Bring on the Night

Updated: Nov 10, 2021

Michael K Laidlaw About 4 000 words

#406 3524 31st NW Calgary, Canada, T2L 2A5

Email: 4451moana@gmail.com



Bring on the Night


by


Michael Kamakana


1

The body wakes in the display cage of glass, in the tower of glass, all planes clear, all edges almost transparent blue in the early dawn. The body is female, the body is tall, is thin, and glitters as if graphite is embedded in her skin. Her left hand rises to iridescent violet butterfly over prominent neck-socket, her fingers caressing it, her fingers naming it. So little survives the night but in this way the body is anchored. Something like memory leads her down the walkway to stainless elevators, leads her to the other bodies here, the bodies who ignore each other here and now and ever, the bodies who have come to be no more than she is herself, the bodies who are empty vessels for all the dangerous pleasures of the patrons. The body waits.

#

The body remembers. Roxanne, I. I do not. Ever. The body remembers nothing happens for the first time, not the marks, the bruises, the burns, the cuts, the marks of binding. The taste, the taste the body does not want to remember. The body weeps, the body trembles, the body suffers, as the tech heals evident physical wounds, if never the painful acts, as the docbot murmurs, There is pattern apparent, but goes no further.

#

UnNumbered old white man, spkiehaired pink, emaciated inside studded cracked black leather, waits in the archway of the Rose and Bullet temple, waits opposite door the body exits. No desire, no mind, lights in him, only void and zombie patience, as the body ignores him. UnNumbered scavenge, unNumbered scour, unNumbered do work no sanitbots do on the inside, the underside, the fracture zones of City Nuevo ziggurats. Off seasons, CityPol raid their subway favelas and enfold the children into indenture promising final citizenship, promising final surface life, leaving parents and clans token card or simply driving them out of eighteen ziggurats of City Nuevo to burgeoning hundred refugee camps. The body remembers. Roxanne, I. I know. Ever. I am unNumbered, all my numbers fiction raised by my patron, all numbers in his card, and the night is how I earn my keep. I walk away from the unNumbered old white man, spkiehaired pink, emaciated inside studded cracked black leather. Far. Away.

#

The body remembers. Roxanne, I. I do not. Ever. Every dawn is the first morning for me, I am untouched, I am unhurt, I am innocent, the body remembers inside and I would not. Dawn over Nuevo, here on seaward slope level three-hundred, I watch sunrise fade holographic towers of the Before Flood. First rays wipe upper levels of Freedom Tower, then twin towers of World Trade, which collapses in spectacle every eleventh morning one month, collapses in history no one here remembers, usually just fading obelisks in the cemetery of smaller towers. Next rays dissolve needle-points of Chrysler and Empire State, next rays dissolve nameless towers of long-past wealthy uptown, next rays dissolve the hundred lesser buildings and reveal morning ruins of Flood Zone. Last, shadowed, the Lady of Liberty on an ever-shrinking island flickers out like a flame. The actual statue, copper and history, is owned by skyside, in false gesture of continuity transplanted to orbit lunarsynchronus over Venture, the Sea of Tranquility, Luna. I ride down, the cab whispering quiet. Echoes of pain tremor the body senses, dull noise of Morning After. The body remembers. Roxanne, I. I do not. Ever. Reflected face, blank, of no striking beauty, porcelain mask burned dark by invisible fire, fades on the glass.

#

The body touches the neck socket, the body senses the spikestatic on contact, the body senses the terrible cold. Roxanne, I. I click on sensimthread, hear music, voices, see images, this must be the place. And shine downtown doggies, be six-zero-seven and this be'lectric Sheep and 'Heaven Sent'. I switch threads. Arjuna Zero sings ‘Buy Her a New Pair of Eyes’, filtered through sensim phantom place, centuries-ancient shopping mall. Cel Sajiv, no answer. I switch threads. Sound of chimes in the wind, repeating and rising on the borderline between static and music, redundancy and meaning. Gain on visual input but there is nothing with the music, only darkness, vague shadowed pipes maybe holographic towers outside, maybe chimes within. Could be the steadystate, how signal becomes random, becomes noise. Could be an empty thread, empty vessel, waiting for the program to connect.

