April 6, 2013

Final Encryption - Part 7

  In which Marie-Ange loses it, a jerk gets his entertaining comeuppance, and Ricky actually has a genuine idea. 

  Old repurposed factory buildings surrounded Club Stereo.  A fancy light show flashed on brick walls covered with fading ads from the thirties, while windows of hip and overpriced lofts shook in sync with the music.  The sidewalk was crowded with revellers in a lineup to the club entrance. Most were drunk.  One man was trying his dubious charms on a woman in a red dress, who was trying to fend him off.
   “Oh, come on baby,” the man was saying, slurring his words, “You can’t be wearing a dress like this and then brush me off.  You owe me, I don’t know, a blowjob or something at least…”
   “Leave me alone,” the woman said, but the man grabbed her arm and started shaking her. “You’re hurting me.”  None of the other revellers seemed to be willing to intervene.  Some were laughing and filming with their phones.
   Suddenly a nun in full habit got out of a van, walked to the man, and grabbed him by the balls.
   “Ouch!” the man yelled, “what the…?”
   The nun just squeezed harder. “Son,” she said through an angelic smile, “I’m in a really bad mood tonight because one of my friends just died, and righteous godly wrath against a miserable sinner such as yourself seems like just the ticket to make me feel better, so unless you want God to decide you don’t need your manhood anymore, I suggest you go home, say three hundred hail Marys, then get a life and sin no more.”
   The man squealed.  “Let me go, you fucking bitch!”
   A man with a muscle shirt and a crew cut stepped out of the van, walked to the drunk, said “Be polite,” grabbed him in an armlock and wrestled him to the ground.  Behind him, a small woman with grey-blond hair exited the van as well.  With careful little steps, she knelt beside the man and whispered something in his ear.  The drunk started to sob uncontrollably.  Muscle shirt released him and he limped away into the night.  The small grey-blond woman went to check on the woman in the red dress, who seemed shaken but all right.
   What did Nina say to him?” Ricky asked Raven from the window of the van.
   “I don’t know,” Raven said with a dark smile, “But usually they don’t recover.”


