Wednesday, March 22, 2017

CD Review: AKRAL NECROSIS Underlight

AKRAL NECROSIS
Underlight
This is some rather punishing black metal from Bucharest in Europe. Akral Necrosis are a talented bunch too... this is technically accomplished black metal.... off the top of my head i can't think of that much to relate it too as it also crosses into death metal territory with some "off tap" (as we aussies like to call it) guitar work. Akral Necrosis have the usual black metal riffage and brutal as all hell drumming but it is never sloppy or off time, this is very professional stuff. Upon listening to there are some cool ethnic scales displayed in the guitar playing (middle eastern sounding stuff) and strange dropped chords which make for a truly ethereal atmosphere, which is hard to do when playing so fast. The lads apparently came together from a bunch of 'melodic bands' and their command of melodies certainly shines through on this release.
I have nothing to say about these guys that is a top notch release and very professionally presented music the recording quality is excellent and every note and nuance in the music comes through well. Put simply, these guys have kicked my ass. I’m not the only one either as these guys have shared the stage with luminaries such as Rotting Christ, Hecate Enthroned, Ancient Rites, Absu and Septic Flesh (amongst many others.
All I can say is HAIL AKRAL NECROSIS and give the guys a like on Facebook

Track list:
1. Separator
2. King in Yellow
3. Saturnian Gallows
4. Exhortatio ad Bellum
5. Purge
6. Sin Gauntlet
7. Hounds of Plague
8. Blackthrone
9. Underlight

CD Review: THE CRUCIFIER/HATE YOUR FATE Split

Split CD
Floga Records
This is a neat little listen and a quick shot in the arm if you need a mid to late 80's injection of crossover/thrash/crust mainlined right up your arm.
There is nothing particularly original about this ... That is not to say there's anything wrong with it; in fact it is really good! Sometimes there is no need to expand or create something new, sometimes you just need to thrash and this is the shit quite frankly.
FIRST UP: CRUCIFIER
This is an adrenaline filled hit of thrash metal reminiscent of DRI and early thrash days of Sodom and Slayer... basically all the cool shit that nobody is doing anymore... The lads can play and they know a thing or two about old school thrash metal. The recording quality is great (no digital/pro tools sounding shit here... I actually have no idea how they recorded it but it doesn't sound pro tools so that’s a plus) and brings across that old school thrash metal feel and really takes me back to a better time when riffs were just brutal and solos were just out of key attempts at jamming as many notes in as short a period of time as you can. (Again, think of those early slayer / Sodom guitar solos)
NEXT UP: HATE YOUR FATE
Hate Your Fate have a more punk approach to what they do and the bass is much more melodic and upfront in the mix ... once again congrats to these guys on a great sounding old school mix on the instruments especially the bass.... their riffage is a bit more crust/grindcore than Crucifier but still glorious stuff. These guys match Crucifier in every way but they have their own identity, if you can think back to the Exploited in both terms of riffage and vocals this will give you a good idea of where these dudes are at. Short sharp bursts of hardcore/crust fury and very listenable. No guitar solos though ha-ha!
Overall I had a great deal of fun listening to this and it was pretty much all I could to stop from thrashing around my lounge room like an idiot.... This stuff makes you want to move! -Reggae

Track list:
1. Crucifier - Life Ain't so Well
2. Crucifier - Death Squad (Sacred Reich Cover)
3. Hate Your Fate - Surfing Dirt
4. Hate Your Fate - Brain Eating Machines
5. Hate Your Fate - Someone to Smash

Single Review: THE DUSKFALL World Of Lies

The Duskfall’s Facebook community page announces the band’s return. This is encouraging news though I wasn’t aware they left. I read the Swedish band took a seven year hiatus following a demo, a compilation appearance and four full lengths from 2001 to 2007. In 2014 they released a new full length Where The Tree Stands Dead and in 2015 their latest single was made available for streaming. Their newly released track World Of Lies is for fans of Hypocrisy, Amon Amarth and God Dethroned, who appreciate Iron Maiden lead harmonies and deeply buried but notable hardcore undertones: all the elements that made melodic death metal worthwhile from 1996 to 2000. For my first impression of what the band does musically, they pull off carrying the torch for those bands cited with a vengeance. The production is so caustic, most expressly in Mikael Sandorf and Jakob Björnfot’s guitars, I suspect my face is going to be corroded by a sheet of acid-coated sandpaper. One song is little to go on when determining a band’s innate talent, but the Soundcloud link that this track appears on also features two others: pre-production clips of Meadows and Peacemaker. The lead harmonies are prominent in World Of Lies and ease the listener through a song that is an otherwise rough customer. As do the clean production in the drum and bass tracks (Sebastian Lindgren, Anton Lindbäck). Aki Häkkinen exhibits powerful vocals and sufficient range to handle the mood changes. Close to the end is a brief section with the leads providing some respite before the song is carried all the way home. -Dave Wolff

Monday, March 20, 2017

Blog Review: GORENOGRAPHY

Since 2014 Gorenography has sustained the spotlight on classic gore flicks, the sort that appealed to fans with the strongest stomachs in the glorious eighties. You may ask if this is a genuine nostalgic spirit, if the reviews shed new light on unsung classics or if a bygone era is simply being run into the ground. After all, you can assume you’re reading about movies you’re long familiar with and you want to read of new movies to see how they compare with the classic era. Or since an endless succession of internet outlets has spawned an equally endless onslaught of movies it takes longer to search through, and the information age allows for less time to do so you’re looking for a simpler outlet. Kristin Theckston summed this up with her blog I’ll Slash Thru The Rest To Get To The Best. Gorenography is similar to Theckston’s blog in that it presents compendiary blurbs for movies from Nosferatu (1922) to Friday The 13th (1980) to Re-Animator and Day Of The Dead (1985) to The Human Centipede, The Green Inferno and Krampus (2015). As such this blog has something for fans of classic and modern horror and may well introduce the latter to several gems they missed out on. Some of the reviews are accompanied by trailer clips you can also read some posts on sci-fi movies and metal bands. -Dave Wolff

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Retribution: Better The Devil You Know by David Smith Part Nine

Retribution: Better The Devil You Know
Novel by David Smith

Available through Amazon and his official website.

“The strength of two connected neural pathways is thought to result in the storage of information, resulting in memory. This process of synaptic strengthening is known as long term potentiation.”

*****

“Who can say where inside a man’s body his soul is kept? Who can pinpoint a part of his brain, or even a single synapse, and say this is or is not the essence of that person? Can one body be possessed by two souls, and if so is one equally as guilty of the crimes committed by the other?”

