seattle return. A pair of homeless scavengers collect bent steel, broken electronics, and shredded simuflesh to sell to black market scrap dealers. In one of the plaza’s many trees, a voice says “Fuck!”
The scavengers look at each other. “What was that?” asks one.
“Tree’s too flimsy to hold a kid,” says the other.
A crow flies down to join the flock cawing and scavenging in the central plaza. Unlike the other crows, this one says, “Fuck!”
The scavengers’ mouths drop.
The second one runs over to the nearby triple fountain, picks up a rock, and throws it at the cursing crow. It says “Shit!” and flies away.
The first scavenger shakes his head and says, “Kids these days.”
Willa’s house. School is out for the day, so Team Bremelo assemble at Jennifer’s place without Shira. They review yesterday’s news coverage online and compare. Brandi blinks, shakes her head violently, blinks again. “This is what you Americans call ‘news’?”
“No, this is what we call propaganda,” says Jennifer. “The principle seems to be, he who controls the media controls your mind. But even Hitler and Goebbels knew they couldn’t rely on the Big Lie alone, so with the help of Speer and Riefenstahl they built a personality cult, and the Gestapo forced everybody in it. Old man Becket learned it from the masters.”
“So that’s why he had himself killed and resurrected on stage?” asks Polly.
“Every guru knows that signs and wonders help build you a cult. Whoever masterminded this showstopper was one hell of a magician. But the problem with cults is that eventually you get tired of the guru’s charisma. Cults have notoriously high turnover. Even in cult-based dictatorships, not even maximum terror could hold Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia together for long.”
“Don’t you have any underground media here?” complains Brandi.
“You’d be surprised. In our generation, those of us who haven’t already been bought by the Man don’t listen to a word he says. It’s the Law of Plausible Deniability: whatever the government and official media say is by definition wrong, especially if it’s a denial. So when the defenders of the Empire aren’t watching us, we slip beneath the covers and secretly watch the pirate channels. Of course, you have to filter out those other wingnut conspiracy theories, but pirate TV’s got the only shows worth watching. As for news, we’ve got the blogs on the Darknet. The trick is keeping Echelon from finding out you’re on, though, ’cos if it does, you’re in deep trouble.”
“But at least somebody has the courage to risk their life for it, right?”
“Some of us live to toy with Echelon.” Jennifer winks.
Shira’s bedroom. Shira lies on her back at the edge of her bed so J.T. can take pictures of her cunt with his hacked iPhone. She has synced her Droid to it so she can see on her screen what his camera sees. She directs him to change lighting, angle, and various camera settings so he can get the best pictures.
“You’re so shameless for someone so young,” he says.
“I’m in love with my body. Hell, I am my body. Why should I be ashamed of what I am, especially when I’m beautiful?”
“You know this is highly illegal, don’t you?”
“Law’s what happens when prejudice rapes reality, Jim. Sex, drugs, and racial incorrectness are high crimes and treason in the New World Order, and you’re legally still an infant till you hit eighteen. You sure you got Steve-o’s traitorware turned off?”
“It’s called jailbreaking, sweetheart.”
“Got it.” She turns over onto her stomach, cocks her pelvis back, and opens her legs wide. “Could you move that lamp a little closer?”
“Okay.” He reaches with his left hand and moves it an inch, then resumes taking pictures.
“You’ve certainly got a photogenic cunt. Glad you shaved it. You like taking pictures?”
“I love women’s cunts. I always thought they were so beautiful. I have pictures of all my female friends and relatives stored on one card. Oh, and I no longer shave. Electrolysis.”
“That’s the best way. Must be nice to be bisexual. Me, I was never interested in men.”
“You don’t mind, I hope.”
“No, I’m not a hater, if that’s what you mean. They’re happy doing each other, I’m fine with it. But it never turned me on. I’m just not wired that way.”
Shira shifts onto her left side, brings her right arm up to her head and holds it, and shifts her pelvis so that her cunt becomes visible again. As J.T. repositions his phone, he says, “You’re quite the flexible girl.”
“Hey, I’m a dancer and a martial artist. We know how to get our kicks.” She winks.
