Monday, March 11, 2013

Spanner 19.1: The iPhone Murders

...from previous

Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 19: Hackers of Reality
Part 1: The iPhone Murders (Final Revision)

If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.
Malcolm X

Whom the mad would destroy, first they make Gods.
Bernard Levin

14 october 2014.
The riots die down. The militants lick their wounds. For once the people are left to themselves. They do not exploit one another like the Conservatives do. Instead, they band together and start rebuilding. They buy, they scavenge, they dare to repair; they cook for each other, tend to each other’s children, shelter the people in direst need, watch for predators and chase them away.

They are not like the great and powerful, the men like gods who live to deify the Ego. They are proud, simple, and above all social. If God spurns them for the great and the powerful, they can live without God. But they cannot live without each other. Their unity is their strength. In unity, in defiance of all Party directives and CPMC decrees, they rebuild, and the companies of the Consortium too.

Even SPEC must shut down Bangor High for a day to repair the damage the final episode of TerrorVision inflicted on the main building. Its insurers put Ross on a strict timeline; he reluctantly complied. Construction and hazmat crews hurry to rebuild walls and clean up carnage, even cleaning up bullet holes from Ron and Don’s final fatal rampage eleven days ago. Ross will open the school tomorrow, or the insurers won’t fund it, period.

Some use the day for free play. Charlie and Desiree give Sylvia a full day dedicated to sexual healing: cuddling her, making love to her, simply being there to give her their pure unconditional love. Kio spends the night making passionate love to his traumatized love Colette; her family and closest friends hug, kiss and comfort her during the day, before letting Kio treat her to another night of love. The reunited cinnamon twins take turns making love to their grateful mother, the girl with the violet eyes, and each other.

But others seize the day for action. While Sylvia and Colette heal, the Student Union meet at Mudlark House to prepare for the crackdown they expect from Spiekerman and Falconer, punishing in the usual Conservative way the student body for the crimes of the administration. They appoint Willa as their outside advisor and designate Jennifer to bring her cousins the twins into their operation.

And on her birthday one of Lady Penner’s fangirl dreams comes true when her rich father gives her a special-edition iPhone, on the back of which is the most adorable picture of the most adored of all virtual pop idols, Miku Hatsune.
Fox: Today, Navy Admiral Alan Fleer, Supreme Commander of West Coast Forces, announced his intention to restore order to riot-plagued Cascadia by revoking CPMC’s public management authority.
Fleer: Brinkman is a complete and utter incompetent.
Sun: CPMC CEO J. Walter Brinkman delivered his response personally.
Brinkman: If Admiral Fleer thinks he can socialize the public management industry that is the pillar of Our Nation, he’s only revealing himself to be a typical socialist government looter.
ABCNN: The Admiral publicly denies rumors that his actions have anything to do with suppressing rumors of sexual indiscretions.
Fleer: There is no truth to those lies.
QVCBS: He has ordered the United States Police Force, Bringing Home The War On Terror™, to bring order under his command.
USPF Spokesman: There is no power struggle here. All Conservative Revolutionaries are united in our struggle to eliminate the plague of Communism from Our Nation. The enemy has attempted three insurrections against us in two weeks, and we have put them down with righteous ruthlessness and the power of Jesus America. We’re taking measures to prevent any more insurrections. America Bless God!
ESPNBC: COPCO CEO Brendan Sparks criticized his decision.
Chairman Sparks: If the Admiral thinks that pack of trigger-happy yahoos can keep order, he needs his head checked.
All: Admiral Fleer refuses to comment.
technosphere. The Darknet “kremlinology” discussion boards come to an unusual agreement: there’s a coup d’état going on in Cascadia. Alan Fleer is using the United States Police Force to overthrow the Cascadia Public Management Corporation.

The killer invades the bright-eyed girl’s dream: if he kills her, she’ll die for real. Four younger women surround him to protect her: she knows them as the Blonde Phantom, the cinnamon twins, and the girl with the violet eyes. “Fools!” he yells, ”I have a target to terminate!”

Shira flashes him an ironic smile. “You’ll have to go through us first.” The girls shift into the form of angels with red, gold, and black wings, armed with thunderbolts, holy fire, and a ring-pass-not in which they trap the assassin.

“That’s impossible!” says the assassin. “Angels can’t incarnate!”

Jennifer says, “You’re assuming Catholic doctrine. Shamans and pagans long ago broke those barriers.”

The violet-eyed girl warns, “Don’t you mess with our friend, motherfucker, or we’ll mess with you, big time.” She Repulses him out of the bright-eyed girl’s dreamworld; he screams and vows revenge as he disappears.

15 october 2014.
shira’s apartment.
The phone wakes Shira up. She picks it up: Sparks. “Hello?”

“Good morning to you on this lovely Wednesday.”

Shira looks out the window. Dark, cloudy, rainy: stereotypical Cascadian weather. “So what trouble’s in store for us today, J.T.?”

