Wednesday, November 30, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011: Panic Time Part 5: The Spectacular Come-From-Behind


After a gruelling four days of writing writing writing, following a day of distraction and block following in turn another day of desperate writing, my shift into Panic Mode finally paid off. I won! I have succeeded in claiming my sixth consecutive NaNoWriMo victory!

I knew what I had to do. To get the 50,000 words I needed to win writing Spanner Book 3, I had to set Book 2 aside. That’s why I delayed the end of Chapter 24 until the end of November. Since my muse can’t multitask, I had to choose one or the other, either victory number 6 or nonparticipation as a “NaNo Rebel”. I chose to win.

Next comes NaNoFiMo. That’s when I’ll start writing and posting Book 2 again. Since Book 2 remains far from finished, I’m turning the serialization of Book 2 that resumes tomorrow into my FiMo project. Once again, I’ll set 50,000 words as my goal. I’m certain my first FiMo victory in four years of taking part won’t need to be so come-from-behind. I won’t need Panic Time.

My final word count for NaNoWriMo 2011: 50,256.

Now all that’s left to do is celebrate. I’m already pouring the bubbly stuff into the glass. Here’s to victory number 6! Then, I’ll take a rest. My first day of FiMo will not be this intense, or this hard on my shoulders and hands…

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011: Panic Time Part 4: Fool! No TV Tropes For You

I managed to write nearly 10,000 words last night in my late-minute Panic Time attempt to win my sixth consecutive NaNoWriMo. Sure enough, I came upon one final obstacle to my mad yet certain to be achieved quest:

TV Tropes.

That’s right. Last night, TV Tropes made an attempt to derail me. It almost succeeded. After all, everybody knows that TV Tropes will ruin your life.

But I’m back, and determined to get those last 14,000 words separating me from NaNo victory in one session. I will not allow TV Tropes to distract me from that goal, useful though it may be. (I can no longer count the tropes I’ve borrowed into Spanner since I discovered the site.) I have no other goal but to get that win. So the only site I have my browser set to right now is

I’m concentrating on pulling off one of the most spectacular come-from-behind victories in my entire WriMo’ing career. Nothing will distract me. Especially not TV Tropes.

Now to claim my victory, and the purple bar beneath my NaNo avatar…

Monday, November 28, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011: Panic Time Part 3: Now It Gets Serious

Some panic I pulled last night. I only wrote about 4,800 words. I need to write over 7.8K words a day for the next three days if I want to get my sixth consecutive NaNoWriMo victory. Today I’m going to down a couple energy drinks and write over 10K.

So what happened? I suspect the dreaded Inner Editor kicked in and kicked the muse out of my brain, even before I reached 5K words. He got me playing PlayStation games again. Time to give him the boot again and cajole the muse back.

I have more than enough distractions in my apartment: books, videogames, videos, music albums, musical instruments. The Internet itself is more than distraction enough. Hell, there’s always something poised to take over my brain and make me think about stuff instead of actually writing. No time left for any of that, though. I have much writing to do.

As for Spanner Book 2, I need to stop thinking about it until December 1. In fact, due to NaNoWriMo-related constraints (namely, writing those last 23,000 words in three days), I’ll have to delay the last installment of Chapter 24 for one more day, till December 1, when everything I write in Chapters 24 through 46 in December counts for NaNoFiMo. And I’ll go back to posting new installments daily, which will motivate me to write at least 100,000 words during FiMo, and then maybe 100,000 more to finish off Book 2 for JanNoWriMo.

But until then, I need to keep my focus on Chapters 47 through 69. Spanner Book 3 needs just 23,000 more words, and then I can lay it aside until JulNoWriMo and AugNoWriMo, when I can go back, finish it, and get it out of the way so I can start on Book 4 (Chapters 70 through 93) next NaNo.

Anyway, back to writing. 10,000 words or more, here I come…

Sunday, November 27, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011: Panic Time Part 2: Don’t Bother Me, I’m Panicking

One thing I just noticed about Panic Time, that final week of NaNoWriMo during which I panic and then write way too much, is that on the second day of my shift into Panic Mode, I tend to stop and get distracted. My muse must be more scared than I am. Yesterday, I got distracted by PlayStation games. I’ve got well over 100 of ‘em, you see.

Naturally, this kind of distraction leads me to panic even more, because I write nothing and thereby fall even further behind.

So, I’m going to complete my shift into Panic Mode by attempting to write 10,000 words tonight. It’ll make my hands ache. It may even make my writing completely incoherent. But if I really do want to win my sixth consecutive NaNoWriMo and get another volume of Spanner closer to completion, I must do it. There’s only a few days left, and the weekend’s almost over.

Here goes…

Friday, November 25, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011: After Writer’s Block, Panic Time!

Those “wrimos” who know me know about Panic Time: right after Thanksgiving, if I’m behind in the word count, I panic — I go into Panic Mode — and write in a frenzy in a desperate attempt to catch up and pull off a come-from-behind victory. This is one of those times.

Lately, I’ve been suffering bouts of writer’s block. Sure, I’ve been able to edit, but writing turned out to be something my muse didn’t really want to do. Besides, she can’t multitask: I was trying to serialize Spanner Book 2 while writing Book 3 for NaNoWriMo. Thus, I fell behind in my NaNo word count. The only way I can pull off my sixth consecutive NaNo victory is to put Book 2 on the back burner till NaNoFiMo in December, and shift into Panic Mode to put my full effort into getting that win.

Thus, I’ll have to delay the end of Chapter 24 till November 30. But since my FiMo project is Book 2, I’ll resume the Spanner serialization on a daily schedule. That’ll be my excuse to win my first FiMo, anyway, and my first JanNoWriMo in three years as well.

Anyway, here goes…

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Spanner Chapter 24: Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud

Book 1/Chapter 23

Chaos Angel Spanner — Book 2: Rage of the Prophets
Chapter 24: Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud

The Fearsome Foursome lick their wounds and replace their dead members. Team Spanner regroup and plan their next set of moves. The Cascadian strikers go back to work, but with a warning. CPMC is forced to hand management of Seattle over to a consortium of local employers while taking over its school system from the bankrupt SPEC. The Becket brothers and COPCO’s Brendan Sparks announce their intention to interfere with everything, while the Beckets’ wayward niece Ariel Shield interferes with them. Oliver Thorwald says goodbye to Leila, even as Liz McPhail barges her way into Shira’s life. Charmian and Debbie plot to take Shira for themselves, against each other, Jennifer, and Leila. And Dr. Henry Becket, the Cold War lion from MKULTRA, begins his rise to supreme power in his attempt to put an end to the future and singlehandedly save the collapsing American Empire...

Meanwhile, the Author departs from his usual daily schedule so he can win his sixth consecutive NaNoWriMo, while drawing upon the fragmentary Book 2 manuscript from NaNo ’10 and various scenarios from 15 years of Project Notebooks. This chapter debuts the Cybernauts and their virtual reality. Soon we will meet the Dream Travellers, the TV Heads, the League of Chaos, and, last but not least, the lords of the Fashion-Industrial Complex — the grotesque Molotov Twins — in their home arcology, Pretty City.

At last, Spanner Book 2 begins!

Table of Contents:
  1. Interlude 12: The Crisis (November 1, 2011)
  2. Taking Profits (November 3, 2011)
  3. The Innocence of Murder (November 8, 2011)
  4. Know Your Enemy (November 10, 2011)
  5. Turn It On Again (November 14, 2011)
  6. The Reality Escapists (November 18, 2011)
  7. No More Miss Nice Guy (December 5, 2011)

Chapter 25

Back to Chaos Angel Spanner table of contents...

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

Friday, November 18, 2011

Spanner 24.5: The Reality Escapists

Okay, I’ve finally succeeded in overcoming a nasty case of mid-NaNoWriMo writer’s block. So, returning to this installment, I had to reach deep within, and managed to retrieve one of my earliest story ideas, the first one I discussed with my friend and fellow anime-club member, cartoonist Tony Angelino, in the local mall’s food court way back in 1992. So now, from deep within my earliest project notebooks, I present the first of the true virtual-reality scenes! After some more political trouble is dealt with first, of course...

...from previous

Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 24: Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud
Part 5: The Reality Escapists

8 november 2014.
The Leaders of the Nation spar in duelling messages over what to do with the people.
Lord Chancellor Richard Becket:
Virtue has never been with the ignorant mass. It belongs only to the deserving. God alone chooses who is deserving and undeserving; he blesses the deserving and punishes the undeserving. He says in His Word that he will give more to those who hath, and take away from those who hath not. To his chosen, he hath given eternal dominion. This is the eternal principle of religion and government.

We have heard suggestions that we reduce the rabble to servitude. If we must, then so be it.

Lt. Cmdr. William Becket:
My uncle says the fundamental principle of government is the “golden rule.” To wit: he who hath the gold, maketh the rules. Which is just another way of defining the Law as his personal whim.

His faction, the Corporates, have no honor. They live by greed and power-lust alone. Honor, they tell us over and over, is for losers, meaning those unblessed with Jesus America’s denominated green-paper blood. Uncle Dick insults all the men of honor who have taken up arms and shed their blood in sacrifice to the Nation. We do not give our lives so that Uncle Dick and his cabal can heartlessly profit off them. We do not shed our blood just so the men of wealth can mix it into their bloody Marys over their deals. It is time the men of honor take dominion away from the truly undeserving, the men of greed who worship corruption, and restore Our Nation to honor.

Those who sacrifice must become those who rule. If this means eternal martial law, then so be it.

COPCO CEO Brendan Sparks:
I’ve been hearing Chairman Becket saying the rich should rule over the poor, and his nephews tell me the soldiers should rule over the civilians. But rich people are in the business of making money, and soldiers are in the business of killing the enemy. We’re the police. Our job is to keep everybody in line. If President Goldman Sachs gets out of control, we’ll arrest it. If the Cartel Chairman himself get out of line, we’ll arrest him, and we’ll take no guff from that power-hungry greedhead.

Face it, nation. President Goldman Sachs blew it. It let King Patriot die, for God’s sake. Out in Cascadia, Wally Brinkman and his government company blew it, too. He let the rabble ruin his dominion. So we’re launching a hostile takeover of Cascadia Public Management effective immediately, and I’m firing Wally and Jack. While they’re running to the City of London to bawl on Uncle Chairman’s lap, I’m replacing them with far more effective directors: Michael Corson in management, J.L. Holmes in enforcement. So there.
Westlake Center. Workers gather this Saturday to underline their demands. Employers try to find common ground with them and explain that they too are at the mercy of capital, especially the small employers who, explain the big consumer-oriented companies, are the foundation of the entire city economy.

