Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Spanner 4.3: Last Day of Freedom

...from previous

Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 4: Special Delivery Service
Part 3: Last Day of Freedom

2 september 2014.
technosphere.
Posted to LaFantoma99’s Profile on September 1, 2014:
[Shira wears her black and silver school uniform, complete with beret.]

Hi again! Today’s supposed to be some big national holiday, but for us it’s our last day of freedom before the school doors close on us for another nine months of bad education. But it’s been two weeks, and still all anybody can talk about is Spanner.

So was he trying to send us a message, or was it just for the lulz? I’ll let you decide on that.
shira’s apartment. A beautiful morning warm enough to open the bedroom windows and listen to the birds’ sweet serenade. But it’s the sound of the red-tabby cat walking the length of the piano keyboard in the living room that wakes up Hope and Shira. Mikan does it simply because she likes the sound. Tanner the big white Angora, still fierce despite being neutered, tries to murder his scratching post yet again. Catalina, a sweet-tempered white pit bull from the legendary Reston kennel, begs for her breakfast.

While the animals happily eat, the two women make love in the shower and lovingly soap each other’s skin. When they’re done, they step out and dry each other off with thick soft towels. Shira sighs. “One last day of freedom before I throw myself into the belly of the beast.”

“Remember,” says Hope, “you’re my eyes and ears.”

“What I know, you’ll know.”

“But you can’t call me from school.”

“No prob. Backup’s lined up.”

“And never forget Bangor’s a dangerous place with a lot of extremely nasty people prowling around.”

“The nastier, the better connected, that’s my bet.”

Hope smiles. “You’re a tough girl. Kira would be damn proud.”

“I’ll never ever let her down. I don’t want you too, either.”

“What’s worrying you?”

“Guild brass are still trying to turn you. They’re ready to burn you if they can’t.” Shira starts to cry. “Keep fighting no matter what. Please do it for me. I worship you. I’ll pick you up if you fall. We’re a team forever. Your goal is my goal.”

“Member control.”

With absolute determination: “People control of the whole System, an end to Corporate bandit ownership.”

Hope sighs deeply. “I keep forgetting how intense your idealism is.”

“I’m your passion, Hope, and you’re my wisdom. We’re one Player, not two.”

“Oh Shira, I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

“I love you so much it hurts,” Shira sobs. She pulls Hope’s nude body against hers, holds her tight, kisses her passionately.

Hope’s phone rings on the counter. They stare at it. “It’s Willa.”

“So the meeting’s on...”

They hurry back to the bedroom, scaring the pets, to put on their clothes as fast as they can.

mudlark house. The Mormon missionaries knock on the door at another house they don’t know to avoid, the door opens to reveal a tall young beauty sporting rimless round glasses, black-and-silver schoolgirl sailor fuku, military-looking black beret half-restraining her long blond hair, and black leather ankle boots. Jennifer doesn’t bother to hide her displeasure. “Oh.”

Elder Greyson attempts to introduce their religion. “Hi! I’m Elder—

“Is it true that your church is aggressively pushing a surefire cure for homosexuality?”

They stare at each other with a gasp, then stare at her.

“From what I’ve learned about your doctrine, sealed marriage and aggressive procreation are absolute requirements for salvation. Love? Dysgenic.”

Elder Justin attempts to protest, but she interrupts.

“I mean, surely you guys are adorable and kindhearted and all. I just think it’s wrong. If I’m forced to choose between forbidden love and procreative duty, I choose love. Now go away.” She slams the door.

The missionaries look at each other. “This is that, uh, other place, isn’t it,” says Elder Justin.

“Don’t ask,” says Elder Greyson. As they scurry away, they pass a thin older man slowly ambling toward the house, not without waving and saying hi.

Inside, Jennifer complains, “You’d think their Church sent ’em at just this moment just to spy on us.”

Willa organizes guests’ coats on the rack. She smiles at Jennifer. “I don’t think they’re that smart, darling.”

“Hate more than makes up for it. Their leaders are waiting for the perfect opportunity to crucify us for our marriage.”

Shira hugs Jennifer from behind. “So keep ready. Our trap is.” She kisses her ear.

Someone knocks the door. “I got it!” calls Jennifer as she rushes to pick up a collar off the nearest end table, then back to open the door. Before she lets the older man in, she slaps the collar on his neck.

“You think that’ll work?” he asks.

“It’s got a letter-based Dissociated Press implementation in obfuscated Perl, the complete speeches of George W. Bush to scramble, and a voice synthesizer. They’ll never suspect.” Jennifer winks and pulls him in.

The people assembled in the living room stare at him when she presents him. She taps the collar with her knuckles. Hope says, “Then we’re ready to start.”

