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Category: Creative Writing

An RPG in “The Matrix”

Back in the late 90s and Early 2000s, before there was a Matrix Sequel or even “The Animatrix” there was just “The Matrix” and what we knew about the world of it from that first movie. It was full of the promise that “anyone” could be have super powers in the Matrix and that all it took was being “shown the way”

Well, I took that idea and ran with it. The Premise [in the RPG] was that a famous former Superman actor had received cutting edge nano-tech treatments for his spinal injury, allowing him to walk again and the tech became widely available to the point that humans commonly had enhancements to their bodies. This led to a singularity of humanity and machine where machine intelligence was born and became independent from human intelligence.

Machines had typically been slaves to humans and humanity (for the most part) wanted that to continue, but the Machines had their own goals, emotions and needs now. They were a new mode of being, purely software in any shell they could imagine. It was wonderful for the new machines, but humanity was envious of the freedom of the machine children and war broke out and “the plot of the Matrix” happened.

I don’t recall where the idea of multiple Matrixes came from, but the premise was that the “real world” in the Movie was less desolate, but that humanity was pushed mostly to “the moon” and the war between Humanity and the Machines had pushed those with the resources to do it to leave earth for the “the moon” and so Humans had to hold orbital launch stations at the poles to allow for resources to be dropped to the core.

Also, “The Matrix” that we saw in the Movie was just “That Matrix” and there were others, some with Magic, Some with Superheroes, Some with Cowboys, the premise being the GM could set the story in a Matrix with rules they could set and give the players different things to do other than “Be Neo”

I ended up scrapping it, especially after the other movies came out, I changed the title to “The Sequence” after the initial code snippet that “turned on” Machine intelligence and left it to lie

I don’t even know what happened to the manuscript at this point, it’s somewhere on a disk.

I did get it printed and bound though, since I had access to the means, along with a book of poems I wrote while working the phones for “Teh Nortons”

Learning to Write

Death of the Author

Watching This video again reminded me of an exercise from Creative Writing that was at the time just intolerable and exciting all at once. Peer Reading.

Every day we would be presented with a writing prompt and then given time to create something from it. Being kids, often times these would be gross out sessions or confessionals. Pictures of birds would become poems and pieces of music would become stories.

Some of the class would use this chance to criticize the prompts rather than use the time to create something.

It’s those people that were missing out. Because they became the author and instead of using the time and space given them every day to create something new, they took the chance to snipe and attack at the very thing they were supposed to be inspired by. In a way, they were inspired, but they failed to engage in the very task they were set out. They were asked to create, and instead they took their time to destroy. “They Chose Violence” so to speak.

This image is a good example of one of the prompts, which was a penguin. Some people wrote short stories about lost penguins, some about loneliness. There was a poem about how there was nothing but penguins.

When it came time to discuss the writing that day some of the class seized on the notion that the poem about the lack of other birds was the author talking about the conformist nature of High School (where we were) and Society as a whole. That the Poem was about how a lack of diversity was dangerous. Or that the Poet was embodying a lonely penguin, seeking something more.

They were all wrong about the authors intent. The Author just dashed it off in moments: “Penguins! Everywhere Penguins! No Great Auks, no Eagles, no sparrows. Everywhere I look all I see are Tuxedo Birds. Everywhere, there’s penguins!”

Yeah, it was short and easy to put meaning on. It also was “just as it was” there was no deeper meaning to it. So the class, when faced with the idea that “It just was a complaint about the penguins” got hostile.

They insisted that there was deeper meaning in it, especially given who the author was. I’m told that they thought the author was stoned more than they were sober at this period. Which in itself was amazing, because they were 100% straight-edge.

That’s the thing, we put our own meaning and own message in our media. We hang our own emotions on every hook a piece gives us to do so. So that we can decorate it with meaning for ourselves.



Cleaners 4 Life

When CRISPR edits become legal for small size bio-doc firms to start doing, you know that during their down time, someone got the idea to try and hack those units beyond the manufacturing warranty. We’re talking professional grade gene editing and implementation tools in the hands of people who were “smart” and “motivated” but fond of very dark humour.

