by charlie crago.
As the seal of the cryosul broke, allowing the outside atmosphere to penetrate its’ airless vacuum, a small popping-sound was made, causing Gif Townsend II to awake from what felt like an eternal slumber. Gif opened his tired eyes, rubbing the sleep from them while yawning a long, cumbersome yawn, full of half-dreams and forgotten memories, waiting to be excised into the world of the living.
Laying on his back in the cryosul, naked but for the barrage of tubing going in and out of his body, Gif stopped to consider the endless procession of parties, anniversaries, and other assorted social events which defined his life. The lid of the cryosul opened, the figure of a young Latina dominating the sterile confines of the bedroom reminded Gif of his own nakedness. He smiled at the young girl, suggesting lewd acts of debauchery with lips smacking of entitlement. Familiar with the routine, the young nurse merely rolled her eyes, continuing to take stock of the body’s recovery following cryorphous. The pounding in his head suddenly became painful evident, to which Gif responded with slow, small, circular rubs.
“Headaches seem to be getting worse every time I go down.” His voice was scorched and strained from the long period of cryorphous he had just awoken from. The neural-monitoring pin was still embedded into Gif’s temple, his groggy hands feebly trying to remove it.
“I’ll get that.” The Latina nurse quickly yanked the pin from Gif’s head.
“Damnit!” Gif shouted as he winced in pain. “How many days?”
“180.” Satisfied that the Legacy’s vital functions were stable, the nurse left Gif alone in his bedroom to dress himself.
As his feet touched the cold, sterile floor of his apartment’s cryochamber, Gif became increasingly aware of the mild pain emanating from the back of his head. He reflexively reached his right hand to the source of the pain, while steadying himself with his left on the cryosul, touching his head softly. Detecting a small lump on the back of his skull, near his brain stem, Gif assumed it was a collection of blood caused by lying in the same position for extended periods of time. Although the cryosul was supposed to rotate the user to compensate for instances such as clotting, Gif assumed this was the cause, and ate a couple more pain-killers before showering his dirty body off.
Standing before the massive window of his penthouse, Gif alternately inspected the Sao Paulo cityscape and his perfectly pressed tuxedo. The city looked good, as did he, and Gif knew it. As he gazed into his own eyes, reflected in the toes of his polished shoes, the sound of the ocean crashing in the background echoed through the room. Throughout the penthouse framed pictures of various events, every one of them generally depicting the same group of people engaged in some form of group peer-bonding, were displayed on every viable surface . The sound of the limousine pulling into the driveway broke Gif’s concentration, and he turned, facing the great expanse of his living quarters. His father, Gif Sr., had conducted the first successful tests in the field of cryorphous, and had designed the first cryosul to be marketed to the general public, and in the process, had generated massive wealth for his family. Gif briefly thought of his father being dragged away by the civil police as he left his apartment, then filed the idea away deep into the recesses of his memory. The CP rarely, if ever, interfered with Legacies these days.
“Lights.” Gif’s command caused the halo-sensors in the apartment to dim, leaving only the sound of the crashing waves on the beach to animate the room.
Inside the limousine, Gif treated himself to a glass of gourmet Cana, one of the many products that had contributed to the great wealth and stability of Brazil in the late 21st century. He then pressed his thumb onto a flat sensor on the door of the vehicle, which drew a tiny sample of his blood. After confirming his identity as Citizen First Class – Legacy, the sensor glowed green. A tiny compartment opened on the mini-bar revealing a suitable amount of cocaine, another one of the great contributing economic powerhouses of Sao Paulo. After one or two toots, Gif sat back and imagined the evening to come, while the cityscape flashed past the windows of the limousine. It was to be an appointment ceremony for one of Gif’s childhood friends, Mick Taylor, who had just finished studying at the Medical University of the Confederated World Governments – Florianopolis. Dr. Taylor had finished his studies with a medical degree in dream-morphology, the study of changing dream-states, a continuation of Gif Sr.’s work. Mick was a Citizen Second Class, and although he had not been entitled to the extravagant lifestyle Gif had come to know, the two had remained friends throughout lifetimes separated by studies and cryorphous. Gif then realized he had not seen Mick in more than a year, as his last waking-period had been spent in Kobe, Japan, at some birthday party, or such…he couldn’t remember.
Gif’s thoughts then turned to Cheri Trust, his assigned life-mate. Cheri, though frighteningly beautiful, was also a Legacy, and spent her waking-periods juggling parties, drugs, and men. The thought of her laughter grated through Gif’s mind, causing him to shudder at the thought of another tryst with the woman he could not stand, but could not avoid.
“833 Riders Club – we’re here, sir.” The driver’s voice was all business, penetrating the rear of the limousine as Gif snorted one last bump before entering the party.
“Thanks, driver. Pick-up at…”
The driver finished Gif’s sentence for him, “Pick-up whenever you’re finished, Mr. Townsend.” Gif exited the vehicle, making his way up the long path to the enormous estate of Victor Machinal.
