Tuesday, February 9, 2010

"GAMES" (1995)

Driving down the Pacific Coast Highway on a warm afternoon I’m beginning to feel drowsy from the pleasant sensations of warm air, the smell of the surf, watching the waves crashing on the beach, so inviting, so inviting.
Marie lays asleep in the seat beside me, and I realize I can’t seem to remember life without her; I certainly don’t want to imagine life ahead without her.
As I look out over the passing beaches, to the blue sea, I notice that there are no people on the beaches. This is strange, it being such a warm, sunny day. I would expect to
see at least a few sunbathers.

I come around a bend in the highway, and suddenly there are people everywhere. I slow down and pull into a “beachcombers” restaurant. Marie finally wakes up to my nudging. We get out of the car, and with a passing word she heads off to the bathroom.
I head into the restaurant.

Inside, there are people going off in every direction at once. I feel discombobulated. I’m not sure why.
I see someone who looks familiar at the bar to one side of the wall of windows overlooking the beach. I walk up to him. I’m not sure I know him —— I can’t place a name with the face -- but there is a gnawing feeling that I do know him
from somewhere.
As I stop in front of him he looks at me, opens his mouth as if to greet me, but then a look of perplexity covers his face. “Dont’t I know you?” he asks awkwardly.
“I think so, but I can’t think of from where,” I reply, slightly releived at his shared uncertainty.
“At school, maybe?”
“Maybe.” But what school did I go to? I’m drawing a blank. Did something happen to me out on the highway, that I’ve now blacked out?
“What’ll ya have, my friend?” the bartender asks.
I am suddenly terribly thirsty, so I order a soda. I look around for Marie. She is nowhere in sight. I start to really need her there, now, with me.
“'Scuse me a sec, I just wanna find my girlfriend,” I say to my friend.
“Sure,” he smiles. “Come on back, we’ll have a beer.”

Outside the wind has died down, and I feel the heat pounding on my head. I look around, don’t see Marie. I look towards the car. Not there either. I’m worried.
Now there seems to be some kind of raucous going on. From the direction of the beach, I hear shouting. Now screaming. People start running up from the beach. Others out
from the restaurant. I force my way back into the restaurant to see what’s going on. My heart is pounding out of my chest.
At the window I look out onto the beach. I can’t believe my eyes.
Hovering just over the surf are three strange looking ships. They don’t look like anything I’ve ever seen before. There is something totally alien about them. The sun shines
brightly on their metal skin. I assume it’s metal.
People run away from the ships. The beach is practically empty. I stand in awe. What is this? What should I do? Where’s Marie?
The ships move up above the beach. Ramps drop down from underneath them, and lines of —- men? -- march quickly down onto the sand.
I run out into the parking lot. No one is in sight. I feel fear in every fiber of my being. I run across the street. I don’t know what I’m running from —- Russians? Aliens? Time-travellers? -- but I know I must get away from them.
I duck behind some bushes on the other side of the highway. I carefully peak through them back at the beach. I see a couple of the invaders coming onto the parking lot. I’m
not safe where I am.
I creep along the rows of bushes, keeping low. They lead down a little side—street. I follow along.
I’m well out of sight of the beach, but I don’t feel safe yet. Up ahead I see a couple of small houses. I decide to head for them.
Suddenly, from behind me I hear, “Halt!” I run head long down the Street.
Before the closest of the houses is a large tangle of bushes. I dive in. And...

...crash into equipment. I sit up. There is one of the invaders manipulating a controlboard. It looks at me. I feel trapped.
As I try to rise I am suddenly held down by several more of them, who have come up behind me. I want to scream, but I am paralyzed. They hold my arms out to the side. Are they
going to kill me?
One, who signals the others with it’s hands —— it is in charge? —— stands before me. It rips my shirt open. I do not comprehend. I look down at my chest. There is some kind of
panel on it. The thing before me opens the panel. I do not understand. What is this? The thing reaches in. It pulls some wires...

"SHE WALKS" (1987)

She walks. Work is over. Another day is ending. Now the train ride home.
Preying eyes watch her as she walks. She feels them on her way to the station. She hears whistles.
She stands on the platform. People mill about. Amoung them are the eyes. One moves near her, looks her over, “Hey pretty mama, how about some fun?” She looks at her feet. “Bitch!” he barks as he moves away, eyeing other women as he passes.
On the train, more preying eyes. She finds a seat. All around eyes look at her. She wishes she could shrink up small.
A good-looking man enters the train. Their eyes meet. He smiles. She looks away. He sits beside her. She looks at him. He smiles again. She smiles.
The train slows down. “The wonderful efficiency of the Transit System,” the man quips.
“Maybe the conductor’s taking a nap,” She returns.
He laughs. The train speeds up. They are silent. The next stop comes up. He gets off. As the doors close, he looks back and smiles, but says nothing.
Another man sits next to her. He smells of beer. “Whatcha doin’ tonight, sweet lady?”
“Blowing up trains,” she answers.
“Hey, sounds like fun. Can I join you?”
“I only do solo.” She looks at her feet again. She feels depressed. Why doesn’t he go away?
“Not very friendly, are you?”
She says nothing. The man’s attention wanders elsewhere. He whistles some out-of tune.
She exits her stop. As she climbs the stairs to the street, she passes a panhandler who makes sucking sounds at her, as if she were a dog.
As she waits at an intersection for the light to change, a pack of wolves, closing up their construction site for the night, begin howling and whistling at her. One says, “Hey good-lookin’, how ‘bout you and me and someplace private?” They all laugh.
Her face heats up. Her eyes swell and become itchy.
More cat-calls, whistles, lip smacking. One comes over to her. “Hey, babe, how about a kiss?” The others cheer him on.
“No thank you.” Her throat is tight.
“Now, now, you’re not just a prick-teaser, are you?” he leers.
“Oooohhhh!” the rest chorus.
A male cop comes along his beat. “Aliright boys, you've had enough fun. Leave the poor girl alone.”
A downcast “ohhh!” comes from the pack. The ‘boldest’ one rejoins them.
The light changes. “They really don’t mean any harm,” the cop offers.
“Don’t they?” Her eyes tear, her brow creases.
She crosses the street. Walking fast. Down her block. She feels the eyes following her. Peering from windows. She looks up at the buildings she passes. The windows look like many eyes, coldly watching her.
She quickens her pace. Almost running. She must escape the walls of prying eyes.
She enters her building. Her heart is pounding. A neighbor man is at his mailbox. He gawks at her legs as she climbs the stairs.
She opens her door. Quickly, she enters, closes and locks it. She is safe.
“What took you so long?” demands her boyfriend. He stands in the entrance to the kitchenette, his arms folded across his chest.
“The train was...” she starts, low.
“What?! Speak up I can’t hear you!”
“The train was slow.”
He snorts. Walks back into the kitchenette. The depression envelopes her. She was safe, but...
“I’m hungry!” he calls to her.
She longed to just hold him. But he is grouchy when he is hungry.
She thinks about what to cook him for dinner as she crosses to the kitchenette.
Another day has ended. Another night begins.

