Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Walter Wallace - Chapter 40

The robot was pointing the gun directly at Phil’s chest. His blood froze up and his focus narrowed in on the small black object. The concept of death campaigned for acceptance in his head but he could not bear the idea of being stripped of life just as his moment in life was on the horizon. All those psychedelic trips that helped understand death and accept its inevitability seemed childish now. All those movies where the sickening happy ending felt cheap and obvious – where he would have preferred a sweet irony or a true sacrifice – all this meant nothing as he learned how much he truly valued his own life. He couldn’t die now, someone would save him.

“Don’t even think about running this time, Phil.” The robot said. Phil remained rigid. “That’s right, I know your name. I know a lot more than that actually. Maybe since we are getting to know each other I should refer to you by your nickname, Hippy Flip.”

Phil was struggling to remain composed but this revelation snapped his brain into gear. “How do you know my name?” he said automatically.

“I studied the tapes of you parading through the towers. Nobody thought you were much of a threat; just some punk kid having a laugh but I knew better. Such a security breach would require more planning, more skill, and therefore more motive.” The robot spoke with a sense of pride and victory. Phil found this didn’t fit with his understanding of robotics but it certainly fit with his current situation. The longer he talked the longer Phil could live. “I found your contact at the public records office – some deadbeat stoner type – he told me your name and your website.”

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Walter Wallace - Chapter 39

Walter was already sitting up in his bed, but he managed to sit up a little further. His stomach fluttered and his face prickled. He felt like laughing just to shake off the sensation. The door to his hospital reopened to a wave of shouting reporters. They were being held off by at least 3 police officers as a tall, elegant figure decked out in loose hospital robes, casts and bandages limped in.

“Hi Walter!” Lucy Blues said, apparently laughing off a few of her own nerves. The door slammed shut behind her and she jumped a little before wincing in pain and grabbing at her shoulder. Lucy Blues had long brown hair - singed and a little frayed - her eyes matched the deep brown and were naturally wide and inviting. She bit at her lip as she smiled and then she walked slowly to Walter’s bedside, sitting down in slow motion and with obvious discomfort.

“I just wanted to say thank you for saving my life.”

“Anytime.” Walter said weakly. He then let out a series of coughs and struggled to stem the fit as it sliced through his throat. “Doctor said to avoid coughing,” he managed to say in a strained whisper, tensing as he fought urge to cough again. Eventually it passed and he relaxed, speaking in more normal tones, “There.”

“I’m Lucy Blues,” she said extending her left hand as the right was caught up in the cast and sling. “I never thought we would meet like this.”

Walter smiled. “So you were the one who developed the machine that picked me?” he asked though he knew that fact weeks ago.

“Yeah and now look where you ended up.” Lucy joked. There was a short silence and Walter thought up at least ten terrible attempts at conversation. “I never meant for this to happen to you.” She said, looking away from him the moment they made eye contact.

“You feel guilty?” Walter said flatly, surprised. He could see her jaw clenching as she stared out the window. “I’m fine. I’m still as happy as I ever was. Still the happiest man alive I guess...unless someone overtook me.”

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Walter Wallace - Chapter 38

Mark Tanenworth was enjoying himself immensely. Rarely was he in good company, and rarer still could he find time to have a drink, and never was he free from the worries of Citadel Inc. Today, however, he was with his psychologist and only close friend Stevie and already on his 3rd beer at the White Stag in Newport Haven. He tried, with surprising ease, to ignore that last little bit of information as it reminded him of the railway incident and his duty towards it – funny how alcohol works.

After his sixth beer - or was it seven? He should probably ask Stevie how many since he was buying most of them – Mark felt it was time to do some karaoke. There was no machine to sing along to but there was even less stopping Mark as he stood and bellowed out a medley of pub classics. He had Stevie, the barmen and even the grouchy old locals in high spirits – especially for a mid afternoon drink.

It would have been the only place in town that had some liveliness to it as many of the Haven natives had lost someone they knew that day. While they sought to drown their sorrows there was, for at least a brief moment, something to smile about. At this point Mark had lost the majority of his inhibitions and having come to terms with his day off from work, he began to look to more positive things, like his ability to make people laugh.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Walter Wallace - Chapter 37

Whisky made his way down through the backstreets of Newport Haven. Though he assessed it only as a minor risk, he didn’t much like the idea of pushing his way down the small town’s main street through the crowds – there was a chance that someone (aside from Chips) who could spot him leaving his post.

He had taken a quick glance at the map on his phone before exiting the van and now he was running at a steady pace towards the hospital. He estimated that Chips would return to the van after 30 minutes at the most. This gave him 10 minutes there; ten minutes back; and then minutes at the hospital. The there and back again was the easy part – he could run for days if he had to – but he was still at a loss for what his plan, or even what motivation urged him to see Walter Wallace.

He took a left at the next street, having noticed a short cut on the map that would help him reach the hospital in good time. He rounded another corner and scaled a wire fence at the end of an alley before passing through an intersection almost at a sprint. He barely had time to recognise what had happened as his peripheral caught a flash of warning. He found himself pegged to a telegraph pole, breathing steadily and listening intently for the sound of approaching footsteps.

“Believe it or not I have come up to old Newport Haven a few times in my life.” The voice of Mark Tanenworth carried down the street, revealing his jolly disposition (and his physical position also). A light doorbell tingled and Mark’s voice became slightly muffled. “This pub is a favourite of mine. Match it with some of the best in the city, I reckon. Oi! You coming or not?” There was a slight pause which even Whisky’s heart dare not interrupt before the bell tingled again.

Whisky took a steadying breath and set off again towards his destination. He was quite sure that Mark had been oblivious to him, but he was not so confident about Stevie. This matter would have to be put on hold. The slow burning rush of emotion which began earlier that day was now gaining momentum. He had no memory of this vacancy that had opened up in his stomach like the smashed window of a jet plane at altitude. He had let so many things fall outside of the bounds of his control and what was left at stake was everything that he was, everything he knew. He continued to run and at the next corner the street opened up to reveal the greying exterior of Haven Hospital.