These gleaming white blocks of science would become the mothers of a whole new cottage industry of custom formula solutions to life’s problems. All you would needs is the formula, and you could take that on a chip or a QR code on a sticker or an image on your phone and you scan it, pay the fees and a syringe popped out with a cure for your impotence or new hair on your head, three inches on your member or for the really adventurous, all three at once.

Who knows how they tested this stuff, computer models be damned. They had to have been testing this stuff on someone, and it took decades for the world to figure out how to ID the poor bastards who survived and their kids’ kids. So you have these people making a quick buck figuring out the building blocks of life on a budget and the means to make those changes on the fly. You have entrepreneurs turning the actual working snake-oil of the ages that can be printed on cheap white paper and handed out on tickets for fractions of a penny, but at a cost of thousands to the buyers, that is until the copyright holders started to get wise and clamp down.

In the 90s and beyond in the United States, they made it legal to copyright genes, even those of the humans. So if you sequence a bit of genetic information, write it down and say “this is the sequence that defines hair colour” and stamp it and get all the forms and so on, you own the copyright on that gene sequence. So, those sequences have been bought and categorized and organized and collated, shared and updated and maintained for generations. And a great deal of that work underpinned those lovely machines.

Now the Corporations awoke from their torpor and looked at the world and said: “This is our money.”

So the machines all get locked up while the corporations who had for some decades been run by software that just endlessly moved resources around leaving people to just live. Thus the boredom.

So the Boxes had to make money for the corporations, and so there had to be profitable things to do with them that didn’t make “some kid in his teens” rich. So they started making custom people.

It happened that fast.

One day people were beautiful and lived for decades longer and the next we were neck deep in custom built kids that were nearly specialized for their jobs and pooping. It was a cruel joke that it even happened, because now we had all these kids that could only do one thing, their bodies twisted into very specialized functions. They all died, in time, having fulfilled their one task.

The people put a stop to it, after a generation of genetic crimes, the people put an end to the production of human machines. All of them had passed away and the world mourned a whole generation of children, except The Cleaners. They lived on.

Turns out that despite the best efforts of those literally greedy Corporations, a miracle happened. The Cleaners lived! They were hardy, and strong and they could take on anything, it’s why they came to be called “The Cleaners” they were able to go into any waste, any broken, poisoned place and just clean it out. They made their homes in the former Superfund sites that made up most of the Western United States and Canada. Mostly they took up around the Yellowstone crater.

The Cleaners marched out around the world, like Superheroes from an old Comic or Ancient Statues of Greek Gods come to life, if your Gods ran to thick, short and hairy.

After the sorrows and hackers and the miracle of The Cleaners, humanity could look out to the stars, and it was only right that the Cleaners should go first, because they could survive pretty much anything. They took to Venus and Mars with equal measure, colonists and then terraformers before the end of that Century. The footprint of Earth was all over the Inner planets.

The Cleaners led the way into interstellar space, lives were measured in centuries now and people could live everywhere. Pretty soon all of humanity was “a little bit Cleaner” and you know how it is Cleaners 4 Life!

Even More movies that Would be improved by the addition of a Giant Telepathic Squid

Let’s get right to it

50 Shades of Gray Grey

BDSM and Sensuality are nowhere to be found in this hollywood bean flicker about Dakota Johnson and some Dude who is #notmychristian. It’s a Hollywood take on a BDSM movie that doesn’t star Rosie O’Donnell and Dan Akroyd.  Without that dynamic duo, who has the time for it?

How would this movie be improved by a sprinkling of Calamari with evil intent?

Two Words.  Slimy Sex. Okay, three.  Slimy Wet Sex? No, moist.  That’s it.  Moist.  Everything would be moist.  I have it on good authority that moist is a wholly despicable word,  So I’ve taken the liberty to moisten this whole paragraph up in anticipation.  I got nothing, I remembered the Dan Akroyd Rosie O’Donnell Sex movie and my mind went to its happy place and didn’t want to come back.
Lemmie take another swing at this.
Christian Grey? Or Gray, what way is it.  Not Still stuck on Rosie in Bondage gear.
It was just startling, she was already middle aged and so was Dan Akroyd.  It’s called Exit to Eden.  THAT Movie could have used some human sized squid, to ink out our memories!  I have exactly three good memories about that movie and they have little to do with the movie itself.