"THE MORNING AFTER" (1983/'87)

Her eyes open.
The motel room. It’s dark.
She sits up. In bed. Naked.
The place beside her is disarrayed. She puts her hand over it.
She gets out of bed. Slowly she crosses to the window. Pushes open the curtain.
Blinding sunlight.
She puts a hand to her eyes. Sways, unsteadily.
She turns and walks to the dresser.
On it, her wallet lies open. She picks it up. Anger and frustration well up, covering her face. It is empty.
She looks into the mirror. She does not like what she sees.

The party.
She sat at the kitchen table smoking a cigarette. Why had she come?
People talked. Useless party talk.
She waited for the bathroom. The woman behind her, whom she had briefly, started rambling on.
“Great party, huh?” the woman asked.
“Yah, great,” she through out.
“Some great guys here, huh?” the woman continued.
"Yah, great.” “Got your eye on anyone?” “No.” “I do.” “Good.” “Jack. The one with the long blonde hair.” “Great.” “He’s such a hunk.” “Yah.” She was saved from further insight when her turn for the bathroom came up.
She entered the living room. Some guy stood in the doorway. Shirt open. Gold chains. ‘I’m cool’ written all over his face.
“How ‘bout you and me, babe?” he actually said.
“I have herpes,” she replied, and calmly moved on.
She watched the partiers. They seemed to be straining to have a good time. They drank, and smoked, and snorted, and dropped. They acted foolish an laughed about it. One very sexy woman, who was practically falling out of her dress, stood between two men, playing one against the other. She’d lean on one, then the other, laughing all the time. The men’s eyes burned.
She wondered where her friend Janice had got to. Janice had bought her to the party, then wondered off somewhere.
A spot on the couch was vacated. She sat down. Next to her sat a drunk jock. Singing some football song.
Suddenly, he noticed her. He lurched at her. Reeked of stale alcohol. She pushed nun away. He made kissy-kissy noises, and babbled something.
Another man came to her rescue. He told the jock that more beer had just arrived. The jock lumbered away. The new man sat down. He was nice.
“Thank you,” she said smiling.
“I can never resist a damsel-in-distress,” he smiled too.
They talked. For hours. She liked him.

She looks at her face.
She picks up the bottle of Jack Daniels left sitting on the dresser, and takes the last swallow.
She looks down at her breasts. Covers them with her arms.
She goes to the bathroom. Closes the door.
She gets into the shower. Turns the water on.
It feels good on her face.

They came here. The motel.
Both of them were drunk. Very drunk.
He kissed her hard. Took a swig of Jack Daniels. He offered it to her. She did likewise.
They went to the bed. On opposite sides, they undressed.
He rushed, and jumped into bed. She hesitated, then hurried and finished, and got into bed.
He got on top of her. They kissed. They fucked. He came. He rolled over and went to sleep.
She had a cigarette.
And cried.

She finishes dressing.
She looks at the bed.
She goes to the dresser. Picks up the empty liquor bottle. Examines it. Drops it in the wastebasket.
She takes a piece of gum out of her purse, unwraps it carefully, and puts it in her mouth.
She walks to the door. Opens it. Steps out. Closes the door.
She looks down at the “Do Not Disturb” sign. She flips it over.
“Maid Clean Up”.

The End


She waits. She knows he will come. He has before; when she wanted him. She sits in her bed, the only furniture in her room. The blue walls are bare, looking like ice by the single
small lamp. Bars cover the windows. She knows the bars will not keep him out. They were not meant to, for those who put them there (and took everything out of the room) do not believe in him.
She reads the Book. It is the way she calls him. She props it against her thighs, and reads of his seduction of Lucy. How he entered Lucy’s room in a fog. How his white face
bent to her throat. The momentary pain, then the swoom.
She remembers her first time. She began by reading the Book. She became fervantly involved, reading faster and faster. Then the hairs on her neck tingled. She looked up to find her room filled with a thick mist. Out of the mist he emerged. She recognized him from the description in the Book. He was tall and thin. His aquiline nose, separating his burni
ng red eyes, the pupils black holes. Thick red lips beneath a large mustache, two sharp teeth protruding. His dead white skin enhanced by black clothing. He moved to the end of her
bed. She could not take her eyes from his. He glided to her side, reaching down, enveloping her in his long, powerful arms. He bent his head, she could feel his hot breath on her
flesh. His incisors punctured her vein. Her mind reeled. She felt as though she were floating in warm air. A dark world was opening to her.

* * *

The next day she sat on the flowery sofa, in the living room of her Mother’s house, where she lived, and told her fiance, Art, about her experience. After she was finished, he sat quietly, a frown marring his handsome face, his thin lips pursed. His long fingers twirled his curly blonde hair.
Finally he looked her in the eye. “It was just a dream, you know.” The pitch of his voice wavered slightly.
“It was not a dream,” she stated emphatically. “It really happened.”
His frown deepened, his blue eyes squinting almost shut. He stood, taking a few steps away from her. She watched his short sinewy body tense, the muscles rippling through his tight fitting shirt. He turned on her suddenly. “You’re nuts.”
She threw up her hands, sighing loudly. “It happened. It really happened. I’m not nuts.”
His face blanked. “Are you trying to get rid of me? Is that it?”
“No, Art! I loved you. But I’ve found something...” she paused for a moment, thinking “...unique. It’s totally different from anything I’ve ever experienced. And I don’t want to give it up. I want to go all the way with it.”
“You are nuts!”

