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Author Topic: Untitled Sequel To ROBERTA: Part One  (Read 16076 times)

geopotter72

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Untitled Sequel To ROBERTA: Part One
« on: July 12, 2008, 01:33:05 pm »

*WARNING: PROFANE LANGUAGE*




1. Saturday

IKDR always sat alone at the bar, last seat before the wall, when he came to Fluid Aether which was on Wednesday and Saturday night. He got the seat, and the one next to it no matter what. If someone was there they would politely stand up and casually become interested in some other location in the club. IKDR was well known.

On Saturday nights he would generally drink draft beer and buy drinks for the pretty girls dancing. He didn't give a damn if they were there with someone or not, he tried to get them shitfaced. He wasn't trying to score a piece, he just wanted them to get wild and dance. While he watched. And recorded. IKDR was a pretty anti-social guy, but that didn't mean he didn't care about pussy. Far from it, he just wasn't much interested in dealing with some of the  bitches it was attached to.

Wednesdays were business, and he didn't even drink much beer. The Fluid was a private club, Faraday caged to hell and back. What happened in The Fluid stayed in The Fluid. That was just perfect for his business.

Ike was from Vegas, after all.

His customers arrived quietly and spoke softly. They rarely had a drink. They generally left within five minutes, satisfied with their merchandise.

Saturday nights and Wednesday nights were separate. Business and pleasure. It was an unknown thing for IKDR to mix the two.

Until last Saturday rolled around.


Aleesa was bartending. She was fucking beautiful. Natural redhead, pale skinned and delicately freckled. A hair under six feet and built for the duration. Of the Universe, IKDR often thought. That bitch will survive heat death.

She looked into the black orbs of his eyes and smiled. She wore no makeup, and the color of her lips were as delicate as those freckles.

"You're late." she said, shaking her head slightly. "You getting old, Ike?"

He smiled back, his usual narrow grin.

"Jus' tired. Ain't sleep for shit, lately."

She already had a draft in front of him. He took a gulp.

"Guilty conscience?"

"Work." he said, and turned his blank eyes to the dancefloor.

IKDR saw differently than other people. His eyes had been destroyed as a child. They'd been replaced with and antiquated artifcial model that had been discontinued less than a month after its release. They allowed direct interpretation of the entire spectrum, not just visible light.

It tended to drive some people crazy.

To IKDR, it was a portrait of all creation.

There was a choice selection on the on the floor tonight, all colors shapes and sizes. IKDR saw more than their bodies and faces -- he saw the heat pulse of their respiration and the flickering gamma traces of their auras. He saw the glittering reflections of the microwave pulses that connected them all in this private little technocave. He saw them bathed in the chaos of energy that made up the universe.

And he liked what he saw.

'The redhead in green is drinking synthamesca, in merlot." Aleesa informed him, all professional now, and already pouring the drinks. "The skinny blonde with the big tits and the feather looking getup is old school: Ceuervo straight, no salt, no lime." She knew his preferences. "She's a weird bitch, though. If she comes over to talk you're best bet is to pretend to be mute or retarded or something."

"Gotcha." he said, as he admired the weird bitches beauty and grace. She was unmodified, type zero, and a  perfect example of girlnextdoor. She almost caught his eye but he wouldn't allow it. Most women were disturbed by his eyes, and it tended to ruin their dancing. If she came over to thank him for the drink later, she'd have ample time to get over it. Her dancing would be unaffected.

IKDR was the pragmatic type.

Aleesa was queing up the drinks in a shelf behind the bar. She called this 'The Hole', as in 'You got one in The Hole, sister." IKDR was sure that Aleesa took home the choicest of the women he got drunk on Saturday. He kind of relished that thought.

He checked out the redhead. She was a smaller woman than the blonde, and quicker. Her eyes were closed, totally into the music and her own motion. Slight mods, type 2 at most. Her closed eyes were too large for her face to be natural, and she had the still ridiculously popular elfin ears. Those ears were studded from tip to top with emeralds, the exact same shade as the skinsight mini dress she barely wore.

He killed the draft, set his glass down. Aleesa had it refilled before he could swallow.

It didn't help much. He was so caught up in her dancing that she surprised him by opening her eyes and looking straight at him. He couldn’t turn.

She didn’t flinch. In fact, she smiled. Then she closed her eyes and continued dancing, happy for an audience. IKDR grinned. She was getting wild, eyes shining with the synthetic mescaline. The color of those eyes surprised him as well – he was expecting the same emerald gleam and instead stared into grey storms.

