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Wake Christopher
Wake Christopher, Chapter 1
© 2022 James LaFond
Selek, Washington, 5:40 A.M.
Justice awakened at dawn…
Rain pattered sharply on the high, sheet metal roof above.
The half-light from the illegal kerosene hurricane lamp in the barn bathed the seated man like a nimbus of purpose. His thick wrist and left forearm were turned outward upon his left knee. In his right hand he held an old meat thermometer, filled with ink from the handful of broken and discarded pens scattered beneath and about his worn, cracked, leather boots.
He stabbed into his left forearm over and over again with precise short stabs, effecting a crude tattoo below his elbow and above his wrist phone. The word “WAKE” bloodied his upper forearm along the thick muscles there.
Wiping away the blood and admiring the ink more closely as the crudely writ letters welled blood, the man seemed detached and unconcerned.
The wrist phone notified pending work tardiness with a sharp bell phone, speaking in a feminine mechanical voice, “Employee James Droden, you have missed the transit shuttle. This could result in reduced social credit and a resulting reduction in your consumption index. Please report to work.”
The face of the man remained implacable, as if he had heard nothing as he stabbed anew into his forearm.
The soft sound of soothing waters poured with care and concern from the wrist phone. The voice that followed possessed a luster that the employment monitor had not possessed, “Patient James Droden, a drop in your blood pressure and respiration has been noted. King County Health Concern is sworn to serve your healthcare needs. Please report to the Maple Valley Health Concern as soon as possible.”
The man stopped stabbing his forearm and looked at the smiling face of Healthy Heather, the pretty Asian health monitor avatar he had selected when he signed up for the Health Concern.
When once, he would have winked at her, or tried to make her blush with a crude comment, the elemental calm that now possessed him softened this response to a mechanical one. Without pressing the service or hygiene notification, the man set aside his homemade tattoo stylus, un-clipped his link to The World and discarded it on the straw-covered barn floor.
As the man stabbed a C into his forearm the discarded wrist phone buzzed, like a door buzzer and a mechanical approximation of a black man’s voice stated, “Citizen Droden, restore social contact, please. If you have failed to press service or hygiene, please do so…”
A long list of service and hygiene directions, provisional fines and penalties, access denial notifications, medical warrants and law enforcement commands sounded from the discarded phone as the man continued his work.
Some time later, as sunlight crept through the widest crack in the old barn roof, the man stood, admired his work, which read “WAKE CHRISTOPHER” in ink and blood, declined to roll his blue shirt sleeve back down and turned in absent regard as a stentorian Asian male voice warned, “Citizen James Zachery Droden, failure to maintain proximity with this device will result in a terminal breach of social contract.”
He then turned his head, looked at his wrist, where the tan line from long wear marked the place where that watch had been worn for a decade, and seemed to recall a distant suspicion harbored somewhere within his mind, in that quadrant of his consciousness dedicated to the painful past.
He reached for the side slot of his carpenter pants and deployed his razor knife as the discarded wrist phone objected, “Citizen James Zachery Droden, unauthorized deployment of an edged tool beyond the worksite perimeter is cause for the issuance of a corporate security warrant. Desist from use of said tool. Please, to avoid injury, discard said tool and precede to the Maple Valley Allied Alliance Security Office for arrest and debriefing. Your custody number is SKA, 472, 96. Your waiver of rights assignation is SKA-7. Thank you for your cooperation.”
He cut into the back of his wrist to expose flesh, sinew, blood and a small white disk an eighth of an inch round. The tool box at his feet, rattled as he rummaged through the tray with his right hand as his left dripped blood into the rusty box, and produced a pair of needle-nose pliers. The pliers soon had blood running down the yellow plastic handles and the white disc held delicately between the rusted steel teeth.
More commands issued from the discarded wrist phone, until, the white disc was gingerly placed upon the back of the phone, while the service button was pressed.
All now seemed socially serene in the empty barn, occupied by a life-time’s discarded tools and dashed hopes and the concerned voice of Healthy Heather chimed, “Patient James Droden, your medical emergency has been noted. A medical drone is being dispatched to your location. Please, do not move. Your vitals are critically low. Medical personnel are dispatching for follow up. So sorry for the miscommunication.”
She continued like a darling hostess greeting the entrants to some mechanistic paradise, “Stay calm. This may be a heart attack. Law Enforcement is being notified for warrant redaction. We have been worried about your alcohol blood levels and your erratic sleep patterns. James, let’s look forward to recovery from your probable heart attack. Did you know, James, that Maple Valley Health Concern provides erectile dysfunction therapy? Also, our therapists work closely with most Seattle area Companionship Concern Clinics—we think you will be looking forward to Golden Lotus Lady or Mamma San Bonton… Hang in there, James, stay with me—you have so much to live for!”
These small words of hope and comfort sounded now dully in the background, as the man walked purposefully out the barn door and the rain greeted his stalking steps, pattering in the mud as the ancient evergreen cedars swaying above wept.
Wake Christopher
whack the blue
At the Smart Desk
honor among men
winter of a fighting life
by this axe!
let the world fend for itself
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