Victor Machinal had won a landslide victory in the Brazilian presidential elections of 2176, and had presided over the country for the last twenty years. Machinal’s campaign had been centered on a platform advocating Entitlement Breaks which guaranteed cryorphous for all those who qualified. EB’s were distributed amongst the upper-echelon of society as a kind of reward for attaining such high social-standing, and many First-Class citizens had spent the majority of their lives in cryorphous, waking every year or so for important social gatherings. Mr. Machinal was among the first to submit to the cryorphous program, under Gif’s father, turning over the everyday operations of the Presidency to his Interior Minister, Paul Desantos. Like Dr. Taylor, Mr. Desantos was a Second-Class citizen, and was expected to spend his entire life hard at work, contributing to the greater good of society at large.
As Gif floated past the various party-goers littering the ornate lawn of Mr. Machinal’s villa, it was not hard for him to pick the First-Class citizens out from among the lower ranking citizens of Sao Paulo. Two drunken girls, beautiful, probably the daughters of Legacies, helped to hold one another’s hair while the other vomited in the finely shaped shrubbery. “How fun” Gif thought to himself, casually strolling over to the girls.
Placing his hands on the lower back of each girl, Gif asked, “Is everything OK here, ladies?” The insinuation of adulthood caused the more sober of the two girls to giggle as she stared deep into Gif’s eyes. Sensing the invitation, Gif let his hand slide into the girl’s dress, feeling her naked ass divided by only a thin piece of fabric. The girl smiled at Gif, then took her friend’s hand, who had stopped vomiting long enough to notice his attractive features, and placed it on Gif’s crotch. The second girl was instantly aware of Gif’s growing erection, and she assumed a position on her knees, prepared to take him entirely into her mouth. The first girl smiled approvingly, leaning in for a kiss as Gif let his hand explore her nether-regions.
“Gif Townsend, what the fuck are you doing!?” The caustic and mocking tone of Cheri’s voice instantly killed the mood, and Gif turned to face his arranged-love, replacing his cock as he moved from the girl on her knees, leaving her alone on the lawn with her hand between her legs, the other girl’s breasts still exposed from Gif’s explorative hands.
“Hey Cher, I was looking for you.” He was obviously lying, though it made no difference. Casual sex was expected of Legacies, and no one enforced or expected any semblance of monogamy to prevail in 2197.
“I can see you were looking, just not for me.” Cheri pushed the kneeling girl onto her butt as she reached Gif, eliciting the awful laugh he had come to loathe over the course of his life. The girl, unable to catch herself from falling, as her right hand was still embedded deep in her panties, struggled to get up, but was too intoxicated to do so. Her friend reached to help her up, but was stopped by Cheri. “Don’t you touch her,” she splashed champagne everywhere as she screeched at the girls, “I want to watch her finish, right here, in front of everyone.”
“Leave ‘em alone, Cher, they’re just kids.”
“Then what does that make you?” Cheri took a blast off her cocaine-inhaler as she spoke.
Noticing her unstrapped bra through her backless dress, Gif realized he was no more guilty than she. “And who were you fucking tonight?” Gif fingered the unhooked bra-strap as he spoke.
Cheri’s attention switched from the masturbating girls on the Mr. Machinal’s front lawn to her husband-to-be, aware that regardless of whom each of them chose to fool around with, ultimately they’d have to settle for each other. “Oh, Gif, always so concerned about my well-being. Do not worry, my darling, just some boy, about the same age as these two.” Cheri indicated the girls with her champagne glass. “It doesn’t matter,” she cupped his bulge with her other hand, sensing its’ partial arousal from the fallacio he’d received moments earlier, “does it?” Cheri kissed his neck as she rubbed his crotch.
Unimpressed by her drunken antics, Gif removed her hand from his pants, and then carefully took a step back. “Not now, Cher, I need to see Machinal before we get too deep. I’ve been having problems with my cryosul.”
“I haven’t seen Victor, but Mick’s looking for you.” Cheri looked down at the bulge lingering behind Gif’s zipper, biting her lip in anticipation, “Then later?” The look in her eyes told Gif she’d probably screw half-a-dozen men and probably one or two women between now and ‘later’, though he did not care. He was tired of Cheri, her perfect body, her spoiled sensibilities.
“Of course later, sweetheart. Now, go find us a young couple to tie-up.” Cheri’s eyes lit-up at the thought of kidnapping a teenage-couple of third-class citizenship. She knew no one would ever look for them, which meant she and Gif could do whatever they wanted to them. She hurried away, bumping into sober government officials as she bounced her ass and tits here and there. Her obnoxious laugh gradually grew softer until it no longer stabbed at Gif’s eardrums. “Thank-god” he muttered to himself as he climbed the steep slope into the foyer of the house.
While inebriated Legacies laughed loudly, danced horribly, and drugged and drank the night away in the more lively rooms of Victor Machinal’s home, the Second-Class citizens of Sao Paulo discussed the future of the city in the darker rooms deeper in the house while sipping Brandy and smoking cigars. Gif, after doing more cocaine and shots with other Legacy alumni, made his way into the meeting room, and was greeted by Mick Taylor, who was dressed in the official uniform of government employees, essentially a military uniform.
“So, all growed-up then, Mick? Fine job, amigo, fine job.” The two toasted one another as Gif poured and re-poured Cana shots for them.
“The Confederated Government has taken me on to continue my dream-morphology research at the institute here in Sao Paulo, so I guess I’ll be seeing a lot more of your ugly-mug.”Gif clanked his glass against Mick’s in affirmation of the revelation, sucking down the cold alcohol while displaying only the slightest look of disgust.