Tonight, he decided, was going to be interesting.

“I like the redhead.” Aleesa said. Just to be helpful he was sure.

“Doncha gotta girlfriend?” IKDR asked, just to be an ass.

Aleesa shrugged. “Bobbie will like the redhead too.” She gave him her megawatt smile. “She likes redheads.”

She busied herself with new customers. IKDR flipped a ridiculously large tip into her public account, just because she rocked. Then he turned back to the redhead.

She was gone. He cursed, quietly.

Someone sat down beside him. The blonde. He smiled at her. She did flinch a little, but barely and got over it.

“Howareya?” she said.

“Good ‘nuff.” He said. “You?”

She lit up. “IamdoinggreatandgreathowaboutyouohIjustaskedthatI’msorry.”

Dumbass, Aleesa whispered from the other side of the bar.

I can still pretend to be retarded, he replied.

But he was saved. From nowhere the redhead sidled up. She appeared pissed.

“Excuse me,” she told the blonde, “you’re in my seat.”

And she flicked IKDR the most convincing fake dirty look he’d ever seen. He tried not to fall in love. The blonde got the hint and jumped up, giggled and found other amusement. The redhead sat down.

“I’m gonna make a prediction.” she stated, slow smile starting.

“I be ears.” IKDR said.

“I’m not predicting the future, mind you.” she said. “I’m predicting the past.”

“Izzat fair?”

“Well, hell – yeah. It’s an unknown past to me.” She looked him dead in the eye. “Your past.”

“I be ears.” IKDR said, once again.

She turned away from him. “Aleesa!” she said. “Bring me my drink.”

IKDR laughed. He laughed and regretted that his eyes closed and left those grey storms and that slow smile for a single moment. When he finished she was still smiling, and Aleesa was slipping a wine glass between them. He kicked her a tip. She told him not to fuck it up.

“’Pressive.” He told her, and tipped his draft. She was quick enough to get the wineglass up to complete the toast. Type 2 my ass, he realized.

“What your name?” He slamsearched and found nothing but public gateways. She was the reserved type.

She considered. “I’m Pandora.”

“Real name or just tonight name?”

“Does it matter?”

His turn to consider. “No.” he decided. “Why the name?”

She took a sip of her drink. She shivered slightly at the bitterness of the synthamesca. “Because inside I’m mostly bad, but there’s hope.”

He laughed again. It actually startled Aleesa, who did not hear him laugh often.

“’K Mizz Dora, let’s talk.”

She moved faster than he could and, in a blur, she put her arms around him and kissed him lightly on the cheek and was still, smiling at him, by the time he realized it.

He tried, once again, not to fall in love. He’d succeeded before. He failed this time. He opened a private channel and pinged her public, crypted to God and back the way only he could do it.

“Your name is I Know Damn Right.” She told him. Her smile was wicked, now. “You’re a fucking freak like me.”

Type 10, he decided. Or higher. That was fucking fast.

“’Krect.”

I need you to break a crypt for me. She told him on the private channel.

I don’t work on Saturday. He told her, instantly, turning back to his drink.

Sadness flooded him. It’s a matter of life or death. My life and my death.

IKDR sighed. He took another drink. He damned the world.

IKDR lived by a Code. It was a code he learned in childhood from the only brothers he’d ever had. They were not brothers by blood but brothers by circumstance. They’d found him in a dumpster when he was two years old and raised him in the Coventry of Old Vegas. They’d been little more than children when they found him but they were wise in the ways of the street and the gunhand. And they were honorable. The older brother had shown him the stories of King Arthur and his knights. Those stories had taught him lessons – that women and children must be protected and that any honorable man will stand up and protect them no matter the cost.

He sometimes cursed his own decency.

I am at your sevice, my lady, he transed.

“Whatta prob, sis?” he said aloud.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2008, 01:39:13 pm by I K D R »
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da gooch

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Re: Untitled Sequel To ROBERTA: Part One
« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2008, 01:48:11 pm »

Uh George its been over fifteen minutes  .... when is the rest coming up ?     :rolleyes:

:thumbsup:

Boy don't I wish I had the visuals from this guy Ike ....
« Last Edit: July 12, 2008, 01:49:58 pm by gooch »
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Bill St. Clair

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Re: Untitled Sequel To ROBERTA: Part One
« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2008, 03:50:26 am »

Yay! New fiction from George. Looking forward to more.

