[Part 2 of a free fiction MeatPunk serial]
Part one can be found here: Patricide
The wind roiled with the ensuing storm. Fields of PowerGrain swayed like hippies as dark clouds gathered overhead like conspiring wizards. Harrison’s skin prickled with the building static. Tense like over-wound guitar strings. Buzzing. Ready to snap. Gonna be a bad one. Hell knows we need the rain. 21.5 days of dryness. 3 days longer than planned. The Philosophers get itchy when the weather disobeys. The crops couldn’t fail. On the other hand, what did it matter to Harrison? Anarchy suited him.
Persephone slinked back from Marlowe’s car after transferring Harrison’s father’s body. She peered inside the window of her car, where Harrison sat, tapping his leg nervously.
“Get out,” She said. “Don’t keep him waiting. Shit will get messy.”
Marlowe, in the vehicle opposite, stared with his weird green eyes. Waited.
She flicked her raven bob out from her eyes. Her ruby lips sneered a little.
Damn, she’s hot. For a robot or whatever the fuck she is.
Sex was his default safety zone. There’s nowhere safer than being balls-deep in a fine woman — or a construct. It didn’t matter which. It was the act, the lust, the sleaze, giving in to human emotions, not repressing them.
“Okay, I’m going. Will I see you again?” How fucking pathetic. I sound like some horny teenager.
“You might. If you live long enough.”
Persephone flicked a switch on the dashboard and the passenger door opened.
Walking in that charged atmosphere, on the dirt road between fields, Harrison approached his fate in the only way he could: with swagger and bravado. Chin up. Chest out. You the man. He couldn’t help but feel as if he was walking to the gallows. The muscles in his neck tightened at the thought of the noose.
The door of Marlowe’s car opened slowly as Harrison approached.
He balled his carbon-fibre hand into a fist inside his leather-coat’s pocket through pure instinct. In some ways, Marlowe did him a favour when he recycled his real hand. Punching someone with a solid piece of carbon-fibre was very effective. Not that Marlowe would give him the opportunity. Too quick with all his wet-tech mods. Mostly built by my old man. Harrison smiled a little at the thought of Marlowe shambling about like Frankenstein’s monster. Only that’s not correct, Frankenstein’s monster was compassionate, misunderstood and just wanted to be accepted; Marlowe was none of those things.
Harrison drew level with the door. It was utterly black inside the car. Only Marlowe’s eyes emitted any light. Creepy fucker.
“Get in. Don’t say a single word or I swear I’ll shoot you in the face and leave you for the crows.”
“Been a while, Marlowe.”
A cold, 12 gauge barrel emerged from the gloom. Pressed against his face. Harrison’s balls shrivelled slightly.
“You never fucking listen. Now shut the hell up.”
Marlowe’s hand shot from the car. Grabbed Harrison by the jacket. Pulled him in.
The door slammed behind him.
The world was now some far off place: a fantasyland of escape and hope. In this cramped, black void, there was only Harrison and Marlowe and a future filled with despair. Silently, the meat engine of the vehicle pulsed and the car moved off towards the Pipes. Harrison wanted to say something. Wanted to break the tension. So much needed to be said, but where to start? So he said nothing. Just stared out of the window watching the clouds wrestle against a brooding sky: stretching and scudding with arrogance, ready to drench the world.
Marlowe tapped a sequence on the car’s keypad. Turned to Harrison. “You actually had him killed.” He shook his head slightly. “We all doubted you had the bollocks.”
“Shut your god-damned mouth. What did I tell you? You will fucking listen. You have nothing m’boy. You hear me? Your dad left everything to us: the house, the money, the weapons—” Marlowe paused. Took a breath. Uttered, “And a tome.”
The urge to speak made Harrison move his lips, but his vocal cords tied themselves in knots. Refused to work. He wanted to scream for answers, but those hellish green eyes just stared at him. Something floated within those spheres. Pirouetted in tendrils like snakes made of smoke. Probably some new tech. He remembered something his dad was working on: phosphorescent fungal material spliced with digital imaging CCDs. That was some advanced tech, could they have perfected it already? Harrison made a note of asking later when there wasn’t a 12-gauge boom-stick aimed at and ready to blast his balls off. The gun rested against his leg like a phoretic prophesy.
