Saturday, November 3, 2007

When I Was Twelve, I Killed Twenty-Four People

When I was twelve I killed twenty-four people, and my dad was so angry that he cut my pocket money off for a full calendar year.
I didn't actually kill them. I just let them die. They weren't real people, just tourists, and what do we care what happens to tourists?
I was walking home from school when I heard the emergency alert system kick in, and, by the time I got to the fall field, it was bellowing like the Voice of God, just like in one of those old starship movies in which the vessel is doomed, the self-destructs have begun their countdown, and everyone has only x minutes (and not many minutes!) to evacuate or die.
The alarm system was, to my way of thinking, sending a very clear message:

"LEAVE OR DIE! LEAVE NOW OR DIE IMMEDIATELY! THIS IS AN EMERGENCY ALERT. THIS AREA IS SCHEDULED FOR PROMPT AN D IRREVOCABLE DESTRUCTION. ANYONE STILL IN THIS AREA FIVE MINUTES FROM NOW WILL BE DEAD."
Well, were the loop heads doing what they were being told to do? No, they were busy taking pictures and shooting video.
I walked up to the nearest, a guy in a boardroom suit that even I could tell was expensive. I didn't fuck around. I told him straight.
"Hey, mister, get the fuck out of here! It's almost ToppleFall. You're standing right in the splash zone."
"It's only water."
"It's fucking water with whales in it, moron! That wraith ship there is right down at the bottom of the water, and when the shield fails, which it's about to do, that water will come at you like elephant's feet. With the full fucking weight of the elephant behind it. Got that?"
He evidently didn't, so I grabbed him by the wrist and tried to see if I could physically drag him away. I couldn't.
He gave me a shove which sent me sprawling.
"Get lost, kid," he said.
Then the fucker pulled out a Taser and Tazed me. I kid you not. My first time ever. Then, while I was kicking around like an electrocuted fish, he kicked me in the balls.
Okay, bastard. Die!
I got up on the retaining wall then scuttled into Bunker Seven, from where I started taking pics and video with my cell. I figured (correctly) that the visidata would be worth big money in the open market.
When ToppleFall came, Bunker Seven filled up with water, and there were some anxious moments when I didn't know if I would get out of there alive.

I'd seen video of ToppleFall about a billion times, of course, but being right in the middle of it was something else again. Imagine it was raining tidal waves ... that's what it was like.
When I got out of the Bunker, most of the tourists were flat in the splash zone, not moving. I realized they had come by bus, a whole busload of them.
The bus was one owned by Ogort Transport. And those Ogorts ... well, we've been feuding with them for seventeen generations now, so my next move was pretty obvious.
In my pockets I had everything I needed to destroy the bus. A lighter with jade inlay along each side. An old hanky which could be soaked in fuel and set alight. And, in my lower left pocket, some oxygen tubing that the nurse had given me after LabMaster Crowe amused me by sending me to the clinic, my mission being to bring back some fallopian tubes.
The tubes, I thought, would allow me to siphon fuel out of the tank so I could get down to work.
My surmise was right, and, a few minutes later, the bus was burning merrily. A little further down the track, when the police systematically interrogated all the kids, little Joad Ogort confessed to having been the arsonist, and got sent to reform school, where he was eventually killed, chopped up into a billion pieces by a rogue AI crop harvester during the Machine Revolt of 227.