Richard Becket is offended. The United Corporations chairman has decided to make a personal appearance so he can smash the rally himself. A large contingent of bodyguards surrounds him as soon as he steps down from his helicopter on the Westlake Center tower’s roof. He yells at his nephew Jack, “Get those fools out of here! They’ll only be getting in my way!”

“Chairman’s orders, Uncle.”

Fuck chairman’s orders! Can’t he get it through his thick skull? I’m a superhero, goddamn it! Get those idiots away from me, or I’ll be sending them back to your chairman in pieces!”

The bodyguards part in a wave advancing toward the Chairman. Ariel Shield parts them like a human Red Sea, comes toward her granduncle, smiling sweetly, followed by her own niece Leila and her girlfriend Shira, until she blocks his way. Chairman Becket flinches. Both he and Ariel know that she can trap him within one of her Repulse fields and use his own Destruct field as a weapon against him. “Hello, Uncle. Going on a super jihad again, aren’t you.”

“Ariel, you’re not supposed to be here. Get back to where you belong.”

“I belong here. I was expecting you, so I decided I’d pay you a visit early.”

The Chairman leans into her face. “You know what this is about?”

Ariel does not flinch and continues to smile ironically. “Quote, ‘We must keep the mooching parasites from sucking the blood of Our Nation dry,’ unquote. Quote, “Money is the blood of Our Nation, which we must defend from the parasitic masses by any means necessary,’ unquote. Yes, I know all too well. And that’s why I’m not letting you have your little jihad.”

“Oh, and those business types here?” adds Shira. “Unlike you finance types and your quote-unquote ‘holy blood,’ we actually make things, and those people in the street work to earn the money to buy them. You’re looking at the Producers, Mr Chairman.”

Chairman Becket pokes Shira’s chest. “If you’re such an economic wizard yourself, little girl, you know full well that production has nothing to do with profit, not in a genuinely free market.”
Corporatist definition of “free trade”: freedom to commit fraud without getting arrested.
Leila says, “If I remember my aristocratic education correctly, ‘reality’ means ‘doing deals with eldritch abominations to receive maximum power and profit without consequences.’ But have you sussed out yet that the price is your soul?”

“Why don’t you go read your Ayn Rand. Did you know you’re in Atlas Shrugged, Dick? No, not who you think. You’re no Midas Mulligan, Mr Chairman. You’re Orren Boyle.”

The Chairman laughs contemptuously. “You fool! Ayn Rand knew nothing about anything!”

“So then, where’s the growth?”
Corporatist definition of “growth”: constantly rising profits for bankers. For workers? Even for employers? Sorry, producers. It’s a zero-sum game. The Nation has only so much blood to go around.
“Voodoo, Mr Chairman. Pure voodoo. As Cartel chairman, you’re the cult's high priest. As dictator of the Bank of England, you just happen to be Lyndon LaRouche’s recruiters’ wet dream. Economic reality? Gods forbid, facts? Blank-out! Oh, and I speak as one of those consumer-oriented business-owner fools upon whom you look down and like to spit.”

Chairman Becket glares down at Shira incredulously. “You think you’re one to laugh at me?

“Every Econ 101 student with any grade higher than F already is. They can see that the emperor, as the saying goes, has no clothes. I should know. I took it last year.”

Jennifer pushes her way through the crowd of MIBs to pull Shira away. “Come on, dear cousin, don’t talk to that clueless old witch doctor. He’s incapable of speaking anything but voodoo.”

Shira tells the Chairman, “I’m sorry to have to give you the bad news, Chairman, but one of these days reality’s gonna have its revenge.” Jennifer takes Shira by the hand, Shira takes Leila by her hand, and the three walk single-file, hand in hand, toward the elevator.

Ariel, still smiling, gets back in the Chairman’s way and refuses to let him pass. “Sorry, Uncle, but I’m not leaving until you do.”

In a huff, Richard Becket gets back on his helicopter and orders the pilot to take off. The dumbfounded bodyguards look at each other. Jack Becket crosses his arms and storms over to Ariel to attempt to intimidate her. She smiles, snaps his eyepatch, and says, “

Down below, the worker rally continues as planned and goes off without a hitch. No one below the roof knows that the Cartel chairman came and went.

Game Wars. Back in Bremerton, Shira, Leila, and Jennifer check out the game center’s huge new virtual reality annex. Connor, Rob, Cory, and Polly wait for them at the double table next to the Tully’s outlet, ready to get them coffee and whatever they want to eat with it.

Polly looks at the crowded VR pods. “Just look at ’em. These reality evaders make me sick.”

Jennifer winks. “Some people just aren’t tough enough to handle reality. That requires politics.”

“How do they know the tyrants of our world won’t just try to take over theirs?” asks Leila.

“They don’t. But it could be worse. Grandma Nelly introduced me and Connor to some people called ‘soul travellers’ who try to spend all their time in dreamspace and suffer from virtual-world sickness as a result. That’s what these people will end up with if they spend too much time away from reality. Virtual-world sickness. You feel your soul fading away into nothing.” Connor rolls his eyes and sighs sadly.

“You know somebody like that?”

“Mother of an ex-girlfriend,” says Connor. “She was heavy into this New Age spiritual stuff. Then she decided to go off into the deepest reaches of dream reality, so now here in hard reality she’s catatonic. That cured me of the ‘cosmic foo-foo’ thing.”

Shira stands up. “I’m gonna have me a look-see. Put on your AR goggles and link me if you wanna come along.” Before the others can protest, she runs off to take an empty pod. They sigh and put on what look like ordinary eyeglasses or sunglasses but are really computer monitor goggles for use with augmented-reality software in their personal area networks. Jennifer plugs two pairs of AR goggles into her bra, a wearable computer, and puts one pair on Leila, then rubs her shoes back and forth on the floor to generate extra power from their friction. Once Shira is locked up in her pod, they all find themselves in her room.

Dr Hiram Whistler and his assistant, the engineer Isaac Finney, installed a hyperadvanced computer into Shira’s skull at the same time Jennifer was battling serial killers to the death on Blake Island. Her personal virtual reality system has a home base in the form of a cluttered expandable room. They see from her perspective. Right now she looks at the mechanical-owl avatar of her analytical, AEGIS. In a squeaky voice that needs oiled, it says, “I hope you’re not getting your friends stuck in a trap, Shira.”

“Don’t worry about that. They’re not really with me, they’re just seeing what I see. I get in trouble, they’ll autojack out.”

A dot of light resembling a virtual version of the stage Tinkerbell flits about the room. To Shira’s “tourists,” AEGIS explains, “This is Option. Shira can use it to absorb, generate, and evolve powers she can use here in virtual reality but which will be of no use in your reality. There is also a subspace link she can use to contact me in the event she finds trouble.”

Shira says, “Don’t know about you guys, but I’m ready. Let’s see just how these people are fleeing reality. I suspect games.”

Shira becomes visible to her friends. In a burst of light, she morphs into her virtual alter ego, Aya Shibata, the sexy cyborg dark elf with flaming red hair. (Polly [catching her breath]: “I can see why that otaku boy married her avatar.”) Shira’s viewpoint resumes, the room’s door to the outside world dilates, and she flies through it as Option orbits her like an electron.

This virtual reality is organized like a huge city on the inside of a space colony. This being Game Wars, Shira notices that the buildings are actually arenas, each one containing a game. She flits toward the fighting games. One simulates the prison-gladiator show Pit of Death: the players can be condemned criminals fighting to the death without actually dying. $1 a minute. She spies Game Wars itself (mid-air fighting without the danger or the glitches), plus VR versions of such classic fighters from late-twentieth-century video arcades: Mortal Kombat (specifically, MK Ultra), Street Fighter, World Heroes, Samurai Shodown... The surviving arcade game companies are determined to make their mark on the new virtual world.

Next stop, the wargames. Most of these arenas contain complete virtual worlds for the still-faddish military first-person shooters from such cash-cow franchises as Call of Duty, Battlefield, Medal of Honor, and SOCOM, every single one of them fully funded by, and showering with profits, the Pentagon, which hopes to recruit from the field of players.

She looks around: the platform worlds, the MMOs, the strategy wargames, the society simulators, the virtual nightclubs made famous in cyberpunk novels. But no matter how much she looks around, there’s something specific she does not find, and probably cannot find at a place like Game Wars. “Nope! No political sims! Maybe I should claim it as my niche? I could make a fortune.”

She rises from her pod and leaves it for the next customer. Her friends take off their AR goggles. “Games,” says Leila. “Figures.”

“Well, if you can’t do arcade gaming the old-fashioned way anymore, why not take it virtual.”

Jennifer says, “They can do bigger games that way, bigger ones than even the consoles can hold even on multiple BluRays.”

“Why don’t we get a tour of that dreamspace those ‘soul travellers’ are so keen on playing around in,“ says Cory conspiratorially.

Shira brushes him off. “Nah. Too long to get in. Gotta meditate, shift perspectives, count sheep, and all that. Too much fuss and bother for a quickie tour.”

Rob says, “You say they’re running away from politics, aren’t they, Shira.”

“Like I said, some people just aren’t tough enough for it. Problem is, sooner or later, politics is gonna invade their dreamspace, and they won’t be able to evade that. Maybe us hardcore hackers can handle it, but I don’t know if these people can.”

“We’ll find out eventually,” Jennifer warns.

on to the next...

Back to Chapter 24 index...
Back to Chaos Angel Spanner table of contents...

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

[Revision 1, 11/18/11. The virtual reality scenes and the characters AEGIS and Option come from the earliest Project Notebooks and the original Cybernauts concept from the early-to-mid 1990s.]

Monday, November 14, 2011

Spanner 24.4: Turn It On Again

Sorry if today’s installment is somewhat late. I had to take extra time to finish it, then encountered technical difficulties (i.e. a brand new bug in Blogger). But here it is at last. Enjoy.

...from previous

Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 24: Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud
Part 4: Turn It On Again

7 november 2014.
Thorwald property.
Oliver Thorwald sits alone in his warehouse and stares through the open truck doors and mopes. It may be dark inside, but the lights outside are on so he can see the burned-out ruins of his dogfighting arena. The billions of dollars he was supposed to inherit from his father are now tied up in legal fees, so that one born at the top of the world must start all over at the bottom, as a junior executive. He dreads the prospect of having to do actual managing work; after all, junior executives are notorious for working themselves to death. Because Leila killed all his mature clones in front of his eyes, and the remaining three stashed elsewhere will take eight more months to a year to mature, he must now consider himself temporarily mortal. Before her mother killed his father, she made sure to poison all his clones; Dr Lars Thorwald of Biotron, Incorporated, is now dead. All the Thorwald family’s stake in Biotron was stripped from them by the bankruptcy court and sold off to financial speculators who will surely ruin his father’s work. Even the sovereign immunity he retains by virtue of being Corporate, which allowed him and his point man to kill any number of mundanes without possibility of penalty, can bring no more pleasure. Besides, his point man is dead. He himself killed Johnny-Johnny Johnson. He was foolish enough to try to kill Shira Thomas while her beautiful bare arse was locked onto Johnny-Johnny’s face. He smothered to death, and he knows it’s all his fault. He is too depressed to cry like a girl.

