Guillotina 2

 

Tina smirked with heinous attitude.

Clark continued, “Anyways, do you mind telling me what happened last night?”

“What?  That guy?  One night stand, I guess.  He took my purse, so I went after the bastard.”

“You more than ‘went after him.’  I have seen that kind of fighting before, but only from professionals.”

“I’m not a prostitute.”

“Not that kind of professional,” Clark tried to hold back a laugh.  He changed to a serious tone.  “Where did you learn how to fight?”

Tina hesitated.  “Wait… how long were you there?  I heard police sirens about fifteen minutes out.”

“Well, I saw you slam that guy to the ground after he tried to jump the rooftops.  Impressive, Guillotina.”

Confused, Tina stated, “How did you know…”

“A couple calls came in regarding a disturbance in that area; plus, we have been tracking you.  Back to my previous question, where did you learn how to fight?”

Tina became aggravated.  “Nowhere!  That guy stole my shit, so I followed him.  He got what he deserved.”  Tina noticed Clark’s incessant glare.  “Why are you looking at me like that?”

“Forget it.  Then there’s the other thing, Guillotina,” said Clark with an overconfident sneer.

“It’s Tina, and get to it, you pig.”

“Sure, Tina.  Yes.  See that gaping gash on your left side?  Remember?  Your hot date stabbed you last night.”

Tina looked down at her stomach; she saw nothing.  Nothing abnormal marked her body.

“What are you talking about?  There is no gash,” she said abrasively.

“I know.  There should be a gash; he tried to kill you.  You should be dead.  You were rushed to the hospital with a kitchen knife in your stomach.  It’s a lethal wound, and now, there’s not even a scratch on you.  See, you’re famous.”  Clark pointed to the knife on the bedside table.  “Remember this?”

He was right.  Tina remembered the knife ripping into her flesh and sliding down her midsection.  It was painful, but not as intense as she anticipated.

In a split second, Clark grabbed the knife and sliced Tina’s arm.  She screamed in immediate pain; thick, red blood oozed down her arm onto the bed’s white sheets.

Tina jerked to fight Clark, but she quickly realized the restraints.  She was trapped – bolted to the hospital bed by means of metal cuffs.

“What the hell are you doing?” she roared.

“Research,” Clark said calmly.

Both Tina and Clark stared at the gapping, open wound on her arm.  It gushed blood.  Tina struggled to break free.

“Help!  This psycho is trying to kill me!”

Two doctors and a nurse entered the room.  Clark motioned for them to leave.  They nodded to Clark and left.  Tina felt infuriated and helpless.

“Shhh… just wait.  Watch…” stated Clark.

Tina noticed her knife wound stopped bleeding.  Then, the edges of it healed slowly, and the pain ceased.  Within a minute, the stab wound disappeared.

Tina’s eyes widened.  “Oh my god,” she said under her breath.  In a moment of wonderment and wrath, she titled her head towards Clark.  Tina spit violently in his face; she hated him.  “That hurt, you little prick!”

Clark smirked, wiped the saliva from his face, and said arrogantly, “Guillotina, you are under arrest.”

“What?” asked Tina.  Her blood boiled.  Clark inched towards her.

“Yeah, that little boy toy of yours?  He nearly died.  You’re under arrest for aggravated assault and attempted murder.”  Clark and Tina were face to face.  His nose almost touched hers.  Clark knew she was useless, pinned to the hospital bed.

Tina fired back, “Firstly, that idiot should be arrested!  He stole from me, and he almost murdered me!  Secondly, don’t call me Guillotina!”

Tina growled.  Clark held the knife tightly after cutting Tina’s arm.  Tina swiftly turned her shoulder, colliding powerfully into Clark’s right arm.  The knife fell from his hand and landed on the bed next to her restrained hand.  Managing to free one of her feet from the bed’s metal cuffs, Tina kicked Clark in the stomach with brute force.  He hit the wall and fell to the cold floor in an upright, seated position.   He was shaken and breathless; she was powerful and clever.

Tina pinched the knife’s tip with the little movement she had with her hand, flipped it, gripped and seized its hilt, and flicked her firm wrist.  The knife flew toward Clark; it scraped his left ear.  Within seconds, the knife rested motionless in the hospital wall.  A few drops of fresh blood dripped onto the Seven Point Star on Clark’s dress shirt.

“That will be enough!  Tina, that is not necessary.”  Dr. Hassam entered the room.

She instantly recognized the dark features of Dr. Hassam.  Oddly enough, she felt as if she knew him personally.  How could she know him?  “It was just a dream, right?” Tina thought to herself as she toiled with her metal restraints.

Next, she gazed at Clark for a moment, and then it hit her.  She did know him.  Tina identified him as the police captain arguing with Dr. Hassam in the same dream.  She became dizzy and confused; the thought of insanity overwhelmed her.  She shook her head, struggling to clear her mind.  Mentally exhausted, Tina looked at the doctor.

“What the hell is this?” Tina paused.  “I know you!  You’re Dr. Hassam, right?”

“More on that later, dear,” Dr. Hassam said politely.

Clark painfully stirred on the hospital floor, trying to regain his strength and posture.  “No!” he shouted.  “You are not taking this one, too!  Don’t you remember what happened last time?”

“Do the words ‘executive order’ mean anything to you?” asked Hassam.

Tina instantly recognized the term ‘executive order’ as well.  Her eyes narrowed.  She slowly stopped struggling with the cuffs.

Clark gruffly sighed as two nurses rushed in and unlocked Tina’s bed restraints.  She was free.  Tina approached Clark in her bloody hospital gown, bent down slightly, and lifted her hand toward his head.  Dr. Hassam grew nervous.

Tina plucked the knife out of the wall and stepped back a few inches.  She pulled her weapon parallel to her face as Clark remained seated on the cold floor. “Here’s your next executive order, compliments of the famous Guillotina!” she declared.

As Tina finished her sentence, she forcefully plunged the knife downwards toward at her target.  It flipped in the air twice, and the sharp blade purposely landed between Clark’s legs.  It lay perfectly still within the room’s hardwood floor.  The knife barely missed his genitals.  Clark gasped, slowly gazed at Tina, and grunted in anger.

Tina yelled in Clark’s face, “Now leave me the hell alone!”  She turned and walked out of the room with Dr. Hassam.

Dr. Hassam sighed and shook his head.  “You’re a handful.”

