Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 16: Don’t Change the Channel
Part 3: Faith and Suicide (Final Revision)
Part 3: Faith and Suicide (Final Revision)
7 october 2014.
shira’s apartment. At first her consciousness is fuzzy. She stretches her body in place. When full awareness returns, Amanda opens her eyes and finds herself in an unfamiliar bed. She rolls onto her side, letting the covers slide off her bare breasts, and sees Shira sitting up next to her. She rests her head in her lap. Shira smiles down at her and caresses her cheek and hair. “Good morning, bright-eyed girl.” Amanda sighs.
The girl with the violet eyes arrives with three breakfasts-in-bed. She leans over Shira’s legs to kiss Amanda on the lips. Amanda moans from the feel of the girl’s soft lips and the smell of breakfast. “C’mon, sit up, bright-eyed girl.” Shira helps Amanda up. The nameless girl puts their trays in front of them, then takes hers around the bed, climbs in beside Amanda, puts her tray up, and caresses Amanda’s thigh.
Amanda says, “Did you erase your number?”
The nameless girl stares at her in surprise. “What number?”
“The Personnel Control Number the Party assigns to everyone. To have one is to be a slave; to lose it is to be marked for death.”
Shira says, “I’ll bet being a Populist means losing your number.”
The nameless girl says, “The Plan involves culling numbers.”
Amanda says, “The number of the Beast.”
warren avenue bridge. Light rain falls over the Port Washington Narrows. Shira and her violet-eyed girl walk hand in hand under an umbrella. They walk silently together to the middle of the bridge. No one bothers them. Then the girl faces the water and says, “Stop.”
She raises her right hand. Her red-rose signet ring is still there on her ring finger. Slowly she takes it off. Ring in hand, she reaches out over the water with her left hand. She smiles at Shira.
She lets go of the ring.
They watch it fall, hundreds of feet, till it reaches the water in a tiny, barely visible splash.
Shira smiles back.
They tilt the umbrella back so the drivers on the bridge can’t see them. They gently pull each other into a tight embrace. For an endless moment they stare into each other’s eyes. Their lips drift together till at last they touch. They share a long, sweet, languid kiss.
bangor high. For the first time since last week’s evacuation of the city, all the teachers and most of the students have returned. The teachers prepare their classes, the students and tutors greet their friends with hugs, kisses, sobs, gossip...
And then Colette Rosewater enters.
Everybody stares at her in shock.
Physically, she seems to have recovered quite nicely from the blow Bernkastel inflicted. She even looks a bit younger than she was when the Blade Knight fell. Shira’s kiss at Team Bremelo’s picnic that was really for her succeeded in cheering her up. She spent the weekend break in welcome companionship with family and friends.
And now she has returned to Bangor High.
“Hey, look!” cries Mimi, “it’s Colette! She’s back!” Word spreads like wildfire, girls scream with unbearable excitement, nearly the whole school rush over to embrace her all at once. Losing Nancy hurt even Pretty Team hard though she was unpopular and mentally ill. Surrounded by screaming sobbing friends all showering her with grateful kisses, she breaks down and cries with them, lost in the moment.
Jennifer says to OZMA’s icon on one of the adscreens outside, “Now our last important Player is in position and ready to strike.”
Through her bra computer and body, into her inner ears, the city AI replies, “Now all you need that’s left is a plan.”
“That’s next.” She winks.
At last Colette joins Kio, Karen, Dexter, and Polly at the center of attention, a team in their own right.
homeroom office. Shira left her blouse on the desk. Now she stands in Dave’s arms, letting him caress her bare back because it comforts him. She notices the package on his desk. “I wonder how much Trystero jacked up the price.”
“At least it’s keeping snail mail American.”
“Till it too sells out to Chinese Corporatist Party (Holdings) Limited.”
“I keep forgetting that...”
The door opens. Charmian stands in the frame, shooting them her best “gotcha” smile. Shira smiles at her and cheerfully says, “Hi, Charmian!”
“Is this what I think it is,” Charmian asks, “or is it one of these things you do with old friends around here?”
“You were right the second time.” Shira turns to her and leans against the desk, not bothering to cover her bare breasts. Charmian walks up to her. Dave hurries to close the door before anyone else sees them. Charmian gently runs her index finger down Shira’s right breast. When Dave returns, he finds Charmian’s hands on both Shira’s breasts, both girls blushing furiously, gazing intensely into each other’s eyes. Charmian gently squeezes. They both smile huge.
“Do you mind?” asks Charmian.
“Not in the least.” Shira winks.
Dave observes their lips slowly approaching. Their unnervingly intense stare looks less like enmity than love. At last their lips gently touch for an endless moment. Charmian moans gently and lets her eyes close. She whispers, “I know about you and your violet-eyed girl.”
“I knew about you and Kelly from the beginning.”
“They’re already here.” They suddenly part. Shira puts her shirt back on.
At that moment, Kelly opens the door. She stares suspiciously at Shira and Charmian. “What do you two think you’re doing.”
“Having a discussion,” Shira says.
