How he saved the world

 

And that’s how he saved the world, by damn near killing it. What was left was a withered, broken thing, but it was still there and so were a few of the inhabitants, his people of course. It was impossible to know if the world would live. For now it was a burnt, shrunken, mutant French-fry of a planet, and he its unwitting Lord. For this moment all this Lord wanted to do was take a leak and a life-long nap, preferably in that order. But first there was some planet-wide clean up to do.

Despite his hallucinatory exhaustion Holiday had to take a lap of honor around the last stand, for show, for morale, and to get an idea of who was left and what to do with them. He reached into his satchel and fingered a small, cold vial of Blue NektarTM, a trophy taken when he’d killed a desert pirate with his hands.  He had killed them all with his hands, he remembered, though most by pushing a button or flicking a switch, like playing a video game.

He’d never glanded the contraband drug, although its horrible reputation was known to him. He’d avoided it at all costs but now there was no choice. He’d lost pints of blood, some teeth, a toe and maybe a vital organ or two. He was about to take a dirt-nap. If he didn’t take the Nektar he would collapse. If he collapsed and didn’t complete this last phase of the mission the world and everyone on it would be toast. The lap of honor was part of the game, in the rules of engagement.

Why is the last mile the hardest mile? he said to no one.

It was a devil’s bargain. The vial of Blue NektarTM was enough to temporarily ignite his dislocated mind and power his broken, bone-tired body, but it also might kill him. And of course if he didn’t take it he might die.  I am going to regret this . . .

He snapped open the container and slammed the spike into his glanding-duct. The Nektar instantly caused his body to protest in full frame dry heaves, with wild animal screams and insane looking random tensing and flexing of his muscles. He looked like a thudding, fleshly pipe organ. Glanding Blue NektarTM was like voluntarily slamming battery acid. It would exact its cost later, but for now his mind felt handsome and sharp, his body fresh.  My mind feels like it has an exquisite mustache, he thought.

Blue NektarTM was a triple-glanded cocktail of nastiness: The first was a high powered, totally ghetto-engineered stimulant that locked into the brain stem and spread out to all systems, surfing the spine as a delivery device. It made your muscles feel like armor. It was so evil it actually released massive flows of adrenaline and synthetic endorphins that heightened awareness and temporarily increased and strengthened muscle mass. Also piled into the chemical quagmire was a steroidal, mutant mood enhancer that made you feel like you’d just had the most amazing hot tub sex, won a million dollars and were admired and loved by all.

People had been known to literally explode inside-out from too much of the stuff. Others would do a Superman out a window or slam head-on into a train in a psychotic splat of glory. For those that survived the synthetic hyper-mania the crash often resulted in suicide. It was long ago banned, NektarTM vials were the most desirable black market Glandor-SubTM.  The stuff never should have been public in the first place, but now it was a volatile, reactive compound years past its use by date.

So Holiday, now synth-pumped and feeling all shit-showered-and-shaved, got on his Aire-CykleTM and zoomed up and out of the canyon. For a microsecond he had an eerie feeling of bilocation, that his movements were not his own. He attributed the sensation to the Nektar. The cykle was cartoon broken, barely air-worthy. It had a propulsion stutter and inexplicably pulled to the left, even though it was a cycle in name only and rode on lift coupled with an antigravity gyroscope. Whatever, he’d soon be able to ditch this sub-par transport anyway. He was after all the hero of the world, or something. . . The spoils of war were his, if they weren’t fried to a crisp or melted to nothing.

As he flew out of his lair he seemed to materialize out of the side of the blue and green canyon walls. For a second there was a flicker on the smooth canyon face. The holographic veil that kept the entrance stealth momentarily waved like a curtain as he scooted away. The Bio-KonTM kept the alcove and secret Tech-ModTM within incog and shielded.

Unless you were one of five high ranking people the Bio-KonTM was trained to recognize by biorhythm, you were never getting in. The Bio-KonTM instantaneously performed an ultimate identification by simultaneously scanning the pulses and flows of several hundred body functions. It also scanned retinas, fingerprints, and even body odor. It analyzed the body’s homeostatic function and produced a data-rich algorithmic signature.

Holiday considered the data produced by these deep, complex body scans an internal symphony, a secret music of identity, a musical genome. It was an idea that at once entranced and terrified him.  The most advanced machines had gained sentience, and the most complex, least understood of these were biologically based. This was the result of brilliant but controversial experiments, the building blocks of which were plant DNA, gold alloy, human stem cells, and Living BinariTM.

The end product was a techno Frankenstein’s monster whose function and true intelligence could not be quantified. The thought of these mysterious carbon-based consciousnesses unlocking his body’s personal musical score; Yottabytes of deeply personal data that literally uncovered what made him tick made him shudder. If this dying world lived long enough maybe the fusion of Bio-KonTM, Living BinariTM and the Homeo-IN-ScansTM would be the seeds of the next war.

Man, every- fuckin-one is dead, he thought. They’re all eviscerated, evaporated, turned inside out, good old decapitated, shot, burned, crushed. A garden of delights of death. And mostly by his hand, or at least his command. These cascading, associative thoughts made him realize the Blue NektarTM was kicking in, and that he needed to stay on task or risk freaking out, or worse.

He began to get jackhammer shakes. He was fine. He just needed to keep moving, take a quick tour around the ruins, and look at a few reports from the satellites about the new shape of the world. Then he could sleep for days. But for now, he needed to fly and not kook-out on NektarTM. So what if he had a bit of a headache.

Things went red. Somehow it was red inside and outside his head. He could see spurts of red streaming first up and then back as the draft snapped the flow behind him and away. He heard himself scream. He reached his hand behind his head and found a gushing crater. There was another explosion in his head. More inside/outside/upside/down red and then the sense of nothing and everything in one collapsing point. The game was over. He won the war but lost his life. His consciousness dribbled and squirted out of his body. I saved the wor . . . his last thought floated like a headline on a screen.

Aw fuck! Martin said to no one as he removed the Vurt headpiece. He had to; the hyper-real death scene was too intense. He also unclipped the electrode-armor harness to get away from the trans-realistic Vurt sensations. Once his eyes readjusted he watched the huge projection in the game space, a hologram containing a loop of the last 30 seconds of game play. It featured Holiday Stax, the Shell character he’d lived with for months, and his spectacular death. It showed Holiday’s head explode from the inside out. It showed it from many angels and magnifications, artistically splicing the replay together like a short Snuff film.

It was the most trans-real Vurt he’d experienced, and this was the furthest he’d ever gotten. Clad in boxers and black socks, Martin’s pale body began to blubber in tears and exhaustion.

He’d lost track, but knew he’d played for at least three days straight. He looked down at his feet, at the rubble of empty Lunchables, Redbulls, two-dozen orphaned paper coffee cups, even an empty box of trucker speed from when he’d been overcome with fatigue.

From the evidence, he’d also eaten a package of uncooked hot-dogs, a whole box of Little Debbies and pissed in an empty two-liter of Mountain Dew. He blinked and stretched.  All he wanted to do was take a leak and a life-long nap. He walked over to the window, pulled aside the draped black blanket and bent down a tooth of the blind. He was blinded by pale mid-day sun. I saved the world he thought, and scratched his crotch meaningfully.


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