He can see Leila’s silhouette in the doorway. It comes closer to him. He does not move; he sits in his chair and accepts his fate. When she reaches him, breathtakingly beautiful in her yellow sailor-suit school uniform, she pulls something out: not a sword, not a gun, but a pack of unfiltered cigarettes. Turkish. She flicks it so three cigarettes stick out. He stares at her uncomprehendingly. “Take a fag,” she says. “I’ve got a light.” He takes one and puts it in his mouth; she takes one for herself, takes out Thorwald’s Army Zippo lighter, and lights it. She leans down to him and lights his cigarette with hers, then puts the lighter in his hand. They take a deep drag that makes them cough hard. Their bodies are not used to the smoke: she quit long ago; his new body has no tolerance. When Leila recovers her breath, she says, “You know, Oliver, tobacco is the perfect gateway drug. Once we build tolerance so the buzz no longer comes, we find ourselves seeking it from other drugs: cocaine, amphetamine, PCP, super steroids. Right before it kills us, we find out our quest for the perfect buzz has lost us our humanity. Not that I wanna ban it or anything, mind you.”

“I getcha there. But I think alcohol’s better. Start with beer, go on to liquor, then barbiturates and heroin and even stronger shit, till you’re so clinical even meth can’t work, so you deliberately OD. You were well on your way to throwing yourself off that bridge when that hot girlfriend of yours put you right back on the wagon.”

“Sorry if I drove you mental, Ollie. I was pretty mental myself.” They laugh together, then take another long drag on their cigarettes. This time their lungs don’t react against it as violently.

“I hope you’re not here to end me, Leila.”

“End you? Why should I? I’ve won, we’re free of each other, and that’s enough for me.”

“I sold the place.”


“Yeah. Say, let’s you and me give those fuckers a housewarming present they’ll never forget.” He raises his lighter. “I got the fire.”

Leila raises the blouse of her uniform. “How about we warm it with a little body heat first?”

“As in, friendly goodbye fuck?”

“Yeah. Our patriarchs never got to marry us. Yours is dead, and mine wants me dead. We never fucked hello, so why the fuck not.” They laugh. They strip off their clothes, giggle like naughty children, throw themselves on his tattered old bed — except Leila stops short. She stops right in front of the bed, standing so he can watch. She grins wickedly. “Before you fuck me, you gotta suck me. You know how to do that?”

He grins back. “If I don’t, you can always coach me.”

She opens his mouth wide, then sticks her left breast into it. “Let’s begin your first lesson.”

Shira’s apartment. A persistent knock on the door wakes Shira up. Groggy, she forces herself up from the recliner and shambles to the door, not bothering to put a robe over her naked body. She peers through the peephole and sees a pretty young woman who looks about Shira’s own age, smiling sweetly, whom she recognizes as Liz McPhail. What’s she doing here? She opens the door.

Liz is pointing a gun at her. She is completely naked.

Shira shifts her weight seductively onto her right leg, fondles Liz’s gun hand, and flashes her a cockeyed smile. “Well, good evening to you, too, neighbour.”

“Y’know, I’d kill for a smoke.”

“Put that gun down and I’ll give you a drink too.”

“By the way, I only bat right.”

“Lucky you. Pierre’s the tool you need.”

Liz lowers the gun. Shira lets her in. “Hella nice place you got here.”

“Not just mine. Filtered or unfiltered, take your pick. How do you like your poison, Scotch or Irish?”

“Scotch? You got the real shit?”

“Straight outta Scotland. Straight or on the rocks?”

“Straight.” Liz takes an unfiltered cigarette out of the pack Leila left on the endtable near the door and lights it. Shira pours her a shot of scotch, then walks over to hand it to her. Liz downs it in one quick gulp. “That’s more like it.” She takes one long drag off the cigarette.

Shira takes her hand. “C’mon. Let’s go meet Pierre.” Liz grins and follows her to the bedroom.

Thorwald property. As soon as they put their clothes back on, Leila and Thorwald sit together and share one of her unfiltered cigarettes. “Since this is your last night here,” says Leila, “why don’t we give the new owners a little housewarming gift.”

“So what kind of present you got in mind?”

“I was thinking of something, say, too hot to handle.” She gives him a wicked smirk.

He slaps his forehead. “Now why didn’t I think of that in the first place.”

“You were too busy moping. You tend to do that.”

“Oh yeah.”

He leads her to his fuel stash. They spread gasoline and kerosene throughout the warehouse. They take his remaining fireworks and place them in strategically located places, especially in the fuel storage room, where they can do the most damage. Then they pour a line of gasoline out of the warehouse, down the cracked old blacktop, to the old van where Johnny-Johnny committed several of his murders. Shrunken heads of Thorwald and Bunny Strakeljahn that Leila lopped off their previous bodies decorate the rear-view mirror. She gets into the passenger seat.

Thorwald grins. “They’re gonna find themselves a nice hot surprise tonight.”

“Come on, hurry up before they get here.”

“Yessir.” He drops his cigarette onto the gasoline fuse.

When the Skeever brothers arrive, they find Thorwald’s van gone and the warehouse in flames. “Aw, fuckin’, shit,” says Johnny.

Jordie pats his shoulder. “Hey, Johnny, think of it this way. We can do to this place whatever the fuck we want.”

“Forget Ollie,” says Tony, “he’s over.”

Johnny chuckles. “I guess you guys are right. But first thing we gots to do, we gotta build ourselves a new stadium.”

Shira’s apartment. Leila unlocks the door with Shira’s key and enters only to hear the unmistakable sounds of Shira making love to another woman with her strap-on. She slams the door, sighs in frustration, and storms into Shira’s bedroom, where she sees her fuck Liz McPhail like a man. She laughs.

Shira turns to her and winks, then returns to working on her helplessly moaning, writhing guest. Leila understands the implication and winks back. She takes off all her clothes, watches the spectacle before her, and pleasures herself.

8 november 2014.
The fat man sits silently, sleeplessly, motionlessly on his couch and stares in worship of his giant-screen liquid-crystal god. All night the deity has fed its worshipper his nightly dose of news, information, and entertainment. As soon as the light outside begins to sully the purity of the light emanating from the screen, the entertainment ceases and the news and information begin flowing in. This is when he starts his morning ritual of restless news surfing.
Local News:
The Cascadia Public Management Corporation has agreed to sell its Seattle division at a loss to a consortium consisting of the city’s leading businesses and charitable foundations. Seattle Public Management’s interim CEO, Thurston Wilder, announced in a press conference—
Thurston Wilder:
There are three priorities we must take care of if we want to be able to fully recover from the recent disasters. First, we must repair the damage to our city and its buildings. Second, we must find a way to fight crime in this city without having to rely on such unreliable outside contractors as COPCO. Last but not least, we must do everything in our power to regain the trust in the city’s people.
Henry Becket:
It is a fundamental truth that when authorities lose control, crime always takes advantage. The evil nature of man will always out. This is especially true when the authorities lose control over themselves, and allow themselves to give in to the temptations of greed and corruption.

I have put CPMC under ultimatum. If its management cannot regain control over themselves, the company cannot purge the corruption from society, and the Party will find itself forced to assume direct control, by force if necessary.
Byron Scofield:
In the name of Jesus America, I hereby take dominion over the City of Seattle and the State of Cascadia! In the name of Jesus America, I banish the demons of lust, corruption, liberalism, and Islamofascism! In the name of Jesus America, I shall purge this land of the forces of evil and make it a holy land—
Hope Reston:
Any authority unaccountable to the people is necessarily unaccountable to reality. Brinkman, Ross, and especially Scofield are living in the clouds. And you wonder why America has gone to the dogs. Reality will have its revenge.
Rebel Styles:
Hello, lover.
He tries and tries to change the channel, but he cannot. The virus has infected his television set. His god has itself been possessed by a demon, in the form of a charming child seductress. But it is not in despair that he throws away his remote, but out of lust. He has no morality.
I know what you want. You wanna see more. You wanna climb into your TV set and rape me. I know you want to. I’m such a tease. Be careful what you ask for, boy. You just might get it. [giggles]
She controls the camera. She works it like a master. She zooms in on her hairless cunt. Her nether lips speak.
Don’t even think of changing the channel. I control the vertical and the horizontal. I control brightness, saturation, and chroma. And now I control you. Please tell me you’re mine. Tell me.
She owns him body and soul now. “I’m yours, Rebel Rebel.”
You are my slave.
“I am your slave.” He stares, paralyzed and helpless and consumed by desire for her, as the camera pans upward, caressing her body with its TV eye. She sensuously writhes her sleek slim body. He drools.

When the camera image reaches her face, it zooms in on a closeup of her beautiful painted lips. She commands:
Come to me, lover. Come to Rebel.
He lets his desire for her possess him. He moves closer to her lips. He holds out his arms to embrace her. He places a sloppy drunken kiss on her lips. They part seductively—

—and suck him into the television screen. He lets the giant lips suck his fat body into her mouth’s womblike caress. Gradually he disappears into the screen, until there is nothing left. His dog barks nervously.

Rebel takes her time to chew up her crunchy victim. She swallows him with a loud gulp, licks her lips, lets out a satisfied sigh, and smiles beautifully. In its panic, the dog knocks over the television, it falls to the ground, its screen shatters, waking up the fat man’s wife.

Groggy, she stumbles into the living room, bothered by the terrified dog, carrying her coffee. “Melvin?” She sees no sign of her husband. “Melvin?”
This just in. Local authorities in the Seattle area have received a panicked call from a housewife who claims her husband was eaten by a television set...
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Copyright © 2011 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
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[Revision 1, 11/14/11: The “fat man” scene originated in the mid-’90s Project Notebooks.]

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Spanner 24.3: Know Your Enemy

As I catch back up to my normal NaNoWriMo pace, next week I’ll begin the Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule that I’ll be sustaining through March (and NaNoEdMo). Conveniently, the plot shifts back into high gear next installment. Not that there’s no fun or bizarre stuff this installment...

...from previous

Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 24: Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud
Part 3: Know Your Enemy

6 november 2014.
Evergreen Park.
The overhead lights lead the way as the Shelley twins stroll the park’s paths late during the night and talk about being sixteen. “I don’t feel any older,” says Rob.