Tina grinned.

*******

Tina surveyed the vast views of Layer Seven.  Dr. Hassam’s lab was on the two hundredth floor of the Research Building in City-State.  Peering through a window, she noticed several buildings that poked through the endless clouds and mist.  The scenery was breathtaking, but Tina did not know how to embrace its beauty.  Her latest trials weighed on her mind.

The doctors gave Tina a simple white gown to wear in the lab.  Her hair was neatly combed into a low ponytail, and she felt a little at ease.  Her room consisted of a bed, a small dresser, and a mirror.  Large, intricate lab machines were located within different parts of the floor.

Dr. Hassam quietly entered Tina’s room.  City-State’s Seven Point Star glowed on the upper left hand side of his lab coat.

“How are you doing?”

“I’m okay… a bit confused,” Tina concluded.

“You slept for several days; you must be well-rested.  Did you have any more dreams?”

“Yes,” Tina said curiously.  “They all focus on a woman named Delilah.  They are not nightmares… just…”

“Memories?” Dr. Hassam interjected.

Tina stared at him, intrigued.  “Yes… memories.  How did you know?”  She took the conversation further while still watching the skyline of Layer Seven.  “And how am I able to heal so quickly from those deadly knife wounds?”

Dr. Hassam smiled.  “You’re ability to heal rapidly is remarkable, but it is not your best attribute.”

Tina inspected her arms and hands, and then she placed them on her stomach.  “What do you mean?  How do you know this?”

“Your dreams… well, those are your mother’s memories.  Actually, your dreams represent your mother’s DNA.”

“Delilah?  The woman in my dreams is my mother?” Tina asked.  “She was treated like an animal… a criminal!”  She faintly sobbed and turned to Dr. Hassam.

“Yes, Tina.  Your mother’s key memories are embedded inside you.  In scientific terms, they are noted as ‘inherited memories.’  Most humans possess inherited memories.  Usually, the memories only manifest themselves as feelings – like déjà vu, but you are different – you can access and control memories from Delilah’s past.  And, it may be possible that you can see memories from centuries long-ago.  Remember what Clark said?  You are famous.”

“How did this happen?”

“I knew your mother.  I was there when you were born.”

Tina rubbed her eyes and sighed.  She choked back a few tears.  “What is wrong with me?  Am I some kind of freak?”

“No,” Dr. Hassam said peacefully.  He placed his hand on Tina’s shoulder.  “You are a miracle; you are one of a kind.”

“How did you know my mother?”

“Well, she was admitted to my rehab unit – extremely addicted to S-Juice.  The drug viciously attacked her DNA, and Dr. Haley and I attempted to repair it.  Delilah was scheduled for euthanasia by law, but we wanted to save her.  Plus, she was pregnant.”  Dr. Hassam removed his hand from Tina’s shoulder and gently touched her face.  “We wanted to save you, too.  You were almost aborted at thirty-three weeks.”

“But… what you did… that’s illegal…” Tina said, disliking the instant feeling of vulnerability.

“Yes, Haley and I knew this, but saving lives is not illegal.  This is our law.”  Dr. Hassam continued, “Dr. Haley developed special machines called assemblers to salvage Delilah’s damaged DNA.”

Tina interrupted, “Illegal too, right?”

“Oh, yes,” said Dr. Hassam, “but very effective.  You experienced the machines as well.  We treated Delilah when she was pregnant, and after you were born, the process continued.  Haley and I did not know if your DNA was completely normal due to your mother’s excessive and destructive drug use, so the assemblers reconfigured your DNA while you were an infant.  The machines were highly successful; like I said before, the process granted you unnatural strength and inherited memories.  Plus, you both are still alive.”

“Wait,” Tina was dumbfounded.  “My mother is still alive?  Why didn’t someone tell me?”  Tina’s shock turned to rage and resentment.  Why was she deprived of a normal life with her own family?

“Yes,” stated Dr. Hassam. “She’s in…”

The lab’s alarm system blared, and flashing red lights filled the room.  Dr. Hassam pulled his MediPalm out of his Lab coat pocket and scanned it for pertinent information.

“Let’s get you to a safe place, Tina,” Dr. Hassam directed.  He motioned her to the side door of the room.

“Wait!  Where’s Delilah?” Tina demanded.

“Later… later… the cops are here!  My executive order was a fake.  Looks like they figured that out.”  Dr. Hassam continued to rely on his MediPalm to track the intruders.  He could not contact anyone.

“Damn!” Dr. Hassam yelled.  His security apps were hacked, and all exits were sealed.

The side door was locked from the outside for Tina’s safety.  But in this case, the safety measure was detrimental.  Dr. Hassam attempted to open the side door with a code cracking app on his MediPalm, but it was too late.  The main door opened, and Dr. Hassam screamed.

“No!  Don’t touch her!  She’s the secret to…”

Three police officers enter Tina’s room.  Two officers stood in front of Clark; in seconds, they moved quickly to apprehend Tina.  Standing alone, Clark raised his gun, fired, and shot Dr. Hassam.  He dropped to the ground, wailing in pain.  A pool of blood streamed from his left leg.  Dr. Hassam dropped his MediPalm on the floor and clinched his wound.

Tina screamed, “No!  Dr. Hassam!  You bastards!”

The two officers dashed toward her.  Tina punched the first in the face and groin; she followed with a severe blow to the officer’s right side.  He plummeted to the floor, unconscious.  When Tina pulled back to fight the second officer, she noticed small drops of blood at the end of her finger tips.  She ignored it, wiped it on the side of her white gown, and stepped to the second cop.  Clark watched in enjoyment.

The second officer pulled his gun.  Without hesitation, Tina attacked him.  She ducked under the cop’s gun, grabbed his arm, and ripped it off effortlessly.  The officer howled in agony.  Blood sprayed the room.  Tina noticed her face and chin dripped with the officer’s blood.  She quickly cleaned it off, and she scowled at Clark.

Dr. Hassam looked up from his wound; astonished, he gathered enough strength to alert the lab’s back up security.  His MediPalm blinked green; he waited.

Emotionless and unaware of her superhuman strength, Tina tossed the officer’s severed arm to the floor and snagged his gun.  She pointed it at Clark.  Her fingertips continued to bleed.

“Drop it!” she dictated.

Two more officers appeared behind Clark; their weapons trained on Tina.

