Friday, November 7, 2008

Creative Carnival: Fugue

The year is some time in the not to distant future. My main character, Shet Harmon - a lunar geologist and engineer, has been summonsed back from an important scientific project on the Moon to meet with the Mayor of New Brisbane about the confidential project that she's been nominated for. Arriving back on Earth the meeting is cancelled, leaving Shet rather pissed off.

In this scene she is returning from a day out driving her car (cars are banned and only an elite group of people have the money to possess and run one as a hobby!) and has been goaded into a rescheduled meeting with the Mayor by his advisor after being told the Mayor refuses to have her onboard because she's a woman. Shet gets on the Solarail and is 'chatted up' by the only other guy in the carriage.

WARNING - this entry contains strong language so if you're offended by such language, best you don't continue on reading!

He half stood as if to move to sit next to her. Shet grabbed her bag and dumped it on the seat beside her, shooting him a challenging look.

“You got a boyfriend?” Shet ignored him, toying with the idea of plugging in her music. “Hey little lady, I’m talking to you. You got a boyfriend.”

Shet played with the idea of telling him she had a girlfriend, but guessed it would just incite him further. “Actually I am a long way from home. I’m normally based on the moon.” At short notice it was the best diversion she had. She’d never been one to have those snapping comments that put people right back in their place.
“Yeah right little lady. Sure you work on the moon.”

He adjusted his crotch with little regard for decency and then spread his legs wide – resting his elbows on his thighs, planting his chin on his hands and staring at her.
“Didn’t your Mum tell you it was rude to stare?” Shet felt it start to build inside her and tried to fight it, to deep breathe it away.

He kept his eyes fixed on her, trying to zero in on her cleavage even though she had a tattered hoodie on. She kept breathing and avoided looking at him.
“I’m not talking about my Mumma little lady. You wanna talk about your Mumma?”
Inside something snapped.
“You know fuckwitt. I’d drop you in an instant if I wanted to. And you are really pissing me off.”
“Yeah right little lady. You look about as dangerous as a fly.”

She looked away, as panic raced through her eyes. She’d have to get off at the next stop and walk back to her apartment. If she hurried she’d make it back before curfew and without arousing the suspicions of the Night Watchmen. The blood began to pound in her ears. Her vision narrowed and she became more acutely aware of the fetid body odour of the pervert across from her and the rich smell of oil. Looking around the carriage she saw that it was just the two of them. There were closed circuit cameras recording every inch of the carriage, on a direct feed back to a control room in the BIP. The TransitCounter had logged the two of them getting on, the time, the location and their citizen number. It placed her on the train.

She groped with one hand for the strap of her bag as an automated voice announced the next station.

They were back in the city limits.

“You don’t have a boyfriend do you little lady. You’re wound up tight – need a good fuck that’s what your problem is?” Shet kept breathing, the blood was thundering in her ears now, her muscles tense with anticipation.

“It’s that damn chip in your brain. All you damn women and that chip.” Her pupils narrowed and there was a sour, dry taste in her mouth. She willed him to shut up. To just shut the fuck up - for his own sake.

The automated voice announced their arrival and the doors opened. Shet never understood why they always automatically opened but this once was relieved to see them slide open of their own free will. Grabbing her bag tight to her chest and launching herself from the seat in one fluid movement, she ran past the sexual prowler who mistimed his lurch, fingers brushing her arm as she flew past him and out on onto the platform. She prayed that he was sensible, that he stayed on the train, but she heard with shocking clarity the footfall of his heavy boots on the concrete behind her. The platforms were all unmanned and unlit beyond 10 metres. She looked up at the camera and saw as she ran past that the light on the camera was red. It was inactive.

The sound of blood forcing itself through her ears drowned out anything else, and she ran, out into the darkness, taking the stairs from the platform three at a time down onto the parkway. Her assailant was faster than she’d given him credit for. But she hadn’t actually sized him up. Racing out onto the parkway she jettisoned her bag, needing both her hands. Any sense of logic had gone, overwhelmed by the black haze.

Her eyes adjusted to the darkness and she tried to put some distance between them. She saw a pole ahead, heard the crack of the advertising banner as the wind caught the material. She took the risk of slowing enough to gauge his distance behind her, and changed her course ever so slightly, her muscles obeying with power and agility. As the pole approached she jumped out to grab it, feeling her arms snap as they took up the momentum and she swung her legs around, bracing with her abdominals and pulled the pole close into her chest to maximise the power of the impact.

Her legs whipped around, horizontal to the ground and her feet crashed into his chest, propelling him backwards. Shet let go of the pole and they moved together through the air, Shet landing crouched over him. Before he could move, register what had just happened, she clenched her fist and jabbed it into his throat, hearing the satisfying crunch of her knuckles crushing his wind pipe. His eyes wide open in disbelief locked into hers and she held them as his body twitched, then went limp. She felt numb … empty ... automatic.

With calculated precision, Shet pulled down the sleeve of her shirt, the one she hadn’t used to soak up the sweat and checked for a pulse. Then she stood, tracked back to where she had thrown her bag, using her hands in the darkness to check the contents of her bag, and then on hands and knees making a quick visual check of the area to ensure nothing that could identify her had fallen out. She stood, surveyed the immediate area, and satisfied that she was still alone, she did some slow stretches to help her muscles cool and her breathing to return to normal. Everything was silent, the rush of blood gone. A night bird twittered nearby. She pulled the backpack over her shoulders and turned the station without a second glance backwards at the dark shape lying on the path behind.

Later, lounging on her king sized bed naked, her wet hair wrapped in a towel, Shet sipped chamomile tea as her computer booted up. With ease she hacked into the Solarail security stream, located the portion of vision she was looking for and deleted it, set up an alternate string of data to make it look like a camera malfunction, checked the vision from the station and any other cameras in the nearby area then cleaned up her own hacking trail.

_____ The NewsFeed screen flashed up the perpetual string of visual and sound bites that constituted news as Shet chewed on a piece of toast, a note pad covered in scribbled ideas pushed to one side. The meeting with the Mayor was in less than two hours.

She amped up the sound with a voice command when she saw a news item about a body found on a residential parkway on the city limits. There was a visual of a lump, covered in a white sheet with words streamed across the bottom - Violent death of a male linked to other parkway deaths? The Commissioner of The Night Watchmen’s voice was overlaid making a statement to deny that this attack was linked to the spate of violent deaths of women in the area followed by the Chief Executive Officer of Solarail commenting that the security system was not working at the time. A viewer commented via text transfer that maybe he was the perp of the other crimes and he’d obviously got what was coming to him. She certainly hoped so.

Shet couldn't remember New Brisbane being such a violent place the last time she was back from the Moon. She was glad that she knew some martial arts to keep herself safe, but she'd be glad to be back on the moon.

Reaching for the second piece of toast, Shet took huge bite out of one corner and stared at the screen. It was happening again. It was as though she was meant to remember something, know something ... a niggling sense in the back of her consciousness, the feeling of something on the tip of her tongue. When nothing came to her, she shrugged her shoulders, took another bite of her toast and glanced down at the points she’d made on the notepad in preparation for the meeting.

KEEP CALM … DO NOT LOSE YOUR TEMPER! .... even if you think the guy is a fuckwitt and you didn't vote for him.

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