Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 17: Power, Corruption, and Lies
Part 6: The Law of Plausible Deniability (Final Revision)
Part 6: The Law of Plausible Deniability (Final Revision)
harborside hotel. Sparks closes the door behind him. “How’d you manage to keep the same hotel room?”Amanda: Seattle Public Education Corporation officially rejects all rumors that the cost of repairing its member schools damaged over the weekend will impact vital educational services.SPEC Spokesman: Our corporate mission is to train the best workers who will earn the most profits for the companies Our Nation serves. We officially deny that cutting education serves this mission profitably.Shira: (as Bangor High School Student Union spokesman) SPEC’s been steadily lowering not just the quality but the amount of education for two years running. Students are supposed to be the customers, not the product. If SPEC doesn’t get its business back into education, students will refuse to pay to not be educated, and it’ll soon be out of business, period.Amanda: (the original’s unused message) I’ve been under extreme stress for a long time. I’ve gotten to the point where I can no longer handle it. I’ve lost the ability to do my job effectively. All the stress and backstabbing are getting to me! I can’t handle it anymore! I’m retiring from the media business effective immediately.Gossip Reporter: Will she quit, commit suicide, or go nuts on the air live like Howard Beale?Amanda: I’m still here, and you’re still watching. (winks)
The bright-eyed girl winks. “‘Alice Murgatroyd’ lives here.“
“Pseudonyms never stopped any celeb hunter I know.”
“I’ve got enough look-alikes, I can pretend to be one. Better yet, all of ’em insist on calling themselves ‘Amanda Currie.’ Now I’m the only look-alike who doesn’t.” She lets her dress drop and shows off her nude body to him.
He tosses his fedora and trenchcoat aside, unbuttons his shirt, unfastens his slacks, drinks in the sight of her. “You’re as beautiful as I remember.”
“It hasn’t been that long.” She gently caresses his face. “What really happened to your face?”
He throws off his boots and smiles. “It’s not your fault.”
“It is my fault.”
“Mine. The new face is to remind me I’m not my father.” His scarred body is now as naked as her. “Frank blames himself too.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“I was the one acting like a stupid criminal.”
“It’s still my fault.”
“Don’t blame yourself for what my father did. He hated both of us.”
She slowly runs her fingers the length of the scars on his chest and starts to cry. He takes her into his arms; they kiss with the fury of lovers forced apart by hatred and despair — she lowers to her knees, kisses all the way down his chest, slips her mouth over his penis, fellates him hungrily — they wrestle on the floor, her on top, him inside her, battling against and with each other, she uses her newtype power to power him to her extreme of erotic ecstasy—
rich passage. People crowd the outside decks to watch the exotic sight above and take pictures. Frank and Jennifer’s long blond hair trails behind them. Jennifer warns, “You better make sure she doesn’t get hurt, or there’ll be hell to pay.” Frank looks at the girl with the violet eyes; she nods in agreement and winks. He picks up speed and weaves through the air currents; Liz and Radica follow.
seattle. Arisa runs down the Westlake Center stairs, always skipping a step. People on the slow escalators look at her strangely and wonder why she’s in a hurry. On the bottom floor she turns and soon finds herself in the station where her contact waits for her: Shira. They share a knowing wink. “How you feeling, girl?”
Shira shrugs. “Still kinda meh.”
“Up to hunting?”
mudlark house. Willa, Hope, Angela, and Desiree hurry the dissident teachers in, then shut and lock the door. “Lemme guess,” says Sylvia bitterly, “they’re denying this too.”
“It’s their fixed pattern, I’m afraid,” Willa replies, smiling sadly. “Whatever doesn’t go their way never happened, by definition.” She shoots a hard glare at the two masked anarchists on the couch. El Kabong and Evil The Cat reluctantly take off their ski masks. She smiles.
Your television picture disappears. The eight-bit helmeted image appears in its place on all channels.Sun: CPMC leadership has released a statement—Spokesman: Party membership is not required simply to buy food. The rumors are false.Fox: The chairman of COPCO has announced—Brendan Sparks: No, we are not giving up on the hunt for Spanner. We’re Americans. Terrorism must be avenged.ABCNN: The Cascadia Party Council rejects all accusations of disunity during the visit of King Patriot last Sunday.Spokeswoman: America is perfectly united behind the Party against the mortal threat of Islam and Communism.QVCBS: The new local Party chairman for Seattle publicly denies all rumors of adultery.Party Chief: (arm around wife’s shoulder) I am perfectly faithful to my wife. We shall make this a moral city yet.ESPNBC: Viewers, I’m the real Amanda Currie. Those scandals belong to somebody else.