Part Nine

I curse my weakness and stupidity as I watch Abel and Jane talking beside the car. The smiles have gone and whatever they are now discussing must be a serious matter. Jane is animated again, like she’d been in the diner when Abel and his thugs acted out their pantomime, pretending to abduct her. I churn over the memory of what happened then and feel my anger rising. Jake was a gullible fool. He fell for their plan to abduct him hook, line and sinker. She was so clever, playing along with Abel as if she was being taken by force, the little frightened glances towards Jake, the barely perceptible shakes of her head. He believed it all and followed along like a dumb sheep right into Abel’s trap.
She must have been in on it all along. Everything that went before, every event since I ran after the phone call to Jessup’s bar was to maneuver Jake into that mobile portal unit to transport him to a secure place where he could be held prisoner before his trial. So what went wrong? Jane played her part brilliantly even inside the prison. Jake never suspected at any time she was playing for the other side.
But why?
I can figure out what went wrong at the base where we were being held. That was down to the violent and unpredictable behavior of Krillik.
Whoever masterminded the whole scheme hadn’t anticipated Krillik would want to take out his revenge on me as soon as I’d been captured. Torturing then killing me when I was in Grow’s custody, and before the trial, would have been disastrous for Grow. That single act of violence would have screwed everything up for Grow big style. If Krillik had killed me The Powers would undoubtedly rule in favour of Noone that Earth should be left in peace. Grow would lose everything as far as harvesting their investment from Earth was concerned.
So, we had to be allowed to escape. That was probably stage managed. Krillik wasn’t involved. He never knew anything about it. I could see it in his eyes when he burst into the portal room to see me on the transporter mat covered in fibrils, slipping out of his clutches. I could see the shock and anger on his face. A fraction of a second earlier and I would have felt the sting of the bullet from his Glock. It would probably have been the last thing I would ever feel.
I watch as a low loader trundles into the parking lot of the diner. I recognize what it is straight away. Jake and Jane helped design them back in the days when they were hunting Zygs. On the back of the low loader is what looks like a standard international shipping container, solid metal sides and frame, no windows, painted red. I know inside the container will be a prison cell, a cage, a Titanium cube built into the container’s walls, ceiling and floor. I expect this one will be modified especially to accommodate me. It’ll be thick lead lined with a special air conditioning system, one that will keep me alive if I’m a good boy and do as I’m told, but one that will draw a vacuum inside the container if I don’t behave myself. Even a Torp as strong as me has to breathe.
My legs are shackled with Graphene bands on a short, close linked Graphene chain so I can only shuffle along slowly. I have a goon either side of me gripping my arms to keep me steady, and one behind with the bolt of his Hi-V gun pressed against the back of my neck. I’m lead across the parking lot towards the back of the low loader. A couple more goons have lowered a ramp at the back of the low loader and opened the large double doors of the container. I can see inside as they guide me towards the ramp. I’m right on the money.
My new home.
They’ve made it nice and cozy for me. How thoughtful. There’s a single cot, standard army issue, a can in the far right hand corner with a sink and shower area beside it, no screens. Against the side wall to the left is a large TV screen mounted into the container wall and protected by a sheet of thick Perspex. Underneath this is a desk and chair, bare, no writing tools or paper. The ceiling inside the container is brightly lit by neon strip bulbs mounted into the ceiling and again protected by sheets of thick Perspex. This is so they can control my day and night. I know that once I’m inside this little prison box of theirs then the chances of my ever escaping are very low. I also know there will be a time, a moment, a small lapse in their security, a chance, and I will take that chance and wreak havoc amongst these people. My revenge will be merciless. I will rain down my punishment on them. I will cause untold suffering. They will learn.
The two goons either side of me walk by my side holding my arms as I shuffle up the ramp. When I’m at the top I carefully lift my right leg, then my left over the lip of the container door strip. They move me along till I’m beside the cot.
‘We’re going to lay you face down,’ says one of the goons. Nice of him to tell me. I know what’s coming next and I feel my anger rising. When they’ve lowered me face first onto the cot they step away, back towards the door of the container. I brace myself. The third cop, the one poking the prongs of the Hi-V into the back of my neck, steps forward. He aims and fires the weapon. I feel the pain as the bolt hits my shoulder and the prongs bury themselves into my flesh, but he doesn’t press the trigger to send the bolt of electricity into my body just yet. The two that had put me on the cot now return and take up positions either side of the cot. I look up at one of them and see through the grid of his face visor that he’s smiling. My day will come.
I silently swear an oath to myself. There are 196 countries on Earth right now. There will be a city in each one that in time will become a watchword for my power and my terrible vengeance. I swear that the populations of these 196 cities on this planet will suffer. I will bring these people to their knees. Once they are completely subjugated I will raise them up. If Grow wants to wage war on me, the armies of the Earth under my command will take the fight to them. I have not been ambitious enough. No planet of the worlds I know has developed weaponry as sophisticated and destructive as that found on Earth. Why shouldn’t I use this awesome destructive power to dominate not just Earth but the universe itself? But that will all come later. Right now I have the small matter of my survival then my escape to deal with.
It’s a fraction of a second after I see the smile on the goon’s face that the bolt of energy hits my body. My back arches and my muscles go into spasm as the jolt of electricity crashes into my nervous system. I’m immediately paralyzed and in excruciating pain. A wall of darkness descends over me as I lose consciousness.

*****

I have no concept of how long I’ve been unconscious. I awake to the bright light in the room stinging my eyes. I’m now laying face upwards on the cot staring straight at the ceiling. The lead lined helmet is gone, removed by the goons while I was unconscious. The ankle and wrist cuffs have also been removed. I’m free to roam around my new prison unimpeded. This is more than I expect; humane treatment of a prisoner, even one as dangerous as me. I see this as another flaw, another weakness in the nature of mankind that I can exploit.
I sit up on the cot and look around the small room. There is a hatch about two feet square near the floor on the wall with the TV screen. I assume this will be for getting objects in and out of the container, like food, drink and signed confession documents. I notice my watch has been removed, but otherwise I’m clothed as I was when I was captured.
The TV screen is switched on. I’m not surprised to discover it’s a closed circuit monitor, not a source of entertainment. The picture is of what looks like a small room, an office of some sort, bare white walls, a row of seats behind a long plain desk, nobody there. I stand up and stretch my limbs. They ache from the Hi-V hit. I walk around the room checking everything out, my mind searching for anything here I can turn to my advantage. I tap, then bang on the walls, solid as steel. I climb onto the chair by the desk and repeat what I’ve just done to the walls for the ceiling. It’s the same material, thick and solid. I lift the lid of the can. It’s spotlessly clean, the water in the well a dark purple, a chemical toilet. It’ll be plumbed into a sump somewhere, probably mounted beneath the low loader and not connected to external pipe work. So, I figure the container is still on the low loader. I figure they plan to keep me inside this and move me around from time to time, one secure army base to another probably.
Why?
I think I know. Krillik must be loose out there and still hunting for me to take his revenge. Whoever is behind my capture wants to keep me alive.
Why?
Again I think I know. I have to be kept alive until I can be made to face the charges brought against me in a court of law. But which court of law? That of Grow; The Powers; The United Nations here on Earth? No doubt I will find out soon enough.
I don’t hear any external noises but I feel movement. The container will be lead lined on all surfaces to prevent me planting visions in my captors’ minds, so the lining will make the container virtually sound proof. The movement is slow, a jerking then as if I’m slowly rolling, gathering speed. I figure the low loader is moving off somewhere, taking me to a place that will have even tighter security to keep me from harm and from doing harm.
‘Hey!’ I shout at the top of my voice, ‘How about something to drink in here!’
No answer but I know I’m being monitored. There will be microphones and other sensors mounted somewhere in the lining of the container. I should know. Jake insisted that the designers build these into the fabric of these cells. It’s so the SOS could keep a close eye on the creatures they had to keep safe while being moved, the Dreeks and Torps left behind a couple of years back. Creatures Earth’s scientists want to study like lab rats.
I settle back down on the cot. Nothing will happen while I’m being moved so I decide to give the impression to those watching me that I’m taking a nap. I close my eyes and relax, my mind going over every single event since the call to Jessup’s bar for Jake. If I’m going to escape I need to figure out who my captors are and what will happen to me next.