They sat on a sunny afternoon in a sidewalk café, she and her best friend Willie, sipping Long Island Ice Teas. A light breeze cooled their bare legs. She told her, as she had told
“And you told this story to Art?” Willie asked, after silently watching passers—by for several minutes.
“I felt I owed it to him to be honest,” she explained.
“And this is what you told him? Are you crazy?”
“I’m not crazy. It’s all true. Wonderfully true. It’s the most fulfilling thing to ever happen to me.”
“I thought Art fulfilled you. That’s what you told me. That was why you and I only made love once. Because you only found fulfillment with Art. But now you tell me about how
you’ve read some silly book, had a crazy dream, and found fulfillment.”
“It’s not a dream. It’s real, it happened.” She leaned forward, her eyes wide, her mouth firm.
“What’s happened to you? This is crazy talk. Are you...”
She didn’t listen to Willie anymore. She just didn’t understand.

She told her Mother she had met a wonderful foreigner, whom she was going away with. Mother sat in her usual high-backed chair. As her story went from start to finish Mother moved
from slight tension to rigid indignity.
When she was finished, Mother rose stiffly from the chair and walked across the room to the phone, where she called a psychiatrist friend and made an appointment for her
“It’s for your own good, dear,” Mother said as she hung up the phone. “You obviously need help. You should be marrying Art, not running off with this strange foreigner.”
She sighed. She knew the futility of arguing with Mother.

She sat patiently in the doctor’s book-crowded office, wondering how many of those books the doctor had actually read.
The doctor sat behind her orderly desk, twiddling with her pipe, deep in thought.
“And has this ‘experience’ recurred?” the doctor asked.
“Yes. Once.”
“And what was it like?”
She thought. “I was reading the Book. I dosed off. I had some strange dream. I was flying over a forest. He was flying beside me. I looked at him. He smiled and whispered my name. I awoke to find him lying beside me. He kissed me deeply. He kissed my whole face, worked down to my throat. Then there was that slight piercing and my head swam. It was like when I was little and I used to like to lay on the bottom of the pool for as long as I could hold my breath. I felt elated.”
“Mmmmm,” was all the doctor answered. Then she opened a drawer in her desk and took out a stack of large cards. She tapped them on the desk, straightening them like a card dealer. She then pulled the first card and faced it towards her patient.
Indicating the inked design on the card, the doctor asked “What does this make you think of?”
She studied the card for several moments. She knew what the doctor expected her to say. There was the center “body”, oval shaped, with sections on both sides that swept up and
down, wing-like. A bat came to mind.
“A butterfly in heat,” she answered.
The doctor frowned. She put the card at the bottom of the deck, wrote notes on a pad of paper at her elbow. She took a second card, an oblong spot with four spires reaching
upwards. The patient studied it, thought about her answer, then gave an entirely different one. It was the same with the third, fourth, fifth, through countless nonsensical shapes.
The doctor methodically took notes, her frown changing the wrinkles in her forehead.

* * *

After that they confined her to her room, taking out all the furnishings, except the bed. They put the bars on the windows. They took the Book.
But now she sits reading a paperback edition she kept hidden as an emergency copy. She is reading of his third visit to Lucy. When he comes, it will be her third visit also.
Lucy sat in bed with her mother. He crashed through the window in the form of a wolf, scaring Lucy’s mother to death. He transformed into human shape. He walked slowly to Lucy’s side, took her in his arms, and drank from her. Lucy, both fearful and excited, did not resist. He pulled away, finally, opened his shirt, and cut a vein in his chest with one sharp fingernail. He put his hand behind her head, drawing her face to his wound. She drank greedily. His power flowed into Lucy’s veins. She would become like him.
She calls out to him as she reads. She can see him, in her mind’s eye, as he rises from his coffin deep within the mountain castle. He climbs ancient stairs to a window, where
he metamorphosizes into a bat. He flies over the forests, over the cities. He is coming to claim her.
She is so caught up in her anticipation, that she does not notice the headlights cross her window as a car drives up to the house.
She lays dazed as two men dressed in hospital blue and white enter her room. They approach her slowly, whispering something soothing. She looks first at one, not focusing,
then the other. She smiles. She sees through his disguise. He has come for her, will take her away with him, right under the noses of those who would stop them. If they only knew.
Maybe after her change she will tell them. Maybe she will show them.

"CAT & MOUSE" (1988/'93)

The blade that shot out from the woman’s hand slices through the soft skin on the punker chick’s throat like butter. Blood flows out in a wave, pouring down her shirt. She stands for a moment till her knees buckle, dropping her to the floor. In a flash her short life zips by finishing with her impatience to get into the club’s one toilet, only
to find the woman with a big skinhead’s blood on her face, the skinhead looking like he’d given it all.
Then the floor rushes up and hits the punker chick in the face.