“That’s great. I’ll include all your events on my waking schedule. That reminds me, have you seen Machinal around, I need to discuss some cryosul issues with him.” Gif poured a small bump of cocaine onto his hand, then snorted it, before offering the same to Dr. Taylor.
“You know we can’t do that shit – it’s reserved for Legacies only.” Mick looked around the room nervously at the anonymous faces of military and government officials pretending not to listen to them. “Put it away, I get scanned every day, and you know it’ll detect even a micro-spec of that shit if it even gets on my skin. Put it away.”
Gif obliged his friend, though took the opportunity to chastise his well-founded concerns. “Suit yourself, brother, but that scanner’s bullshit. If they want to find something, they’ll find something. Until then, you’re fine. C’mon, let’s go find me a little piece to suck on.” Gif replaced the snuff-box in the breast-pocket of his tuxedo, and then began to lead the other man away from the boring musings of the politicians, and into the festive arena of the Legacies.
Mick stopped, grabbing Gif by the shoulder as they exited the room. “I can’t go, Gif. My place is here; we have a society to run.”
Gif looked at his oldest friend, realizing he was right. Mick Taylor was always right – that’s why he had finished at the top of his class at the Florianopolis Medical Center. “OK, friend, I’ll catch you on my way out. What about Machinal?”
Mick paused before answering, his face covered with the look Gif had learned as a child to interpret as the harbinger of bad news. “Listen, Gif, I didn’t want to be the one to tell you; Victor Machinal was killed in an illegal drugs raid this morning at his home, an unnamed accomplice made it out. He was selling the stuff, Gif, outside of governmental parameters.”
The news made Gif’s body instantly shudder as a result of his own cocaine-high. “What…why would he do that? He’s Legacy, he doesn’t have to pay for anything, certainly not drugs. Why would he do that?”
“I don’t know, G, but I’m sorry. I do know how close you two were after your father died, though.”
The voice of a senior military officer interrupted Mick, “Dr. Taylor, you’re needed here immediately.”
Mick turned his head to address the officer, “Yes, sir. Immediately”, then turned back to his friend. “Look, Gif, I have to go. Try not to think about Machinal; have fun. Go find Cheri and do something the rest of us can only dream about. I’ll talk to you soon.”
Mick returned to the murmurs of the politicians, leaving Gif standing alone in the doorway of the room. The squeals of girls and boys could be heard from the other side of the house, but were unable to distract Gif’s train of thought. As he roamed through the house like a zombie, he took little notice of the numerous acts of debauchery taking place all around him. The few Legacies that did notice his somber mood simply assumed Gif was lost in some narcotic trance, which was known to happen. All he could think about was how the night had been ruined. Gif hated bad news; that was one of the great advantages to cryorpheous – it really limited the amount of news, good or bad, a person had to take-in. The doorway of the house became recognizable through what was quickly becoming an orgy, and Gif pushed his way through the pawing hands of the men, women, boys, and girls that had devolved into a squirming mass of sex and drugs.
Back on the lawn of Victor Machinal’s villa, Gif stood and stared towards downtown Sao Paulo; the limousine had been summoned and would arrive any minute. The two young girls who had earlier been so intent on the party had passed-out in a half-naked mass of drunken sleep. Gif stood and stared at the sleeping girls, there dresses hitched up above their waists and below their shoulders. It looked good and for a moment Gif considered taking them home so as to perpetrate unthinkable acts of sexual deviancy on their young, supple bodies. Once again, though, Cheri Trust’s screeching voice interrupted him.
“Gif, where the fuck are you going? I’m not ready yet.” Cheri was fumbling out of the house, pulling her dress up over her slender arms. As Gif had expected, she had not been able to wait for ‘later’.
“I’m going home, Cher. You stay here, do what you do.” The sound of flashbulbs going off near the bottom of the driveway momentarily caught his attention as he spoke. “They arrested Victor.”
Cheri feigned indifference, though it was clear she had already been informed of Machinal’s misdeeds, and had taken time to come to terms with it. “So what? One less rich fuck, right?”
The despondent tone of her voice aggravated Gif, causing him to grab her by the arm, ready to smack her in the mouth. “Watch yourself, Cheri; you know he was good to us.”
Cheri wrenched her arm back from Gif, a look of blazon fury burning in her eyes. “Don’t grab at me, Gif, don’t ever grab at me.” Her dress was slipping off of her tiny frame, which was far too small to support the fashionable garment. Gif noticed the emaciated look of his bride-to-be, her shriveled breasts, twig-like arms and legs. It was as if her cryorphous nutrition regiment was not being followed, though Gif knew this was not the case. The truth was: Cheri, like him, slept nearly 85% of their lives, and so, over time the body ceased to be able to support muscle-growth and maintain healthy levels of fat. Granted, the cryosul was supposed to compensate for these issues, but, as his own shrinking wrist testified to, these measures didn’t always work.
As Gif continued to survey the withering body of his future wife while she re-dressed herself, he noticed a bruising pattern on what would be her left bicep. His eyes moved from the discolored arm to meet hers, full of embarrassment. Assuming the marks were merely some trophy she’d won off some fuck-toy somewhere, Gif debated whether he should even bring it up. Before he could decide her cold voice invaded his being. “What the fuck, Gif? Stop staring at me.” Cheri took a moment to compose herself, then smiled wryly at the man she was supposed to marry someday. “I’m gonna go back in, you got something for me?”
