Simulation 26, Part 2

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“Why do you do this to yourself?”

 

***

 

You’re cowering in the closet again. Eyes tightly shut, face pressed as close to the wall as you can get it. There’s a crash, the sound of broken cookery and smashed items from beyond the door. Before, before you would have gone to see, to check and make sure. Now you just bury your nose deeper into the corner.

 

Outside the screaming continues, inaudible yet you know its vicious and hateful. You don’t need to hear the words to know the tone. It’s the same song and dance day after day.

 

Feelings are hurts, words are used as if they are just sharpened knives, and gapping wounds are made.

 

On and on it goes. Endless it seems until it’s not. Silence reigns and continues to grow. Cautiously you pull away from your corner. Ear pressed to the door you listen, silence.

 

You go into the kitchen. It’s vacant. Strewn around are the remnants of a once immaculate table.  With an air of long practice and light feet you begin to pick up the pieces of your life.

 

***

 

“Fifteen, sixteen, seventeen”, you count quietly under your breath nails digging into your thighs.  Four bloody trails roll down the slope of you body, pooling in the crease of your groin.

 

“Twenty.” Slowly your fingers relax their grip.

 

You stare at you bloody nails frowning. Meticulously you begin the clean up. Using your thumb to clean the moist blood and flesh from under your nails. One hand at a time wiping every so often at a near by tissue. Four tissues later you fingers are as immaculate at they will be.  You should get a manicure soon; you frown down at your ragged cuticles.

 

Peroxide next, you don’t want the cuts to get infected, infections lead to sickness and sickness leads to questions. And you have too many scars and not enough good answers.

 

You bite your lip at the burn of it but not bloody, not anymore you’re an old hat at this now.

 

***

 

The you that stares back in the mirror doesn’t look like what you think you look like.  This person has to be you though. This weak, sad, pathetic creature is you. This pale, shallow skinned, limp haired, sad sack of flesh is all you’ve got.

 

You purse your lips and try to image what it’d be like to be attractive. You can’t. You try to smile bright and huge like you’ve seen others do, you grimace. Your teeth are crooked and stained yellow, your lips too thin on the top and too puffy on the bottom. You look like a crazed person, the kind people move across the street to avoid. No, smiling won’t make you more attractive.

 

You away from the mirror and flop backwards, just short of missing your bed. Your ceiling is far more attractive than you are.

 

Suddenly there’s the sound of a door slamming into a wall, the bonce back and it slamming shut. You freeze, deer in headlight stupid and in the way. Maybe if you don’t breath no one will know you’re here.

 

Hold it.

 

Hold it.

 

 

Hold it.

 

 

Hold it.

 

 

 

Hold it.

 

Door slams.

 

You breathe again. No you think you need to be braver first.

 

***

 

“This is so I never forget”

 

. . . Terminate Simulation 26 . . .

Simulation 14, Part 1

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I miss him.”

* * *

The bowl shatters across the wall and sends porcelain shards and noodles in a cascade against the tile. Each piece, as it flies away and begins falling to the floor disintegrates into nothingness as it gets further from Jeanette, as if it is falling away into pixels. She doesn’t see that though, or notice it. It’s not a part of the memory; it’s part of what’s left of it.

“How could you fuck her? How could you do that to me?”

He’s looking at her from across the counter, his eyes full of a rage as vivid as the one she feels. She knows there will be hell to pay for the broken bowl but the time for that is later. She also knows that if she doesn’t express her anger somehow now there will be much more than broken bowls tomorrow.

“It just happened. You were gone and–”

Her hands fly from the counter where she’d rested them and she pulls her eyes away from him to look out the window behind her. There is no landscape outside but her eyes don’t tell her that, only that this is what she sees. A featureless landscape of a color that is less than white and more than nothing.

“I was gone for a week! While I was telling my mother how much I cared about you, you were fucking her! You were inside her and I was gushing over how in love we are. How is that okay?”

“Look, I know. It’s not okay but you have to understand.”

She looks at him then and she sees that he’s crying. She sees that his knuckles are white against the pale brown counter as he clutches the edge and she’s no longer sure who carries more rage or desperation.

She reaches across the counter to touch his fingers.

* * *

His hand is like a white hot iron across her face and as her head cocks sideways she can feel the imprint of each fingertip across her cheek and know that there will be an outline there tomorrow. The skin stings and burns where his hand has left her face but the pain of the second slap is far worse.

“Baby!”

The words are more squeak than a voice as they come out but they’re drowned out by the smack of his palm on her cheek again. She can feel him pulsing inside her with each contact and each searing spasm means she can feel herself contract around him.

“That’s too hard. Please. . .”