She flashes Kelly a mischievous grin. “If I tell you, I’ll have to kill you.” She winks.
homeroom. “Looks like we’re all accounted for except two,” says Dave.
Jennifer says, “One of ’em’s a dead football player, so he’s accounted for.”
Debbie, Kelly, and Christie walk in just in time for the bell. They glare at Ruthie’s large breasts, then at her mortified face. “Well,” Debbie snarls, “look who’s gone easy.” A male classmate giggles.
Shira stands up and gets in Debbie’s face. She towers over the young Pistol Knight. “Debbie, why are you picking on a girl who just got raped?”
The boy panics. “I didn’t rape her!”
“Sure you didn’t.”
“I only said I ‘scored’—”
“Your friends told me you’re a ‘Man’ now. Spiekerman knows that means either murder or rape, and she ain’t dead.”
Shira intimidatingly leans over the boy. “Sure, boy, it was just a kiss.” She twists his collar to choke him. “You’re messing with my friends, little boy. That means you’re messing with me.” She lets go. He leaves the room in a panic. She shoots a murderous glare at the mean girls. “With y’all as accessories!”
“Shira!” gasps Charmian.
The nameless girl slaps Debbie. “If Ruthie’s a ‘worthless slut,’ then so am I! ‘Special Friend’...”
“Cut it out, Shelley...”
“You can’t handle the fact that you girls are here in the doghouse with me ’cos you’re too pretty for marriage!”
Kelly stares at the girl’s right hand. “Leila, where’s your ring?”
“At the bottom of the ocean, lost forever with my name.” The Conservative students gasp in horror and outrage.
Suddenly Mimi bursts in screaming. “There’s dead girls in the locker room!”
girls’ locker room. They’ve already turned blue and started to stink: fourteen naked girls hanging from the shower nozzles by the scarves of their uniforms. Guards are already battling a crowd of students determined to take pictures of the corpses. Shira feels two cold hands clasp her right hand: Marina staring at the dead girls in horror. Connor says, “From the looks and smell of it, they hanged themselves while we were saving the Ibrahim sisters.”
Charmian tells her contemptuously, “Those football players were heroes, but I told them they shouldn’t be dating skanks. Well, here they are, skanks and stalkers.”
Marina blurts, “Those were my friends!”
“They were nobody’s friends and you know it!”
“She’s right,” says Shira. “They didn’t believe in friends.”
“Damn it,” Marina sobs, “if Tina hadn’t gone to Pretty City, we’d have been dead here with ’em...” Shira hugs her.
Suddenly a bomb goes off outside the building...
front door. The noise is deafening: large and heavily armed men in military dress, waving Imperial and Confederate flags, screaming through bullhorns and from sound trucks, “Liars! The massacre never happened!” In their self-righteous fury they deafen themselves and everyone in range to anything else.
“That’s not true!” protests Debbie. “I killed the leader myself!”
Jennifer says, “I got the other one too!”
Shira marvels, “They deny the brain I stuck a pencil into?”
Charmian indignantly asks, “What in God’s name are these people?”
“Denialists,” says the girl with the violet eyes scornfully.
“They believe reality’s a Satanic conspiracy against America,” Jennifer explains. “So they deny evolution, AIDS, climate change, the Holocaust, and now what happened last Wednesday.”
“Can’t convince ’em, sorry,” says Shira. “But we can scare ’em off.” She dashes off. Jennifer gets Debbie and Charmian’s help keeping Bart and Team Valiant from confronting the fanatics.
Shira bursts into the janitor’s office. “Zac! Get your SK-1! I got a plan.” She hijacks his computer and pulls out its Kinect.
Zac chuckles. “Whatcha got in mind this time?”
She grins. “Scream Gems.”
“Let’s go get ’em!”
The wibble-wibble of the WGBH logo joins the cacophony. The Sony “S From Hell” fanfare plays backwards. The Patriots start to look warily when thick lines appear around them and begin to converge as Zac begins playing a twisted improvisation on the Sony theme on his circuit-broken Casio SK-1 keyboard. Zac twists the knobs as he plays; Shira grins wickedly as she gestures like an evil sorceress before the Kinect. When the lines converge, they form the creepy composite logo Shira used against the Nike corporate rally on the first day of school. A loud chord shrieks; the logo suddenly becomes huge, looming above dangerously close; the Patriots flinch, but the closest students flee inside. Shira lets out a maniacal laugh. The holographic vision takes the aspect of a writhing nest of giant worms (Debbie and Charmian: “Ewwww!”); convinced it’s a demon, the Patriots stop yelling and empty their assault rifles at it, multiple clips; the bullets hit air. They have no idea what they’re seeing is the product of a holoprojector. Fearing the “demon” will eat them, they flee to their transports and speed off.
The students cheer. When Shira returns, the more mischievous of them throw money at her even before she can bow.
period 1. The girl with the violet eyes reaches under her desk and finds her textbook gone. Debbie and Kelly giggle; the nameless girl glares at them suspiciously. Jennifer clears her throat and stares; they shut up. Shira loans the girl her own book.