Gif knew what she meant: drugs, not his cock, though she couldn’t have that either, not tonight. The drugs were something else though. Cheri should have been allocated the same share of tier three narcotics as all the other Legacies. “What happened to yours?” he asked dryly. If she was blowing through her allotment it meant her consumption rates had increased during her waking-periods, and so her cryosul wasn’t properly detoxifying her body during cryorphous.
“Fuck it, Gif, what difference does it make. You gonna give me some or not?” The faint sense of pleasantness Cheri had fabricated moments earlier quickly dematerialized, and again she was nothing if not caustic.
“I can’t Cher, there’s too much Second-Class here. They could take away both our rations.” Gif wasn’t really worried about being found out by the Second-Class, and certainly not the third-class citizens – they were all too caught up in the myriad of problems associated with any society. The truth was: he didn’t want to help her; but he felt compelled to anyway – he couldn’t help himself. Her essence had been uploaded to his psyche when he was a child, as his had been to hers, so that they could come to know one another before they were wed. He definitely hated her, but still, he could not stand to be cruel to her. “You’re completely out?”
“God Damnit, Gif! Just say no – I don’t need your excuses and I don’t need you! Fuck You!” Cheri was screaming at him as she pulled a full inhaler out of her dress. Gif couldn’t help but wonder how she had concealed anything in the small piece of clothing.
“OK then, I’ll see you later, Cher. Love you.” Gif’s voice chased after her as she climbed the stairs back to the party. “Fuck you” were the only words he could make out as Cheri disappeared behind the throngs of people. “Fuck me” Gif thought to himself.
The limousine pulled into the large, circular driveway, the driver opening the rear-door from the front with an automatic device. Gif got into the back of the vehicle, which sped off towards his apartment on the other side of the bay. Flashbulbs erupted from behind the massive gate that separated Victor Machinal’s home from the rest of Sao Paulo as the limousine left the party, carting its’ precious cargo back towards sleep.
The cryosul opened and Gif lay on his back, staring at the ceiling of the cryochamber. As he looked around the dark room, he could see the nurse already leaving.
“Am I good?” Gif asked just before she reached the room’s exit.
“You’re fine.” The nurse answered in the same sweet accent she always had.
“How long was I down?”
“Only for a week. There’s been an accident, Senor Townsend.” The subtle break in the nurse’s voice let-on the severity of the situation.
“What is it this time? Some old grump choke on a titty? Or no, let me guess…some coke-whore Legacy overdosed, right?” Gif’s indignant tone clearly upset the young nurse.
“Senor Townsend, it’s Cheri…Cheri Trust…they found her last night. She’s dead. I’m sorry for your loss, sir.” The nurse left the room, and Gif crawled out of the cryosul. As he stood, a shooting pain flashed through his brain, causing him to nearly collapse before catching himself on the frame of the cryosul. Glimpses of vicious death and mayhem took turns filling Gif’s mind with images of sexual lust and drug use. The sex and drug stuff he could explain away as memories from some long-lost binge, the murdering stuff, not so easily.
As he regained control of his motor functions, Gif felt his stomach muscles contract in preparation to expunge, and he vomited on the floor of the cryochamber. This was new, as were the visions. Gif assumed he would feel better after cleaning up, and headed into the bathroom for a shower.
After washing himself and dressing, Gif decided the visions were just part of a bad dream, and filed them away somewhere deep in his mind. Then he thought of Cheri. Cheri Trust, what had she gotten herself in to? Gif tried to remember his last words with his mating-partner – “fuck you”. So she had probably gone off to get it somewhere else. He remembered that she had asked for part of his allocation before leaving. “Overdose…how ugly” he thought to himself.
He knew they’d be coming to take him to the funeral any minute. Then they’d have a new bride for him. Gif hoped she would be younger this time, not so worn out. A car entered the driveway of the luxury apartment building, though it was not the limousine he had expected. It was followed by another, and then another. Rather than the limousine, a military police convoy had pulled up in its’ place. Gif watched as two MPs filed up to the front of his apartment. He opened the door before they could ring.
“Can I help you gentlemen?” Gif was courteous, if not slightly annoyed.
The larger of the two, a man of Island descent, spoke first. “Yes, Mr. Townsend II? By order of the Interior Minister, Paul Desantos, we’ve been instructed to collect you, immediately.”
Gif was alarmed by this – he had never been summoned by the Interior Minister, though he knew what mandatory visits meant – crime. “By whose order? What does the Minister of the Interior want with me?” Gif was backing up into his apartment as the two goons flanked him on either side.
The smaller MP spoke in such a deep, low tone it seemed impossible that it could have come from a man his size. “That doesn’t concern us, sir. You just need to come with us – now!” The smaller MP grabbed Gif by the arm, his tight grip inescapable. As he struggled with the smaller man, the Islander hit Gif in the neck with a neurophine shot, rendering him instantly unconscious.
