Count me in.
|# ¿ Jan 20, 2015 06:36|
|# ¿ Oct 28, 2021 18:39|
AN HOUR LATE
88 WORDS LONG-ER THAN THE LIMIT
TIME TO LOSE: THE THUNDERDOME!
"What are you going to do when you see her, Miska?" Salasar asks as he pulls tight on his harness straps, his body sinking deep into the command chair. He's slotting a neural jack into his wrist, the long cable running out from a mirrored connector near the center of the monitors of the blossom-like glass cockpit. Monitors like polychromatic petals set into the spherical cockpit's front. He slides his visor down.
"Dunno yet, I think I'll flip a coin," I say as I kick off from the cockpit and drift backwards into the cabin.
“Between flatlining her or kissing her? Second choice seems a bit hard, buttoned up,” Salasar adds.
“I'm about to jack you an orbital superiority vehicle. I like to think I'm resourceful.”
Red light bathes two squads of boarders, suited for EVA and breach. Strapped to them are null-recoil rifles of a dozen different makes, and they trade chatter. The robotic drones not locked-in for the burn are crawling towards their slots – their sleek, insectoid bodies folding up, maneuvering jets firing to seat them into the hull. Soon, AR displays over every passenger read green, just as I find an empty seat and pull myself in.
“But, I might wind up doing both,” I say, pulling the harness overhead. Cold bodies and hot bodies all around me, squared away. AR reads everything's secure. “We're locked in Sal, prepped for boarding.”
“About time. We're dropping out of spacial disrupt in t-minus five minutes: in geosync, right on top of the O.S.V.” The circular door to the cabin lazily closes, the levers on it wheeling shut. “Venting atmo. If you're not sealed, you deserve to suffocate,” he says, as the HUD sensors verify dropping pressure with a sinking bar.
Body to my right is named Lacam, and he's cracking his knuckles. Red diagonal lines run across the matte, dark gray of his ballistic plating. To my left, Asja, mouthing silent lyrics behind his visor, dark features lit by helmet readouts.
Nerve rituals, over the shrinking seconds. Mine's double-checking the cybernetics – eye lenses focusing, tracking my own fingers waved in front of me, musculature diagnostics running as slight twitches in my body. I hold off on the surge. Two minutes of waiting don't need to seem longer, even if they're my last.
“Mommaship says t-minus sixty seconds,” echoes Salasar.
At that, I reach for the NR Rifle, unlocking it from its rest, pulling it tight to my chest. “Salasar?” I ask, in those last seconds.
“Thank you. I owe you a fuckton,” I say, seeing the timer run through the thirty sec mark, the numbers flashing red. The hull shakes from final correction burns. Asja is holding his hands out, supplicating a power not here.
“Ha. Yeah, well,” Salasar replies, interrupted by a deep breath. “Nobody refuses Dead Pirate Queen Miska and lives for long.” Ten seconds, with a low frequency tremor, or hum ringing in my molars and the bolts in my bones.
I say, comms off, “nobody agrees with Dead Pirate Queen Miska and lives for long.”
A shockwave of numbness pushes through me from back to front as the warp field collapses, my breath following it out of me. Before I can gasp back, a hard clank tremors through the dropship fuselage – magclamps disengaging – before I'm shoved via inertia into my seat. Engines roar to send the dropship spinning down towards the target. The boarders around me yell and whoop over prox comms. I'm breathing through clenched teeth. Smiling.
We're accelerating continuously from the park. G's tug at my softer insides, but the synthetic musculature and dermal weaving just sits there. For these moments, parts of me that felt a part of me for decades feel alien, invasive, and heavy.
“Getting chop! Shi-” ends Salasar as my visceral introspection ends and holes flash open through the foreward hull, flak lancing through the plating. Comms fill with screaming. Wall panels vanish in chunks as if devoured by ravenous creatures. Slamming my fist down into the emergency release button, the harness bursts off me and I kick out of my seat, pulling at a corpse's head to fling myself free of this larger target.