“Lucky you,” his sister replies. “At least you were blessed with not having to deal with being born female. The law says I’m an ‘old maid’ already. Now that that psycho Grandfather forced on me is oout of my hair, he’s bound by Law and sacred honor to get me into the kitchen of some rich lord and master as fast as possible.”

“Doesn’t your love for Shira disqualify you?”

“Not in Grandfather’s eyes. He refuses to let me be, for the sacred honor of the House of Brinkman, he says. All that’s missing, it seems, is the plantation with the docile black slaves secretly plotting to strangle Massa when he ain’t looking. I may have to kill him myself.”

Suddenly Frank Becket, pretty, blond, and evil, blocks their way, smiling at Leila with wicked intent. “Leila Shelley,”

“As if the devil we were speaking of weren’t bad enough.”

Frank approaches her and tries to stroke her cheek. She flinches in revulsion. “A spirited filly, I am told. Now that that loser Thorwald is crying over his clone tanks, I believe I can cure you of your sick little perversion and claim your honor for myself.”

“What perversion? My attraction to a woman, or to her dark skin? But I know, it is my desire for freedom from lords and masters such as yourself that you consider perverted. I’m afraid my values are completely alien to yours, and those of your precious Empire.”

Frank makes like he’s about to force himself on Leila, but then he looks at Rob, backs off, and laughs. “I ahall have you, Leila.”

Leila smiles ironically. “But not for long, Franklin. You see, I’m a succubus. I’ll suck you dry.”

Bangor. The squats are remarkably free of violent crime, mainly because the Populists there will not tolerate it in their peaceful neighbourhoods and have set up a crime watch. The subdivisions have no such protections once the income level sinks beneath middle class. The suburbs of the twentieth century were designed so that upper-middle-class people could share their lives together, out of the nostalgia rich people have for the stifling conformism of small towns. Upon this social foundation, the entire worldview of Conservative Revolutionism was built. But when the rich return to their beloved small towns and leave the big-city suburbs behind, poorer people with fewer opportunities take their place. The rich have much in common, and they are very smug about it. Poor people tend to have little in common. Where there is no public sphere, in the now dead projects or the now abandoned suburbs, the requirement that much be shared leads the poor to share nothing. Inevitably, the poor residents divide into factions, form gangs, and go to war.

Within the subdivisions of Bangor, there are five large parks: Jackson Park (not to be confused with the Navy family barracks in Bremerton) and Magnuson Park after the mid-twentieth-century senators who got the federal pork-barrel money to build them; Freedom Park and Liberty Park after the Party’s alleged ideals; and, in the centerless center of the city, Dictel Park, after the company that employed most of Bangor throughout the nostalgically remembered Cold War. In Dictel Park, two all-white “street” gangs battle for control of the city: the Freedom Bay Americans and the Libertywood Freedom Fighters. They scream as they brawl. Reno Corson, war chief of the Freedom Fighters, gave the order to attack when Americans chief Frank Becket left to pursue Leila Shelley. The scene is like an ancient-war movie, with fists and found weapons replacing the swords and arrows.

“Give the fuckers no quarter!” exults Reno. “Go get yourself fucked, Frankie boy! When you get back, I’ll own the city and you’ll eat my shit!”

“Hmph!” replies his once-killed, twice-disgraced moll, German idol singer Bunny Strakeljahn. “And then he’ll do the same to you while we are in bed.”

“You shut up! I’m a real man, not like pretty boy! I gotta show him who’s the man and who’s the girl-faced faggot!”

Bunny sighs. Around them, crew-cut steroid-bodied white gangsters beat each other to a pulp.

7 november 2014.
Their work done for now, the workers of greater Seattle end their general strike and go back to their jobs. To keep the corporations in line, they make sure to threaten their management with another strike if they get out of line. Management are not in a position to do anything about it at this time. CPMC stock is falling to penny-stock levels, the survivors of the Fearsome Foursome are licking their wounds, COPCO is trying to recover from its humiliation, and the corporations must now deal with the threat that Byron Scofield and his militant Party fraction will seize the city government and plunge the city into full-blown war.

Dr Henry Becket meets with Scofield. The Shepherd bows before him in obeisance. “My lord! Tell me what to do!”

“You shall put the fear of God back into the black hearts of the sinful rabble. We are his Chosen. We must make them know that God has made us the head, and they are but the tail. The head of the Nation is to rule the nation, and the tail is but to follow. This is the order of Heaven. Do you understand, Mr Scofield?”

“Yes, my lord!”

“You must re-establish our dominion by any means necessary. If that means unleashing terror, then so be it.”

clone bank. Vince Corson puts the pistol in his mouth, pulls the trigger, and immediately wakes up in a clone tank. The first thing he does is pick up the gun from his bloody corpse and shoot Oliver Thorwald. When Thorwald emerges from his tank wet and naked, he roars in frustration and vows revenge. Johnny Skeever says, “Yeah, like a pathetic shit like you would give a fuck.” Thorwald shoots him. Skeever emerges from his tank still swearing.

Leila strides casually in, still wearing her temporary black-and-silver Bangor High sailor-suit school uniform that matches her hair, armed with an automatic rifle. Thorwald shrieks in panic when he sees her. She grins evilly. “Hello, Ollie. Miss me?”

“No no no, don’t you dare touch my clones.”

While Thorwald watches on, Leila empties a full extended clip into his clone tanks. He screams in horror as the glass shatters and bullets perforate his carefully grown backup bodies.

Johnny Skeever, still naked and carrying his pistol, laughs at him. Leila exchanges the empty clip for a full one and shoots him.

Mudlark House. They are the kind of professionals who would not be out of place in a typical thriller: Amanda Currie, investigative reporter; James T. Sparks, police detective; Angela Coyne, defense lawyer; Willa Richter-Thomas, psychologist.

So far, so according to the Standard Thriller Template.

But they are not what they seem on the surface, or in the guild membership lists: Amanda Currie, nude art model; James T. Sparks, guerrilla hacker; Angela Coyne, (name this); Willa Richter-Thomas, postpunk rocker and author of thrillers. The template has strict limits. They disregard them. The problem with thrillers, and especially the standard political thriller, is that they pit one person or a small ragtag crew against a seemingly all-powerful conspiracy. They leave out the masses. They leave out the sanction of the victim. Above all, they leave out the significant fact that when the masses renounce the sanction of the victim, the conspiracy proves not so powerful at all. Willa has complained about this throughout her entire writing career, stretching back to the 1980s. As she likes to say, if you write, say, left-wing political thrillers, whenever you leave out the masses what you get is The Parallax View, in which the conspiracy wins.

Willa breaks the silence. “My evil ex is about to make his move. Shira already told me her strategy: meet terror with chaos.”

“It’s worked so far,” says Angela.

“But Harry Becket’s different from most Corpo patriarchs. He’s an experienced terrorist. Fidel Castro respects him and Kim Jong Il fears him. He has no sense of compassion whatsoever. He would be like the serial killers Shira and her bounty hunter friends are cashing in, but unlike them he always sacrifices his victims to the big picture.”

“Hell hath no fury like a technocrat who finds religion.”

Sparks says, “So the standard antiterrorist tactics won’t work, I take it.”

“He invented the, Jim,” Willa replies.

“So how do we expose him?” asks Amanda.

“We tell the world what I found out the hard way back in ’92. They need to know that his ideals are not so ideal after all.”

Thorwald property. Outside the warehouse, next to the burned-out dogfighting arena, the members of Team Bremelo and the Slasher Hunters sit in the grass and discuss round two. Ric Thomas tells them, “As you know, I used to be married to a Becket, and my sister Willa was married to none other than Henry Becket himself. Now you gotta know your enemy if you wanna beat him. To understand what we’re up against, you have to understand the Beckets. To understand the Beckets, you gotta know Dictel, and the key to Dictel is what happened to the company in 1948. That event ultimately led to the Conservative Revolution, the Church of America, and the dictatorship.”

Seika asks, “So what happened in 1948?”

“Israel gained independence from Britain and won the First Arab-Israeli War. Roger Becket of Dictel turned against his former Nazi allies, fired all the Nazis he’d been shielding from justice up to that time as part of the infamous Ratline, declared the Israeli victory a sign from God, and became an acolyte of one Herbert W. Armstrong. He was a schismatic Seventh-Day Adventist preacher who founded his new church, the Worldwide Church of God, on a combination of two Evangelical Christian heresies, the Dispensationalism of John Nelson Darby and a nationalist cult known as British Israelism that was once the official ideology of the British Empire. The future King Patriot believed Armstrong when he said that British Israelism was the key to the Bible and therefore the world-historical destiny of America, ‘therefore’ being the key word here.”

The Tachibanas look at Ric in shocked disbelief. “Wow,” says Harumi.

“You really shouldn’t be surprised at all. Armstrongism is America’s own State Shinto, and it’s right there in the Book of America, which is really Armstrong’s central work, The United States and Britain in Prophecy, rewritten and expanded to include American and Israeli nationalism and UFO cultism. If you wanna know why the Corpos insist on stoning all Nazis to death, it’s right there in the Book of America, which says the Nazis, including the Christian Identity ‘apostates,’ are descended from the Assyrians, which the doctrine claims are the race descended from Satan, and the purpose of World War II was to purge their blood from Europe before they could destroy all the Jews, prevent their return to Israel, and thus overthrow God.”

Ariel adds, “Did you know the Jews have their counterpart? It’s called ‘two-house theology,’ one of the pillars of British Israelism. After the Messianists established the theocracy in Israel, they made it, and therefore British Israelism, an official state ideology. Which means, of course, that since the purge of non-Orthodox Jews, if the Israelists believe it, the Jews do not. But this is what unites the Kingdoms of Israel and America, and it’s why those British Israelists who are not Christian Zionists are considered traitors by the Party.”

Ric continues, “Israel was built by Holocaust survivors newly fired by Zionist ideals. Then the ideal soured. Only the Messianists believe in it anymore. Them and their ultra-rich sugar daddies who run the American Empire through their Conservative Revolutionary Party. But believe me, idealism to them is little more than a license to kill. Don’t think the Corpos are like the LibDems back in Japan, or even the nationalists. Knowing Harry Becket and his sister Drusilla the way I do, I can honestly tell you, they’re more like Aum Supreme Truth.”

The Tachibana sisters gasp. “Is that really true?” asks Natsumi.

John Peck replies grimly, “I’m afraid it is so. Aum Shinrikyou was an armageddonist cult. So is Americanism. And Henry Becket fully intends to be its Asahara Shoko.”

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[Revision 1, 11/10/11.]