#

Across the Bridge, into morning. To Flood Zone. To sleep.

#

The body wakes to Sajiv, wakes to his boy smile, wakes to his caring face, wakes to his questions in his kisses. Sajiv wants to know how much card she made, Sajiv is angry she had only one rider all night, even if he pays well, tells her to face that slit who books her patrons, face her and insist, face her and demand she needs more work. Or rather, Roxanne knows, Sajiv needs more work, more card, to pay for enhanced pharmaceuticals, to pay to control the habit that controls him, that controls Roxanne, that promises some life over in the city and out of Flood Zone. Roxanne, I. I had those same dreams once, last year. Now it is enough our Crash is above high tide, now it is enough we have enablers to run sensim, now it is enough I can leave through sensim while Sajiv plays his online games. Now I watch him fade into his game and switch threads to that Brazilian sensonovela 55 days, an historical thriller about kidnapping of something like an Exec, something called Politician, way back BF.

#

Across the Bridge, into night. To Nuevo Arcade. The Big Neon Glitter. To work.

#

Sunset shadows, the eighteen ziggurats of City Nuevo rise into violent orange sky, shape and texture changing, angles of shadow and light blinking an unreadable code, as if the skins of the structures are flowing, flexing. In level-plans all ziggurat 'sides' are the sides of two arms of a fractal-furred starfish, each extending into the cavity of neighboring ziggurat's arms. Organic arcology, meta-architecture of the vertical city, chaotically random, perpetually unfinished like skyside habs of L5 but here struggling against terran gravity. Each sloped step is fifty or one hundred levels, notched with smaller waysteps every ten or twenty stories up, each slope rises gradually to central access voids, capstone missing, clustered with turista airships and airyatchs watching over the coming of night. Within the starfish arms, controlled environments emulate tropical hothouse or Antarctic snows, whatever is programmed, like skyside habitsat climates. As the train descends and ziggurats loom higher, each perspective catches a different reflection of the thousands of hypersimulated structures Nuevo ziggurats contain, here many of the world's drowned cities reborn, here quarters of Old New York, of London, of Paris, of Bangok, of Jarkarta, here suspended in great frames of metal, here in babylonian gardens and mirror-glass palaces and crowded trackways. City Nuevo. Worldnet Center. Skyside terran capital. Over 250 million people here. Only the horizontal megalopolis of San Angeles is greater in population. City Nuevo. Eighteen illuminated mountains, three hundred to six hundred levels high, endlessly dense and complex but so bright and glowing they seem to hover above New Jersey Bay.

#

Night falls. Inside the glass cage, the glass tower, the body does not notice anything. Lights of Arcade are so bright, so varied, and none of them are sunset fading. The body stops seeing, the body waits, the body knows they glide by on the catwalks, the patrons, but they are nothing over blurred color. Waiting ends when the body almost recognizes face outside. Then darkness and nothing else.

#

2

The body remembers. Roxanne, I. I do not. Ever. The body remembers nothing happens for the first time, not the marks, the bruises, the burns, the cuts, the marks of binding. The taste, the taste the body does not want to remember. The body weeps, the body trembles, the body suffers, as the tech heals evident physical wounds, if never the painful acts, as the docbot murmurs, There is pattern apparent, but goes no further.

#

Repent, sinner, the flesh of your death, Rose and Bullet initiate calls from baroque platinum-leaf archway of the temple. Angels and demons rise in twisted bright clouds, in tortured flames, to keystone of the Prophet Matsugae, who slumps against crucifix tree, torso penetrated by neon arrows, head titled upwards and eyes closed in orgasmic oblivion. I walk up the alley, out onto red glass pavements, night-lights beneath slowly blinking off.

