Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Spanner 2.3: Shockley on the Case

...from previous

Chaos Angel Spanner Chapter 2: Sex Bomb
Part 3: Shockley on the Case (Final Revision)

copco bremerton. Shockley is furious to find Locke Holmes himself overseeing the Styles case; she glares at him with undisguised contempt. “What’s the problem, Shockley? It’s not like you’re still Special Enforcement.”

“If you hadn’t blown that super-soldier case in Japan, Holmes, Ogden might still be around.”

“So Ogden finally pegged out, I see.”

“Ogden’s in the bughouse because of one Rebel Styles. I’m here to confront this monster. You’re here because you caused an international incident. Nice repair job on the face, by the way.”

“I got too caught up in your game of Texas justice. Don’t forget you’re not Special Enforcement anymore.”

Shockley and Holmes stare each other down. Kowalczyk’s finger traces the scars on Sparks’ face. Sparks says, “His Resculptor came highly recommended.”

They look at the FBI agents. Kowalczyk whispers, “I get the funny feeling this is not about to go well.”

interrogation room. Sitting arms crossed across the table, Shira rolls her eyes at Shockley and Holmes. “Great. They give me a failed strike cop and a failed dick. Nice try, FBI.”

“You—” Holmes restrains Shockley. They stare at each other. Shockley sits down.

“Okay, then,” says Holmes, “let’s get down to business.”

Shira interrupts. “Hello, great detective. You sound like you’ve been away from Scotland Yard too long. America can ruin you. Nice Resculpt, by the way. And a hearty top o’ the mornin’ to you, Princess. Remember he blew the Murdoch case too.”

“Well, then! Now that we’re properly introduced, we need to know what connections you have to Rebel Styles.”

Shockley blurts, “Why did you do it?” Both Holmes and Shira glare at her to shut her up.

On the other side of the one-way window, Kowalczyk tells Sparks, “Like I said.”

Shira replies, “No, ma’am, I have never beaten my wife.” To Holmes: “I just heard about that Styles thing this morning. Apparently that Spanner guy set her off.”

Holmes sits up suddenly, eyes wide open, lips pursed. (Outside, Sparks grins. “Lunch is on you.” Kowalczyk slaps his forehead. “Again?”) He laughs nervously. “I heard you were an amateur detective. Please explain to us your theory, on the record.”

“By some Spanner-produced chaos effect, Styles seems to have reversed the Law of Social Darwinism. She destroys the strong and leaves the weak alone. She’s already taken out several leaders, enough to send the Party into a panic.”

Shockley growls, “You can’t deny your connection, Thomas.”

“Oh, me? I’m just here ’cuz I’m charming and look like her.”

Holmes leans forward. “A Charmer, to be exact. We’re convinced you’re in league with her.”

“You mean conspiracy.”

“The world is locked in conspiracy against Our Nation!” barks Shockley.

“Conspiracy, conspiracy. The whole Party’s made up of conspiracy theorists, Princess. But look at it objectively and you’ll see the monster’s a hallucination.”

Holmes says, “Secretary Becket himself believes you yourself are the monster.”

“Figures he would. He blanks out the real threat, the one all technocrats are always in denial of. But it’s already too late. It’s already done its dirty deed.”

“And what could that be?”


Shockley shakes her head in disbelief. “You have got to be kidding.”

“Uh-uh, Princess. Your Revolution resurrected a dead empire, and it came back all zombie. Things fall apart, Your Highness. All I’m doing is trying to keep innocent bystanders from getting crushed by the debris.”

Sparks and Kowalczyk intercept Shira outside. “Just on a whim,” says Kowalczyk, “since we have a Charmer here. . .”

In the next room is a captured Caliphate jihadi chained up and masked like a feral vampire. His thick beard hardly hides MS13 gang tattoos. Across the table, Shira sits down seductively, leans on one propped arm, and gives him an ironic smile. He stares back hatefully, a perfect monster of holy hatred. She grins. “You and I know the Holocaust happened.”

Lie!” He goes berserk, strains against the chains, struggles to break free, screams curses in bad Arabic. Watching outside, Sparks and Kowalczyk grin at each other.

Shira shoots him a deadly look. He goes silent and limp. “You think I’m blaspheming your holy prophet Hitler.”

“Evil infidel witch,” he grunts, “you will burn in Hell.”

Mischief slips back into her eyes. “The evidence can’t lie. Your holy prophet sacrificed six million Jews to [gestures ooga-booga] the Dev-il.”