“No, Guillotina.  You’re done, you freak!” Clark shouted as he pointed his gun at her.

“Clark!  Stop this madness!  We all work for City-State!  Please try to help us!”  Dr. Hassam pointed to The Seven Point Star on Clark’s uniform, and then his pointed to the Star on his lab coat.

Clark concentrated on Tina, but yelled across the room, “Shut up, Hassam!  This is your fault!  And where is Haley?  He’s next!  And by the way, you are under arrest for defying article 117 of the City-State code.  You were supposed to put that thing to death!”

Tina knew “that thing” Clark referenced – it was her mother.  Tina refused to let Clark find Delilah.

He paused and said to his team, “Now, kill her!”

Tina tackled Clark.  The guns fired, knocking the newest officers and Clark fiercely to the ground.  They were all weaponless.  As they struggled to get up, Tina seized Clark, pulled him to the center of the room, pointed her gun at his head, and raised her weaponless arm.

“Tell them to stand down, or I will kill you right now!”  Tina controlled the entire room.

“Stand down!” Clark shouted.

“Good.”  Tina’s elevated arm morphed into a sharp, jagged, keen-edged sword.  Taken aback by her new, destructive embellishment, but without hesitation, she stabbed Clark in the heart and promptly slashed his throat.  “Wow.  This is my best attribute.”

The remaining two officers did not stand a chance.  Tina exterminated them within the same moment with her newly acquired weapon.  Her white lab gown glistened red; her black hair mangled with the officers’ sweat and flesh.

Tina raced to Dr. Hassam.  “Go!  Get out of here!  Disappear so no one can find you!”  Her arm readjusted itself into its normal form.

“Yes, yes, I will.  Here, take my MediPalm.  It can locate your mother… and your father.”

One of Dr. Hassam’s lab assistants entered the room.  Tina sneered.  She instructed the assistant to escort Dr. Hassam to the emergency ward.

“I will be all right, dear.  Caleb will take care of me.  You can trust him.”

“Promise me that you will leave Layer Seven,” Tina demanded.

“Yes, I promise.  Tell Delilah I said hello, promise?”

Tina softly touched Dr. Hassam’s hand.  “I will see you later, okay?”

Dr. Hassam nodded.  Caleb escorted him down the stairs to the emergency ward.  Lab security entered the room and surveyed the bloody carnage and dead bodies that littered the floor.

Tina approached the lead security officer, showed him Dr. Hassam’s MediPalm, and nonchalantly said, “How do you work one of these things?”

 

To be continued…

© 2014 All Rights Reserved

Guillotina 1

She fell asleep.

“Hold it right there!  This specimen is mine!” commanded Dr. Hassam.  Three police officers circled a dirty room in a desolate, shabby section of Layer Seven.

“Get out of here, you quack!  This is a drug bust!  You have no authority here!” demanded the captain in charge.

“Yes, I do,” stated Dr. Hassam.  The doctor displayed a security clearance on his MediPalm device.  It continued to flash the following message in red text: PRISONER 1147b TO DR.HASSAM.  Executive order 1235794.

A second, slightly rash officer mimicked his superior officer’s tone, “Are you insane?  Do you have any idea what she’s capable of?  This filthy creature is high on S-Juice, making her incredibly unbalanced.  That drug is highly addictive, and it makes its users violent and insane!  Leave this situation to the professionals.”

Dr. Hassam said calmly, “I am the professional here.  I can handle her… I can handle Delilah Buxton.”

*******

She awoke in a deep, hot sweat, breathing heavily.  The dreams worsened.  Who was Delilah Buxton?  What was the connection or the relation?  Tina tried to relax, but her mind swirled with incoherent thoughts.  She glanced to her right.

A man lay next to her.  His sandy brown hair was disheveled, and his mouth was wide open as he slept in Tina’s bed.  He was somewhat attractive, but Tina did not care.  She vaguely remembered their rendezvous, but she enjoyed it.  Evan satisfied her needs.

“What is he still doing here?” she thought.

Tina rose out of bed and walked to the bathroom.  She picked up her favorite red cotton robe and positioned it on her toned, muscular, yet feminine body.  Tina glared into the mirror.  She felt old in her twenty-three years.  Perhaps it was the florescent lighting in the bathroom that made her visage appear tired and aged.

She splashed her face with water, hoping the dreams trickled down the drain.  Tina’s long, jet black hair and green eyes shimmered in the dirty mirror.  She was well-kept despite her ruptured upbringing and troubled past.  As she reached for a towel, Tina heard a muffled, rumbling sound.  She popped her head out of the bathroom doorframe and into the adjoining bedroom.

“What the hell are you doing?” Tina yelled.

“Shit!” The man grabbed her purse, exited the bedroom, and jetted for the front door located on the bottom floor of the house.

“Come back, you bastard!  Evan!”  Tina ran from the bedroom to the kitchen.  She swiped a carving knife on the way to the front door.

The man bolted down the stairs, leaving the house.  Tina swiftly followed in her red robe and bare feet.

Layer Seven of City-State was a gargantuan metropolis of flying cars and towering skyscrapers, but the less affluent districts contained intricate alleyways and dim hiding places.  Tina knew how to maneuver through the shadowy mazes.  She was intelligent and brash; additionally, she allowed no man to take advantage of her.  She continued her pursuit throughout several sordid blocks of a run-down neighborhood in Layer Seven.

Tina stopped in a dark passageway next to Fifth and Sixth Street.  She paused to listen.  Her victim stood above her; Tina felt his presence.  She thought this peculiar, but she did not question it.  She clenched the knife.

Evan attempted to jump over Tina from a small overhang to another attached roof within the darkened passageway, but Tina intercepted his idiotic decision.  In midair, Tina clasped the man’s leg with one hand, spun him around in a clean acrobatic motion, and forcefully threw him on the ground.  She drew the sharp kitchen knife.  Tina smiled.  On his stomach, the man winced, clutching the purse.

Tina kicked the man in the back of the head with her bare heel; his face smashed into the muddy concrete.  Evan groaned; he looked back at Tina with his bloody, wet face.  “Please…” he begged.

“Shut up!” Tina advised.  “This will be quick.  You know, like last night.”  Tina gripped the man’s arm and flipped him onto his back.  As she twisted his body, the purse flew into the air.  Within seconds, she caught her purse with her left hand and straddled him.  With the knife in her right hand, she descended on him as she twirled the blade between her fingers.  As she was about to slit the man’s throat, she heard police sirens in the distance.

