frequency

frequency

Okay! Don’t look now… but I just busted the lock on 388.

Yeah, yeah. Don’t be so shocked!

As if you never slipped! – With a bolt cutter. On a lock.

I mean, come on… We’re on the same side here, aren’t we? We’re havin’ a little fun! You ’n me… Little snoopin’ round, little snuffin’ out. It’s what I do for livin’. No, I’m a part-time jacker. I know it’s not so reputable, but I ain’t a reputable man. So don’t bother.

Continue reading “frequency”

The Harpy

part 4 - perks of jumbled memories
-part 1, -part 2, -part 3

The black suit reacts to his touch with tiny tentacles reaching up towards the warmth of his skin. In no time it seems, the suit has liquified. It wraps him up from head to the tip of his toes. „Stop tickling,“ he giggles.

The suit hardens, and becomes transparent over his face. Those green eyes shine behind the visor, like lit from the inside. Is it bioluminescence? „Can you hear me? How’s it feeling?“ I ask.

„Awesome! But you could take off my leg, and I’d still feel awesome. With her in my system… Everything’s fabulous! She thinks you’re not dangerous.“ His voice is slightly distorted, as if speaking with two voices, his own and a more soft, lightly slurred one.

„…You said… she?!“

„Hell yeah, my suit is partially female. She grows neutrally, but after the first imprinting with the human genome, they seem to decide themselves, to take the position of a counterpart – for bonding. The link we share is one between lovers; mad, awkward lovers-“ Lovers?! What strange choice of words… „We have to postpone this. Work’s waiting… Babe, let’s get going. Open the door!“

The Cap transforms into a black vibrating blur and slides through the bridge door. Was it even opening? He said lovers… What does that mean? Partners? Love? Maybe only projections… Now what can I do? „Harpy?“

„Yes, Doctor?“ – „How can I help?“

„Eddy is already outside, fixing my wing and back panels. Shell instabilities can’t be helped for now. We will be leaving the lab unit and the sleeping units on the asteroid. The bridge is a capsule itself, sufficient for two humans. Doctor, prepare the medication and perfusion.“

„Can you show me, what he’s doing?“ The screen splits up in four pictures. One shows the view from the bridge, us spinning, two show corridors to airlock and bridge, and one the view from the engines. Outside, the blackness fills the upper half of the screen, interrupted by big white grey irregular dots. Behind the Harpy, a spike of white. A humanoid shadow moves rapidly over the curved back of the ship. It looks like he is dragging some arm-like-wings over the shell. Wow!

„Working at this pace, he will run down his reserves in approximately fourteen minutes. The oxygen leak has to be found. Three ampules benzodiazepine to five milligrams each should suffice. Perfusion solution with high sugar level for iv-access is needed too. The ectoparasite will be shed, as soon as Eddy’s blood sugar level will drop below thirty milligram percent.“ What?! That means hypoglycemic coma. That isn’t how he described it. „He is high on her neurotransmitters. In order to bond and to use the suit optimally, he has to have a positive emotional response to her. His memories aren’t exact about the shedding.“ I understand.

„Any residuals? What about dependence?“ -„Medical check-ups show no evidence. Behavior patterns do not show any symptoms of craving.“

„How about tests on long-time survival?“ This is interesting!

„Hibernation in outer space: one month, two days and twelve minutes. This is why we accompany you on your research trip, doctor.“ Oh, wow…

The first aid box starts gleaming red, and I prepare a syringe. „The leak is fixed now. Pressure loss: zero. Beginning with oxygen reprocessing. Restoration of optimal oxygen level in three minutes and twenty-seven seconds. The captain is now heading this way.“ Okay then! Lets get started. A small maintenance robot nudges my foot. I put the syringe into a little ammo clip – doors slide open…

Oh, fuck. The humanoid shadow stands in the doorway. I think it – they – grew taller. A lot taller. They’re huge!  The captain looks at the swarming robots, then at me… That’s more a stare than a look… His face cut out of marble, rigid, with slightly opened mouth, eyes wide behind the visor, not blinking.

A somewhat vacant look… Creepy… I try to swallow, but my mouth just dried up. If he comes at me… I won’t last two seconds. What do I do?