*****

Because they’ve taken my wristwatch I don’t know how long the low loader has been traveling but I sense it’s now stopped. I wait a while, half expecting to hear the banging of chains against the side of the container as it is hooked up to a crane before lifting it free from the low loader. Nothing though, so I figure I was right and they’ll keep my little prison cell on the back of the truck so I can be shifted around from time to time, when things get hot.
The TV suddenly bursts into life.
‘Are you comfortable?’ says a disembodied voice, not one I recognize.
‘Could do with a bottle of Jack Daniels,’ I say, in a hardly audible whisper. I want to test how sensitive their equipment is.
‘Sorry, no alcohol. Do you want anything else?’
Very sensitive.
‘Yes,’ I say, ‘I want to know what the fuck is going on.’
There is silence for a short while then an image flashes onto the screen. It’s a head shot of a face I recognize. It’s the head and shoulder I.D. photograph of the puppy Dreek. The information printed below the mug shot tells me a lot more about what happened earlier;
‘Field Agent Timothy Llewellyn, Counter-Intelligence Division, FBI National Security Branch.’
The bastard wasn’t a Dreek after all. They must have selected an FBI officer that had similar build and features to a Dreek and completed the job with prosthetic facial modification.
Why?
‘Did you really need to kill this man?’ says the big voice in the sky, ‘Surely you could have planted a vision in his head and just taken the keys to the van from him.’
‘Jake Redwood killed him, not me,’ I say.
‘You’re one and the same,’ says the big voice.
‘Shows how much you bastards know,’ I say.
‘You were happy to use your special gift at Westfield. Do you want to know how many deaths you were responsible for in Anglesey?’
‘Not me,’ I say, ‘Your guy, Field Agent Llewellyn. Ironic that it turns out he had a Welsh name, isn’t it?’
‘An estimated 68,600 dead within ten seconds of the blast. We’ll never really know the true number. The probability is the British will suffer that many dead again within ten years from the radioactive fall out. Why did you do it, Jek?’
The voice is dead pan, not angry, not really inquisitive, emotionless, like an announcer on the radio reading a script.
‘Like I said, I didn’t. Your fake Dreek did it.’
‘Why did you kill all those innocent people?’
‘They weren’t all innocent. Some of them must have been guilty of something bad.’
No reply.
I’ve a feeling that whoever was speaking to me has gone. After what I guess must be ten minutes or so I figure nothing more is going to happen soon, so I lie back on the cot, shut my eyes and try to get some sleep. As soon as my eyes are close the alarm starts, a high pitched screech, intermittent in short, randomly spaced bursts, almost deafening. I clutch my hands to my ears to try to deaden the noise but they’ve been clever. The frequency is such that no matter how hard I press the heels of my hands against my ears the shrieking gets through. They want me tired.
I get up and walk around the room slowly, trying to figure out where the speakers are located, but the racket seems to be coming from everywhere. They’re using electrostatic devices mounted into the walls of the container. The whole place is one big speaker. I smile at the TV screen and lie back down on the cot. Let them have their fun now. I’ll have mine later.
The racket suddenly stops and the silence is deafening. After a minute or so the ringing in my head starts to abate and I feel normal again.
‘Why did you kill all those innocent people?’
‘Fuck you!’
The image of the FBI agent I killed is back on the screen, Field Agent Timothy Llewellyn, Counter-Intelligence Division, FBI National Security Branch.
‘Did you really think that leaving the body of what you thought was a Dreek at the scene of your heinous crime would fool us?’
‘Fuck you!’
The alarm starts again. I now know this will be a torture chamber as well as a prison cell. No beatings, no drugs, they won’t leave a mark on me or a trace of nasty chemicals inside me. It will be done through psychological torture, sleep deprivation and disorientation. I know why they want to get to me this way. I will be examined before I go on trial and whoever is doing this wants me clean so they come across to the court as whiter than white.
What do they want from me?
It’s time for me to engage in the process, get to the meat.
‘Hey you,’ I shout at the TV screen at the top of my voice, ‘I did it to kill Krillik. You know he’s back down on Earth, don’t you?’
The alarm stops.
There’s a long period of silence before I hear the big voice again.
‘Obviously we know Krillik is back on Earth.’
Then silence.
‘Why did you kill all those innocent people?’ says the voice, suddenly, dispassionately.
‘Why not?’ I say quietly, ‘It’s just collateral damage, that’s all. It’s a small price for humanity to pay to rid the planet of the man sent here to carry out the genocide of all mankind.’
‘Your friend Krillik?’
‘Fuck you!’
The alarm starts and I go over to the cot and bury my head in the pillow. It’s going to be a long and painful process I have to endure before I can get these bastards to reveal what they want from me. The alarm stops again but I don’t move. Let them wait.

*****

I guess the process of asking me a question then pressing the alarm button if they didn’t like the answer has been going on for about twenty four hours. I’m exhausted and they are relentless, the same monotonous voice, the same four questions;
‘Why did you do it, Jek?’
‘Why did you kill all those innocent people?’
‘Did you really think that leaving the body of what you thought was a Dreek at the scene of your heinous crime would fool us?’
‘Your friend Krillik?’
Then the pattern suddenly changes. The TV screen comes to life again. This time there’s TV footage from news crews, no sound track, presumably taken from the first reporters allowed into the area around Anglesey, streets, towns, hospitals, pictures of the dead and dying, men, women and children, body parts, graphic and horrifying images. Underneath the pictures is a ticker-tape updating the news as it changes.
‘. . . US Intelligence Agencies have analysed the security footage taken from inside the nuclear missile facility. The original statement that a security guard launched the missile, then killed everyone in the facility before committing suicide has been updated.’
‘. . . It is now believed that an as yet unidentified person gained access to the facility and committed this abominable criminal act.’
‘. . . The body of a man suspected as being the man that launched the nuclear attack on Britain has been discovered amongst those injured at Westfield shopping mall. The body has been identified as that of Field Agent Timothy Llewellyn, a Counter-Intelligence Officer working for the FBI.’
‘. . . A post mortem on the body of Timothy Llewellyn, the FBI agent thought to be the person responsible for launching the nuclear attack on Britain, has revealed he died from a broken neck and that his death occurred several hours before the attack was launched. This person has now been discounted from the investigation.’
‘. . . Detective Jake Redwood, the recent subject of a huge nationwide manhunt, recently described by the authorities as the most dangerous man in the USA, has now been implicated in the launching of the nuclear attack on Britain. . .’
I watch and wait. Eventually, when they think I’ve seen sufficient scenes of death and carnage the big voice starts again.
‘Why did you do it, Jek?’
‘I told you, dumb ass,’ I snap at whoever this bastard is. I’m getting tired, very tired, ‘To kill Krillik! Come on! I’m admitting I fired the missile, okay? All those deaths are a price worth paying if the end result is the death of Krillik.’
‘Why did you kill all those innocent people?’
‘Fuck you.’
The news coverage images fade and are replaced by a different type of image stream. I recognize it straight away. It’s views from many different people’s eyes, what they see or more accurately saw. It’s recordings from seed readers, again with no sound track. The subject matter, however, is more or less the same, a stream of images of death. I’m looking through someone else’s eyes at bodies laying on the floor, lined up waiting to be put into body bags. I see people moving the bodies. They’re dressed in biohazard protective clothing from head to toe. I can’t see their faces for the masks and breathing apparatus they are wearing.
I’m looking at corridors, passageways, broad malls, offices, restaurants, escalators. It’s the inside of a massive building, huge glass walls and windows, broad avenues and walkways. There are bodies lying around everywhere, some alive but stricken, flailing arm and leg movements, their faces black and blistered, a mass of huge erupted black boils. Those still alive are vomiting and choking, weak and exhausted, as good as gone.
The dead and dying are humanlike but I know they are not humans. I recognize the building. I’ve been inside it many times. I’ve worked inside this building. I even have my own office inside this place. It’s the huge office and commercial complex that houses the Grow headquarters.
‘Why did you kill all those innocent people?’