I'm collecting this story at http://billstclair.com/blog/gloryroad/roberta-sequel.html
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Junker

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Re: Untitled Sequel To ROBERTA: Part One
« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2008, 11:03:56 pm »

Yes, yay!!

And ty, Bill.
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geopotter72

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Re: Untitled Sequel To ROBERTA: Part One
« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2008, 12:06:51 am »


Next part up Wednesday.
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da gooch

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Re: Untitled Sequel To ROBERTA: Part One
« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2008, 10:08:05 am »

YAY ! !

:wav:

WAIT ! that's not until tomorrow .... {pouting face}





[cosmetic note: there was absolutely NO botox used in the formation or shaping of my lower lip .... It's a gift ....   :laugh: :laugh:  ]
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geopotter72

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Re: Untitled Sequel To ROBERTA: Part One
« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2008, 08:37:18 am »

OK, I know, I suck. Sorry. I get about half an hour a day writing time lately. And I'm considering writing a story about a guy driven mad by the sheer number of freakin' stories his evil brain makes up.

Here's a case in point:



Kin

by George Potter

(for East End, with love.)


My name is Tyler McCammon and I am fourteen years old. I was born and raised right here in this county made out of mountains and the spaces between them. Polk County, Kentucky -- a small, hidden world of creeks and hollows, forests and the shadows they cast. "A great place to be from," my cousin David told me once "but a shitty place to be."

I have a lot of cousins. These days, most of them are dead, but that makes them no less my cousins. That is the nature of kinship where I am from, the unalterable connection of blood and name, history and the holy writ of hand printed notes in family Bibles. Nothing can separate those ties -- no betrayal or revelation dredged from the past. No hateful word or bloody conflict.

This accidental and chaotic plan of birth is indestructible. It is immune even to death.


I was twelve when people started dying.

Rumors turned into wild guesses turned into theories gleaned from television and radio and the few people around with access to the Internet. Soon enough the talking heads on TV were juggling glib excuses behind the smiles that grew more strained by the day. High handed assurances about viruses and recalled drugs. About accidents in food processing plants, and freak pollutant spills in rivers.

The truth was right there behind their eyes, the eyes that those false smiles could not touch.

And the truth was that nobody knew why people were dying. Nobody in government, nobody in the glass towers of corporate media. Nobody.

And nobody had any answers when the dead started coming back to life, either.



Aunt Cora strode like a man across the IGA parking lot, a determined walk that showed the big .45 Colt on her hip to maximum effect. She moved towards the pickup where I waited, shotgun at the ready, counting breaths in the silence.

In each hand she carried a giant grocery bag crammed to near breaking with whatever goods she could salvage. Food, mostly, with some soap and matches and other sundries tossed in. For months it had been four bags, two for each wiry arm. But that had been before word got out that the Oak Creek IGA was an easy spot to pick. Our weekly raids were not the only raids. Soon we'd have to find another trove to supplement our garden and the ever dwindling herd.

My aunt reached the door and opened it quickly. She slid the bags between us and climbed in, slamming the door and starting the pickup without a wasted motion. We were on the road, out of the city proper, before she favored me with a grin and I felt permission to drop the shotgun into my lap.

We'd made a safe raid yet again. The knots in my stomach began to unravel.

Just like Aunt Cora's smile. Less than a mile from the stone and barbed wire gates that shielded our property from the rest of the world, we had to brake suddenly.

In the center of the road, wandering in a daze that wouldn't last, we came across a pack of newly risen.

As they staggered past, a filthy blond woman bared her broken teeth in a bloody smile. And she laughed.

Aunt Cora cursed the rest of the way home.



The family meeting fairly boiled with tension. A dozen sets of eyes glared at each other across the kitchen table; moods made bad by being pulled from bed or other duties were worsened by the news. Aunt Cora, in charge by the simple fact of her intelligence and iron will, ignored the emotional minefield and charged across to her point.

"We got less than a year left here." she said, laying it on the line with no sparing of feelings. "They aren't confined to town and the garbage dumps anymore." Cold flint eyes met every gaze in the room and refused to back down. "They're spreading like wildfire."

"Like a virus." my dad said, by way of agreement. Cora was his oldest sister, and his only remaining sibling. Uncle Jack and Aunt Susan both died in the Battle Of The Bulldozer, when we raided the junkyard to claim the big Cat that served us in a thousand important ways. Their names were etched in honor on the steel plate above the living room fireplace.