   Marie-Ange turned to the crowd.  “Now next time a woman gets harassed in front of you and you think it’s funny to not do shit about it, know that I’ll find you and personally make sure your redemption is complete.”
   “Who do you think you are?” A man yelled from the crowd.  “Batnun or something?”  He was brandishing a cellphone above his head, trying to catch the scene with the camera.
   Marie-Ange’s tone became suddenly and dangerously pleasant.  “Bring that phone over here, son,” she said.
   “But…” the man said.
   “Bring. That. Phone. Over. Here.”
   He brought it.
   “Good,” Marie-Ange said.  “This seems like a pretty fancy phone, my son,” she told the man, seeming to admire the device.  “Is it?”
   “Uh… yeah, actually, it’s the latest shit,” the man said.  “Got it yesterday.”
   “And I suppose you’re on all possible social networks, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest,   MyNavelFluff.com and all that?
   “Uh, yeah, though I’m not sure about that last one you mentioned…”
   “Perfect.  Film me.”
   “My son, I don’t have all night.”
   The man obligingly raised his phone and started filming.  Marie-Ange put herself against the entrance of the club and made sure the sign was visible behind her.  “Alright.  This is a message for StormBrainOne.  I’m sister Marie-Ange.  I’m here.  I’m waiting for you.”  Then she grabbed the phone from the man’s hand, and turned the camera towards him.  “Also, this man here is a coward.”  She pressed send and smashed the phone on the pavement.  “Now go,” she told the man.  “Thirty Hail Marys for you.”  The man left, visibly confused but unwilling to face more humiliation.
   Back in the van, Gaston and Miguel were both frowning.  “Now she’s gone too far,” Gaston said, his wrinkles deepening in worry.
   “I knew this would happen.  Shit!” Miguel said, slamming his fist against the dashboard. 
   He was a squat, dark-haired man in his forties who seemed to be perpetually in movement.  His eyes   never stopped scanning his surroundings as if expecting a lion to pounce on him at any minute.  Which,    Ricky supposed, wasn’t far from the truth. 
   “Relax, man,” Ricky told him, “I’m sure she knows what she’s doing.”
   But Gaston shook his head.  “Not this time,” he said.  “This time she wants revenge.”
   This worried Ricky substantially.  “Then we should, I don’t know, stop her and get the hell out of  here or something,” he said.
   “I want revenge too,” Gaston said laconically.
   They were interrupted by Marie-Ange knocking on the driver side window.  People were still filming the whole scene on their phones.  Free entertainment, Ricky supposed.  Behind them, he could see some cars pulling up in a large parking lot.  Some of the cars were really nice.
   “All right,” she said quickly, “Nina, Raven and Gaston.  All three of you are going in.”
   Gaston?  The blind man?  “But…” Ricky said.
   “Gaston,” Marie-Ange went on, “The sound system in this place can play louder and further than  anything in town.” Gaston nodded, and she continued. “I need you to rig it to play this.” She handed him a pink and orange 8-track tape.
   “No problem,” Gaston said, and turned to Raven.  “Raven?”
   “Don’t worry, I’ll get you there,” Raven said.
   “What about you, Marie-Ange?” Nina asked, concern in her voice.
   Marie-Ange looked at the door of the club.  “I’ll be on the roof, by the satellite dish,” she said.       “That’s where he’ll come.”
   “I should come with you,” Nina said.
   “I agree,” Raven said. “You’ll be in more danger than us.”
   “No,” Marie-Ange said.  “He might not come if Nina’s with me.”
   “Why?” Ricky asked, confused.
   There was a brief silence.  Everyone turned to Ricky.  Then Nina spoke in her usual, careful voice: “I seem to be… I suppose we could say immune to SBO’s powers.”
   Ricky didn’t really get it.  “I don’t really get it,” he said.
   Nina smiled, just a little.  “I don’t know why, but SBO can’t touch me.  It might be because I never use digital technology, and I don’t understand it, I suppose.  That’s what Aurélien thinks.”
   “Yeah,” Miguel said with a short, nervous laugh, “she can’t even log on to a friggin’ computer without frying it.” 
   Nina frowned, and Ricky could see the comment had hurt her.  Still, she kept smiling.  “Yes, Miguel, digital technology is foreign to me.  I have no use for it, and it appears to have no use for me either.  That being said, I think I should go with Marie-Ange.”
   “Well, it’s too late for that,” Ricky said.
   Marie-Ange had just disappeared behind the club, still filmed by tens of smartphones ready to broadcast her location to SBO.
   “Shit!” Raven said.  “I’m going after her.  Nina, you’re with me.”
   But Ricky, getting out of the van, put a hand on Raven’s shoulder.  “I think you should do as the nun said, man.”
   “What?…” Raven said.
   “I think you should go in there with Gaston and Nina and rig that sound system, just as she said.”
   “Who the hell do you think you are to tell me what to do?”  Raven said.
   Ricky got suddenly very tired of being trucked around by these weirdos.  “We don’t have time for a pissing contest, Van Damme.” He pointed to the club entrance with one hand, and to the parking lot with the other.  “The nun is risking her life in there right now, the car over there is a 1958 Chevy, and I have a plan.”
   “Huh?” Raven said.
   “Now go!” Ricky said.
   Nina pulled raven by the sleeve of his muscle shirt.  “I think we should do as he says.”
   Raven sighed, said “Sure, what the hell,” and walked to the door, Nina and Gaston in tow, the blind man carrying an 8-track tape deck with bare wires hanging out of it.
   The bouncer stopped them.  “Where do you think you’re going.”
   “Shit, man,” Raven said, “let us through, don’t you see it’s an emergency?”
   The bouncer crossed his arms.  “You’ve caused enough trouble here, sir.  You need to go party elsewhere.”
   Raven face reddened. “You are going to fucking let us in or…”
   “Sir,” the bouncer said, tensing.  “I’m warning you, step away.”
   This was heading south fast.  But then Gaston stepped in, his face calm, his white cane clicking on the sidewalk.
   “How’s it going?” he said to the bouncer in his soft, raspy voice.
   The bouncer’s eyes widened in shock.  “Are you…?” he said.
   Gaston nodded.  “I am.”
   There were whispers in the lineup, just as the bouncer's eyes kept expanding and his jaw dropped.  “But you’re supposed to be dead,” he told Gaston.
   “True DJs never die, my friend.  Now will you let us in, we’re in a hurry.”
   The bouncer almost fell over himself.  “Of course,” he said.  “Er… will you be playing tonight then?” 
   Gaston put his finger to his lip as he walked in.  “It’s a surprise,” he said.
   The bouncer seemed about to have an orgasm or something, and the people in the lineup started to scream with excitement.  Gaston gave them a wave as he walked inside, followed by Nina and Raven.
After they disappeared, the people in the lineup turned their phones towards Ricky, since he was the last filmable piece of the show.  He sighed.  Time to put the plan in action, before SBO caught on.
   “Wait here,” he told Miguel.
   He walked to the 1958 Chevy, smashed its passenger side window, ripped the radio from its socket and went after Marie-Ange.


April 3, 2013


"Issue 8 of our growing speculative fiction anthology is coming up." 

You say, "wait... coming up? Wasn't it already supposed to happen?"

Er... because of a faulty replacement piece in our time travel device we find ourselves with less time instead of more. We have consulted the expert on time travel, Santa Claus, but we are still waiting for his advice. Unfortunately, the elves field his calls, and we have no direct line to him.

Seriously, things have been busy (too busy to focus on our publishing) and so the deadline is being pushed back to May 10, 2013.

Finally, we are able to refocus our energy and time on hbm. Sorry for dropping the metaphysical ball. When you drop that ball, the shit gets weird and delays happen as confusion ensues. 

Thanks for your support and interest!