Tagged: art

The Star Hound Bar

Mortimer thought the bar looked like a black reflection-pool. Everything shimmered. Walls seemed to drip like burning sulfur. Faces floated around him like mephitic sea creatures. The girl seated next to him was a mermaid consumed in slow flames. Her name was Kimberly. She was a hooker. Mortimer had known her for several months. They never went to bed together. Mortimer wanted her too much to risk rejection; besides, he had no money to bargain with. They became friends who occasionally met at The Star Hound for a drink.

Kimberly was small and loud; she commanded respect. She had red hair that snapped with static electricity and green eyes that sank holes into a man’s brain. Her body was beautifully rendered like a painting by Caravaggio. She wore orange satin shorts and a lace halter.

“A person has a responsibility to experience all that life has to offer,” she said with brassy authority.

Mortimer responded, “you’re right, only some things are more important than others. All I’m saying is that a person’s got to make choices. No one-person can possibly experience everything.”

“A person doesn’t have to say no to anything that comes along,” she said, “in the end your experience is all that counts.”

“What about the results of your experience, the products and consequences of experience — that’s something isn’t it?”

“I don’t know. Nothing lasts forever. I like to live in the present.”

“Kimberly,” Mortimer sighed like a love sick child, “you’re beautiful.”

“Yeah, I know; and the world is a garden of eternal joy.” Her face twitched. “Oh fuck. Philosophy is bullshit. I suck cock for a living — that’s what really counts.”

The bar seemed to tremble as Mortimer sipped amber fluid from a glass that was surgically attached to his right hand. A warthog in a charcoal-gray suit walked up to the bar to order a drink. For a moment Mortimer saw Kimberly as she really looked: a sagging middle-aged prostitute trying to appear young with dyed hair and thick makeup. Dark mascara dripped like smudged blue-wax around red eyes. Her body puffed over the edges of satin and lace.

Suddenly she clasped his hand and drew it to her flaccid breasts. “I am the Dark Lady,” she whispered.

Mortimer gasped. The bar gleamed like melted silver. The naked bartender smiled with lizard teeth. Mortimer understood. He was inside the painting, the one he was currently working on. He was stuck beneath splotches of magenta and ocher, beneath a torn label from a Heineken Beer. He could feel Kimberly vibrate beneath his hand like something mechanical. Her skin had turned green and cold. She smiled as she spoke, “there is something behind all this, something absolute and permanent. There is something at the heart of chaos. Cluck… Cluck… Cluck!”

Mortimer withdrew his hand as if he’d touched molten lead. Kimberly collapsed to the floor. She shattered like thin crystal. Pieces struck Mortimer like razor blades, embedding themselves into his skin. The bartender bared his pointy teeth.

Mortimer pushed himself through the mob of drunken predators. They stank of swamp and their skins were bejeweled with fungus. He crashed into the barroom door. It was difficult pushing through the opening. He was met with a wall of resistance. He soon realized the barrier he faced was the painting, a barricade of jet-black oil paint —  and it was impenetrable.

Star Hound

 

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Absentia

“It isn’t easy — reflection often leads to mental instability,” the lecturer sadly suggested, “A warning label is metaphorically branded on the head of every newborn: ‘too much thinking is dangerous to your health — avoid thought at all costs.’ A new age of doublespeak is upon us. We are inundated by fakery, not just fake news. Life is no longer grounded in any recognizable, proven reality. The devolution of humankind has accelerated. Virtual Reality has supplanted life itself,” Aubrey Bunsbury spoke in vain to a group of eminent social scientists at the 2nd annual gathering of the VR in absentia society.

Monica Lewinski was in the audience. It didn’t matter. Monica and Bill were over years ago. Even with the upsurge of Me Too they failed to be an item accept for certain Republicans who had remorse envy. Others were also in attendance. Sarah Huckabee Sanders led a prayer group. Bill Cosby looked twenty years younger after his prison make-over. Trump look-a-likes gathered in the anteroom for a game of Simon Says.

People were wearing digital screens and wireless suits. Sponsored broadcasts flocked together like vultures to attack social-media. A respected doctor was on the run from the law; suspected of murdering his wife. The true murderer was a man with one arm. {The Fugitive stumbles from one channel to the next trying to outrun himself. Futility sets in. Big D sets the parameters spelled out in legalese without an escape clause}.

