Allison Fornay was a slim, more attractive version of herself. She used to weigh four-hundred pounds and she was unable to move off her bed. She had a caretaker and received a living wage from disability insurance. She subsidized her income by letting news-cams into her bedroom to expose her obesity on national VR.
Everything changed when Allison met Fonderoy Thomas. He was a lifestyle guru who owned a virtual reality network. Fonderoy heard about Allison from a fake-news outlet. He wanted to help.
At this time, everyone had a Neural Net that covered the cerebellum. The net increased intelligence and enabled instant communication. Every Neural Net was stamped with an expiration code and date. The code was unique and worked like an old fashioned cell-phone number. Fonderoy connected with Allison.
“I love you, Allison,” Fonderoy gushed, “with love you can do anything!”
“Who the hell are you?” Allison replied. She didn’t know because she never tuned into the Guru channel.
After a stimulating conversation Allison submitted to Fonderoy’s life changing regimen. She submitted to mental massage and invasive chemical therapy.
Fonderoy seeded Allison’s brain with Neuro-linguistic cues and Virtual Reality Instagrams.
Allison was fucked; but, she did lose the excess weight. The process opened a Pandora’s Box. In the end Allison had no idea who she was or what she wanted.
Guru Thomas called upon Shambala, Bannon, and Mumbo-jumbo to steer Allison in the right direction. The process was trial-and-error. Allison slipped from one lifestyle to another, trying-on personalities that were injected into her brain.
She remembered munching on fruit, sitting in a Banyan Tree. She felt pleasantly stoned living like an ape. She lurched into another memory of rampaging male energy that comes with being a teenage boy. The ride continued as she became a drug addicted super model. She slammed into a tsunami of facts-and-figures as a highly regarded astrophysicist. Allison was a banker and real-estate mogul. She saw herself as a wife and mother. The experiences were overwhelming and she shattered like a glass vase.
Guru Thomas flipped through his commodified fact-sheets and randomly picked a code to permanently insert into Allison’s Neural Net.
Detective Allison Fornay was called whenever a case turned into a sticky wicket. Music swelled as she stared down at the body of a man who was vaguely familiar. The music was out of place and Allison wondered why there was music at the scene of the crime. The crime was ordinary… the music was not. The dead man was a TV personality known for his bombastic rhetoric. The man was in his seventies and he looked as if he was in terrible anguish at the time of his demise. Allison donned the obligatory rubber gloves and did the appropriate touching on the dead man’s body. She already surmised he died of a heart attack brought on by too much stress, but she had to be professional. The body would be left for the coroner who would confirm the detective’s conclusion. So much for the dead man, but the music was the real mystery. Did the other officers hear it or was she the only one? The music was vaguely familiar like the soundtrack from a TV show. It was bright and tinkly like game show music. Did the music have something to do with the corpse? “Perhaps,” Fornay whispered to herself, “I need to reassess the situation. If the man on the floor was not a victim of foul play; then who was the victim and why the sticky wicket?”
The music was counting down. A memory suddenly lurched into Allison Fornay’s brain — the memory of a man who wielded great power. He was guru Fonderoy Thomas and he infected her mind.
When lurch comes to shove, Allison was very good at hiding the facts of the murder. She concealed it from herself. The guru with his empire of zombie followers deserved to die. He tinkered with people’s souls. His pop psychology was an excuse to rewire brains and perform sadistic experiments. She smiled as the music continued to count down. Allison knew what to expect, what the music meant. The guru inserted a unique code and date in her Neural Net… and she was about to expire.
Rabbit had a vicious smile and a spine-tingling laugh. When he wasn’t laughing or smiling he appeared mild and sweet. If you met Rabbit on the street you might think he was a common pet until he smiled and then you’d know he was a serial killer. You might not live to tell the tale.
Rabbit escaped from a movie about furry animals and talking toys. He never liked playing by the rules — never liked rules of any sort. He was a bad ass Rabbit who got off on robbing banks and killing hostages. No one expected a rabbit in a bank, least of all, a rabbit who was a bank robber. People compared him to Billy-the-Kid, but Rabbit never liked comparisons — he was one of a kind.
There are videos of Rabbit on You-Tube: Rabbit with a sawed-off shot gun shooting civilians in a bank like ducks in a penny arcade; Rabbit smiling viciously, lips pulled back revealing large, gleaming canines. Rabbit liked taking selfies with his phone and posting them on Facebook. He also uploaded videos taken with his web-cam showing a more down to earth, everyday rabbit (he wanted to be recognized by the world as a real person): getting drunk, smoking pot, screwing a local hooker, and watching television. Some of the videos show another side of Rabbit — someone with a philosophical bent who might lecture for hours on the meaning of Modern Art or the importance of Conceptualism. A few videos show Rabbit in a depressed, maudlin state, crying like a baby, bemoaning the state of the world; then, snapping out of it with a vicious laugh and the blast of a submachine gun. You have to ask if it was all a joke or some sort of performance layered with hidden meaning. He didn’t really care about fame or the money he stole… he just wanted to be bad and make the world take notice. The photos and videos were proof he existed.