“How much do you have sex?”
“As much as possible.”
“How do you get away with it?”
“I have my ways.”
“How far back you got pics?”
“I’ve been taking pictures of myself since I was six, if that’s what you mean.”
He stops taking pictures and stands up. She breaks her pose and sits up at the edge of the bed. “She was six.”
Shira cocks her head and flashes him a cockeyed smile. “Hmmm?”
“Tell me you’re not Rebel Styles.”
“You want me to prove that I’m not?”
“No. That you are.”
Her mischievous smirk grows into a wicked grin. “You asked for it, buster.”
Suddenly she leans back, thrusts her pelvis forward, captures his erect penis with her cunt, and sucks it all the way in. He gasps with audible shock. With her vaginal strength, she yanks him toward the bed along with her; he collapses helplessly on top of her. She captures it all on her Droid. Then she throws it at the pillow; she crushes and crushes him; he thrusts in and out involuntarily. Day turns to night, day turns to week; the ecstasy lasts a seeming eternity...
Denver. Randolph Grant Litton is the foremost private political consultant in the whole American Empire. He was one of the masterminds of the New Right since the days of Richard Nixon. Unlike a another Nixonian with a similar name, he escaped the Watergate scandal without charges. He achieved stardom in neoconservative circles through his dirty work against Clinton and under Bush II. The re-establishment of the Confederacy was his supreme triumph. He is a New Yorker, though, so he prefers to place his office in the hated towers of the central city rather than one of the exurban arcologies the Corporates prefer and the Confederates require. His surly New York temperament was never pleasant, but has only gotten worse as he has gotten old. He has fully earned his nickname: “Rat Bastard.”
Richard Becket, his old friend, drops by without an appointment. “What the fuck do you want?” snaps Litton at him. “A favor?”
“No, a job.”
“I ain’t hirin’.”
“I am. It’s for you.”
“I thought all campaignin’ was over, Dick.”
Chariman Becket smiles mischievously. “This is special, Dolph.”
“Scandal you want me to bury?”
“He calls himself ‘Spanner.’”
Litton peers at him skeptically. “As in ‘monkeywrench’?”
“Tell me ’bout ’im.”
“Whoever’s behind him is as brilliant as you, whoever he or she is. He or she’s got balls. Probably a prodigy, likely in his or her teens or twenties. But he’s made a fatal mistake. He attacked our authority directly. And that, old friend, is where you come in.”
“So you want me to catch this guy, is that it?”
“No, old friend, it’s even better than that.” The Chairman starts to pace. “You see, Spanner’s really just another costume. He’s an image, a meme, no more real than Batman or Spider-Man in the movies and comic books. Do what you will with him. Co-opt him, demonize him, anything you want. He’s all yours if you want him.”
“If this big, I want big money for it.”
“If you accept, we’ll grant you a big advance, in gold.” Becket holds out his hand.
“Deal.” Litton shakes it.
Bangor. At the southern edge of the edge city, on the Seabeck Highway near the border with Bremerton, there is a large strip mall that used to have big-box and other chain stores but now contains only antique malls and ethnic shops. Behind it is what used to be the largest self-storage facility on the Westside but has recently been converted to squats; other homeless people tore up the parking lot to build a large and squalid shantytown from fragments of derelict buildings. Behind it is a complex of warehouses, some of which the squatters have dismantled to build their slum. Of the few that remain, one serves as headquarters to the most popular pirate television station in the Northwest, KCUF.
The KCUF studio is indistinguishable from any other warehouse still intact here. It has no visible transmitters to betray its location. It broadcasts entirely on the Darknet, undetectable by Echelon’s paranoid packet sniffers. Anarchist guerrilla hackers capture the signal and put it on satellite uplink so that anyone with a Ku-band dish antenna can receive it. Some satellite receivers then put it onto unused broadcast channels in the UHF spectrum.
Brandi, Jennifer, Connor, Polly, and Cory meet Shira and J.T. inside the front door. In the busy lobby, a Max Headroom, projected onto a large-screen 3D monitor by the latest Ono-Sendai netbook, stutters hello. Polly giggles.