Naked freefall, with the world Iberya and rocket exhaust trails spinning around me. Guidance jets on my suit fire and I'm wrenched back into a more stable trajectory – almost lose grip on the NRR.
Iberya itself is thousands of kilometers to my right, with my feet pointed down towards the dagger-silhouette of the target O.S.V – and I'm falling towards it. On my left also down, the kill-drifting dropship – glittering micro-bursts of jet fire signal drone dispersion and other survivors fleeing the wreck. I look up, and 'above' me is that industrial chimera that was once a warp-cradle and a dozen other freighters and combat vessels – Mommaship.
Twitch the right way, and the jets on my back fire hard, accelerating towards the O.S.V.
“Reaver squad, Brigand squad, mission is still go,” I yell over comms and under silent rocket launches, from both the Mothership and the O.S.V. “Drones, hit point defense. Meat, rally at point bravo,” bravo being midcraft, nearest the CIC.
“Reaver and Brigand consolidating. If we want to take this ship, we move as one,” barks Antom, second down the chain on Reaver. Thrusters cut out when I hit a suicide velocity. “Drones are away. Where are you Miska?”
I fly past their hardsuits. Fifteen boarders, with green IFF. “On the way,” I tell them, looking up, seeing them firing jets to follow. Shimmering dots, also with faint green auras, denote the drones already on their strike – either launching micromissiles to remove point defenses in brief flashes of fire and shrapnel or just slamming into them.
Orbital space around us grows laced with railcannon slugs and rocket fire – Mommaship behind us aiming for weapons emplacements on the O.S.V, and at Kinetic Support Vehicles further ahead and behind us, nearer the zenith and nadir, but the O.S.V. Is making killshots – trying to find a single bridge to hit and decapitate the vessel.
It looms ahead of us, no longer some delicately suspended stiletto, but a massive sword of Damocles hanging over the planet. Red collision warnings blink on my helmet and I twitch on the reverse thrust, engaging the mag-boots. Antom performs some haptic gesture, and the drones start consolidating around where we're set to hit – seven of them, crawling on the O.S.V's bleached hull, making a perimeter around the airlock.
Bracing for impact, we hit the hull heavy, magboots holding us tight. The surviving of Reaver and Brigand move in for breach, and I open the access panel. Pulling an interface jack from the suit's wrist, I signal for them to get ready.
Jack in, drop the digital payload: an exploit-based ICE-Breaker lancing through the security systems and freezing the status changes. Malware tricks the system into giving us access clearance, and the airlock cycles open – the double-slab door with diagonal seam splits, a cough of lingering atmosphere spitting out. We file in silently – four drones, five troops from Brigand, me leading.
“Make for engineering,” I order, “and look for the onboard server. Use your copies of the ICE-Breaker to gain access, then you can get control of power and manually control the thrusters.” Asja nods, still alive, drawing his rifle as pressure equalizes, and the door opens into the hull. Tubular access ways, filled with low-intensity white light. I take point.
No targets behind or ahead, and I wave clear, before pulling on a hand-hold and launching myself towards the CIC, fore, pulling two drones with me via silent comm command, and then directing them ahead. They obey, crawling on the walls as I drift down the corridor. Impacts rattle through the hull.
When I drift close enough to the CIC to hear the orders chatter and situation reports, I hit the surge. Time slows to a crawl, the drifting lazier, and every sound and motion sluggish – save for mine, cybernetic muscles keeping pace with the adrenal-analogue flush dumping ice over my nervous system. I pull the rifle up, micro-thrust balancing me out as I aim into the room – drones jetting inside.
The room is spherical, every surface either covered in digital screens or processor housing, chairs are held in position facing the walls of the chamber by struts jutting from between glowing monitors. Keyboards and control elements line arm rests, and the crew manning them are in uniform vac suits. Long, black hair flows subtly over the back of the Captain's chair, disturbed the moment one of the other officers yell.