“Oh, the usual. SNAFU, y’know.”

“Fleer’s declared martial law yet?”

“And his ‘Fearsome’ comrades are already sharpening their daggers.”

“He won’t know what hit him. Love ya ’bye.” Shira puts the phone back on the nightstand next to Arvid’s card and rolls over to kiss the groggy beauty struggling to wake up beside her.

“Mmm. That woke me up,” says the girl with the violet eyes. “What’s so urgent?”

“One-Eye and the Preach fucked up, so Big Al’s making his move.”

“Oh, great.” Leila scrambles over Shira’s body, runs to the window, hurriedly shuts the blinds and curtains.

“You’d think these guys got the sense to figure out when enough is enough.”

“I know these people. They have no sense whatsoever. Only ambition.” The girl leaps back onto the bed and Shira, then kisses her harder than usual. ”You know how much I need you. But right now you need me. When we go outside, I don’t want you to wander so much as an inch away from me. We’re together at all times once we get out the front door, okay?”

“Gotcha, babe. But why all this concern over me?”

“Fleer hates you more than any of the Foursome.”

Shira shows her the card in its case. “Fears is more like it. I don’t think he’ll be getting out of this intact.” She reaches back and sets the card on her phone. “This time, though, I intend to be nice to his daughters.” She winks.

school lobby. Construction workers frantically try to finish rebuilding the entrance when Team Bremelo arrive. The guards know them well enough to let them through without an ID check. The propaganda on the new screens lining the entryway is not Fashion-Industrial this time, but Party. “Where’s the adverts?” asks the girl with the violet eyes.

Jennifer frowns. “The advertisers are blackmailing SPEC.”

“Figures.” The girl sneers at the propaganda. “So they torch liberal strawmen yet again. How repulsive.”

“Hey,” says Shira, “strawmen burn easy.” Kira rolls her eyes. Shira spots Marina rubbing the bump on the back of her neck. “Still bugging you?” Marina nods. “I can arrange to get it removed.” Marina sighs in despair; Shira hugs her.

Lady walks in, her attention fully absorbed in Miku’s latest hit and furious texting. Charlie gives Sylvia a pep talk, reminds her to be upbeat and cool, and gives her a hug and a kiss while another ’ship forms around them. Fangirl factions threaten war, with the established Lira and Shiffer ’shippers joining forces against the Shkira interlopers; Shira ignores them, hugs and kisses in turn the nameless girl, Jennifer, Schuyler, Karen, Mimi, and her own twin sister. Kira playfully slaps her own butt. “No-panty fuku and we’re getting away with it? Cool.” Shira kisses her and winks. She then goes on to kiss all her boyfriends starting with Bremeloes Connor, Rob, and Cory, as a crowd of students marvel that she has an identical twin.

homeroom. They patched the walls Barney SATAN! crashed through. Though they remain on edge after the TerrorVision stars’ orgy of destruction, they welcome Shira’s long-lost twin sister like a war hero returned home. Like her sister, Kira hugs and kisses everyone in the room, every single one of her friends.

Kira pulls Colette into a tight hug and kisses her. “Hey guys, Colette almost died for you. She needs you more than ever.” She directs Colette’s classmates to her; they hug and kiss her, and they all cry together.

principal’s office. The principals force themselves to face the ironic smile on Shira’s face. She notices how scared Falconer looks behind her perpetually angry mask. “It’s not my private video collection you should be worrying about, Major. Stolen iPhones go for thousands on the black market. Pray that nobody finds yours. If it’s a custom unit, consider yourself lucky if its thief lets you live. And if anybody finds out what’s on it... but I know you don’t want to even think about that.”

homeroom. When Sylvia returns, her entire class mobs her, hugging her, crying for her and with her. They don’t stop when the bell rings; deep in their hearts they know she needs them.

Then a series of gunshots ring out. Everybody falls silent. Screams of panic in the halls. Polly bursts in.

“Guys! Lady's been shot!”

hallways. Two of Ross’ volunteer guards run away giggling with glee. Shira, Kira, Jennifer, and the nameless girl arrive to where Lucy and Kelly are screaming: there lies Lady, dead. Lucy wails, “Why, God, why did you have to take Lady away?”

Jennifer kneels to inspect the dead girl. Shot three times, once in the head. She immediately notices the earbuds with their jack lying uselessly on the floor beside her. “They stole her iPhone.”

Lucy and Kelly gasp. “iPhone?

“To sell to the Mobs. Let’s go!” Joined by other Bremeloes, they chase after the killers.

parking lot. The two guards reach their Hummer when they spot the Team Bremelo fighters running out to confront them. “Back!” yells the nameless girl. She puts up her Repulse field to shield them.

The guard with the iPhone leaps up onto the hood and shoots a full automatic 100-shot AR-15 clip at them; the bullets ricochet off the Repulse field. “I’m rich, motherfuckers!”