She presses her knees to his sides as hard as she can as she rides him and starts to squirm from the pain. The tear of her bottom lip leaves a streak of red across his palm and she sees the blood as his hands reach to her hips and pull her down harder on him, lifting her and bouncing her body off of him.

“No.”

And then she’s on her back and he’s holding her down. His giant hand is wrapped around her wrists above her head and his body is on top of her, pushing against her. His other hand wraps around her neck and starts to squeeze as he pounds into her, pushing her head against the wall as she chokes under his fingers.

* * *

Each drop of blood that falls from his fingers seems to be accompanied by a tear falling from his eyes but not a single drop of fluid touches the ground, instead seeming to disappear. Each splotch, red or clear, never forms on her dress or on the floor but Jeanette neither notices it or sees it. That’s not part of the memory. It’s part of what is left of it.

“Baby, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry I made you so angry.”

“My hand. . .”

His hand is a mangled mess and around them on the floor she can see the shards of the mirror. Small slivers are stuck in his knuckles and she turns his hand over in her own, examining it. The wounds are shallow and it doesn’t seem broken.

“I’m so sorry baby, I didn’t mean to hurt you. I didn’t mean to do it. . .”

She wraps her arms around him and gently pulls his injured hand behind her as she does. His body is wider than her own but she manages to surround him and his head falls against her shoulder and begins to weep.

Each of his tears soak into the sleeve of her top accompanied by her voice.

“It’s okay. It’s all going to be okay.

* * *

How can you say that? After he hurt you so much.”

But that’s is. When he hurt me was the only time I felt real.”

. . . Terminate Simulation 14 . . .

Must Be This Tall to Ride, Part 3

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Artino looked up at the Altairian with the gun and realized that he was tall for one of his kind. Maybe even three and a half feet even without the head scarf. He’d noticed so little about him before but now he, like everyone on the bus, was very interested in what might be going on inside the shooter’s mind.

Even the man who he’d shot was looking up at him, his eyes glazed over with the pain of his wound but with his brow furrowed in confusion. The idea that a Stump might have shot him, might have hurt him, seemed to confuse him as much as anything.

For a moment Artino wondered if the tears running down the human’s face were as much to do with that quandary as with the spreading pool of blood. He pushed that thought away though. The only thing to worry about now was trying to salvage the situation and possibly save his own life, as well as those of his family back home.

“My name is Artino.”

The words felt flat and stilted, even in the deep baritone of his kind, but he armed them with every bit of friendliness he could. The other Altairian looked at him again then and said, “I cannot tell you my name but you may call me Fighter.”

“Fighter.” Artino let the word roll off of his tongue and hoped that his nervousness was well hidden. He had never seen the blood of a human in person and the stench was overwhelming to his sensitive nostrils. “Why is today going to be a glorious day?”

He immediately regretted the words as he saw the face of the Fighter light up in enthusiasm.

“Today will be a glorious day for many reasons.” He paused and Artino could see his eyes narrowing in a fit of rage as his four shoulders arched backward. “Today will be the day that the Freedom Fighters of Altair show how strong we are and how strong we will be.”

And suddenly every person on the bus, human and alien, locked eyes on the one calling himself Fighter, searching in his eyes for a vague hope that the day might not end with all of their deaths.

“Listen well, Whistles.” The derogatory word for humans came out with such violence from the Fighter’s face that Artino started. He’d never heard anyone use the word in the presence of one from Earth, though he imagined they all knew what the word meant. “You have taken everything we have and given nothing back. Our technology, which we offered in peace, and our culture. You mix our homeland’s music with the horrible noises you call entertainment and you have fattened yourselves off the plant altering techniques we brought, but what have we gotten in return?”

He paused for effect and waved the gun in air above him before noticing that the bus was slowing down and that the driver was looking back at him as well. The barrel of the pistol came across the side of her head then and the pierce of her scream followed the small spray of blood to the back of her seat. The Fighter though, seemed to have calculated the pressure of his strike and she continued to drive, though whimpering all the while.

“We scrub your toilets and we build your terrible junk products which are too dangerous for your own weak bodies. We work for you for nothing and always under the fear that we might offend. You have turned us into slaves, but no more.”

Artino noticed the blue and red lights then, circling the bus. It seemed the driver had pushed the emergency alarm after all, though the Fighter seemed to ignore it.

“But now, now we shall–”

The man on the floor interrupted him then, his words falling from his lips as gasps of breath but loud enough to stop the Altairian.

“You won’t do shit. You’re just a bunch of weak willed little piss ants.” The man took a deep breath and tried to lift himself against one of the seats, only to fall back into the puddle of blood beneath him with a grunt.

“You dumb little fucks couldn’t do anything with that tech anyway, dying fast as you do. We’ve done you a favor and if any of these assholes in the back of the bus had any balls they’d take you down now. What’s the world coming to that we’re letting goddamn Stumps talk to us like this. . .”