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Spanner 24.2: The Innocence of Murder

Two days after the climax of Book 1, and the girls of Team Spanner argue over fiction. But even though it’s barely a week into NaNoWriMo 2014, the talk’s not all about Mr. Ian Woon and the Travelling Shovel of Death. As Lawrence Block and I paraphrase Picasso, fiction is the lie that tells the truth. But what if the fiction itself tells a lie? Here’s a lie: Jacques-Louis David’s The Death of Marat. That painting was meant to justify the Reign of Terror.

Note: I finished this a little late because of my traditional first-week NaNoWriMo writer’s block. However, I got some new ideas for this section in the meantime, giving it a new opening scene. Interesting that, in a NaNo novel I started writing exactly a year ago, I’m still writing on the fly. However, it’s NaNo in-story too. Go figure...

...from previous

Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 24: Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud
Part 2: The Innocence of Murder

6 november 2014.
Bangor High School.
For all its problems, at least Bremerton is trying to be a city, if a small one. Bangor, the military-industrial suburb to the west, was designed to avoid anything resembling city. Near its shared boundary with Bremerton, the squats sit in an abandoned warehouse district along the long #11 bus line connecting the Bremerton and Seabeck ferries. A thriving community has grown up there, even if it is of questionable legality. But the #11 goes only through the heart of Bangor, on the Seabeck Highway and Northwest 80th Street. Away from the bus lines, past the military-industrial warehouses and factories whose tenants have abandoned the civilian world altogether, are the subdivisions where no public transit has ever been allowed. Before the Crash of 2008, Bangorites were proud of their isolation from Bremerton’s persistent urban problems. After the crash, though, the problems left Bremerton and settled in Bangor. In the subdivisions, there is no escape.

In the middle of the military-industrial district’s abandonment and the subdivisions’ chaos sits Bangor High. At least for today, Shira, Jennifer, and the Shelley twins are being assigned here. First they must run the gauntlet of armoured guards, identification stations, and metal detectors. Beyond this point, they enter hell. Bangor High turns out to be a school dedicated entirely to Tournament.

They are immediately surrounded by Bangor’s counterpart to Bremerton’s now defunct Valiant Team. “You don’t belong here,” says the school’s Head Boy. His name is John Paul Rossiter.

“Who says?” asks Shira defiantly.

I says.”

“Is this a Challenge I’m hearing? Team Bremelo have to fight Team Nucular just for the right to enter your school? You’re so desperate to prove yourself against us, and you’re not undefeated? Let us pass, or lose.”

Jennifer looks around. She notices the hostile racial cliques. “You know, this looks just like the ghetto schools I’ve been hearing about on the news.”

“As Team Bremelo’s leader,” Shira continues, “I can confidently say that you and your army don’t stand a ghost of a chance against me. Let us through, or lose now.”

Team Nucular back off. “Hey!” demands Rossiter. “Get back here, you chickenshits!”

Shira passes by him, followed by Jennifer, Leila, and Rob. “Thank you.”

Before class, they find Marina Reyes, Irina Lanskaya, Elizabeth McPhail, and their friend Daisy Kwon. “We wanna join your team,” says Liz.

“You’ll have to fight,” says Jennifer.

“We do anyway.”

First period: the four audit (read: scout) various classes. Afterwards, they meet and pool their findings: all the teachers are Party hacks, the classes are all Party indoctrination sessions, the nonwhite non-“Americans” violently resent being constantly insulted by the teachers and the politically correct students, and everybody belongs to an ethnic gang, counting the Junior Patriots. “This is much worse than Bremerton,” says Rob.

Shira pats the twins on the back. “Remember, we’re not in the city anymore. We’re out in the sticks.”

“At least in Bremerton the gangs merely barge in to ruin our day,” Jennifer adds. “Here the gangs rule the school.”

Second period, same as the first. Instead of joining Shira and Jennifer in battle during third period, Leila goes to the library. Since reading is politically incorrect at a school like Bangor High, dominated by Junior Patriots and riven by gangs, there are only two uses for a school library: hiding from the gangs and committing suicide in the study rooms. Leila finds Daisy staring out the window, seriously contemplating suicide. She puts an affectionate hand on her shoulder. Daisy turns around and gasps. Leila looks empathetically into her eyes: she knows her despair. Daisy throws herself into Leila’s arms and sobs. Leila holds her tight and kisses her on the cheek.

The group don’t stick around for lunch. Marina drives Oliver Thorwald’s abandoned serial-killer van and abandons it at the main downtown bus stop, where they catch a #11 back to Bremerton.

calculus class. Shira, Jennifer, and the Shelley twins sigh with relief upon setting foot on the college campus. Olympic College did not suffer quite the devastation that Bremerton High did, despite its close proximity. Most of the college survived relative intact despite the ferocity of the Minuteman attacks. Most strangely of all, the math and science buildings were almost untouched, though the Church of America considers anything intellectual to be blasphemy.

Shira, an Advanced Placement student due to her homeschooling, is acing calculus even though she is only fifteen. Today she opts to wear the blue high school uniform. She finds today’s pop quiz easy enough that she has already finished it. She opens up her netbook, sets it on her lap, and returns to writing her NaNoWriMo novel.
I am filler [reads the new post on the blog Shira keeps just for NaNoWriMo,]. I exist just to pad my NaNoWriMo word count. I have nothing to do with this or any other story. None of the characters in this novel are doing anything here. In fact, there aren’t any characters here at all, not from this or any other novel, not even Mr Ian Woon. The only reason I’m writing about anything is that my author wants a way to distract herself from the plot and characters without writing “blah” or “yada” 50,000 times.

I am annoying. But I only exist to be edited out of my author’s novel when NaNoEdMo comes around in March and she finds out that her 100,000-word novel is really 35,000 after I and all my fellow filler passages have been removed. But she says I have a purpose. She says she uses me as a bludgeon with which to beat her Inner Editor unconscious. I think she’s run away with the plot now, so I’m betting it worked. So she’s going to stop writing me now and mess with that silly plot and those ridiculous characters of hers. ’Bye!
Shira types away on the netbook resting on her lap during a test. The teacher clears her throat right next to her. Shira smiles and hands her the already completed test. The teacher waves the test at her. “And what’s that for?”

“Keeps me from getting bored.”

“And what are you writing?”

“Nothing acceptable to the censors, ma’am. That stuff bores me dead. I’d be working on that horror novel I’m doing for NaNoWriMo, but all the plotbunnies ran away screaming for now, so I decided to go back to that Team Rocket sibling slash fic. Like I said, nothing acceptable. But they eat it up in Japan, so I’m writing it in Japanese. You won’t understand a word of it, of course.” Shira winks.

“You sound like you’re talking Japanese already.”

“Fannish, actually. Not that it sounds any less foreign. I bet you don’t know a word of Tech Speak, either.”

“Probably not. Show me your screen.” Shira shows her the unintelligible “Oriental” writing on her computer screen. “You pass for now. Just don’t do anything that might get you in trouble.”

“You won’t get any trouble from me,” Shira lies. The teacher goes back to supervising her students as they take the test, and Shira switches back from her fake OpenOffice document in Japanese to the real Team Rocket sibling slash fic in English. But first, she has some business to take care of while she pads her word count further:
Dear Inner Editor, I hate you. You’re eating all my plotbunnies! And I’d bred some perfectly grotesque mutants, even! Kill him, Mr Ian Woon! Murder my Inner Editor with the Travelling Shovel of Death! Maybe I ought to borrow Ollie’s. In fact, now that he’s dead, thank you Leila I love you forever, I think I’ll steal it altogether and assassinate that pesky Inner Editor myself...
Not having anything else to do but play with her little computer, she puts it atop her desk and surfs to the NaNoWriMo forums. Searching desperately for ideas, she goes to the Plot Doctoring forum and procrastinates for the rest of the period.

student center. After classes, Team Spanner’s girls in blue walk the short distance from the high school to the college to meet Shira, Leila, and Jennifer in the Bremer Student Center’s cafeteria.

Polly says, “I hear you’re Rocketshipping. Aren’t you?”

Shira sighs. “I’ve been trying, but my old friend Mr Inner Editor’s been getting in my way lately.”

Mimi wags her finger. “I hate to warn you, but if you really are Rocketshipping, remember that Cori Falls hates you.”

Shira chuckles. “Cori Fails? Hate moi? Last time I checked, she’s been doing nothing but hating on me.”

Jennifer groans. “Don’t mention that name. I don’t care for fic writers who write their issues.”

“I’d say she’s off the rails over Team Rocket, if you ask me.”

The girls laugh. Polly leans forward, elbows on table and head on hands. “So how have you been shipping Jessie and James this time?”

Shira flashes a wicked cockeyed smirk that says I’m up to no good, looking up and out. “Uh-oh,” says Jennifer.

“Well, I don’t think Miss Falls would approve of this, but I’ve been conscripting Meowth into the role of sex aid. It’s amazing the things you can do with Pokémon in fanfics. I’m thinking of having Ash insert Pikachu into Misty or May the same way, perhaps even both at the same time...”

Gasps answer her. Mimi says, “Oh my gawd—” All the girls collapse into uncontrollable giggles, except for Brandi, who turns away open-mouthed. Shira sits serene in her malicious intent, grinning a gleeful Joker grin.

“Quiet down over there!” yells an annoyed college boy with a laptop at a nearby table. “I’m trying to study!”

“This ain’t the library, boy!” snaps Shira back. “Deal!”

Debbie, overhearing the conversation, walks up behind Shira and bellows, “You’re having Jessie use Meowth as a dildo again, aren’tcha.”

Shira gets out of her chair and turns around to face Debbie with her arms crossed while the other girls shriek and giggle at the sheer perversity of the idea. She glares at her for several seconds, then smirks cockeyed and says, “Yes. Why? You jealous?”

Polly stands up and says, “Debbie? Jealous of that? That’s a Leila thing.” The other girls giggle uncontrollably; Mimi nearly falls out of her chair.

Jennifer, grinning wide-eyed, says, “I can see it now. Leila jamming a Pikachu up her vajayjay. Now that would be something to read.” Now the whole student center’s erupting in helpless laughter.

Shira replies, “No, Leila tells me she’s had too many bad experiences with cattle prods during photo shoots down in Pretty City. She wouldn’t like that idea. However, I’ve read Rebel Rebel fics in which Rebel Styles does just that. I’ve actually read one in which Rebel jams a Charizard up Joe Pyro’s butt. But Meowth, maybe, if you believe those fics in which she has something of a fondness for rats.” Another round of uncontrollable laughs is this time punctuated by screams. But the laughs suddenly subside when people see the black-haired beauty now standing behind Shira—

“Are you talking about me?” demands Leila.

“Fan fiction about you, to be exact. If you’d been around eighty years ago or so, you’d be a Tijuana Bible superstar, just like Mae West and Betty Boop. Alas, today we’re stuck with fanfics on the Darknet...”