Anyway, 14 years down the track, here we were again. Emergency squawkers bellowing for everyone to leave, and a bunch of tourists doing a big a "me mutant idiot" act right in the fall zone, with ToppleFall almost upon us.
I didn't waste my time trying to reason with them. Tourists are just trash people, really, cruising our planet so they can try their hand at corpse rot drugs, satanic orgies and pedophilia. Fuck them, then.
I set off for Bunker Twenty-Seven, the new one built along lighthouse lines. Got right up to the top then started catching juicy visuals using my Squalba, the elite cellphone which is the one that all the technically clued-up photo journalists use.
It has a great telephoto zoom and, when I zeroed in, I found myself looking directly at a guy who seemed to be taking advantage of the situation to rape someone who was not his wife.
His daughter, if I was any guess. She looked to be about seven.
I filmed the ToppleFall event itself, which was everything you could have hoped for. The witless tourist vermin, you could see their bodies being exploded upwards into the sky as the cataclysm of water rebounded.
Knowing that the real human interest pictures would need to be taken from closer to hand, I walked out into the impact zone. Despite the heavily engineered drainage, in a couple of spots I was up to my waist in water.
Still, the pics were there.
One middle-aged woman had been grotesquely impaled on the sword of a huge sword fish. Exploding from the depths, it must have come hurtling from her as if just launched from a war catapult.
She was in immense agony, and the civilized thing to do would have been to surcease her, but our law does not permit such charity.
If there had been none of her fellow tourists around then I would have used my knife and would have quickly put her out of her misery, but, as it was, I left her there, writhing and moaning.
A little further on, I met a very pretty girl who I took to be a trophy wife. She was with an older man, who was going into convulsions. Scanning the area, I saw the distinctive blue body of one of the lethal jellyfish which inhabit the upper waters of the ocean in which our local Wraith Ship is drowned.
Their sting is always fatal; the death they cause is agonizing; and, because such stings are rare, on our planet we have no stocks of the antidote.
"Help him!" said the presumed trophy wife, observing me observing him.
"Sorry, he's beyond help."
"Nonsense! You folk must have a way of dealing with this."
There it was, straight out of Senior High School Anthropology 2001, the so-called folklore premise. The naïve outsider assumes that the locals, the ethnics, are masters of their world, and have folkloric recipes to draw on from their rich oral tradition.
But, in my family, oral tradition does not go much beyond gnomic sayings such as "Don't mix your drinks!" and "A second marriage is a triumph of optimism over experience."
We certainly don't have magic fixes to fix the unfixable, and I told her this. She then started to get abusive, so I told her to fuck off.
"Fuck off, you overpaid cunt. Take your fuck hole back to the fuck shop and find a big dog to bugger you. Got that, bitch? Now piss off before
I start cutting your tits off for fish bait."
For Anthro 2001 I wrote quite a long and involved paper on the phallocentric society and rape, and my diligent research was paying off now. Miss Trophy Wife started to get shrill, so I gave her a shove, which sent her sliding down so she landed with her backside in the sea slop.
"Good bye, coke whore," I said.
Then headed uphill for the holding tanks, because I saw that the dog catcher had hoisted the "new cargo" banner, which was flying from the flagpole to tell me that it was feeding time once again.
When I got to the holding tanks, well, bugger me, the surviving tourists had gathered, and were picketing the place, holding signs saying SAVE OUR DOGS! WE LOVE DOGGIES, POOR PUPPY!!! PUPPY IS SAD.
Some of them had gone so far as to dress up as furry dogs of one sort or another.
"Get the hell out of here!" I said. "This is private property, you're trespassing, and we have a court order which outlaws demonstrations in this place."
In response they started doing some kind of bullshit free speech chant, so I was tempted to yank out my Taser and go for them. But, while the Taser is a wonderful device, nobody has yet succeeded in using it to stage a Taser massacre.
I decided the best thing was to push ahead with my job, so I walked to the throw switch and activated the first catapult. The dog catcher always put the puppies in that, and half a dozen of them splashed into the water.
"They're puppies! said a man in tones of moral outrage.
Looking down into the waters of the holding tanks, I saw the muscular surge of a Great White rising.
"You raped your daughter," I said.
Because this was the guy, I was sure of it.
"Why not?" he said, blandly. "I've only got six months to live."
With both hands, I gave him an almighty shove, and he went flying backwards and fell sploosh! into the water.
"Rather less than that, I think," I said, hoisting my cell and activating the video recorder.
My timing was perfect. I caught the moment when the surge of the Great White hoisted him into the air, his left leg into the monster's mouth all the way from ankle to upper thigh.
Then the monstrous jaw closed and that was it, goodbye leg, and a moment later he realized as much, and he gave a bubbling cry, and a little puppy dog started licking his face. Focusing in on that, I was disgusted to see - I mean, really disgusted, this really creeped me out - the guy licking right back.
Then one of the women lost her footing and fell into the tank, and suddenly some of the male tourists started hauling out handguns and firing into the water, trying to shoot dead the sharks.
I filmed them. We have really strict gun laws here. These morons would end up going to jail. And would stay there for a long, long time.
I then went home and phoned my lawyer, who told me, yes, my surmise was correct: if the guy I had sharked had really raped a kid, then I would get away with wetworking him under the terms of the Citizen Vigilance Act recently enacted by the Senate under pressure from Senator Dillinger.
Basically, it's a charter for vigilantes, placing lynch law right at the heart of our legal system. My lawyer said he would be on his way in a few minutes with a private investigator and with a couple of senior cops who were his good buddies, and he was reasonably sure that he would have a judge's okay on my actions by midnight, or maybe even earlier.

2 Comments:

Blogger Seamus said...

I liked it, but I still preferred the Chronicles series - Hugh, I'm sorry to hear of your health problems'

I've reread your books many times over the years and I rate you as NZ's finest author. Naturally you're not one of the self-congratulatory back patting set, so I wanted to thank you now I've found your site.

The series was a masterpiece of simultaneous action and motivation/viewpoint switching - I just wish you'd been supported to finish the series.

February 6, 2008 at 4:23 AM  
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