The first reports of desperate crowds smashing grocery store windows begin shortly afterward: around every single store that sells food, open or not, mobs of poor people break in and start stealing food whether it’s been bought or not. With cries of desperation they steal food from the shelves; from carts of shoppers, some comfortably middle-class for the moment, others skating as dangerously close to the edge of destitution as the thieves. They fight clerks, security men, shoppers, each other. They take as much as they can, not caring what it is or how edible, only that there is enough of it to hoard. The store managers’ panicked calls overload the emergency phone lines.Spanner: The Law of Plausible Deniability decrees that whatever the rulers deny is true by definition. The official media deny what the rulers want them to deny. Therefore the rumors are true.Now catch me if you can. And try to go eat.
north seattle. Shira and Arisa march into a shabby Aurora Avenue storefront. There is no sign because the business is illegal. Two surly burly off-duty cops confront them in uniform. “What are you doing here?” the bigger one demands.Amanda: Breaking news! Food riots in the streets! Bestial mobs looting every store that has food!Jack Becket: —animals! A bunch of [bleep]ing animals! We need to put these beasts down!
Shira reaches into her jacket and flashes out a sheaf of bills. “Business.”
The big cop tries to take the money away from her. She jerks her arm back; he grabs only air. He laughs and then growls, “Ladies, we have a right to know your business.”
The owner appears between them. He looks like a Respectable Businessman. Shira and Arisa aren’t fooled. He buys dark-skinned child sex slaves. “May I help you, ladies?”
Shira subtly exposes her bounty hunter’s license. She looks toward the room the target is in. His voice is unmistakable, even in mid-orgasm. She flashes the owner a mischievous smile. He puts an index finger to his lips and wiggles his eyebrows. She winks.
They sneak into the room, unnoticed by the distracted target, and hide. The slave screams in terror and pain; the target beats and rapes her with glee. The women resist the urge to vomit. They wait until the target reaches orgasm, when he is most helpless. Shira switches on the flash on her phone’s camera.
Arisa flips the light switch on. Shira leaps out of hiding to the edge of the bed and whips out the phone. He looks up at her in shock and terror. “Say cheese!” she coos. Arisa takes out her camera, and the two women take pictures.
harborside hotel. Sparks and the bright-eyed girl share a long hot bubble bath. “Tell me,” he asks, “what is ‘Amanda Currie,’ really?”Amanda: This just in: new Seattle Party chief caught in clinch with child prostitute! Full story after the break!
She smiles mischievously. “She hears the command, reads the sign, and cheerily chirps the party line.” They laugh. “Seriously, the Admiral’s prodigal child and I are not the same thing.”
“And now the prodigal can come home to her master’s house?”
“And I’ve come home to myself at last.”
“Without a name at all?”
“A true anonymous beauty.” She climbs onto his lap and kisses him.
“Are you really happy to let yourself vanish from history?”
“All I care about is enjoying my life while I’m still alive.”
“They won’t let you.”
She gives him a pensive look, then smiles. “I guess we’ll have to seize control of history, don’t we.”
mudlark house. While Angela waits for Dr. Whistler to respons, El Kabong declares, “There’s ‘history’ for ya. What a Conservative scam. Real revolution runs on myth.”
“Bullshit!” snaps Sylvia. “History’s their enemy.”
“‘History is bunk’ is one of the Party’s official slogans,” Angela adds.
Willa says, “The Party live in a world of myth: the Promised Land, the Lost Cause, the Permanent Riot, the Stab in the Back. Let them have myth. Truthiness and magical thinking go with it. History belongs to us.”
Angela’s phone rings. She picks it up. “She’s coming.”
Dr. Whistler replies, “We’re ready.” The call ends. Willa and Hope feel her elation immediately; for the others, she gestures thumbs-up.
seattle. COPCO vans and helicopters swarm the streets; armoured strike cops spring out, cattle prods in hand, to rush the rioters like berserkers screaming “You’re under arrest!” — beating anyone they can find, anyone in range: rioters, employees, customers, children; arresting them, beating them again, throwing them into their vans, and beating them yet again, loudly declaring the victory of Southern justice over the “traitorous” civilian masses who, according to the Myth of the Lost Cause, stabbed America in the back. Anarchist raiders and SRO terrorists leap to the Party’s Gang Rules Challenge, attacking the vans to liberate the prisoners...
spec headquarters. CEO Ross faces down the huge face of Jack Becket on the monitor. The Chief points at him. “It’s your fault!”Amanda: COPCO’s heroic crusade against the rioting rabble continues! The company has released this official statement:Locke Holmes: We already have the disturbance under control and are hunting down the masterminds behind the plot.
Ross protests, “I don’t control the news media, John, nor do I spread rumors that threaten the stock price of my company! The day of our IPO is approaching, and I want nothing to derail it. Nothing!”
“Then explain what’s going on at Bangor High.”
