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Vox Valentine
May 31, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.

I've never done this before but I think I'm gonna go in for Parasite-Punk. The things in your body are not your friends.


Vox Valentine
May 31, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.

Dunkpunk: c'mon and slam, and stick it to the man.

Vox Valentine
May 31, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



1854 words

Using an IV bag on the go is tricky. There’s a port on my collarbone and I carry the bag in a pouch on my belt. I'm always afraid I'll jostle the line loose or get my belt caught on something and rip the bag. It's an expensive choice (50 dollars for 5000 calories of nutrient sugar water) but it was worth the money. I could eat rations, but to hell with that. My stomach is for my use alone. My little beast of burden can live just fine off my veins.

I'm not paying full attention to the meeting. If you've been parked in front of a government official once, you know how the exchange is going to go. The chair is the nicest thing I've sat in all week, the walls are paneled with wood, and the guards have been fed and armed well. But I can't stop playing with the IV line and Mr. Rourke takes notice. "Something troubling you, Ms. Sampson?"

Donovan watches me from behind his mirrored sunglasses. I shake my head and try to smile. "Just making myself comfortable, sir."

Rourke is a rarity; he's fat. He knows he's fat and he wears a tight suit to flaunt it. He's either clean or he's had enough suppressant shots so his body can actually allow weight gain. He nods to me and his chin jiggles. "Simple job this week. We need three tons of rations moved to Zone C in the next two days."

I glance at Donovan and he gives me a noncommittal shrug. I lean back in my chair. "Six thousand pounds? Not easy. We'll need four more drivers and whatever intelligence you have."

Rourke's jowls quiver and it looks like he's about to start yelling, but he takes a breath and calms himself. "I can spare two. You managed to move this much with just four in Zone R."

I sit up. "R was a ghost town and we moved a quarter of the load. I need at least three."

He sucks air through his teeth. I know he's short-staffed; desertions have been at an all time high in this part of the country. I know he can't afford to screw this up. If he wants to keep his position, he has to give me what I want. He exhales and hands Donovan a folder. "Three it is."

Donovan hands me the folder and I look Rourke in the eye as I take it. "Thank you."
There is a bulge in my midsection. It distracts me from reading the reports. I've put the papers up on the full-wall mirror in our bedroom and I sit on the bed. Sometimes I get up and write notes on the glass with a marker, but even when I'm standing I see the bulge. It's writhing.

Donovan and I are allowed to live in Zone F, home of government employees and contractors. There are a lot of empty quick-fab buildings; only Low-Risk Hosts are allowed to live in F and clean people are few and far between. We have a four room apartment: a bedroom, a bath, a living room, a kitchen. Our apartment is barren except for basic furniture and fixtures and the big mirror. Compared to Zone C, we live a life of luxury.

The reports paint a clear picture of C. There would be a minimum of three families making their homes in a single four room apartment. Blocks are joined as coalitions working together and watching each other's backs. Roof gardening is popular and when the sanitation backs up, sewage is used to fertilize the plants; meat is a rarity. The infrastructure is shot to hell from weather and the army is afraid of trying to fix anything. They're concerned they might start a riot. Their presence wouldn't be tolerated by the Watchdogs gang.

The Watchdogs are made of High-Risk Hosts. They're hoarding as much food as they can to feed themselves; the majority of their thugs require an intake of at least 10,000 calories daily. They run the Zone like an under-stocked buffet. They could starve everyone in a week without our help.

Donovan hands me a cup of water. I drink and sigh. "Dime-a-dozen thugs, just like M and K and J."

He places a hand on my shoulder. "What do you feel like doing?"

"I don't know." I drain the rest of my cup and I feel the bulge take most of the liquid, loosening its grip.

Donovan pats my back and lies back on the bed. "We can't just run around with twelve-hundred pounds of rations per van in a convoy. Too risky" he says.

I nod and rub my chin. "The Watchdogs are well-armed and well-organized for what they are. They know the streets. If we had the guns, we could kill 'em all."

"Yeah but then the civvies would hate us."

"We're hauling food; they'll care more about that."

Donovan rolls onto his side. "You'd think so, but we couldn't just put a sign on the truck that says "food", they wouldn't trust us."

His words light a match in my brain. I grab the marker and starts drawing on the mirror. "I need you to call Rourke. Ask him how many Terminal Hosts the hospital has and if any are ready for relocation and termination."

I can tell he wants to just lay there but I need him. "Why me?"

"He likes you more and I have to call a painter. How fixed is the 18-wheeler?"

"Fixed enough," he says as he sits up and grabs the phone. His eyes widen as he looks at the sketches on the mirror. "Emma-"

I try to put on a brave face for him but I know I'm failing. "It'll work. Trust me."
Donovan likes to take a photo of us before a job. He’s got an old digital camera and enough memory cards to hold our adventures. I pick the biggest cactus on the highway to Zone C and the grunt drivers watch us with stone faces as we pull off the road and get out. You’d think they’d lighten up a little; we’ve got some of the best maintained black vans this side of the Rockies and it’ll be years before they get to drive anything like this again. I’d tell them to enjoy the moment while it lasts but as an independent contractor, their loyalty to me only extends so far.

