Sunday, August 19, 2012

Land Leave Blast Zone

Short Story: excerpt from Land Leave

It didn't work. There was no teetering rumble, there was no twisting metal, and Jonah didn't feel his body distort in the vacuum of space. Something had gone wrong. He was disappointed and elated. Death, in the abstract, was a noble end that was under his control. He said when he would die. And that day was supposed to be today and that moment was supposed to have just passed. Death in the concrete and now was still scary. His end was not bringing him to a higher place; he was not a religious zealot. But he believed that his death would have more cause than his life. And he believed deeply that wherever he went would be better than where he was.

But it didn't work. And he wasn't dead. The ship still hummed gently.

The panic set in. If he had failed what could have possibly gone wrong? Did they know? Of course they must know. Of course. It was all a set-up, it was all a hoax. There was no underground. There was no resistance. And the AmU was still a monolithic tyrant, exploiting the poor.

Jonah found himself outside. He didn't remember running. Where was he? He looked around. He was on the upper landing strip of the ship, looking out at the Nebraska mega-structure. He would have to escape, the plan had been compromised and he would have to try again.

There was no safe house though. If they knew about the bomb then they knew about the safe houses.

Someone must have betrayed them. Which among them? He couldn't rendezvous, they were all suspect. He couldn't go anywhere. He could die. He could die.

He could die. He wouldn't get what he wanted though. His death would be truly meaningless. And that was why he was standing at the top of a carrier ship, why he was looking out at the luxury of a corrupt nation, and why he had tried to blow up every single bit of the ship.

Jonah looked at the pillars of the mega-structure, no smoke. Just another clear beautiful day. They had all failed. Every single one. Who was the intruder? How did they get screwed so badly? What could he do? He could jump. He could die.

He looked at his bootleg implants; eighteen black market apps designed to help him avoid the law. Things that cost him nearly all his life-savings. He accessed his police blotter. There was no sign of trouble; the waves were quiet. How had he been discovered? Who knew? Who was the intruder?

Maybe there was no intruder. Maybe the bombs had failed. Maybe their wiring was wrong, maybe whatever it was didn't work because he had been stupid. He pulled up the plans and compared it side-by-side with video of assembly. He had done it perfectly. It was perfect. Everything should have worked. He had tested and retested.

Nothing. Nothing.

He had to get off the ship. Descend to the lower levels, disappear in the poverty, the shadows. He had to go. Quickly. Quickly. Quickly.

The young officer cuffed Jonah and the old officer called into the secure line to Homeland Security, “we have him. That's the last one.”

“Could you give me a hand here? It's like he's lost control of his legs! He keeps saying he's got to get to the lower levels. What did DHS do to this guy?”

“Said something about using his implants to spy. I bet they did more than that.”

“Jesus, those fucks down there are scary. You think they fried him?”

“Maybe, he seems to think he's moving somewhere.”

“Yeah, It explains why we found him clawing at the walls of our building. It's creepy but I wish more criminals would just walk right up to Police HQ and turn themselves in.”

“Don't even joke about that. I don't want the government spying on me.”

“You are the government though, what do we have to worry about? We aren't this terrorist scumbag.” The two officers didn't speak. They both wondered about the implications of mind control.

The old officer went home that night and made love to his wife with his eyes closed and the lights off.