The Fighter lifted the pistol then and pointed it toward the forehead of the man, barely three feet away. The man’s eyes were not on it though; he examined his knee, seemingly for the first time as he trailed off and the tall Antairian tensed.

Between his gun and the body of the human suddenly stood the body of Artino, as surprising to himself as to any other on the bus.

“No. This is not the way to do it.”

Must Be This Tall to Ride, Part 2

kellyicon“Now, listen. You’re going to let me on this bus, then you’re going to sit down and drive like nothing’s wrong. Understand?”

Between the beads of sweat breaking out along the bus driver’s brow and the way her eyes locked onto the barrel of the gun pressing into her cheek, Artino doubted the bus driver had understood anything the young Altairian had said at all. A nervous murmur rippled throughout the bus. Was this for real? Artino could hardly believe it himself. It was illegal for Altairians to own weapons. Any human caught selling them faced imprisonment; any Altairians caught selling or owning a gun faced the rope.

Fear gripped Artino’s stomach like a vice. If the humans managed to take that gun away, there would be no arrest and no trial. His family would find his body in a ditch on the side of the road.

“What is this, some kind of joke?”

A square-jawed man with clipped blond hair rose from his seat and strode toward the front of the bus. The young Altairian eyed him warily, but the gun remained firmly planted into the cheek of the bus driver.

“This is some kind of alien rights shit, isn’t it?” The man stopped just short of Artino, towering over them with his six feet of height. “If it is, you can take your little toy gun and march your stump ass right out of here. If you’re so damn angry about the life we let you live on Earth, just go back to your own fucking planet.”

The air in front of Artino exploded. That was the only way to describe it. One second the man was towering over them, hand raised as if he was about to strike one of them; the next, there was a sound next to his ear so loud it pierced his ear drums like a knife, and the man was one the floor, screaming and cursing and gripping his bleeding knee. The murmur turned into a chorus of screams as the humans in the front seats rose and tried to flee to the back; all three dozen human clustered around the back few rows of seats like a flock of sheep threatened by an angry dog. Blood flowed in rivets from the man’s knee, following the slight slope of the bus floor until a shallow pool of blood formed around Artino’s feet.

“Any of you try anything else, and you’ll end up worse than him,” the Altairian said. He turned back toward to the bus driver, who had fallen back in her seat and given over to panicked blubbering, tears and snot dripping off her chin as she begged him not to kill her.

“Drive. Drive until you reach the Capitol building. You stop for anything, I’ll shoot you and do it myself.”

The bus driver complied, and the doors closed behind Artino with a swoosh. The engined revved and the bus eased out of the station and onto the highway, gliding swift and silent toward disaster.

Inside, the bus was full with the sounds of whimpers and sobs. The man who threatened them had finally stopped screaming, but started to let out a low, continuous moan as he doubled up over his knee. It occurred to Artino that he should have left when he had the chance, should have jumped out the doors before they had closed, should have never stepped out of bounds in the first place, but all he could focus on was the blood. Everything other thought in his head seemed vague and muted in comparison, like hearing someone shout from the other side of a closed window.

Next to him, the Altairian slipped a small, square contraption from his coat. He flicked a switch and a small display lit up and began to count down. He turned to Artino and smiled.

“Never fear, brother. Today is a glorious day.”

Must Be This Tall to Ride, Part 1

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The Number 14A was late. The Number 14A was always late.

Artino had taken to calling it the “Number Late-Teen A” in his thoughts but the extra twenty minute wait at the stop honestly wasn’t the worst thing in the world. He always left an hour early, just in case, and the extra time to himself was always a nice reprieve from the twelve hour shifts and the monotony of home. Still, it would be nice if the bus could come on time, at least once this millennium.

But today it wasn’t and after an hour and ten minutes Artino was starting to get a little antsy. If he showed up more than fifteen minutes late at the office they would dock his day’s pay and still expect him to finish the shift. Not only that, he’d have to speed through cleaning the first two floor’s bathrooms and bins. Not something he ever looked forward to, though doing it faster wasn’t that much harder than doing it slow.

If only there were jobs closer to home; the only work for Altairians was in the city as cleaners, janitors, dishwashers, and bellboys and that meant taking the bus. No one would hire one for anything else, especially out in the suburbs and honestly, the work was pretty well suited to his kind, if degrading. Standing about three feet tall on average, their race had fallen right into the roles of servants since they’d landed on Earth thirty years ago. Not that any of those from that first wave were left alive, what with their lifespans lasting only fifteen to twenty of the local’s years.