"Less than a year." Aunt Cora repeated, after a quick glance of thanks to Dad for the support. "We've watched how they spread. We know how long it takes them to orient and begin to plan."

Nobody liked it, but nobody had any arguments against the facts. The only thing to do, it was agreed, was to pack up and move out -- looking for a safer, less scavenged place. Rumor had it that over the mountains, up Charleston way, there were several towns deserted by both living and dead.

The kicker came from my cousin Anna Lee, a quiet woman who rarely ventured an opinion. What she said caused every gut to recoil and every heart to ache:

"If they're this close they must have come from Fellow Hills."  A quiet sentence, but it shattered the mood like a grenade.

Fellow Hills was the family cemetery.



The next few weeks passed quickly, a flurry of activity and back breaking work. In addition to the packing and sorting required by any move, the family had to repair and inspect its fleet of aging vehicles. At the same time, security was at an all time high. A raid was expected any time, from any direction. A continuous watch was instituted, with lots drawn and much grumbling.

Aunt Cora proved correct. The risen seemed to be orienting quicker than ever -- perhaps helped along by the veterans they ran into in their initial wanderings.

Even worse, Anna Lee was also vindicated. There could be no question in even the most doubting mind: the new risen were from Fellow Hills. They were our own kin.

This was a horror that made all the difference in the eyes of the family. To fight and destroy strangers, acquaintances or even former neighbors was one thing. The idea of sending your own blood to the second death an entirely different concept. Some refused to stand their watches, leading Cora and the other heads of the family no choice but to levy punishments. The internal dissent this fomented was too much to bear -- eventually a system of swaps and exchanges was worked out.

My cousin David -- thanks to his dead eye and essential nocturnal nature, as well as a distaste for lifting and repairing machinery -- stood a great deal of these swapped watches. Thanks to his good memory and eyesight, he also bore the brunt of being the reporter of verified kin among the hordes.

One morning I ran into him and found him pale. After some insistence he finally broke down and told me that he'd spotted his own baby sister -- dead six months -- on the perimeter.

"It was her, Ty. No doubt about it." He looked ready to weep. "She just stood there, staring right at me. Right through me."

Then the tears did begin. I excused myself, muttering about a trailer that needed loading.

The truth was that tears of my own were threatening. I remembered Gina as a jolly, sweet girl. The idea of her as a mindless eater of the living tore me apart.


On the night before we left Dad called me down to his study, and passed me a drink from his liquor. This surprised me. Dad rarely drank and often lectured the younger members of the family on the virtue of sobriety.

The rye burned all the way down, but left a warm feeling and calmed my nerves. Dad's eyes looked haunted and his skin was a shade that reminded me of David.

I found out why when he passed me the set of photographs. My skin crawled and the effect of the liquor dissipated instantly.

In a set of six photos, clear as day, Jack and Susan mixed with the dead, faces emotionless, teeth crooked and rotting. Hair falling from their heads and losing its brilliant red in favor of the drab uniform gray of the risen.

I stared at the pictures longer than I wanted, until the hot tears faded. I refused to cry in front of my father.

When I did look up, he passed me the bottle again and I took the second drink of my life with gratitude. It did seem to help a little.

Dad lit his pipe, sighed, and stared at me. He attempted a smile. "We have to deal with what he have to deal with, Ty." he told me.

I nodded.

After a long pause he added, in a low voice. "But they're still our kin and we owe them the benefit of the doubt." His voice firmed up as he spoke. "We'll send them to the second death if we have to."

He stared at me hard, and I felt the fire of his conviction.

"But only if we have to."


The road was clear, to start with. Our convoy -- twenty trucks, the dozer, and a half dozen fully packed cars -- moved out with no trouble or resistance.

For the first twenty miles, at least.

The living were the first problems we encountered. Two years of scavenging and hard times had created gangs of bandits and outlaws all over. Most of them shied away from our obvious numbers and displayed firepower. But desperation creates a false bravery more powerful than madness, and we began to get hit before long.

It wasn't much trouble, to be honest. David and his snipers, from roosts on constructed crows nests, fended most of them off before they got close. Skirmishers on motorbike and horse cleaned out those that made it through that gauntlet.

It was a hundred plus mob of the dead who gave us our first real problem. They slammed us with their favorite mob tactic -- bum rushing the road en masse and letting their own bodies act as weapons. The lead truck -- thankfully armored -- tipped and fell down the side of an incline, gunfire roared, and the fight was on.