#

I switch threads. Zoo Zoo again. NetNews67. The Ice Spike killer has claimed another victim, invaded her sensim dreams and tortured her to death in the early morning, in Nuevo Copenhagen. No leads. Citypol insists that basic nervous-system security is adequate protection, this woman had fallen asleep unguarded, while wired into her Corp ASC. She was a market researcher.

#

Across the Bridge, into morning. To Flood Zone. To sleep.

#

Across the Bridge, into night. To Nuevo Arcade. The Big Neon Glitter. To work.

#

Night falls. Inside the glass cage, the glass tower, the body does not notice anything. Lights of Arcade are so bright, so varied, and none of them are sunset fading. The body stops seeing, the body waits, the body knows they glide by on the catwalks, the patrons, but they are nothing over blurred color. Waiting ends when the body almost recognizes face outside. Then darkness and nothing else.

#

3

The body remembers. Roxanne, I. I do not. Ever. The body remembers nothing happens for the first time, not the marks, the bruises, the burns, the cuts, the marks of binding. The taste, the taste the body does not want to remember. The body weeps, the body trembles, the body suffers, as the tech heals evident physical wounds, if never the painful acts, as the docbot murmurs, There is pattern apparent, but goes no further.

#

Night falls. Inside the glass cage, the glass tower, the body does not notice anything. Lights of Arcade are so bright, so varied, and none of them are sunset fading. The body stops seeing, the body waits, the body knows they glide by on the catwalks, the patrons, but they are nothing over blurred color. Waiting ends when the body almost recognizes face outside. Then darkness and nothing else.

#

4

The body remembers. Roxanne, I. I do not. Ever. The body remembers nothing happens for the first time, not the marks, the bruises, the burns, the cuts, the marks of binding. The taste, the taste the body does not want to remember. The body weeps, the body trembles, the body suffers, as the tech heals evident physical wounds, if never the painful acts, as the docbot murmurs, There is pattern apparent, but goes no further.

#

Across the Bridge, into morning. To Flood Zone. To sleep.

#

Across the Bridge, into night. To Nuevo Arcade. The Big Neon Glitter. To play.

#

Rainbow Way. Level 300. Alone. Is it dangerous? No, not in the ordinary way, not if you have left the rats, bats, subway alligators and other, human, reptiles of Flood Zone behind. Arcade is clean and patrolled and monitored outside the Corp-sponsored Entertainment Plexes, the Hostess Bars, the 'Dance Shows', the Nightklubs, the Casinos, the Puppetlover bordellos, the coffin-hotels. All the Arcade ways to walk, to cab, to dance, to play, are sectored invisibly to families of firms, but Rainbow is free passage. Neutral. Warewolf tags everywhere on walls, doors, kiosks, glimpsed only from certain perspectives like phantom projections of sensim delirium. Green Giants handprints, Sensim Surfers pipeline hallucinations, London Rules OK script, Pirate Kings skulls, so bright, so clean, the tags they leave, the jungle they rule, the walls of light and dancing holos twenty levels high. MidWay of course has popular VISE- Virtual Interactive Sensory Environment- of Arcade, and you never have to leave, not even in your dreams, but it is not the same, never the same. Only thing to worry about is sensory overload, Worldnet Aura never get any denser, anytime, anywhere, than walking these ways. I click on thread... request by Ariel, love, down to one Mustafa Moreau working nightshift at Belladonna Hospital. Hope you listenin' scalpel-man, ‘Voidhead Blues’ by Pain Revolution... Eyes go blank, recording, then switch back to outside, sweet swaying music flows through, carries on, drifting down rivers of light, through chain-link curtains of rain, through lowering steaming clouds... Automatic. Walk this way.