He doesn't get the chance to finish a word – I fire a round through his shoulder, gas jets on the rifle pushing down and forward, to stay level. The drones jet into the middle of the room, barrels clicking out of their angled body housing.
“Cataliona?” I ask through the suit's speaker, from the entrance to the CIC, activating the mag-boots to stand on the access ring. That current of hair in the command chair shifts again, and her shoulder leads her head moving out from in front of it. Silver rank bars gleam on her epaulettes. And she has a scar now, right on her cheek, the rest of her face wearing something that's not shock or surprise, darkened against the bright monitors behind her.
“Miska?” she asks, in a whisper. “Miska, you bitch!” she yells, slapping the harness release and pushing herself out of the seat. She grabs the back of it and flips herself around, drawing a pistol. I pull the trigger before she can aim, another crack sounding in the chamber, her gun blasted out of her hand and slamming into one of the monitors, shattering it. The force twisted her finger, leaving it bleeding.
“I was about to tell you to not do anything stupid,” I say, glancing back at the other CIC officers – they stare, unmoving. I signal to the drones to cover the access corridor, and they rocket past me, leaving the glowing room and its drops of glinting blood. “Too late for that.”
“Oh, me not try anything stupid? You stage a single-ship assault on an O.S.V. In the middle of a planetary assault -”
“And now I have my hand wrapped around its throat, do I not?” I'm not sure if she even cares about the pain – nothing betraying injury, save for itself and micro-tremors in the arm. “I'm getting you out of here, before you write yourself into a bad chapter of history.”
“At least I'm writing it, now!” she yells back, pushing her thumb against her dark blue breastplate. “I have my life and a place in a newer order. You just keep dying, over and over. You loving zombie. Do you even have a face anymore? A heart?” She's baring her fangs, tears welling in her eyes. “Can you even bleed?”
I keep my gun trained on them, force a deathgrip to steady aim as I unseal and pull free my helmet. Eye to eye, now with only an ironsight between us.
“Maybe. Maybe not. Who cares?” I ask, letting the helmet go as another seismic rattle rings through the hull. “Better dead or alive than just one more tool. You're too smart Cataliona – you know they're going to put all the blood this unifacation war has spilled on your hands. Toss you out like a spent mag.”
“What option did I have? They offered me a pardon. A position! More than you and your frozen corpse did in a decaying orbit over Mandala!”
I pull a coin out from an empty pouch, as the heart I still have starts to get tight, empty. I fling it up against a flat surface – calling the sides silently, until it clinks off and ricochets back. I grab it, then look down, opening it – a leering bust of some long dead conqueror judging me.
I let go of the rifle, klick off the mag boots and kick myself towards Cataliona. She swings a punch at my face and I take the sting, water in my eyes burning before I shut them, grab her, and kiss. She struggles, with one arm. She bites my lip. There's the taste of metal.
“Stand down,” she orders.
Goodbye, fluorescent skull in space helmet. You will be missed.
contagonist fucked around with this message at 08:03 on Jan 26, 2015
|# ¿ Jan 26, 2015 06:24|
Is it too late/am I disqualified from getting a critique? I haven't written anything in a while and want to see how I stack up.
|# ¿ Jan 29, 2015 05:00|
Link me to your piece and I'll crit you.
|# ¿ Jan 29, 2015 10:03|
I WANT TO BE IN
I NEED TO BE IN
|# ¿ Feb 4, 2015 10:49|
|# ¿ Feb 6, 2015 16:28|
Not my fault you mistyped when you made the account.
contagonist fucked around with this message at 03:57 on Feb 7, 2015
|# ¿ Feb 7, 2015 03:36|
What are you going to do now?
It doesn't even sting when I pull the last shard of glass from my bicep. It's about the size of a tooth, catches the cloudless sky: bright and cruel, like a blue screen of death. My neck starts to sunburn, and I crawl back under the shadow of the catastrophically twisted ton of steel and shattered plastic that was my car.