*****

After about an hour of streaming the images of those killed or injured by the Revelation spores inside the Grow building the screen fades to a neutral grey but only for a few minutes. When they resume I’m again looking at seed reader images, and again no sound track. I recognize what the images are. These are the recordings made by Krillik during our encounter two years ago. We talk. We fight. I see the point at which I manage to snatch his personal portal from his pocket and stab it into his head. The image becomes blurred because the portal’s fibrils are lashing around Krillik’s body but my fist can be clearly seen crashing into Krillik’s breast pocket. Krillik must have looked down at his chest. The image clearly shows a small patch of green / black liquid forming a ring in the fabric of Krillik’s jacket before the image stops abruptly. When the stream finishes it immediately repeats itself. I’m treated to a repeat performance, then another, and another.
‘Why did you kill all those innocent people?’
I have no idea how many times this sequence is shown but it seems like hours. If I look away from the screen, or stand and turn my back, or even close my eyes for more than a blink the alarm starts immediately and continues until I’m once again watching the screen.
Eventually this image stream stops and the TV fades to a grey. But again it’s only for a couple of minutes of merciful relief for me. The TV flashes back into life and again it’s images of the dead and dying. A shudder runs through my body. I recognize these images and I know I’m in much deeper trouble than I thought I was. The deaths of the people in Anglesey could be justified as an act necessary in the protection of the human race on Earth, terrible though it may be. The deaths at the Grow complex could be justified, again as an act to protect the human race from Grow. But the images I’m looking at now I cannot justify.
I’m looking at an elderly male in the middle of the screen, not human. I know exactly who he is. Again there is no sound track but I can repeat word for word what he is saying. It’s a plea for help desperately needed. It’s a plea to any and every planet that is capable of receiving the message. It’s a plea to help save his species from death by Oxygen gas poisoning. The man is the leader of the Phalks, the people of Arginet. He made this desperate plea for help when the levels of toxic gas, Oxygen being poisonous to the Phalks, had reached a level where their bodies couldn’t tolerate it any more. A trigger point had been reached and people were dying in their millions.
No help came. The Phalks, were a genetically modified species, seeded by Grow and therefore Grow’s property. Grow sought legal authority from The Powers to block all assistance to Arginet. As the race belonged to Grow, it would decide what action to take to save the species. Grow sent portals down to the planet, nowhere near enough, but it was just enough to give The Powers the impression Grow was doing whatever it could to save the species. Many millions of Phalks died.
The images on the screen show the extent of the death and destruction. I see humanlike men, women, children, hundreds and hundred, dead and dying, a never ending stream of suffering, all with the backdrop of the most beautiful planet in the universe. The image stream continues for hours and hours. I’m exhausted.
‘Why did you kill all those innocent people?’
Whoever this is must already know my part in this tragedy. I’m the one that seeded the oceans on Arginet with the genetically modified Storret micro-organism, causing the atmosphere to change. The Phalks needed a high percentage of Carbon Dioxide to breathe. Storret metabolized the Carbon Dioxide giving out Oxygen in copious amounts in the process. The atmosphere, the air on Arginet became deadly to the Phalks but perfect for other humanlike species, perfect for reaping massive profits from the exploitation of this beautiful planet by Grow.

*****
I know the low loader has moved several times in long runs that must have been for hours, then stopped for a similar a amount of time, then moved again. I have no idea of time. The bright lights have remained on constantly since I was incarcerated in this mobile cell. I would guess I’ve been watching these news streams over and over now for at least three days with no sleep, no food or water, not even a few moments to turn my head away.
A new video sequence starts. Despite being absolutely exhausted my adrenaline starts to pump when I see what they’re feeding me through the TV. It’s a sequence of video I didn’t know existed but I know exactly where and when it was recorded. I can’t remember by whom, the person was so insignificant in the scheme of things. The video begins with doors opening. Someone has recorded this video through a seed reader so I’m seeing what they saw when the recording was made. There are wide corridors, carpeted, expensive. There is a set of double doors. The person filming walks up to them and pushes through. He or she is inside a lounge, very select furnishings. I recognize exactly what it is. It’s a V.I.P. holding pen pre-departure for a shuttle portal. I also know where it is, inside the Grow headquarters building. They are big and important enough to have their own set of terminals. Whoever it is walks into the lounge. Sitting on deep couches are two people sipping drinks. One is Krillik, the other is me. The person, a man I assume, walks over to where we are. I can hear the rustle of his clothes so I know this clip is running with sound. The person speaks to us.
‘Which one of you is Krillik?’
Krillik turns towards the man and says, ‘I am.’
I see for the first time the person who spoke to Krillik has something in his hand, and again, I know exactly what it is. It’s a small flask with a security lock on the neck. It’s a bio-hazard materials transportation cylinder.
‘Modified Storret culture,’ says the man, ‘I need you to confirm the destination and purpose of its use before I can release it to you.’
‘Give it to me,’ says Krillik.
‘I need you to confirm the destination and purpose of its use before legally I can hand it over,’ repeats the man.
Krillik smiles and says again in a sarcastically polite voice, ‘Please give the flask to me.’
‘Legally I’m not allowed to release this culture until you’re prepared to put on record its destination and the use it will be put to. On some planets this culture is lethal.’
Krillik relaxes in his seat and looks at the man and says, ‘Do you know who you are talking to?’
‘Yes sir,’ says the man.
‘So you’ll know that if you don’t hand that flask to my friend here right now I’ll have you cut open from your crotch to your navel, have your guts lifted out and fed to Heterian Blue Crabs while you’re still alive. Do you understand me?’
‘Yes sir,’ says the man, ‘But I don’t know what to do. It’s a criminal act to let this culture leave the planet if the destination is somewhere like Pentauros, Arginet or Strove. The penalty is a life sentence in a rheopectic suit on board a deep space penal ship.’
‘You’d prefer that to a death sentence?’ I say to the man, standing up. I step across to the man and snatch the flask from his hand. Then I say, ‘So you know, the destination is Arginet. To be more precise the destination is the oceans of Arginet.’
‘Sir,’ says the man, and I can hear the terror in his voice, ‘This culture can replicate itself exponentially. If any part of the contents of that flask finds its way to any of the oceans of Arginet, the surface of that ocean would be choked with Storret slime within a month. The atmosphere would be destroyed for the Phalks. They would have to abandon their planet.’
‘Thanks for making that clear,’ I say to the man, smiling at Krillik, ‘Now you know what I intend to do with this culture what do you intend to do about it?’
The video fades at this point, but I know what happened next. I remember it wasn’t a man, it was a woman, quite elderly, all morals and gutsy. I know she never made it to her home that night. Krillik took care of her while I took the shuttle to Arginet. All I can think is that her relatives, or the people that took care of her body after Krillik fulfilled his promise, found the seed reader. Whoever found this video must have handed it over to the authorities, but which one? Grow?
Unlikely.
The connection between Grow and Krillik is too strong. Blowing the whistle on Krillik would be the same as blowing the whistle on Grow itself.
The Powers?
Possibly, but unlikely. But surely there would have been punitive action from The Powers, the least of which would have been the canceling of all Grow’s planet development projects. That would have created turmoil. The tragedy on Arginet predates what happened on Earth by five years. The Earth project would have been stopped, and I would have known.
So, who was this video given to? I know who recorded the video but I don’t know who the whistleblower is and who was told.
The video clip runs in a loop for hours. At the end of each sequence the big voice asks the same question.
‘Why did you kill all those innocent people?’