“Fuck off, Jack!” Suzi jumps off her bar stool into the swelling crowd of clubbies. Jack turns back to his drink, chiding himself for his petty jealousy. After all, he knew from the beginning that she is a “free spirit”, as they used to say, and would see (i.e. fuck) anyone she chose. But he really likes her (never admit more) and it bugs him
that she sleeps with all comers.
Jack is so busy with his reverie that he doesn’t notice the enigmatic woman, dressed in New York black, slide up and sit in Suzi’s vacated seat.
But she notices him. She studies him for a moment. Then, leaning forward, “Ohhh, why the long face?”
Jack blurts out a startled “Huh?”
“Why you so sad?” she queries in her slight accent.
Jack studders uhs and wells and such.
She laughs. “Has the cat got your tongue?”
Jack laughs nervously. “No, no, it’s just, well...I just had an argument with my...girlfriend.” (Ooh, bad move that.)
“Tsk, tsk,” (sultry, so sultry) “you shouldn’t take things so seriously. Life is to enjoy, not waste on small problems.”
Jack forces a laugh. “I suppose you’re right.”
“Of course I am right.” A very persuasive “Trust me. I have seen much of life,” wistful “and death, and I know.”
“Oh, come on.” Jack the Gallant. “You’re pretty young to be sounding so old.”
As from deep within the earth, she looks deeply into his eyes, a wry smile just touching her blood red lips, “I’m much older than I look.”
“Yeah, how ol...?” (Mistake #2 only just avoided.) “Sorry, I forgot myself.” (Then reinforced.)
“That’s all right liebchkin. No harm.”
Jack is swept up into a killer pause. The woman just smiles.
Jack suddenly regains consciousness. “So, uh, you wanna join me for a drink?”
“I never drink...liquor.”
“Oh?” Jack puzzles. “Then what brings you to the bar?” He throws out a laugh (again).
The blood rushes to his head. “Uhm, so, what’s your name?” he studders.
Jack’s in trouble. “Ersha...bee...”
“You can say the English. Elizabeth.”
“Oh. Thanks. Elizabeth. I’m Jack.” (Such a conversationalist.)
She draws up close to him. “Hello, Jack,” she purrs.
Jack feels the desire to say something clever, but nothing comes of it.
“So, liebchkin, you live near?”
“Huh?” he blurts. “Uh, yeah, not too far.” His stomach becomes numb as the next question rises to the surface. “You wanna, uh, go to my...“ (swallow) “...place?”
Now the blood rushes from his head and swells in his crotch.
“Well, shou..you want to, uhm, go now?”
She laughs deep in her throat. “Yes.”
She slides off her seat. He does likewise, fumbles for a moment, then motions for her to precede him to the door.
Once outside, Jack hails a cab.
As the cab careens along, Elizabeth watches Jack fidget. Twirling her fingers in her hair, she asks “What is the matter, lover? Afraid I bite?”
Jack laughs, “No, no, it’s just...” he looks at her “well, I’m not real good at this sort of thing.”
Now Elizabeth laughs, “Don’t worry, you will do fine.”
After what seems like an eternal silence to Jack the cab pulls up
in front of his apartment building. Jack pays the driver, and they get out.
In the lobby Jack stops a moment.
“Yes?” Elizabeth asks.
Jack hedges. “Well, I, uh, we...I’m afraid we have to...walk up...six flights. I’m really sorry,” he gushes out.
“No problem,” she says calmly. “You want to race?”
“Huh?” Jack is thrown. “Uh, sure.”
They cross to the foot of the staircase.
“On the count of three?” ventures Elizabeth.
They both run upthe stairs, Elizabeth taking them easily, Jack stumbling a bit.
Elizabeth quickly outdistances Jack. By the fourth floor he is terribly winded, struggling to keep running. She is nowhere in sight.
Jack finally pulls himself to the sixth floor landing, panting heavily. He sees Elizabeth standing easily against the wall, no sign of fatigue.
He struggles, between breathes, to say “You...a track...star...or...some... thing?”
She just laughs. (A lot of that.) Jack leads her down the hallway to his door, which he unlocks and opens, letting her enter ahead of him. She walks into the darkened apartment without the slightest hesitation. Jack switches on the overhead light.
Jack walks into the closet cum kitchen. “You wanna drink...oh, right, you don’t drink. Well, I also have...” he opens his refrigerator (if it could be called that) and looks in at — two beers, left over Mcie D’s, and a glass of water, “...water?”
“I will have something...later,” as she circles the room, moving her hands over everything.
“Hope you don’t mind if I have one,” as he opens a beer.
“Not at all.”
Jack exits the kitchen, finds Elizabeth reclining on the sofa (his bed).
“Join me lover?”
“Yeah, sure.” His groin swells again.
He crosses to her. He has butterflies (more like swirling snakes) in his stomach. He takes a swig of beer and sits next to her. She pulls him into her arms.
“So, tell me about your little girlfriend.”
“What?” (What is this leading to?)
“I saw you argue.”
“Oh, yeah. Well, she, uh, we aren’t really serious.” (Uh, well, she isn’t that is).
“No? Why not?”
“Well, she likes to see other guys, and I see other girls...” (correction) “... women.”
“Yah.” He “opens up” “Like this drummer she just met. She’ll sleep with him tonight.”
“You don’t sound happy. “
“Oh, I don’t care.” (Liar!) “It’s her life.”
“Why you with her? You need someone to take care of you.”
“Hey, I can take care of myself.” (Oh, and what a lovely job you're doing.) “Anyway, I write poetry, and she puts music to it. So it’s a working relationship."
“Why’re you so interested in her?”
“I am interested in you.”
She pulls his head back by his hair and kisses him. He drops his beer. His heart pounds. They kiss long and hard. He fumbles to undo her top. He gets his hands underneath to find no bra, her breasts firm, her nipples cold and hard. There is something odd about her skin, but he barely gives it a moments notice. (He’s going to get laid!)
She pulls his head back farther, kisses his throat. He doesn’t see her draw back her lips, and how sharp her pearly white teeth are. She rips his flesh with them. He yells and jumps off the couch, feeling the broken skin.
“What the fuck?” He looks at his hand and sees the blood on it. He steps back.
“What do you think you are, a vampire?”
“I am from Transylvania.”
“Great joke, lady!”
She laughs, unforced, “Are you afraid, lover?” She stands.
He takes two steps backwards, “Of course not.”