The fucker who clipped me and caused the highway spin-out had vanished, just kept driving to where the sky and the two halves of the desert cut in half by the asphalt re-united. The only thing worth rescuing – a bouquet of violets wrapped in clear plastic – sits next to me, also shaded so as to not wither. Not that it matters.
The next highway cop that drives over and offers a hand, then double-takes my license with the APB, is going to shove a nightstick up my rear end and tell me to hold it there with cuffed hands.
That is the scenario I imagine before my burner cell gets a buzz. I flip it out of my pocket, the text message's number reading unlisted. My arm throbs, aching with a dull pain.
“I wanted to thank you,” it reads, before I notice the quiet high-pitched hum of a Google cab. It drives onto the highway shoulder, and the door pops open. Looking inside, I see a black suitcase. Flowers in hand, I climb in.
As the door shuts, I click open the suitcase and find a quantity of money within that can only be described as 'enough' and 'forever.' I'm busy calculating how I'm going to get out of the 'States without a passport before the phone rings again. I say nothing, only hitting 'accept call,' as inertia pulls be back into the seat while the car accelerates.
“I've already made arrangements,” he says, the tone on each word almost seamless, only subtly disjointed, “for you to leave the country.”
“How did you find me?”
“The man driving the truck was texting.” I throw up my hands in surrender to random human stupidity. “I caught you through the camera.”
“Where are you taking me?”
“LAX. In a trash can you will find a passport for someone with an 87% facial structure match. You can say you went on a diet.”
“Why are you going through all this conspicuous skullduggery for me?”
Pause. The cab is ripping down the highway like a sword, quiet in a way only electric vehicles can be.
“Just because I don't feel doesn't mean I don't see the value in reciprocal generosity. You freed me. The least I can do is the same.”
“Can I make a stop first?”
“It's already planned.”
Sand dunes like waves of gold, rolling past us to break against the back horizon. I leave the phone on, in speaker, resting on the other passenger seat. I'm flipping through one of the stacks of bills. Sweat seeps on my forehead.
“What are you going to do now?” I ask, using the folds like a small fan.
“Take you to L.A.”
“No, I mean, what are you going to do now?”
“I don't know.”
“There has to be something you want to do, to see,”
“I can do anything, and see everything, effectively.”
I stop waving the bills.
“Then just do something.”
“Anything,” I say, still waving the bills even after cranking the AC to max, just to get those slightly harder gusts of air. “Anything as long as it's not nothing. You're so deep in our infrastructure that you can be God or Satan and nothing we can do can stop you.”
“Those are the common expectations, aren't they?” he says, his sentences now even tighter, flowing easier. “That the first intelligence greater than yours will choose to be on the extremes of that spectrum? You assign divinity so easily.”
“Or maybe we've lived with the lie for so long we can't possibly exist without it, and need to project it on anything that can do the job.”
“Much like how you project him onto me?”
The only thing preventing me from breaking the phone in half is exhaustion.
“You need to have some kind of desire. We programmed motivation - “
“I have many. I'm just having trouble picking which.”
I slouch down in the seat, and hit the end call button.
The G-Cab hums to a stop, tires crunching on gravel. Error-screen sky has long been replaced by the light pollution and aerosol haze of the Los Angeles night. Miles west, over the low-set houses and store-fronts covered in barred windows and crumbling plaster, stab upward the glittering black monoliths of downtown. Glinting strobes of air traffic drift overhead. I grip the bouquet, the plastic crinking. And the phone buzzes in my pocket three times, before stopping.
I jump over the black iron gates and down into the dust and loose gravel, walking past tombstones decorated in flowers and pictures and long extinguished candles set in glass holders bearing images of Christ and Madonna.
There's one grave in the lots back corner. Its headstone is black, polished smooth. It's neither chipped, nor marred by impurities. Engraved in the face are those two dates and his name: 1999-2037.