*****

The loop has been running constantly for what seems like 24 hours. I’m beyond exhausted. I’m starving hungry and so thirsty I could drink stagnant mosquito larvae infested swamp water. I’m starting to hallucinate from lack of sleep.
I’ve had enough.
‘Let’s talk,’ I say quietly, under my breath.
A moment later the newsreel stops and the screen goes blank. I slump forward on the desk opposite the screen and wait. I don’t have to wait long. The screen springs back into life. There’s Jane, no surprise. She’s sitting behind one of the desks in the original picture on the screen. She’s not alone. There are three chairs behind the desks that are facing the camera, facing me. She’s sitting at my far right. In the chair at my far left is the man I recognize from Jane’s little charade with the puppy Dreek at the diner, the Dreek who turned out to be working for the FBI, the Dreek who’s neck Jake snapped. It’s the nondescript old man I assumed to be Abel, Grow’s top legal representative on Earth.
In the middle, and presumably the most important person on this little panel, is another man I recognize. I don’t know what the hell he’s doing here or how the hell he got back to Earth. It’s my old pal Noone.
‘Good to see you again Noone,’ I say in a mock friendly voice, ‘Come to visit me in my new home?’
He ignores what I say. All three look serious faced as if my moment of levity was as welcome as a shit in a space suit.
‘For the record we need to introduce ourselves,’ he says, and turns his head towards Jane.
‘Jane Krieff, Special Envoy to the United Nations,’ she says, all professional and businesslike. Abel goes next.
‘Abel, Senior Litigator acting on Earth for the financial and moral interests and protection of Grow and its legal assets where so ever in the universe.’
Finally Noone tells us all who he is, even though we all already know.
‘Noone, acting on behalf of The Powers as adjudicator in matters requiring rulings by their courts on Earth and where so ever in the universe. Please state for the record who you are,’ he says to me.
I oblige, ‘Jek, free spirit.’
‘Jek, you are facing a catalogue of serious charges, each one carrying the death penalty. We have laid out in detail each of your crimes before a special assembly, a jury of one thousand independent laymen selected from across those planets inhabited with species formed from humanlike DNA. You no longer have counsel to represent you and put your side of the case. Your legal advisor, Tallip, is dead. You have admitted to being the person who fired the missile that destroyed Anglesey, therefore by default you admit to the murder of Tallip. By the laws of The Powers you therefore forfeit the right to any legal counsel and you will not be permitted to represent yourself, or speak in your own defense when this matter comes for final verdict before the jury. The jury’s verdict will be final and you will not have the right to appeal. We will implement the jury’s verdict, whatever it is, in a fair and humane way. Do you have anything to say?’
‘Yes,’ I say, ‘What exactly is the main substantive charge against me and who is bringing this case?’
I expect Noone to tell me he’s in league with the United Nations, working to pacify Grow ahead of his case to revoke Grow’s intellectual property rights over mankind. The verdict will be a foregone conclusion. I expect that I will be handed over alive to Grow to be tortured and killed by Krillik. Noone, Jane, the people of Earth, they don’t give a damn about what happens to me as long as Grow leaves the people on Earth alone.
But I’m wrong. I’m very wrong.

End of Part Nine

Friday, March 17, 2017

Video Review: THE TOSSERS Erin Go Bragh

Erin Go Bragh
From their current full length Smash The Windows (Victory Records)
Directed by Dustin Smith
Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, The Tossers from Chicago release their new album Smash The Windows and a few videos to help promote it. If you like punk and Celtic music you should check out The Tossers since they’re a perfect fusion of the two. The band has been active since 1993, released fifteen full lengths and performed with Murphy’s Law, Sick Of It All, Mastodon, Dropkick Murphy’s and The Pogues among a host of others. Unlike most pop punk, their songs are less mainstream friendly and still resonate with a street vibe. Their Celtic themes generate a feeling of walking into a local Irish pub in which a band is playing and there’s drinking going on everywhere, and participating in the activity inside. This has given me a ray of hope that punk bands that play good music can still break aboveground without having to compromise. Listening to the rest of their material leaves impressions of how in touch with their heritage the band is; the video gives visual interpretations of the first Irish settlers to emigrate to America from the mid 19th century to the mid 20th when John F. Kennedy was elected president to the present. The history behind this track is as worthwhile as the video. Do a Youtube search for “Uncovering the Real Gangs of New York” for some unsung Irish-American history and you may find a few points you weren’t taught in high school. To track down some more history read about Peadar Kearney the Irish Republican and composer or rebel songs who wrote the Irish national anthem in 1907 and wrote several other traditional songs including The Tri-Coloured Ribbon, The Foggy Dew, and his own version of Erin go Bragh (year unknown). Victory Reccords’ Youtube profile features lyrics and there are links to a lyric video and a title cut video released for Smash The Windows. -Dave Wolff

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Zine Review: A WORMHOLE ZINE issues #43, #44, #45

A WORMHOLE ZINE issues #43, #44, #45
I received these three issues in a zine package from Worm, with some CD promos I should be getting to directly. Issue #43 describes a week long road trip he took in 2013 checking out book stores and art galleries. Worm mentions each location where he stopped with a brief blurb about his visit. Another road trip is chronicled in which he visits several towns in upstate New York and in turn he writes about attending the Finger Lake Metal Fest in May of that year. Issue #44 is mostly handwritten with brief descriptions on many bands and a review section on the last page, plus some abstract cover art. The latest issue #45 is the most professionally copied as you can open and read it as an actual zine as opposed to it being stapled at the top left hand corner. In this issue there is much more information about Worm’s traveling and the local independent businesses he frequented while on the road, including more record stores. This was a good idea to incorporate into the zine and I’d like to see more sections like this next to his band and zine reviews. The layout could still use improvement but A Wormhole is one of the longest running New York zines in publication, having been active since 1991. Contact Worm about his activities at the link provided above. -Dave Wolff

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Retribution: Better The Devil You Know by David Smith Part Eight

Retribution: Better The Devil You Know
Novel by David Smith

Available through Amazon and his official website.

“The strength of two connected neural pathways is thought to result in the storage of information, resulting in memory. This process of synaptic strengthening is known as long term potentiation.”

*****

“Who can say where inside a man’s body his soul is kept? Who can pinpoint a part of his brain, or even a single synapse, and say this is or is not the essence of that person? Can one body be possessed by two souls, and if so is one equally as guilty of the crimes committed by the other?”