She moves forward suddenly, making him back up too fast, and fall over a chair. He scrambles to his feet, panicking for a moment, then regaining some (very little) of his composure.
“Now. . .
She laughs, advances on him slowly. He backs away.
“Getting a little kinky on a first date, don’t you think?”
Elizabeth mocks a pout. “Oh, come here lover.”
Jack stops with his back to the wall. She draws the tip of her tongue around her lips.
His mind searches for a way out. (So polite.) It grasps something. He opens the door.
“I need to borrow ice from a neighbor,” then he’s out, slamming the door behind him.
Jack hauls ass down the stairs, to the fourth floor. He runs up to a door and knocks frantically.
Seconds pass like hours, jack watches the stairs, listening to every sound. He knocks again.
A groggy voice from behind the door, “It’s Jack.” The door opens a crack, a sleepy man’s face sticks out. “What’s up, Jack?”
Jack being loud and quiet at the same time “Mark, can I come in?!”
Mark gazes at him a moment, follows his frantic look to the stairs, then opens the door, letting Jack enter.
Inside the apartment, which is the same as Jack’s, though more thoughtfully furnished, Kathy turns on a light, then asks “What happened? Another fight with Suzi?”
Jack leads Mark away from the door. He speaks in a hushed tone as he begins to explain, “I brought this girl home...”
“Jack!” Kathy disapproves. “And where’s Suzi?”
“We had an argument. Then I met this girl...er, woman. I think she’s crazy!”
“Why?” wonders Mark, “because she came home with you?”
“Look at this!” Jack shows them the scratches on his throat.
Kathy sighs, “God, Jack, one psycho after another.”
“Hey!” is Jack’s paltry protest.
“Well, you do pick some strange ones,” throws in Mark.
Jack tries to protest further, but can think of no defense. Finally he asks “so can I stay here till she gives up and leaves?”
Mark laughs, Kathy sighs and shakes her head.
There is a knock at the door. Jack freezes. Kathy frowns. Mark lifts his eyebrows. Mark starts towards the door, but Jack stops him.
“No, don't, it's her."
“Get a hold of yourself,” Mark losing patience. “How would she know where you are?”
Mark crosses to the door.
“Calm down, Jack.” Kathy begins to see the humour. “We won’t let the vampire get you.”
Mark looks through the peephole. No one in sight. He turns back to Jack and Kathy.
“No one there.” He takes a few steps. “Must’ve been a mistake.”
The door bursts in, splintered wood flying into the air.
“Hey!” is all Mark can manage.
Elizabeth moves right up to him, backhands him across the face with such force, that his neck snaps audibly. He bounces off the wall and drops to the floor.
Kathy opens her mouth to scream, but Elizabeth is upon her, grabbing her by the lyrinx, crushing it, and lets her crumple to the floor.
Jack clambers out a window onto the fire escape. He runs down the steps. He slips and almost falls, grabbing onto the railing to right himself. He doesn’t see Elizabeth fall past on her way to the ground. He hears her laugh, and looks back up, but cannot see her.
“Come on, loverboy,” she calls to him.
He becomes confused, looks down, and sees Elizabeth standing on the pavement below, looking up at him. She laughs deep in her throat.
He is stunned, the fact of what he sees taking moments to penetrate his consciousness.
Then he freaks.
He spins around looking for a way out, stops, staring wild-eyed at the adjacent window. He throws himself through it.
Jack hits the floor hard. The apartment he so gracefully entered is pitch dark. He scrambles on the floor to where he hopes the door is.
The overhead light comes on, revealing a shivering old man, who stares wide-eyed at Jack.
Jack throws out a “Sorry,” sees the door, jumps up to it, fumbles with the locks, gets the door open, and runs out, slamming the door behind him.
Jack hops down the last flight of stairs, pulling up short in the lobby. Flattening himself against the wall he cautiously peers out the front door.
He hears Elizabeth whisper (as if in his ear) “Ja—a-ack.” He looks about him frantically, but she is nowhere in sight. He slowly inches his way to the door. Then on the front steps he sees her ascending. He vaults down the hallway to the back door.
He opens the door just enough to stick his head out. The back alley is deserted. Jack runs out, down the alley and out into the street.
He sprints down the street. After a few blocks he slows down and looks back, panting heavily. The street is empty. He walks over to the nearest stoop and sits down, trying to catch his breath. He watches the street.
A cat meows behind him. “Don’t bother me, little one,” he warns. He feels it rub against his back. He turns to shew it away, and finds himself face to face with Elizabeth.
Jack screams and jumps up. Elizabeth grabs his shirt, which rips as he shoots headlong down the street.
As he runs Jack looks for help. It is amazing to see no one in sight. He knows banging on the front door of an apartment building will get him nowhere.
At an intersection he spies a police car parked down the cross street. He stumbles in his attempt to change direction. As he starts for the police car Elizabeth rises up from behind a parked car and crosses between him and it.
Jack grabs his hair, groans, turns and runs in the opposite direction.
His heart pounding, he blindly runs, on and on, for what seems like many miles.
Finally, his lungs bursting for air, dragging his feet, he collapses.
He lays on the ground, face down, hyperventilating.
He strains to raise his head. He rolls over onto his back, and stares, his eyes glazed over, up at the sky.
He slowly focuses on graying heavens. He blinks a few times, uncomprehending. Then gradual realization seeps into his mind.
He sits up. He looks at the horizon.
Sunrise. He stands up and squints at it to be sure.
Yes. The sun is rising.
“Yaaahoooo!!!“ he cries. “Here comes the sun, here comes thé sun, and it’s airight,” he sings (don’t give up your day job!). He dances around like a fool (what else?).
Finally, he plops down on his ass to watch the morning glory.
“It’s all over”, he laughs.
He leans back into arms that wrap around him like an iron maiden. He lets out a yelp, struggling uselessly. Elizabeth holds him fast.
“Ohhhh, I can hear your sweet blood flowing,” ecstatic anticipation.
She bites his ear, drawing blood. He screeches, thrashes violently, to no avail. Her blade comes up slicing his jugular vein.

