Chaos (from "The Zephyr Chronicles")
Chapter II Causality
White-ruffle panic. Coma-head travels to the night I fell into this coma. The air smelled of fresh pine and chimney smoke, cheap wine, nicotine perfume, and spent .45 rounds. Bums slept, drunken and whimpering, under the concrete wing of the American Bank & Trust off Fifth. The building's curves and twists and nooks were the perfect homeless shelter. It promised nothing and served the short-term fix. Midnight hookers shrugged off the cold and smiled sales, an American smile, while sucking in their commerce. Supporting a job well done. It was winter. I was spun. And I was being chased.
The EMT crew found me walking, stumbling really, on the northbound cargo railroad track in downtown San Diego. My left eye had been beaten to a fleshy pulp. Ribs raw. Teeth shone chartreuse. And my gums, bleeding and swollen, puffed with rage. Thick circuits were fused around my legs and arms like veins, bronze and golden. In my right eye, code circulated in rapid succession across my iris. Executable commands, morphing numbers characters foreign all streaming. Neon.
I, machine, remember the feeling of comfort build inside my gut.
The code family,
warm strokes of cyber memory flashed through my mind.
The code family,
ones and zeros.
I, machine, remember ignoring the absence of face flesh. And pain. And hunger.
Reading the code crawling in my right iris, I transferred it to memory protocol,
I thought the human inside me had died that winter night but, now, it appears that it just took a back seat to the manifestation that was occurring inside. The pine trees, cheap wine bums under corporate wing, chimney smoke, and nicotine-stained perfume hookers did not notice my convulsions, or the blood. They didn't notice the sharp electric lights of the paramedics that sped by them. Just another night in Babylon. Another night for the faceless people of this globe. Brain blank at 7:10 p.m. on Friday, September 24th 2004. It started three strange weeks ago.
Three strange weeks
Friday, September 3rd, 6:35 in the evening: "C'mon kid! Tell me how you broke our cipher. Tell us all!" Spit and mucus and blood crept down my twenty-eight year old cheeks. Suspended in mid-stream. Hanging off of my chin a retro-red spit string and a crimson droplet. The night before they came and busted down my door, I was finishing off a twenty-five hour hack-binge. Junk streamed through my veins and liquidized information, code, streamed three inches from my face. I was in. I was strung out. From the database filth of St. Mary's Holistic House of Porn & Other Sensual Delights to the fifty-thousand character 164-bit encryption mainframe of Western Mutual, I was stoned.
One week later, I found myself duct-taped to a creaky wooden chair in a dusty bar down the block from Revolucion in downtown Tijuana. There were six heavily armed men in sharkskin suits and suspenders directly in front of me. It was time to spill.
"Damnit! Ah'right you guys. Fine!" My wild eyes nervously sloped the room. All six bears turned on heel. Slung over their shoulders were what looked like DPMS Classic 20 rifles, the A2 series defined by a longer barrel and a form-fitting pump. I eyed these well-dressed brutes. Beneath each of their black suit jackets, pressed and stain-free, I saw the black lines of law-enforcement suspenders. Beneath the suspenders, peeking out everso-slightly, was the government-issue holster with accompanying Smith & Wesson widespurred satin matte 9mm of the 952 series five-inch pistol, each with rear sight revealed. I was in deep shit. The silence continued, gave me a little time to formulate a story. Two of the suits had fat cigars and the other four twitched trigger fingers nervously with pendulum eyes. Think of something fast, damnit! Tell them everything about the virus. Thoughts raced through my head. Smoke danced and mingled with the dust particles of the saloon's patrons. The silence was about to be broken.
And on that same cool Friday evening,
while I was being interrogated,
it was a warm Andalusian evening in Costa Brava, Spain.
Carlos Martine taps his seventy-eight-dollar watch and peers up at the Spanish
moss covered Elms.
And on that same cool Friday evening,
a resident of Amsterdam notices the flashing red neon tubes of All Nude.
crooked foot by crooked foot,
on the tops of spent butts and shattered needles into his safe haven of milk thighs,
And on that same cool Friday evening,
Lilah Weiss crooks her head back,
jagged-end raven hawk hair pointed smoothly toward the small of her back,
pushes out a sigh of her own sex.
She sits upon a wretched wreck of a man,
shriveled sunken face.
Lilah writhes and grinds on the wreck's withered prick, twisting and coaxing until
The familiar thrust from underneath silenced.
A pocked arthritic hand clutches a worn-scratched fifty.
The note falls between Lilah's thighs.
She calls her john Richard.
