Web of Chaos
Before the sun rose, Gill got out of his bed in a tiny apartment much like a cheap hotel room. The bed and a small table with a single chair decorated the home. A small bathroom jutted out from one corner, and a closet took up another. Between them stood the front door. At the back, a small window looked out over the gray world and rain poured down on tall buildings as far as the eye could see.
In his white boxer shorts, Gill ambled to the shower. Setting his Aivot to play a Malvina Reynolds song “What Have They Done To The Rain,” covered by Marianne Faithfull. His head filled with music. An eerie sensation of coming from his ears but also some indiscernible location; his brain’s way of attempting to figure out how to interpret new sensory input it did not evolve for.
An ancient song of course, but Gill did not care much for most modern music. As a teenager, he figured he would search the net for the first audio recording of music ever made. Gill enjoyed the less convoluted, straightforward genres. The manageable amount of artist he found comforting; no flooding the market with millions of new songs a day. It took too long for his liking to find one good song by searching through modern music. So, he limited his search parameters by date and occasionally increased the year if an artist he liked still produced music after his previous cutoff point.
Not closing the door to the bathroom, Gill took off his boxers and stepped into the shower; it turned on. The water flowed out at the preset temperature with no waiting for it to equalize. He enjoyed the sound of the water drops hitting the floor. Five minutes later the water turned off, bright pinpoint white lights came on, and fans blew warm air. Dried in seconds, Gill stepped out. He thought of shaving but did not bother to.
Opening the closet, Gill grabbed a pair of boxers; the hanger released them from its clasps. All the boxers, socks, and T-shirts hanging up were white. All of the suits were the same as each other.
Finished dressing, Gill held his dark-blue tie close to his neck, and it attached itself.
Gill’s Aivot alerted him to a call. “Answer,” he thought and the system connected to his PAD. “Hello, sweetie.”
The animated face of his daughter Sydnie beamed with happiness from his display. “Hi, daddy. Look,” said Sydnie speaking loud and holding up a tablet with a drawing of a unicorn riding on top of a spaceship.
“Wow, that’s pretty imaginative.” Gill downloaded the image file from the tablet.
Sydnie looked at the tablet, glanced back at her Dad, and back at her drawing again. “Mommy helped.”
“She said to draw a spaceship… So, I drew a spaceship. Then I wanted to draw a unicorn… So, I drew a unicorn.” Sydnie pronounced drew and draw in a peculiar way. Looking back at her drawing, she stared at it for a second. “Do you like it?”
“I love it,” said Gill smiling.
Multitasking, Gill viewed the information gathered from the PAD hack of the G.E recruit.
Opening her eyes wide, his daughter moved her face close to the PAD’s camera. “Come over.”
“I can’t right now.”
“Oh.” She frowned and her eyelids drooped.
“We can play a game.” Gill connected to her tablet with his Aivot and opened a game.
“No, no. Picture.” Sydnie tapped the tablet and got her drawing to come back on the screen.
“Ok, we can play on the PAD,” said Gill accessing her drone.
A half-eaten dried out biscuit sat atop a paper wrapper on the table. Gill picked it up and took a bite, heading out to his car.
Moving her character on the game, Sydnie looked at her Dad’s face in the top right corner, unaware it was a representation of his current face and expression created by AI.
“Daddy,” she said cheesed off.
“Sorry sweetie,” said Gill, moving his character.
In a small industrial zone nestled in between high hills, a run-down old factory building clanged with noise. Inside people worked on an enormous humanoid mechanized machine laid on its back. Supported by scaffolding the Arkvee had workers laboring around it. Large red Dunamis crystals in a concave equilateral decagon star shape protruded out of the machine and ended in a point.
In one corner of the factory, Diesel yelled over the noise to Joe a foot away. “We’re all set up to attack the Chrysomallus. Just need to get in position.”
“Too bad the Arkvee ain’t ready… Would have been a breeze. Level the whole area. Bunch of demon horn loving freaks living there with them,” said Joe.