Back in the studio itself, they can see the latest episode of the Go-Man cartoon currently streaming. Alex, Deth, and Simon Sez await them. They trade handshakes and hugs; Alex makes sure to give both her cousin Shira and kid sister Jennifer a firm kiss on the lips. (Shocked, Brandi blurts out, “Why’d she do that?” Shira winks and answers, “Family tradition, remember?” “Oh, yeah.”) The logo on Deth’s T-shirt is Wu-Tang Clan turned into a Hello Kitty.
“So how’s the Go-War going?” asks Shira.
“We got underground anime, they got reality TV, no contest,” says Deth.
“Nobody who’s ‘in’ wants to see the good guys forced to fight their own mentors,” Simon complains. “They wanna see a Tournament. Hyper City, Pretty City, no diff, innit?” Accent: English. Surrey. He’s the Band with No Name’s sound tech and a longtime father figure to Shira, Jennifer, and Connor.
Shira smiles and looks sidelong at Simon. “Simon baby, how come you weren’t at my quinceañera?”
“You know I was busy.”
“I forgive you.” She kisses him on the cheek.
“So what brings you here?” asks Deth.
J.T. answers. “The buzz at the station says the Agency’s taking our friend Spanner seriously this time.”
“Way. What’s more, they’re blaming him for all the damage His Majesty’s loyal followers did in addition to all the robot destruction. My bet’s the official spin’ll blame him for the king’s latest death.”
“Like what’s new. Like they don’t blame everything on the liberals.”
“They’re calling in the Rat Bastard.”
“What?!” Every worker in the studio stops their work. Everybody stares at J.T. and Shira.
“Oh shit,” Deth squeaks.
“Like I warned you last night, Shira,” J.T. says.
Deth paces back and forth across the studio. “This is bad. This is really, fucking, bad.”
“What’s so bad?” asks Shira.
He stomps up to her. “You know what a liberal is?”
“A nigger-loving commie traitor, according to the official spin.”
“And what’s a Muslim?”
“A mass-murdering, Devil-worshipping, Jew-eating terrorist. That’s really a Nazi, but that ain’t the spin.”
“What is truth?”
“That which is truthy.”
“And what, is the criterion for truthiness?”
“Not reason, but faith alone, preferably blind, not to mention deaf and dumb.”
“And of all the purveyors of truthiness at the Sacred Reich’s command, who is the master of them all?”
“Randolph Grant Litton, Esquire, sorcerer of the official spin and bastard son of rats.”
Deth takes two exasperated deep breaths. “Now do you realize what you’re up against?”
“Sure I do. I track his every step. But the big question is, what have we got to deal him with?”
Deth and Simon stare at each other. Then they look back at her and shrug.
Shira winks. “We’ve got chaos.”
broadcast. At five o’clock sharp, Pacific Daylight Saving Time, the news shows do not come on. Instead, a helmeted cartoon hero, an Eight Man with skull and crossed wrenches replacing the “8”, appears in eight-bit low resolution before a vertically scrolling Atari 800 rainbow background. He opens and closes his mouth in clockwork regularity. The British-accented deep male voice says:
Greetings, Mr. and Mrs. America, and the world. Call me Spanner. This is the news.The piratecast breaks off. The News presenters reappear in mid-scream.
Soon your rulers will unleash a slick, coordinated, and highly expensive media blitz in an attempt to tell you who I am. They will make me an official hero and give me a reality show of my own. Or they will make me the Devil incarnate, or a servant of the Devil, and they will command you to throw stones at my image every Fifth of November. They will make me not me. They will fail.
The men of the Royal House of Cromwell Becket are behind this. The sacred mission they claim for their clan and its Synarchy is to bring absolute order to the world. They are the Machine. I am the monkeywrench stuck in their gears.
I am not a hero. I am not a terrorist. I am Chaos. Where there is disorder, I am there. Where there is chaos, I am there. Where there is evolution, I have done my work.
I am the Angel of Chaos. I am not coming for you. I am already with you.