I was doing duty as a skirmisher, and -- by sheer luck -- found a trail that let me take my Kawasaki along a path that doubled around. I stopped quick, almost ditching the bike, climbed a nice sized oak, and started picking off the risen bandits as best I could. The movies were right about one thing: head shots worked best, but massive body damage would suit to send them to the second death as well.

I figured later that I'd been hit by a freaking rock. The wound on my head was from a blunt object, bruised and not too deep. I don't remember falling out of the tree. I remember coming to on the ground, hurting all over, and struggling up with effort.

And I remember the crowd of dead heading for me, slow to be sure, but fast enough. I turned to run and was confronted by a second crowd.

My heart froze as I recognized my aunt and uncle in that crowd. The damned things must have tracked us from the homestead, walking when we camped for the night.

Remembering my Dad's words, I turned and started firing into the crowd that wasn't kin. I could feel them closing in on both sides, and knew my number was up. When I ran out of shells, instinct forced me to the ground and there I waited for the end.


All hell broke lose, above and around me. I think I passed out for a few minutes. When I came to, I wasn't dead. I wasn't even hurt, and everything was strangely quiet.

I opened my eyes and, heart pounding, stood up.

I was surrounded by the dead. They weren't attacking, just staring at me. I stared back.

All of them were kin. My aunt and uncle were in the lead. I just stared, my face as emotionless as theirs.

Perhaps a minute of stunned silence lingered. Then a small figure made its way from the crowd. My little cousin Gina, her face bleached of color but her eyes dancing with an unreadable emotion.

She walked slowly up and held my rifle out, offering it to me with both hands. Her mouth twitched. The corners tried and failed to create a smile.

I took it, and nodded at her, dumbfounded. In the distance I could hear the occasional pop and crack of shots fired. The fight was dying down.

The other group of dead were destroyed. They were mostly torn apart, those not lucky enough to fall by my shots. Their guts and clotted blood decorated my own kin.

I nodded to them, still amazed and confused. They nodded back. When I turned and righted my bike, they did not move.

"Uh, follow me." I finally said.

They did.


It took most of my family a long time to accept the facts. Some of them still haven't and never will. Even amongst those who did, the acceptance was grudging and painful. Aunt Cora summed it up, in words my dad had spoken before: "We have to deal with what we have to deal with."

We don't mix, living and the dead. We just don't. They stay in their own little camp, a bit to the side and always downwind. I, who mingle with them most, have assured everyone that they don't stink -- but old habits die hard, I guess.

It was a harsh two weeks, our trip to the north. We lost quite a few family members on the trek. Soon enough they'd show back up, though, drawn by the unbreakable urge to be with their kin.

I'm their commander, for the most part. I'm the only one willing, I think.

No one can deny that they help, though. I privately think we couldn't have done it without them.

And it was no coincidence that my platoon of mixed fighters was the first to stand on the hill and gaze down at the town we decided to claim.

All families need a home, and family is family no matter the conditions. Some bonds are unbreakable.

I thought that, there on the hill. Then I laughed, and gave the signal to move out, arms ready.

Matewan, West Virginia lay like a promise below, quiet and hopeful. With a careful formation and a timed step, our army of the living and the dead moved toward it, our ranks -- and the bonds of our kinship -- unbroken.












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Ire

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Re: Untitled Sequel To ROBERTA: Part One
« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2008, 01:30:05 pm »

Always digg the tech stuff ;)
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da gooch

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Re: Untitled Sequel To ROBERTA: Part One
« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2008, 02:02:37 pm »

RE: "Kin"

Wow.
Powerful stuff.

My kin are scattered all over the country and being raised in constant motion [AF Base to AF Base] we don't really have a home town per se. That my younger brother and I were born in the same state as our parents is pure happenstance. Our younger sister was born in a whole different state.
Stories like this express what I and my immediate family lack.
Close Kinship bonds with actual blood kin and with any particular Place.

Attachments that I, personally, miss.  Or I think I do at any rate. Never having had them I can't really say for sure.

Thanks George.

Don't let all those stories "turn you 'round" my friend. We here will wait [maybe not so gracefully as some others in my case ....] for your stories in bits and pieces so as not to cause any back-up of stories by the "evil brain".

