Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Spanner 16.2: The Knock on the Door

This section was originally just the scene with Shira, her cat, and the Egregious Doctor, one of the earliest and most inspired scenarios that came to me in the early ’00s. Anyway, I've been indulging in a little game of Fantasy Casting. Which actors would make the best Becket brothers? I’d say Stephen Lang for Colonel Tom and Rutger Hauer for the hypercontrolled yet unstable Doctor Henry. Their scenery-devouring sister Drusilla all but belongs to Cate Blanchett as far as I’m concerned. As for Chairman Dick, who I’m having trouble casting... I might want to hold a contest.

...from previous

Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 16: Don’t Change the Channel
Part 2: The Knock on the Door

6 october 2014.
The Conservative Revolution of 2012 began with the Infowar. Posses of trolls raged over all the social networks with their ban hammers, reporting for spam and/or hate speech anyone and everyone whose opinions differed from their own in order to trigger autobans the networks’ cowed corporate owners made permanent. Faith-maddened vigilantes armed with viruses threatened corporations into joining the revolution against democracy, not knowing or caring that the Corporate caste were financing it out of conviction and class prejudice. The victorious revolutionaries made their war permanent and institutionalized it under the name of Tournament.

But now the mastermind of the revolution is dead. His killer, the mysterious Spanner, left few traces of him and none of himself. As Chairman Emeritus of the Conservative Revolutionary Party, Roger Steele Becket was the only man who could hold the two rival wings of the Party together.

For Conservatism was built on a contradiction: the unquestioned assumption that absolute freedom of the market requires the total extinction of personal freedom. Without King Patriot’s force of personality to bind them together, the cats begin to unherd. Economic anarchists feel free to denounce their religious rivals for stifling market freedom in the name of morality. Moral totalitarians accuse the capitalists of undermining moral purity and claim a free market inevitably leads to moral license in the form of legal drugs, pornography, and rock ’n’ roll.

Salem. In the boardroom of Cascadia Public Management Corporation’s corporate campus outside the former Oregon capital in South Cascadia, two generations of the House of Cromwell Becket meet to discuss their future. Representing the second generation are Richard Becket, Chairman of the United Corporations; Dr Henry Becket, head of the FBI’s Crime Prevention Division; Colonel Tom Becket, Chairman of Dictel Corporation; and Her Patriotic Holiness Drusilla Becket AMERICA!, Supreme Shepherd of the Church of America. Representing the third generation are Cascadia’s ruling Party oligarchs, the notorious Fearsome Foursome: CPMC CEO J. Walter Brinkman (son of Bernice Becket Brinkman); Admiral Alan Fleer, supreme Navy commander for Cascadia (and husband of Eden Becket Fleer, daughter of Henry); Most Reverend Luke Everson, Chief Shepherd of the Church of America in Cascadia (and husband of Eden’s twin sister Ellen); and John Cameron Becket, COPCO Cascadia division president (second son of Henry).

“Our father is dead,” announces the Cartel Chairman. “The rabble don’t know it yet, but word will spread. We must crown a new king before they can rise up and destroy everything we fought the revolution for.”

“Yet the Party is divided without Father to hold it together,” says the Dictel Chairman, “so we must also find a way to reunite it before it falls apart, and the revolution with it.”

“Corporate ownership has given the republics of Standard Oil and ConAgra great stability,” Brinkman comments. “I suggest that we make Dictel the new President of Texas, if only as an emergency measure.”

“This is an emergency, so I second the suggestion,” says the Chairman. He looks at his brother the Colonel, who nods in agreement. “That decided, I still believe the revolution needs a man to lead it, a hero who can win the hearts and minds of our subjects and inspire them to fight for the eternal victory and glory of our Republic and its Empire.”

Drusilla sports a crown of complex blond braids and an exquisite shimmering brocaded gown in patriotic colors. She stands up, glares at her brothers, and thunders, “We can’t do that yet! First, we must destroy their hero.”

“You mean Spanner,” growls the Doctor. “The man who murdered our father.”

“That man has become a hero to the liberal enemies of the revolution! He inspires them to insurrection and treason! We need to find this man and destroy him before he destroys our sacred Nation!”

The others remain silent, answering only with a collective nod of assent. Jack Becket says, “I’ll notify our CEO and request all the resources we need to catch this terrorist and kill him.”

“I don’t trust Sparks,” says the Colonel. “He’s only in it for his own personal glory.”

“Personal glory is the highest of all motives. How better to achieve immortal glory than by slaying a supervillain? Sparks will provide.”

COPCO Bremerton. Sparks shares coffee and a BLT with Shira in the lounge. A few other cops eat at other tables. “What made you say he might not have been alive anyway?” The others assume he’s talking about a murder case and ignore him.

Shira shrugs. “I had a strong hunch I couldn’t ignore.”

“So we were striking at a symbol?”


“If your hunch is right.”

“Actually, it doesn’t matter if he’s alive or dead. He might still be alive, for all we know. The symbol was the target, not him. It’s like an exorcist: he kicks the demon out of the body it’s jacked to save the victim’s mind, at least in theory.”

“So a symbol kills another symbol. This case is starting to get seriously weird.”

They find the other cops staring at them. One, a balding heavyset man with a moustache, says, “You two are working on the Spanner case, right?”

“Yeah.” Shira nods.

Another cop, a woman, asks, “So how’s the chase going?”