Scratching his left hind ear Artino thought of his grandfather Marcina, one of the original scouts for the first landing ships. He remembered how the old one would complain endlessly of the life they’d found here. He’d talk all day about how desperate the command crew of the massive generation ship had been and how they’d picked this planet as the only inhabitable one in range as the stocks ran low. Of course even that had been many generations before grandpa; at least 100 of the Earth years.

Second Grandmother Icknaria, though, would always stop him and say how grateful they should be that the humans had taken them in at all, what with their desperation, but then First Grandmother Asnap would scream and yell and flap her four arms about how this was no heaven, how they were all slaves, etc. etc.

Sometimes Artino was glad the old cunt was dead.

Number 14A Bus is canceled for the next two cycles due to mechanical difficulties.”

The words started to scroll across the top of the stop as Artino was lost in sight and on the second pass he noticed them, only to stand with attention. If the bus was canceled he would not only loose his pay for the shift but he would end up being docked for the week. An entire week without pay would mean he, his three parents, two di-wives, and six children would go without food for the meantime.

Two other Arturians stood up at the same time and began to fidget nervously, edging closer to the electric rails which the buses rode on, eyeing each other and looking up at the sky as if the weather might somehow affect the bus schedules. The weather on their home world, though no Arturian had seen it in millions of their own years, had harsh enough weather to imprint on their instincts even now.

Looking to his right he noticed that one of the others on the platform was dressed a little shabbier than those who were obviously here on their way to work. That one was dressed in the same humanistic clothes as the rest of them but his were festooned with little splashes of color and a head scarf of brilliant red geometric patterns. The styles of their home world were catching on with a part of the youth, Artino had heard, especially those in the new movement for Arturian rights.

What ones weren’t imprisoned or “disappeared” by the humans.

The Number 14 bus though, rolled right in on time as they fidgeted and when it did the couple of humans waiting patiently on their own bench stood up and started to walk toward it, making a point to not look down at the aliens or notice their presence at all, much less their anxiety.

Artino looked at the screen on the side of the bus emblazoned with number 14 and the time, doing the math in his head as he figured that if he could somehow take this bus he would make it on time to work, but barely. Of course he wouldn’t be allowed on the 14 bus proper, that was only for humans, but maybe they would listen to his plight. Maybe this once, he’d even pay double the Arturian fair. Surely they’d take that since the human buses were free.

Rushing toward the door as it whooshed open he stood behind the two humans and after each walked aboard he lifted his small left feet to put them upon the bottom step. Mid way through though, the bus driver, an older human woman with dark skin, stood up and shouted down at him.

“Hey, don’t y’all see the goddamn sign?”

Of course Artino saw it though, that sign that he’d seen so many times in so many variations. Must be this tall to ride, the words emblazoned in red against a marker at roughly three and a half feet.

“But I really have to get to work and I–” His voice the deep monotone of his race, was cut off by the woman before he could finish.

“Yeah yeah, and don’t be tellin’ me that shit. Sign say’s y’all can’t get on so back off before I call the cops.”

“But I–”

“Hey, stumps, let me tell you–”

And quicker than either one could register there was the one in the shabby clothes and the Arturian scarft between the two of them staring up at the woman on the steps with her angry eyes and shouting in the same deeply baritone voice as Artino, “Who you callin’ stumps, huh sec-mo fucker?”

“Y’all better back off ‘fore the cops get here. I just pushed the panic button and you. . .”

But she went silent when the other one’s second left arm came out holding the gun and reaching out toward her head with the barrel pressed nearly against her cheek.

“What now, whistle?”

 

July, 28 (Pt. 3)

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TL;DR

Germany needs to stop using EMP weapons or face repercussions from the world community on charges of warcrime.

–P.M. Richard McGuinness

Sam blinked away the twitter feed and closed his eyes. Leaning against the back of the old trench wall he took a deep breath and reached down to scratch at his right thigh. Something about the prosthetic there just hadn’t stopping itching, even after nine months with the implants and cybernetics. The skin around was supposed to heal nearly instantly and every doctor through the rehab said they couldn’t imagine why it would itch but itch it did.

Giving himself a moment to just revel in the satisfaction that came with scratching it, he felt the cool dew falling on him with the coming of the night. Perhaps this unused line might be the best place to bed down for the evening, though he’d been hoping all day to make it a little farther. It seemed a miracle that the Germans didn’t have this stretch of trench better monitored and he knew it would be best to take advantage of their failures. Too rarely did they make mistakes so when they did it was best to take advantage.

Leaning further into the soft dirt of the trench, at least three months old and probably unoccupied for most of that time—the lines had moved quickly in the first few weeks of the war—he let his pupils stray to the icon lurking in the corner of his vision. He’d only been allowing himself one quick glance at the picture of Richard each day and he’d waited so long to see it but he knew that when he did pull of a picture of them together, smiling and happy, Sam’s legs still intact and Richard without the faraway look to his eyes he’d gained after the past year, he would have to begin the nightly fight to stop himself from pulling them up again and again, looking at photo after photo and video after video.