Shira follows Jennifer to join the other teenagers in Bangor High uniforms crowded onto one couch. Jennifer sits on Connor’s lap, Shira on her childhood friend Cory Belmont, biracial son of a New Orleans jazz trumpeter. Karen has Shira’s twelve-year-old niece Elle Shears (wearing her orange-and-black middle-school uniform) on her lap, holding her tight; Colette sits with her boyfriend, a big NativeHawaiian athlete and honor student named Kio Marques. Hope pulls up a chair and leans against the back of the loveseat, where this year’s Bangor High librarians sit: Sarah Jane (Sally) Hatfield, Kathryn (Kitty) Carlisle, and Christine (Chris) Jordan. In chairs across from the couch are Hope’s fellow Teachers Guild dissidents Sylvia Plame, Yasmin Khoury, Eugene Fletcher, and Ada Paulette Wintergreen (yes, that Ada). The new arrival, David Todd Whitmer, takes a seat to the side.

Willa stands before the group and announces, “Let’s talk about SPEC, shall we.”

Hope stands up and braces herself on the loveseat. “For those who don’t know, before the coup there were teachers’ unions that protected teachers’ rights and benefits. America doesn’t work that way anymore. Workers are by definition ‘moochers’ off the allegedly deserving rich. Like other unions, the Teachers’ Guild sold out to the robber barons who own the Empire and become a corporation itself. For criticizing the new management,”—she gestures toward the librarians—“the four of us got purged.” To the teachers: “You too are in danger, whether or not you protest.”

“Why us?” asks Sylvia, a pretty young Australian.

“Workers are supposed to be a drain on profits. It’s a Corporate article of faith.”

“That certainly fits in,” says Yasmin in her perfect English accent, “with the Party plan to restrict science education to occult initiates.”

“That Pythagorean thing of theirs, yes,” grumbles Dave.

“They don’t like us smart people,” says Eugene, who is black. “We can see right through that crazy ‘race science’ of theirs.”

“The same thing happened in psychology,” Willa says, “when my ex-husband purged all the non-torturers and turned the APA into a glorified temp agency for Big Pharma and the U.S. Police Force.”

“That U.S. Police Force? It’s a military service specializing in terrorism,” Hope points out. “Here in the Imperial Homeland, its mission is to crush even the slightest worker resistance to Corporate oppression.” To the students: “That makes you our last hope.” They stand up and cheer.

Dave stands up and flails his arms. “Whoa, whoa, whoa.” The students fall silent. “What makes you think a few teenagers can stand up to some power-mad psychopath backed by the United States Police Force?”

Karen stands back up. “We’re the paying customers.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

Shira says, “It means if the students withdraw their tuition, SPEC's in deep doo-doo. That kind of strike, John Galt would understand.”

Colette stands. “So if labor unions can’t work anymore, a Student Union will.”

Connor stands with Jennifer. “We’ve already got interest from a quarter of the student body and their parents, plus secret support from pro-education Enterprisers.”

Jennifer holds up an index finger. “And since Seattle’s a very diverse city, we know we can pull it off.”

“That’s Seattle,” Dave counters. “Bangor’s no city.”

Shira stands with hands on hips. “Right under the Man’s nose, even. It’s just crazy enough to work.” She winks. “Elle! You sure you up to this?”

“I think so,” Elle replies nervously.

Karen hugs Elle. “You’ve got our support, Elle. Don’t give up.”

“Okay.”

At Hope’s signal, everybody stands up. “That’s it! Our business is done.”

Willa says, “Everybody leave now before the City Deputies catch on.” With Connor and Jennifer, she watches the others rush for the doors.

motel. The first sound Lucie hears when she wakes up is chirping birds. The first words she hears are “I think I’ll have some fun strangling the little bitch, and then I’ll let you have fun with the corpse.”

She realizes he’s too afraid of her to let her live. Silently she resolves to murder him.

coffee shop. The Fraîche Cup is directly across Washington Avenue from Harborside Plaza with its famous dancing fountain, the Kitsap Conference Center, and the ferry terminal, and just a block and a half away from the Harborside Commons. It just so happens that there is a Starbucks directly across the street, in the conference center building.

Shira, Polly, and Colette sit around a table in back, partly to keep to themselves, partly to avoid the sight of the Starbucks. Jennifer buys a pack of Mentos from their barista friends Casi and Natalie, then joins them.

Colette says, “So Leila Shelley’s in town. Just our luck.”

“I don’t like her,” says Polly. “She’s scary.”

Shira flashes her mischievous cockeyed smile. “If anybody can handle that girl, it’s me.”

Colette crosses her arms and peers at Shira skeptically. “Everybody knows you’re in love with her. Jen, what do you think?”