The captain-thing leans in my direction – oh fuck – he grows my direction. I back away slowly. What if it behaves like a predator? Don’t run. No sudden movements! Keep cool. Keep cool. Slowly… Carefully. Just back away… Careful now. It keeps coming this way. Is that a growl? Oh-uh. He looks at me, like I was fucking delicious…  What the – don’t trip! Ah! In a blink the captain-thing is over me, before I hit the floor, locking eyes. Wow… hypnotic green… The floor stops… I stop midair? …How?

Oh, he’s lifting me uuuup- „Aaah! Stop. Put me down. No! Stop. Don’t throw meeee – umph- Aaaargh, that wasn’t nice!  Bad captain!…Fine! 330!“ The maintenance robots dart for him, plunging themselves at the captain-thing. They shoot wires across the bridge, trying to pin him to the wall, or the floor. Not successfully, though… He tears through the wires, smashes some robots…

How long is he going to do this? He seems smaller though. The robot with the sedatives lingers at my foot. „I tripped over you, didn’t I?“

The Captain-thing snarls with anger. It looks like he is shadowboxing, getting caught in those wires. Definitely not moving as fast as he did before.

„Shedding imminent,“ the voice of the Harpy interrupts, „prepare for sedation. Secure the captain. Estimated time to shedding: one minute and fifty seconds.“ The robots double their efforts, and manage to pin him, half kneeling, to the floor and wall. He grunts with effort, but it’s futile. He can barely move now. I squat beside him and try to get his attention. Those green eyes can’t even fix on me anymore. Nystagmus. Tremor. He’s shaking,  breathing’s shallow. Blood sugar level must be low by now.

„Captain, look at me!“ He tries hard, I can see that. Suddenly he slumps over, eyes rolled back into his skull. That’s it! The suit begins to soften, to retract from his face, hands and feet. The robot with the sedatives fires his shot between the toes of the captain. Good that he’s cold out, that’d hurt. I stick an iv-access into a vein on the back of his hand and start the perfusion. His chest is barely moving. „Harpy, how is the metabolite rate of the suit? When will the sedatives wear off?“ I won’t be able to physically remove the wires, to stretch the Cap out. That has to wait.

„The ectoparasite is unable to clear benzodiazepines sufficiently out of the blood system. She is engineered that way. Shortly, One will be ready to help you with the removal. Estimated clearance of benzodiazepines from captain’s blood system: eleven hours and forty minutes. Waking time in approximately nine hours.“

I wonder, what kind of hangover he’ll have. If I antagonize the sedatives, he’d be seriously pissed off, I guess. I’m tempted to, since he threw me across the bridge… Reminds me off, „Harpy, could you provide me with some clothes?“

The Harpy

part 3 - code 330
-part 1, -part 2

„What did you mean by, she’s not just a cargo ship?“ Eddy plunks down into a pilot seat, shrugs and ruffles his dark hair.

„You know- They don’t let a rookie doctor and a priceless AI in a man suit, just fly off like that, would they? Your company protects its belongings damn well. What do you think? They let you deactivate the tracking device you know of, and do nothing? Ha!“ I… I really did! Now that he puts it that way, it sounds bonkers.

„Don’t be upset… They are already sending someone after it. I told you, this is not a simple cargo ship, and I’m not only your captain, but also your and Proto’s bodyguard… Is it that shocking for you? Did you grow up in La-la-Land? Oz, you’re the most naive person I’ve ever met!“ He laughs his head off. „He’s got more bugs than you imagine. There’s one in the suit too. Yes, he took it, and launched all escape units, so we are trapped here. He even set the ship to self destruct, you know that? To cover all loose ends… Clever little shit! The missing suit is a bread crumb thread, if there is more left from the Harpy, than fuel snowflakes and debris scattered all over the belt. Do you know where he is heading?“ I shake my head. How did I let this come this far? „Maybe Europe, to the deep-sea terra-forming units. That’s where I would hide.“

He sits down near me, resting a hand on my shoulder. „Don’t sweat it, buddy. Not your fault. I’ve been waiting for something like this, to happen. I let the Harpy respond, as it expected it. Proto’s hacking did more damage than I thought. But Harpy is a tough girl. She can handle. She didn’t even send an S.O.S Signal. Brave girl.“ He pulls a chocolate bar from one of his pockets and offers it. „Eat. You’ll feel better. I promise.“ As I take the bar, he catches my fingers in his palm. „That he killed you, I didn’t foresee. I am really sorry. I failed to protect you.“

„- Tried. Thanks to you, I’m alive.“ His green eyes pierce my skull. Don’t blush, don’t blush.