The military transport rolled slowly through the streets of inner-city Sao Paulo, which had continued to grow through the 21st century as an urban sprawl boasting all the amenities of overpopulation: drugs, prostitution, gambling. Yet, where Legacies were allocated reserves of narcotics, and encouraged to fuck and gamble their lives away, third and second-class citizens were expected to work, and nothing else. Any sub-class citizens unable to fulfill their roles as productive members of the Confederation were considered a burden to society, and therefore completely written off by society. Gif looked out of the tinted windows of the transport, bewildered by the varying scenes of poverty and grief. Children stood at every corner, pounding on the windows of passing vehicles, begging for change, or worse. As the convoy rolled past, canons full of pepper-spray blasted the children and any street-vendors unlucky enough to be in the area. Gif had never seen such destitution, having spent the vast majority of his life either at sleep or at the party, and had was quickly overwhelmed.
“What is this?” Gif spoke distantly to the MPs escorting him, who looked at one another before answering.
“How long since you’ve been on a waking-cycle, spent time in the real world, man?” The Islander’s voice was underscored by sense of compassion.
“Since I was nine…I’ve been alternating cryorphous and waking-periods since I was nine.” The MPs looked at one another again, and then re-assumed the blank stares typical of military personnel.
The military convoy rolled to a slow halt in front of a dark alley in downtown Sao Paulo. Confederate Civil Police Forces were busy collecting evidence, while InfoCast technicians snapped away picture after picture, the flashbulbs of their cameras burning out in a chorus of light-explosions. Gif strained to see through the tinted windows of the vehicle, but could not make out why he had been summoned to this place. As the thoughts rolled through his mind, the rear-passenger door opened, a muscular MP stood on the other side holding it open.
“This way please, Mr. Townsend. Identification Services is waiting for you over there.” The MP indicated the mouth of the alley with the slightest nod of his head. Gif exited the vehicle, after which the MP quickly closed the door behind him. The convoy continued on through the streets of Sao Paulo, leaving only the smell of burnt oil and gasoline behind. “If you please, sir.” The MP again motioned for Gif to head towards the alley, though this time using a more accentuated gesture.
“What? Oh…yeah. Thanks.” Gif followed the directions of the MP and moved towards the group of three or four civil policemen gathered around some piece of evidence. “Hello, Gentlemen, my name’s Gif Townsend…Identification Services hailed me…”
As he finished speaking, the group of policemen turned to face him, revealing the grotesque evidence they had been busy examining. Cheri, it was the mangled body of Cheri Trust. But she didn’t look like an OD, not any OD Gif had seen before, and he had seen a few. Instead, Cheri’s body had been brutalized on every front, leaving cuts, scrapes, and bruises all over her small corpus. The shock of seeing his mating-partner in such an uncared for state caused Gif’s stomach to contract again, and he vomited all over the street and his shoes.
“First homicide, Mr. Legacy? Then you’ve probably never seen a rape before either.” The IS man was kneeling down beside Cheri, examining the area between her legs. “A real nasty one, too. Somebody lived out their First-Class fantasies with this one.” The IS man pulled Cheri’s dress down to cover her, the act of which forced Gif to purge again. “Hey, buddy, you all right? Then you do know this one.” The IS man was handing Gif a handkerchief as he spoke.
“My wife…eventually my wife. Cheri Trust…her name’s Cheri Trust.” Gif coughed the words out as he fought in vain to get the disturbingly graphic image out of his head. “How did this happen?”
The IS man looked at his fellow officers before speaking. “Your ‘wife’ was hooking, Mr. Townsend; this happens to be one of the major pitfalls of that profession.”
“Hooking? What the hell are you talking about? She’s First-Class, can have all the sex she wants with whoever she wants. She doesn’t have to pay for it.”
“Well, actually, someone was supposed to pay her. Like I said, she was hooking, not buying. “
“I don’t understand…she was selling her body…to someone else?”
“Well, we didn’t actually find any unauthorized deposits to her credit-account in her recent transaction history, but we do have a perp – caught in the act. Or in the last stages of the act.” The IS man finished explaining the situation to Gif, and re-joined his fellow civil policemen, casually chatting about the subtle differences between this crime scene and the hundreds of others they had seen.
A small commotion could be heard slightly deeper in the darkened alley, beyond where Cheri’s body had come to rest. Two MPs carried a disheveled, dirty-looking man dressed in tattered clothes out of the alley by his arms. The man wore no pants; all manner of bodily fluid was spattered over his body – clearly of the third-class. A sick grin covered the man’s face, which proudly displayed rotting, yellow teeth. Gif was sure he could smell the man from where he stood, recognizing the man as one of Sao Paulo’s destitute – a problem Gif had briefly followed during the education-periods of his youth. Supposedly the problem of violent transients had been remedied by the Confederation. “Apparently not” Gif thought.
“What’s going to happen to him?” The IS man Gif had spoken with earlier acknowledged his question by turning back around to face him again.
“Him? Don’t you worry about him – he’s taken care of.” The IS man hadn’t finished speaking before Gif could hear the violent smashing of the MP’s batons against the feeble body of the transient. Then, a gunshot, and finally, silence. “You see, he’s all done. Now, I’ve been ordered to transport you to the offices of the Interior Ministry. Come with me, please.” Before he had time to protest, Gif was swept away by the civil police into another armored convoy. As the vehicles rolled away, Gif watched through the rear window as Cheri and the transient were dragged away in the same refuse-collection receptacle. The irony of Cheri’s final partner was not lost him.