A limo driver stands by his parked vehicle looking down on a couple embraced on a beach, as the sun brings on a new day.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"SWEAT BOX" (1984)

This story started as a sort of remake of Fritz Lang's METROPOLIS - with obvious influences from Huxley, Orwell and George Lucas (his THX 1138).


David N. Nevarrez

“The Protector will keep you from
harm. Trust in the Protector.”

They climbed the seemingly endless gray stairs. He coughed from the exertion. At one point, he had to stop and rest against the wall to catch his breath. She stopped immediately beside him. She looked down at his frail bent form. “Shall I carry you?” she
asked, her voice a monotone.
“No,” he gasped, “I’ll be alright.”
After several minutes they continued the ascent. All about them was the lifeless gray of their cement world, deep within the war ravaged earth. He wondered to himself if they were really the survivors of the nucleur devastation. After all, they were buried under ground.
Finally, they reached their destination. A sign over the door read CAPTAIN OF SECURITY. They entered.
Behind the compact metal desk in the little gray office, sat a robot, crudely made to look like a woman. As they entered, it’s head swivelled towards them.
“May I help you, SR1018-13?” it asked in synthesized voice.
“I was told the Governor of Computer Operations is here seeing the Captain.”
“That is correct.”
“I need to see both of them. It’s about the special project I’ve been working on.” He looked sidewise at his companion.
“Just a moment,” replied the robot. It clicked and clacked for a moment. Then it said “You may enter.”
The pair walked through sliding steel doors.
Inside they found a large gray office. At the far end stood a large uncluttered steel desk, behind which a tall swivel chair faced the wall. To one side of the desk stood the Captain, broad shouldered and straight backed, in his neatly pressed blue uniform. His broad, hard face was stiff and flat.
“May you always be protected,” chimed SR1O18-13. The Captain simply grunted in reply.
As they approached the desk the woman glanced at a man sitting in a chair that faced the desk. He turned to look at the newcomers. His horse face was riddled with scars, resembling patchwork. He wore the green uniform of Military Police. Ignoring the man he gave the woman a good looking over, his eyes growing hard.
“How nice of you to come,” came a voice from the swivel chair. The woman looked at her companion.
Lazily the chair turned to face them. Seated in it was a middle-aged man wearing a voluminous black robe. His thinning blonde hair was pasted to his head, his round baby-face clean shaven and well scrubbed. His half closed deep blue eyes merely faced their direction,
focusing on nothing.
SR1O18—13 made a slight step forward. “I came as soon as I was finished.”
The Captain’s pale gray eyes fixed on the woman. “Who is this woman?” he demanded.
“Is she it?” asked the man in the swivel chair, sitting forward, his eyes flaring up with keen interest.
“Yes, Governor.”
“Explain to the Captain what it is.”
SR1O18—l3 looked to the Captain. “She...it is an android. The Governor asked SR1008-25 and I to create a robot for the Military Police.” He then noticed the frowning glare on the Governor’s darkening face. The Governor leaned forward, clasping his hands in front of him.
“You should not mention that SR. She displeased me greatly.” He again looked at the android. “Fool! It looks like that SR!”
SR1O18—l3 looked down at his feet, which squirmed about. Almost inaudibly, but firmly, he answered “Yes.”
“I hope for your sake, 1018, that you did not intend to anger the Governor!” barked the Captain.
1018 looked from the Captain to the Governor. “May I be sent outside if such a thought ever crossed my mind.” He struggled to smile.
The Governor sat back, regaining some of his former composure.
“No offense," pleaded the SR.
“None taken,” waved the Governor, “for the moment. So, tell us more about the robot.”
SR cleared his throat. “She is fully programmed in fighting, weaponry, and persuasion. She will not tire. Only superficial wounds are possible. She has an independent computer, which recharges itself during down time, and which can communicate with the Central Computer at all times. She is the perfect M.P.” He thought of the long arduous
hours, his fervour the only thing keeping him from collapse. He thought of his love for SR1008—25.
The scarfaced MP chuckled. It was the first sound he had made. SR looked at him, raising an eyebrow.
“Well,” said the Governor after a moment's pause, “shall we put your toy to the test?”
“If it pleases your honour,” answered SR.
“It does.” He looked at the Captain. “Captain, can you think of a good test for this robot?”
“How about the case we were discussing with MP1042-112?”
“Yes, that’s it!” beamed the Governor. “A contest. The robot versus the human. Winner take all.”
MP1042—112 shifted uneasily in his chair, squinting at the android.
The Governor chuckled. “Well, 112? What do you say? If you win I’ll give you one hundred food credits.”
“And if I lose?”
The Governor just smiled.
“I think you had better not lose,” suggested the Captain.
The MP frowned deeply. He looked again at the android, then at the Governor.
“Do I have a choice?” he asked, knowing the answer.
The Governor looked at SR. “And if your robot wins, you will make more of them, and you will get one hundred food credits.”
SR bowed.
“Captain, give the robot it’s orders.”
“Yes sir.” The Captain picked up a file from off the desk and turned to the android. “In the Computer Maintenance block there is a worker who has been preaching rebellion to her co—workers, as well as workers in other areas. A few hours ago she illegally acquired top secret information from the Brain.” He looked from the android to the MP. “You two will seek out and execute the rebel and destroy her stolen information.” He paused. “You will find her in the CM Womens Block.”
The MP stood, bowed, and turned to go. The android looked at SR.
“You have your orders, robot! Carry them out!” demanded the Captain.
“You must obey the Captain,” SR spoke quietly.
“Yes,” was all the android said. She turned and went out behind the MP.

“The Protector gives the Law,
the Brain interprets the Law,
the Governors enforce the Law.”

She sat on her cot in her sleeping cubicle, #67, reading the computer printout she held in her lap again and again. She wore the light blue coveralls of a Computer Maintenance worker. The I.D. tag over her left breast read “CM1053—67”.
She put the printout down, put her face in her hands.
Another CM, 1050-83, came and stood in her doorway.
“They’ll be coming, you know,” she said.
“I know,” answered CM1053—67.
“You should leave.”
“And go where?”
The other CM carefully looked up and down the passageway between the two rows of cubicles, all so close together, the doors all closed. She then stepped into the tiny room. She sat down next to 67. Keeping an eye on the doorway, she whispered “PP1053-133 has found a way to Outside.”
“Outside?” 67’s eyebrows creased, her eyes searched her friend’s face.
“Yes, Outside,” said the friend. “You are sure it’s safe, aren’t you?” Fear crept into her voice.
1053-67 held up the printout. “According to this, yes, most definitely.”
1050-83 looked at the printout. “But what if it’s a trap?”
“This is classified info, straight from the Brain. I had to break in to get it.”
83 considered this. “Yes, of course.”
67 broke in on 83’s thoughts, “What about this exit 133 found?”
83 leaned close to 67. “133 took some equipment into an old storeroom. He noticed a door at the back and decided to check it out. When he opened it he found stairs leading up. He climbed them, until he came to a door marked ‘DANGER - DO NOT OPEN’. He believes, and I agree, that it leads to Outside.”
They were both silent.
“I guess it’s my only chance.” Her hands shook slightly.
“133 is on shift now. He can show you the way.” She paused a moment. “You should go now. They probably know about the theft already, with all their security.”
“Yes. I knew they would find out. But I had to know. They have been lying to us for so long.”
“But now what?” queried her companion.
“I shall go Outside, and see what there is to see.”
83 put her arm around 67.
“I had thought I was completely abandoned.” 67 tried to smile.
83 looked at the open door. “I’m afraid 133 and I are the only ones. The others are afraid.” She turned back to 67. “You should leave right now.”
“Yes. Let me jUst gather a few things.”
“Fine. I’ll go down the row to see if any MP’s are coming.”
CM1050-83 got up and walked out. CM1053-67 folded the printout and put it into a pocket of her coveralls. She picked up her jacket, put a clean pair of underpants and a few food bars into the pockets. She looked about the tiny rectangular room. Then she stepped out into the passageway, looked down to the end just as her friend turned the corner. Then she turned and walked briskly in the opposite direction.