„That can’t be helped now. I underestimated him, I admit. Didn’t think, it is capable of being this human…“ Releasing my hand and the chocolate bar, he turns to the screen and says,„hey babe, unlock E.K.1. for me. Would you help me with One and Two, sweetheart? How are your subroutines coming? Lets repair you ASAP and detach. I want to find that fuck tard and kick his ass to bits.”

“Your wish is my command, Eddy. Damaged data seventy-five percent restored.” The Harpy replies happily. With a rattling sound several terminals thrust aside, new terminals open up. Maintenance robots flood in from the corners of the bridge, darting for the body parts of One and Two. Like fire ants over a limping frog, the humming things run down the bits of cyborg. This is definitely – weird, but cool – and oh my god! Bio-suits! He has bio-suits! One black, one translucent, both hooked up to some iv-like accesses. I only heard rumors of them, being top secret military technology. Self sufficient systems for exploring new environments. Whoa. Now that’s a thing!

“What- what are you doin’?” Eddy’s taking his clothes off. I try not to look surprised. I should try not to stare instead.

“I’m dressing up for the big prom, so that I’m pretty for my prince. What do you think?! These are next generation bio-mechanical suits – they need full skin contact, and a bit more…” Wait, does that mean, that they are autonomous, or semiautonomous? Are they alive? “Ok. Ask now. I know that look, you will be bugging me over the com. So?”

“What do they need more?” I ask.

“Water, salt, carbon-dioxide, electricity, sugar and heat. They’re like overprotective giant leeches, designed to keep you alive, in order to remain alive themselves. Vicious things, instantly adapting to radiation, temperature changes and pressure. They are having their eyes where you aren’t looking. Giving you an extra hand, or tentacle, or spider legs, or wings. Just needing access to your bloodstream and your nerves- both sensory and muscular… They’re boosting your reflexes, beyond… I can’t explain. God, I love them!“

He stops suddenly, „…one more thing,“ and turns to me with a grave look. „I didn’t think of it… When I come back – stay away from me!“ What? Why?

„I’ll be high on their neurotransmitters. I can’t guarantee for your safety, nor mine. Stay put. That’s the best you can do… Prepare enough sedatives. Just in case -”

“W-What do you mean – just in case?” Now I’m curious. “After the first time, I tried to drink cooling liquid. The second time, I tried to walk out into space, cause my grandma was knocking on the airlock, from the outside… I’ll be hallucinating. I’ll be hungry. And horny. I could try to eat you, or fuck you, or both.”

“You’re kidding, right?” He can’t be serious.

“Just do me a favor, okay? Just knock me out, before I… Don’t let me do anything stupid. OK?!” He is begging? “I don’t want to wake up, with a big ass hangover, next to a corpse.” He leans over to me. „This is important! Harpy will tell you my specs. She prepares a modified robot for me, with enough drugs for a day sleep or so. If there’s a problem. Any problem… The override code for Ed-emergencies is 330. She’ll wrestle me down then. Don’t forget: three-three-o. I didn’t want to use the suit, with you on board, but desperate times… You know the rest.“ He flashes a big grin and proceeds undressing.

—————————————————————

-part 4 - the perks of jumbled memories

The Harpy

part 2 -  confused AI
- part 1 -another way to die

„Captain Edward Wong, Doctor Oscar Wellington, two cyborg pilots, ninety-six maintenance robots, and me.“ The Harpy answers in a flat tone.

„See?“ Eddy gives me the I-told-you-so-look. „Where is Proto?“ he asks her.

„Proto is not on board.“ What?! „His suit is missing. Scanning… He is jamming me.“ Another I-told-you-so-look.

Proto is my assistant. He isn’t supposed to leave the ship. Where is he? What the hell is going on? He’s going to get in trouble…

Being neither a human nor a cyborg, his legal status is not quite clear yet. Not on Earth, not on Mars, not on the lunar mining colonies, and apparently neither on this ship. As a matter of fact, he is the first of his kind. Between an AI and a human clone, he is a miracle, if you ask me. He is priceless! For the captain, he’s just an AI, in a man suit…

Crap, I even deactivated his tracking device two days ago, hoping to keep other companies at bay. Maybe this move qualifies me a dumb-dumb…

„Proto is going to get a good going-over. And if you don’t start pulling yourself together, I’ll beat you up too, for good measure!“ Eddy stands in the doorway. I can’t tell if he’s joking.