Before he’s done shooting, his comrade shoots him in the back, scoops up the phone, slips behind the wheel, and peels out with smoking tires. Jennifer says, “He thinks he can sell at the ferry terminal.”

Shira runs for her hoverboard. “I’m on it!”

eightieth street. The guard is confronted by another volunteer guard behind him as he prepares to cross the busy main street. “What the hell do you want?”

“The profits God promised me!” He jumps the other guard. They wrestle for the iPhone, throwing each other on the grass and flinging the phone away; the would-be thief punches the other in the kidney and drags him over to the street, where he throws him right into a speeding cargo truck that slams into him at twenty over the 35-mph speed limit. He goes back, retrieves the phone, dashes and weaves recklessly through heavy traffic until he reaches Dictel Park.

Shira switches the hoverboard ignition on.

dictel park. The thief hears the cock of a gun and the word “Freeze!”

He holds his hands up and smiles. “I’m innocent, off—”

The cop shoots him dead and steals the iPhone. He turns to his wife and smiles. She smiles back. They embrace.

She stabs him in the back, pulls out the knife, and steals the iPhone. She turns to her gangster lover and smiles. He smiles back.

He shoots her and steals the iPhone. Another gangster shoots him and is shot in turn; the scene turns into a war of all against all, gangsters killing gangsters over a single iPhone. Soon Li’l Badd comes out and mows down the survivors with the AK-47 he stole from the Chinese. Once they’re all dead, the boss without a gang giggles madly as he shambles toward the iPhone.

One gangster rises from the ground. He was only playing dead. He picks a pistol off a corpse, reloads it, and shoots the shocked face of Li’l Badd. He swipes the iPhone and skips happily to the parking lot.

His girlfriend waits for him in the car. He gets in and kisses her. She shoots him point blank in the heart. She shoves him out the still open door, slides into the driver’s seat, and speeds off toward Bremerton.

Shira rises on her hoverboard, not caring if anyone can see she’s wearing nothing under her skirt, and flies off after the speeding car.

telesphere. KCUF piratecast the news. Their surplus newscopter reaches the scene of the chase; their beautiful anonymous reporter is on the case.
Nameless Reporter: A massacre in the outlying Seattle suburb of Bangor, and all of it over a single iPhone?
Desiree: Now why would people do such a thing?
Nameless Reporter: For what an iPhone represent: social status within the revolutionary hierarchy, instant wealth for those who can sell it for high multiples on the black market.
ferry terminal. Shira lands her hoverboard on the roof and takes out a bungee cord. On the sidewalk below, the woman with the iPhone approaches a man who seems to be her lover. They do not notice her rappel down behind him.

He holds his hands behind him. She thinks he’s going to pop the question. She takes the phone out of her purse. Love mixes with greed in her eyes. “Now can we go to South America?”

His eyes are only full of greed. He brings out a pistol and points it at her and grins. She gasps in horror, but before she can protest he shoots her three times in the chest. She stumbles backward several feet before she falls. He stands over his dying victim. “Uh-uh. New Africa’s where the real money is.” He shoots her between the eyes. “Fucking bitch.” He sees people screaming and fleeing from him, and his Ego grows larger as it feeds on their fear. A cop yells “Freeze!” behind him; he shoots him dead, then looks for an iPhone to sell to the Niggers but finds none. He turns back to retrieve the iPhone from her corpse.

Shira trips him from behind. He lands on his nose and breaks it.

She picks up Lady’s phone from the corpse. She looks it over. It’s still set to play the last song Lady ever heard. She plays it: a sweet love song, and in English. Miku’s simulated voice seems so real it touches her heart.

The killer climbs to his feet and points his gun at Shira. “Fucking bitch, that’s my profit! Die!

She stands up and holds out the iPhone. He shoots—

—the bullet passes through glass and shatters it, through circuitry and computer chips, through the adorable cartoon face of Miku on the back — and and the sweet voice of Miku Hatsune sings no more.

He stares in open-mouthed horror at the iPhone he has just murdered and screams: “Nooooooooo!

Shira Thomas still stands, unharmed. She stares at him unsmiling, a man convulsively mourning the death of his own Ego, as uniformed cops drag him away to certain oblivion.

A COPCO car pulls up and Sparks gets out. They watch as the killer is driven away. “I don’t see how so many people can kill each other over some piece of equipment.”

“Life is worthless when there’s an illegal collector market and your Ego depends on it. Remember the cursed jewels?”

“Like blood diamonds?”

“Hear who he was gonna sell it to? Think Nike. That’s the whole business model.”

He stares back at her. Her eyes say It’s true. “Really.”


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Copyright © 2013 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
Creative Commons License

[Revision 4 Final, 3/11/13: Mostly new material inspired by recent headlines and Aeon Flux, along with scenes from Revision 2 and one new scene from the “KCUF News” sequence originally in Chapter 18. Original R2 title: “Into the Snake Pit”.]

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