King Kong

King Kong is the story about how a girl can go away on an overseas adventure, come home and her summer romance follows her home in steerage,  Things are all going well for him, he has a show on Broadway, he’s even the star; but when the Girl isn’t on his same wavelength he takes things to extremes and ends up getting hurt,

How could King Kong be improved with a Giant Squid?

For once the Giant Squid is not one of the “bad guys”  Gail finds herself alone in the wilderness; next to a blue pond when a massive, squishy head emerges.  Another Giant Monster.  It looms over her, tentacles caressing and teasing her, a massive beak just feet from her.  Fetid air around it.  It opens it’s mouth and… says “Gurrrrl, you should get away from Kong now, he’s only going to snatch you up and run away with you”
Later, standing over Kong’s body Gail gets a telegram with the words ‘I told you so.  Squid”

Mrs. Doubtfire

How could Mrs. Doubtfire be improved by adding a Giant Squid?

 

Memory is for me

It turn the book over and over in my hands,  having stopped reading on page 35 and just remembering the rest of the book as it  unfolded.

The pages are yellowed and stained; the cover is soft and yields.  It is not the crisp, bright paperback it once was when it lived in my knapsack and traveled around with me on the bus and in my trunk.  I smells like a library now, not like calvin kleins ‘Eternity’ and its two partners are in no better shape when I pass them on the shelves.  They look out at me as I move around the room and place this volume down on my desk.

In the early 90s a friend of a friend who had read these books once related them to us (the nerds that we were playing ‘Shadowrun’ in the private playpen,loft that head been built in the backyard of Andrews house) as an “adventure”.  We weren’t the characters in the book; so when faced with the same choices and the same scenarios, we didn’t sublimate the authors intent.  We couldn’t absorb the flow of it via osmosis, so we couldn’t follow the story of a mad artificial intelligence and the girl who could surf the net with her mind.   We just wanted to kill bad guys and make money so our characters could be cooler and more wealthy than we could ever be.  So we didn’t really meet Bobby or his Voodoo girlfriend.  Slamhounds came, went and were disposed of.

So here I am; staring into the pages again, the first volume back on the shelf.  Waiting for me to come around again once the Matrix becomes self aware and I can consign it all to memory again.

Extra Short Story: Over there; there.

When you live in the shadow of the tallest trees for hundreds of miles, your lives become something of a sideshow these days.

“What’s it like seeing real live trees all day?”

“Is that your tree house?  Can I climb up there?”

“Are you a Druid?  Are you related to one of them? “

“Is it true you dance naked among the trees to celebrate the seasons?”

Day-in, day-out people come to gawk at the century trees and wonder aloud about how they got so big when the rest of the trees have been left stunted brush by comparison.

Calling them Century Trees at all is a bit of a stretch too; as the druids seem to be able to grow massive 200 foot tall apple trees in what seems like less than a decade.  Green thumbs, toes and everything in-between it seems when it comes to the Tree-Folk, which is what they call themselves.  They live around the trees, sometimes in tree houses up in the canopy, sometimes in the trunks but mostly in little adobe huts on the south faces of the trees, attached to the outside of the trunk and slowly rising up, up up as the tree does.

The tourists come into town (Gramercy, thank-you very much, not Apple-Town)  and gawk at the trees to the west and marvel at the nearly constant humidity and the way that the rain has become so predictable in the shadows of the Grove.  They come, stop a while in town, spend a night or two in the hotels or camp in the north wood near the river and then leave; back to normal forests and unpredictable rain; back out over there.