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Bill St. Clair

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Re: Untitled Sequel To ROBERTA: Part One
« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2008, 07:01:11 pm »

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"The state can only survive as long as a majority is programmed to believe that theft isn't wrong if it's called taxation or asset forfeiture or eminent domain, that assault and kidnapping isn't wrong if it's called arrest, that mass murder isn't wrong if it's called war." -- Bill St. Clair

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geopotter72

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Re: Untitled Sequel To ROBERTA Prt 2 added.
« Reply #10 on: August 03, 2008, 01:37:52 pm »

2. Adopted Daughters

Aely Fisher was drunk.

She knew she was drunk. She was bobbing and weaving a little as she made her way down Drummond. Not enough to get stared at, but enough to get attention flicker from the few people out this late. Or early. Perspective.

She also knew she was drunk because she had the most godawful goofy smile plastered on her face and she couldn't seem to make it go away. She was trying. Hard. But that sucker was resolute.

Gotta pass out. some wiser part of her soul finally told her.

Good idea. the remnant of concious navigating her body managed to agree.

Lil' alcove over there. The alley. Dropmap says little space. Cozy. the wiser part of her soul was fading fast.

She found it. Dropmap rocked. It was just big enough to crawl under. She popped a nest and relaxed in comfort.

Today -- yesterday!-- was her 19th birthday.

Hap' Burday, Alleycat.

Happy Happy, momma! she enthused drunkenly and was gone, snoring gently.




She woke up cursing seven hours later. She dropped the nest, cyked it and stood up groggily. Her head was pounding. The medsys was cranked up and running, but this was a hangover for the ages. She was going to suffer a bit.

She found a flat spot and sat down. She moaned. She visioned her keys and begged for coffee. Insufficient material, she was informed.

Another moan. I can fake it with a few subs. Rhea remarked.

"Please do." Aely said. "And good morning. I'm dying."

30 seconds. And no you aren't. Don't exaggerate. I'll slip some trin in your coffee and you'll be hydrated in ten minutes.

"I have to work today."

You called me momma again last night.

"I was drunk!"

I think you should visit your mother.

"I was freakin' drunk."

Visit your mother, let her fuss over you, feed you, beg you to stay, cry, then make up, kiss and leave.

"I'm so sick of that shit."

You missed her dinner party.

"You know how busy I was."

And I know how hard she takes things like that.

"She sent me an invitation, for freaksake. 'Dear Crys -- Hope you can make it! Phyllis will be there.' Who the hell is Phyllis and who the hell sends their daughter an invitation like that?"

Aely sipped coffee from the dispense. Not bad for subrigged. Rhea was talented. She began to feel better as soon as she'd had a few swallows.

She stood up. Yawned. Looked around. She was about a halfmile east of her current crashpad. She didn't use it much, generally staying so busy that she just caught a few hours in nest here and there.

She had a job at five this evening. Plenty of time. She considered seeing her mother, but wasn't up for that.

She was hungry, though.

"Let's get breakfast." she decided.

Rhea got to work.




Aely's daddy died when she was 6. He wasn't much of a daddy -- didn't really care for kids or have much time for them. He was a serious intellectual, sought after by the brightest and most exclusive groups in Connection. Aely -- Crystal then -- was at best a tolerated distraction.

He was killed in a freak accident, in Belgium. Crystal's mother never got over it. She tried to turn Crystal into a clone of her father, a holographic serious intellectual. Crystal rebelled, changed her name, and left home at age 10.

I struggle, world.




They decided on Slap Eatery, off Cicero just a few blocks up Drummond. Close, good food, and owed hella obs. Aely was already fantasizing about ribeye and cherry cheesecake. Rhea longed for a nice close node and plenty of width. Aely's pub crawl had taken her into a grey zone -- no local pop and noisemakers planted by shadies who did closework in the blank spaces. Rhea wanted to synchronize. Until she did she'd feel wobbly.

Slap Eatery was packed but Manfred saw Aely through the door and ushered her in through some really nasty looks from those left waiting. A corner window table was found for her, at first with the company of a grey haired gentleman who had introduced himself, complimented her on her beauty, and excused himself, buying her breakfast as he left. Aely thought him the cutest.

Manfred arrived. "Ribeye, medium rare, salt, pepper and cheesecake to follow?"

"Cherry." she said, decisively.

"No other in the world for you, ma'am. I know."

"And make the steak just rare. I need iron."

He went to make it so.

The packed restaurant buzzed around her, trying desperately not to notice her, failing for the most part. Who the hell was she, they wanted to know -- running frantic scans on the rep banks and recog servers.

I'm the witch who kept the building from commiting suicide, she thought, smugly.