Aubrey sat with Mona Freedlander in the Golden Pavilion Cafeteria (VR edition). Mona was beginning to be aware of prickly feelings she had toward Aubrey. Both participants radiated the same sensations. It was a mutual synesthesia-experience, 3rd party mode. Rebellion-of-any-sort flew the coop soon after Aubrey’s impressive lecture to the VR in absentia society —in fact, VR was never absent, it was ubiquitous. The couple bonded over chartreuse, the color of the future. The most fabulous 2nd Life homes were always colored Chartreuse, often combined with Purple to present a spectacular video display. The domestic chit-chat was part of an elaborate courting ceremony that inevitably led to conjugation. Prior to this arrangement/engagement Aubrey Bunsbury was someone else.

A-Priori Bunsbury was placed in a sensory deprivation chamber and reprogrammed. His before-name was Eric Faction. He had just ingested a Time-Release capsule that resulted in the unfortunate circumstances that followed. Time was released, unfurling like an American Flag in a windstorm of conspiracy. At the moment of his disposition, Eric was married to Forchan, his true love. It was an incestuous relationship. Forchan was a hipster who pursued Eric with the passion of a Dance Master choreographing The Rite of Spring. Eric was a simple artist who spent his days sketching botanical oddities. Eric’s life changed in dramatic and incontinent ways after he married Forchan.

Together they crossed into another dimension. Genetically-altered guards protected the border against illegal incursion. There was always the question: were the guards monsters or men. Ice-water was rumored to flow through their veins instead of blood. Eric and Forchan devised a cloak of invisibility from wavy-mirrors with queer reflective properties. They flowed across the border like Magic-Chef kitchen appliances on steroids.

They entered the Land of the Dying Sun, but it was just like the world they left behind, except that everything was backwards. Did they enter a mirror? Friendly neighbors with pets told the couple the experience was different for each person who entered the realm. Eric had to work slinging hash in a penny-ante diner. Forchan kept house. They rented a two-by-four in an area that catered to flotsam washed up by the ocean of the universe. The boredom of shopping, working, and washing dishes was endless. Suddenly life became unpredictable. They met David Anderson, a scientist who was researching Time-Warp technology. Eric and Forchan flourished like vines entwining one another. But the ecstasy and wonder became too familiar, retching and intolerable. Everything was backwards. Occasionally Big D, the boss, came around to cull the herd of new arrivals. Funerals broke the monotony. One day, out of the dull blue-sky, Forchan wandered off on a walkabout. Eric took a time-release capsule.

They were standing in the kitchen staring at one another through rising steam from boiling water in the sink. Raw emotions cut like knives. They stood like deaf mutes. Frayed fingers reached across the bulwark of Time to gently connect. Chaos and order dissolved in a furnace of volcanic ash. The vicissitudes of apathy retreated into the void of frozen space.

 

 

 

Grand-Guignol

Whirlwinds happen without warning. That’s what happened to Denny Wingrass. He kept having flashbacks, out-of-body seizures. It wasn’t the body that worried Denny… it was his mind.

Whispers circulated in the Executive Dining Room, “another mass shooting.” Denny was part of the support staff for the administration . He gulped his third cocktail and watched the violence unfold on the two-way screens that were attached to the walls and tables. Watchers were watching from every screen. Stochastic Monitors were monetizing reactions to the violence.

Denny saw himself as an up-and-coming professional. He was young, successful, and attractive. He was mildly worried about his appearance, an important quality in the formula for success. Everyone was obsessed with appearances… and concerned about ratings. Denny made connections through social media. That’s how he got his posh job with the administration. He was flush with cash. Nancy Hardwik, his “randy girl” accused him of ill gotten gains. Denny laughed off the criticism. He worked hard to attain his status. It wasn’t easy being obsequious and setting fire to his real opinions. The AI that ran the company was merciless and loved flattery (company employees called the AI, Death Star.)