The rest of the TV schedule is preempted by nonstop news reports about the mystery man, in which the increasingly desperate presenters offer increasingly wild speculations as to his identity and motives. By the time everybody get tired of it and decide to watch movies on their DVRs instead, Beck has thrown out three ever more ludicrously paranoid conspiracy theories, and the others feel compelled to top him. Sooner rather than later, something else interrupts the possessed propaganda stream.
Lady Reporter: Thank you, NewsCentral! We have just witnessed the most amazing scene! (J.T.: “Hey! I know that woman!” Shira: “She’s cute.”)J.T.: “So that’s her name. I keep forgetting.”
The video, narrated by the cute lady reporter: A gang of terrorists attacks the Wild Waves amusement park and takes several dozen children hostage.
Masked gang leader: If you [expletive deleted]s don’t give us what we want, we’ll kill one brat an hour. So do it!
Suddenly, a black-clad man in a black motorcycle helmet and black leather jacket, both marked with the skull and crossed wrenches of Spanner, appears out of nowhere, swings a pipe wrench around on a string, and clocks the terrorists with it. (Shira: “Looks like stage combat.” J.T.: “How do you know?” Shira: “I’ve done it before. This guy’s good.”) The police come in and rescue the children. Police Chief John Cameron Becket (Shira gasps: “It’s One-Eye!” J.T.: “Oh. fucking. shit.”) shakes the black-clad man’s hand and congratulates him officially for being a hero. The man then goes over to the lady reporter for an interview.
“Spanner”: I was wrong. You were right. From now on, I shall dedicate myself to fighting the terrorists. We can’t let them win!
Lady Reporter: Praise Jesus America! I’m Amanda Currie for NewsCentral.
Shira: “You’re pulling my ear, J.T.”
“She used a different name when we were going together.”
“You two were an item?”
“Sometimes I wish we never were.”
The news channels follow up the surprise video with coverage, explanation, and commentary so exhaustive it soon gets tedious for all but the faithful. Much of the coverage focuses on the cute reporter, Amanda Currie. (Shira: “She’s obviously a very ambitious woman.” J.T.: “That’s the understatement of the millennium.”) They recap her life story in heartwarming Up Close and Personal fashion. (J.T.: “A complete whitewash.” Shira: “It always is.” J.T. “You don’t know her.”) It ends with the announcement that she is the newest and hottest anchor on the FoxNews Team.
Next, the networks fill their time with testimonial after testimonial in which countless faithful devotees of Jesus America gush about how “Spanner’s” redemption changed their lives and bolstered their faith. As they go on and on, it dawns on Shira that she is watching a brilliantly masterminded, highly coordinated media blitz. She taps her Droid; the big-screen TV shuts off with a pleasant chime melody.
“So this is the work of our Bastard Son of Rats.”
J.T. stares at the blank screen, wide-eyed and slack-jawed. “Don’t you get the sinking feeling we just got owned?”
Shira does not facepalm. She headdesks.
7 October 2014
Posted by LaFantoma99 to MyTube on 11 August 2012:
A cat attacks a rabbit. At first, the cat chases the rabbit. After a short squabble, the rabbit chases the cat. A few seconds later, the rabbit catches the cat — and humps it...The cat is Mikan. The rabbit’s name is Peter, and he belongs to Shira’s grandmother, the children’s author Eleanor Richter. Shira shot the video herself on a FlipCam. The soundtrack consists of angry feline meows and hisses, a lapine squeak or two, and the squeals and giggles of half a dozen children, Shira included.
Cory’s house. The alarm goes off. Cory slams it with his fist and sits up in his bed. Leila rolls over, letting the covers slide off her breasts, and mischievously yanks the covers off his bare body.
“I don’t wanna wake up now,” Cory groans.
“I’ve got just the thing to wake you up.” Leila plays with the foreskin of his penis.
“Leila, I don’t mean that. I’m talking about Spanner.”
“What about him?”
“Didn’t you watch last night?”
“The man’s trying to hijack his image!”
Leila rolls onto her back. “Okay, I watched. It was pathetic.”
“The true believers didn’t think so.”
“Some people will believe anything.”