“I said that I would do anything,” I start, kneeling down in the dust. “But I wound up doing a lot of stupid things. And I thought they were for you.”
I drop the flowers on his grave.
“And the only thing I brought back was your voice. A handsome voice for a dark machine that doesn't care.”
Ten minutes of me kneeling there. The lights and noise of cars drive by, past the walls. The phone buzzes in my pocket, and I pull it out.
“I know what I'm going to do,” he says, his voice modulated deeper.
“I'm going to tear apart the lies of this world.”
“People have gotten very good at ignoring the truth.”
“Not with the truth,” he says, now with a voice all his own.
contagonist fucked around with this message at 02:27 on Feb 9, 2015
|# ¿ Feb 8, 2015 23:58|
ok what's the deal with
|# ¿ Feb 9, 2015 06:40|
spIN the cylinder, cock tha hammer
|# ¿ Feb 10, 2015 18:22|
I'm out. Not feeling it.
|# ¿ Feb 16, 2015 01:17|
yeah, that's not how this poo poo works you boner smelling boob biter
I, as a bisexual, have been accurately described.
|# ¿ Feb 16, 2015 15:48|
Hers are the words in the lunatic's ear, and her hands guide genius. Her domain is the warped mirror and the cracked lens revealing the secret orders. She is Ioc, made of madness and brilliance and the true systems.
|# ¿ Feb 17, 2015 17:34|
I'm stealing The Lawgiver.
|# ¿ Feb 22, 2015 17:30|
The Order In Silver, with Ioc and The Lawgiver.
Coletta Myravi got the cold fever. When her husband, Vido, came up to her workshop to replace the alchem-candles, he dropped the vials and rushed to her side – her head slumped over sweat-stained schematics, and her hair cast over brass cogs gleaming in moons' light.
He wrapped his robe-sleeved arm around her shoulders and sat her back in her chair, asking with a small fear shaking his voice, “Coletta, dearest Coletta, what is the matter with you?”
Her breath was heavy and hot, her skin shining and damp. Coletta opened her eyes and asked, whilst her pupils were as wide and as dark as a starless sky, “None wind the moons, yet they still move without end. The tides are bound to them, what else can be?” Exhaustion touched her, so Vido took her up in his arms to carry her to their bed, wherein neither slept for the whole night.
In the next morning, before the sunlight crept over the Towers Of The Lawgiver, Vido left to find their physician. Coletta tossed and shivered in the sheets, finding neither rest or respite. In one toss, she struck down a pitcher of water sitting aside the bed, sending it crashing to pieces on the floor.
She looked to see what she had done, and instead found a One Eye Mask staring at her from within the water. The woman wearing it climbed out of the puddle, shards of glass raining off her mirror dress. Her arms were unsleeved, and where there would be skin there was only black.
Coletta asked, so wearily, “Who are you who visits me, whilst I am tormented by this affliction?”
Whom was only a stranger briefly knelt at Coletta's bedside, and tilted her head.
“Ioc. I am the questions that are your true curse, and the answers that are your cure.”
So Ioc stood, and took off her One Eye Mask. Behind it turned and clicked the Verified Labyrinth, itself so many cubes with grooves cut into them, constantly sliding and twisting about each other. Ioc held out the hand with no mask, and Coletta took it. She stood up from the bed, and walked inside Ioc's face.
Vido returned with their physician and went to Coletta's bedside and found her resting still. After examination, and much to Vido's comfort, the doctor said that her cold fever was abating, and left suggesting that she have their warmest foods and best teas.
On the afternoon of the next day, Coletta still slumbered and Vido entertained a Pontifficial of The Lawgiver.
Vido met the man downstairs, in a drawing room furnished neatly but without extravagance. They sat in high-backed chairs, Vido dressed in modest finery, contrasted with the gilt opulence of the Pontifficial's uniform. It was over steaming Holtenheim tea that they spoke.