“The Protector will keep you
safe from the poison Outside.”

CN1050—83 died with a snap of her neck. She had not even seen MP1042-112. He had grabbed her from behind, twisted her head with skill and speed, and let her drop to the floor.
He smiled, then moved on.

“Worry not.
Let our Governors worry for us.”

The android listened in to MP1042-112’s conversation with Security Eyes over his transcom. He had found CM1053-67’s cubicle just as she escaped, could they locate her via Electro-Eyes.
After several minutes she was found in Sector 5, where the Breeding Labs were.
The android followed the MP, keeping out of sight.

“For your safety,
report all deviant behavior
to your work supervisor
or a Military Police asap.”

She stood looking at the entrance to the Power Plant. Only authorized personnel were to be admitted. It was the same in all the Occupaes. Workers were not supposed to be anyplace out of their Occupa, cubicle, or sector eatery, unless otherwise directed by a Governor, their assistants, or an MP.
But she had to get in. She walked up to the SG on duty, in his little booth beside the entrance.
The SG slid the door open. “What are you doing here?” surprise breaking his intended bark.
“I’m tracing a power surge in one of the formulators.” She took a breath. “We need to check your output gauges.” She was more suprised than he, but she managed to keep her face impassive.
He came out of the booth. He looked her up and down. Then before she could react he was hit over the head by PP1053-133 with a wrench.
“Come on, quickly!” he gasped.
Security Eyes alerted the MP.

“Give thanks to the Supreme Trilogy
Our Father, the Protector,
his creation, the Brain,
their attendants, our Governors.”

MP1042-112 walked briskly past the Breeding Labs. Without stopping he spun on his heel and examined the passageway behind him. No one in sight. Just the empty gray corridor. Where’s that damned robot, he wondered as he turned back to his direction.
He couldn’t stop the nagging feeling it was right behind him.

“It is the Conception Day of
the Governor of Food Processing.
All workers’ meal break will
be extended to ten minutes."

“Did you have to bit him so hard?” she asked, her voice tight. “You know they saw you?”
PP1053-133 looked at the wrench in his hand. He looked at her face. “We don’t have time for this.” He fidgeted.
She sighed. “Show me the way Out.”
He lead her through a maze of machinery and piping. Women and men sat at their posts. They moved only as much as required in their duties. Their eyes were drooping and glazed. Only rarely did a worker look at the pair as they passed by, and then they gave a blank stare.
It was just another shift in the “sweat box”.

“It has been confirmed by the Red Expedition
that our retaliatory strike against the Enemy
almost two thousand years ago was a success.
As our Governors have said all along,
the Protector is on our side.”

The MP reached the Power Plant, where, a few minutes ago, Security Eyes had located the rebel CM. He stopped over the unconscious SG. He looked over his shoulder down the way he had come. What was that?! Movement? All was still. Now.
He turned back to face the depths of machines humming rhythmically.
Hey!” came a booming voice. MP1042—112 looked to his left to see the PP Day Sup huffing towards him. “What’s going on?!”
The Sup stopped when he saw the prostrate body of the SG.
“MP matter,” answered 112, not straining to raise his voice above the noise. He went back to examining possible routes his quarry could have taken.
“One of my workers is missing from his post,” offered the Sup.
“Who?” demanded 112, louder than before.
The Sup looked at his digiscreen, at the circled ID number. “PP1053—133.”
Where could they go, the MP asked himself.

“The Governor of Waste Disposal has passed into
the Company of the Protector,
far above the poisoned Outside.”

PP1053-133 opened the door to the storage room and let CM1053—67 enter first. He closed the door behind them. He leaned against it.
She watched his face. She leaned towards him and wiped the sweat from his brow. He struggled to smile.
They moved closer together. Their hands moved, searching for what to do. How to express their feelings.
It was forbidden.

“Congraulations are to be given to TE1060-19
who has been successfully Transinduced
into the Afterlife.”

Security Eyes had seen the CM and PP enter the storage room, and alerted MP1042-112. He had the Sup lead the way.
As they twisted through the sweaty machines and workers, 112 thought how glad he was not to be one of the latter. He liked his job. He had almost free reign of the city. If he didn’t like someone, he busted their head. If he liked a woman, he took her (as long as it didn’t interfere with her work shift).
The PP Sup stopped in front of the storage room door. Sweat poured down his face. The MP felt his own coveralls sticking to his body. He wiped his forehead.
“This is it?” he asked the Sup.
“Is there another door?”
“You can go back to work. I’ll take care of the situation.”
The Sup turned and walked back to his post.
The MP turned to the door, opened it, and stepped into the storage room. He looked the room over. Dusty, old bits and pieces of machinery were piled up and scattered throughout the room.
He crouched down to examine the dust on the floor for disturbances. He followed a trail to the back, uncertain of how recently it had been made.
The android slipped in the door quickly, without making a sound. It kept behind the piled equipment, listening to the MP’s footsteps.
Down behind a large generator crouched 67 and 133, breathing as little as possible. MP1042-112 stepped suddenly in front of them, his Phantom IV drawn and aimed. They rose slowly.
“So what now?” the CM asked evenly.
“Don’t you know?” returned the MP.
“Of course.”
PP1053—133 attempted a plea, “But she has...”
“Shut up!” the MP cut him off, and backhanded his face for emphasis.
He aimed his Phantom IV between -67’s eyes. —133 grabbed her arm, fear filling his eyes. One side of MP’S mouth curled up slightly.
-67 gave a deep sigh, “Just following orders. No questions asked.”
“I enjoy it,” replied the MP sardonically.
-67 gave a dry laugh. “Fool. Will you spend your pathetic life wallowing in ignorance?”
The MP wasn’t completely sure why, but the question hit a nerve. He didn’t hear the android step up behind him, but he saw the quizzical looks in —67 and -133’s faces. As he turned on the ready, the android grabbed his gun-hand round the wrist, twisted it easily, with an audible snap. The MP cried out, dropping his weapon.
Both -67 and -133 stared at the android uncomprehendingly.
“Who are you?” asked -67, feeling a strange dread in the pit of her stomach.
The android looked at the CM. “You are CM1053-67?”
-67 pulled nervously on her overalls, took a deep breathe, and nodded.
“RUN!” yelled the PN as he dove, the wrench at the ready, at the android. —67 ran, as the android easily grabbed -133’s upswung arm, and threw him on past her into the machinery behind it.
As it looked back it found -67 had moved out of sight, but with it’s enhanced "hearing" could detect her movements heading to the other side of the storage room. As it preceded to follow, the PP jumped it from behind, upon which it promptly flung him over it’s shoulder, slamming him to the ground on his back, the force of which knocked the wind and his senses out of him. The android then quickly continued in it’s pursuit of it’s quarry.
The android detected the sound of a door softly open and close at the far end of the room. It headed straight, as the debris would allow, to the door, which had an ineffectual sign reading “NO EXIT”, through which it exited.
The android found itself before a metal stairway leading up to other sets of stairways, upon which the CM was ascending. The android follows.
The android came upon the CM at the top of a last set of stairs, across from a door on which was written “DEATH BEYOND, THE OUTSIDE, POISON, GO BACK!” The CM had her hand on the doorhandle. She looked back at the android, and said “Come with me,” then she opened the door and passed through. The android followed.