Gramercy was here before the Grove and before the Tree Folk moved in.   We got by as a highway/biway a food stop with curios for people on long road trips going from important place to important place.  It was flat and dry and future-less here.  A town populated by people perpetually leaving or settling in to die.  We had one public school servicing Kindergarten through Grade 12 and then the kids would leave for college and leave the town a little more quiet than it had been.  The closest thing to modernization that the town council had ever implemented was a municipal sewer system to bring indoor plumbing to the sleepy village of 110.

When the first Tree Folk arrived about 40 years back; they were just passing through like anyone else.  The Sheriff at the time thought they were hippies or something and hassled them out of town; but some lingered and bought up the dusty scrub land west of town with what seemed like an endless supply of cash.  This pleased the town council at the time; because the land had been “town land” for as long as anyone could remember and it was good for nothing but rabbit hunting and atv rides in the dust.  The Tree Folk set about building their grove as soon as the ink was dry on the deal and within 20 years something like 30 Century Trees stood west of Gramercy and even in their shadow the whole of the area was green.

The Tree Folk mostly keep to themselves; tending their grove and trading massive fruit for what they need.  They all kind of dress the same, the men wearing tight crew cut hairdos and the women smart bobs.  They all have a healthy glow about them and arms like chimps, from climbing and tending their trees.  The Tree Folk kids attend one of three Public Schools in the area; with Gramercy now boasting a population of 10,000 most of the year and a few (not many) chain hotels and restaurants calling the area a new tourist hot spot.  A wholesome Las Vegas or something.   Their kids rub elbows with the rest of us and then go home to the Grove at night; nestled in their adobe houses on the sides of massive apple trees.

About 35 years back; as the grove started to grow there was a huge hoopla about the water table and how much water all this Green was costing us.  The Tree Folk’s leader at the time, Paul, he just smiled at the question and produced a sheaf of paper showing the water levels for 100 miles around over the past 10 years, showing an actual increase in the water table in the local area.

“The Trees, ” he said, still smiling that beatific smile they all seemed to flash when talking to folks from Gramercy, “The trees don’t take water, they make it.  They convert Oxygen and Hydrogen into water on their own and then the excess leeches down their roots into the water table below.   The trees make their own food and then share the bounty with us”

Some bigwig from the EPA showed up a while later and after some harrumphing and more official visits from the CDC the Tree Folk were given leave to do what they would with the Land; with the only consideration to the government being lights affixed at the top of the trees to ensure they would not be a hazard to air travel.  Paul had smiled a little smile at that, whispered something to one of his followers who nodded and wandered on foot back to the grove.  Weeks later the canopy of the trees glowed a soft blue at night, like the massive leaves had stars weaved into them.  When asked about it Paul would only say “We asked the lightening bugs how they did it then shared it with the trees”

Years later; when the third public school opened and the latest organic plastics plant went into operation (supplied via the skins left from a pulping mill down the way) the Tree Folk became a national treasure; something to read about in books and learn about on educational specials.  Like the Amish of Pennsylvania, the Tree Folk of Montana were just another reclusive farming folk; building their land of Milk and Honey and finding Utopia among the leaves.  And Gramercy, we’re along for the ride, living here in the Shadows of the CEntury Trees and always ready with an answer to “Do you know any Druids?  Did you see them dancing naked at Springtime?”

Short Story: Lights Out Part 9

The building shaddered in time with the sounds that woke the sleeping people huddled throughout the Feldex building.  Thumping and bass-rich blows pounded the whole structure.  When the people in the shaken offices looked outside, they could see buildings collapsing around them.  Skyscrapers that had dominated the skyline were falling all around the Feldex building, scorched buildings gave up their skeletons and fell upon the streets.  Dust and debris flowed through the streets now like angry crowds, blanketing them in brown, choking demise.

Janice had found Frank overnight; he was curled up in an empty office and had slept through the horrifying night.  The corpses on the balcony had given up slamming themselves into the windows and doors and simply dived off of the edge of the building into the waiting streets.

The office was quiet now save for the noise of the Office buildings of Saint Paul dying as surely has the people that had occupied them had.