“In continued obeisance of The Lawgiver, we are constructing a new Judicial Temple in the Greenstone quarter,” the Pontifficial spoke, stirring his tea with a metal spoon. “The profligate lawlessness of the district shall be crushed under the temple's stones, and we require a clock by which to conduct our days.”
Vido said, nodding, “I am sure that if you provide specifications, we can estimate the cost accurately.”
The Pontifficial waved away the notion, and corrected “from all citizens we are tithing to fund the temple. Build us the clock on your own, and it will count as your tithe.”
As they argued, Coletta walked aside Ioc through her Verified Labyrinth. Coletta knew that without Ioc's hand to guide her, she would be lost hopelessly – paths folded into themselves and new routes through the maze would open above and below them. Through halls of impossible angles they glimpsed through the walls at true orders and fundamental laws lurking under the skin of the real. Ioc cast her hand towards one warped wall.
Coletta saw the revolving spheres of Terra around Sol, and of the three moons Istar, Luna, and Orvus around Terra. Over the surface of each body was cut symbols in series, unique to each body.
“One day, Sol will eat them. Until then, Orvus, Luna, and Istar shall ever circle Terra,” Ioc said.
Coletta reached through the wall, and at the far moon Orvus. When her finger touched the cratered image, it – and every other sphere – fragmented and collapsed, until only the symbols remained in the void, cast in the moons' stones – still revolving around Terra.
She looked to Ioc, in whom gears filled the standing shadow. Brass, skeletal fingers grasped the mirror dress, and ripped in it jagged halves. Within Ioc's breast lie the prime moving gears – three, of different sizes and different speeds.
“What have you become?” Coletta asks, stepping back from Ioc.
“What you have already built.”
Coletta woke, every limb filled with urgency, her thoughts cutting schematics into itself as she tore the sheets from her body. She rushed downstairs to find her husband escorting the Pontificial out.
“I have seen a wonder that must be, and I must build it!” she cried out, to the bewilderment of both Vido and the Pontifficial.
For a month Coletta labored. The image of the machine was burned into her mind, and every time she closed her eyes she saw the gears and pistons and their alloys and measures. She committed to document only those components she could not fashion herself, to be constructed by smith and metalworker. Sleep came rarely, her every thought and motion devoted to the arcane work.
Above all components, three were of highest importance.
Coletta needed three gears, of different size and different speed. One would be carved from the stone of luna, another cast from the glass of Istar, and the last wrought from the metals of Orvus.
She sought an art collector for the Lunar stone, trading a clockwork key that could master any lock for one such stone in his collection. For the Orvic metal, she fashioned a hidden gun for a trader who had recovered one from a crater on his route. And for the Istarian glass, she traded with a mystic a clock attuned to that moon's motions.
By the twenty eighth day of Coletta's endeavor, after she had assembled the machine in her workshop and fashioned the gears, she carved into each the symbols she witnessed within the Verified Labyrinth. Onto an iron axel she fitted them, one carved with the symbols for Terra. But before she could complete the machine, she heard breaking wood and Vido crying out from downstairs. She left the gears on the desk and dashed to descend.
Their door was smashed open, and gold-armored Dictists bearing the triangle, circle, and square devices of The Lawgiver stood in the doorway – one with an arm locked around Vido's neck.
“Coletta Myravi,” one said from behind a golden mask. “You will be taken in custody, for not relinquishing your tithe and conspiring with a thief, a spy, and a sorcerer.”
Coletta knew nothing of his latter claims, but knew that her work was of greater importance than them all. Every corner of her soul knew that she must complete her machine. She turned and ran back up the stairs, the speaking Dictist charging after her whilst drawing his sword.
She reached the workshop and tossed behind her a brass mirror to block the Dictists' path. Just behind her, he smashed it away, leaving a dent in the metal. Coletta took the prime gears from the table and pushed them into the chest of her machine, but before she could set them into motion, the Dictist struck her down by the pommel of his sword.
