In desperate times desperate people head here – an online journal of Apocalyptic-themed fiction and commentary.

Chapter 4: Dead Playboys

Copyright © 2009 by Chris Tannhauser. All rights reserved. From his novel Tears of the Wounded Sky.

Chapter 4: Dead Playboys

     Chazz was on his knees, giving the gretch what it wanted, taking what he needed. He held its hips and rode it, stuffing its noisy face into the pillow with each thrust. The view was unambiguously supreme.

     Humans, he thought, watching the gretch’s elbows flex helplessly against his power, This is what humans are. Perfect.

     “Perfect,” he said aloud.

     The gretch turned its head sideways on the pillow, eyes closed, hair sticking in its open mouth. “Oh, god, yes,” it gasped.

     “Do you know me?” Chazz hissed through clenched teeth.

     The gretch moaned. “Yes, oh, god –”

     Chazz grinned darkly and rode the gretch harder. You don’t know me. If you knew me, you wouldn’t be here. Just godcops with plasma burners. But not you. If you knew me.

     The lights dropped out. Chazz froze. Plasma burners.

     Infrared sensing pits burst open along the edges of his face; lateral lines, the kind sharks use, puckered down his arms and legs. The gretch was pink-white in the jagged orange pool of the bed. Its magnetic field and nervous system filaments shown in other colors, the colors for which the humans had no names, the colors no humans had ever seen. Sensing pits stippled his back. The room was deep purple. All clear.

     The gretch stopped driving back against him, pushed its torso up off the bed. Its head swiveled in the darkness, eyes twitching, seeing nothing.

     “The TG’s down,” it said, its aura pulsing with disbelief and fear. “How — can that be?” The color of panic now.

     Chazz listened through the house, into the surrounding estate, ultrasonic. Subsonic. Nothing out of the ordinary. He relaxed, digesting his extra sensing organs. The world collapsed to a 3D, finite palette of colors devoid of emotion.

     The lights came up.

     “Oh!” the gretch exclaimed, “It’s back!”

     Chazz grunted.

     He grabbed the gretch by the hair and rode, full rodeo. It came again, wracked with inarticulate growling, its back muscles clenching out of sync.

     “Cum — in — me!” it gasped.

     “Naw.”

     “Please –”

     He shouldn’t, but isn’t that what made it supreme?

     “Whatever,” said Chazz. With a shrug, he gave the gretch what it wanted, making it cum again.

     After the gretch left, Chazz drank six liters of sugar-water, and actually ate a chocolate candy bar, just because. Just for a taste.

     His body temp was up in the high 90s centigrade. Time for a bath. He wandered idly into one of the mansion’s many vaulted and cavernous bathrooms. This was the one with all the plants, a jungle of stone pathways and hanging vines, the bathtub a stone pit with waterfall. The waterfall was off, the tub empty. The plants didn’t look so good. He hadn’t been watering them lately, almost like —

     Almost like it’s time to move on.

     The jungle bathroom was streaked in browns and smelled of decay. Chazz smiled, as a reptile might if it could.

     “Donner! I require a bath!”

     Moments later a human appeared at the arched stone entry, framed in dead vines. It was large for its age, dressed in the current sophomoric fashion, a jumpsuit of black plastic tiles. Its face was unremarkably symmetrical; it had the normal compliment of teeth. The human’s hair was cut close in a yellow fuzz that made Chazz think of mold. And eyes of arctic blue, but without the sparkle.

     “Yes, Mister Chazz?”

     “A bath, Donner. Vodka.”

     Donner’s eyes twitched.

     The top of the waterfall swelled, and hissing and splashing it rained vodka into the stone tub. The ethanol scent cleared his proxy sinuses.

     “Fine, Donner. Get lost.”

     Donner left without a word.

     It was learning. The Priest said Donner was good, and it was good. The perfect human.

     The tub filled slowly; Chazz ribbed his surface to convect more heat, and waited, arms akimbo. He thought of the gretch. He really shouldn’t have done that; it went against his own personal code of conduct. Now that he’d done it, he’d be seeing the gretch again, whether he liked it or not.

     Time to move on.

     He would have Donner call the Priest first thing tomorrow.

     Sealing himself up, Chazz strung himself out thin on his stolen bones and cooled off in the tub.

     Supreme.

* * *

     Simmons imagined he was smoking. Breathing deep the fruits of burning, exhaling as his brain buzzed, the tendrils of smoke coiling upward into the advertising sky. Fading into distance, maybe even breaking through to another star.

     “Wish list,” he breathed. The file burst into being, names, pulsating graphs, three dimensional audio/video. Simmons focused his eyes on Alexiy, one of the last Russian GIs left on Earth. Very effective, innovative, courageous. And, he noted with dismay, now listed as KIA. With a sigh, Simmons flipped to secondaries. Shakti’s data caught his attention–he kept her on top. She was truly his first choice. But she was also under suspicion of Delusions of Humanity. Her case was currently being investigated by INFOWAR; they would never release her until cleared. And no GI had ever been cleared of such charges. Only decommissioned. Destroyed. If they could somehow get her released… Her record was stellar, her experience vast; she was one of the last veterans of the 30-Second War. Shakti had fought Skinny before, and survived. If only…

     But he knew better. Melancholy began to descend upon him; it dripped from the black night sky. The black night sky of concentric crystal spheres plastered with billboards. The full moon caught his attention, tiled and stained brown. The remnant curves of ancient craters, the darker brown of assorted Mare, divided up into squares. Older than sin, as old as the sky. And the newer crater of Tranquility City, now rendered Silent City… The Alpha Strike. It was there, in the sky, hanging over our heads for all time, for all to see. The Moon, smashed and dead. The period at the end of our death-sentence.

     With a small grunt he recalled that bodies in vacuum remain pristine in death.

     All the sleeping children. Lullaby. LOL.

     Simmons nearly nodded off, blinked himself awake.

     LOL was the brick’s job. The wish-list section for brick had but one entry. The Russian bio-weapon, code name Dawn’s Hour, Chas Rasvyeta. Listed as KIA, killed in action in United Africa more than 20 years ago. Simmons knew better. Simmons knew what the government didn’t want ESC citizens to know. The bio-weapon was alive and well, living among them. No one knew where. If they knew, they would have burned it in a heartbeat. Evidence of the rogue weapon surfaced every so often, usually when it switched identities. Its true capabilities were classified, even above Simmons’ clearance. But what he did know was impressive: Dawn’s Hour was sentient, based on stolen Chinese biotech; it could mimic human form, and it was directly responsible for over 1500 mission-related kills spread across more than 400 sorties. The success rate was listed at an unbelievable 100 percent. Now that was a brick.

     The constellation Lucky7s-DVDA-FoodRiot rose in the eastern sky.

     Simmons sighed again. It was a wish-list after all. They would probably just end up uncrating Luthor.

     A brain-fucked sycophant, a surly cold-fish GI, and Luthor the cyborg. Humanity’s last, best hope.

     Fuck.

     He drifted off into melancholy and slept fitfully, the TG gently nudging his dreams this way and that.

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