Security Chief Mike Pendegras came on to the PA:

“Ladies and Gentlemen; this is the security Chief.  Our building is in no danger of falling.  We have not suffered the damage that the fallen buildings have.  We are intact and remain secure.  We caution you again to remain in your offices and to report any activity that seems threatening or dangerous.”

After he clicked off the PA, Mike Pendegrass exhaled and tried to slump into his chair.  His teams had swepth the building for any more “Zombies” and locked the main staircase tight.  Nothing from the 25th floor or above was going to come down that way again; no one would be going up again either.

Chief Pendegras had received a call from his dead father overnight; he had thought it was a dream at first; but some of his team had received calls from their relatives too.  Chief Pendegras wasn’t one to accept the supernatural; but his faith in the solidity of his convictions had been sorely tempted.

“Chief!, Chief!  There is an APC outside of the building!” it was one of the new kids up on 13.  “Chief, do you get me?”

“I get ya kid, where is it? Over”

“Chief, it’s right outside the front entrance, it’s got a scoop up front like a bulldozer, it pushed through like a snow plow!  Chief, there is a sign painted on the top: 555-573-7878”

The Chief recognized a cell-phone number when he heard one; “OKay kid.  Keep an eye on it. Chief out”

Chief Pendegrass picked up his cell phone and dialed the number:

“Hello, Disaster recovery.  Were are you calling from?”

“This is Security Chief Mike Pendegras.  Before I tell you where I am; tell me who you are.”

“Sir, I am a coordinator from a former Fema Unit stationed in Saint Paul.  I am tasked with coordinating the APCs we have on hand to retrieve survivors and send them back through to Earth”

“So, the scientist on the phones was real?”

“Yes sir.  Where are you?”

“I’m not sure about all of this; some strange shit is going down here Ma’am.  Can you have the APC’s around the city flash some kind of friendly si..”

Outside the building, Mike Pendegras heard the thunder of a belt-fed machine gun firing.

“Chief! The soldiers in the APC, they are shooting at people in the street!  Holy Shit!  The people, they are getting back up and running at the APC!  FUCK!  The soldier on the tank blew their heads off.”

“OKay Kid, I got you.  Over”

“Listen Fema Lady.  What is going on here?”

“I thought that the communication last night was clear.  We are on an extrasolar planet and we are sending people home as fast as we can.”

“My phone was OFF when that call came in”

“Sir, If I may be frank. If you don’t think we have the technology to turn phones on remotely, you haven’t been watching enough movies.  Let me be clear, a scientist teleported a  massive section of Saint Paul to another planet, turning on cell phones remotely is within our scope”

“Fair enough Ma’am.  How, precisely do we decide who goes back in that APC outside?”

“You have an APC nearby?  Excellent!  What number is it”

“Kid, 13.  What number is on that APC?”

“NG-101, sir”

“Ma’am, the APC outside is labelled NG-101”

“Thank-you Mr. Pendegrass, please send out 10 people to meet the APC and be transported to our holding facility.  We will send a bus out for the rest as soon as we have up-armored enough of them for the trip.  Send only the people who could defend themselves in a fight sir, they may need to leave the APC and proceed on foot.”

“I’ll send some people out in 30 minutes”

“Thank-you Mr. Pendegrass.  Wil you be joining them?”

“No Ma’am, I’ll ride security until we have this building empty.”

“Alright Sir, please keep in mind that we are not sure how long we can keep sending people home”

Mike Pendegrass thought about this for a while before responding.

“You keep the door open; we’ll get people home and I’ll get home in time to complain to your superior about your flippant attitude during a crisis”

Chief Pendegras could feel the woman on the end of the line smile.

“It’s a date sir”

Chief Pendegrass flipped his phone closed and turned on the PA.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, I need 10 volunteers who have either combat experience or combat training.  Make your presence known to the security team on your floor and we will escort your to the main lobby.  Thank-you for your cooperation”

Almost instantaneously, his radio lit up “Chief, what the fuck? Are we recruiting deputies?”

“Guys, this is the chief.  We are recruiting some people to run Pony Express, escort people to the main lobby and then return to your posts.  We’re going to round up ten people to make a run to the Fema center and head for home; if they make it, we’ll send more.  The rest WILL be deputized.”