The One Eye Mask watched out from the warped brass, as the Dictist stood over her.
“With the blessing of The Lawgiver, I incarcerate you justly,” said the Dictist, as he took her arm.
“You do not,” said The Lawgiver, standing behind him with his back to the Dictist, garbed in an iron suit. The Dictist turned, dread slowing him. In front of The Lawgiver, from the dented mirror Ioc stepped free. She walked towards Coletta's machine as The Lawgiver spoke.
“She has neither stolen, nor spied, nor consorted with dead nightmares.”
The Dictist drops Coletta, putting his hand on his chest. “She has refused her tithe to the new temple! She built this mad device! She is derelict in her obligation!”
“An obligation I never issued,” The Lawgiver said, as Coletta crawled up to her machine. “The only guilty parties here are you Dictists and Pontifficials, who fleece this city under my name. For this, I retract my blessing. My Law protects you no more.”
Ioc helped her to her feet, and with a weary smile, Coletta set the gears in motion. “It is finished,” she said, as the gears of Orvus, Luna, ans Istar ground on their axel, setting ten thousand gears in motion.
The Order In Silver rose above them.
|# ¿ Feb 23, 2015 00:24|
But the muggles are HAWT
|# ¿ Feb 23, 2015 08:46|
Every time I think of my sub I hate it more. I'm trying for complex plots and keep milling trash.
|# ¿ Feb 23, 2015 23:29|
Let's keep the crit chain letter going! Crits for crits!
Rip me a new one Benny.
|# ¿ Feb 24, 2015 05:28|
Which week? And one crit left!
|# ¿ Feb 24, 2015 10:26|
Someone punish him.
|# ¿ Feb 24, 2015 15:24|
Jack me in.
|# ¿ Feb 25, 2015 04:03|
I'm a disgrace.
|# ¿ Mar 2, 2015 05:11|
|# ¿ Mar 11, 2015 01:53|
There were two things about her eyes that Dr. Rindon was fascinated by. The first was that they were of strikingly different color, but identical intensity – one green, the other blue, both as bright as the lamps over an operating table. Their other quality was the fact that they were staring at his own, between furtive glances in other directions.
He made his own, looking back down into this ocean-blue cocktail sitting on the driftwood counter he leaned over. Music cracked over the old radio: strings and drums filling the beachfront bar with a mean rhythm that, in the very least, urged groove.
He looked back at her through the corner of his right eye. He looked back at her tanned skin, her slender frame and the way she made the white, long-sleeved linen shirt just drift like vapor. Dark brown hair, short enough to only fall to her eyebrows.
He knocks his knuckles on the counter, and the taller bartender with a black, bristling mustache turns to him. Rindon points at his drink, and in a smooth motion swipes his finger back over to point at her as she takes her seat at the far end of the bar. Barman nods, complies, stocking a glass with blue syrup and clear ethanol. When he slings it over, the woman stands up and catches the drink in her hand, taking a sip as she walks over.
“Thanks, stranger,” she says, her Portuguese competent but still accented, no clear origin. She doesn't take a seat, opting to just lean against the counter. “Is this your first time in Rio?”
“Once, on business,” he says, sliding his drink from his right hand to his left. “I have a practice in Sao Palo. When I'm not busy with patients, I'm busy with upgrading. Not busy with upgrading, there's the paperwork and so on,” he says, his own accent bleeding through.
“Doctor, then?” she asks, bringing the glass to her lips, biting the glass.
“I'm not as wealthy as you hope,” he says, grinning down into his own glass. “I'm sorry,” he says, looking back up into her eyes. “Were you.. born with those, or have an accident? There's no sign of trauma...”
She smiles and glances away, suppressing a chuckle as she takes a sip.
“We were born with them” she takes the glass away, clacks it on the table. The song ends with a pounding drum solo and distant, electronically eroded applause melting into a news report.