The offices of the Interior Ministry of Brazil were located in the central plaza of Sao Paulo, and were staunchly defended. Though, behind the fiercely guarded entrance of the compound were lush gardens and pristine fountains pumping crystal-clear water. Gif had not visited the Interior Ministry since he had been a small boy. His father had taken Gif with him on several occasions before beginning his cryorphous regiment.
Once the convoy made it through the security checkpoint and into the gardens of the IM compound, the vehicles slowed to a halt. Gif’s door was again opened from the outside, though this time Mick Taylor stood waiting to greet him.
“Hey G, I’m sorry to hear about Cher. There’s nothing you could have done.” Dr. Taylor was helping Gif out of the vehicle, and then offering an embrace of condolence. “She was always a wild one.” Gif felt a cold distance from his childhood friend. Mick, of all people, should know how much he loathed Cheri and the compatible-mate partnering system.
“So then I’m here so that you people can partner me with some other supposedly ‘compatible’ fuck-buddy?” Gif let the disdain seethe from his mouth, while his arms barely returned his friend’s hug. Instead, Gif pushed his arm between them, and fetched his cocaine-inhaler from his jacket pocket, taking a long draw on the device.
“Jesus, Gif, it’s not even noon yet. Enough with that stuff.”
“Whatever you say, Doc, whatever you say.” Gif replaced the inhaler in his jacket. “Let’s go get this over with.” He was already walking past Mick Taylor towards the main offices of the Interior Ministry compound.
Paul Desantos’ office was located in the center of the IM complex, and was staffed with the most beautiful second and third class citizens Gif had ever seen. The decadence of the Interior Minister’s office could only be rivaled by the excessive tastes of the First-Class.
As Gif entered the office, he realized there was no assortment of young women from which his next mate would be selected. Rather, the room was empty except for the Interior Minister and Dr. Taylor. “Thanks, Pam, that’ll be all” Desantos instructed the receptionist in his trademark Brazilian accent, and the three men were left alone in the office.
“What’s this all about, Mick” Gif’s voice was distant, uninterested, as the pure cocaine-fix he had ingested moments early was taking up most of his attention.
“Mr. Townsend, it’s been brought to our attention that your former-partner, Ms. Trust, was found dead this morning, the victim of rape resulting in homicide. As I’m sure you know, violence perpetrated against Legacies cannot go unpunished, and so a full-scale investigation has begun to determine what Ms. Trust’s intentions were on the streets the last few weeks and…”
Gif interrupted, “Weeks? You’re saying Cher had done this before?”
“We’re not sure, Gif,” Dr. Taylor’s voice maintained the compassion of a true friend, “that’s why you’re here. We’re doing everything we can, and that includes a neural-scan of your synaptic-terminals. Hopefully we’ll uncover something only you know that will help us uncover the truth behind Cheri’s horrible demise.”
The news alarmed Gif, who instinctively jumped up, out of the chair he had been seated in. “What the fuck? You can’t conduct a synaptic scan on a Legacy without a Presidential release. Besides, I’ll never submit, and it’s against Confederate law to conduct medical experiments on unwilling participants.”
“Oh, Mr. Townsend. You just don’t get it, do you?” Mr. Desantos pressed the intercom button on his desk. “We’re ready, Pam.” The doors of the office opened and the MPs who had collected Gif from his apartment emerged. Gif quickly surveyed the room for another exit, though there was none. His next impulse drove Gif to throw his body into the MPs, who easily caught him. “Don’t struggle, Gif, just let it happen.” Mr. Desantos’ voice echoed through the office as the MPs drove his body onto the floor of the office, twisting his arms behind his back, causing Gif to scream in pain.
“This isn’t necessary, Maestro. I’m sure he’ll come if you let me talk to him.” Mick Taylor was also standing now, pleading with Mr. Desantos.
“No, Dr. Taylor, I do not think he would have come willingly” was the last thing Gif perceived before slipping into a state of controlled narcotic sleep.
Gif’s eyes slowly opened, the sedating effects of the neurophine shots he’d received were wearing off, though the chemical hangover affecting his motor skills continued to linger. The arm and leg restraints binding him to the examination table prevented Gif from sitting up. His head was held in a medical vice that also prevented movement, though with his vision restored, Gif could make out the neural cleansing equipment surrounding him, and his friend, Mick Taylor.
“Mick, what the hell is happening here? What are you doing to me?” Gif coughed the words out, his voice strained from being heavily sedating without hydration.
Mick’s voice held the same compassionate, ever loyal tone it always had. “Just relax, G, all systems will recover optimal functioning capabilities here shortly. Lay there and let me drive…that’s how’s it’s always been, right amigo? You’re gonna be fine.”
Still, Gif couldn’t understand what his friend was telling him. “What are you talking about, Mick. Get me the fuck out of here. My waking-period’s expired for this rotation anyway; just put me back in cryorphous, make sure my schedule’s checked, and leave me alone.”
“I’m afraid not, Mr. Townsend, not yet.” Paul Desantos’ voice boomed from the observation deck overlooking the examination floor, his accent assuming an affable quality. “No, you will keep your schedule, but first, we must purge those nasty memories stored deep in your memory bank.” Dr. Taylor was finalizing preparations on the neural cap that would transmit Gif’s collectable memory into visual projections.