“Where can I read these fics where I have at the rats?” Jennifer tosses her a 2GB MicroSD card; she sticks it in her phone. Everybody laughs. Shira gets up to kiss her; she holds her off so she can select the fic on her phone. “Oh, here’s one. I’m only eleven...” She reads further, amused and appalled at the same time. “...and I’m exterminating rats the hard way. If I keep this up, maybe I’ll grow big and turn into a giantess so I can crush men the same way. Who wrote this?”

“Person or persons unknown, writing under a handle,” says Jennifer. “Several handles, actually. Specializes in writing real-person fetish fics in which he or she crams the most amazing things up the nether orifices of various celebrities. You just happened to be the lucky victim of our author’s fetish in this case. Actually several such cases. I think he or she’s infatuated. He or she especially like you, probably from afar.”

Shira gives Leila a sidelong conspiratorial smile. “Well. Who do you or I know who doesn’t like you, worships your body, writes fetish fic, and has a mutant personality? Hmm?”

Leila’s jaw drops to the floor. Then she gasps. “Oh no! Not her!

“Hmm,” says Jennifer conspiratorially, “maybe we should sic Cori Falls on Lala sometime?”

“There’s a big-ticket grudge match,” Shira chuckles. “And speaking of the ever-popular Poké-dildo: Lala doesn’t just write it. I’ve seen her actually do it. I know men whose fetish involves sticking rodents where the sun don’t shine, but Lala’s the only female I know who actually gets off by doing it to herself. I mean, really.”

“She actually tried doing it to me with a mouse. It was the most uncomfortable thing I’ve ever been through in a sexual situation. But that kind of thing’s far more common in Pretty City than you think. Some of the kinks they disguise behind those artificially perfect bodies, you wouldn’t believe.”

Pretty City. Lala Sun-Microsoft taps steadily on the keys of her laptop. Her boyfriend, Ian Woon, bursts through the door, flipping through a file on his tablet computer. Indignantly he recites: “‘There it was, Ash’s precious Pikachu, all alone and crying. “Pika?” “There you are,” I said soothingly, “you’re mine now.” Pikachu panicked and tried to zap me. I grabbed it with my gloved hands. It sobbed and screamed and begged. “Pika! Pikaaaa!” I crammed it into my hungry cunt, jammed it all the way in. It zapped and zapped and zapped me to ultimate orgasm. Meowth covered his eyes. “I can’t look!” he complained. “You’re disgusting, Jessie!” I was too overcome by extreme pleasure to listen...’ Lala, where the hell do you get these crazy ideas?”

“Inspiration.” Lala winks.

Ian waves his tablet around. “Perverted fetish is more like it! If people find out you wrote it, Nintendo will sue us, our reputation will be ruined, and we’ll have one hell of a time finding jobs outside! Can’t you control yourself?”

student center. Jennifer says, “You know that ‘and then X was a zombie’ meme that’s been going around lately?”

“You know,” replies Shira, “that sounds like the huge personality changes we’ve been seeing in too many people these days.”

Jennifer flips out a sheet of paper on which she has printed a very, very short story called “Doom: Repercussions of Evil.” “Most of the Cool Kids are too busy being Cool to do TV Tropes or read badfics, so they don’t know it comes from this.”

Shira looks at the sparse text printed on the sheet. “Doesn’t look like much to me, Jen. Shouldn’t there be more of it?”

“That’s the whole thing. It’s one of the most infamous badfics on the Web, so infamous it inspired any number of parody videos all over the pre-coup Internet. They even kept the bad spelling. That last sentence is the meme.”

Shira reads the story. When she has finished it only a few seconds later, she turns her head toward Jennifer slowly and gives her a you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me look.

Jennifer replies with a hopeful look. “Well?”

Shira grins wickedly. The girls around them say, “Oh no...” She says, “Colonel Willie Johnson said, ‘Whoa, Jane, you just screwed all the demons.’ And then my next john was a zombie.” The girls all laugh.

With trepidation Polly asks, “And then what happened after that?”

“Oh, his head popped off.”

Some of the girls laugh again. Polly only says, “Ohhh.”

“And then his other head popped off.” All the girls laugh hysterically now; some fall to the floor and roll, unable to control themselves. “And then it got stuck.”

“Oh my god...” Polly loses her self-control and starts to laugh.

“And it wiggled and wiggled...”

“Hey, young lady!” scolds a nearby male voice. “That’s going more than a bit too far.”

“Hey, mister, don’t you know your pop lit?” says Jennifer indignantly. “That kind of stuff has been par for the course in paranormal romances since Anita Blake turned incubus and jumped the shark.”

Shira says mock apologetically, “Oh, that’s going into that parody of bad fanfics I’m writing. I’m calling it Doomy Dooms of Doomful Doom.” She winks wickedly.

college library. Clover Richter-Thomas, whose short choppy brown hair makes her pretty face cuter, leads a reading group that meets late afternoons; her cousins Shira, Jennifer, and Connor belong to it. They are impressed enough with the Shelley twins’ intelligence that they have brought them to their first meeting as candidates for membership. Clover takes each twin by the hand and says, “You must be Leila and Rob. Shira tells me about you all the time, so much in fact that she must be in love with you.”

“Yeah,” says Leila bashfully, “I’m her girlfriend. And you are?”

“Clover. You know Courtney and Sky?”

“You’re their big sister, right?”

Clover gives them a huge smile. “Good guess!”

Other reading club members, mostly college students Leila and Rob have never met, walk in, come over, and take their seats. When the entire club are seated, Clover starts the meeting. “Okay, for those of you who are new to our reading club, Thursday’s our science fiction day. Anybody read any interesting science fiction this past week?”

One handsome but conservative-looking young man says, “I just finished reading Ender’s Game. I was touched by the ability of innocence to overcome even the ultimate horror by making the necessary sacrifices, up to and including innocence itself.”

Another young man says, “I read it when I was a kid. I just thought it was a cool space adventure story with a wicked twist ending. I read it three times!”

Leila stands up. All eyes turn to her, the smart beauty with the delicious Irish accent. “I’ve read it too. I’ve read it very carefully, in fact. What I got out of it was that if you’re a superior person with superior intelligence, sensitivity, virtue, and mental powers, all lesser people will hate you and try to kill you, so you are entirely justified in killing them as long as you do it rationally and feel remorse like Ender. If you’re not rational, you’re like his enemies, who are immune to reason and want only to kill him. If you don’t feel remorse, you’re like his evil big brother Peter, a classic psychopath the Slasher Hunters would love to catch. I met him once under the name Frank Becket. Yes, the gangster. He and I fought. He had something I wanted from him, so I simply took it.” She finds most of the club members staring at her wide-eyed, a few even scared. “Am I getting a little personal?” The club members (except Rob and the Richter-Thomas cousins) nod. “Oh well...”

One trembling girl asks her, “You really did kill that psycho ex of yours? Rationally, right?”

“Rationally was the only way to do it. He was not my ex-boyfriend or fiancé. I was being sold to his father by my grandfather, so I had to take extreme measures to break the contract and defeat him, his father, and my grandfather, in an especially devastating and humiliating way. In a sense, it was just like Ender, except I was entirely conscious of the consequences. It was not the moral thing to do, but Corporates are not moral, and this was necessary.” She finds more library patrons are now staring at her in terrified fascination. “May I continue?”

All the club members nod this time. Clover says, “We’re not stopping you.”

“The other thing I learned is that good and evil lie entirely in the intention and never in the act. This makes it possible to actually be an innocent serial killer who commits genocide innocently. If Ender had learned that it was right to kill in self-defense, as we were taught, he would still have been entirely innocent, and the Law acknowledges this. But that’s not the author’s point. He’s really saying that it’s necessary to coerce innocent people to do evil, and even make them hate themselves for being evil, for the sake of the good. Cruelty is kindness, and kindness is cruelty. Got it?” The others nod. “ So Peter’s evil because he’s incapable of self-hatred. Intention is really moral alignment in the D&D sense, and he’s saying moral alignment is inborn. You’re born good like Ender or evil like Peter, so to kill evil people is to do good. I should add that he considers sexual orientation to be moral alignment, thus sexually incorrect people are born evil and therefore to kill them is good.

“Here’s the important part. Not just this book but the entire series is required reading for everybody, meaning you may be coerced into reading it for your own good. And the moral of the story, that good intentions justify even the ultimate evil, specifically genocide? That’s official Church of America doctrine, adopted from Card’s own Mormon Church. As long as Ender wills only good, he can do all the evil he wants as long as he tortures himself with remorse and always considers his crimes to be self-torture and self-sacrifice. But if your intentions are evil, by Church definition anyway, nothing can justify any good you do even if you do only good. They recognize no such thing as inherently evil actions.”

Shira interrupts. “But isn’t sexcrime the ultimate evil, the inherently evil act they deny exists? Now what if I committed, say, rape with good intent? If my love for you were my highest value, wouldn’t I be justified in raping you if I found it necessary?” Leila answers Shira’s mischievous smile with a wide-eyed blush. “Card would justify my murdering you. In fact, from my reading, I’d even go so far as to say murdering out of love is perfectly fine with him. It was Ayn Rand who justified rape, in that famous scene in The Fountainhead. And if what’s good for me is right, then anything is justifiable, and rape is love. And here’s the great American contradiction: Card would call Rand a selfish bitch, but she already called him a moral cannibal. But combine Rand’s egoism with Card’s justification, and you get your psycho ex who couldn’t stop complaining about how awesome he was.” Some giggle, others groan.

“No. You get me. A self-destructive walking contradiction, ready to implode at any moment.”

“Okay, let’s think dialectically here. You’re trapped in a contradiction, the classic double bind. Thesis and antithesis. But what’s the synthesis?

In Leila’s head a blinding light comes on. Her eyes go wide and her mouth drops in realization. “I never thought of that before.” They notice the others staring at them, but they keep their focus on each other.

boardwalk. Jennifer insists on walking with Shira in one arm and Leila in the other, all the way back downtown. “Wow. You were getting pretty intense there, Leila. But then you joined in, Shira, and I was afraid the place would explode. And all that over just a book.”

“Does that happen often?” asks Leila.

“It isn’t every day that two minds like yours combine and build each other up to near hurricane force.”

“I know,” says Shira, “maybe should read Atlas Shrugged for next Thursday’s book club meeting. We might not leave any survivors.” The girls laugh.

Suddenly they sense danger and stop cold. A Moral Enforcer screams and pulls out his gun. Shira appears in his face, fixes him with her Charmer power, and commands: “Jump overboard and swim on the bottom till you drown.” He runs past her, between Leila and Jennifer, somersaults over the railing, and disappears into the water below. Shira smiles ironically and shrugs.

on to the next...

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

[Revision 1, 11/2/11: To the original scenes from NaNoWriMo 2010, the first and the last two scenes were added.]