“She’s trouble,” says Jennifer. She grins at Shira. “Everybody knows how much you love trouble, Shira.”

Polly looks nervously at the door. “Uh, I think trouble just came through the door.”

Two men enter, order quick Diet Cokes, and make a beeline for the table. The older one has the slicked-back glamour of the Mad Man; the younger one is a Surfer Dude with a goatee, and they bear the unmistakable mark of the Nike corporation. They stop in their tracks when Colette stands up and stares them down. After several tense seconds, she storms out. “I wonder what’s wrong with her,” says the older one.

Shira shrugs. “She’s the kind of friend who doesn’t let friends drink Starbucks.”

The two men look at each other. The older one sneers. “Logophobe. Figures.” They scramble into the chairs facing Starbucks.

Polly stands up. “Uh, sorry, but this looks like it’s turning into a business meeting. See you guys later!” She hurries after Colette.

Shira and Jennifer wave her goodbye. “Later!” Shira looks at the older Nike man, then the younger one. “Well, then. Now that this really has turned into a business meeting, let’s get down to business.” She points at the older man. “Let me guess. You must be John Nike.” Then she points at the younger man. “And you are—John Nike!”

They look at each other. “What?” They try to protest.

She grins mischievously. “Hey, any devout disciple of the Swoosh has gotta be named John Nike.”

They laugh. The elder “John Nike” gushes, “Well, you must be the one and only Shira Thomas!”

The younger grins and shakes his fists. “The bitchinest babe in the business!”

The elder looks at Jennifer. “And who may you be?”

“I’m her cousin.”

“Jennifer Blair. We’ve heard of you. We’d love you to join us too.”

“I’m a hard-headed woman of science,” Jennifer warns them. “I don’t do business.” Under the table, she gives the Mentos to Shira.

Shira leans forward and rests her head in her hands. “Me, I’m all business. So what’s your pitch?”

John Nike the elder says, “We saw what you did over at Game Wars.”

John Nike the younger says, “That was some killer promo!”

“We think you’re good enough to play in the big leagues.”

Shira looks them over coolly. “You know, all I wanted to do was make trouble. Figured I’d make a few bucks while I was at it.”

“We’re giving you the chance to make some real trouble for real bucks. Don’t pass it up.”

“You’re not getting it.”

“And how are we not getting it?”

“I’m sure you’re aware of the situation with the Street Syndicates.”

“They’re our most loyal fans,” says the younger Nike.

“They treat their brands like cults. They distinguish themselves by brands. They treat those who don’t wear their brand as infidels. They wage holy wars and offer up human sacrifices.”

The older Nike tilts his head. “What are you getting at.”

“We’re not talking mere professional troublemaking here. I get with you guys, I automatically declare war against all the gangster cults of Reebok, Adidas, LA Gear, British Knights, and the rest. Just like the religious wars in Africa.”

“That’s not the kind of dangerous game we like to play,” Jennifer adds.

“So sorry, John Nike and John Nike, I no likey.”

The John Nikes stare at her in disappointment. The older one shakes his head. “You made the wrong choice.”

The younger one says, “Don’t bork that move, babe.”

Shira slowly gets up, leans over the table toward them, and proclaims: “Lavoris.”

They look at each other in surprise. “What?”

“Brainwash.”

“Every giant corporation worth its brand relies on it,” Jennifer adds.

“It’s what turns brands into cults.”

“Holy wars are raging in the suites as well as the streets, and you know it. I want no part of ’em. So my final answer is no.”

The John Nikes grin dumbly at her. “Seriously,” says the elder.

“You’re joshin’!” the younger half exclaims.

Shira rolls her eyes and gives them a cockeyed smirk. “Comfortable indulgence in smug idolatry —so bourgeois, that. Death by boredom to someone who loves the same way terrorists hate.”

The John Nikes stare at each other with incredulous smiles, then back at Shira. “Get outta here!” the younger mocks. “That romance novel shit’s so ancient history.”

“Ha!” The elder dances the twist in his chair. “That’s totally cha-cha-cha!”

Shira suddenly shoots them a hard angry look that makes them flinch.

“Now look what you did,” Jennifer chides. “You offended her!”

“Nawwww!” The John Nikes stare at Shira mockingly, then look at each other. Shira silently opens the Mentos pack.

The younger says, “You didn’t call her ‘cha-cha-cha,’ did you.“ She quietly tears the pack open below the table.

The elder says, “Hey, man, I know a Spicy Passionista when I see one.” She drops two tablets in their Diet Cokes.

“With flamin’ red hair, even.” They hear the fizz. They hear the baristas giggle. They look at Shira’s smirk and Jennifer’s stifled smile. They feel the ice-cold cola drip onto their slacks—

—and leap up out of their chairs and watch the cola erupt out of their cups. On Shira’s face, a beautiful smile of utter triumph.