The soft purring of the Harpy interrupts. “Warning. Warning. Collision course. Risk: ninety-three point sixty-six percent. I suggest immediate change of course. Dr. Wellington’s vitals are stable. Captain, you are needed on the bridge. Dock station four has been activated. Escape capsule two has been launched thirty seconds ago… Launching remaining capsule… I am confused.”

“WHAT?!” We both cry in unison. ”What the hell is going on?!” The captain shouts sprinting out of my lab.

“Wait! Cap! Eddy!” I dash down the corridor, only to see  his back turning round the corner. Man, he’s fast. Better be! If this is sabotage… The only one, who could have done this, has already fled the ship. Crap! He’s gonna destroy us. I’m a fucking idiot!

“Warning!“ Harpy tweets. „Collision is now inevitable. Remaining time to impact: twenty-three seconds. Course change impossible. Pilots manually deactivated. Autopilot permanently deactivated. Override. Error. Override. Error. Override. Error – sorry.”

If the Harpy gets smashed to bits, and we both die, that’ll be on my head. Only my fault. Somewhere ahead the furious cursing of the captain echoes.

How did we end up here? The last thing I remember, we were passing Mars, to swing into polar orbit and – fuck. Why are we in the asteroid belt?!

“Buckle up! Prepare for impact. Eddy, it’s been a pleasure.“ Harpy adds cheerfully. Oh, no! Crap! The next thing I know, I get thrown into a blender and swirled around the place. Hitting the corridor ceiling, the floor, and some walls. Smoke! Shit! I hope the ship doesn’t cut out all the oxygen…

That’s a lot of smoke down the corridor. Behind me the doors slide open and I get violently pulled in, hitting something hard. Pan galactic gargle blaster – my head has doubled it’s size, I swear. What a fucked up day!

“Hey Doc? Oz? Come on, stay with me. I won’t kiss you twice a day, you know.” Eddy’s big hands slap the dizziness right out of me.

“You’re not my type,“ I lie.

“Good! You’ve come to,” he grins and helps me lean against the wall of a monitoring desk. Partially disintegrated, the two damaged pilots lay on the floor of the bridge, emitting sparks.This is bad… One head lies near my foot, looking right at me, smiling sheepishly.

“Is this One’s or Two’s?” I ask. The Captain is pressing something cool at the back of my head. He needs a cool-pack too. His nose bleeds, but he doesn’t notice, or doesn’t mind.

„Two’s. Only Two has this stupid grin. Proto’s gonna pay for this, as soon, as I manage to lay hands on it! I swear!“

”Was there a fire? Um, there was a lot of smoke…“ Eddy nods. „Is there any oxygen left outside the bridge?“ He shakes his head. „This is bad… Can you fix them? The cyborgs? You need them – to repair the Harpy, don’t you?“ I study my lap, then my hands. „I thought… I thought you hate AIs and cyborgs.” Color me surprise.

“It seems that way… Hasn’t your mama taught you, that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover?” I didn’t consider him a decent human being, nor a life saver. His rude behavior with Proto… I assumed… Well, I thought he is a bigoted windbag. My bad…

His eyes lock mine. “Just look at you! Died and resurrected today. You’ve learnt nothing from it, did you? Still cheeky to your savior, bucko? Hm?“ Suddenly he shrugs, and seems a lot older and paler than before. „You had a rough day, kid. Now stop bleeding all over the place, will you?” What just happened? „I’m happy you’re alive.“ He laughs a deep guttural laugh. How strange, I never heard him laugh before… “And here I was thinking, this will be the most boring half year of my life, on this science field trip.”

I take the cool-pack, and offer it to him. “You okay? Anything broken?” He shakes his head.