Rabbit became very popular in spite of himself. He was another You-Tube wonder. People couldn’t get enough of his bad ass antics. He became a celebrity. He was invited to do the talk show circuit. Publishers were after him to write a book on any topic no matter how irrelevant — his name on the cover was all that mattered. Galleries were after Rabbit to exhibit bits and pieces from his life: doodles on napkins, bloodstained clothes, dirty underwear — anything with a Rabbit signature. At the same time, the body count continued to mount. Rabbit enjoyed killing. He enjoyed maiming and dismembering. He was becoming an aficionado of suffering. He documented the torment he inflicted on innocent bystanders. The public was fascinated. No one complained. Rabbit was an addictive, new form of entertainment that appealed to the masses. The police were reluctant to interfere. They feared a riot if Rabbit was ever arrested — they also enjoyed the entertainment value, watching rather than being part of the violence.
Companies paid exorbitant fees to use Rabbit’s image on all sorts of products from candy to home-security. At first his new found fame didn’t matter. Rabbit went about the business of maiming, robbing, and killing for fun. The change slowly began as his fame and fortune grew. In the beginning Rabbit was on his own, binging on malice and menace. In time, Rabbit felt the pressure to entertain a demanding public. Nielson kept track and Rabbit’s ratings were beginning to dip. He had to increase the level of violence. The Late Show massacre was the last time Rabbit had a ratings up-tick. Rabbit was covered in blood and gore, but the thrill was gone. The pressure to satisfy a famished public took the fun out of indiscriminate murder. Mayhem lost all appeal once it was sanctioned and promoted.
Rabbit withdrew from public appearances. He became a shut-in. He stopped posting photos and videos. He no longer updated his blog. He lost interest in committing violent crime. Rabbit became morose. His eyes were forever red with tears. He would have drifted away until there was nothing left if it wasn’t for his agitated fans. The people spoke and they wanted Rabbit back. The masses missed the thrill of virtual mayhem, the kind of comfortable violence that only Rabbit could achieve with a gun and butcher knife. The police were implored to locate Rabbit, arrest him and force him to make a televised appearance. Everyone wanted something from Rabbit: they wanted to blame him; they wanted to praise him; they wanted an admission of guilt along with an act of unspeakable violence. Rabbit only wanted redemption. In the grips of his agoraphobia Rabbit began to meditate. It soothed his soul and mollified his bad ass attitude.
Rabbit was forced out of his self imposed retirement — meditation helped in his transition. He appeared on the “Hour of Power” show with the famous TV Evangelist. He came to pray — he came to pray for peace. He looked like a furry, white Buddha — he looked like a cuddly pet. The audience booed, even the Reverend looked offended. Everyone expected some sort of action. The Reverend chided Rabbit, trying to pique his interest with Bible stories that glorified god’s wrath. Rabbit was provided with a knife and cudgel, but he was too disheartened to participate. The Reverend took the first shot and the audience swarmed the stage, out for blood. It was the beginning of the Easter Festivities and Rabbit would make a fine feast.
Adamine Krator saw events differently from his jail cell. He was no longer respected. No one came to him for advice. Now, Krator was denigrated, frowned upon and suspected of heinous crimes. The once powerful and admired Inspector was now simply viewed as a common criminal — worse, he was a suspected murderer. He was no longer concerned with painting. Life (undercover) as an artist in order to solve the initial crime no longer made sense. He never considered how much the role would become reality — or how much he would enjoy learning to create art. The jail cell completely changed his perspective. Now, he had more time to focus and consider the bare facts. Adamine had the time to let the pieces of the puzzle fall into place to reveal the pattern and etiology of the initial crime. The process of criminal analysis pleased the erstwhile detective, but he still had to cope with being a prisoner — he had to cope with the recriminations and hostile looks — he had to deal with the “virtuality” of the situation: prison was computerized. While his body was sequestered in a bio-container or cocoon, his mind was locked in a virtual jail cell. It felt real. Adamine was aware of the situation — it was explained to him at the time of his arrest. As an Inspector he was still privy to certain “behind the scenes” information that greased the wheels of modern justice. He knew he might be in virtual hell for a very long time. He was scheduled to be a guest on the Police Kebab Reality Show, broadcast over the Internet. The show often served as Judge and Jury. People who tuned in could vote on the guilt or innocence of the guest prisoner. It was an efficient system bolstered by the number of “hits” the program received adding to the entertainment value of the legal system. “Kebab” was not the only show broadcast from prison. Each jail cell was a separate channel where the incarcerated individual became the center of attention: his-or-her own life exposed or sometimes thrown into a completely different drama that related (however obliquely) to the individual’s unfortunate circumstances. Not everyone knew what was happening and that added to the total entertainment value of the production. Adamine Krator knew exactly what was happening (or so he thought) … he had to come up with a plan … he had to solve the crime before appearing on the Police Kebab Reality Show.
