Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 11: Everybody’s Talkin’ ’Bout
Part 4: Lead Us Not (Final Revision)
Part 4: Lead Us Not (Final Revision)
lobby. The crowd hold their breath when Shira emerges out the office door. All eyes are on her; they do not bother to notice Jennifer, Leila, and Brandi. Their hearts sink when they realize she’s not screaming with joy or assaulting them with arrogant ego satisfaction. In fact, she’s perfectly calm. She crosses her arms and throws them a Get real look.
They disperse with a disappointed groan.
Kwame chides her. “What you doin’, Shira? You was supposed to sign and get rich and famous, not fag out on almighty Jayzus!”
“Yeah. Obey my manager. Obey my producers and designers and shit. Obey the tone-deaf executives at the record company.” She sighs. “You know a diva’s gotta do that, all, the, fucking, time? I couldn’t live like that. I’m not pliable enough. I’d go terrorist just outta frustration.”
He tilts his head and looks at her strangely. “Girl, you crazy.”
“Like a fox.” She gives him a wicked wink.
detention. Someone is coming, says the voice. You must kill him and escape.
Nancy smells food. She ignores her protesting empty stomach. Nancy hears: the key enters the lock, the lock releases, the door opens to let in some light and a uniformed guard carrying a standard fast-food lunch. “Hey sweetheart, time to eat.” They are the only people in the detention center.
Kill him now.
She jumps on his back, puts her arms around his neck, squeezes as hard as she can till the voice tells her he is dead. She runs out as fast as she can.
lockers. “Okay,” says Jennifer, “what now?”
Shira selects the books to put into her backpack. “Angie should be taking his lawyers’ calls starting right about now. If you mean they’re gonna punish me for rejecting arrogant yet thoroughly constrained celebrity by charging me as a subversive... well, Angie should be taking their calls starting right about now.”
Debbie calls, “Leila!” They turn to see her approach.
Leila stares at her suspiciously. “What do you want, Debbie?”
Debbie waits until she gets in whispering range before she answers. “I called Oliver about the Nancy problem. He refused to deny he was behind it. He was so smug about it, the bastard. Must be on drugs or something.”
Jennifer declares, “He was behind it.” She puts a hand on Leila’s shoulder. “Leila darling, I’m sorry to tell you this, but your Intended has decided he wants you dead.”
They turn to face her. She is not smiling. She nods. Their blood goes cold. Leila goes hot with rage and struggles to control herself. Shira takes her into her arms, lets her cry, and kisses her cheek.
Brandi takes out her phone and makes a call. “Hello, John?” She turns the speaker full volume so they can hear.
John Peck says, “What is it, Brandi?”
“Thorwald. We got him.”
“Good. Let’s pay him a visit before his lawyers can react.”
A wicked smile grows on Shira’s face. “Well, then! Forget college, ladies, class is over.”
library. In the same meeting room where Jennifer and her friends planned their slumber party, Shira now assembles Team Bremelo to plot a surprise Challenge. Jennifer pulls the projection screen down. Zac Finney, the janitor, conveniently on break, slips a memory card into the digital projector. Also present: Rob, Connor, Cory, Kio, Polly, Fiona, Marina — and Debbie. “Don’t cheer, guys,” Shira warns, “we gotta keep this private.” Jennifer gestures for quiet.
Cory asks, “So what’s our mission for the day, commander?”
“Boy, you better cut down on the Gerry Anderson before you overdose.”
Debbie tries to keep from yelling. “Guys, stop playing around, this is serious.”
“Debbie’s right. She just called that Corporate who Gub’na’s forcing on Leila, name of Oliver Thorwald, son of the late chairman of Biotron. Yes, that’s the kind of shit real princesses are forced to deal with. Right now he’s got this evil plot and he’s giggling all over himself. He was fine with Debbie romancing Leila or even hitting her. But I know what he does on the side. I’ve fought him, beat up him and his Slasher sidekick over and over. I’ve got him arrested and cost him millions in legal fees and bribes. I’ve put him in debt to the Russky and Honky Mobs. He already goes insane at just the mention of my name. Now — I guess now’s the time you find out — I’ve taken away his unwilling bride. Leila and I are lovers.”
Polly, Fiona, and Marina gasp. Debbie keeps her lips grimly tight. Cory says, “Cool.”
Leila gets up to embrace Shira tight and give her the most passionate kiss she can. No one can take their eyes off her. She smiles radiantly at them. “I’ve fallen totally in love with her.” Her eyes twinkle with mischief. “We even made love so he could watch.”
“If these were normal times,” Jennifer explains, “he’d just let Leila leave. But this is the Conservative Revolution. The political power of two revolutionary patriarchs depends on forcing the arranged marriage between these unwilling partners. If the marriage fails, Brinkman and Everson lose caste. Oliver Thorwald is Everson’s grandson. But he just lost his father, and he. If he destroys his own grandfather, so what? He’s decided he hates Leila enough to kill her.”