"What the fuck do you want me to say, huh, fellas." I could tell the big bastards were getting tired of the silence game I was playing. I was stalling. "Hey, Demitri, how 'bout cappin' this worm? Let's get it over and fucking done with," I heard one breathe to another, whose name I knew then was either Demitrius or Demitriae. Probably the former. "Nope. Not 'til the suits up in D.C. say it's kopasetic. Gaaawwwd, would I like to though," Demitri replied. I sat, still tied to the creaky wooden chair in the downtown Tijuana bar. My twenty-eight-year-old brain weighed the options. Shit. They're gonna kill me and I haven't even gotten off today! Motherfucker! No way am I goin' out this way. No way am I gonna die straight! I'll tell 'em and they'll let me go. Damn, it was just a simple coded hybrid virus with some spybot executables. How bad can it be? My thoughts raced through my head, silver morphine quickness.
"Here it is you big motherfuckers. Here it is," I was feeling confident as always and I gave them the whole story. "Your encryption technology is not that advanced. Okay. Before I go into this, how much do you know about encryption technology?" All five of the men looked over at Demitri and back at me. Silence. Obviously not much. I stifled a weasel laugh and continued, "It's apparent that you don't know that much so let me give you the quick and dirty so we don't waste time." And so you don't fucking kill me out of frustration, you stupid oafs. "Encryption turns information into scrambled numbers called cipher text. An algorithm uses a key, basically a large number connected to a password or pass phrase, to change plain text into cipher text. You see where werre headed here, don’t you?" This got a few nods from the men. Dimitri stepped in, "So, the encrypted text can only be read by the motherfucker with the key." "You got it, genius," I snapped back, "this is where I come in fellas. I break your key." "How?" Demitri replied.
C_BRAVA_94.23.z7: Carlos Martine was fashionably late. His date tonight with Emmanuelle, a lovely blonde Brazilian, was ten minutes ago. The checkered Spanish treetops above him shook nervously as he walked down an unnamed, unmanned road in the village of Costa Brava, just north of Barcelona. He sped by a one-legged woman with a cleft palette raising her right hand in deliverance as the left propped her up against curdled adobe. He sprinted down the alleyways of Costa Brava, blowing human wind through hanging bed sheets and last week's stained, but laundered camisas and pantalones. Carlos stopped at the end of the one of the cobblestone alleyways. Looked left. Pissed. Cried out at the carnage before him. Tears welled up and a spatter of blood scratched into his eyes, mixing with his retina, dissipating into the back of his optic nerve. It would wait there. Carlos would not make his date with Emmanuelle.
I knew I had to give it up. They wanted the secret to my idle hands. My prized solution to all 256-bit encryption or whatever any bastard threw at me. The method that had retrieved so much porn from St. Mary's and a few bucks from Western Mutual was, in about five minutes, going to be null and void. I was in shit. Damn! "Other guys I know use like software to rip and burn their way into a mainframe and some spy. But I parallel compute. Multiple processors working for one cause: to break and enter. Multi-prodding radically improves the speed of the technology. For attempting to break mainframes with 256-bit encryption, this type of power and speed is the only way to break cipher text…efficiently." There it was. The gig was up. I was through. It was back to peddling celluloid at Midnight Video, shooting up real first class shit in the porn room, and jerking off to scrambled cable soft core.
_A_ERDAM_97.62.x3: In the glimmer of naked breasts and shimmering thighs of the Amsterdam nudes, Joel masturbates through his pants. A California native transplanted to this carnal mecca, Joel Artuno tired of his nightly routine. Breast, thigh, swaying, grinding, masturbate, eat. Breast, thigh, swaying, grinding, masturbate, eat. It was torture but he couldn't stop this cycle. It was his food, and besides, it kept him out of trouble. After the swaying and grinding, he ate. Joel ate at the same joint every goddamn night. The same food. Brauts, bread, cheese, a Guinness to wash it and, of course, a nice fat roll of Thai to tide the bitch. At seven thirty-two, Tuesday evening, Joel sits in his seat at the Bloody Skewer on the corner of Damrak and Zeedijk. He orders his plate and begins.
After dinner, Joel thinks of his California life. The days, no strippers, leading up to this
thirty-five-year-old mask. The skies begged for play and the ocean was on its knees for young California Joel. He's lost now, in the years when girls were just girls, not breasts, thighs and a nice fix. He could hear the faint memories of bonfire sentiments and the clink-clink of friendly coffee-shop banter. The overwhelming guilt now tore. He left her with red junky eyes and swollen tits. Her stomach was soft with growth from fetus flesh inside her womb when he walked into the charcoal space that was the California moonless night. The last he heard, from a man he rarely considered trustworthy, she had an abortion at five months. In his seat this night, bratwurst and clips of sourdough on his plate, dreams of Lilah and her sunken belly carving scars on her wrists, catching a glimpse a quick shot of her trembling thumb of scratched burgundy. He loved her once. He loved her when he pumped inside. He loved her when she threw her head back in climax, grabbing grasping his red strands of hair as she rubbed, stroked. Her lean fingers making their way to the swirl-knot on the back of his head.