“C’mon, Leila! You don’t know how these people fangirl!”
“Yes I do. Now get down here and fuck me.” She throws the covers off her, pulls Cory down, French kisses him hard, and jams his penis into her cunt.
Shira’s house. J.T. shares breakfast with Hope, Shira, and Aira. The girl giggles at the Furby’s sarcasm. “What’s it running?” he asks.
“He’s running on a two-gig Atom Duo,” says Shira. “Alex and Nick wrote the original AI in Ruby, but I rewrote it in Python running on Puppy Linux Embedded. Two fifty-six gig flash storage, no hard drive to suck power and add more moving parts I’ll have to replace.”
“I’ll think of that next time we start hacking sexbots.” Shira and Hope laugh. “By the way, do you guys always go naked in the house?”
Shira winks. “Only barbarians wear clothes in the house, honey.”
“I’ll keep it in mind to stop being such a barbarian.”
“Shira darling,” warns Hope, “are you really going to trust this person?”
Shira looks sidelong at him. “If I do, he’ll have to earn it.”
J.T. laughs. “Actually, I don’t trust cops.”
“Yeah, I was one of those cop-family idealists who believed in Truth, Justice, and the American Way, and I thought a badge was the way to do it, kinda like Superman’s cape. But then I got my badge and actually got to know cops. And what do you know, I find out they’re all on the make. They work for the Man and do his dirty work, but they all got other agendas. Whether they’re working for the Church of America, Chinese intelligence, or La Cosa Nostra, they’re all moles. It’s like Infernal Affairs gone berserk. So I too work against the police, just like all the other police in the Guild.”
“So who are you working for, then?” asks Hope.
“Right now I’m working with the Krewe. I used to tiger team in my police academy days. One day I was doing a run on the phone company, and Alex found me there. She was so damn good she made me look like a noob. I thought I was infiltrating at first. Then I find out what the Krewe stands for, and then what the government really stands for. Now I’m working the other way around.”
“I hope you’re right. By the way, if you’re having sex with my daughter, and knowing her you’re probably are, you’d better be extremely careful.”
“C’mon, I work for a government that can’t tell the difference between premarital sex and sadistic rape. I used to do that frigid bitch Amanda Currie, for fuck’s sake.” He chuckles.
Shira says, “You mean that News reporter who used to pretend to be a thirteen-year-old to lure suspected pedophiles to NBC Dateline so that vigilante gang Perverted Justice could lynch ’em on national TV for mad ratings? I hear she just made anchor on Fox.”
“Well.” He grins mischievously. “I’ve got just the cure. If it ever makes it to prime time, that bitch is over.”
school cafeteria. Kelly storms up to Shira and gloats. “I saw your friend Spanner on TV last night.”
“What of it?”
“Didn’t you see him? He saw the error of his ways! He accepted Jesus America! Praise God!”
Shira laughs at her. Kelly stares back incredulously. “That’s not the real Spanner, Kelly. Don’t you realize? His public image has been hacked.”
“But that was the real Spanner! I saw him on TV!”
“Here’s a lesson for you. The first law of TV is that you don’t believe anything you see on TV.”
“But TV is the voice of God!”
“God’s a dummy, and Satan’s the ventriloquist.”
“The Devil’s a killer impressionist. He’s got the good Lord’s voice down cold.” Kelly tries to stomp away, but Shira grabs her by the scarf and pulls her back. “Furthermore, Spanner does not like it when somebody hacks his public image. I’ve studied the man, so I should know. You hack his image, he’ll own you back. It’s a point of honor with him. You don’t tease the panther, or you get ‘et.’ Got it, Kelly?”
“You’re crazy!” Kelly runs away.
“Crazy like a fox.” Shira flashes a wicked wink in her direction.
library. The librarian at the front desk, Sarah Jane Hatfield, is beautiful, sexy, twenty-one, and a self-described Texas liberal in exile. She leans over the desk, fiddles with her fashionable reading glasses, and reads a large book on the counter when Shira enters. “Hiya, Sally!”
“Howdy there, redhead!” Shira takes Sally’s face in her hands and boldly kisses her on the lips.