Everything in the dining room was plated in gold. The AI loved shiny metal. A male android named Hark Whitherbee was the AI’s mobile presence. Whitherbee tried to be human, to connect with his staff. He mimicked typical masculine behavior, but he often missed the mark, exaggerating ethical flaws and foibles. He pretended to love fast food: hamburgers, fries, and chicken wings (the only foods offered in the Golden Pavillion Dining Room.) He pretended to be manly by going to embarrassing extremes (to make up for the fact that he had no genitalia.) No one dared correct or criticize Hark Whitherbee because money and jobs were at stake. A nod from the AI could send the stock market into spasms. Survival depended on flattering Hark (who was persona non grata.)

The AI’s mobile-presence (Hark) was rhapsodized and imitated. Distasteful behavior became the new norm. Denny was caught in the mix. It wasn’t easy being obsequious. He tore himself to shreds trying to mimic authority. He became Death’s consort. Nancy laughed at him. She was no more a randy girl than he was an important Exec.

The pain shot through Denny’s head like a jolt of electricity. Gun shots rattled-off like fireworks in an echo chamber. He wasn’t shot… he was infected. A worm crawled into his ear and ate its’ way into his brain. He forgot the numbers… numbers of kids murdered in Florida. He felt useless. Cataracts covered his eyes. His vision was blurred. Shadows were his constant companions. He wondered what would happen next. He could just make out the shadow of nurse Nancy sitting next to the bed. Denny was AT HOME, a nursing facility for the old and disabled. He didn’t know how he got there. His memories were shrinking. His brain was dissolving. Nancy stroked his hand. She gave him a mirror. He didn’t recognize the stranger in the glass. Denny didn’t like being AT HOME. The head of the facility was an administrator named Hark.

Screens were collecting information. Smart Apps had the low-down on everyone. Profiles were auctioned off to the highest bidders. “Have you ever been blackmailed by a smart-phone?” Denny asked Nurse Nancy. She just patted his hand.

The phone had a perverse sense of humor. It never beeped or chimed… it preferred to shout obscenities, “get the f–ck up. You got a call!” There was no person on the other end of the connection. Instead, there was a musical jingle advertising Grim Reaper Benefits. Nothing mattered anymore.

Denny sat on the balcony with Nancy Hardwik overlooking the vast containment field that used to be Los Angeles. “What happened? Nancy asked.

“The border troops invaded… don’t you remember?”

“Oh, I forgot… there’s so much news to digest these days.”

“Yeah, one mind-numbing event after another. There certainly is no Bedtime for Bonzo.

Death was drawn and quartered on the steps of the White House. Another day, another dollar. He couldn’t be contained and he couldn’t be stopped. Death was on a mission.

Transgression

Volvina Complex was a wet dream. She sipped Green Hyacinth and nibbled gubber-fish with her companion, Professor Pangsong. The two were conjoined and very happy. The sex-wars were over, global warming evaporated, and the destruction caused by humans was effectively fumigated. Food was no longer necessary for survival, but it was still delightful to nibble when communing with friends. Musica LaMode was building a sub-routine of background dreams. Ecstasy floated through the cascading balconies of the Crystal Pagoda where Volvina and Pangsong reminisced. They were lovers. They were Androids. They lived in a virtual world, a perfect world where humans no longer existed.

Professor Seigfried Pangsong lectured a class of neophytes. He remembered what it was like in the human world before he became an Android. His lectures were popular and infamous. He could tell the newly formed neophytes what it was like to be mortal and to live under the onus of death. No one died anymore. As part of his lecture he introduced Volvina Complex and they had sex at the lectern. Human sex was driven by compulsion and obsession. A man adopted the persona of an animal, priding himself on violent domination. For an Android, “play” was more important than penetration. “Survival of the Species” no longer mattered — there was no longer a Species. Professor Pangsong continued his/her lecture by explaining the nature of existence.

“Now, we live in a virtual world,” he exclaimed, “but before this world another place existed and it continues to exist. Everything in time exists as a hologram. The surface of our lives is a very small aspect of the hologram. There are many levels of depth. The life we experience is like a low resolution jpeg. The deeper we go, the higher the resolution.”