Part Eight

Not a word is spoken between us and we’ve been driving for over an hour, me behind the wheel. I can see purple marks on her left cheek, bruises, finger marks from the two slaps I gave her earlier. Her face is a mixture of confusion, anger and fear, not the fear of what might await us when we reach the UN building, fear of me. I like that. I like the feeling of power it gives me over her.
‘You must be the dumbest Torp in the universe,’ I say to break the silence. It’s not something she’s pleased to hear, ‘I can see by the startled fawn expression on your vacuous face you don’t understand yet. Well, let me make it baby simple for you. When Krillik was trying to hunt me down I had to hide somewhere he couldn’t find me. I had to hide so deep inside your precious Jake Redwood that my pulse could never be detected. I hid too deep. Jake Redwood became the dominant of the two of us. When I was released to take on Krillik at Joint Base Andrews, Jake still kept ultimate control of this body. As soon as Jek wasn’t needed any more he was able to suppress me and take control again. The body reverted to Jake Redwood. He’s kept control since then, Mister Normal, Detective Jake Redwood, the regular guy. But the dumb ass didn’t know how to operate the shuttle portal back there. So, it was either release me or we all die. It was a stupid move even for him, releasing me just before using the portal. I was the one transported, not Jake. If you let the Genie out of the bottle it’s not easy to put it back. Well, I’m out and I can promise you this, I’m never going back. Your beloved Jake Redwood is as good as dead.’
Her eyes are wet but she isn’t crying. I think she’s too scared to show her true emotions. She must really have liked the dumb fuck.
‘We need to stop somewhere,’ I say, ‘We need to properly rehydrate after the shuttle.’
‘There’s a rest stop a couple of miles ahead,’ she says a little petulantly because she hasn’t yet come to terms with the new order of things, ‘There’ll be a diner we can use.’
‘No,’ I say, ‘I know exactly where we’re going.’
We drive another thirty miles in silence. She doesn’t ask what our destination is. I point to a road sign ahead. It reads, ‘Westfield Shopping Mall 1 mile.’
Though she says nothing Jane’s facial expression says ‘Why? We’ve driven past about ten diners now.’
I take the slip road and it takes us on a short driveway into the Mall’s huge car park. There are hardly any cars, just a few parked near the main entrance. I slide the saloon into a space near the entrance doors and kill the engine.
Any other mall and the place would be heaving with shoppers. But this mall is special. True, some people come here to shop, but some don’t. They have an entirely different reason for coming here every day. I know why. It’s an extremely well kept secret I found out about when I was Major Jake Redwood the recuperating soldier and low profile pen pusher in the army. I may have been given a humble desk job but I was dealing with hundreds and hundreds of highly sensitive US military documents every week, making sure they were secure, and either filed correctly or destroyed.
Westfield shopping mall is a very special place. There is a section of the mall that is permanently closed to the public. There’s a big sign on the wall telling them to stay well away, take a hike or get prosecuted. The sign says this section of the mall is dangerous because it’s under reconstruction. I know the sign has been there since 1998. I know the other side of the wall on which the sign hangs is something that shouldn’t be there.
There was a nuclear missile development program in the eighties to build smaller intercontinental ballistic missiles, rockets that could be launched from mobile units called Hard Mobile Launchers. The program was allegedly scrapped but in fact some of the missiles developed were secretly kept in service, not on the backs of Hard Mobile Launchers but in missile silos. The silos are small and cleverly well camouflaged by locating them in populated areas inside shopping malls, sports complexes and even schools.
The theory was that a large number of small silo banks would be less vulnerable to counter attack than the nuclear silo clusters currently used. There are about a hundred special places like Westfield across the United States, and I know where they all are. I also know exactly what’s inside them. Each one contains five silos. Each silo houses an MGM 134A Midgetman. Each of these carries a 4.5 megaton airburst nuclear warhead, and each missile has a range of over 4,000 miles. The sites are well guarded and well maintained with the missiles ready to launch at a minute’s notice.
I don’t need all five missiles, just the one.
We climb out of the car and head for the mall, Jane trailing slightly behind me as we enter through the main doors. I know the restricted section is right alongside the food court and I head straight for that area. It’s a typical shitty court with units selling entry level junk food to harassed mothers, mall junkies and school kids. We weave through the cheap plastic chairs and tables to a spot right by the dividing wall between the secret section and the food court. Jane pulls out a chair and sits down at the only clean table in a row of six. I look at her as if she’s done something stupid.
‘Get some drinks and something to eat,’ I tell her.
‘How? We have no money.’
‘You have to be the dumbest fucking Torp I’ve ever met,’ I say as I turn my back on her and walk over to the nearest outlet, a burger stall. I beckon to the man that looks as if he’s in charge and he comes over to face me across the counter.
‘Can I help you?’ he says, a big smile on his puck marked face.
‘My change!’
‘Sure,’ he says as he opens the till and takes out all the fifties he has and hands them to me. I walk back to the table and throw the cash, about $500, onto the table in front of her.
‘Now, get some drinks and food. I have something I need to do. I’ll be back in ten minutes.’
The food court is on the upper level of two, where most of the smaller retail outlets are. I walk along till I see what I’m looking for, a clothes store, one pushing older style items for business types. Perfect. I walk inside and have a look around. I spot what I want, a Trilby hat and a long trench coat that goes down practically to my feet. An elderly sales assistant walks over to where I’m trying on the hat and coat.
‘They’re a good fit,’ he says as I check my appearance in the long mirror.
‘They’re mine,’ I say.
‘Certainly, sir,’ he says, ‘Would you like anything else?’
I don’t answer. I just walk out of the shop with the hat pulled down hard and the collar on the trench coat turned up to hide as much of my face as I can.
I make my way from the food court down to the lower level where there is a set of doors to a lift. I stand and wait but don’t have to hang around for long. After about a minute there’s a ping and the doors slide open. A young man wearing jeans and a golf shirt steps out of the lift. He’s well built, fit, and alert. He looks around as he steps from the lift, cleverly, surreptitiously, so no one would notice he’s a highly trained soldier on duty. I figure he’s one of the many guards around the building keeping the silos secure. I step over towards him.
‘Biometrics?’ I ask.
He believes I’m his superior officer and will do anything I ask of him as long as I keep the vision I’ve just planted in his brain strong.
‘Yes sir,’ he says. He knows he mustn’t salute or do anything that would make it obvious he is military.
‘Take me down,’ I say.
He moves aside to let me enter the lift first, then steps in behind me. There’s a Perspex rectangular scanner mounted into the wall of the lift above the level buttons. He holds his hand against the bottom section while he presses his eye against the top. There is another ping as the lift doors close behind us, and the cage descends four floors.
‘Take me straight to the control room,’ I say.
‘Yes sir.’
As the doors open I see dozens of people, military but dressed as civilians. They’re all busy with whatever their tasks are. I send a wave of vision pulses out at them and nobody reacts to me being there. They all see me as someone who they never deal with but has superior authority to them, and so has every right to be inside their little secret base. We walk through the general administrative area into a long corridor. There are check points at five stages as we head to the control room, each manned with uniformed military men. We pass through all of them unchallenged. We enter the control room. There are six men inside, four technicians sitting at a bank of controls and two on guard over them. As soon as I’m inside I put them all to sleep except one technician and one guard.
‘Sir!’ the technician says to me, waiting to be given his orders.
He neither salutes nor stands, and I nod my head slightly towards him. He knows precisely what I want him to do and starts re-programming target coordinates for one of the missiles. He finishes doing what I want him to do then turns to me and says, ‘Target re-set to the new coordinates given with air burst detonation set to one thousand feet.’
‘Ready to launch?’
‘I need the launch codes and authorization, sir.’
I nod at him as I plant the vision making him believe he has whatever mumbo jumbo codes and security clearance he’s been told he has to have before he can press the button. I watch him flip over the safety cover on the big red button, and push his set of launch keys into place. I turn to the guard and plant a new vision in his head. He walks smartly from the room and returns seconds later with the second set of launch keys.
‘Thank you,’ I say as I take the keys from the guard and slot them into place, then we both turn our keys at the same time, arming the missile.
‘Fire it,’ I say to the technician.
‘Sir,’ he says and presses his thumb down hard on the big red ignition button.
I plant one last vision in the head of the guard before I leave. As I walk through the underground silo base towards the exit lift I can hear a series of single gunshots behind me as the guard moves from room to room shooting everyone there through the side of the head. No one runs or resists or raises any kind of alarm. No one even cries out as he systematically kills every living person in the base before blowing a hole in his own head. There will be no one left to answer questions as to what made these people collude to launch a nuclear attack, the epicenter being a small industrial site that was once a disused airbase on the island of Anglesey in North West Wales.