“Damn!” Tina mistakenly tilted her head and looked away, focused on the noise.

Evan, still fairly conscious, noticed her mistake.  Using Tina’s right hand, he shoved the knife into the left side of her body and slid it down her torso to her hipbone.  Tina let out a piercing scream, but oddly, she was vaguely attentive.

“This will be quick, right?” he snarled.  The man tried to escape, but Tina administered a final blow to his head with a swift head-butt.  Tina knocked him out while holding her purse. Her dark hair was in disarray, and her nose was broken and bloody.  He slumped to the ground, unconscious.  The knife protruded out of her side.  She stared at it, attempted to cover it with her red robe, and then she squinted at the thief.

“Yep… that was quick, you piece of…”  Tina turned around; her vision blurred.  Four police officers surrounded her.  She glanced at the officers, rolled her eyes, and the scene faded.

*******

     “Well, well, well, look who’s awake,” boomed a deep voice.  Tina knew this voice, but she could not pinpoint its origin.

She glimpsed from her hospital bed to notice an older gentleman staring down at her.  Dressed in professional attire, Police Captain Clark appeared familiar.  City-State’s symbol, the Seven Point Star, was proudly displayed on the top left side of his white, newly ironed dress shirt.

“Do I know you, Lieutenant?” Tina said quizzically yet sarcastically.  She wanted to insult him.

Clark vainly flashed his police badge.  “I do.  Ah, it’s the famous Guillotina.  You’re story is fascinating.”

To be continued…

© 2014 All Rights Reserved

Light Pic

The lights of City-State’s Layer Seven blended with the hazy air, creating a blurry halo that stretched across the sky.  Several high flying aircars hovered overhead as they cut through the soupy air, buzzing to and from their passengers’ destinations.  Aircabs and low hovering aircars served as alternative ground traffic that floated across the surface streets; the array of headlamps were barely able to penetrate the damp, low-level fog of City-State’s surface.

Tina’s sparkling red dress heels clicked across the slightly uneven concrete sidewalk.  The cold, humid air cut through her thin, form-fitting black dress.  She grasped her red shawl and pulled it tightly over her shoulders as her jet black hair cascaded down her slender torso.  Evan, her date, did not seem to take notice of her discomfort.  Instead, he gazed upon the closed store windows as they walked through a small, local commercial district toward Tina’s apartment.

Tina enjoyed her time with Evan; they spent the evening at the Entertainment District, a large, multi-facility complex near the heart of City-State’s Layer Seven.  They danced, caught a movie, and indulged in several vices including the new party drug – Grecian.

In her drug-induced, mild, euphoric state, Tina made it clear that Evan was to accompany her back to her apartment.  She only wanted to offer Evan a drink.

As the couple turned the corner, a large, bulky man walked past them in the opposite direction.   Tina had to jump to the other corner of the walkway in order to avoid getting flattened.

“Hey, watch it!” she warned.  Her head spun lightly from the Grecian.  Her high heels clunked loudly on the broken pavement.

“I’m sorry,” replied the man.  He glanced at Tina briefly.  He did not stop; he continued on his way with a slight sense of urgency.  It was almost as if he were searching for something – or someone.

Tina noticed that he walked upright in a strange fashion; the stranger also had a quirky robot-like quality to his gait.

Evan’s head whipped around to catch a glimpse of the passer-by.  Tina noticed a faint sense of recognition in her date’s eyes.  “I think I’ve seen that guy before,” whispered Evan.

“He’s just walking funny.  It’s no big deal,” Tina observed.

“I’m pretty sure he’s wearing an exoskeleton!” remarked Evan.  “He must be rich!  I’m sure I’ve seen him somewhere.”

Tina grabbed her date’s arm and pulled him along the sidewalk.  “You’re not forgetting about me now, are you?”

Evan smiled, “No, of course not, baby.”  The young man tried to stay focused on Tina, but his mind wandered back to the bizarre man who quickly disappeared.  Evan’s “Grecian high” was beginning to quickly wear off, “Wait a minute…” he murmured under his breath.  “Wait a minute…”

Evan stopped walking and brushed his sandy brown hair away from his eyes.  Tina and he stood idle in front of an expensive jewelry store within the Lower Commercial District.

Evan withdrew his MediPalm from his brown overcoat.  He frantically searched for pertinent information in the B-Net search engine.

Disappointed, Tina walked a few steps away from Evan and considered ditching him.  “Nah, He’s alright, I guess.  Just preoccupied with nonsense… I will tell him to…”  She rubbed her eyes.  As she mistakenly smeared her mascara, she noticed her Grecian fix was over.  Tina sensed something peculiar.

“…this way?” uttered a voice.

“What… who was that?” Tina whispered to herself.  “No… it’s nothing.  It’s all in my head.  I have to keep telling myself that nothing is wrong.  I’m fine,” she finished.  She glanced over her shoulder to Evan.  He was unaware of the noises; he continued to tap away at his MediPalm, searching the B-Net news reel.

“…think it’s safe?” the same voice echoed.

Tina whirled around and looked for the sound.  The lights of the city spun in giant circles in her vision.  There was nothing.  She was alone – alone with Evan.  However, she could not shake the surreal, supernatural feeling.  Something important was happening.  “My head… I wish it would stop…” she murmured.

Suddenly, Tina heard a strange sound coming from the ground about ten feet away from the jewelry store.  It was the distinct sound of heavy metal scraping along the concrete.  Her eyes located the source of the noise:  A maintenance manhole cover slowly slid across the ground.  Tina raised her brow and narrowed her eyes.  She definitely noticed a woman’s head – then a man’s head creeping up from the depths of Layer Seven’s underground tunnel system.

“They are obviously some kind of refugees.  I wonder if these two are going Illegal.  The underground tunnel system is perfect for running,” she thought.

Tina’s eyes widened.  “Of course!” she concluded.  “The man in the exoskeleton – he was looking for them!”  Tina looked back at Evan who apparently did not notice the two rebels.  She pondered if the man in the exoskeleton was their ally or perhaps their enemy.

Evan, still nose deep in the search engine, still had not noticed anything unusual.  Tina closed her eyes and thought about the man who nearly ran into her.  Moments earlier, she caught a glimpse of his face.  It was a kind face, not the visage of a cruel government official.  She was almost certain he was the man and the woman’s ally.