“In Tournament terms,” Shira adds, “he’s thrown us a huge Challenge. He’s perfectly willing to get to me and Leila through you guys. That’s why we’ll be joining the Slasher Hunters at Ollie’s place after school. Zac?”
On the screen, a spy-satellite map of Bangor appears. Zac highlights Bangor High, Dictel Park, and a location hidden on the other side of the park. “When Dictel moved its operations to the Holy City complex in Colorado, Biotron bought some spare warehouses. This one [he touches the spot with his pointer; the map zooms in] they never found a use for, so Oliver Thorwald uses it as his personal fortress away from home.” The map zooms back out. He traces around Dictel Park. “Don’t go through Dictel Park. His Mob friends will tell him. The best way to reach the target is to go around. There’s a private road you can access off Holly Road. Use that.”
school parking. Someone is coming. Nancy ducks behind a car and watches. The voice will direct her inside later.
Christian Fleer idly tosses and catches her keys as she walks toward her pink armoured Hummer. Her father the Admiral is a co-owner of SPEC. Her mother is a Becket. The rules are not for her; she was born above them. She does not need to learn anything; she knows everything already, for it is written in the Book of America. Not even the Party can keep her from leaving early to pursue her pleasure. But when she reaches her Hummer, Rob leans seductively on the driver-side door and smiles. “There’s a madwoman trying to kill my sister. Are you encouraging her?”
She smiles cheerily. “Maybe I told her to do it.”
“Leila’s cheating on her unwanted fiancé, so why don’t you take him yourself?”
“It’s the Houses of Brinkman and Everson that are married. The Law says the marriage of Revolutionary Houses is unbreakable except through murder. Therefore, your sister has to die. Sorry.” She shrugs.
He grabs the scarf of her uniform and pulls it into a choke hold. “Call off your attack dog, Fleer.”
Christie laughs. “Her? That little failure? I had her thrown in detention! Next time I’ll hire a professional.”
She betrayed you! the voice roars louder than all loudness. She must be punished!
Without warning, Nancy tries to brain Christie with one of her own books. Christie lands a wild right hook on her jaw, a guaranteed knockout punch; but Nancy remains standing, seemingly unhurt, shocking Christie. Rob stares at the mad girl with eyes full of hate; he raises a hand and slowly forms it into a fist. He’s trying to kill you! Run! Before they can even speak, Nancy speeds away.
library. “Hey you guys,” says Courtney quietly, “get your instant fanclubs together and bring ’em to the theatre. We’re flash mobbin’.”
“Got it,” says Shira. “By the way” — she directs Courtney’s gaze toward sister Schuyler — “Sky’s inviting you to our little celebration at Jen’s.”
Courtney stares at Schyler’s blushing face, Shira, and then Jennifer, who smiles back. “One of those, right?”
“Your choice,” Jennifer says.
Schuyler gives her sister a huge shy smile. Courtney blushes. She struggles not to stutter. “The theatre, immediately after school. Be there or be square.” She hurries out and quietly shuts the door.
“Hey,” says Marina. The Bremeloes look at her. “Can I go too?”
Shira grins mischievously. “You know about the legend of Jennifer Blair’s slumber parties?”
Marina grins back. “Yeah.”
Debbie, blushing furiously, glares at Jennifer. “Ain’t no way I’m going to one of those.”
Jennifer smiles sweetly at her. “Nobody’s forcing you.” She winks.
seattle. After Desiree deposits the advance at the downtown bank that sends her money to overseas tax havens, she directs the taxi driver toward a certain Central district house. “Wait here,” she says. She gets out with her backpack, walks up to the door, knocks. A bespectacled sixty-something black man who looks like a doctor answers. “Hello, Dr. Whistler,” she says.
“Hello, Desiree. I’m surprised to see you here. Is there any problem?”
Desiree sighs. “Yes, I’m afraid so. And yes, it involves Tatsumi.”
“I was afraid of that.”
She takes the package out of her backpack. “Her go-between said it had something to do with National Security. Obviously she has ambitious plans for this. Could you please analyze it for me?”
He takes it from her and studies it carefully. “I’ll do what I can.”
She smiles. “Thank you.” Still studying the package, he closes the door.
theatre. Even the science lecture room is too big for Shira’s instant fanclub now, so Dave, Sylvia, Courtney, and Zac convince the principals to let them use the performing arts centre, ten times bigger, but little used because war-obsessed Bangor has never had much use for art (even the closest movie theatre is across the expressway in Silverdale). Bangor prefers sports because they’re more like war. The Nike Arena, that sacred shrine, is off limits.
