Welcome to your future.

Spaceships. Jet packs. Laser guns. 

No. 

Fifty years from now, the future will still be shaped by the mundane, the stupid, and the petty, living side by side with the Big Ideas. Dirty, shining, poor, glorious, filthy, and wonderful. 50.YFN is where we tell our future's story, hangover and all.

In its short life,
50.YFN has already become a very sharply defined setting, with unique language and history. Because of the ongoing storylines and broad geographical setting, we strongly recommend using the archives and category tags before throwing yourself in the deep end. Read the guidelines, take a look around. There's a truly talented pool of creators breathing life into our world Fifty Years From Now.

You are welcome to be a part of it.

And remember:

This is not a land-grab. There's no turf.  If you're a new writer, you have the same access to Brooklyn as I do, and as much an opportunity to leave your imprint on it. Don't be intimidated. Leave your brand on the future alongside everyone else. It's your world too. 

8.27.2007

King of the Californias Pt IV

by Monk, New York City, NY, USA

A softknife isn't much more than a floppy length of plastic, malleable enough to tie in a bow until contact with electricity, when it goes rigid as aircraft-grade aluminum. At ease, the human body generates about 120 watts, and since electro-sensitive plastics aren't detectable by anything short of costly tight-bandwidth spectrometers, the softknife has become modern upgrade to the common prison shank. It’s not actually surprising, then, that Cecilio Goncz sneaked one past the Palma de BaĆ­s’s security. What's dazzling is that he got an actual chrome-and-ceramic pistol into his room, and used it expertly on the invaders who crashed midway through our interview.

From the balcony, I have a reasonable view of the suite’s living room, where Goncz confronts his attackers in the brutally forthright manner that death-proofed him against rival Los Angeles warlords. Three black-cloaked forms litter the floor, haloed by evaporating pools of their own vital fluids, decompiled by the expensive self-cleaning rug. Goncz stands over a fourth figure, bowed on its knees, hands pinned to a single thigh by the softknife, pistol to the throat. Goncz leans in, his lips moving. The lightning bolt livetattoos above his eyes flicker red and black, pale nictitating membranes blinking out of sync with his actual eyelids.

Distant bomb blasts over East Oakland remind me I was left outside for reasons apart from safety. Separated by a door of synthetic, grown diamond, I have a moment for contemplation. It is an important moment in my project. I have only gotten this far with Mr Goncz by being passive. History is littered with men like me, who maybe thought too much, pushed too hard at the wrong moment, and abruptly discovered just how disposable they were. Modesty has worked to my advantage thus far. So long as I balance my subject's monstrous past with my own clinical detachment, the project can continue apace. But as much as I want to remain in his good graces, I know this thing will never develop without some initiative. Scripted questions and canned answers won't get me my Pulitzer. Minor risks, I reason, will take me further than the safe route I've taken. I adjust the acoustics on my recorder, set it to use the balcony door as an amplifier, and am soon listening to my subject’s conversation.

“...did you find me?” he asks.

The survivor makes a moaning sound. I realize at that moment those aren’t black cloaks. They’re hijabs. Goncz’s attackers are women. When the survivor doesn’t make any meaningful sound, he twists the softknife. She shrieks.

“I’m asking nicely,” Goncz says evenly. “You can make this last five seconds or five weeks. I have all the time in the world to get an answer out of you.”

She shakes her head violently, mumbling rapidly under her breath. I adjust the volume. She’s praying.

Goncz clicks his tongue and shrugs. “Fine. Okay. I’m just going to leave you here to think it over for a little bit then, okay? Let me know when you want to have a conversation like a grown-up.” He presses the softknife to its hilt, effectively nailing her to the floor through her hands and thigh.

The soundproofing of the room is all that shields the rest of the hotel from the cries: piercing crescendo, tapering to gurgling sobs. Almost blows out my eardrums. I reduce the volume on the recorder. Loud enough still to hear Goncz smack his lips as he leans forward, kisses her lovingly on the veiled forehead. I see him pocket the gun, start sifting through his attackers’ bodies.

Hundreds of miles away, Los Angeles’ provisional government continues trying war criminals as they trickle in from the international manhunt, handing out lifetime sentences as soon as they step into the courtroom. They’ve imported thousands of counselors, therapists, medical groups, and health systems from mainland America to compensate victims of some of the most brutal human rights violations in modern history. Half of Los Angeles’s national budget is set to build a permanent healthcare apparatus to repatriate and normalize freed factory slaves, crippled Hollywood gladiators, and brutalized rape camp survivors. The women inside could have been any of these. Whatever their beef, they came to Goncz for justice, and leave this life disappointed. I watch Cecilio Goncz pick through their remains.

The ghosts of Los Angeles find no peace here in Oakland, a place where exiled kings dance atop crystal castles, and weak men sit at their feet, chronicling safely behind the wall of journalistic neutrality. The recorder's still going, animal grunts from the survivor as she desperately tries to un-skewer herself. Goncz whistles the tune from a children's show that was on in the background of our early interview. I'm sweating. At some point, I've squeezed the recorder tight enough to draw blood. Set it aside.

My project is mutating. I've lost my balance, fallen directly into Goncz's narrative, trapped as witness to another of his horrible secrets. Wondering how much longer I can hold out.

Before he discovers mine.

6 comments:

FireBrand said...

This story is really good. Scary part is that it's getting better.

Great stuff, Mongo.

Anonymous said...

This story really is getting better, and I'm hooked. Nictitating membranes? Great way to end my night. The language and the imagery really draw me into the story. Can't wait for the rest.

kwasi said...

man.....

I'm hooked waiting for the next bit. And you've done a great job of making Goncz a monster while keeping him semi-likeable.

G. Zeus Malverde said...

I can dig it.

Brian Dunbar said...

Thousands of miles away, Los Angeles’ provisional government continues trying war criminals

Los Angeles is around 400 miles from Oakland. Unless you're being metaphorical ... which doesn't make sense in the context.

Words from Monk. said...

Brian.

Noted and corrected.