Shockwave. Back to his night in the mecca. Joel paid the waitress, a natural blonde he deduced from her rather large nose and unstoppable bronze legs. He propped his jacket up on his broad California shoulders and kicked his way into hell on asphalt. Half-way down Damrak, Joel looked down. A gnarled arm and jagged human torso lay seeping. Looked back up. Spatter-scratch of blood in eye, mixing with retina. Optic nerve soaking it in. Waiting.
Silence. "Thank you very much Mr. McCracken for telling us how you broke into our Secret Ops site," said Demitri in an unusually slow paced tone, almost a whisper. "Now, tell us what you let loose in there, you little fucking worm!!" Secret Ops site? What! I thought these fuckers were on me because of Western Mutual. I knew I was a bit sloppy on that. But Secret Ops. Never heard of it. Shit. This is heavy. "Secret Ops? What outfit are you guys with?!" I carefully trudged on. "Zephyr, what the fuck did you let loose in our files?!" Let loose? Files? My hybrid virus? "The only thing I can think of is that my hybrid virus, Chaos, corrupted your mainframe ... but I have no fucking clue how it would have broken into ... where did you guys say you were from?" "We're from the National Security Agency, the NSA, and we believe that your hybrid virus may have infected an offsite file management system pertaining to biotechnological research, specifically, biocybernetic transmutation files," Demitri said this and carefully lifted his hand to his gruff rubbing nervously.
I sat sullied. Scared shitless. I wanted to be back at my computer desk again, prodding my veins with high-class junk and tapping my keyboard, slowly creating digital death. I wanted my diet coke. I wanted my niche back. I wanted my next-door neighbor's fucked-up hip-hop beats and my studio apartment. The slamming crunches of the quarreling lovers upstairs. I wanted the smell of anywhere. Anything, except for there! Except for this! I imagined what could be of this virus mixed with cybernetic transmutation files. And I knew the code was experimental. Unstable.
_M_ESOTA_x1, United States of America: Stopping for a cool breath and slick sip of iced vodka tonic, Lilah stands straight up. Stretches her defined back. It's six-ten at night in Minnesota and old sweaty Dick is below panting, wiping sweat from his brow. "Fuck this you little whore. I pay good fucking money every time I'm here in this rat hole apartment and I always get stiffed in mid-goddamn action." "Isn't that why you're here, Dick? To get stiffed. To pump away your monstrous heredity into this rat hole," her hands in a diamond shape, outlining the triangle between her legs. Her john puts his hand to a five-o-clock stained face, the type that makes a scratch-etch sound when cheeks are palmed. He staggers up on his feet and his Jack Daniels knee almost gives way when he reaches for his sharkskin two-piece and Pierre Cardin button-up silk. Lilah turns to the bay window and looks past the dripping nicotine and out into the weak vibrance of twilight. Out past the concrete slab where she smokes her heroin. A blurred figure. Can't make it out. "Hey, asshole. What the hell is that out there? You bring your goddamn dog here again? God, what an idiot," her head springing back, "wait here 'til I'm done fuckin' my whore, Spot," she says in a mocking hillbilly accent. "Wha?", her john Dick says, becoming irritated to the point of a boil. "You're seein' things whore. Too much spunk and junk."
Back to the nicotine window, Lilah fixes her eyes on that spot where she smoked way too many black-tar fire sticks. Nothing.
The outskirts of Barcelona, Carlos opens his eyes. He feels the pounding sunlight traverse his pupils. He is in the middle of a deserted street. Blood-trails randomly twist in the alleys. The pounding is hard in his head and light bursts force him to wag his hypersensitive pendulum eyes from left to right. Right to left. A nervous system error. He lifts a tired hand and feels his face, blind man style. It has changed. The thirty-two-year aged mug he knew is no longer molded with soft mesomorph curves. The tufts of beard on his chin and upper cheeks are gone. Completely bare and chiseled now, with hard lines of protruding facial bone. His hands look different like nothing he had seen. They are Nosferatu throwbacks. Tarnished, yellow-chip nails glow opaque in the Andalusian sun. The fear of change rises up in his throat and works its way into his teeth. Hand in mouth. Reaching for the fear inside. Fingers stretching to the back of the throat. Breaking the jaw. Throat torn and knuckles of spine glisten in fantastic chartreuse.
Back in Minnesota, Lilah squints. Rubs. Nothing still. In a split-blood-second, silver teeth
and cerulean blue eyes crash through the nicotine window. Straight through Lilah's face. No blood. No pain. She, frozen from penetration, stands limp. Her back is to the blurry figure. It is in constant motion yet stationary in position. Hyper-real and digital.