By now Shira’s instant fanclub numbers over a hundred unofficial members. Karen’s and Jennifer’s are of similar size. They overlap enough that they fill half the five-hundred-seat theatre. They fill the rest with Student Union members. Karen puts all the club leaders and tutors on stage, the way her Buddhist group does meetings. At her request, they choose a consensus leader to speak for them. She is surprised to find that they pick not her but Shira. “Isn’t she a dangerous choice?”
Lorelei replies, “She’s the most popular person here.”
“Because she’s a Charmer. She’s capable of taking over everything and twisting it to her own ego satisfaction.”
The Robot Club’s Lorine Kelly answers, “If she can refuse Jayzus, she’s capable of anything.”
Club co-leader (and Lorine’s boyfriend) Donald Vasquez answers, “We’re all betting it’s worth the gamble.”
Shira steps up to the podium to the thunderous cheers of her audience. She could be singing for them, not addressing a disguised rally of a group the Party considers dangerously radical. She knows how easily she could make herself their leader...
Her listeners can sense her ambivalence. Gradually they grow quiet. They wait for her to speak. She opens her mouth. She takes time to decide what she wants to tell them. Sudden inspiration shows on her face. Their attention is fully on her. She has made her decision. At last she speaks.the cult of personality: She fires up the crowd with a passionate speech, any speech. But her contempt for danger leads her heart to confuse leadership with celebrity. Gradually, unconsciously, she redirects all attention to herself. Intoxicated by power, she begins to boss her followers around. Like a Corporate lord she purges those who do not submit to her will. It becomes all about her. The Corporate Revolution has taken over her.the leader dies: She fires up the crowd with a passionate speech, any speech. But her contempt for danger leads her heart to confuse leadership with spiritual election. Her followers pin their hopes onto her: she is the deliverer. Suddenly a shot rings out — a Party-employed mercenary sniper hits its target — she slumps to the ground, dead. Their hopes are crushed. The movement falls apart.the cult of martyrs: In the hands of R. G. Litton and the Molotov twins, dead celebrities and prophets are putty. Like Paul of Tarsus transforming a failed Jewish revolutionary he never met into the last and greatest of the Greco-Roman gods, they build a church around their charisma and throw the message away. Transformed into a church, the Roman Empire extended its tyranny over Europe a thousand years more...
“Welcome! We’re so glad you came.” They cheer; she gestures them to quiet down. “Lately, some of us in the Student Union have been talking about setting up a formal leadership, with like Karen as the president or maybe even me. Well, as most of you already know, I’ve got this diva problem. Being adored for so long can build up a really big ego. Leadership does the exact same thing. Even worse, leaders find it way too easy to become divas themselves and screw everybody over. So if anybody wants to nominate me as a leader, I’m going to say no.” Some students go “Awwww!” in disappointment. “In fact, I’m gonna say, let’s not do leaders at all.” Shocked students let out a chorus of gasps. “Let me explain.
“I mentioned the diva bit. Power corrupts, as they say. Just look at the school administration and the company that owns ’em, or the scandals Dorian and Minty went through last year. You saw last night the kind of diva Minty turned into. The word’s Italian for ‘goddess.’ We can’t afford to have the movement hijacked by ‘La Pasionaria.’” She smiles ironically to make it clear she’s referring to herself. Some students get her point and laugh. “In fact, putting too much faith in leaders tends to destroy movements. That’s why I bet actual money that the Conservative Revolution’s gonna fail. I’m confident I’ll bankrupt several Party leaders on that.” The whole crowd laughs. “So I have only one nomination for the Student Union leadership, and that’s you. All of you, together, with me and Karen as just fellow members. By running this Union together, we can make the decisions that touch all our needs and interests without getting dependent on one person’s opinions and whims. Losing one leader won’t destroy the movement. And we won’t be tempted to sell out to a corrupt System like the old labor unions that became corporations, such as the Teachers Guild whose leadership, through corruption, co-optation, and purge, degenerated into SPEC. So not me, Karen, Dorian or anybody else. You’re the only logical choice for leader. You, together. Thank you.”
Shira steps down to the thunderous applause of the crowd and the shock of the leaders on stage.
dictel park. Nancy runs into the heavy Eightieth Street traffic, not looking, weaving her way between the speeding cars as the voice directs. Angry commuters honk and scream at her. A few try to run her down. But her faith is absolute. The voice commands her will. She follows it to the other side of the street.
She runs past the park picnickers. She runs past the children in the playground. She runs past the gangsters dealing drugs. She runs past the mad architecture of the Dictel Towers. Toward the deepest, darkest, most wooded part of the park, the part the authorities warn everyone to avoid if they value their lives, the voice directs her, and she runs. Like a criminal on the loose, into the wooded zone she runs; into the darkness she disappears.
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Copyright © 2012 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
[Revision 4 Final, 10/8/12: Mostly new scenes; the few scenes from 11.4 R2 heavily revised for Revision 4 continuity. Name changed from “Making Plans”.]