She remembered his face.  Her hand touched his briefly as they passed.  She could “feel” this man’s intentions; she felt connected to him – like they were her personal memories.  Tina paused for a moment.  Her memories cascaded her brain clearly; she remembered seeing that man’s face on the vid screen earlier that day.  But there was more; the scene became increasingly vivid.  Her reflection – her thoughts – reverted back to this man.  She knew him. “It’s that airballer!” she muttered under her breath.

Looking down at the two outcasts, she spit a whisper in their direction.  “Hey, over here!”  Tina ran towards the man and the woman as she adjusted her red shawl.  They stretched their heads above the surface of the round indention on the street.

“What was that?” asked Evan absent-mindedly.  He was not aware of the distance Tina placed between them.

“Nothing,” Tina replied.  “Go back to searching or whatever you were doing… not paying me any attention…”

Evan grunted as he continued to scroll through the information on his MediPalm.  Tina returned her attention to the couple in the maintenance manhole.  “Hey!”

They looked at her.  Fear and anxiety filled their faces.  Tina’s heart sank.  She pointed in the direction of the man who nearly ran her over.  “He went that way,” she whispered with a smile.

The two refugees smiled in comprehension.  They climbed out from the manhole and trotted off in the same direction.  Tina did not know or understand their motive or identity, but she felt confident knowing that she could help them.

“Hey!” Evan shouted, looking up from the MediPalm.  “That guy in the exoskeleton was Zenaldo Rivers – from Industrial United!  We have to turn back!  He’s supposed to die!  I need an autograph!”

Tina was displeased.  She wanted the two rebels to escape.  “If Evan goes running off after that guy, then those other two may not make it.  He’ll draw too much attention to them,” she concluded as her brain quickly formulated a plan.

She turned back to her date and smiled seductively.  “You want to run off after some washed up airballer, or do you want to come home with me tonight?”

Evan sighed and approached Tina.  He wrapped her tightly in his arms as her thin red shawl lightly fell from her body, “Okay, baby.  But you owe me.”

© 2014 All Rights Reserved

Sacrifice Pic

Rebecca’s knees hit the cold, hard floor of the dungeon.  Her breath was hot against her face; she inhaled sweat and few strands of her tangled, matted hair. A black hood covered her head; she could not see her surroundings.  But her instincts, and the few conversations she heard from her captors, indicated that she was on Layer Five, the most desolate, barbaric, and insidious location in all of City-State.

“Where are you taking me?” Rebecca cried.  Her voice was muffled by the bag.

“Shut up, S-Classer!” echoed one of her captor’s voices.

Rebecca suddenly heard a second voice, “Shut up!  Silence in the Temple of Ultros!”

“Bean… come on!” chastised the first captor.  “Prisoners for sacrifice must not know where they are!”

“At this point, what difference does it make, Robert?” countered Bean.  “She’s going to be killed, and there is no hope for her!”

Rebecca felt the cold hands of fear grasp her beaten, filthy, bloody body.  Momentarily, she fell still.  This was the end.

“You heard that, right?” asked Robert.  Rebecca knew he was satisfied; she did not have to remove the black hood to see his wicked, destructive smile.

“You like that? You’re gonna die,” added Bean in an insecure, somewhat somber tone.

“W… W… why?” whispered Rebecca.

Abruptly, the hood was torn from her head.  Sweat and loose stands of hair trickled down her shoulders onto her ceremonious garb – a torn gray robe with old, dark blood stains.  Her hands and feet were bound; the ropes irritated her soft skin.  She spied two men in brown robes who towered over her.  The dungeon: a dirty, stone room with poor electrical lighting and dimly lit, archaic torches.

“Why?” mocked Bean. “Why? Why were you chosen? Well… that’s all you’re good for.”  He looked to his counterpart for approval.

“You are the sacrifice,” informed Robert. “We are acolytes; we collect the sacrifice.  It’s for the good of City-State.”

Rebecca’s head reeled, but she kept herself poised.  Her over-active mind raced with questions.  She wanted answers.  But she forced herself to focus on one vital task: survival.

“I’m S-Class!” offered Rebecca.  “City-State needs me. I am a mathematical genius! So killing me is not…”

“No more of the government’s lies!” Robert interrupted.  “The Cult of Ultros does not recognize the legitimacy of the current government or the morality of allowing S-Classers to displace The Builders!”

“Displacing The Builders?” Rebecca dizzily queried.  “S-Classers would never try to displace anyone… especially The Builders!”

“S-Classers are not superior to The Builders!  Your super-intelligence and extraordinary talents are nothing compared to The Builders! They constructed this entire city – not you!” Robert snarled.

Rebecca widened her eyes and noticed her captors’ attire.  The acolytes’ brown robes were covered in dried blood – her robe was stained in old blood.  She fell onto her back in horror.  “You really mean to kill me?”

“Of course, S-Classer,” Bean stated plainly.  His heart sank.

“The Builders are dead!  They’re not deities!  They can’t be offended…” Rebecca tried to reason with her captors.

“Don’t blaspheme against The Builders – do not curse Ishmael!” Robert bellowed, stepping forward.  His closed fist connected with Rebecca’s left cheek.

She fell; she could not make her body sit upright.  Her lips touched the soiled, stone floor.  But Rebecca had nothing to lose by talking to these vile murderers.  She turned her head toward her aggressors.

“My life is my own!” spat Rebecca, finding the strength to sit upright again.  “I was an engineer!  I built two-hundred story buildings on Layer Seven.  My life’s work is in the beauty of City-State’s landscape!  The Builders inspired my designs!  I have no hatred toward them!”

“Shut up!” Robert shouted.

Rebecca struggled with her restraints.  “What are you going to do?  Arrest me after I’ve been sacrificed?” Rebecca laughed out loud.  “What is the purpose of this… of sacrifice?”

Bean knelt down to Rebecca’s level.  He tried to look stern, but his eyes betrayed him.

But he had to obey his master.  “It is symbolic of shared destiny.  We belong to The Builders,” Bean’s eyes filled with tears.

“The Builders did not create a prison!  Damn you!” countered Rebecca.

Bean fell back in shocked awe.  Robert grew incredibly irate and frustrated.  Bean attempted to hide his tears.

Robert regained his poise, “You deserve to die.  As it was with Ishmael, the city of Babylon will fall if we do not eliminate the filthy S-Classers who build it!