“Nasty memories? You can’t be serious. All I do is fuck and drugs. Specifically, which ‘nasty memories’ did you want to clean?” Gif’s voice had become defiant. He was a Legacy – there was no way the Confederation would go through with this.
“All of them, Mr. Townsend, all of them.” Mr. Desantos’ voice reeked with malcontent. “Dr. Taylor, Begin.”
Without hesitation Mick Taylor turned to the controls of the neural cleanser and commenced the procedure. Gif struggled to dissuade his friend, but the shock of the cleanser racing through his neural cortex, cataloging any memory he was capable of recalling, froze his speech. “Mick, please, don’t do this…” Dr. Taylor never looked at Gif, always keeping his attention completely focused on the machine in front of him.
From the neural cleanser, the visual projections of Gif’s memories were transmitted to the observing device, which relayed the images onto a large screen at the opposite end of the examination floor. Similar to the flashing white glimpses Gif had experienced earlier, the projections depicted all manner of violence and debauchery. Some of the scenes he remembered, others were completely foreign. An image depicting Victor Machinal speaking intently to another person flashed across the screen, from a first-person point of view. The two men were in an apartment, carrying large duffel bags, apparently walking to a secret deposit location. The unidentified man looks at the walls of the apartment as he walks, admiring the same pictures displayed on the walls of Gif’s apartment– it is Gif’s Apartment! Machinal kneels down and he and the other man place the duffel bags into a trapdoor in the floor of the bedroom. One of the bags is slightly opened, revealing what are obviously kilos of drugs packaged for distribution. Suddenly the man retrieves a gun from his waste and shoots Victor Machinal twice in the face, then several times in the body.
The projection switches to another scene involving Cheri. She is dressed beautifully, obviously ready to go out. Standing outside on a street corner, she seems to be waiting for somebody. The first person view approaches Cheri, accompanied by another man. Money is exchanged, and the other man takes Cheri by the arm, leading her back to his car. From this closer point of view, Cheri’s inebriated state is much more obvious. As she and the unknown man get into the car, undoubtedly to participate in some paid-for sexual act, the first-person point of view kneels down to tie his finely polished shoe. The shoes are so finely polished they reflect the image of the wearer: Gif Townsend II.
Disgusted by the images, Gif fought to convince his friend to stop this cruelest form of torture. “Please, Mick, you’ve gotta turn it off. This is killing me. I never did anything to Cheri…I loved her.”
“Loved her?” Paul Desantos scoffed at the idea. “Loved her? How could you love anyone? The whole purpose of your life is to indulge yourself, first and foremost. Everything, and everyone else, is secondary.”
“That’s not true! We were gonna get married, have kids. You know that Mick, tell him.” Dr. Taylor did not answer his friend, but continued to manage the neural cleanser.
“Only because we told you to, Mr. Townsend, not because you actually loved anyone.” Before the words had left his mouth, Gif could see the truth in what Paul Desantos was saying. “Everything you do is part of a carefully planned schedule to show you off to the rest of Sao Paulo and the world. And in the time between your ‘waking periods’, as you all like to call them, we maximize all of your affluence as best as we can.”
“What does that mean, Mick?” Gif didn’t expect his friend to answer him, but continued talking to him out of habit.
“It means we use you when you’re in cryorphous the way you use us when you’re awake. And you, I mean, you were great, Gif. You could go through any checkpoint in the world untouched. You’re a god damned international golden-boy; everyone out there wants to be you. So, as you fly around the world, making appearances at the best parties in the best vacation spots, you’re also carrying millions of Confederate credits worth of drugs for us – cocaine, mostly.”
“But why Cheri? Why did you do that to her?”
“Well, technically, Mr. Townsend, you did that to her. But come on now, Gif, don’t tell me you’re not getting this; you’re a god damned genius’ son.” The mocking tone that highlighted Paul Desantos’ voice was palpable, and seemed to pinch Gif with every vowel uttered. “Listen, OK? If you’re, oh, say, a beautiful woman, like, I don’t know, Cheri Trust, then we pimp you out to the highest Second-Class bidder. Then, when you’re no good for that, we pimp you out to the third-classers. Now, granted, that’s not a lot compared to what First-Classers with high Confederate profiles like you bring in for us on the market, but we all have our roles to play, don’t we Gif?”
“So you just killed her. Like that, for nothing. You’re a fucking outrage, Desantos,” Gif’s eyes rolled within his restrained head to view his oldest friend, Mick Taylor, “And you, you’re part of this? Mick! All this time, and what, you’ve been just monitoring me? Damnit, you knew her man. We went to school with her for Christ’s sake!” Gif thought he sensed Dr. Taylor momentarily pause from the neural cleanser and glance towards his patient, though he said nothing.
“Don’t blame him, Mr. Townsend; he has done nothing any of us would not have done to advance our places in this world. It is only because of Dr. Taylor’s association with your family that he was ever accepted to the university in Florianopolis, or ever assigned his prestigious post here in the capital.” Paul Desantos allowed a gloating chuckle to escape his mouth. “And as for your lover, Cheri Trust, I assure, between myself and Dr. Taylor, we both made doubly sure she would be prepared for her new line of work.”
