Friday, January 31, 2014

16. darkness

by jeremy witherington

illustrated by konrad kraus

editorial consultant: Prof. Dan Leo

to begin at the beginning, click here

for previous chapter, click here

molligan turned his phone off and looked out the window.

then he turned around.

something was missing.


molligan didn't panic. he never did.

jody was probably in the bathroom.

or had gone into his own room to lie down.

the door to jody's room was ajar.

molligan peeked around it, then pushed it open.

no jody, in the room or in the bathroom beyond it.

he checked nikki's room the same way.

no jody.

molligan still didn't panic.

and yet he had a curious foreboding.

connie was on her way over. in fact, might have already arrived.

could jody have actually tried to escape?

a new human?

one of the reasons new humans had been developed was that they had nowhere to go.

and no primal lusts for travel and adventure.

but - jody was gone. that was a fact.

but maybe no further than the lobby.

maybe still in the elevator.

there was nothing else for it. he turned his phone back on and alerted central.

then he called the two techs still in the building.

first morris, on the sixth floor. he told him to check the elevator, then start going through the floors looking for jody.

then dooley, who was now down in the basement in abdul's apartment.

dooley was talking to connie. he answered on the second ring.


suzi and robbie were half a block from their destination of the cardboard structure in c-293, when the message light on the dashboard, suzi's phone, and robbie's brain all lit up simultaneously.

suzi let robbie take the call.

"this is 52-78" said robbie. he turned his volume up so suzi could hear the response.

"52-78, return to previous address, priority orange."

suzi had pulled up in front of the "cardboard structure" - a box.

they heard a loud noise.

"we have just arrived at c-293," robbie told the dispatcher. "and we just heard what might be a shot."

"noted. repeat, return to previous address, priority orange. a red car is on its way there. report to it or wait for it."


the message light went off.

the street was too narrow to make a u turn. suzi backed straight out to the previous intersection then turned back and headed for jody's and nikki's apartment.

robbie looked back. there was no sign of activity around the cardboard box.

only darkness.


connie had taken the phone from dooley and listened to molligan's account of jody's apparent disappearance.

she felt both exasperated and exhilarated. three disappearances at least spatially connected to each other within a few hours. it could be a statistical oddity - or something much more.

"no excuse," molligan was saying. "this is on me."

"you better fucking believe it's on you," connie told him.

this was the end of molligan. they both knew it.

"i will start looking myself," said molligan.

"yes, you do that."

connie clicked off and handed the phone back to dooley. "those two books?" she asked him.

"oh, yeah, here they are." dooley stepped over to the table beside the big armchair.

he handed connie the first of the two black books.

connie flipped it open. "planet of the green jaguars, by abdul al-jeremial". she quickly riffled the pages, scanning it into herself.

dooley handed her the second book - "the life of samuel johnson, ll.d. by james boswell". after a second's hesitation, she scanned it too, and handed it back to dooley.

connie turned to go.

"should i stay here?" dooley asked her.

"yes, for now. molligan will call you. or somebody will."

17. maureen and richard

Thursday, January 2, 2014

15. rita rae

by jeremy witherington

illustrated by konrad kraus

editorial consultant: Prof. Dan Leo

to begin at the beginning, click here

for previous chapter, click here

rita rae was surprised, but not too surprised, when she saw the new human come through the door.

you didn't see too many new humans in the latin quarter, and especially not in a dump like tony's bar and grill.

this one looked kind of young. but weren't they all "young"?

rita rae couldn't remember.

she knew the new humans were not "he" or "she" but in the privacy of her own brain she classed any that she saw - and she did not see too many, as she mostly stuck to the latin quarter and other low class environments where old humans congregated - as one or the other.

this one looked like a "she".

and she looked bewildered. she slowly approached the bar where rita was the only customer seated.

there were other patrons in the booths but they took no notice of the new human.

the poor thing looked lost.

rita stared at "her", willing her to come over to her. this was something rita considered herself adept at.

"are you lost, sweetie?"

jody hesitated.

"yes", she answered.

"maybe i can help."

"maybe." jody came over and sat down beside rita.

now that jody was seated at the bar she did not seem quite so lost.

and rita was not quite so confident that she could take some sort of advantage of her.

but there was no harm trying.

"do you want a drink?" rita asked jody. "the bartender must be around here somewhere."

"sure. i mean, it is a bar and grill. isn't that what people do in bar and grills - drink?'"

"it's one of the things they do. tell me, have you ever been in one before?"

"no, but i've read about them in old books."

"oh, you're an intellectual. i am too. "

"stephen king is my favorite."

"mine too. and james patterson, of course. hey, want me to see if i can find mike - he's the bartender?"

"sure. thanks."

"don't go away."

rita slid off the barstool and into the shadows.

jody looked around. it was not very frightening.

not frightening at all.

and no one was paying the least bit of attention to her.

so far, so good.


mike the bartender was sitting in a booth with a couple of his pals sitting across from him.

they were talking about bodybuilding

"excuse me," said rita. "there's a customer at the bar."

mike didn't look up. "anybody i know?"

"i wouldn't know. i never saw her before." rita hesitated. "it's a new human."

"a new human?" mike glanced over. "we don't get too many of those in here. and when we do they don't tip for shit. do you want to serve her - it?"

"yeah, i'll serve her. and take any tip."

"go for it." mike turned back to his buddies. rita was dismissed.

rita turned back toward the bar.

from across the room, through the murk, jody looked kind of sad, rita thought.

just as sad and lost and fucked up and bewildered as any old human.

and as alienated and oppressed and exploited and injusticed and all that shit.

so what was the point?

the point is to take her for what you can get from her, rita told herself.

that was the point.

16. darkness