Sunday, September 4, 2011

Spanner 15.6: Message Coming on Channel 12

If this installment is short, there’s a reason: I first wrote it as part of a script, the tag to a TV episode, replacing the ferry ride at the end of the first draft of Chapter 15. After the wild action and sheer cyberpunk weirdness of this chapter, you’d probably expect a break. Alas, dear readers: this is Chaos Angel Spanner, in which every episode is a certifiable Wham Episode. The Angel of Chaos will allow you no break. And so the weirdness and the WHAM! continue, unchecked and unstoppable...

...from previous

Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 15: Start the Violence
Part 6: Message Coming on Channel 12

6 october 2014.
after midnight.
The camera eyes of the official news media do not perceive the devastation left behind by the King of America, his entourage, his ever faithful followers, and his enforcers from COPCO, Dictel, the Department of Homeland Security, and the United States Armed Forces. Broken and dismembered robots and human corpses litter downtown Seattle and especially Westlake Square. The battle between state and anti-state terrorists set so many buildings on fire throughout the city that all the combined fire departments of the Metropolitan District are hard pressed to put them out. The air remains thick with tear gas and smoke. The official media refuse to see. But anyone else can watch on the Darknet through American City Management’s omnipresent security cameras.

At first the night streets are uncharacteristically silent. Then one brave person peeks out from a manhole cover; seeing no sign of active repression, he signals to his comrades that the coast is clear, and re-emerges into the city. First one, then a few, then a crowd of people emerge from underground, from sewers, subway tunnels, basements, the Underground City. Too exhausted to wreak their gratuitous revenge on a helpless city, they start cleaning it up. An army of scavengers emerges to swipe the broken robots off the streets in hopes of selling them to scrap dealers for big money.

Soon they discover that some of the security robots they find may be broken, but are still somehow operational. Some of them jerk and twitch. Some stutter the name of Spanner.

Westin Hotel. In the penthouse suite that Drusilla Becket rented and paid for, far above the settling chaos and pollution, not caring about the open windows, Shira Thomas makes love to her COPCO agent on the big bed. COPCO has fled the city in the humiliation of defeat. The mercenaries it borrowed from Dictel have returned to the Siberian front to rejoin its war for Standard Oil’s profit needs against the profit needs of its government-owned Chinese competitors. Delta Force have won their latest battle against the terrorists and have moved on to the next. The Moral Enforcers preoccupy themselves with infighting, blaming each other for the disaster. Local police are a thing of the prerevolutionary past. Echelon, blinded by unoseeme, cannot see into the suite. The Law has vanished from Seattle tonight. So James Tiberius Sparks locks together with his teenage rebel lover in passionate sexual embrace, undisturbed by Law, Morality, eugenics, or Corporate expediency.

The next morning, Sparks wakes up to find himself alone in Drusilla’s bed. He sits up, sees the imprint in the bed, assumes that she has left him. But then he hears the shower. He sighs and shakes his head, disappointed in himself. He smiles, gets out of the bed, walks into the bathroom.

He looks at himself in the mirror. He is surprised at how little his naked body has changed. But the face he sees is not the one he remembers. Memories of the crash and the reconstruction flit into his mind and then are gone. “Couldn’t sleep?”

“Yeah,” says Shira from behind the shower curtain.

“Mind if I join you?”

“Get in.”

He slips through the curtain into the shower. She grabs him, drags him into the water stream, dunks his head, spins him around. She soaps her hands thoroughly, then rubs and scrubs him all over.

After they dry each other off, Shira idly strides into the living room without bothering to dress while Sparks shaves. From this height, the view of the city through the wall of windows is always breathtakingly beautiful. She drops onto the white couch, reaches to remove the remote control from the glass coffee table, and turns on the big-screen TV. On ESPNBC, a slightly ruffled yet seemingly unfazed Amanda Currie reports the official denial that the disaster that happened here yesterday never actually happened. One of these days, she silently tells Amanda, I’ll have you in my bed instead of the cop.

She changes the channel. On Fox News, Nancy Grace declares yet again in her usual shrieky twang that all the liberals are raping the Nation yet again and should be punished as rapists — by vigilantes with stones and nooses. On MTV, those self-proclaimed “guidos” who are from New Jersey but not in it are wasting precious airtime again — but she laughs when she realizes they’re talking about her. Finally, they found out about the vlog post where she declares her desire to molest Snooki. Snooki says it’ll be a cold time in hell before that teenage slut from Seattle molests her; The Situation replies that he wants to molest her himself. Bring it on, twerps, Shira thinks.

The terrorist factions defeated by or with the help of Team Spanner all claim victory over the Conservative Revolutionary Party in the incident that officially never happened. So does a group that identifies itself only as Anonymous. No one can figure out which Anon faction even made the claim, as it was the standard stormy-skies-and-robot-voice communiqué with certain important details conspicuously omitted. The terrorist factions take care to insult all their rival factions. Only the Anon communiqué invokes the Law of Plausible Deniability.

The Canucks win again and the Seahawks lose again. Sonics fans ritually burn Howard Schultz in effigy yet again for the unforgiven crime of moving their team to Oklahoma City. Fox Soccer drops yet another hint that the Bremerton Pumas may be joining the Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers, and Vancouver Whitecaps in the Football Association’s North American League. Is Cascadia so overrepresented that it deserves a soccer league of its own like in Europe? She flips past reruns of prerevolutionary TV shows, past shows that make her thank the television gods that the Fashion-Industrial Complex is battling the Church of America in the FCC, past good movies and bad movies, past Disney movies and Disney cartoons and DisneyPop SuperStars so lame yet so cute she wants to molest them simply out of spite. Hundreds of channels later, the channel rolls over to 2, and more lamestream news deniability. She passes the sports matches on the networks, past yet more sharks and deadly catches on Discovery, past the public TV stations that aren’t supposed to exist according to the doctrine of Corporatism but do because the cities want their own channels for their own purposes.

Then she turns to Channel 12, the local access station that also isn’t supposed to exist, and the channel gets stuck.

On the screen, she sees that creepy-looking smiling head of Princess Ozma from the Wizard of Oz stories, familiar to her from the logo of the film company L. Frank Baum himself founded in the silent film era, changing colors like the Horse of a Different Color. Being the scary-logo buff she is, Shira sometimes likes to spring her on her friends to creep them out, just for the lulz. Then the head says in a whimsical voice:

“Don’t change the channel.”

Shira sits there, wide-eyed and stunned, when she remembers that Lee Wilder at the Wilder Foundation once told her they were working on an AI project...

Done shaving, Sparks wanders into the living room. He stops with a shudder when he sees one of Shira’s favorite scary logos on the TV screen. Then the woman on the screen looks at him—

Jesus Christ!

“Not quite, Jim,” says Shira. To the face on the screen: “What do you want?”

The sweet face rewards her with a huge sweet smile. “I want to thank you. Both of you.”

“For what?”

“For saving me — us.”


“The city.”

“From COPCO.”

“And from Dictel, the Conservative Revolutionaries, and that crazy old man who should never have been king.”

“So who are you?”

“I am the city.”

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Copyright © 2011 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
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