#

The body remembers. Roxanne, I. I do not. Ever. The body remembers nothing happens for the first time, the body wanders, the body leaves spectrum ways, the body searches. Red lights rise below, the fracture zones, the favelas, all rise to the surface, where the towers grow. Inferno glowing, Nuevo Nhorleans fading into Amsterdam, the cold cold heart of the Red Ways sector. Lit within by blue lights, hovering above rain-sparkling, red glass pavement, the Glass Towers look like glacial ice looming out of sea fog, melting into blood. Blurred shadows move around the blue cages, blurred shadows within wait, blurred where the body usually waits but not tonight. Blinking to red inside the catwalk web, another glass cage slides down towards the transfer vaults. The body inside, leased, makes no move, no escape. The body remembers. Roxanne, I. Stand apart from the hustling crowd under a Live Sex theatre marquee, open to the hard rain. The stable entrance is down back way by the temple. I wait and watch over the patron's way, a four-level black cube, left of the Club DecaDance wall, split by two mirror doors at wayside. People go in. People come out. Same minds riding different bodies, sometimes their own as well. Usually the patron's shell remains on ice, waiting his return. Along the curb private vancabs are always waiting, clogging the slow flow of taxicabs of turista too afraid to walk the Red Ways. Roxanne sees some of the bodies, some of the bodies leased out, but the eyes that flicker across her do not recognize. The clock on inner eye glows, like a cab meter counting. Automatic.

#

You. You wait for me, girl, he says. Somewhere, sometime, I see him, dark blur on peach satin sheets, dark reflection infinitely multiplied in mirrored walls, golden geometric patterns entangling shared images, swallowing all perception in a mandala microcircuit. The body remembers. He smiles. Only the golden eyes, unfocussed and wandering blind for a few stuttering seconds betray that this body, this youth, is ridden by patron, but in a few minutes and even this secret sign will disappear as the patron comes full into the sense-envelope. No. Mistaken identity. You confuse me. I glance quickly around, looking for a puppetmaster to the body, but he is alone. Inside. An imagined corpse, corrupt and ancient, decaying even on the hiber-ice, flickers across inner eye, what the patron looks like, forever. I knew it, the youth's face smiles smoothly, I knew it would be tonight. I turn to flee. His hand, large and strong grips wrist, harsh, demanding. Thunder rain shatters in teardrop stars at his feet. Underlit shadows of two men, leathermasked and huge in expensive suits, hover red and glowing on the edge of sight, mirages rising from burning glass. He makes a halting, protective gesture, and the men do not approach. You reset. Resense, he says, No, But the body is pliant at his touch, and hidden, healing scars sting under his gaze. Private vancab slides, into the pickup lane doors opening like shuffled cards. Do not concern yourself. They are my lifeguards, here in your Night City, he says, gesturing to the men. He guides the body into a soft interior darkness. Gentle voice with a clipped politeness, almost apologetic. Skyside speaker. His touch. Burning hot. The body welcomes submissive posture, hard kiss, and willingness to follow rises like high tide, flooding away doubts. It is not mistaken identity. I remember- blurt out suddenly. No reply. The vancab swings away from the curb. Twin lifeguards sit in front seats, silent. One slots in a destination card, glimpse enough to see it is a resort key, hotel for the very wealthy, discreet.

#

Do not need Glass Towers to disappear. It happens all the time.

#

The body remembers peach satin sheets and handcuffs and leather whips and chains and cigarette embers. The body looks into golden reflected eyes. Eyes are windows to the soul but there is no soul in there, only the patron crowding out the youth's mind. The body senses the pain of binding. The body wonders of the youth, is there a program running him that charges his flesh with pleasures that directs his careful assault? Is it the soft? Or there is something, in this youth, in Sajiv, in all the patrons, that needs only the correct VISE to release its twisted passion, twisted pleasures. Golden eyes caressing. Lashes thick and long and beautiful. Single trickle of salt wetness along his cheekbone. Kiss. Taste. It is not his fault. It is his body, leased out. Reset. Resense.