Sparks frowns. “Like trying to catch water in a sieve.”

Mudlark House. In her basement workshop, Jennifer, comfortably nude as usual, looks over her new sexbot. She fondles its beautiful body, marvelling at its realistic softness, as its AI uploads into a more powerful new computer brain.

The child Alex rescued from the Underground City last night enters shyly, as naked as Jennifer and her bot. She too is a beauty. Long ringlets the same color as Jennifer’s dark blond hair frame a sweet face. But there are horrors and pain in those beautiful blue eyes. Her innocence was torn away from her long ago.

Jennifer smiles sweetly at her. “Hello.”

Allô..” French. Jennifer recognizes the girl’s accent from the brutal banlieues surrounding Paris. No wonder she ended up here as a slave. The girl wanders in closer and spots the gynoid’s open head. She gasps in horror. “Est-ce qu’elle est mort?” (Is she dead?)

Jennifer laughs. “Mais non!” In French she continues: “She is a ‘sexbot’ — an erotic robot.” The girl takes a deeper breath, puts her hands to her face, and blushes.

“You fuck her?”

Jennifer sighs, takes the girl into her arms, holds her tight. “Yeah.”

“Why is her head open?”

“I’m giving her a better computer brain. She has too much personality for her old one, so I’m upgrading her.”

“Ohhh.” The girl looks up in wonder at Jennifer’s face. “You’re beautiful.”

“So are you.” She kisses the girl on the forehead.

“My name is Lucie.”

“I’m Jennifer. I like you a lot already.”

“I love you.” She holds Lucie tight and sways together side to side with her. The gynoid’s mind patiently uploads into its new host computer.

Shira’s apartment. Shira wears 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 active. Her ID tags still hang from their neck strap. Her non-brand smartphone is firmly clipped to her sash. Her personal area network remains connected. She is alone in the flat except for her red tabby cat Mikan, who lies blissfully in her lap as she gently pets her. 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?”

Get her!

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 the Doctor. “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.”

“Chief!” shrieks the terrified strike leader. “She’s using her RDF!”

“It’s called faith. If your faith is sufficient, any mind hacker and bodyjacker can stare into your eyes and seize control of your mind. It’s how gurus create cults and your father herds cats. It’s also the right way to kill those suiciders the Caliphate keeps gifting us with.”

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, Miss Thomas.” he growls. “My father is dead.”

“My condolences. Anyway, 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 miffed because you can’t get at my mother, so you have to pick on me instead. I don’t get you government types and your Plausible Deniability. 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.

Seattle. Three million Normals chased out of their city by the invading Party elite return once the elite vanish from the city. What they find is destruction and chaos. Whole neighbourhoods have vanished into craters and piles of rubble and ash. People wail and panic when they find their homes, jobs, and entire lives destroyed. Unluckiest are those who discover the Party has seized their homes to build mansions for the rich and connected.

Crowds gather at the Public Safety Building, but COPCO field director Jack Becket insults them and proclaims them unworthy of his help. He cannot arrest them yet; he has lost too many agents to Spanner’s deicidal wrath.

Even after the coup that disenfranchised them, too many liberal middle-class urbanites still allowed themselves to remain complacent as long as they still had steady incomes and kept themselves out of crippling debt. Most of them managed to survive the Federal Reserve policy of deliberate hyperinflation mandated by the banks that own it. Now the realization begins to dawn on them that the Nation has turned against them. In fact, it was always their enemy. They are for the most part temperamental conservatives. Their Corporate overlords, however, are radicals, some so extreme as to strain the limits of the human.

To the true believers of the Conservative Revolution, the essence of virtue is wealth, and to be poor is vice. To medieval Christians, self-mortification was the road to salvation and sainthood; modern Corporatists dedicate their lives to acquiring more wealth and property so they can buy the road to Heaven and pave it in gold and precious stones. What beauty was to the ancient Greeks, wealth is to modern Americans: the escape clause from morality. The purpose of government is to steal from the undeserving poor and give to the deserving rich, and to reward with wealth those who abase themselves in political correctness and in service to the régime.

The city people now find themselves among the losers in a politics based on Tournament and the Law of Social Darwinism, aimed at the supremacy of the fittest, red in tooth and claw. They know the revolution was waged against them, that their destruction is its goal. Quietly, collectively, they start rebuilding the homes the plundering Party has turned into squats. They flaunt the strength of their human bonds, of their society, in defiance of the religiously antisocial lords of the Empire. They secretly rebuild the banned labor unions. They steel themselves for the resistance they now see as inevitable. They plan to seize back politics for themselves.

The local corporations that rule the city earned the Party’s contempt by trying to protect its people in what the Party called the mortal sin of humanism. They could not stop the Party élite from showing their contempt by burning and pillaging their city. Now they must face the distrust of the people they tried to protect and educate. To regain the city’s trust, their top executives call a press conference and declare their intention to rebuild it.

But Sunday’s cataclysm may have already shattered forever the trust Cascadians once placed in corporations. As the host of the Party conference, the state’s ruling Cascadia Public Management Corporation owns all liability. In advance of the property-damage lawsuits and insurance assessments, speculators sell CPMC stock short. The company, once the darling of the private government industry, finds its sky-high stock prices now starting to collapse. A worried Walter Brinkman begins to pick at his beard.

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Copyright © 2011 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
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