Gif could not help himself, and so screamed an agonized scream. “You sick bastards, both of you, sick fucking cunts. You’ll be found out – you know you will Mick.” Gif was again addressing his lifelong friend, the man who had paid to have sex with his wife, then had her killed. “At my next waking-period, I’ll go to the Assembly. I won’t go along with this shit.” Gif spit at his friend, an impulse that surprised both men, though it still elicited no verbal response from the Doctor.
“My gods, Mr. Townsend, are you so daft? We’ve cleansed your memory after more covert assignments than we can count. This will be like any other.” Mr. Desantos was clearly becoming tired of the situation. “Dr. Taylor, we’re finished here. Clean him up then put him back in cryorphous. When he wakes up, introduce him to his new wife, tell him about his old wife, get him high, send him to a party, and that’ll be that.” The old Brazilian’s black skin contrasted sharply the shine of his many medals as he left the observation booth.
“Mick, Mick, listen to me,” Gif was pleading, “you’ve got to help me man.” Mick still did not respond, which caused Gif to impulsively shout. “Hey you Fuck! Listen to me! You can’t let them keep doing this to me! Do you hear me, do you fucking hear me you??!”
Dr. Mick Taylor stopped his computations and turned, leaning over to face his friend. “Why can’t we, Gif? You do the same things voluntarily when you’re awake, and worse. You fuck young women, and boys. You snort coca the entire time you’re awake, right? You kidnap lower-class citizens and abuse them to death, Gif? Is that true?” The disgust that enveloped Mick’s voice was matched only by its’ disappointment.
“To death? Mick, I, that was Cher’s thing.” Gif’s voice had lost all its’ power. “I never killed anyone, man. That’s not my thing.”
“Maybe not your thing…but your girl’s thing? Definitely, and lots of other First-Classers, too. That’s the problem with all of you: think you’re entitled to do whatever the fuck you want. Just like your Dad, G.”
“What the fuck. This has…nothing to do…with anything. He was good, Mick, he mentored you at the university. You know he was good.” Gif sounded broken, reserved to the truth.
“He was good until he tried to stand in the way of the progress of the Confederation. Your father thought just because he discovered cryorphous, he could decide how and who to use it on. When he learned of the Interior Minister’s decision to use you in the assignments, he tried to shut the program down. I would have been out of work, G, and then what? I’m not Legacy, what future do I have then? It was the right thing to do, he endangered too many people.
Dr. Mick Taylor turned back to the neural cleanser and resumed his work. “Don’t worry, amigo, this won’t hurt a bit. And when you come back, it’ll be like always. I’ll see you when you wake up.” As the doctor threw the switch to commence the final cleansing process, Gif Townsend howled in pain a lament that seemed to last forever, the way dreams have no time, and everything fades to black.
The lid of the cryosul opened and Gif’s tired eyes gradually focused on the familiar smiling face of his oldest friend, and coincidentally the best doctor he knew, Mick Taylor. “Uhgg…Mick, you look like shit.” The doctor helped the awakened man climb out of his resting place in the cryosul, the cold floor of the cryochamber causing him to jump slightly. “But what else is new?”
“You look good too, amigo, as always.” The loyal, sincere tone of Mick’s voice was comforting to Gif as a first sound to hear after a long cryorphous.
“How long was I down…and why the hell are you even here, where’s the nurse, that old piece of shit?
“You’ve been down almost a year, Gif. I’m here to inform you that your mating-partner, Cheri-Trust, died of an overdose during her last waking-period.” Mick helped his friend put a robe on as they spoke.
“Fuck, overdose, huh? Fucking ugly, right?” Gif felt a strange shiver run through his body as he considered his wife being found in a pool of her own vomit by the most affluent of Sao Paulo, a sensation he wrote off to embarrassment. “Fucking ugly.”
“I know, G, I’m sorry. But, on the brighter side, before we brought you out of cryorphous, we were able to find another compatible mating-partner for you.” Dr. Taylor took a step back and opened the door to the cryochamber. A beautiful Latina women entered, dressed in the height of Brazilian fashion. Gif felt like he had met her before, although couldn’t imagine where. “May I present the daughter of Interior Minister, Paul Desantos.
As he inspected her physically, Gif asked the most obvious question: “Is she Legacy?”
“That’s what great, G; because of Mr. Desantos’ dedication and service to the Confederation, all his heirs are to be considered Legacy, beginning with her.” Mick indicated the fine young Latina, who only smiled, with a full cocaine-inhaler, which he then handed to Gif.
“Well that is excellent, Mick, you’ve done a great service, yourself…you’ve really out done it this time.” Gif took a blast off the inhaler then pulled the Latina girl close to him. “Alright buddy,” he patted Dr. Taylor, his best friend on the shoulder, “I’m gonna get cleaned up, I’m sure there’s some events me and my lovely new future-wife will be expected to attend.”
“Absolutely, sir.” Mick Taylor stayed behind in the cryochamber, checking the cryosul’s instrumentation for indications of any weakening in his patient’s life functions.
Gif entered the bathroom with the Latina girl, and began to disrobe. “I’ll get that” the Latina girl said as she pulled the robe off his body. Somehow, Gif was sure he knew her voice.