Yes, this is Outside. It’s sensory mechanisms told it so. It’s computer brain rattled off the incoming information, which came in a flood.
Colour. Green, red, brown, blue, yellow. It is everywhere. And all organic. It is as close set as the cement walls, but there is no feeling of confinement.
A small creature hops up on a rock and peers at the android. It is a slimy grey, with spots of rusty red hair, it’s four limbs connected by membrane. It’s eyes are fully black.
Looking past the curious little creature, the android sees the CM twirling about, running her hands over everything within reach.
“Look!” cries -67. “It’s like the Brain said. No poison. The Governors have been lying to us. We don’t have to live in hell anymore. We’re free!”
“Please explain,” queries the android, monotonously.
“Don’t you understand?” -67 asks, stopping suddenly.
“The data given on the Outside says that the air is filled with radioactive particles, leaving everything dead.
“It’s a lie. The Governors didn’t want to lose their control. They kept up the fear of the radiation all these years after it ceased to be a threat.” She steps forward, causing the little creature on the rock to jump off into the underbrush. “We can live on the surface again. We can put an end to the Governors’ tyranny.”
“It means to control with cruelty. I came across the word once when I was fooling around in the Brain. I learned a lot I wasn’t supposed to from the Brain.”
“But this is illogical.”
“I was sent to kill you. To cease your threat to the city. That was what I was created for.”
“I am an android. I am programmed to carry out justice.”
“But the Governors are unjust. Don’t you see?”
There is a pause as electrons fire in the android’s brain. “Your conclusions are logical.”
There is a rustling in a tree overhead. The android and the CM look up as a large—winged, multi—coloured creature buzzes out of the foliage and swoops down just missing —67’s head as she ducks. In it’s return dive it heads for the android who grabs it just below the face. The creature’s powerful mandibles bite into the android’s wrist, cutting only slightly through the steel-chip latex.
“Don’t hurt it!” cries the CM.
The android tosses the creature back into the bush, where it scrambles away.
The android looks at CM1053-67.

They look down upon strange looking structures, of many different colours, nestled together, surrounded by trimmed vegetation.
“I think those are houses,” -67 says wistfully. “Humans used to live in them, before the War.”
They hear strange sounds as they approach, which seem human in nature.
Stealthily they creep between two of the buildings until they see a large central area covered in green. There are a number of children of many different ages running and jumping about. The noise is emanating from the children. The scene brings back memories to the CM, of her childhood in The Nursery. Until she was of working age, 13 years, she had thought The Nursery was all there was. She is puzzled by the open world these children have. And hurt.
She looks at the android. “Do you know what this is?”
“I have been receiving new information, preprogrammed to be released by being Outside. It seems the Governors have many secrets. These are probably their habitations, and their children.”
“Damn them!” says -67 through clenched teeth. “How can they do this to us, their own kind?”
“Such is the nature of human history.”
They watch the children for awhile.

The android enters the Captain of Security’s office, without waiting for the robot—secretary to announce it.
Behind the desk the Captain is holding the arms of a young girl in the chair, as the Governor bites deeply into the girl’s flesh between her naked breasts, drawing blood. The girl cries out.
The android looks to one side where SR1018-13 stands cowering in a corner, his eyes glazed, sweat pouring down his face.
The Captain looks at the android, stiffening. “Well?”
The Governor looks up as the girl begs for mercy. “Ah, you’ve returned. And what have you accomplished?” he asks as he rises from his sanguinary entertainment. He steps forward and sits on the edge of the desk.
“I learned that you have deceived the people you claim to protect.”
The smile fades from the Governor’s face, as the Captain barks out, “What’s that?!”
“I have been outside. The CM informed me of the true situation.”
To the SR the Governor now turns, “What is the meaning of this, SR1018—13?”
The SR comes out of his stupor. “She,” he says, pointing to the android, comprehends the difference between right and wrong.”
The Captain releases the girl, who climbs under the desk, and he walks around the desk to face the android and the SR. “You dare to question the judgement of the Governor!”
“You are evil!” cries —13. “You killed my wife for not bowing to your will!”
The Governor laughs. “Your wife?” he questions derisively. “There’s no such thing as a wife, you fool.”
-13 focuses all his energy on the Governor. “SR1008-25 was my wife. That was our decision. You,” he spits, "have no say in it.”
Suprise fills the Governor’s face, as the Captain looks to him for guidance.
Taking control the SR says “My wife knew you had to be stopped. She programmed the android to bring justice to this city. And now, in the name of SR1008-25, and the CM you would have had destroyed today, and all those oppressed by your evil, she,” he indicates the android, “will squash your tyranny.”
“Really?!” demands the Captain, as he steps up to the android. He grabs the android’s lapels in his big meaty fists, “I think not.”
The android reaches up and clamps a hand on the Captain’s larynx, choking off his air, and throws him across the room into the wall, which he bounces off onto the floor, out cold.
“You can’t do this!” cries the Governor, cowering behind the desk.
The doors to the office open, and -67 enters. The girl, whom the Governor had been torturing, comes out from under the desk, looks at the android, the SR, and the CM, then at the cringing Governor.
“Call Security,” whimpers the Governor to his victim. She punches him square in the nose. He drops to his knees, blood gushing out over his upturned hands.
“The revolution has begun,” says -67 inatter-of—factly.