“I deserve to live,” answered Rebecca flatly.  She sighed; tears streamed from her eyes.

“Life isn’t about cowering in fear,” she continued as the tears rolled off her cheeks.  “It’s about progression and making this place – City-State – a wonderful, peaceful nation.  You can’t be ruled by men – The Builders – who perished a thousand years ago.  They did not desire godly worship!  They wanted peace, not barbarism!”

Bean’s tough exterior broke.  He could watch this woman suffer. “Robert?”

“Pull it together, Bean!  She dies tonight!  It is the duty of the High Priest!  Nothing can stop it!”

You can,” offered Rebecca.  “You can let me go.”

“No!” sneered Robert.  His voice echoed off the stone walls of the cell.  “They would find us…” Robert shook his head in defiance.  “No!  You’re an S-Classer!  This is a trick!”

“They won’t find us; I know a place we can hide,” Rebecca replied, sobbing.

Robert crossed his arms and glared at Rebecca.  “No. You are marked.  You will die for the good of City-State.”

Suddenly, Bean jumped at Robert; both men fell to the floor.  Bean staunchly maneuvered himself on top of his fellow acolyte. Robert gagged as Bean closed his large hands around Robert’s throat.

The attack was eerily silent. Rebecca watched in horror and triumph.

Robert stopped moving.

Bean jumped back.  He gasped for breath. “What did I do…?”

Moments passed.  Bean approached Rebecca.  He softly touched her arm. “Let’s go,” he whispered.

Bean gently released Rebecca from her bonds.  She looked at him tenderly, touched his shoulder, and whispered, “Your life begins today.”

© 2014 All Rights Reserved

photo

The Builders Sports Network (TBSN) and their affiliates were infamous for crazed, outlandish media spectacles.  Dozens of media reporters, residents, fans, and airball players lined the walk ways that led into the illustrious National Airball Stadium on Layer Seven.  The Seven Point Star of City-State hung proudly behind a glass podium as beams of natural sunlight pierced its various angles.  Long, shimmering, iridescent navy blue and gold curtains fluttered in the soft breeze.  The press conference began in front of the stadium’s magnificent iron doors.

Zachary “Zenaldo” Rivers stood before the vibrant crowd in a shiny black suit accented with a neon yellow tie.  He spoke strongly as he was supported by the electronic exoskeleton wrapped around his legs and back: “As a result of my premature unemployment, I am required by City-State law to undergo early End of Life Treatments.”  Zenaldo’s injuries from last week’s airball match left him with permanent physical damage.

Rebecca Morton, an S-Classer and an engineering executive at a prestigious construction firm, watched her fiancé make the grave announcement from the stadium’s green room: He declared that his life was over.  Zenaldo was badly hurt, and he could no longer perform as an efficient airball player.  The nation’s Ministry of Labor never granted petitions to change professions – even to celebrities like Zenaldo.

“As you are aware,” continued the star athlete, “my injuries prevent me from continuing my career as an airballer, a lead axle.  And even though the league and the City-State government have offered to pay for my medical bills and grant me a pension, that offer comes with serious stipulations for my team, Industrial United.  I cannot allow IU to be saddled with financial penalties because I am too injured to participate.  Additionally, the penalties administered by the League and the government are entirely unfair.  My coaches and teammates deserve better.  Therefore, the team must come first, even if it costs me my life.”

Rebecca was taken slightly aback at Zenaldo’s accusation of the league’s prejudice.  It was a subtle, yet powerful political statement.

Zenaldo finished the rest of his speech to vigorous applause.   Max Kellington, Industrial United’s star dasher, folded his head in his hands as Zenaldo nodded to the crowd.  “Best axle in town,” murmured Kellington.  His golden locks glittered in the sunlight.

Zenaldo stepped off the podium and made his way to the green room where Rebecca waited for him.

“That was a fine speech, love,” offered Rebecca in a soft whisper.  “Are you ready to do this?”

“Yes,” Zenaldo grinned.  “I can’t wait to see you again in Nocturnity – a safe haven for both of us.  I can fully heal in Nocturnity’s facilities.”  He paused, “Are you sure we have to go separately?”

“Yes, Z,” answered Rebecca.  She smiled at him fondly.  “We will see each other again – underground.  But for now, we must look like we are saying our goodbyes.  Someone will be here soon to escort you to an aircar.”  She hugged him and his exoskeleton fiercely.

“You stay safe until we meet again,” Zenaldo softly urged.  He kissed her and exited the green room.  A dozen reporters flashed high-tech MediPalm cameras in his direction.  As the cameras flashed, Zenaldo turned to Rebecca and whispered, “I love you.”

From time to time, Rebecca was in the tabloids due to her relationship with Zenaldo.  But tonight, she was alone.  All attention was placed on her fiancé.  She quietly escaped the room and walked down a poorly lit, abandoned hall toward her private aircar located at the back of the stadium.   Out of the shadows, a large man appeared, stopping her movements.

“You sure you want to do this, Rebecca?” Horace Gandy’s voice boomed as he appeared directly in front of the petite, brown-haired woman.

Rebecca tensed momentarily, but she relaxed when she recognized her old friend and popular airball player.  “Yes, Horace,” she replied with a smile.  “Thank you so much for your help.  We will never forget you.”  Rebecca paused and then asked, “Are you sure you do not want to come with us?”

Gandy shook his head and embraced his friend.  “Yes, I’m sure.  Besides, someone has to stay behind and suck up all the attention while you escape,” he grinned.

Rebecca squeezed Gandy tightly.  “I can’t thank you enough.  But you better go before someone sees us.”

“Okay,” Gandy assured as his eyes welled up with tears.  “You be careful out there.  Take care of Z!  And tell him that head butt was a brotherly ‘love tap’!  We can play a round of airball in Nocturnity someday!”

“Yes, of course!  Good-bye, Horace,” Rebecca answered as she giggled.  “Now get out of here.  I hate long good-byes.  We will see you soon… hopefully… “

Gandy, the star dasher for The A.C. Builders nodded.  He turned and walked down the hall.  He headed to the green room to prepare his somber speech.  It was his turn in front of the frantic TBSN press.  It was Gandy’s chance to defend his position – Zenaldo must die for Industrial United – and City-State.

Rebecca sighed and turned toward her escape route.  Within moments, she would be in her private car, and she would be on her way to freedom.