No, it was better to hold off for a little while, or at least until he was bedded down and safe. Lately he’d been managing to fight the urge at least three nights out of four and tonight he suspected he’d be tired enough to sleep quickly and soundly.

The feeds were a distraction at least, but one he felt best left alone as much as possible. Here he couldn’t upload any data and couldn’t view anything personal but he could see public feeds and sights as long as he didn’t go over the limits on the bandwidth. Anything too much would alert the German monitoring system of an implant in the area.

Of course the Germans had neutered all their own citizens in the same way and now, with the knowledge that they’d resorted to EMP weapons once again, ignoring the Geneva convention of 2072 which banned the weapons as a war crime, Sam knew that they must be desperate. He also knew that if the Germans were that desperate, it was likely the Brits were too. The Americans, the Chinese, even the Russians had stayed out of the battle so far but everyone suspected the Russian Federation had been shipping supplies across their lines through the Ukraine.

Allegations that India is sending supplies to the rebel fighters in Saxony are resolutely false. Bitches be trippin’.

  • Fasil Kanchana, Indian MP

“And what about Paul? Any word yet?”

Richard’s voice echoed in his mind as he closed the feeds again, looking off into the distance at the orange of the setting sun on the western horizon. The sunsets had been beautiful this year all across Europe with all of the debris in the atmosphere. Unfortunate that it took so much death to create such beauty.

“No. I’ve hope though, and in–”

But then he’d lost the connection, as brief as it had been in Paris where he’d hoped he could get away with the encrypted line. The last time he’d talked to Richard. Possibly the last time he ever would.

No, stop it. You’re going to see him again and you’re going to save Paul too. He stood up and shook the thoughts out of his head, pulling his pack open and laying his thermals across the soil of the trench as his ears pricked up at the sound of engines in the distance. Peaking over the edge he could see a jet, coming in low over the horizon and towards the sunset. It sounded like one of the new fifth gen Harriers but quickly all sound of it was pushed aside by the screech of the Eurofighter on its tail. Both jets screamed over the ground above him and he could see the RAF roundels on the underside of the Harrier along with the Iron Cross on the forward wings of the German plane as they flew over.

The RAF had been on instructions to stay low, he’d read the other day, in the hope to neutralize the Toureg’s speed and maneuverability. Jumping down and running to the far edge to peek over again, Sam could see that the method was having about as much success as he’d thought it might. The Harrier quickly sprouted a plume of smoke as it moved quickly into the distance, shrinking into a small blot which burst upon the ground in a splash of bright orange ink, the triumphant plane shooting upward as a screeching mark in the sky.

July 28, Part 2

bernicons            “The military leaders of UK’s armed forces have met today with leaders from France and Italy to discuss strategy for the impeding war with Germany. We have with us former General Nathan Howe and diplomatic correspondent Maria Chavez to enlighten us further on just what this means. General Howe, Ms. Chavez, thank you for coming to the studio today.”

            “Of course, Rachel.”

            “So Ms Chavez, what do you think the of the likelihood that the UK can persuade the United States to join their cause?”

            “To be honest, Rachel, it’s very touch-and-go at this point. UK leaders are wary to make any sort of military alliance with the United States ever since the early 2000s when they did nothing to stop the turmoil that the US tangentially set into motion after their War on Terror campaign. Luckily, we’ve been in an extended period of peace so there’s been no real need to bring up these concerns. President Michelle Obama-Johnson expressed in a White House meeting that her nation’s government feels for their ally and does indeed want to help, but the King is hesitating to reply. Although he may not have that option for long.”

            “Are there any other world powers you can think of willing to help in this fight?”

            “As you know, the Ethiopian government was eager to send aid after the bombing of Fort George Alexander Louis- but they may not officially issue military help just yet. China is also staying on the sidelines for now. Many are in the face of Germany.”

            “Bloody cowards.”

            “Do you have anything to add about China, General Howe?”

            “None. I’m talking about the Germans Miss Carter. But the bloody Germans are cowards though.”

            “Why do you say that?”

            “The EMP bombs they drop in the battle field short circuit soldier’s implants-“

The nurse lowered the television volume so that it could barely be heard. Sam grimaced, the subtitles were moving much too slow for him to care to keep up. “I was watching that,” he said.

The nurse smiled sweetly. “I’m here to prep you for surgery, Mr. Vance. You won’t see the end of the program anyway.”

“But Richard hasn’t come yet.”