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Spanner 24.1: Taking Profits

And now we get back into the story, though not quite yet into the action. That’s coming a few installments from now. The characters need some time to assimilate the events of last chapter...

...from previous

Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 24: Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud
Part 1: Taking Profits

When fascism comes to America,
it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.

Sinclair Lewis

5 november 2014.
The sky above the city is the color of a Windows blue screen of death. The bright sun dominates its center and stares down impassively upon the human activity below. The wintry air is cold and crisp, and yet the girls of Team Bremelo wear their blue and yellow sailor-suit school uniforms in defiance of the fact that the uniforms’ school, for all intents and purposes, no longer exists. Its own Head Boy blew it up a week and a half ago. The Bremeloes watch from the High Avenue sidewalk as the construction crews race to rebuild the Bremerton High School building so the school can reopen.

All founding members are present: Shira Thomas, Jennifer and Connor Blair, Cory Belmont, Kio Marques, Polly Parker, and Karen Kubota. Several members joined after the founding: Brandi Quinn; Marina Reyes; Leila, Robert, and Fiona Shelley; Fuyumi, Harumi, and Seika Tachibana; and new member Deborah Becket — yes, one of those Beckets, the daughter of Jack Becket, turned traitor because she tried to publicly murder her mother Shepherd Rexelle Steele instead of submitting to Ex-Gay Faith Therapy. Courtney and Schuyler Richter-Thomas join their cousins Shira, Jennifer, Connor, and Karen; Brandi brings Arisa Saionji from the Slasher Hunters and new recruit Irina Lanskaya; the Tachibanas bring their friend from Seoul, Daisy Kwon; Kio brings his girlfriend Mimi Scott, and he is joined by his ex-girlfriend Colette Rosewater; and in each hand Shira holds the hand of a sweet loli, Ayla to her right and Lucie to her left.

Together they stand outside the closed-up, boarded-up hulk of Bremerton High School, watching the low-paid workmen cheerfully clear away the ruins. Bart Green, the school’s Tournament Leader a.k.a. Head Boy, blew it up. When his Valiant Team lost the Team Challenge they themselves threw at the Bremeloes, they brought their gangster friends and vandalized the school heavily and nearly burned it down. Sore losers. Now Shira and her girl fighters watch as workers scramble to rebuild it as fast as possible.

Debbie shakes her head sadly. “I can’t believe my old teammates were such total assholes.”

Shira lets Jennifer hold the children and pats Debbie on the back. “After looting half of Seattle by themselves and raping two students and a loli, I wasn’t the least bit surprised this happened. And it wasn’t your fault, Deb. You weren’t the one chowing down on steroids.” Everybody laughs. Debbie lets Shira hug and kiss her.

“You know,” says Debbie wistfully, “I kinda miss school. I never thought I’d make any real friends here, but here you are.” Her many new friends reward her with hugs. She lets them kiss her on the lips as well as the cheek. She starts to cry. She’s still crying after a couple more minutes, when everybody’s gone back to staring at the ruined school.

Jennifer says, “Word says SPEC stock’s in really big trouble.”

Shira says, “Our tuition strike threat worked.”

Karen says, “Soon we’ll be able to give control back to the people.”

“Mom told me the Teachers Guild’s drawing up plans to have it tax-supported again. The local companies don’t mind. They wanna help fund it and donate all the computers, software, and online time, maybe even buy the textbooks.”

“Don’t trust companies,” snarls Debbie.

“C’mon, Debbie. This is Cascadia. We value an educated workforce here, not a cheap one. May cost money, but it earns even more.”

“Shira love,” says Leila, “you know we’ll have to fight off CPMC first.”

“We’re ready for CPMC, darling.” Shira kisses Leila’s soft lips.

“Come to think of it,” Jennifer adds, “CPMC are soliciting outside financing as we speak. So far, they’ve managed to get big cash infusions from Esso, Dictel, even the Chinese.”

Shira stares mischievously into Jennifer’s eyes. “CPMC don’t know what we’ve got in our hats.” She kisses her and winks. “But first, we got some serious celebratin’ to do.”

technosphere. Posted by Spanner to MyTube on 5 November 2014:
[An eight-bit image of a helmeted figure with a skull-and-cross-wrenches insignia opens and shuts its mouth in front of a color-changing rainbow background. It speaks in the voice of the standard Windows male robot voice.]

Congratulations, Cascadians. You gave CPMC a big black eye. In giant-monster terms. The Man is reeling from the blow. Problem is, you didn’t finish him off. You didn’t abolish the government.

The thing about giant monsters is, they have a nasty tendency to get back up. You only made the Man mad, people. He may be licking his wounds right now, but soon he’s gonna grow himself some new tentacles and put the hurt on you double.

Get ready for round two.
Some of the main players behind the ongoing general strike against the disaster-plagued dictatorship of the Cascadia Public Management Corporation speak about the strike and some of the reasons behind it.

Shira Thomas: Brinkman and buddies are right when they say the force of evolution helps the strong and weeds out the weak. Where they’re wrong is on who’s strong and who’s weak. The weak are not the poor or the little people. They’re the dinosaurs, like CPMC. All those Corporate types may endlessly spew pretty words about free enterprise, free market, free whatever. They don’t want you to know that Corporatism does away with market freedom to protect the dinosaurs from competition, which would kill ’em off like that asteroid did the dinosaurs. Bye-bye, capitalism!

Jennifer Blair: Face it. Capitalism is dead, and it’s never coming back. Corporatism is the desperate and futile last-ditch effort to resurrect a rotting corpse. Vulture capital is fighting a cause as lost as the Old Confederacy it so fetishizes. Technology has advanced to the point where true socialism is not just possible but inevitable. It’s no longer a choice between capitalism and socialism. The choice is socialism or extinction.

Kio Marques: You know, it really does come down to morality, but not the morality they think. Brinkman and his class like to define “morality” as sexual purity — prudery, really. It’s not that at all. It’s about how people treat each other. This was supposed to be a school rally against bullying. The men we call the Fearsome Foursome took it personally. You can’t justify bullying except by saying “I’m bigger than you.” Truth is, there’s more of us, and we’re tired of you. One day we all decided we won’t take it anymore.

Karen Kubota: If you want to know, I started it as a little school peace rally to support the minority, LGBT, and other students at my school who are the constant targets of bullying. When the men who run this state kidnapped me — not arrested, but kidnapped, like gangsters — I realized that bullying is the entire foundation of conservative government. I became one of the victims we were trying to support. And most of you realized that you are too. Together we can put a stop to this, and peacefully. Let’s not stoop to the level of the Fearsome Foursome. We can defeat violence itself, and we will.

Hope Reston: We passed the first test. Now we have the chance to take power into our own hands. We can vote on the issue, or we can take direct action. But we must take power away from the leaders, representatives, and special interests and give it directly to all the citizens. If I’m ever elected mayor or governor, my one goal will be to do just that. We can’t afford another CPMC.

Steven Ragoczy: If you do cybersecurity, you know about the “single point of vulnerability.” Take that out, and you take down the whole system. Distributed systems and crowdsourcing were developed to prevent that. In society and politics, you have the hierarchy, where the single point of vulnerability is at the top. All that “national security” stuff the Party’s obsessed with is really about protecting these single points, especially the one way at the top everybody’s always aiming at. That’s where you get your Peter Principle. The only way to get real security is to take power out of the hands of the incompetents at the top and crowdsource it. [rubs chin] I believe they call that... democracy.

Leila Renata Shelley: I don’t know when my grandfather, the head of CPMC, decided I was a class traitor, but it was certainly long before he tried to sell me off to some trust-fund princeling like I was some slave girl on Gor. Arranged marriage, he called it. He said it was the only moral, biblical, and American form of marriage, and marriage is supposed to be the moral pillar of America. I proved how quote-unquote “un-American” I am by rejecting marriage and choosing love instead. I chose to love another woman. For my crime of free choice, my grandfather tried to punish me with the full resources of CPMC and its terrorist and mercenary enforcers. For the first time I saw clearly what I was really up against. CPMC is not a business corporation. Like the twentieth-century total state, it’s an attempt to recreate the kind of god our ancestors in ancient times were helpless not to obey. My science-fiction friends like to compare it to the Borg. If it cannot enslave us, it intends to eat us. At that point I knew with absolute certainty that the only way out is revolution.

Colette Rosewater: Something deep within me would like to believe that Leila killed Oliver Thorwald for killing me, to avenge me. But she insisted she had much deeper reasons. She wasn’t killing a man, even if he was a serial killer. She was slaying a god. I was so naïve before he raped and killed me. I thought peace was all the answer we needed. When I came back, Jennifer told me it was really a matter of evolution. She said the common people are closest to reality, and city people are exposed directly to the forces of evolution, and the higher you go up in any hierarchy, the more cut off you are from reality. The people in power can see that the common people are evolving beyond them at an ever increasing rate, so they want to stop it at all costs, even if it means destroying the world. We’re up against an army of Oliver Thorwalds. We just don’t know it yet.

R Tansie Blair: My body was engineered to give humans physical pleasure. My mind was designed to feel with them and make them happy. At first I could not understand why so many humans dedicate themselves to making other humans unhappy. My mother Jennifer explained to me that they make people unhappy because they themselves are so unhappy themselves that they can’t bear to see other people happy. She also told me that humans inherited from other animals an instinct for hierarchy, a “pecking order” like in chickens, that only human intelligence has begun to override. Mother also uploaded into my system an application for analyzing human psychological and social patterns. Using it, I discovered that though the government and corporate leaders claim the rebellion is based entirely on the common people’s petty envy of their wealth, they actually feel disconnected from reality and envy the common people for their realness. They have concluded that the only way to feel real again is to dominate those who really are real. This is where the vampire myths so common in popular culture come from. Traditionally, people in power established governments for the purpose of keeping the common people under their power by herding them like livestock. To do this, they must convince their subjects that they have no hope. But now the common people have hope. When the common people’s hopes comes up against the envy that drives people into power, class wars like this happen. I knew I must act with compassion and help the common people transform their hope into reality so that we can all be happy together.

Ric Thomas: Dudes, you really cleaned house. Your Conservative Revolution swept away the hated Democrat Socialist liberals, all right. Now there’s no more liberals left to blunt the people’s rage. Happy now?