But before she could take another step, two black shadows appeared before her at the base of the hallway.

One man grabbed her arms and put a gag over her mouth.  She was violently hurled to the ground.  All she saw was the cold, hard, concrete floor and two pairs of scuffed, black boots.  Then, a black bag was roughly placed over her head.  Rebecca’s vision blackened; she attempted to scream for help, but she could only squirm and grunt.

Suddenly, the S-Class engineer violently flinched.  Rebecca briefly felt electricity run through her body before she passed out.

To be continued…

© 2014 All Rights Reserved

Airball Dome

Zachary “Zenaldo” Rivers reached for the juke as it arced across the field.   Encased in a transparent sphere, the players jetted around the field of play with anti-grav boots – rocket type boots that spit fire and fuel.  Zenaldo, his teammates, and his rivals were dressed in soft body armor and light-weight, sleeveless, form-fitting tank tops and pants.

The two teams displayed their bold team colors: Industrial United in navy blue and gold and The A.C. Builders in bright red and gray.  Anti-grav boots allowed the players to hurl themselves at high-speeds while tackling, blocking, and wresting the juke from their opponents’ grasps.  The goal was to control the juke, a white, leather, five inch circular sphere (a round, ball-like object).  Here, control was Zenaldo’s forte.

Airball players flew inside The Orb – City-State’s magnificent field of play constructed as a giant globe on Layer Seven.  The objective of airball was to obtain the juke and place it in the opposing goal located on the edge of the sphere along the axis.  The opposing goal was always “forward”, and a team’s personal goal was always perceived “back”.  The giant, enthusiastic crowd sat outside the sphere.

Dashers, or attackers, were responsible for assaulting the opposing team’s goal.  Brakes were players who defended the goal.  Axels were midfield players specializing in controlling the tempo of play and organizing the attacks and defensive schemes.  Anchors tended the goal, and their sole responsibility was guard their goal against the impending juke hurled by the opposite team.  The fliers, or the game officials, attempted to keep order and civility in the game.  Most of the time, fliers broke up fights and tried to prevent athletes from getting injured.

Zenaldo, Industrial United’s star axel, grasped the loose juke.  His navy blue and gold uniform glittered in the bright lights of The Orb.  The Seven Point Star of City-State glistened on the left sides of his anti-grav boots.  But another set of strong hands grabbed Zenaldo’s arms, trying to pry the round object from his grip.

Zenaldo wrestled his body from the clutches of A.C. Builders dasher Horace Gandy, but not before Gandy landed an elbow to Zenaldo’s cheek.  The star axel tumbled in the air, maintaining a firm grip on the juke.  Zenaldo triggered his anti-grav boots, and he zipped across a short amount of air space.

A second player from A.C. Builders, Bryan Becker – an opposing axel – intercepted Zenaldo’s careening body, attempting to force the juke from Zenaldo’s grip.  Rivers saw the opportunity to correct himself; he stuck his leg out and jammed it into Becker’s midsection.  Becker’s body folded under the powerful kick, and he flew in the opposite direction.  His anti-grav boots sensed Becker’s pain, and they glided him to the A.C. Builders’s holding area.  The crowd erupted with noise – cheers from Industrial United and hisses from the AC Builders!

“Yes!  You are the man, Z!  Way to kick that D-Class loser!  Kick his face in, Z!  Do it again!  ‘I heart U’ forever, baby!” shouted a devoted Industrial United fan in navy blue and gold face paint.

“Come on!” sneered a row of A.C. Builders fans dressed in brilliant red hats and capes.  “Zenaldo’s dirtier than a Layer Six floozy!  Play fair for once!  Come on, fliers!  Call something!”

The force of the kick to Becker’s midsection stopped Zenaldo’s spin.  The superstar axel of Industrial United was incredibly disoriented.  He was facing “down” toward the bottom of the field.  The goal was behind him and perpendicular to his field of vision. The crowd chanted and cheered, causing the sphere to buzz and vibrate loudly.

Several opposing players attempted to make flanking maneuvers to double-team Zenaldo.  Fortunately, they were unsuccessful.  Kicking a small button on his right boot, small thrusters fired in an attempt to re-orient his body.  Zenaldo had no time, however, as an angry, hostile Horace Gandy was nearly upon him – again.  The red in Gandy’s eyes matched the dazzling red hues on his uniform.

Quickly, Zenaldo threw the juke toward one of his teammates who was behind Gandy.  The opposing dasher anticipated this move and stuck out his huge, gloved hand, knocking the juke back towards Zenaldo.  Rivers changed the thrust of his boots with a short kick, and he took off in the direction of the juke.  Zenaldo obtained the juke once more, but he could feel Gandy bearing down on him.

“Come here, Zenaldo!  You’re mine!” yelled Gandy.  The A.C. Builders star appeared possessed.

“Yeah, Gandy, come and get me!  This juke… this match… is mine!” smirked Zenaldo.

Zenaldo’s teammate, Max Kellington, a dasher, shot past Gandy and was positioned slightly below him.  In a flash, Zenaldo brought the juke behind his back and flung it ahead of his comrade.  It was a perfect pass.

Kellington sliced through two unsuspecting A.C. Builders defending brakes, and he found himself one-on-one with the anchor.  With a quick fake to the left and a swift spin to the right, Kellington sent the anchor off his line, exposing the open goal.

Kellington easily lobbed the juke up in the air, tapped his anti-grave boots for an extra lift, flipped backwards, and with his right leg, kicked the juke into the goal with extreme force.  The A.C. Builders anchor loudly sighed and attempted to hurl himself back to the metal goal.  It was too late.  The left field flier raised his hands, indicating a clean, successful goal!

“Score for Industrial United!” shouted the flier.

Kellington cheered!  He thrust his ant-grave boots again, spun straight up in the air and waved feverishly to the crowd.  His glittery, gold hair gleamed as a storm of sparks showered the players on the field and fireworks exploded above his frenzied fans!

“Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Skills that kill!” chanted the exuberant Industrial United fans; it was their typical post-scoring chant.

Zenaldo never saw Kellington score the goal.  Instead, Gandy, the giant dasher, never changed his trajectory.  The hulking beast slammed into Zenaldo, and the force of the impact carried both men to the edge of the sphere.  They hit the transparent, alloy dome at an extremely high speed.  Zenaldo heard the home crowd cheer as Kellington scored.  At the same moment, his head cracked against the unforgiving shell of the dome.  Airball’s light weight helmets offered only minimal protection.  Zenaldo’s vision exploded with bright spots.