Krator was falling into the screen. Everyone was attached to devices — it was the dawn of a new day. People were implanted and digitized. Everyone was a star: making videos, chatting, and networking. Adamine went undercover as an artist trying to connect the dots to the murder which took place in the art district outside a dilapidated movie-house. People didn’t bother going to movies anymore because all the films they wanted to see played inside their connected heads. Krator took his undercover role seriously and began to live like an artist, even renting a cheap room to use as a painting studio. He enjoyed his foray into making art even though he never had any inclination to be an artist. An odd transformation took place. He started to notice objects and connections he never saw before. Adamine was becoming the artist he was pretending to be. The case became secondary. The body no longer mattered — only the gruesome image of the body remained as an inspiration for Krator’s disturbing paintings. He painted furiously, learning techniques as he created each new painting. His art was filled with bodies torn apart — lives upended and isolated in pools of blood. He knew it was a crime of passion but he didn’t know why … so, instead of investigating, he painted. He discovered how difficult it was to be an artist when no one cared for meaningful work. His paintings were not “beautiful” or decorative — his work only caused people to think and contemplate the mystery of life itself. People bought paintings as investments. Everyone was a consumer. Everyone was a product. Adamine began to suffer as only a truly dedicated fanatic can suffer — totally divorced from the real world and fuming in his own obsessive vision. Bombs exploding in the art district woke him to the gravity of the situation. It all related to the initial, unsolved crime. Bombs were followed by random shootings and other acts of violence against the most innocent and vulnerable. A media circus was quickly erected to take advantage of the unfolding drama — everyone craved entertainment. Even the victims gladly participated on blogs and social media — offering gruesome photos and selling actual artifacts from the crime scenes. Religious fanaticism reached a fevered pitch inflamed by scandals in the Catholic Church and demagoguery in the Koran, Bible, and other religious documents — it was all part of the growing entertainment-circus fueled by the need to make life more dramatic. People were totally connected and totally bored — pressure built to produce more intense (violent) incidents to substitute for human interaction in a virtually dependent world. It all became part of Adamine Krator’s art.
The detective-artist was sequestered for questioning. Adamine was confused. The authorities in his new home began to view him as a prime suspect. He wondered if he was originally hired to be ensnared in a trap: blamed for the crime he was hired to solve. Was he a scapegoat? He was taken to a virtual holding cell where he was a guest on the Police Kebab Reality Show broadcast over the internet. (more to come)
He imagined he was a young boy, but he knew he was an old man. The toaster squawked at him, “Have faith. Don’t let small setbacks destroy the mission.” Talking appliances were very disconcerting — they all seemed to know more than he did — “he” being Adamine Krator, a detective from Red City who was called upon to solve what appeared to be a crime of passion. So far none of the clues made sense. The body was cold. Too much had already been compromised. Investigators pillaged the scene like termites; searching for the illusive link-pin that would put everything in perspective. The problem was that everything reflected back on itself in a recursive loop. Adamine, as usual, held himself responsible. He was a child when he first started to search for clues. He was in a dark theater dreaming about being in the movie that flickered on the screen about a strange machine that had a brain. He remembered being jolted out of his reverie by a disturbance in the audience. It was a feeling that would haunt him for the rest of his life: the feeling that something alien had stepped out of the movie screen to take possession of everyone in the theater. Every case Krator worked on was somehow connected to that dark possession. He never found the source of the infection — it remained a mystery that grew deeper as the detective grew older. Each year that passed was like a death sentence, limiting the time he had left to solve the case. Each year his senses became increasingly numb and he felt debilitated. His mental acumen, once as sharp and shiny as polished silica, began to dull and he no longer made the brilliant deductions he was once famous for. His reputation was beginning to tarnish. Adamine learned to accommodate to the changes he experienced. He learned to act with a professional demeanor and maintain a certain authority — in truth, he was no longer physically fit and no longer mentally quick. He learned to read lips to accommodate the creeping loss of hearing. His slight-of-hand did not always work because he could no longer depend on his memory. He forgot names. Sometimes common words would elude him and he’d stammer. Criminals in Red City took advantage of Krator’s failings and easily escaped the clutches of the erstwhile lawman. Krator felt forced to leave his home in Red City and move across time to another city where his reputation would not be in jeopardy. People were not so astute in his new world. Adamine created a new persona to fit-in with standards of taste and decorum. Officials began to consider him an expert in the field of criminal investigation — they didn’t realize they were seeing a mere shadow of the man who once lived in Red City. The toaster kept yammering at Krator’s back, “You can’t disguise the truth. The truth is toast.” In the movie, a bomb exploded. People scattered like debris in a windstorm. (to be continued)