“Your family will need to hurry up then,” she said chipperly, “There’s a list of soldiers waiting for cybernetic prosthetics and today is your day.”

Sam checked the time. “But it’s two hours away.”

“Prep takes a while, Mr. Vance. I’m sure your husband will be here shortly. Now please sit up.”

She pulled away the sheet that covered Sam’s lower half and though he didn’t want to look, he did. He had been forcing himself to look at his legs; what was left of them, as they ended mid-thigh. He had been very lucky. Much luckier than Sgt. March or Lt. Colonel Whittaker or really anyone else. Sam was one of three survivors of Fort George Alexander Louis.

“Sam!” called a familiar voice. Sam looked up and felt Richard’s lips lock on his. Richard then pulled away out of breath. “Sorry I’m late.”

“You’re right on time, Mr. Vance,” noted the nurse. She eyed the two. “I’ll be back in a moment.”

“It’s not like there’s much privacy to be had here, ma’am,” observed Richard. The large room was just partitioned off to make little ‘rooms’ for the recovering soldiers.

“I’ll be back, soon,” she said in an octave lower than her regular voice as she stepped away. It was a Terminator VIII that had come out last year. Had Sam known any of this was going to happen, he might have taken Richard out to see it.

Richard sat beside Sam, holding his hand. He was somber. Sam rubbed his husband’s hand in his. “I can’t just sit on the sidelines, Richard.”

“Paul wouldn’t want you to do this,” he said, not looking Sam in the eyes. “Not to just look for him.”

“I know he’s out there.”

“No, you don’t.” Richard’s voice was much more stern. “I don’t like this idea of you getting these legs so you can go to a warzone and find Paul.”

“What am I supposed to do, Richard? He’s MIA behind enemy lines!”

“Do you really think your superiors are going to let you go on a wild goose chase to find Paul?!”

“He’d do the same for me!” Sam had yelled too loud, he could see it in Richard’s face. Sam reached out and pulled Richard’s face toward his, resting it forehead to forehead. “I’m coming back baby. I promise.”

“Sam, don’t-”

Sam pulled Richard in for a kiss. “I promise.”

July 28, Part 1

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London

28 July 2114

The Government of the Federal Republic of Germany (Bundesrepublik Deutschland), not having answered in a satisfactory manner the note of July 23, 2114, presented via electronic message by the British consulate in Berlin, the Royal Government of the United Kingdoms are themselves compelled to see to the safeguarding of their rights and interests and, with this object, to have recourse to force of arms.

The United Kingdom consequently considers herself henceforward in state of war with Germany.

Herbert Abu Lughod

Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

“What the hell?”

Sam blinked the image away from his eye and looked at Sgt. March. The Sergeant blinked his own left eye too and looked back at Sam and the other privates, knowing that each of them would have had the same message showing on their own implants, sent by the command.

“They can’t mean that? War with the Germans? What about the rest of the damn EU?”

March cleared his throat and stood up from the mess hall table, his chair screeching across the smooth cement floor as he did.

“It appears they have boys, and what the other Peons do is up to them. I suppose old France will step in beside us and the Italians as well. God knows what the rest will do.”

“But–”

And the rest of the mess hall, each private, NCO, and officer slowly coming to the realizations which the message brought, stood up and began to shout, began to talk all as one. Some yelled encouragement and cheered, others began shout disbelief while a few stared gently off into space, lost in thought.

“Goddamn Germans, you know this has got to do with Israel–”

“Yeah, we may be declaring war on them but god knows they started it stepping up to Israel’s plate after they nuked the goddamn Egyptians–”

“Fucking Sand Niggers had it coming, you ask me–”

“But what about the Ukraine? They have to come in–”

“Oh god, and the Russians. What the fuck will they–”

“Always the fucking Jews innit–”

“Hey, shut up you fucker. Jews ain’t got nothing to do with it. Those Israeli assholes can fuck off and I won’t be dumped with ’em–”

Sam looked down at his own hands and thought of his brother in Jerusalem, or somewhere outside of it, working on a kibbutz. Of course all the bother over Israel had been all over the news but who could have known that there could be a war? And between the civilized states. Over Arabs.

“See what the Chinese do, that’ll be the decidin’ factor, you ask me. Goddamn gooks’ll–”

“Oh, but you know the damn Yanks ‘ave a hand in it too.”

“Ten, hut!”

The Lt. Colonel walked smartly into the mess hall, his adjutant at his side. All in the mess hall stood at attention and as a unit became silent. Colonel Whittaker was not known for his forgiving tendencies.

“Gentlemen, as you all have been made aware by the high command, we are in a state of war. I am sure that many of you have been following the appropriate news channels and are aware that we may be at war with many states but at the moment it is sufficient to say that is of no matter. All feeds are being cut off as of now. Your services will go silent shortly, so I suggest you use them while you can.”