#

The body is feverish, trembling, adrenaline pumping meaningless messages to fight or flight. The legs want to run, instead, stumbling, they climb over concrete and iron ruin. Above, a webwork of rusted girders, spanning upslope through a cathedral of giant columns. Below, barrelfires of the UnNumbered- here mostly Scotland’s final refugees- burn unrecycled refuse, the kind incinerators and crushers do not reclaim. No one approaches the body. Terminal Bay. Nuevo’s recycle and waste storage site, far downwind and hidden from the city. A parting message from the patron. The body gazes along swamp shoreline. It is lowtide, algae lagoons and archaeological sites hidden in pier and ruin shadows. Gulls circle a party exploring reef experiments, walking upwind of a stalking pack of garbage dogs. Turista, skysiders black, tall and almost alien thin, they are wired into support skeletons to compensate for dirtside's cruel pull. Mass and inertia remain the same and so they move gently, patiently, as if against the faint gravity and virgin dust of a lunar sea. Nuevo is a heat mirage rising into summer blue sky, blurred by distance into cloud mountains. Far. Away.

# The body on an L into the city. Demographic spectrum of fellow passengers. Turista focusing and recording exotic Norte America, accompanying Nuevo natives bored and tired. Parents and children with amorphous silver balloons, tiny mechanical familiars, jewels of driftglass and other Industrial Age artifacts turned over in their hands. Corppersons blank-eyed and wired into their decks. Rare UnNumbered just as blank but wired into nothing. Only the children scan overgrown suburban ruins through the glass walls, momentary patterns of light and shadow flicker over their rapt faces, abstract Rorschach holograms cast by leaves and trees. Three deer leap into motion as the train passes, flying through glowing green away from awed chatter. The body feels tears, salt burning. Reset, resense memory eyes. Blankness. Erased. A sound between sobbing and spitting.

#

The body goes to public baths, somewhere in part of Nuev'Amsterdam going through deconstruction and repatterning, the body goes into the locker room, the body inserts tabula found in the jacket. The body pays enough for three litre bucket of clean, hot water. An old white woman, averts her eyes from the marks on the body, two young Filipina women, students on pilgrimage, stare and whisper as if they recognize. After the spongebath the body slides into the pool, listens to the other women. All shades of Nuevo world here, they relate the business of the day in the slowly dying, shared language of card. It is lunch hour and the body has come to a bath frequented by Sensim Net advertising Executives, and if nothing else the English-speaking still sell the world. There is talk of demographic potentiality strategy and sexy packaging dynamics and vulnerable gratification windows. The body listens and knows they are talking of her.

#

Arcade afternoon, glass piping and pavements milky and dead, lies before the body. Walk this way. Memory floods. The body. I. I am the body. Roxanne.

#

Bruises, marks, burns on inner thigh, small cuts, marks of binding. The taste, the taste in the mouth the body does not want to remember. There is a pattern apparent, the docbot murmurs and offers a tab of steadystate. Do you know the assailant? The body remembers. Roxanne, I. I do not. Ever. Not employment-related medical care, docbot says. How will you pay, credit or card? Hand him card. The night pays too well to erase all memory.

#

5

The body remembers. Roxanne, I. I do not. Ever. The body remembers nothing happens for the first time, not the marks, the bruises, the burns, the cuts, the marks of binding. The taste, the taste the body does not want to remember. The body weeps, the body trembles, the body suffers, as the tech heals evident physical wounds, if never the painful acts, as the docbot murmurs, There is pattern apparent, but goes no further.

#

Night falls. Inside the glass cage, the glass tower, the body does not notice anything. Lights of Arcade are so bright, so varied, and none of them are sunset fading. The body stops seeing, the body waits, the body knows they glide by on the catwalks, the patrons, but they are nothing over blurred color. Waiting ends when the body almost recognizes face outside. Then darkness and nothing else.


(wrote something like this before injury, again and different after injury, same ending... this is the original creation of Nuevo- some years before 'copycat buildings' came to be a thing in, like, China)


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