Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Gods Playing Poker: Stranger in Camp

*Continued from Gods Playing Poker: Pinched With Four Aces

East pulls the CruTector over to a vacant curb, blocked off by two very retro orange cones, and activates a rooftop flash n' park light. A couple of sanitation goons busy looking busy give him some lip.

Silver nods and waves. "Give us five minutes, boys." He and East cross over to a wiener vendor.

"Two with everything, eh?" Silver leans against an embankment while drawing his small-round. A sani-plant snakes out a tendril, brushes Silver's treated paper slacks for lint and withdraws into the bushes.

"Put that shoot-6 back in your pants, Johnny Holmes."

"That's a shoot-foot-and-a-half to you, limpy. Just checking settings. Might want to trade up for this gig." Silver holsters the small-round in his shoulder snap and collects his loaded dogs from East.

"You buy the next lunch," says East through a mouthful of green seaweed chips.

"Shit, no, you always want steak and beer. Go fuck yourself." A dribble of ketchup oozes out of the wrapper and hangs there for a split-second before landing on Silver's undulating tie. "Oh, asshole." The pattern adjusts immediately, but can't conform to the glob of organics before the shift-nanites power down. "Great. Now it's just beige. With condiments."

"Told you that programmable wear is a waste of money. And it's first generation? Should always wait for gen two, man. You always gotta have the latest."

Silver pulls off the ruined tie and chucks it in the bushes where there's a rustling scramble of vines to claim it. "Yeah, yeah. There's a MetroSquire across the plaza. I'm gonna go get another."

"I ain't waiting for a tie. Catch the Public. There's a stop on the other side of the mall." East jams half a hot dog into his maw and chews slowly. It's a good dog.

Silver grunts and runs the Public Magrail through his head. The Red Line runs the length of Meridian Avenue and connects to the precinct at a nearby hub. And he can get home via the Fuschia Mag. No biggie.

"If that's the way it's gotta be." Silver wads up lunch's microwax wrapper and tosses it in the midst of some newpigeons that tear into it in a flurry of feathers.

"You want me to take that prism to evidence?"

"Nah, I'm gonna pawn it for magfare."

East smirks and drives off, leaving Silver to cross the windswept pressed-brick patio on his way to the clothing store. Leaky piles of slush trickle into the cracks. Inside, a middle-aged woman directs him to a gyro-rack where he stands for awhile, admiring the selection of neckties. They're under lock and key, being the newest gadgetry from South Texas: The new Taiwan. That's when he sees it.

A mirror on the rack. Behind him, another mirror on a nude-room door, slightly askew. Across the lobby by the checkout counter is a sunglasses display; a sun-glint sheen refracting light like a rainbow. Silver reaches out and stops the tie rack; looks into the mirrors. One mirror reflecting another, round and round in an infinite, multicolored pattern. Depending on the angle of the rack, the colored rays shoot off in every direction until he can't begin to follow them, or seem to converge on a single white spot. He thumbs the crucifix prism in his pocket, then pulls it out and adds it to the light show.

"Shit." The proverbial hee-lee bulb.

He pulls out his PDP, logic process outracing his voice. "Hardware store." He waits for the directions to screen up, but doesn't call East. Not yet. Silver wants to make sure of something before East decides that his partner is gonzo.

***



***

It's not the first time Silver's dug into his own pocket for cab fare, but he really wants to keep this line of investigation under wraps for the moment, and moving any amount of merchandise around on the magrails is always a pain in the ass. He gets to the building, flashes his badge, and the desk clerk buzzes him into the 10th-floor room with his cart full of junk. Once inside, Silver stashes the junk - mirrors, lenses, brackets - in the vexoleum-tiled kitchenette and starts... doing stuff.

He operates on impulse, the crazy residual vibe from the trance of mirrors. Silver soon finds himself hemmed in, sweaty. Unable to control his breath, he unloads his pockets onto a counter - his PDP, a flavor helix, the crystal prism. He removes his coat and collared shirt; kicks off his shoes. He's burning up, even though it's mid-March and the damp Midwestern winter seems slow to let spring do its magic.

Sitting on a stool at the end of the kitchenette, Silver nudges the crystal lying on the counter top. He toys with it. Spinning it, fondling it, picking it up, dropping it. The vibe subsiding, his thoughts begin to roam.

The day's been a dreary one, but the room's not too bad. It's got an outside window and, for a moment, the sky clears and some sunlight streams through dirty panes. A beam hits the crystal. Silver feels the sensation of movement, just enough, and he's up working with a purpose; doesn't dare to stop to think about what he's doing, because...he hasn't the first idea.

His pulls up Emily Hyra's assault on his PDP and props the device on a hard surface, projecting the scene onto a dark wall. From a bag he retrieves several small mirrors and some BeylarTM mounting brackets. He walks around the room for minutes, finally setting the equipment down in failure. He moves into the corner where Hyra was brutally raped and essentially murdered, trying to gather a lucrative thought.

Nothing.

He can nearly hear East mumbling "Jury's hung." Stymied, he slides down a wall. What the Hell would East be thinking right now, seeing his partner barefoot and bare-chested, slouched in a corner at a crime scene. "Yeah, Steve-o. I'm crazy, alright."

Without realizing it, Silver finds himself standing with the crystal prism in his outstretched palm. Diffused light plays off its facets, and something reveals itself. Shapes on the edge of existence, voices looking in, blurs that expand and coalesce. There's a push, a blow, and Silver falls out of the corner.

"What the fuck?" The contact leaves a searing pain down his left side, but his senses peal with elation, deep into his... soul? Silver is an atheist; that doesn't mean much to him. Whatever just happened, it motivates.

For the next hour Silver careens through his task, positioning mirrors, reviewing footage, trying to reflect scant bouncing light into a single beam. He can't do it. Something in the mechanics just isn't right, or his thinking is fuzzy. He constantly makes adjustments that he's already made. Starting over, maybe. He's close. It's in the light.

***

Sunrise creeps through the window. Silver's yet to sleep. He's waiting for the beams to hit just the right spot, confident that he's finally mimicked the pattern from the image feed. An empty smile across his face, he waits. The light creeps closer to the prism mounted on a gobo stand, positioned at just the height of Hyra's breasts.

And it hits. His empty smile is about to fill...

Something hits him. Doubles him over. He's thrown onto his knees and lurches forward. He scrambles at the corner, but an invisible weight tosses him like candy wrappers, plural, and he's screaming and tearing at the floorboards while being pummeled by nothing at all. There's a tear across his back, bloody. He hears his trousers rip. There's a scream - he's not sure it's his own. Penetration. He's pushed down onto the floor, his buttocks rapidly and eagerly percussed.

But there's no pain. There's no fear. A rapturous sensation invades fully into his being, and though he visualizes his body brutally ravaged by a shadowy figure, there's no sensation of assault. Only... pleasure. Pure pleasure.

The door slides open. The bliss dissipates, immediately replaced by abject pain. East storms in, gun drawn and leveled, screaming chaotically at an invisible assailant.

***

*Continued in Gods Playing Poker: Sitting Up With a Sick Friend


The Complete Gods Playing Poker

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