Gandy was far from finished.  The frustrated dasher fired his thrusters and gave Zenaldo a powerful, rock-assisted knee to the gut.  Zenaldo’s pain tripled.  Gandy followed with another elbow to the face.  Zenaldo spun in the air, exposing his back to Gandy.  With a swift kick to Zenaldo’s back, Gandy disabled the Industrial United star’s anti-gravity control mechanism located on the back of Zenaldo’s suit.  Gandy then put Zenaldo into a bear hug, and he violently head-butted City-State’s celebrity airball axel.

The crowd and the fliers were preoccupied with Kellington’s elaborate celebration of his goal.  The dasher twirled and tumbled expertly in his boots, giving his fans a bit of flash and style for a matter of minutes.  No one really noticed Gandy and Zenaldo on the other end of the sphere.

Rivers felt something change; something was terribly wrong.  Through his hazy vision and disorientation, he noticed that his anti-grav boots were deactivated.  Gandy let go of Zenaldo and let gravity take its course.   Zenaldo Rivers began to plummet over forty meters to the bottom of the dome.  Fortunately, he and Gandy were already in the southern hemisphere.

“The fall would be short, right?” Zenaldo thought.  He bounced and rolled for what seemed an eternity until he crumpled up into a ball at the bottom of the dome.

The crowd no longer cheered in celebration of the goal.  The home fans gasped in horror as they watched Zenaldo tumble awkwardly to the bottom of The Orb.  His anti-grav boots spit and hissed as they eventually stopped working.  The boots attempted to recharge and restart as they sensed their owner’s idleness.  But Gandy’s cruel scheme was complete.  The boots only managed to spark and fizz as they plummeted with their player.  The A.C. Builders’s fans cheered in excitement as they pointed at the near-lifeless heap – The Industrial United’s star player.

Zenaldo heard the mix of terror and jubilation.  He tried to lift an arm to signal to the fans, but his arm was motionless.  His legs were immobile.  His body felt numb.

Suddenly, Zenaldo witnessed the jeering grin of Horace Gandy as he flew over him.  Zenaldo closed his eyes; the scene went black.

© 2014 All Rights Reserved

Anti Grav Boots

Agent Briggs saved Hiro’s song in his MediPalm’s music archives.  He smiled.  The exhausted agent slowly walked back to his living room and elevated the volume on the vid screen.  “Great… time to relax… what’s going on with airball?” Briggs thought.

Briggs turned the channel to TBSN – The Builders Sports Network.  He needed his daily sports fix.  Two overly enthusiastic, extremely animated commentators spoke of City-State’s newest airball tragedy.

“That’s right, Dan, it’s just upsetting to see athletes get injured and have to hit the ‘Somnium Showers’… especially some of these exceptionally talented airball players!”  Playing to the camera, Adam adjusted his neon blue tie coyly, smirked, and winked at his audience.  His shiny, black, framed glasses sparkled in the studio’s light.

“You got that right, Adam!  We’ve all been talking about it, and here is the video again!”  With large, dramatic arm motions, Dan and Adam pointed to a massive vid screen located to the right side of the studio.  As the video played, Adam’s voice resonated over the player’s movements.

Adam continued exuberantly, “Zenaldo Rivers, superstar center midfield for Industrial United, was severely injured last night when A.C. Builder’s Forward Horace Gandy accidentally… well, we assume it was an accident… “

“Of course it was an accident!  How could we even accuse Gandy?” Dan lightly accused.  The gruesome video reel continued to play as the two animated (yet feverishly annoying) commentators carried on with the segment.

Adam countered back in a lively fashion, “I know!  So… for all of you out there claiming Gandy’s defensive and offensive maneuvers were intentional, you need to check yourselves!  Gandy ‘accidentally’ disabled Zenaldo’s antigrav boots, causing him to plummet more than forty meters to the bottom of the Bowl.  This is graphic!  Audiences are stunned!”

Dan questioned Adam as he tapped a few buttons on his vid screen and adjusted his sleek, glittery navy blue blazer – the airball reel came to an abrupt end after Zenaldo’s fall.  The TBSN logo – the City-State Seven Point Star with circular designs hovered around it – floated gently around the large monitor.  Dan, who suddenly became very serious, deepened his voice and continued, “Any word on Zenaldo’s condition?”

Adam concluded, “Not yet, but his contract with Industrial United and the City-State Government covers these medical costs.  The league will pick up his medical bills, but from this tragic set of injuries, Rivers is out – out of the City-State Airball League!  Say goodbye to professional sports, Zenaldo!”

Briggs loudly chimed in from his couch, “Wait!  No!  Rivers… he’s has to heal!  Industrial United is toast without Zenaldo!  Ugh!”  He sighed heavily.  “I guess all bets are off at this point…”

Dan, the more illustrious “hand waving” commentator, continued the in-depth conversation as he vainly looked into the camera and carefully fine tuned his shiny collar and lapel, “…never to play airball… again!”

Adam agreed, “You’re right! Oh, never.  No.  Rivers is done, folks.  Good thing for him – the City-State Airball League can pick up his bill, otherwise…”

The latter exclaimed, “Somnium Showers!  A quick death may be the best option!”

“That’s right, Dan!” shouted Adam.  He then swiped the vid screen to showcase a picture of Rivers in his younger years – in his glory days of his airball career with Industrial United.

Dan continued the report, “Of course, the League will penalize Industrial United’s team payroll, but we’ll see just how much that will affect the team in the future.”

“Could you do it?” inquired Adam as he properly aligned his trendy frames to fit his face.

“What?  Suck the team dry because of my injury?  No.  I’d definitely take the Somnium – I would die for my team!  It’s only for the good of this powerful nation!” responded Dan.  He straightened his illustrious yellow tie, grinned into the camera, and winked playfully.

“Yeah, me too.  But hey, that’s his choice… or is it?” concluded Adam.

“Zenaldo’s agent is expected to have a press conference next Monday with all the details,” finished Dan.  “Now, onto the latest involving Kim Syke, professional knife fighter…”

Briggs rolled his eyes.  “Another athlete to Somnium?  Another great athlete sentenced to death?  There has to be another alternative…”

© 2014 All Rights Reserved

To be continued…