The John Nikes stare down at the girls. “Well!” They storm off, around the table and Starbucks-ward; the girls spin around to face them. When they reach the door, John Nike the younger shoots back, “Big mistake, babe.”

John Nike the elder says ominously, “You’llregret this, Shira Thomas.”

Shira flashes them an taunting smile. “No I won’t.”

Jennifer does not smile. “Speak for yourselves.”

The two sides stare each other down. Then without a further word the John Nikes leave.

Shira and Jennifer stare at each other. “I knew this was bound to happen one of these days,” says Jennifer grimly.

“They want trouble,” Shira purrs, “I’ll give ’em their money’s worth.”

dictel park. Because Bangor’s ultraconservative city fathers and the military-industrial executives who own them have always been hostile to public transit, only one bus goes through Bangor, and only to connect the Seabeck ferry to Bremerton. One of the stops is at Dictel Park. Shira, Jennifer, and Connor, get off there, accompanied by Polly and Cory. Sparks meets them at the stop wearing black trenchcoat and aviators. “You kids ready?”

In unison they answer, “Yeah!”

”Weapons check before we go in.”

They show him their chosen weapons: Shira’s lead-weighted Go-Yo, Jennifer and Connor’s telescoping kubotans, Cory’s chain weight, Polly’s hanbo disguised as a walking stick she can expand into a full staff. Sparks, of course, has his truncheon and service pistol.

They wait for a break in the heavy arterial traffic, then dart across the street to the park side. Polly says in a trembling voice, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter...” Everybody laughs. Then they enter the park.

At first Dictel Park looks like a typically bad suburban imitation of the archetypical central-city park. But six years of neglect have taken their toll. The Corporate founders of Bangor were so conservative that the very idea of a public park offended them. This park seems more like a wildlife reserve than a city park. Police patrol it like rangers warding off cougars and bears. One comes up to the group. “Hey Sparks, how come you’re bringing a bunch of schoolkids here?”

Sparks glances across the street toward the Bangor High School campus. “School’s tomorrow, so we’re scoping the invaders.

“They tend to zerg rush,” Shira adds, “’cuz of the Junior Patriots.”

“Well, then,” says the cop. “Keep ’em outta trouble, Sparks.”

“The real trouble starts tomorrow.”

“Okay, okay.” The cop walks away. Sparks looks at Shira. She nods. They move on and walk deeper into the park.

Cory looks around warily. “This place gives me the creeps.”

’Cuz it’s got so many creeps!” snaps Polly. “Duuuuuh!”

“You guys think it’s creepy yet,” Shira says, “look over there. She points toward the center of the park, where the seven buildings of the Dictel Corporation headquarters complex stood before they were destroyed in the 2008 coup attempt she herself helped ruin. In their place, the gangs have built their huge yet crude fortresses like nests of alien invaders. “Behold—the Dictel Towers!

Polly shudders. “Oooooh, now I know why Slashers love this place.”

“Four kids got slashed just last night,” Jennifer informs, “according to the news.”

“Why would they come here?

“To smoke. They found cigarettes on the victims.”

“Prohibition,” Shira snarks. “Gotta love it.”

Gangsters in monster-clown gear come out of hiding, surround them, approach slowly and menacingly. The kids reach for their weapons; Sparks crosses his arms. “Whoa,” says Cory, “send in the Klownz.”

The leader of this Klown gang, a perpetually angry dwarf, stomps over to confront them. “I’m Little Badd,” he arraogantly announces, “and you punks are stompin’ on our turf!”

Shira answers as if to a temper-prone two-year-old, “Sorry if I stepped on your widdwe toes.”

Little Badd stiffens in fury at a mere girl’s deliberate violation of his Sacred Warrior Honor. “Oooooohhh!

A huge Klown, eight feet tall, stomps over to Shira. He looks like the product of too much human growth hormone in addition to excessive steroid use. “You must be that Loca Fantoma bitch! I’m gonna be a big name fuckin’ you up!”

Shira stares up at him with cheerful contempt. “And who might you be?”

“I’m Big Baddd—with three D’s!

Her jaw drops in seemingly shocked amusement. “B-b-b- Bad-d-d-d!

“Fuckin’ bitch!” Big Baddd runs at Shira in irrational rage. She flings her Go-Yo at him. He stops in his tracks. The Go-Yo slowly sails over Shira before returning to her hand. He scurries back to rejoin the Klown formation.

Cops move in to scatter the Klownz. Little Badd flips Shira off as he runs away. She flips him off with a sweet, sweet smile.

on to the next...

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Copyright © 2011, 2012 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
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[Revision 4 Final, 7/27/12: All new material.]

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