“Your grandfather started it, both the school and its problems. I only inherited it. I don’t care how sentimental your family gets about your precious ‘school of newtypes,’ I may just wash my hands of this mess and let your family deal with it and your newtypes. That includes Shira Thomas, and you know it! Now go stop your riots, and I shall get back to my business. Good day.” He cuts the call, interrupting the Chief as he begins a screaming rant.
seattle. The hoverboard racers fly full speed over the Salish Sea into the city. Frank yells, “What the hell’s she come down with?”
Jennifer replies, “The corruption.”
The racers look at her strangely. Liz demands, “What corruption?”
“Same one that infects the Party, only it’s ruining her physical health not mental.”
Radica points ahead. “That must be the pure case up ahead!”
They see a Flyen Monkeez hit team speeding at them head-on. “Exactly!” The racers split apart and fly in loops to distract the Klownz, fly erratically to throw them off; Frank, more ruthless than Shira, manipulates the most vicious into colliding with the leader; the girl with the violet eyes, more ruthless still, sabotages the survivors’ lifters so that in less than five seconds the hit squad is so much falling debris. The racers turn north to cross the Ship Canal.
bangor. A criminal crowd brawl and mosh to deafening hate metal in one of the abandoned warehouses that litter the business district. Christian White and the Master Race, the most famous hate metallers, were supposed to play; instead, they got Gang. Eddie Evil, Sikki Sykopath, Barney SATAN!, and the Hitler Brothers intend to provoke their fans to riot. Meth and moonshine flow free throughout the venue. Soon they get their wish, and a flock of newscopters swarm in to shoot the spectacle.
mudlark house. They watch SPEC’s stock price tumble on the big screen. “The company is not in trouble,” an official company spokesperson officially denies. Sally sighs in despair. “What’s wrong with these people?”Amanda: A vicious gang of heavy metal Devil worshippers is rioting like wild beasts on the Westside! Full shocking video after the break!
Kitty rolls her eyes. “I think they’re looking for an excuse to ban education for all but the rich.”
Willa grins. “Hanlon’s Razor.”
The librarians say together, “What?”
“‘Never attribute to malice what can be adequately be explained by stupidity.’ For a school superintendent, Pete Ross makes a good hedge fund manager.”
Willa’s phone rings. Jennifer says, “We’re there.”
westlake plaza. The crowd in the plaza was hand-picked to exclude any of the resentful locals. They are here to witness the swearing in of the new Conservative Revolutionary Party leader for Metropolitan Seattle to replace the one who died last Sunday when the Scarab lost control of his superpower. Even so, rumors of his scandalous fondness for enslaved girl children travels through the crowd.
On the balcony of the Westlake Center building, Princess Drusilla Becket AMERICA!, Chief Shepherd of the Church of America in Cascadia, holds out a copy of the Book of America. The new chief raises his right hand and puts his left on the holy book. The Fearsome Foursome watch from nearby. She opens her mouth to begin the swearing-in—
Suddenly a bomb goes off before Drusilla can get her shield up—
harborside hotel. Sparks and the bright-eyed girl lie together on the couch. “You know I’m in love with Shira,” she purrs.Amanda: Breaking news — a terrorist bomb has just gone off at Westlake Center, killing the city’s new Party leader as he was being sworn in!Bram Rodchenko: We will avenge the monstrous murder of the people by the rabid running dogs of the Conservative Revolutionary Party by any means necessary! We cannot be stopped!Drusilla AMERICA!: (enraged) I command all Party cadres to hunt down the moral cannibals of the Socialist Revolutionary Organization and torture them to death! This inhuman outrage demands revenge!
He smiles and shrugs. “What’s not to worship?”
“She seduced you too?”
“We’ll have to, if she survives this intact.”
Suddenly Sparks’ phone rings. Kowalczyk. “Emergency, Stu?”
“They finally did it.”
He goes rigid with rage. “Those idiots — I’m there.” He resists the urge to throw the phone.
“What is it?” the nameless girl asks.
“Oh my god—”
“Let’s go.” They leap up, hurry to get dressed, and rush out the door.
north seattle. The hoverboarders approach their destination. Shane Chantry directs them from the ground. When they land, he takes Shira from Frank and rushes him in; the racers, Jennifer, and the girl with the violet eyes run in after him.
Inside, they find that Karen and Deth Pussy are there with Irina and Luna. Zac runs in, struggling to take off his jetpack; Oz Bean helps it off. They follow Shane and Shira into the basement laboratory where Dr. Whistler waits with—
Everybody stares in surprise. Everybody knows exactly what this means. Shane puts one Shira on the table next to the other. She stares wide-eyed at her double — her jaw drops, she takes in a breath — she whispers:
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Copyright © 2013 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
[Revision 4 Final, date: revision notes here. Original title in R2 “We Officially Deny,” renamed to match a major recurring theme.]