The dead Gar Smith has been replaced by his antithesis Laura Jane Stableford, Yankee Puritan to his Dixie Cavalier. She delivers her lecture as half sob, half rant. “Why do men have to be such savages?” she lectures. “They’re always leaving the women to pick up the pieces! What happened last week, and last weekend, are perfect examples.”
Polly whispers, “Did she just break up with another boyfriend?”
Shira smirks. “Totally not.”
“...almost always the women who build societies behind the scenes and hold—”
Kelly stands up and screams. “That’s all lies!!”
“Young lady,” Miss Stableford snaps, “this is supposed to be a social studies class!”
“There’s no such thing as society!”
The nameless girl throws Shira’s textbook at her, then runs out the door; Kelly chases her out in a screaming fit.
period 2. Shira groans when she sees her flighty stepsister Lovie Thorndyke in biology class, knowing how little she knows about anything, but she sits down anyway. Lovie begins, “Hey, dudes and dudettes, what’s up? We’re gonna have a totally slammin’ class!”
Students can’t resist giggling. Charmian sourly asks, “Youth pastor?”
Shira replies ironically, “Like totally.”
Jennifer grins. “Bodacious, eh?”
Cory licks his lips. “I’d hit that like damn.”
The violet-eyed girl feels something climb up her leg. Kelly giggles. Lovie continues, “We’re gonna learn stuff about God’s world that’s totally radical to the max, totally!”
Charmian’s jaw drops. “Where’s she supposed to be from?”
Shira replies, “Cloudcuckooland.”
Debbie writhes in torment and struggles to not cover her ears. Jennifer says, “The ket’s in the beg, eh?”
“More like way un.”
“...totally goin’ on...” Lovie spots the tarantula, screams, and climbs up on the desk. The students laugh at her. The nameless girl calmly picks it up and leaves to return it to the science room.
Shira leaps up and pumps her fist. “Fuxellent!”
Lovie glares at her and trembles in anger. “Shira!“
locker room. The Bremeloes take their coed shower in the pool boys’ room. Polly complains, “Why do they have to have so many itchy trigger fingers all of a sudden?”
“It’s for the investors,” the nameless girl says, “not our safety.”
“They can’t stop another school invasion! They don’t think one of them could start one?”
“That’s why we’re starting our Peace Committee,” says Karen.
Colette echoes, “That’s right!”
Shira says, “Nah, peace would only get in the way of their precious Lost Cause.”
“Can Spanner even stop ’em?” asks Polly.
“Hard to say. My Scream Gems have been pretty effective so far.”
“Is he gone now?” asks Harumi.
“Not by a long shot.”
“Say, cousin,” Schuyler asks, “how come those Patriots insist there wasn’t an invasion last Wednesday?”
“They think it’s a liberal conspiracy to steal their guns.”
Jennifer winks. “It’s truthy, you know.”
“Like liberals even exist,” says Kio sourly. The nameless girl snorts in contempt; the others laugh.
hallway. Akane accompanies Shira at her locker. “You always leave this early?”
She puts her books away and packs her backpack. “Depends. Today we got a meeting at the station. You’re free to skip class and join us.”
He idly looks away. “Sorry, but—” He gasps. She turns to see what he’s seeing and finds a long-haired young woman who is not a student standing in a nearby shadow. He demands, “What are you doing here?”
The woman walks closer to reveal herself as a young Asian woman, pretty and narrow-eyed. She speaks in a Japanese accent. “Hello, Akane-kun. I knew you’d find her.”
Akane glares at her. “I was trying to keep her away from you — Reiko-san.”
Reiko smiles. “But you led me to her.”
Shira studies her carefully. “Reiko-san... As in Matsumoto Reiko?”
“It is my pleasure to meet you at last... Shiratori Mirai.”
Her eyes go wide. “How do you know me by that name?”
“You know how. I came to tell you something very important about your power.”
“Everybody knows I got my Charmer power straight from Marie LaVeau.”
“A Charmer didn’t do what you did on Sunday. That was onmyouji power. You belong to the same lineage as me.”
Akane blurts, “You did that?”
Reiko doesn’t let Shira answer. “Not only did she do that, she also caused her girlfriend’s power to emerge.”
Shira asks, “Why are you so certain about this?”
“I saw it myself.”
“You were there? I though only white people were allowed there.”
“The Black Terror was there, and so were you.” Reiko puts her hands on Shira’s shoulders. “Mirai-san, please let me teach you how to use your onmyouji powers.”
Shira stares at Reiko while Akane stares at her. “Uh, I guess I’ll think about it.”
“Do so! We will meet again, Mirai-san... or Shira, if you prefer to be called that.” Reiko walks away. Shira and Akane look at each other; but when they look at Reiko again, she is gone.
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Copyright © 2013 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
[Revision 4 Final, 2/1/13: Heavily condensed and revised for Fourth Revision continuity. Some scenes originally from Chapters 8 and 14 R2. New scenes added for R4. Original title “Pick Up the Pieces” (now the final title of 16.2).]