A chorus of, ‘okay chief, got it’ sounded back.  Chief Pendegrass was left to think about the voice on his phone and the prospect of leaving on the APC outside.

Short Story: Lights Out Part 7

The gravel stopped crunching and Patrick thought, for a moment, that he was alone on the roof.  The flopping monsters that had poured from the door had been dispatched like his former partner and he had pitched the majority into the flaming street below; crossing himself when he could for whatever passed for souls in their grotesque corpses.

Jacks corpse had stood again, stretched and began to lope at Patrick again, his face an obscene smile with mouth agape and askew.

“Jack, shit.” Patrick ran towards his partner and kicked hm in the chest, toppling the bloody thing over the side of the roof and sailing to the street below.

The roof was quiet and empty of danger now, Patrick walked with all due care to the roof door and looked down the staircase for any evidence of more monsters waiting in the dark.  Finding none he turned his radio on and called out for the chief.

“Chief, it’s 13.  I’m 5 by 5 here.”

“Pat?  Good.  We’ve just shut the tenants on 25 in the security office, join me in the main stairwell.”

“Got ya Chief.  13 coming in”

Patrick Farrel had never once killed a man in anger; not in the line of duty either.  His tour in Iraq had been a relativley short one, with a leg injury getting him an early reprieve from the desert.  Security work paid a bit better and couldn’t normally involve much actual fighting.  The busiest days for Patrick had been chasing kids out of the stairwell after sneaking in after-hours.  He hadn’t known Jack long enough for his death to really hurt, but the fight had left him like the long-termers at the VA, lost in the moment, staring into the distance for the next encounter.

He met the guys from Unit 11 as they trotted towards the main stairwell doors, they were smiling and chatting about the tenants.

“Did you see what they were doing in the one office?  I think they were trying to film their own little porno in there or something… hey Pat.  What the fuck was going on up top?”  Patrick knew the smaller one; Henry “Hank” Jacobs.  Young, former cop, fired for some kind of harassment issue.

“Yeah, they were naked, all of them, one dude had a camera and they were in a pile in the middle of the office, like 20 people all getting it on!” The bigger one had just kept on about the discovery in the office.  Patrick just walked on to the door and knocked.  Chief Pendegrass opened up and held the door for the Security Guards to walk out.  He gave Patrick as much space as possible, given the gore that coated his uniform.

“Chief, we got some shit up here like you wouldn’t believe.  Fucking Zombies or some shit.  I fought about 6 of them, Jack included.  I pitched them off of the roof as they came at me, I fucking shot two of them in the chest and they got right up, Jack too.” Patrick found his tongue and wouldn’t let go “Chief, Man. They kept on coming, like they was gonna tear me up like Jack.  I hadda kill them.”

Patrick could feel himself losing it.  He caught himself and led the walk down to the 24rth and down,  sealing the doors as he went.  He described the whole fight to the Chief, who remained quiet and offered no judgment or comment.  When they had finished the sweep to the ground floor, Patrick had told his story a few times and the guys from Unit 11 had simply gone silent and stopped meeting Patrick’s eyes.

Chief Pendegrass put his hand on PAtrick’s should and led him to the Security offices and offered him a seat and a drink.

“Pat, I believe you.  I’ve looked outside, I can hear that stuff out there.  Something has happened to Saint Paul and I’m not clear as to what.  There were two suns out there today, things have changed in a big way.  Find yourself a clean set of clothes and dump that shit you’re wearing in a bag, tie it off and dump it deep in a dumpster or down the chute.  Go nowhere alone and keep your radio on from now on.”  The Chief stood up to his full height and looked deep in thought.

Patrick got up, went to his locker and stripped off his gore covered clothes, dumping them like requested.  He cleaned himself up as best he could in the showers and found a new uniform and some of the tactical gear the other guys had on.  When he caught his face in the mirror, he was sure that it was still him looking out, but there was a small strangeness in his eyes, like when he first stepped off of the plane at Rammstein in Germany.  He had been through something and come back broken.