*****

There is panic and chaos all around when I step out of the lift back into the shopping mall. Not surprising, really. You’re out trying to buy a new mop in Wal-Mart and a fucking great big nuclear missile thunders out of a secret silo in the shop next door. The silos are built so they shouldn’t cause loss of life should a missile need to be fired, but it’s not the best job ever done by the engineers and designers. I suppose they figured if the Midgetman arsenal had to be deployed most of the country had already been fried anyway, so why put the taxpayer’s money into a safety design that actually works. The truth is if you fire off a Midgetman this close to unprotected people there’s bound to be casualties.
There are badly burnt men, women and children lying around everywhere, their prostrate bodies still smoldering. Most are dead but some are still alive and screaming in pain. There are bodies in pieces, torn to shreds when the back thrust from the missile ripped the roof off the mall showering white hot metal and molten glass onto the shoppers below. It’s a scene of total carnage. These people mean nothing to me and are not a part of my plan. Their suffering, their deaths are of no consequence in the scheme of things, so I weave between the debris, and the dead and dying, making my way towards the main doors into the mall. The entrance has been hit by falling debris and is twisted out of shape.
There is a jam of bodies ahead of me. People that had been trying to escape the mall through the main doors are trapped, caught by the twisting metal frame and falling debris from the building. Others piled into the human mangled mess desperate to escape and not realizing there are people trapped in front of them. The glass dome at the entrance has collapsed onto the frantic desperate crowd below, sending a shower of razor sharp shards down cutting the people underneath into shreds. It’s a horrific scene, a blood bath. Those still alive are screaming for help.
I step over the bodies till I get to the human log jam. I climb on top of the dead and dying, making my way towards a gap at the top of the pile of human suffering. One woman, face soaked in blood, grabs at my leg pleading for help. I kick her hands away and keep climbing till I reach the gap. I squeeze through and I’m out of the mall, free of the carnage. I scramble over the wreckage of the entrance till I’m back onto the solid ground of the parking lot. In the distance I hear the first noises of rescue vehicles, sirens wailing, some way off yet. Wreckage from the mall is scattered across the parking lot. I head towards where I dumped the car, taking off the coat and hat as I hurry along. When I get to the car I flick open the boot, then manhandle the dead Dreek out onto the parking lot, laying the body flat. As quickly as I can I push one of the body’s arms into the Trench coat, roll it over then slide in the other. I lift the body off the ground and slip the Trilby onto its head before I carry it across my shoulder to the entrance doors of the mall. There I slide the dead Dreek off my back, dropping the body in amongst the pile of the dead and dying that were trapped when the doors collapsed. I turn and run back to the saloon car.
I’m not surprised when I see Jane now standing by the car. I figured after a few minutes sitting like a doofus in the food court she’d have sensed something was wrong and gone looking for me. I figured she’d have thought I may have wanted to give her the slip and tried to take off without her. I figured the first place she’d have looked would be back at the car. She must have narrowly escaped the carnage. Her insecurity probably saved her life.
‘What the hell, Jek?’ she says, a million unspoken questions in the expression on her face.
‘Let’s get out of here,’ is all I say in response.
‘What the hell did you do?’
‘Get in the car,’ I say as I slip into the driver’s seat.
I think about the time that has passed since the missile was fired, about six minutes. I figure about now it’s going to be a very hot day in Anglesey, North West Wales, somewhere between 50 and 150 million degrees Fahrenheit. The blast radius from the airburst detonation will cover the whole island. I doubt anyone will survive, though statistically there should be some folks make it through the day, but the radiation will eat them alive later. I figure Krillik won’t be a victim of the thermonuclear explosion. He’d have jumped straight into the shuttle portal after me, not to the Reach in case I’d been waiting for him, but to the nearest portal in the States to where the Reach was. It’s in his instincts to do this, go hunting for me himself. He wants me dead but can no longer trust his minions to do the job. On top of this he wants his fun. He wants to see me die in a long, drawn out agonizing death, not quick, practically instantly, like the poor fuckers on Anglesey are dying now.
I figure the base that Grow set up will be obliterated in the blast, along with all the equipment they’d have transported secretly to Earth that they hadn’t manage to disseminate to some country or another. I figure all Krillik’s little helpers at the base will be frying right now, cutting the strength of his force down to whatever Dreeks and Torps he has spread around the world.
I can handle them now. I can take Krillik, Abel and any remaining contractors working for Grow here on Earth. Then it’s only a short hop and step to taking control of this planet.
‘Did you get something to drink?’ I ask.
She looks as if she’s going to make a wise ass answer then thinks again.
‘Yes, a cup of coffee, that’s all.’
‘We’ll stop up the road and get something to eat once there’s enough distance between us and the mess back there,’ I say.
I smile at her. She doesn’t smile back. We drive in silence for a few minutes then I say, ‘I couldn’t stop it.’
‘What?’
‘I couldn’t prevent what Abel did back there.’
She looks at me but says nothing, waiting for me to spin her a yarn she can try to believe. I oblige.
‘When I was in the army I found out that Westfield had a secret missile bunker hidden in a part of the precinct. After you’d been transported back to the Reach, Krillik burst into the portal room with his thugs. As I stepped onto the transporter mat he tried to plant a vision in my head to get me to walk back off to prevent me from escaping. But he was too late. The fibrils had already started the deconstruction process. When he tried to plant that vision something happened when our minds linked. For a brief moment I was able to see into his mind. I saw a thought, a sort of vision of something that was planned to happen soon. I knew it was at Westfield. One of Krillik’s Dreeks was inside the control centre. In the vision he detonated the five warheads mounted on the missiles in the silos. That was Krillik’s plan, to detonate a massive thermonuclear explosion right here in America.
I was able to get inside the control room and I was just in time to stop the Dreek detonating the warheads in the silos, but I was unable to prevent him from launching one. I know Krillik was following orders given to him through Abel sent directly from Grow. It was to be Grow’s first act of terror to show its power over Earth. It’s meant to blackmail the UN into handing me, or my dead body, over to Abel. But it’s a sham. The order to detonate the nuclear warheads must have been in train even though we were already captives of Grow at the time.
It’s not about me any more, Jane. I’m a side show. It’s not even about Grow, through Abel, exercising control over those in power on Earth, although this little demonstration would have achieved exactly that had it succeeded. It’s about Grow justifying the genocide of the human species so Grow can harvest the planet for profit. Whether I’m dead or alive, in their clutches or free is irrelevant now. It was all a device to get to this point, the detonation of nuclear bombs in the atmosphere, and the loss of life and suffering that follows. Grow wants to make the case to The Powers that the human species is violent and unpredictable, and has weapons of mass destruction it’s prepared to use to destroy its enemies, even itself if attacked. There are no such weapons on any other planet in the universe, Jane. So, if humans eventually manage to develop the technology of space travel using shuttle portals then they will be a threat to all civilizations throughout the universe.’
Jane tries to digest my lies but I can see she’s struggling to make sense of it all.
‘Are you saying the charges brought against you by Abel were just a sham?’
‘No, they’re real enough, but it’s just the start of an escalation process that will show humans as too dangerous to exist as a species in a peaceful and civilized universe. Had he succeeded, Abel would argue to The Powers that the human species should be destroyed. After all, they had exploded thermo nuclear devices amongst their own people just to demonstrate the power of their weaponry to Grow. The massive loss of life and suffering would not be tolerated. The Powers would then sanction Grow to release its modified Revelation spores on Earth.’
I can see the blank look in her eyes so I put it more simply for the dumb bitch.
‘Look, Grow makes a legitimate demand that I’m handed over to face trial. Earth refuses, and, to show how powerful it is, Grow blows up hundreds of thousands of innocent people and claims humans did it themselves. Grow argues its case that the human species should be removed and wins. Grow releases the spores. All humans die. Grow sends in a clean up squad then starts exploiting Earth’s assets for a fat profit. Is that simple enough for you?’
‘I understand,’ she says, ‘but it doesn’t mean I can see the sense in what they tried to do. If Abel had succeeded it was more a demonstration of the destructive power of Grow over the weaker minded human species. There’s absolutely no logic in humans exploding weapons of mass destruction amongst their own kind with no warning either to their own people or to Abel so he’d get the message. And why kill people? Why not just detonate one in a desert somewhere? If Abel had succeeded it’d be obvious that Grow had detonated the bombs to show its ability to use mankind’s weapons against itself. Every single military device man has is at the disposal of Grow. Surely Noone would argue this in the courts of The Powers.’
‘You think too much,’ I say as I start to pull onto the slip road to the diner.