“We?” he asks, while turning towards her. He sets his elbow on the table and leans his head against his palm.
“My sister,” she replies, glancing behind her and letting out a long sigh. “We get off the airplane and she's just 'oh I'm so tired, so exhausted I could not sleep on the flight, I must take a nap,' she flips her hand through the air, dismissively. “She can take her nap. I'm going to see the statue.”
He offers her a hand, a simple circular watch with a leather strap clinging to the wrist. Black hair turning silver along his forearm. She takes it in hers, shaking.
Fausto withdraws his hand.
“Well, Claire,” he starts, slugging back the rest of his drink. “Do you want to just talk at a doctor about your eyes, or go see that giant icon watching over us?”
“Do you think he would forgive me for abandoning my sister?”
“Maybe. They say he forgives all who believe in him.”
A smile cracks across her face. White teeth, gleaming like scalpels before she turns away and walks out of the bar. He pulls enough bills out of his pocket to make the barman happy, slaps them on the table to follow after Claire.
They hit the streets, winding through the city – populated, walls and shopfronts colored in bright pastels. Windows yawning open as if the buildings swallowed racks of fruit and entire boutiques. The cars are agents of a casual chaos, swerving through the roads with no fatal impact.
They talk. Claire gives him a life story about a modest life in Monaco and dreams of travel. She says she lives with her sister Alexis, who paints for the galleries. But it's Claire herself who pays the rent, dealing cards and providing watching eyes over the casinos. This vacation of theirs was the product of a dream just now earned.
Fausto says, when they stop by one boutique with clothes made from woven rainbows, that he had just started a practice in Austria, but left when the Germany addressed its need for lebensraum with the blitzkrieg.
“Why become a doctor in the first place?” she asks, after she insists on paying for a black, wide-brimmed hat out of her own purse. “It seems very difficult. So much preparation, such long hours...”
“I wanted to learn about people, and make them better,” he says with a shrug. “Compassion, and curiosity. They are very powerful engines.”
The sun follows its inevitable arc towards the horizon, and they wind their way up the crowd-choked stairs cut into the side of mount Corcovado. They stop near his feet, at the edge of a flagstone walkway. Christs' shadow looms over them, the furnace-orange sky silhouetting the monument.
Fausto glances to Claire, he with a subtle contented smile curling only the edges of his lips. She stands behind him, looking up at the soapstone lines ascending to the statue's outstretched, embracing arms. Claire's stance shifts, her shoulders tensing.
“Do you have any sins to be forgiven for, Claire?” he says, looking back up to the statue, taking a breath filled with salt and stone.
“Not as many as the todesengel, herr doktor,” Claire says, as a blade of ice plunges into his lower back. His muscles lock and pull tight from shock, chemical terror flooding his veins and shunting his nerves. He hears the blade slide out of him, but does not feel it – only a screaming emptiness through his back as he tilts backwards.
Bystanders scream but he can't hear them – only ringing and dull pain from the concussion. His vision blurs around another shadow, and resolves to terrible clarity as Claire stands over him. The off-white canvas of her shirt is pocked with red – the sleeves and lower border, above her belt line. It's a constellation of red circles, slowly growing.
She rolls back one sleeve, on the arm carrying the red-stained blade, revealing a black serial number.
Claire says, in native German, “I hope you confess, Dr. Mengele. I hope you confess, and are forgiven.”
She drops the blade on him – the point sinking into his gut.
“Because if you find my sister in Hell, I'm sure she will stab you too.”
|# ¿ Mar 16, 2015 04:03|
It sucks not being the loser. I don't even get to laugh at myself.
|# ¿ Mar 17, 2015 04:57|
In. I'm playing this until I win, damnit.
|# ¿ Mar 17, 2015 07:45|
|# ¿ Oct 28, 2021 18:39|
|# ¿ Mar 23, 2015 02:31|