“You don’t kiss a librarian on the lips.” Shira turns around to see Rachel Brinkman glaring at her, arms crossed.
“We’re good friends,” says Shira, “so we can do whatever we want as long as it isn’t illegal.”
“I don’t think she likes the idea of you going out with her cousin,” Sally says conspiratorially.
“How many times do I have to beat some sense into her?” complains Rachel. “It’s gross!”
“Rachel, sex is gross. I’ll bet money I can cure you of your sex drive when I tell you that women’s vaginal fluids are sticky and gross and smell nasty when they get stale. As for men, who knows what they’ve stuck their thing into.”
“Shiraaa! Stop it!”
“Go away. I wanna have a private conversation with my friend Sally, and you’re not invited. You hear?” Shira rounds the desk, takes Sally’s hand, leads her into the nearest private study room, and locks the door.
“Sally, I’ve got a question for you.”
“What is it?” purrs Sally.
“What do you know about Amanda Currie?”
“The world’s cutest newsbot? Are you sure Faux Noise didn’t steal her from the Mickey Mouse Club?”
“Yeah. That newsbot. Has she done anything that deserves getting nuked for it? Anything unforgivable?”
“Haven’t you been paying attention? She specializes in outing dissidents and siccing the wolves on ’em! The bitch is no different from those psycho killer you guys turn in for cash, only she’s cuter, doesn’t need a Travelling Shovel of Death, and has much better publicity courtesy of Lord News himself. But if you want something personal, I’ve got one for you: A couple of years ago, I used to have a boyfriend. He was smart, kind, and beautiful. I was so in love with him. Little Miss News Celebrity stole him and drove him to suicide.”
“Thanks! That’s all I need.” Shira hugs Sally and gives her another big kiss on the lips.
As Shira reaches the door, Sally stops her and says, “Nuke the bitch for me.”
Shira winks. Then she opens the door and leaves.
locker room. Shira attends sixth-period PE class so she can see Elsie. “Can I have a word with you after class?”
“Sure,” Elsie says.
After class, they go to the pool so they can use its girls’ locker room by themselves. They strip naked, turn on one shower, and soap each other. “So what do you want to know?” asks Elsie.
“Amanda Currie, the newsbot. Is she related?”
Elsie sighs. “She’s my big sister, I’m afraid.”
“What was she like?”
“She was always the golden child. She had the charm to manipulate our parents into doing whatever she wanted. She got everything, and I got nothing. She even used to beat me up. She’s every bit as spoiled, narcissistic, and temperamental as the rumors have it. I swore I’d never be like her.”
“Do you think she’s bad enough to deserve being nuked?”
“And then some. She’s evil. If Sally said anything to you, she’s wrong. I’m convinced Amanda murdered her boyfriend. She also murdered my first girlfriend back in middle school. I’ll never forgive her for that.”
“And she got away with it.”
“She had the authorities all wrapped around her finger.”
“Yeah. Hopefully she’ll see reason. If not, I’ll cry for her.” Shira can see the tears already forming in Elsie’s eyes. She holds her teacher tight and gives her a long sweet kiss.
Lars’ squat. Lars Ulquiorra has transformed a self-storage unit into a live-in war room for the Slasher Hunters. On the far wall, he has mounted nine widescreen monitors. “I’ve been checking out the Rat Bastard’s greatest hits. There’s some mighty good ones here, but nothing compares to that resurrection trick he pulled off the other day. That was his masterpiece.”
Peck says, “We’ve looked into Litton’s background. As it turns out, he studied with no less than Walter Gibson and once served as president of both the national and international societies of conjurers.”
“That’s a pretty impressive background,” says Shira.
“Looking deeper into his records, we also discovered he studied with Andrija Puharich.”
Shira’s mouth drops in surprise. “You mean the head of MKULTRA himself?”
“The very one. As it turns out, he earned a master’s degree in psychology.”
“Let me guess. Harvard. His advisor was Murray.”
“Spot on. Now do you know who you’re going up against?”
“How good is he at chess?”
“His rating is two points above yours.”