Short Story: Lights Out Part 6

The Job of a Security Chief in a private building is thankless, stullifying and for the most part as boring as Mime Church on Saturday.  You clock in first thing in the morning, check over the security logs, meet with the building tenants once or twice a week and put a happy if patricial face on the security procedures that inevitably end up annoying or inconveniencing the tenants.  If it has been a particularily trying day, you can get free food from one of the cafeterias in the building or sneak a drink from the executive lounges in the name of a security check.

When the call came in that the 25th was overrun, Mike Pendegrass wished that he had strayed into one of the executive lounge instead of tarrying around 23 looking at the security doors.

“Chief Responding, Unit 12, I’ll lock it down,  sit tight! Units 1-10, lock down floors 23 down to 19, sweep down floor by floor, Unit 11, you’re with me.”

Two worried looking kids in Security Tactical gear appeared in the main lobby on 23, they had pulled out the private securty quivalent of riot gear from the security office on 23.  Mike took a club from one of them and led them out to the central staircase.

“Guys, you know what to do, get up to 25 determine the nature of the threat and seal all exits if that threat could come down on us; now get going1”

“Yes sir!” Like military recruits, the two young men tore up the staircase to the 25th, Chief Pendegrass could hear their boots pound all the way up, then the heavy doors closing behind them.

“Chief, Unit 11 checking in, there are some people milling about out here.  My partner is leading them into the secure area,  we’ll get them locked into a secure area before going on.”

“You lock down that central staircase before you do anything else boys, I don’t want anything coming down those stairs until one of you boys tosses it ahead of them, you get me?”

“Yes Sir, Unit 11 locking down stairs”

One of the boys had come into the stairwall above Chief Pendegrass and used his security key to initiate a lockdown of the 25th floor.  Mike had climbed the stairs behind the two security guards, keeping a safe distance until he was sure that whatever had caught Jack and Patrick wasn’t already spilling into the central staircase.

“Okay, I’ll finish the lockdown.  Get in there and secure the people in the security office in the north corner, it has a chute down to 24 if things go south.  Barricade them in, tell them to sit tight and wait for the all clear then get back down to this door in a hurry!”

The young guard complied and Chief Michael Pendegrass finished sealing the door, he sat down and leaned against it, calling out to his man on the roof.

“Pat, chief here, pick up on private channel” Mike swapped channels over to a private channel he knew was set aside for unit 12 “Pat, what’s your six?”

“…..ssssssSSSSSS……”

“Pat, come back”

Mike switched over to the public channel, “Unit 12, come back”

“sssssSSSS    Unit 12 coming back Chief”

“Pat, switch over to private, you got me?”

“Chief, I’m kinda in the middle of something, I’ll catch you on the flip side if I get through ….sssssSSSSS”

Security Chief Mike Pendegrass, formerly of the Saint Paul Police department smiled a little to himself and thought of the times he had asked people to hold on like that,  as if a life or death matter was some sort of chore that one could shrug off.  Mike Pedegrass leaned his full weight into the door and listened, listened for the sounds of something going wrong, for screams, for gunshots, for anything.  Beyond the murmering that once could always hear in the main stairwell, it was silence.  He could hear the odd footstep beyond the door and occasional check-ins as the units swept down from 23, but the rest was silence and peace.

“Unit 12, come back”

“Chief, this is unit 11”

“Unit 11,  have you secured the tenants on 25?”

“Yeah Chief, coming back to the main staircase, unit 11 out”

Chief Pendegrass stood up and smoothed out his uniform, he began the unlock sequence on the door and pulled open the heavy steel arm that secured it.  He waited for the twin cadenced steps of the guards of unit 11.

And waited.

Short Story: Lights Out Part 5

The roof access stairs were impassible; but it was clear to Patrick that staying on the 25th was going to be a bad idea; he had just heard something wet and horrible happen to his partner over the radio and was sure that he didn’t want it to happen to him.  He leaped over the bloody pools at the bottom of the stairs and caught himself on the railing of the stairs, slick footing preventing a clean landing.  The stairs were gore-laden messes with what appeared to be the remains of dozens of people all over them.  Patrick considered heading back down, but screaming and yelps of pain from behind him spurred him through the grotesque and up onto the roof into the inky, smoky night.