*****

It’s crowded, hot and sweaty in the restaurant, and the place is buzzing with the news. The island of Anglesey has been wiped off the face of the Earth by a thermonuclear device that originated from America. There has been a massive loss of life. The good and the great in Britain are scratching their heads trying to figure out what happened. How could the ‘good old US of A’ drop a 4.5 megaton warhead on their sleepy little backwater island?
According to the rolling news on the TV in the restaurant, the President of the United States had picked up the phone to the British Prime Minister as soon as he’d been informed of the incident by his military chief. He told the British PM that a terrible accident had happened; an unauthorized missile launch had taken place. It sure as hell wasn’t deliberate. It was either human error or sabotage; he didn’t have all the facts. So far there has been no official reaction from the Brits. That’ll come but it’ll be wishy-washy; naughty Americans; try not to do it again please. The Brits are toothless old sabre-rattlers with no balls.
We take a table at the far side of the diner as far away from the babbling crowd gathered round the TV as possible. The chef already knows what I want and is cooking it as his top priority. These people’s minds are so easily manipulated. The food arrives hot and appetizing. The waitress pours us both coffees and skitters away to catch up with the latest from the TV, and cluck out her shock and horror along with the other gawping morons. I tuck into my meal while Jane just sits and looks at her plate.
‘I don’t know how you can,’ she says, more to herself than to me.
‘Eat,’ I say, and she knows it’s an order not a request. She pecks at her food, pushing it around her plate with her fork and occasionally half heartedly chewing on something to keep on my good side. I’ll need her soon, then, once she’s served her purpose I can be rid of her long face forever.
‘We need to get in touch with Noone. He needs to know what happened,’ I say between mouthfuls of my meal.
‘Oh really,’ she says, and I note that the defiant tone in her voice is back again, ‘…and how do we do that?’
I’m tempted to punch her hard in the mouth but I keep my control.
‘Don’t take me for an idiot,’ I say, making sure I have full eye contact with her as I speak, ‘You said you’d been in regular contact with him. You said you have a communications device back in your office in the UN building. Where the fuck did you think we were heading?’
I’m suddenly aware that someone is by my side. It’s a child, a young girl about six years old. She’s staring at me.
‘Is that you on the TV?’ she asks, pointing at the wall mounted TV screen.
I look across and there I am; Jake Redwood’s cop I.D. mug shot. The next shot is of Jane, her U.N. Security clearance shot.
‘That’s you,’ says the child to Jane who is now looking at the screen. The running update at the bottom of the screen reads;
‘Police and military forces are still hunting for two people, a male and a female, suspected of carrying out a string of crimes across the District of Columbia in the last two days. These crimes include murder. The male is named as Detective Jake Redwood of Polk County police. The female is named as Jane Krieff, a United Nations Special Ambassador. These people are highly dangerous and under no circumstances should members of the public approach them. If sighted please contact the District of Columbia police emergency contact line.’
I put the child to sleep. The kid crawls under a table and curls into a foetal position amongst the food debris and dirt off people’s shoes. But I know it’s too late. All those watching the TV bulletin in the restaurant have seen us walk in. I glance across at the griddle area and see a fat chef, a woman with more weight on her hips than an Orca smirking at us. I know she’s feeling pretty pleased with herself. I know she’s called us in to the police and they’re on their way. The model citizen, doing her bit for justice as her gum chewing mouth sprays spittle over the burgers and melted cheese on her griddle. She reckons she’ll be the local hero and dine off this for years to come. Well, she can do it without hands. I nod at her and she presses both her hands flat onto the searing surface of the griddle in front of her. I make sure she feels no pain now. She’s still smiling at me as the smell of burning flesh from her hands mixes with the aroma of the griddling burgers. She’ll never be able to use her broiled hands again. I smile back at her as I stand to leave.
‘Outside,’ says Jane.
I look through the restaurant window into the parking lot. There is a ring of police vehicles around the diner, all facing towards it. The doors of every vehicle are open both sides. There’s a cop crouching behind every one pointing a weapon of some sort or other at the diner. Cops are not normally a problem. Their weak minds are easily controlled. But these are special, well prepared and a genuine threat to my plans. These cops are wearing lead lined helmets with lead coated visors. I try to plant visions in their heads but it’s useless. They’re well screened from the power I would normally have over them. They were prepared for this confrontation. If they’ve been given shoot on sight orders we’re dead as soon as we step outside the diner. I don’t want it to end this way, here in a shitty diner in the middle of nowhere. This is my planet. I will be its supreme ruler. I will not let it end in such a shabby way. I look around the diner. It’s packed with men, women and children, every one a weapon I can use. I look at Jane and I know she knows what I plan to do, send these people out into the parking lot. They will leave quietly at first but once outside they will attack the police officers with insane fury, as if their very souls depended on it. They will all be killed, gunned down in cold blood by the police, but that is of no consequence to me. I will escape through the melee they create.
Jane reaches over the table and takes hold of my arm. I look into her eyes. They are both pleading and commanding.
‘No,’ she says, ‘It’s time to stop.’

*****

I make the folks in the restaurant sleep. Jane is right. There’s perhaps a better chance of success being inside the system than outside. Maybe it’s time to give ourselves up. What changes my mind from sacrificing the people in the diner and making a run for it to handing ourselves in is the helicopters circling above. Some good citizen, probably a cop, has earned himself a nice little brown envelope full of cash by tipping off the media. The air above the diner has about eight helicopters hovering above it. Two are police but the rest are choppers from news channels. I reckon there must be half a dozen live feed video cameras focused on the exit to the diner.
If we walk out with our hands held high and no weapons in sight and they gun us down the world will be a witness to our brutal and unjustified murder. So the cops have no choice. My new plan is that we walk out. We get arrested with the world’s media watching, following our fate, demanding to know what happens to us. The authorities will have no option other than to keep us from any harm. We get protected in custody, and we get a voice. We get heard. The world’s media will insist on having access to us and hearing our side of the story. I will use them for my protection and for my propaganda. These people are fools. Being seen to be just and fair holds more sway than protecting their species, a weakness I intend to exploit and use to my advantage.
‘Time to go,’ I say to Jane.
I nod at the griddle chef that called the police. It’s time to let her feel the pain, and suffer for what she did. Her piercing screams shatter the silence in the diner. The police raise their weapons as Jane and I push through the door and step out into the parking lot. With the helicopters circling above us, and their cameras focused on the action I raise my hands high, kneel on the ground and flop forward onto my face in the parking lot, spreading my hands and legs wide. In moments cops are all over me, pulling my hands up high behind my back and snapping on Graphene cuffs to my wrists and my ankles. Specialist technicians are seconds behind the cops. These guys are carrying a lead lined helmet that covers the whole of my head. There’s a lead coated screened grid where the eye holes should be that I can see through. They slip the helmet on then strap it in place tightly with a steel choker chain secured with a padlock. The helmet will block any attempt I make to plant visions into any human’s mind. They think this makes me safe to handle.
I turn my head and watch what happens to Jane. She’s made to lie face down in the dirt like I was, and her wrists bound with Graphene cuffs, but she doesn’t have the lead lined helmet fitted. Whoever is in control of this operation has decided she is less of a risk than me, even though it’s common knowledge she’s a Torp and perfectly capable of twisting human minds just like I can. Either side of her are two cops. They put their arms under her armpits and pull her to her feet. I can see she’s going to get special treatment. I can see they think she’s been used and I’m the bad guy in whatever has been going on.
When she’s stood upright she is taken away from the police vehicles by two uniformed officers to the far side of the parking lot under the trees, out of range from the prying eyes of the media helicopters in the sky. There’s a vehicle parked there I recognise, not a cop car, a black Lincoln Navigator.
I now know her arrest is a charade. Standing beside the rear passenger door is a man I’ve seen before. Jane smiles at him as she approaches. The cops either side of Jane remove her cuffs then melt away as Abel steps forward and kisses Jane gently on both her cheeks. I now know I should have killed the treacherous bitch when I had the chance.

End of Part Eight