He roars and tries to break his chains again. She flashes him a beautiful grin. Sparks and Kowalczyk high-five.

21 august 2014.
Rebel Styles, an adult seductress now, dances to torment Shockley. Multiple neon outlines of her wild-haired, cat-eared, sleek nude body swirl against the darkness in threatening dance. The darkness falls like a veil, and Rebel emerges into full view, painted in psychedelic colors, but otherwise wearing nothing but black cat ears in her golden hair and a mocking smile on her face.

Shira Thomas emerges behind Rebel, standing sideways to Shockley with arms crossed. Unsmiling, she turns her head to look at Shockley. Then she looks away and disappears.

Rebel, now close, opens her mouth to speak. Her word takes the form of a large wrench that hits Shockley in the face—

shockley’s house. Shockley awakens bolt upright in her chair. Cold sweat drenches her nightgown and robe. She signs leans back in the living room recliner with her cellphone in her lap, too angry to be able to sleep. The interpretation is clear to her: Thomas is monkeywrenching her investigation so arrogantly, she’s invading her dreams just to gloat in her face.

The phone rings. Kowalczyk. She presses “talk.” “I dreamt of Rebel Styles. She took the form of a naked Shira Thomas and attacked me.”

Kowalczyk’s chuckle sounds especially annoying over the phone. “She slung some ‘scream gems’ at you, didn’t she.”

“She spat a wrench in my face,” she says sourly. “Thomas is stonewalling us and enjoying every bit of it.”

“Just make sure to keep Rebel Rebel away from big brother. He’s such a logophobe, Styles’ll spit out a few Sony faces just for the lulz.”

“‘Scream gems.’ I get it. So what’s with the late-night interruption?”

“Heard the news yet?”

“About what?”

“What just went down at the big Cartel shindig in the Big Apple. Looks like we just got us a new friend. The talking heads are calling him ‘Spanner’ ’cuz he threw a monkeywrench into the festivities. Literally. Destroyed a perfectly expensive Jumbotron. I sent you video.” He hangs up. Slowly she raises herself from her chair.

On her way to her office, she finds her ten-year-old daughter Belle standing in the middle of the hall. “Mommy?”

“No!” snaps Shockley. “Shut up and go back to bed. Now!”

Belle lowers her head, sighs in despair, and sulks back into her bedroom.

In her office, she checks her email on the computer and opens one related to an ongoing cold case. Surveillance video found in a Japanese city destroyed by the Tohoku earthquake of 2011. In the minutes leading up to the quake, an unknown super takes the power form of a giant inverted vortex. At the exact moment of the quake, the super powers out and the video ends. Shockley quickly deduces that the energy from the power-out likely triggered the quake. But she wonders what, if anything, this has to do with Rebel Styles, or Spanner.

The one from Kowalczyk contains three security videos depicting the same incident. In them, a lone terrorist in motorcycle helmet and long black trenchcoat flies in on a hoverboard, fires rockets to knock down catwalks crowded with armoured antiterrorists, throws a large pipe wrench into the giant television screen to shatter it, and disappears in a whirlwind.

It’s not the incident itself that catches her attention. There’s something strange about the terrorist. She replays the videos, one by one. The terrorist seems to flicker into and out of existence: obviously he’s cloaking. The latest combat weaponry is a highly prized commodity in the criminal underworld. In between, though, everything seems to revolve around him in a swirling vortex: dust, smoke, debris, people’s attention, the very air itself. The sensation feels very familiar to her—the same sensation she got from the Rebel Rebel videos—

With a shock, she realizes: he’s projecting a reality distortion field

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Copyright © 2011, 2012 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
Creative Commons License

[Revision 2.1, 6/22/11: Text corrections.]
[Revision 3, 9/12/11: Added new confrontation between Sparks and Thorwald; corrected text and continuity errors; edited text for style.]
[Revision 3.1, 9/29/11: Added forward reference (paragraph 2, 2nd sentence) to 19.5, edited and expanded passages featuring the doomed fangirl.]
[Revision 4 Final, 7/5/12: Entire original section “Underground City” revised and moved to the next section. This entire new section is expanded from the “Shockley’s House” scene from the previous section and revised to fit Revision 4 continuity.]


  1. I feel disoriented after reading your work as it's difficult to readjust back to everything that is ordinary.
    This is a quality your work shares with Jeff Noon, an author I adore.

    Good work :)

  2. I'll take that as a high compliment. I try to capture that feeling of "everything you know is wrong". Glad to see someone feels it! :)

    I'll make sure to look into Jeff Noon's work.