In the picture, I’m wearing sunglasses, a camo tee-shirt, khaki cargo pants, my belt and a trucker cap over my red hair. I’m paler than the desert sand under the noon sun. Donovan’s dressed nicer than I am (he always is) with a buttoned-down blue shirt, black slacks, shaved head and face. His dark skin highlights the sweat from the heat. We have the cactus between us and are pretending to give it a side-hug with one arm each. We smile. We hope this will be the last job for that last bit of money needed to remove our burden without killing us. We smile for the luxury 90% of the world can’t afford. We know we’re close to it.

Looking at the photo, we’re both thinner and leaner than the last five we’ve taken. Donovan doesn’t say anything as he hands me the tracking beacon. I unhook Donovan’s van from the trailer of the 18-wheeler. He’ll brief the grunts on my instructions. They’ll leave a half hour after I drive into the Zone alone.

The ball in my guts tightens and I adjust the release valve of the IV as I climb into the cab and drive.
I don’t have a direction I need to take; I just have to draw attention. I glance at the map but it was written in a time back when the Zone was part of a state. The decaying skyscrapers greet me like mountains in the distance as I gun the engine and roar into the remains of a suburban street.

The heat and winds from the ocean and desert have dried the Zone out and stripped the paint from the buildings. The wood frames of old buildings are brittle and rattle as I speed by. It doesn’t take long for me to drive into the city proper, the heart of the Zone. There are ragged people in the streets. Some of them look like they’re about to leap in the path of my semi and end it all. Many of them are thinner than I am, their stomachs bulging like they’re pregnant. That’s the only part of them that looks healthy and fed.

I don’t have to worry about them trying to hijack the truck. They take one look at the words painted on the trailer and they give me a wide berth. I’d hate for them to get hurt anyway; they’ve done nothing wrong.

Then there’s the black muscle car following me. I’ve gotten the attention of the driver and his passenger. His passenger points a gun at me and motions for me to move over. I do and the passenger walks up to the cab. The gun is still out when I roll down the window and I nod to him. “Morning.”

“Unlock the doors” he says, motioning with the gun. He walks to the passenger’s side, climbs up and gets in. “Drive where I tell you” he says and I listen to his directions. Sometimes I steal glances at him: bandanna mask, baggy clothing. He’s sweating in the heat but has to appear healthier, more solid than he actually is. His eyes are yellow.

His directions stop when I get to a fortified compound surrounded by a fence. It used to be a hardware store; the supplies haven’t gone to waste. Everyone I see, male or female, has yellow eyes. Whatever they take isn’t enough and I can see salivation in the uncovered mouths. They’re all staring at the trailer.

They make me park in the loading dock and my passenger keeps guiding me with his gun. I kneel on the concrete of the dock, away from the truck.

“What’s in the truck?” The voice belongs to the boss. I can’t see him but I can see how clean his boots are.

“I’m transporting Terminals to the ocean. It’s their last request. Did you read the sign? Terminals Transport?”

The clean boot swings and he kicks me in the chest. I feel the line pull out. My vest is wet. “Keys” he says and he gets them.

I’m still kneeling as the trailer opens. The guards are yelling and the boss leaves to look. When I packed the Terminals in by dozens, I looked them in their red eyes and promised them one last meal before death. The ones who could still speak thanked me; the rest sobbed, brains punctured. They didn’t turn on each other; it’s instinct. Everything else is food.

My gut tightens as I put the needle back in. If I can’t slip away for Donovan to find me, I’ll have to get far enough away so the Terminals won’t forget I’m not food.

Vox Valentine fucked around with this message at 01:13 on Sep 5, 2016

Vox Valentine
May 31, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.

a friendly penguin posted:


Labour Day (May 1 in the civilized world) vs Labor Day (some other drat day for no good reason in the outlands)

Word limit: 300
The Typo

299 words

Garret had noticed the typo on his calendar but didn't fully understand it until he saw the husky on his front steps. The husky was holding a sign between its teeth and was wearing a shirt that read "WORKERS RIGHTS BRING WORLD PEACE".

"I think you have the wrong house" said Garret.

The husky put the sign down gently. "I come all this way from Canada and this is the greeting I get? I even made you this sign for picketing."

A golden retriever approached the house. "Hey Garret, sup? Who's your friend?" said the retriever.

"Hey Butterscotch. This is, uh" Garret gestured to the husky. "What's your name?"

"Basil" said the husky.

"He says he's here to picket with me" said Garret.

"Ohh. Sorry man, I think some papers got shuffled on an international level" said Butterscotch, resting her paw on Basil's shoulder. "We don't do the protesting thing here. Plus it's September. You're going to want to get in contact with your supervisor, I have a feeling there's a lot of you in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Basil sighed. "It did feel weird to mobilize today but the bosses say 'no, today is the day'."

"Hey, don't worry about it" said Butterscotch. "Mistakes happen. You ever consider joining us? We do a lot less protesting and a lot more BBQing."

"I'll pass, thanks. I prefer to keep the fight alive" Basil said as he walked away.

"Well now I just feel bad" said Garret.

"Not your fault, man. So, you wanna go down by the beach, set up some drinks, eat some ribs?" said Butterscotch, tail wagging.

"Sure thing. So is Labour Dog a real thing?"

"Oh yeah, just not here. Mostly Canada and Europe. It's still a political thing there, less a holiday."

Vox Valentine
May 31, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.

Thank you very much for the crits.


Vox Valentine
May 31, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.

Alright I'm in for Easy Listening and Europe. It's gonna be bad, by sheer virtue of involving easy listening, but gently caress it.

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