Two black boots, steel toes, a constant blur of torso, arms and a massive chest worthy of medieval plate stand upright. Six feet, six inches of pure chaos stands in the middle of this rat hole apartment of our whore Lilah. Richard the john cowers in the corner. Scared out of his shit, he's not completely dressed. Only in his Cardin button-up silk and fake Rolex. The kind of man who fucks with his watch on. With his hands covering a placid, terrified member, he looks up and into the massive cerulean eyes of the chaos in front of him. In mid-blink, he feels a warm blanket travel up his spine. Unblinks. Looks down. He sees, slightly off-center, his legs and ass from the rear. Turning his upper body to cower again, his torso slips. Spine breaks with a slick pop and the remainder of our john, limp cock and balls and all falls to a soggy home on Lilah's blood-clotted shag carpet. Dismemberment in two seconds flat.
Still standing, dazed from conceptual penetration, Lilah rotates slowly on her heel, peers into the eyes of the chaos, gazes at the deep crimson translucent film seething off silverchrome jags of teeth. In an instant, the blur is, again, in her face. She feels pain. A scratch of blood in right brown slut eye.
Feel the surge of power through the optic nerve. It waits. Stainless brush-steel morphine high and she manifests into the wicked.
Lilah opens her bloodstained eyes and turns her head to the right, pulling her shoulders up and back malnourished chest heaves out and head plunges back, eyes closed. On the soles of her feet, the sensitive flesh captures a vibration. It's in front of her now. She feels a tug on her upper lip. Two digitized hands, static blur, take hold of Lilah's lower jaw and upper lip. Slowly, it opens her mouth. Severing her upper lip and revealing beautiful cream cartilage, plump pink gums and luscious nose bone. With brutal force, the chaos leaps into the air above Lilah's gaping face. In mid-flight, it melts into a viscous silvertint fluid resembling hard-cut mercury. It falls into Lilah's hole, vanishing into the walls of her throat. She can feel the chaos pumping through her. She can feel, like no other time in her history.
The love of hate and confusion streamline her new intentions. She can feel herself: the blue-eyed chaos.
There are no laws in Costa Brava. No police. No paramedics to run to the attention of a poor soul bleeding to death on the half-paved alleyways of this lonely village in the outskirts of Barcelona. Nobody to to help Carlos Martine as he lay confused and helpless in mid-plaza. Mishappen. And something was different. Something had happened to the features, normally round and puffy, of his face. The feeling in his body is detached. An irritating screeching buzz, strong and fierce in his ears. In his head. The normal nerves that accompany the human condition are divorced from him now. Memory of himself is fading. He can feel self-identity slipping out of his reach. Fragments of his life speed by his eyes. His marriage. Divorce. Children. Mortgage. His father. His mother.
Memories, fragmented now. Visions of his first vodka shot with his father Nico back in the winter of 1985, something his mother thought was a terrible idea. "It's good for the kid, Brenda ... put some hair on his chest chest chest chest." He was seventeen. "I don't like it one bit Nico, not oooonne biiiiiitt." Voices of his father and mother echo into the ether. He remembers the stink and sting of the liquid as it dripped down his throat that cold winter. It stuck in his gut. His father, cold then. His ambitions to become a man and make that cold man proud strong. But since his mother's death five years ago, his father had become distant. They both watched Brenda Martine die. They watched as cancer of the jaw ate away her face, leaving her once sensuous and caring face swollen and redrawed. They watched as the neon chemicals pumped through her veins. They watched, heart-stopped, as her last breath escaped. Air left her lungs with a flap of her lips. Brenda watched herself die in the reflection of their somber nights. The tinge in father and son's eyes and the mark of regret on the corner of their mouths as they drifted apart ended that terrible year. It was 1985.
The apartment is getting cold. Lilah stands straight up. Staring blankly ahead at the off-white wall with violent splatter of Dick, she slowly gains her vision back. She feels nothing now. That moment of power orgasm has passed and she feels nothing. No pain. No heartbeat. No thought. Only visual and auditory recognition. She walks to the bathroom, her steps slightly off. Looks in the mirror. Top teeth exposed, she has no upper lip. A constant fierceness in her face. Lilah peers into the mirror closer, she sees code on her face. Ones and zeros. Characters of the digital world are crawling on her face. She can somehow read the cipher, now inching it's way over her cheek. A feeling of comfort now building inside her gut, the code is family. Warm strokes of cyber memory flash through her mind. This is her family now ones and zeros. She ignores the absence of face flesh. And pain. And hunger. No longer is there substance of the human condition. She has become digital. She has become code. Reading the code now crawling in her iris, she transfers it to memory protocol, deciphers:
to be continued ...
Published June 2005