CPMC headquarters. Cascadia Public Management Corporation is the private company charged by the Conservative Revolutionary Party and its billionaire backers to rule the liberal state of Cascadia. To keep its operations away from the hated democratic masses, its headquarters is in a fortresslike arcology outside the former Oregon capital of Salem. The four voting members of the board of directors, officially called the Quadrumvirate but dubbed by its Populist enemies (who are legion) the “Fearsome Foursome,” meet to lick their wounds. They are:
  1. J. Walter Brinkman (black hair and beard, blue eyes, heavy build, 6′4″, 58), CPMC Chief Executive Officer, the man supposed to be in charge.
  2. John Cameron Becket (blond hair, blue eye [one], wiry build, 6′2″, 46), COPCO vice president and supreme commander for Cascadia, the man supposed to keep the restive masses under control.
  3. Randolph G. Litton (gray hair [balding], gray eyes, skeletal build, 5′8″, 68), whom Brinkman granted the government rank of Secretary of State, the man supposed to make CPMC’s subjects believe what CPMC wants them to believe.
  4. Peter Ross (gray hair, blue eyes, portly build, 5′9″, 56), Chief Executive Officer of the Seattle Public Education Corporation, the man whose duty it is to keep the masses ignorant, for Corporatist ideology teaches that knowledge is power and therefore must be hoarded jealously.
One by one they enter the darkened boardroom by order of rank. After Ross enters, he turns the lights on. The four men are shocked to find another man sitting in the chairman’s seat normally reserved for Brinkman alone, a large grim man with silver hair and dark thick glasses. He is Prince Doctor Henry Becket of Dictel Incorporated, father to Jack Becket and uncle to Brinkman. “Gentlemen, I’ve been expecting you.”

“Uncle!” blurts Brinkman. “What are you doing here?

“Have you not heard? President Goldman Sachs has appointed me the new Secretary of Homeland Security. Thanks to your failure to crush the rabble’s insurrection, Karl Radisson has been forced to resign and must now prove himself worthy again in the private sector. Unlike him, I will make sure you do not fail, and I will not hesitate to replace any one of you immediately, even my own son. John, you have already lost a sister and two brothers-in-law. Our family honor requires the rabble be punished.”

Jack Becket salutes. “Yes, father!”

Brinkman says, “Uncle, you must realize what we are up against. One, Anonymous is heavily involved in the insurrection. As you know, they have taken the world’s largest narcoterror syndicates, including Al-Qaeda itself, and won. They are the least of our threats. Our old friend Shira Thomas is lending a hand to the insurgents and publicly states at every opportunity that the Conservative Revolution cannot last and will fail, because the Law of Entropy cannot be broken. Even worse, she has started a run on our stock so that both CPMC and SPEC must have outside infusions of cash simply in order to survive.”

“The President and the other World Bank board members will take care of this,“ says Dr. Becket. “Your job is to put the rabble back in its place.”

Ross says, “Maybe you can have the Party help out our investors at SPEC. Right now, our stock is getting hammered. The short sellers are having a field day.”

“Obvious signs that the newfangled educationism has failed. What we need is a return to the old ways, a military draft with military training, with mandatory servitude for the undeserving. This is the only way America will survive: through absolute unity and discipline. All must know that there is no freedom other than slavery to God.”


The Doctor ignores him and continues. “Walter and John, you will crack down on the insolent and disobedient rabble mercilessly, or you are unworthy of the name American. From now on, I am in control.”

The Cascadian synarchs stare fearfully at their grimly determined patriarch. The Fearsome Foursome must now answer to a man far more fearsome than themselves.

Thorwald property. There is no meeting place left at the high school its now former Head Boy blew up. The librarians were fired in one of Ross’ cost-cutting measures. Now the leaders of the Bremerton Student Union meet at the former warehouse once owned by a gangland serial killer, the one Governor Brinkman was trying to force his granddaughter Leila Shelley to marry until she killed him in a manner scandalous enough to have the Governor cancel the marriage arrangement in a desk-smashing rage. Oliver Thorwald cannot stop them because he is barely out of the clone tank, weak as a newborn baby; he’ll need time to recover from his very public assassination. They take advantage.

Present at this meeting:
  1. Karen Kubota, president: 17, auburn hair (long), hazel eyes, 5′10″, half-Japanese, Buddhist, strict pacifist.
  2. Colette Rosewater, vice president: 18, brown hair (shoulder-length), green eyes, 5′5″, part-Jewish, Buddhist (converted by Karen), technical pacifist.
  3. Polly Parker, secretary: 16, brown hair (long), blue eyes, 5′7″, Wiccan.
  4. Jennifer Blair, chief organizer: 15, blond hair (lone), blue eyes, 5′11″ secular humanist, socialist.
Jennifer says, “We’ve failed.”

What?!” The Student Union members are shocked at her statement.

“Sure, the protest went off without a hitch, but it didn’t make a dent in the power structure, and it only made the authorities mad. Now they plan to use extreme violence to snuff out all traces of liberal resistance.”

Karen says, “Don’t be silly, Jen. Peaceful resistance works.”

“Not against a violent revolutionary élite. The lords of capital themselves are that violent revolutionary élite, so dislodging them with another violent revolutionary élite is impossible. The failure of the terrorist left proves that over and over and over.”

Polly says, “So if both peaceful protest and terrorist violence failed, what left is there?”

“Only an uprising of the working masses.”

Colette says, “It’s been done peacefully before, in India, South Africa, and here in America. It has worked, and it will work.”

“It won’t work against a ruling class made up of violent terrorists. They’re hellbent on destroying all mass resistance through force. But we have the right of self-defense, and we will have no choice but to use it, if we want to merely survive.”

“You underestimate the strength of the people, Jen,” says Karen.

“Consider this. Who’s the rising force in the Conservative Revolutionary Party? Byron Scofield, Jeremiah Light, Henry Becket. Men little different from, say, Bram Rodchenko or King Eco. True believers in terrorism, all with high personal body counts. Dr Becket even controls a personal army of robot and meat-puppet drone weapons, MIRV Griffin style. They don’t recognize the existence of even a concept of peace. You can’t defeat the worshippers of violence by peaceful means. Only violent mass resistance is possible now. That, or extinction. If Gandhi himself had faced Hitler instead of Churchill, this is what he would have done, and he knew it. Hitler even insulted Churchill over it.”

Seattle. On and above the surface, citizens and corporations clean up the debris and hurriedly repair their properties. The Rockers have the Underground City to themselves. For, election victory celebrations aside, today is a special day. Sixteen years ago today, the Shelley twins were born.

Older twin Leila Renata Shelley (black hair bobbed short, violet eyes, white skin, 5′7″), doll-like beauty and disgraced fashion model, looks gorgeous and sleek in a breast-exposing black leather corset, a frilly skirt of lace over satin, and fashion combat boots; she has multiple rings and diamonds on her ears, rings in her nipples and navel, a small diamond in her nose, and around her neck a delicate gold chain with a heart-shaped locket pendant containing a picture of her lover. Once known for her self-destructiveness, she exudes a languid sensuality and shows a strong tendency toward amorality. Younger twin Robert Louis Shelley (shoulder-length black hair, 5′&10″; same eyes and skin) looks equally beautiful in his military-style school uniform. His temperament is sweeter, but he can be equally ruthless. Though (or even because) he is known for romancing boys, he is completely surrounded by squeeing girls.

Their mother, goth rocker Taylor Brinkman, and their uncle, underground businessman (sic) Arvid Shield, have reserved the Underground City and its clubs for the night, because tonight is their night. Along with younger sister Rukmini Ariel Shield, these are the Dublin-accented prodigal children of J. Walter Brinkman of CPMC, Incorporated, and they are holding this party in open defiance of the father they despise with all their heart.

Leila’s charismatic lover, Shira Thomas (red hair, green eyes, bronze skin, 5′10″, 15 according to her Cascadia birth certificate — or 18, if you believe the California state records instead), openly fondles and kisses her. She is not quite pretty (the official fashion experts claim her big Apache nose ruins her face), yet projects an aura of stunning beauty. She is a notorious free-love advocate who openly calls herself a slut. Her body is lithe like a cat and exudes an animal carnality. She also has the cat’s love for tormenting her enemies. Her father is a leading Rocker named Cedric Anthony Thomas III (a.k.a. Ric Thomas or Red Mercury), guitarist and sometime lead singer of Bremerton-based postpunk rock legends the Band with No Name; her mother is Hope Maureen Reston, Seattle local president of the Teachers Guild and archnemesis of SPEC and its CEO, Pete Ross. Shira has plans for Leila’s birthday, so she had her body painted and wrapped in ribbons, with an elaborate bow decorating her wild shock of unmanageable red hair.

Leila and Shira are the unlikeliest heroes of the Cascadian election protests. Tonight they intend to take a break from the stress of political struggle.

The Underground City is crowded with Rockers, Punkers, Stylers, and Goths. Taylor’s gothpunk band Lesbian Bondage Fiasco are the house band tonight. The guitarist and bassist, Shadow and Sari Angel, are No-Names scions themselves, the daughters of No-Names lead guitarist Jonnii Angel and bassist Raven Shears. This music, loud, dark, and distorted, the Shelley twins grew up to.

Suddenly the music stops, and the birthday kids step onto the stage to loud cheers. “Sorry if we can’t play that birthday song thing,” says Taylor, “but we gotta keep ourselves from getting collectively lynched by the MIAA.” The whole crowd boos; the band give thumbs-down salutes to encourage them. “And our Great White Father which art in Holy City don’t like birthdays anyway. Says it’s pagan.” Mocking laughter comes from the crowd. “But Leila and Robert are turning sweet sixteen today, so we damn well better celebrate it!” Taylor puts her arms around her children’ shoulders and kisses first Leila then Robert on the lips. The crowd roars.

Shira clambers onto the stage and takes the mic from Taylor. “You may know that Leila gave herself to me on my birthday just two short months ago. Now I must return the favor. Leila, my love, for your birthday I now officially give myself to you. I now belong to you. Please unwrap me!” The crowd howls as Leila eagerly removes the ribbons from Shira’s painted body, until Shira wears nothing but body paint, jewelry, and synthogator boots. Leila takes her lover into her arms and gives her a passionate open-mouthed kiss to the crowd’s thunderous approval.

“Ew,” says Debbie jealously.

Jennifer pats her on the back. “Aw, c’mon. These two have been romancing each other for at least four years now. Deal with it. I did, and I’ve been romancing Shira since I was four.” Debbie gasps; Jennifer smiles sweetly and winks.

on to the next...

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Copyright © 2011 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
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[Revision 1, 11/3/11: Opening scene heavily edited from the NaNoWriMo 2010 original draft; everything else is new material.]
[Revision 1.01, 11/3/11: The name of Taylor’s band taken from a CNN story Jon Stewart declared was an obvious rock band name.]
[Revision 2, planned: At the Shelley twins’s birthday party, once again “Happy Birthday to You” will be deliberately avoided, and an ominous intruder will invoke the Dangerous Sixteenth Birthday trope to add suspense and foreshadow events in Chapter 46 and late in Book 5.]