The room remained silent of words then but there were gasps and squeaks of surprise. Many in the room had never in their lives been completely cut off from the web. Many were terrified.

“Further, to those of you who may have kin in the German Republic, do not worry. This is not a shooting war and there is little to worry about at this juncture. That being said, we will start now on high alert. Let it be known that–”

Sam looked up then, along with every other face in the room including that of Colonel Whittaker. The distinctive sound of one of the new Eurofighter Toureg fighter-bombers shattered his thoughts as surely as it shattered the commanders words and it was only in the briefest of moments that he realized the sound he’d seen in so many videos, the sound of that plane with the strange new hydrogen turbine engine, was above and in multitude.

It was the sound of that engine that overwhelmed even the sound of the shrapnel and rubble of the far side of the mess hall exploding.

Pineapples, Am I Right? (Part 3)

raboicons

“But it’s good just to see Rachel with someone who isn’t a disinterested prick. She’s always ended up with these passive aggressive men who made me nervous but this guy seems to treat her well, at least. And he’s very handsome.”

You humans are silly.”

“And cat’s aren’t? What do you know anyway?”

Some where around this time Elizabeth began to remember that she was talking to her house cat and perhaps she’d lost her mind. Still, she marveled, it’s amazing how quickly a person can get used to the surreal.

“And speaking of that, how the hell do you know about Sailor Moon?”

Don’t look at me, I’m just a cat. Probably just a figment of your quickly debilitating mind.”

“And what does that mean?”

She suddenly stood up in disgust and found her hands on her hips looking down at the tabby. Elizabeth was by nature a good-hearted and quiet person but to be insulted to so effectively was enough to give rise to even her pride.

Again, I’m just a cat.” Piddles paused to lick his genitals again, his legs splayed in the air, “But come on. You’re what, twenty eight? That’s like eight million in cat years and you live alone, you work at a library, and you’re talking to your goddamn cat.”

The pot of water chose that moment to boil over and Elizabeth walked over to turn the burner down, her eyes narrowed and looking towards Piddles. “Well, I don’t normally do that, but you’re talking back today.”

Again, she thought, it’s amazing how quickly you get used to these things.

Uh huh. Remember, I’ve been here the whole time. As I was saying,” Again the cat paused to lick a particularly pungent part of his bum, “You live alone, talk to your cat all damn day and, pardon my forwardness, but when’s the last time you had a guy over?”

“Well, there was Brad. . .”

Brad, tall and balding and never quite sure what to do with his tongue, whether it be in his mouth or other places. Brad who came over twice and then stopped returning her calls.

Yeah, Brad. I may be a cat but that guy was a goddamn stray. And really? How many years was that in human terms? I was still a spring chicken, is all I know.”

“It wasn’t that long ago!”

Yeah, and what about Anthony?”

Anthony, his broad shoulders and his hairy forearms which flexed in that special little way when he slipped her the paper with his number on it. The number she’d thrown away wondering how any man could ever be so forward as to slip his number to the librarian.

“How do you know about Anthony?”

Oh, I don’t know. Maybe I heard about him from you for like two weeks and that one night when you kept moaning his name while played with that blue vibratey thing–”

“Hey!” Elizabeth stomped her foot on the ground and yelled at the cat, her anger finally up and the sound of the knife on the cutting board a resounding whack as she slammed it down. “That’s none of your business! And you chewed the damn thing up anyway!”

Eh, I was never that interested in your damn sex life anyway and I didn’t chew it up for the taste. It just kept jumping around under your pillow.”

“You little ungrateful. . . Turd!” She waved the knife at him then, slinging it around like a pointer as she yelled. “I feed you and I scoop your. . . your shit,” Elizabeth puffed her chest a little then, proud to have gotten her anger across, “and you talk to me like this.”

Hey, I’m just a cat remember? Just a figment of your imagination, but I’m just saying maybe you should get out more. Maybe call your friends occasionally when you’re not just desperate for help.”

*** All around me are familiar faces; Worn out places, worn out faces ***

And stop listening to such depressing music!”

Hearing the ring-tone Elizabeth picked up her phone and saw Rachel’s face on the screen again but this time it was her and Ian looking longfully at one another, Rachel’s lips a bright red and his cheek wearing a crimson imprint. Of course she changed her Facebook picture to some sappy crap like that, she couldn’t help but think as she picked up the phone and looked at the little icon, wondering if she should answer.

Looking at Piddles again, licking his privates once more, she idly picked a piece of the pineapple from its can and started to munch on it before she finally swiped the “answer” icon to the right.

“Meeoorrww?”