“A fuel tank, but that’s not the problem. We can still detach, but we have to do that manually.“ Not what I meant. „Also, there is a leak somewhere I need to find, before we run out of oxygen. Fix One and Two. I hope my baby didn’t get hurt too badly… You know, she’s not just a cargo ship.” He snorts triumphantly. “If you hadn’t pass out, like an anemic victorian princess, you could have seen my brilliant maneuver. I landed her. I landed the Harpy, on a fucking asteroid! Which is unbelievably stupid and amazing at the same time!“ Did he just wink at me? That nose is broken, definitely. He smiles and turns away to look at the screen. We are spinning. “At least, we’re alive – for now.”

———————————————–

- part 3 - code 330
- part 4 - perks of jumbled memories

boca de morte

It is too damn hot and too damn humid to feel like a decent human being.

Plus, this is my last beer – maybe for months. Lukewarm as piss…

How the hell do people here cool themselves?!

The food is spicy, the liquor nasty. To shower is useless, cause I’m sweating.In. The.Shower! The river looks tempting though. But… I won’t take my chances, to end up with a weird, or nasty disease, or both.

Continue reading “boca de morte”

sugar fuel

A terriblemind (Chuck Wendig) flash fiction challenge – Superhero plus

„I bite ’n won’t let go! Go ahead! Call me a hard-headed dog!“ The dark haired man flashes his widest grin. Fingers skidding along the keyboard in amazing speed.

„Meh- That’s just a load of bull!“ Next to him, a blue eyed man adjusts his glasses and throws a crumbled up napkin at him. „Chew on this, Black…“

„Don’tcha ´Meh` me, Zeroes! Glue your eyeballs to those Dummy Barriers. Watch me blow’em away… Last one in, buys me beer,“ he laughs.

Continue reading “sugar fuel”

eloquent baby sitter

The door to the office isn’t closed. My desk is nearby, so I can hear Mr. Ribinsky yelling at someone on the phone.

“What? It’s been now; let me check my… Two hours and forty minutes straight. Well. I can say that you are a persistent little shit. Congratulations on that! You get your assignment alright. But don’t come and complain about the client. I told you – you are not ready. Yet. You are going in anyway? I guess, you do. But if you insist… Don’t expect mercy from me, or anyone else. Got that? Good!”

The noises from the building lot cover the rest of the conversation. The construction workers are making a fuss. All that yelling and whistling… What’s up? I only guess, that Smith finally got his appointment. He is the only one not-ready-cause-still-recovering.

I´ve been doing his job lately. Mine and his, that is.  He’s sloppy, unfriendly, reckless and lavish… Lately, there have been a lot of complains about him, and his little problem.

Smith is one of those guys, who just don’t know when they have enough… Which is not my problem. Mr Ribinsky stands in the door way, smiling at me. “No. Whatever it is. Just no!” I tell him, but I already know it’s too late… “What?!” I ask.

“Dear Wellington, even if you roll your eyes in that eloquent head of yours. It´s already decided. You do such a great job! I think a promotion and a nice raise is going to be in this month. If!” His voice is so sweet.

“If…?”

„If-you-watch-over-Smith-and-he-doesn’t-fuck-up.” His eyebrows -and his chest-shoot up expectantly.

“This is a fucking joke?!” No way I’m going to do that!

„I’ll fire you, if you don’t.” He laughs. “You know you’re good, but-  you want to bet your job on that?” He’s right. “It’s a nice raise. Big money. And a paid holiday. Anywhere you want.”

“Anywhere?”

“Anywhere.” He’s reeling me in.

“Damn you! I swear, I’ll punch Smith so hard, he’s going to need an ambulance, if he annoys me. You know he merits it!” He has a stupid grin on his face. So satisfied with himself.

“Do as you wish. Whatever seems suitable for you. I give you plenty of rope.” With that said, he turns around and goes back into his office.  Babysitting Smith won’t be easy. A hell of a week.

“Look at you, you poor poor Mr Know-it-All. So you are going to watch over Alex, hm?” Estelle, Mr Ribinsky´s secretary, is leaning over her desk to me, with an amused look. “Mr Smartypants, you look so annoyed… Boohoo. Now  listen, you bookworm! If you lay a finger on Alex, or harm him in any way, I swear I´m going to cut you!” Obviously she hates me. But this means that she likes Smith… So, this is how he gets his informations. I’m not impressed. Not at all. Raising an eyebrow to her, she pulls a switchblade knife from her handbag and makes a distinct gesture. From left to the right, across the skin of her own throat, just under the jawline. Then she points it smilingly to me.