At the close of the second world war a man identified himself as Renfield, Dracula’s slave. He was incarcerated and sent to a mental hospital. Renfield believed he was imprisoned in Bedlam. He spent his days-and-nights catching and eating insects that crawled out from the walls in his cell. Renfield constantly mumbled. His words revealed a vision of the future. Renfield was a true prophet.

Dr. Zosimo Kulio always felt he was in the wrong place. He fought against the guiding principles that defined insanity as incurable. He felt compassion for his patients at the hospital. He tried to help Renfield. Sometimes during their obtuse interactions Kulio caught a whiff of the future.

“No one listened when I said there are too many voices in my head. There are too many layers, levels of hell; plateaus of heaven. I have a lover now, but that only adds to the complexity of the situation. Questions bubble to the surface. Answers flicker and fade like ancient Polaroid photos.”

Renfield lay on a dirty mattress. Dracula, his master, kept changing like a silent film revealing different characters. Now, Dracula dripping with blood… now, Hitler goose-stepping through the meat-rack of history. Renfield, drifting and dreaming, steps from one abattoir to another. He delights in a sexual throw-down as commanded by Dracula. He forces himself on a young inmate. The intensity of the rape ignites his prophetic proclivity — his third eye burning he sees the future: the world engulfed in flames. The fires rain down on Renfield. He hears messages from a satellite known as “Black Knight” — it is thirteen thousand years old, circling the planet, waiting for the command to cleanse the Earth.

“California is burning. Jerusalem is burning. I am helpless in the face of the oncoming tsunami. The face of old age haunts me. I can feel my life draining away like blood from a severed vein.”

Sam Bolt couldn’t take it anymore. He was fed up. He wasn’t alone. Lots of men felt like him — he saw it on the internet. Men were screwed. White men were screwed. There was a time he could do whatever he wanted. Now, other people were getting in his way. They were taking what rightfully belonged to him. Sam’s only hope was the new deal-maker President. Sam thought a tough guy in power might make things easier but if nothing improved he always had his gun.

Renfield was forced to do his master’s bidding.

Talking heads dominated the Virtual Worlds. Conflicts fumed. Headless horsemen roamed the land. There was talk of collusion. The public was subdued and ensnared by fake-news.

“Mr. Gorbachev take down this wall,” jumped off the screen as people scrambled to steal a piece of history.

“Follow the money,” rumbled across the internet shaking the foundations of government.

“He is President Pussy Grabber,” was whispered in the backrooms of Congress.

Professor Pangsong was suddenly melancholy as he looked out at the sea of eager neophytes. He was filled with remorse. Something was missing. He sensed a remnant of quality that no longer existed: the essence of humanity. The hologram of existence had calcified. It was no longer possible to feel the pain and joy of being mortal — it was no longer possible to die.

State of Affairs

Manfred Bancourt wrote short stories that got him in trouble. He was a manic typist on an old, IBM Selectric, pre-digital relic. Manfred produced ream after ream of young-adult science fiction, but his stories took a more opinionated twist with the election of the new president. He began to write articles critical of the new regime. They were uploaded to the internet and widely circulated, often going viral.

Elisa Trinity helped Manfred. She was a computer wiz, multi-cultural Transsexual who claimed to be from the planet Saturn. Elisa had a vivid imagination. She also had some rock solid, formidable computer skills. Elisa wanted to draw attention to Manfred’s stories and articles. She didn’t mean to get him in trouble.

Elisa used trolls and bots. She liked to play tricks. She started the “Harem” story that nearly brought down the government. She rationalized, “one dirty trick deserves another… they started it with Pizza-gate.” Elisa finished it with Harem-gate, Frump’s secret depository of women stashed in the basement of the White House. It went viral and caused great consternation in the halls of Congress. The unanticipated result was higher favorable ratings for President Frump, especially among men. Elisa was heart broken and that’s when she decided to promote Manfred’s articles that were both honest and damaging to the Frump Administration.

Tweets and articles, both true and false, led to a series of damaging rumors mostly aimed at Trump and his appointed allies: “Trump is an illegal alien from Mars,” “the president is the Manchurian Candidate,” “Trump is the head of an illegal cartel.” The flurry exploded into derisive combat. Supporters of the administration hit hard with their own liturgy of insults and rumors. Everyone blamed Manfred Bancourt. His articles were the fuel that ignited Civil Disobedience and the Season of Political Discontent.