“Chief, this is Patrick Farrel, patrol unit 12, My partner was caught in whatever bingo is going down on 25.  I’m up on the roof to avoid catching whatever caught him!  Chief!?” his radio wasn’t coming back “Unit 12, someone come back?”

“Unit twelve, this is unit 3 on the first, we’re secure down there, what’s your six?”

“Unit 3, the roof lights are out, but there doesn’t appear to be anyone up here.  It’s freaking cold up her Rog.”

“Pat, I got ya.  Keep your head straight and keep an I eye on the roof”

“10-4 Unit 3.  Unit 12 out”

Patrick crunched along the gravel on the roof, and looked over the edge at the city below.  The streets were bathed in yellow and red, smoky and dangerous looking.  Patrick turned back towards the door to the stairs and walked face first into his partner.

“Holy Damn, Jack.  What’s going on, are you alright?”

Jack grabbed hold of Patrick and pushed him towards the edge of the rood, snapping at his face.

“Shit, Jack, what the fuck”

When the light from the fires below lit Jack’s face, Patrick could see that half of it was gone and there was nothing but evil intent in his remaining eye. Jack released Patrick’s shoulder with his right hand and swung a blinding punching into Patrick’s chin, stunning him.  Patrick fell to the gravel next to the short wall around the perimeter of the roof.  Jack began to pummel his partner, bloodying his face; between blows Patrick pulled his pistol from his belt and tried to level it at his partners knees, but Jack slapped it from his hand and over the side of the roof.

Patrick rolled to his left and escaped the rain of blows; kicking Jack’s right knee out from under him.  Jack collapsed towards Patrick who had rolled to his feet and bounced unsteadily way, returning to kick his fallen attacker in the gorey remains of his face. Stomping it.

“Yeah, you like that? Huh?  You like some of this?”

Patrick stomped his former partner until he stopped thrashing around and the wheezing bubbling blood stopped pumping from the ragged edge of his mouth.

“Shit..”

“Unit 12, this is Chief.  Come back”

Patrick’s radio was one the ground next to the wall.

“Unit 12, Chief, we’ve got a problem up on the roof; Jack just tried to toss me over the side”

“Come back Unit 12, what was that?”

“Chief, Jack just  tried to eat my face and kick me over the side of the building.  I had to stomp him dead to to get him to lay still”

“Unit 12, do not leave the location.”

“10-4 Chief.  Unit 12 on the roof and waiting.  If whatever got Jack is up here Chief, I don’t want to meet it.  Jack was all fucked up before he got to me, half of his face was gone; like somoeone ripped it off”

“Say again 12?”

“Jack’s face was torn off!”

“Chief on his way”

“Shit”

Patrick sat on the gravel with his back against the wall and stared at the body of his former partner.  Patrick had been the best man at Jack’s wedding.  He was Jack’s kids’ godfather.  Jack’s wife would be devastated.  Patrick coughed a bit in regret, but snapped his flashlight out and began to scan the roof for other surprises.

There was a bloody trail leading to him from the door, but there was no other sign of disturbance on the roof.  Patrick stood up and walked to the door; from behind the door he could hear heavy, but labored footsteps and called out “Chief?”

There was no response, but a grey arm shot up from the gloom; Patrick pointed his flashlight down into the stairwell and immediately slammed the door shut and sat down against it.

“Chief, lock down the 25th, do not enter 25!”

“Unit 12, repeat?”

“Chief, get the 25th locked down.  There are more things like Jack down there, they are all fucked up and dead Chief.  We got zombies or some shit like that on 25!”

Weak arms began to pound the door behind him, they wanted out but couldn’t budge the door.  Patrick braced himself and then ran for Jacks body, Jack’s pistol was still strapped to his waist.  Patrick grabbed the gun and the extra clips stored there and turned to face the monsters pouring from the door.