Marlowe continued as the car drove itself down the narrow dirt road. It was as if they were floating. The muscle units soaked up the divots and dents like they were nothing. “Yes. We have a tome. You thought they were just made up stories. All that stuff your dad told you when growing up is real. It was all for a reason.” Marlowe’s voice dropped an octave and a few decibels as he spoke about Harrison’s father. “Your dad was the closest we all had to a patron saint. He knew things. Saw things none of us could. He even knew you would have him killed. Banked on it. Literally. His health insurance payout has set us up for the next three hundred years. You’re set for life m’boy. However long you wish that to be. But you need to earn it.”
Up ahead the Pipes were coming in to view. Thousands of circular towers rose hundreds of feet from the subterranean city inside the 5 mile radius crater. Some had organic breather — modified moss — units attached to the top pumping in much needed oxygen. Others belched gases and vaporised-oils, which fucked with the luminescent domes. White light became ochre as it reached the sky and reflected off the underside of the grey clouds creating a dirty fire.
Approximately 20 stealthy cars, much like Marlowe’s, busied themselves in the surrounding dirt roads. Some carried Members Of Society while others had trailers filled with PowerGrain. Those were headed to the factory quarter of the city; the MOS were heading across town to the Talking Quarter. It was Thought Day after all. The debating halls would be rammed. Which was good. Meant the streets would be quieter than usual: easier to transport a body when everyone is focussed on the discussions of the day.
A handful of MOS milled about on the edge of the city as Marlowe’s car turned off the main road and into Aphex Avenue: the longest road in the city, running down its middle. Split it into two halves. Most citizens wore Philosopher-issue work suits and breathers: plain blue synthetic-cotton overalls and ecoplastic masks covering their mouths, filtering the air. They all saluted or shook hands as they passed one another. So polite. So reasonable. None of them took any notice of Harrison and Marlowe as they parked on the corner of Aphex and Burke. Burke was a narrow access road. It was only used by businesses to load products into the shops. Burke was a place where you could buy all the latest Philosopher Approved Products. Aphex on the other hand was something altogether different. On the outside it was just a run of warehouses and industrial units. But underneath one could find anything in the subterranean quarter. Especially under this particular section referred to as The Pipes. It was the densest collection of ‘Pipes’ in the entire city.
Two beeps. Some static. Marlowe pushed a button below a speaker in the dashboard and they listened to a voice. “Hey honey, welcome home.”
“Cut the crap Jesus, open ‘er up. I’ve got the body and the prodigal son.” Marlowe gave Harrison the stink-eye. Harrison just looked away. Don’t rise to his bullshit. Stay calm. It was a good sign that he was still alive. The initial tirade from Marlowe was calmer than he expected. All he had to now was dump his dad’s body with the Shades and get the fuck out of Dodge. He hoped their rear access tunnel was still accessible.
Something underneath the car rumbled. Marlowe shot a look at a small radar-like screen on the car’s dashboard. Watched as the last blip moved out of range. “Ok, we’re clear. Take us under.”
“And thou shalt return to dust,” the voice said the comm unit.
The ground began to break apart; wooden slabs slid into hidden recesses. The car jerked to one side, then levelled out. They descended into a pipe bored into the ground. Must be the new front door.
Cut into either side of the tube were two channels filled with muscle fibre and organic bone. They pulsed as the meat mechanism lowered the vehicle down into the depths. Thousands of what looked like centipede legs rippled as they supported the car in its descent. Familiar green phosphorescent fungi bulbs stretched down into the pipe causing a pallid green glow. No doubt they were similar to what Marlowe was wearing. Probably recording everything too. Harrison’s guts twisted with disgust. So unnatural. “What’s wrong with good ol’ fashioned pneumatics? Steel cables, pulleys — this…” he waved a hand at the myriad muscle claws, or whatever they were called, “ain’t right… it’s fucked up.”
The car reached the bottom of the pipe with a jolt. The doors opened, and bright white light flooded in. Harrison held his hand up to his eyes as he squinted. Spotted a silhouette of a man or a woman.
The bright light turned to black instantly as if someone flipped a switch.
A gun fired; the muzzle flash illuminated a scrunched face. The bullet hit Harrison in the chest; blood dripped down his gut onto his jeans. It was warm to the touch.
“Harrison, you bastard. Welcome home.” A soft female voice spoke as if it were far away. The last word ‘home’ echoed, faded as the pounding of his heart took over. He tried to ask why, but he slumped his head forward onto his chest and dissolved into the darkness.