“The weather isn’t helping,” Orlow Fabricatum observed as he talked with Elisa Trinity.

“Natural disasters are worse than ever,” Elisa replied, “it’s draconian. It’s apocalyptic. Global warming has been dismissed as fake news.”

“Yes,” Orlow sagely responded, “and biblical prophesy, god’s will, is blamed for the devastation.”

The island of Puerto Rico continued to sink into the ocean.

Parts of Houston were still under water.

Axel Ramirez was no longer cognizant. He was caught in the flood of circumstances. He continued to follow the suggestions of Harvey, his alcoholic beverage. He refused to forsake Harvey and that put Axel in a precarious situation as he sank beneath the waves.

Another rumor became viral based on an article by Bancourt… “Trump signed a contract with the devil.”

Twitter exploded, “Trump is in league with Lucifer.” “Trumpism is a satanic cult that rules the world.”

The president was extremely upset. His early morning twitters were no longer having an effect against the avalanche of counter-intelligence and breaking-news (no one could tell fake from real).

Something had to be done. It was concluded that Manfred Bancourt was the culprit who began the scurrilous landslide of articles that were damaging to the president. A presidential decree was signed releasing the Hounds-of-Hell to hunt down and terminate Manfred.

Elisa Trinity became increasingly distraught. She blamed herself for Manfred’s predicament. She consulted doctor Zosimo Kulio, eminent mentalist. He was sympathetic to the quest for truth. His advice was cryptic, “look no further than what your eyes can see. Follow the path like the flow of water in a stream.”

Manfred became more upset everyday. He was bothered by ordinary experiences. He heard voices and constant yelling. Advertising attacked him on the street and in his home. The news was incessant. The country was choking in smog. He listened to a report on the radio about the chicken of tomorrow. It was from the past about using antibiotics to make bigger chickens. Chickens grew to enormous size.

Bancourt never made money from the books he published. He did better as a journalist. He’d been upset by the cruel rhetoric and lack of compassion spewing from the White House. He became compelled to counter the lies. His friend’s life was threatened… Elisa Trinity was a Transsexual. The current administration was cracking down on LGBT People and every other minority.

Manfred’s days were numbered. The Hounds of Hell were targeting his soul. Trinity tried to protect him, but she was easily put down and labeled a wanton whore. Hannity and others verbally crushed the queers who refused to bow down and humble themselves. Independent women were another target. Free speech was becoming Alt Speech.

Manfred stood alone against the ferocious beasts. Dr. Zosimo retreated into his cavern of silence.

Mr. Death walked into the room smoking a cheroot. Death was always smiling. In any other circumstance Mr. Death could have been a good natured friend, a drinking buddy, or someone who listens as you unload your problems. Unfortunately, Mr. Death never exposed that side of himself. He was a workaholic who dispatched his assignments quickly and efficiently without chit-chat or comradery. Still, Mr. Death was deeply aware that something was missing, some part of Death was suffering from abject neglect. He hid all this from himself; but a spark ignited when Death looked into Manfred’s eyes. Mr. Death saw Manfred Bancourt’s life, every moment… and understanding began to dawn. Mr. Death found a friend.

Instead of eliminating Manfred from the world of the living, Death decided to change the rules. He would not take Manfred to his grave; instead he would hide him.

Manfred Bancourt was taken to the Land of the Dying Sun where he would continue to write articles and distribute them… He would continue to expose the truth.

Satan’s Spark

“I met Michael Robinet one year before the onset of the global Crisis. It was the best year of my life. It was the only year worth remembering. The Crisis destroyed everything else. I thought love dried up years ago like a desiccated corpse. At my age something as precious as love seemed impossible. I’m seventy-five, active and healthy; but still seventy-five. Mike is sixty, a relative juvenile compared to me. He is athletic and very beautiful. I am not! He is also good natured and protective; but no one could protect any of us from the Crisis. I am Doctor Lydia Thornwall and I am responsible… responsible for everything!”

Lydia Thornwall was a neuroscientist. She was studying the effects of aging on the brain, especially as it related to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The work was very intense and she needed a break so she took a Virtual Trip to the Retro Club where she could get a jolt of brain-boost.