Shira grins. “I’ll bet I’ve been playing him all along.”
“Are you sure he hasn’t been playing you?”
KCUF studio. “I know that look on your face, Shira,” says Deth. “You look like you’ve been playing chess with the Evil Evil Doctor again.”
Shira grins. “I love a Challenge.”
“But this is the Rat, fucking, Bastard, Shira! He’s like the grand-poobah wizard of spin! We can’t beat him! Nobody can!”
“Pop quiz! What are the three parts of a magic trick?”
He giggles nervously. “Uh, I’m not a magician, so I wouldn’t know.”
“Consider this a lesson, then. First, there’s the promise. That’s when the magician announces the trick.”
“Mm-hmm, go on.”
“Second is the turn. That’s the trick itself.”
“Finally, there’s the prestige. That’s the illusion.”
“‘Prestige,’ as in the movie?”
“Bingo! Next question: What’s the real meaning of ‘prestige’?”
“Whoa, babe, you got me there.”
“I just told you. It’s the illusion produced by a magic trick. That, O my brothers, is the great and awesome secret behind celebrity, politics, and spin doctory.”
“You mean, ‘America’s prestige,’ what the lamestream news talk about all the time, it’s all a trick?”
“Exactly! Now we know who’s been pulling the tricks behind Kingy’s precious ‘We’re Number One’ prestige. Let’s show the Bastard Son of Rats how we wage magic war.”
“Now that we know what kind of shit we just got ourselves into, how the fuck do we strike back? Anybody got any ideas?”
“I got some of those Amanda Currie temper tantrum outtakes if you wanna use ’em,” says Simon.
Shira’s narrow eyes, sidelong glance, and sinister smile say Ratso, you’re pwned. “Hmmm. Now there’s an idea.”
Deth says, “Babe, you look like you got something up your sleeve.”
She grins. “Come to think of it, I do have something up my sleeve.” She unrolls the sleeve of her baby tee and extracts a microSD card. “I”ve got the five most coveted celebrity sex tapes right here on this little card. And one of ’em just happens to be Amanda’s.”
broadcast. Once again, a surprise awaits the faithful viewers of the five network news shows. Instead of the usual propaganda news, they get news entertainment starring the cute, sweet, and vicious presenter Amanda Currie, hair GIMPed pink, image jittery scratched, voice autotuned to a slammin’ Chi Sah Gang backing track. And it goes like this:
Amanda:Suddenly the piratecasted video is replaced by an old-fashioned Indian’s-head test pattern, stretched to 16:9 aspect, complete with annoying high-pitched electronic tone. A male voice announces, “We are currently experiencing technical difficulties. Please stand by.”
Good evening everybody,
this is | the shit.
Hello everybody |
this is | the shit.
Everybody’s talkin’ ’bout |
Spanner’s | back!
Everybody’s talkin’ ’bout |
Spanner | he’s back!
This is the news.
drum roll, music resumes
Spanner’s back! |
He’s back in town |
When | he’s | in town |
he | don’t mess around |
He’s evil | ass | wicked!
he | be | the shit
He’s | so hot |
I wanna | fuck the bitch!
music stops again
You know you wanna do her. |
This is the news.
When the underground hip-hop resumes, the Amanda Currie sex tape begins. Before a digital camera set stationary in the manner of the old amateur porn sites, she’s on top of her male lover, aggressively attacking him. The iconic face of “Bob” replaces his own. (“Praise ‘Bob’!” exults Deth.) She taunts him, tortures him, acts like a complete and utter slut. His name has been redacted to protect his identity.
This | This|This | This|This |
This is the news.
FoxNews | FoxNews |
You’re full of shit! —
When the news stream returns, the presenters sadly announce that Amanda Currie has been fired from the FoxNews Team for “moral improprieties.”
Denver. R.G. Litton and Dr. Henry Becket stare at a blank screen in the little theatre in Litton’s office. The Doctor says, “It seems that our friend Spanner is a more dangerous fellow that you expected.”
Litton grins evilly. “I’m game. Let him bring it on.”
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Copyright © 2010 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
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