“We got bigger plans for that Onslaught. Don’t need it for those demon-sheep. And put that drone and exo-armor in the truck. They work. We’re moving them out of here.”
“Those idiot pirates. What’re we going to do with a Rephaim exo-armor?”
“I’m sure we’ll figure something out.”
Outside Joe covered the drone in the back of his pickup truck with a tarp. He and Diesel loaded the large Rephaim exo-armor in next. Way too big for a human to wear, Joe chucked it in the back feeling it had no value. It clanked off the pickup truck’s cargo bed. Joe couldn’t hurt it treating it in such a way, not even if he took a sledgehammer to it.
“Hey. I found out what your name means,” said Joe, bending over to pick up another part.
“You really enjoy learning useless information, don’t you?”
“You’re named after a fuel,” said Joe snickering. “Yeah. One used in pickup trucks even… Long time ago.”
“Like a type of battery chemical?”
“No, a liquid fuel for engines.”
“Whatever. Just deliver this stuff,” said Diesel throwing the last piece in.
“Ok.” Joe climbed into the driver’s seat. “You know they used to think everyone would have flying cars by now, not just the government and the rich.”
“Just go.” Shaking his head, Diesel walked back into the factory.
As the sun set, Snorri plodded along down the sidewalk. A tall, broad alien man with a long neck, Snorri made sure not to make eye contact with anyone. It might have helped a little, but it did not stop people from throwing trash at him; though they gave the big man lots of space. A few hustled into the street around parked cars to feel extra safe. Not built for an alien species as broad as him, the sidewalk was too narrow for anyone to pass him while he walked on it.
“Go back to where you came from you stupid Rephaim,” said someone not pronouncing all the words right and throwing an empty plastic juice pouch at him.
Snorri did not look up and walked on.
Coming down the block, Wendy looked at her PAD’s screen the whole time, oblivious of Snorri right in front of her. A gust of wind blew, and her dark blue, oversized T-shirt flapped in the wind.
Almost bumping into Snorri, Wendy startled, pulling the PAD away from her face. “Ew!”
Snorri jerked to a stop for a second and turned sideways, squeezing past while careful not to touch her.
“What’s wrong with me. Why’d I say that?” Thought Wendy feeling bad. Embarrassed, Wendy hurried on her way, a wave of heat flushing through her.
Not much later, a group of teenagers approached her.
“Hey, Wendy. Can you fix my PAD?” One young woman held out her drone.
“What’s wrong with it?” Wendy said in her soft voice and taking the PAD.
“It won’t unfold.”
Wendy poked at the screen and handed it back to the young woman. “Unlock it.”
Taking out her own PAD, Wendy sent a request to the young woman’s one. “Accept to authorize me access to it.”
“Ok,” said the young woman tapping on the request’s accept icon.
Wendy took the PAD back. With one in each hand, she used her thumbs to navigate through both devices. “It’s a physical problem. I’ll have to take it home to fix.”
“Ugg,” said the young woman slouching her shoulders and leaning her head back. “When will I get it back?”
“If you’re out front of my place at 6:00am, I’ll give it to you then. Fixed or not.”
“Aw come on. All night. What am I going to do?”
“Well, you can keep it for now. A company’s going to charge you a spine and a brain to fix it.”
“No. I’ll be there in the morning.”
“Come on Wendy. Six. Really.”
“It has to be six or earlier.”
“Ok. Six. You’re crazy… but smart… Thank you.”
Wendy put each PAD away in different pockets and continued on home.
While listening in on the G.E recruit’s PAD he hacked, Gill logged the faces that came within the camera’s sight. None of the photos or videos on the PAD were of much help concerning the G.E, though Gill kept them in his database.
Not getting any visual from the PAD anymore and done with his other work, Gill headed to his apartment. He would wait for his AI programs to report more information before deciding what to do next.
Listening in Gill heard a door open and close. Silent for a while then a lot of scuffling sounds and grunting the hacked PAD disconnected from Gill’s system.
Gill contacted the local authorities.
Copyright Conrad Brubaker 2018