The Club was a neon amusement park. It brought back memories of a wild period when she explored the parameters of sex and drugs. At the time she told herself it was an analytical investigation, but with age she knew she was just having fun. Now, she was the oldest person in the Club. She still reveled in the culture of youth. She could flip back in time and experience the thrills of abandonment to prurient desires. Her recent discovery of a new brain-gene could wait awhile longer. She needed to experience a wave of ecstasy. She met Michael at the roundabout on the second floor.

The night poured into Lydia like a flood of Lysergic Acid. The walls melted and she awoke cradled in the arms of Michael Robinet. Love burrowed into her psyche like a velvet hummingbird probing a Venus Flytrap. That night, Lydia felt a fortress of solitude crumbling from within. The Venus Flytrap was deflowered and Lydia broke free from the prison of time. From that moment, Lydia was bound to Michael.

She returned to her laboratory on clouds of scented bouquets. She also had an added gift: the solution to the diseases of old-age, a way to activate the new brain-gene.

The political debate proceeded in the pavilion at Onstate University not far from the hospital lab where Lydia Thornwall worked on her new formula. Politics went viral on the internet like thousands of newly engineered viruses. Video Screens exploded with profanity. No one was certain if the back-alley talk was due to a viral infection or due to political maneuvering. Lydia lost interest, but she couldn’t avoid the talk. Computers were always on. There were whispered innuendos about spies —  no one felt safe. There were accidents set off by exploding phones adding to the paranoia. Discord was everywhere.

Lydia hid beneath her desk trying to work on the new formula. She longed for Michael to help her through the current crisis. The man on TV yelled at Lydia and called her an ugly, old whore. She bit her lip determined to complete the formula. The TV man was somehow connected to the numbers. She wondered if he had access to her information. A loud speaker shook the room with a reminder for Dr. Lydia Thornwall. Her next client arrived and was waiting in the Green Room.

He said his name was Satan and he wanted to make a deal. Lydia didn’t believe in the supernatural or in religious dogma, besides deals with Satan always ended badly. The man was likely suffering from late onset Schizophrenia. He babbled like a politician.

Heads were spinning. The election was a battleground fought over oil rights, military might, and locker room etiquette. Surrogates gushed with praise for their powerful bosses, condoning everything that dripped like grease from the mouths of their leaders. Clandestine contracts were signed in corporate backrooms, souls were bartered and sold. Money greased the wheels of political power.

It meant nothing to Lydia. She was a devoted scientist trying to make the world a better place. “Help the children,” she whispered, “help the old and frail.”

She signed a contract with Michael on the night of her deflowering. The rain fell like quicksilver from a cobalt sky. It was magical; but, unfortunately, it was caused by global warming. Lydia sighed and pursued her work. She dismissed Satan who seemed to devolve into a curious Bonobo Chimpanzee sitting in the corner of her lab.

“Curious,” she thought, “the way things change.” It was, indeed, very odd. Reality appeared to shift and warp. Layers of perception were superimposed over one another like virtual dreams, worlds within worlds.

As she worked, she pondered recent discoveries in Quantum Physics. They found the “God Particle” as hypothesized over fifty years ago. They smashed atoms to find the particle. It was a major discovery.

Dr. Thornwall was also looking for a particle, part of the human genome. She knew the brain-gene existed and now she needed to expose it. If her calculations were correct the gene she sought would cure the disease of old age and unlock the potential for immortality.

The politician was having a bad day. He never should have signed the contract. His wishes were all granted: money, power, women and sex; everything – he was a major celebrity… but, he realized too late, there is always a price to pay.

Hatecore music was yelling over the loud speakers and there were riots in the streets. Storm troopers marched through the city wearing orange berets and yelling obscenities against women. A new day was dawning. Politics were blamed for the ensuing violence; but political enmity was only one factor. Dr. Lydia Thornwall was successful. She exposed the brain-gene and there were unexpected consequences: once exposed, the gene became dominant. It was more than Dr. Thornwall anticipated; not a cure, but a disease: a link to psychosis that came to be known as Satan’s Spark. The Spark went viral.