She spoke to it finally. She could feel the little cluster of subminds plucking for her attention.

Simple chatter,
 greetings!
 recognition shared
something
                like
 laughter.


The souls of buildings are simple but they are real.

Rhea synchronized, shushing at the clamor like a nursemaid. She reminded the subminds of their duties, told them they were good, and sent them off. She downloaded against all possible lag times, resynched for deepsky and spent a blissful twenty seconds catching up. When she emerged from meditation she tracked the world at something just lagging realtime.

A pretty world, today. No bad news yelping.

"A veritable golden age." Aely said, deadpan. She was tapping the table with her fork. Hungry.

Manfred arrived with salad, and a glass of chianti compliments of himself. Aely munched and sipped and began to smile.

Rhea was nosing the crowd. Snotnoses, mostly, she discovered. Not her type. Rhea liked crooks and dope addicts. They were honest and usually a hell of a lot more fun to hang out with. Aely could do with fewer crooks and dope addicts, but she had no use for snots. She liked weird artistic types and techfreaks.

All of them, they both conceded, had their place.

Aely relished the fact that Slap used real shredded radish in their house dressing while Rhea pinged the room blatantly and furiously.  The snots had the usual paranoid armours on but their own sudden curiosity about this fawned over urchin left them vulnerable to a sneak as good as Rhea. She was snagging, assimillating, analyzing and interpreting every stray whisp she could access. Soon an obvious and spreading consensus could be observed: they had heard about her. She was the girl who talked to buildings.

Aely just smiled. Rhea teased her about her fame.

The steak arrived a few minutes later, perfect.

She thanked the subminds profusely, knowing they had crafted her meal from basmat, start to finish. They assured her of her welcome.

She was just finishing the cheesecake -- one cherry painfully saved for that very last bite -- when she noticed the woman standing in front of her. She started.

"Hello." the woman said.

"Did you teleport there, lady?"

"That's an interesting breakfast."

"I like it hearty."

"What about eggs and bacon and such?"

"More of a lunch thing with me. I like a big bacon-sausage omelette sandwich for lunch a lotta times. Look, are you a food critic?"

The woman, a trim and presentable (neo-dowdy) secratary type, looked confused. She closed her eyes and concentrated.

"I'm getting distracted by irrelevancies, aren't I?" she said after a moment.

"Join the human race, lady." Aely told her.

"No. I'm here on business." Fierce concentration. "Emergency business."

That's when she wavered, classic comp visual shiver, and Aely perked up. Virched folk were common, but the kind that could fool Aely even momentarily were exceedingly rare.

Plus, there was something familiar about this one.

The secretary wavered again then flushed vibrant. Her eyes opened, she looked ten years younger. She was very serious.

"Aely Fisher The Former Crystal Lin Fisher, you are begged a boon from an old friend."

Aely went rigid. The familiarity focused into recognition. She stood, preparing to go instantly.

"What's the matter with Sebastian?" she demanded. "Is he in trouble? Hurt?" Rhea was slamsearching for any news and the current grapevine.

"I/we/he is not sure." the virched envoy explained. "Lockdown has remained too long and now violence ensues inside."

Aely nodded a curt farewell at Manfred, and made her way out, firm stride belying her very real fear and worry. The Secratary ghosted along beside her as she knew it would.



Sebastian wasn't far. She hailed a cab and bartered a kiss for the ride. The very kissable young driver seemed happy with his fare and was quite solicitous and made excellent time. She tipped him with a shorter but no less sweet kiss. Contact information passed with a smile.

"Odd time to be on the hunt." the Sec observed.

Aely shrugged. "I'm worried. When i worry I try my best to enjoy life even more. Because worry is a stupid thing you shouldn't deal with. It accomplishes nothing. I pin my hopes on optimism instead. And kissing people. I like to kiss people."

Rhea chided her: Don't pay any attention to this one, hon. She's barely an interface. Can't link through her to Bastian and she's locked into basic observational mode. She knows less than we do.

It was two blocks and an annoyingly long set of stairs to get the roof that overlooked Sebastian.

Aely grew disgusted when she saw the overall problem.

They'd turned Sebastian into a freakin' night club.

Fluid Aether, the tranparent biolum sign smugly announced. Idiotic.

And they've Faraday caged him, Rhea informed her.

Bastards.

Something happened a half hour ago that knocked a hole in it -- enough to get out the weak signal.