 

Pineapples, Am I Right?, Part 2

bernicons            Elizabeth sat up with her knees to her chest, a bundle of plaid flannel as she kept an eye on Mr. Piddles on the other side of the room, clawing aimlessly at his cat-scratcher like nothing had happened. Her hands shook as she hit the icon of a young Asian woman with her cheeks blown up like a puffer fish on her phone’s screen.

Elizabeth?” An audible gasp escaped Elizabeth’s mouth at the sound of Mr. Piddles’… voice. “Elizabeth, I’m still hungry. Really I am.

The phone was ringing. Mr. Piddles was still staring. Elizabeth told herself to calm down. That she was a grown woman for Christ’s sake… switch was awkward because she didn’t rightly believe in Christ. Until a few minutes ago she didn’t believe in talking cats either but here she was now. “Maybe my cat’s possessed by a demon-”

“Uh- is that you ‘Liza?” It was a man’s voice on the phone.

Elizabeth was confused for a moment, looking to the side. “Oh, that’s you Ian,” she said finally.

“Yeah, Rache is on the toilet,” he said, “She’ll be out in a sec.”

“Oh. Good. Yes,” stammered Elizabeth. “Yes. Good.”

Ian laughed. “So what’s this about a demon?”

“Demon!?” Shit. Mr. Piddles had disappeared from view. Elizabeth climbed up higher on her armchair.

“You ok?” asked Ian.

“Fine!” she blurted.

“Yeah… hey! Here’s Rache! Bye, ‘Liza!” he sounded all too glad to hand over the phone.

“…Stop making faces, Ian. Hey, Elizabeth?” This was Rachel. “What’s up?”

“L-look I need to ask you something,” Elizabeth was still scanning the room for her large, misplaced tabby, “And it’s going to sound crazy.”

“Okay. What is- hey stop it, Ian!” Rachel was giggling.

Elizabeth knew that giggle. It was the same giggle Rachel always had when she and Ian were ready to go home after a night downtown. They weren’t going to bed. “Can you two stop screwing around for two seconds?!”

“Geez, Elizabeth,” sighed Rachel, “Can you calm down?”

“No I can’t calm down! I have a crisis on my hands!”

Meeeooorrrw.

Elizabeth snapped around in the direction of the sound but Mr. Piddles was nowhere to be seen.

“Crisis? What sort of crisis?”

“Do you remember that show, Sabrina the Teenage Witch?”

“Yeah? So?”

“You remember Salem? That talking black cat?”

“Yeah, he was great. What are you getting at, Elizabeth?”

“… do you think cats can talk?”

A roar of laughter exploded out of the phone, so sudden Elizabeth almost dropped it. Rachel tried to talk through her gasps for air but failed. That failure only lead to more giggling her part. Elizabeth’s eyes narrowed as she heard the panted breathing of her friend between what she assumed was Ian’s kisses. “…Ian…” she breathed.

That was enough of that; Elizabeth promptly hit the end call button and sighed. “Gross.” Maybe it wasn’t so gross. It had just been a while for Elizabeth. Too long. This wasn’t helping, especially not with her crisis.

So are they actually a couple or just fuck-buddies?

Elizabeth screamed, jumping up into the air and tumbling herself and the chair over onto the floor, knocking over a lamp. Elizabeth rubbed her head and was glad not to feel any blood.

Are you alright?

Elizabeth sat up. Mr. Piddles was right in front of her, his tail playfully swishing back and forth. Her mouth was open but she didn’t know what to say.

Do you need more pineapples too?” he asked, “The effect doesn’t last very long, does it?

“The… effect?” Elizabeth pondered this for a moment. “The pineapple make you talk?”

Mr. Piddles licked his tiny paw at the end of his chubby leg and wiped down his forehead. “Isn’t it obvious? What, did you think that I was going to turn you into a Sailor Scout or something?

Elizabeth’s eyes went wide. “I love Sailor Moon!”

I know!” Mr. Piddles chuckled to himself. “But I’m too old to be Luna.”

“Ah… I see,” Elizabeth was little disappointed. Then she figured it was perhaps a little too much to hope that a woman her age could go traipsing downtown in a miniskirt fighting the forces of evil. That kind of stuff only happened to teenagers… with attitude. Then Elizabeth’s mouth pinched together in a determined pout. What was she thinking? ‘A woman her age’?! She was in the prime of her life! Living on her own and her freelance web design was really beginning to pick up! She was not only her own boss but the boss of her own life! She looked down at Mr. Piddles and smiled; heck she was more or less a teenage witch anyway.

So what are they, anyway?” asked Mr. Piddles.

“Who? Rachel and Ian?” Elizabeth rolled her eyes. “They say they aren’t putting labels on anything yet, but they practically life together.”

Mr. Piddles nodded pensively. “Seems silly.”

“Tell me about it.”