Lydia had a room in the psychiatric ward at Resurrection Hospital. She suffered a nervous breakdown brought on by exhaustion. No information was known about Lydia — one night she just turned up at the emergency room. No one knew where she came from or what she did. Michael Robinet worked as an orderly and he was very kind to Lydia. Michael was a guardian angel.

the Infection

“I’m infected,” Alan Beebek told his post-op girlfriend.

“You’re just crazy,” Sabrina Cataract relished in humiliating Alan. It was virtually salient… and better than sex. Most people experimented with some form of sadomasochism as proscribed by the new ethic that flowed from the Throne of Power.

Alan had trouble concentrating due to self-imposed dementia. It was his defense against roving spy-eyes and news-cam attacks.

Sabrina was devastating in her candy-striper uniform with dildo attachments. She pouted and whip-lashed Alan with her viper tongue, “Alan… you just a selfish prick. No one and nothing matters but your need to blubber. What about my needs as an autodidact. You think these enhancements, that you love so much, are free? Stop your whining and make some money for momma!”

The world flashed and Alan slipped into a petit-mal seizure triggered by rising levels of sulfuric acid in the atmosphere.

He knew he was infected. Trolls wearing red diapers nailed him to a cross and called him, Kike. Men wrapped in white pillow cases stomped on his grave. Sabrina enjoyed the spectacle. It was sexually satisfying between episodes of “The next top model” and “America’s got talent.”

Alan Beebek saw himself on a thousand computer screens. The mirror never lies. He stared at an old man wrapped in age-spots and covered in wrinkles. He was a death camp survivor hauled off to be buried alive by storm troopers wearing orange wigs.

“It’s simple,” doctor Zosimo Kulio explained, “the computer in your head blew a fuse. Nano-bytes slipped through the black hole and took control.” Alan knew it was true.

Chain smokers in black government-approved suits set off a chain-reaction of improbable events that started in a Moscow hotel-room. The men in black hacked reality. A surge of microwave transmissions, residual resonance, was an unintended consequence.

Even through the mask of self-imposed dementia, Alan formulated the truth. It was a hard scrabble truth that started with the writer, Octavia Butler. In 2006 she fell and struck her head. The fall prompted her death. She was only fifty-eight years old. The incident triggered several events that led to government subversion and a flashback-relay of the “Manchurian Candidate” starring Angela Lansbury. Of course, all this took place in Alan’s fevered brain. Alan simmered with several obsessions like the myth of Cthulhu (a creature created by H P Lovecraft). Cthulhu was a harbinger of invasion and infection.

He hated going to the dentist. Cthulhu was always present. The office gleamed under florescent beams: walls of white with chrome attachments. The dentist, Cthulhu, stuck power tools and cutting implements into Alan’s mouth while he argued with the dental hygienist. They argued about the discovery of life on Enceladus. The dental hygienist was a pretty lady with a huge, open mouth ready to devour the universe. They argued about the impact of an alien invasion on planet Earth. They closed shop once the new Throne was elected. it was worse than they imagined.

Elevator music never stopped. It spread to malls, Wallmarts, and torture chambers. Sometimes a real song broke through the nerve gas that was meant to subdue the masses. “Stormy Weather” sung by Etta James shot fear into the hearts of the power brokers and oil magnates. Someone had to shut down the damn music. New rules were hurriedly tweeted and instituted, “Music. Bad. Stop the invading armies of fake music-makers.” Laws were passed. The infection reared up on Cthulhu-tentacles and drove spikes into Alan Beebek’s head.

He couldn’t forget. Self-imposed dementia no longer worked. The infection started in his ear and burrowed deep into his brain.

Sabrina Cataract sat in a chair and murmured dirty words to an ailing Alan. She sucked on a Marlboro. The room was shrouded in a fog of nicotine. Alan coughed. It was humiliating. Sabrina instructed him on an old Indian cure for infections. She watched, barely containing her laughter, as Alan followed her orders. The cure was urine. Alan was supposed to pee in his ear to stop the infection. Alan knew it was a ruse, one of Sabrina’s games; but he peed anyway.

A golden light broke through the nicotine haze. Sabrina was dismayed. It was never meant to work; but she couldn’t deny her senses: something was happening, something miraculous.

(to be continued)