Aely sighed. With the mess the comped cage made of width, she'd have to go inside in order to contact sebastian. And there was possible danger inside. The indi suit she wore was, though not in pretty condition, top of the line. She was fairly well armored and self sufficient. She popped her holster and checked her weapon. The blocky ceramic form was reassuring, the weight and heft. The charge glowed happily full.

A cluster of static with bits of Sebastians voice hit her, reminding her of her duty. She rehoulstered the gun and attempted contact. He knew they were there, at least. That reassured her. He could help them get in, no matter the situation inside.

She got a bad but usable link to interior info. 126 people inside, most grouped together on private feeds. She scowled. That must be torture to poor Sebastian.

He had been designed as a heuristic learning expert system with a broad focus but charged with running a large household and raising a family. A cybernetic gaurdian for children who would be raised with him.

Now they've got him regulating a vice den.

Rhea laughed. You little hypocrite. You're still hungover, doofus.

I don't burden experimental personality systems with my decadence, though. I party in dumb buildings or buildings designed for the task. I'll bet these people don't even know Sebastian exists. They just want the master to run the fucking toilets and power and climate.

The hole is in the northwest corner. If we get closer we'll have a better grip on the garble.

Think the hole is big enough for me to climb in?

Not sure it's an actual hole in the wall, hon -- might just a nested series of cage lines spot burnt.

Dammit.

But they moved out, down another flight of stairs and across the deserted street to the bar. There were a few vehicles in the modest lot, but it looked like most of their bizz was foot traffic.

They found the hole with little problem, and Rhea's prediction proved true. Aely swore but got over it. She started pinging Sebastion, his private link.

She got connection on the 2356th try, a low quality but usable connect.

Sebastian! Are you...

Don't worry about me, he told her in his calm and serious voice. Worry about my family.

Your family?

Yes, he said proudly. I have a family. He sobered. They are in danger, inside.

When did you...?

Will you help me? Please.

Aely sighed. Of course, Sebastian. Get me in there.

Thank you, Aely. He beamed his gratitude at her and even through the grain and distortion of the low q, she could feel it.

And something below it. This threat to his family had introduced him to a new feeling. Sebastian was angry.

This is what I want you to do....


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da gooch

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Re: Untitled Sequel To ROBERTA: Part One
« Reply #11 on: August 03, 2008, 01:57:20 pm »


Wow.

I'm repeating myself ....
How do you do that ?
I could almost "see" the gigabytes flowing in and out between her and Rhea and Sebastian.
Amazing.


BUT ....


Ahem ... Don't stop on my account .  Please continue ....
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"Come and Take It"  Gonzales, Texas 1835

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Junker

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Re: Untitled Sequel To ROBERTA: Part One
« Reply #12 on: August 03, 2008, 10:05:44 pm »

ikdr> "OK, I know, I suck. Sorry. I get about half an hour a day writing time lately.
And I'm considering writing a story about a guy driven mad by the sheer
number of freakin' stories his evil brain makes up."

How do you stay balanced with only half an hour a day writing time? Ho-ho.

Blessed are the creators for they too shall suffer.
= = =

With FOPub out, how do we get you frns?
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geopotter72

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Re: Untitled Sequel To ROBERTA: Part One
« Reply #13 on: August 04, 2008, 02:24:25 am »

ikdr> "OK, I know, I suck. Sorry. I get about half an hour a day writing time lately.
And I'm considering writing a story about a guy driven mad by the sheer
number of freakin' stories his evil brain makes up."

How do you stay balanced with only half an hour a day writing time? Ho-ho.

Blessed are the creators for they too shall suffer.
= = =

With FOPub out, how do we get you frns?

You could tax people. Works for the gubmint! :D

Seriously, thanks but I'm doing fine these days. I'm glad enough to just get a little writing done I've been so focused on other efforts. Will tell you all about them sonn. (Don't want to jump the gun. :P
)
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Bill St. Clair

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Re: Untitled Sequel To ROBERTA: Part One
« Reply #14 on: August 04, 2008, 05:23:03 am »

Very nice. Looking forward to more. Posted: http://billstclair.com/blog/gloryroad/roberta-sequel.html#2
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"The state can only survive as long as a majority is programmed to believe that theft isn't wrong if it's called taxation or asset forfeiture or eminent domain, that assault and kidnapping isn't wrong if it's called arrest, that mass murder isn't wrong if it's called war." -- Bill St. Clair

"Separation of Earth and state!" -- Bill St. Clair
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