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At the Smart Desk
Wake Christopher, Chapter 2
© 2022 James LaFond
AUG/20/22
Allied Alliance Security Office, Kent-Kangley Road, Maple Valley, Washington, 9:02 A.M.
Officer Ellen Rice-Keyes was busily reviewing Human Resources reports at the smart desk. Particulars, service records, activities and scheduling requests appeared on the smart desk. Her answers were routed through her smart mike implant in her rear right molar. This was so much more convenient then the irritating old blue tooth she had begun service with 20 years ago, and totally superior to the sensitive smart glasses she had recently exchanged for this better technology.
Her smart desk lit up with the image of a burly carpenter, a certain James Zachery Droden: no criminal record, three motor vehicle violations, and since the banning of fossil fuel burning autos, simply a collection of medical warrants—mostly psyche appointments for speaking incorrectly on the job and Habitation Alone Under the Influence counseling calls. Droden had been barred from purchasing alcohol. But his blood alcohol index still spiked on Friday and Saturday nights. If the office was not too busy, a drone would be sent to serve a counseling citation.
A video record that made her grin appeared on thumbnail in the upper left corner of Droden’s file. So she touched it and the smart desk expanded the image as it came to life, a drone recording, as the machine hovered in front of Droden while he drank beer on his porch out in Selek, took an extra deep drink, toasted the drone and said, “Eat A Dick!”
Droden had been issued a non-compliance warrant this morning, which had been countermanded by King County Health when it appeared that his years of binge drinking and avoiding pharmaceutical treatment had caught up with him, resulting in a heart attack. Droden was 60 years of age and overweight.
It seemed like a just call.
Now, as the smart desk played a medical drone video feed from Droden’s trash heap of a farm, where nothing grew but weeds, black berries and piles of junk, for which he was repeatedly cited annually, Officer Ellen Rice-Keyes’ heart sank as she noted that his large red pickup truck, 50 years old, illegal to remove from the property by its power for 20 years now, was missing.
“Glug-glug-glug-glug-glug,” came the sound of a fossil fuel burning moving violation and crime against The Planet, rolling right up to the Security Office at the Maple Valley strip mall right next to the Transway Supermarket. The shattering of the serenity was mind boggling.
Officer David-Delenay Jones-Smith, a beautiful caramel metrosexual example of correct personhood, rose from his drone monitoring station, and burst out with an offended lisp, “Oh, My Earth! Can you imagine what it must have been like before Corporate, when, when, those gas guzzling monsters ruled the road!”
Officer Mobilage Gupta came to attention before the smart desk, “Moderator Rice-Keyes, should I go out and make an arrest?”
Officer Jones-Smith interjected, ‘Why, so this white asshole can say, ‘Eat a dick, homo?’”
‘Inside, I’m still Ellen and I feel sorry for this moron. But he could be dangerous. If I call TACTICAL and its not necessary Corporate will ship me off to some shithole like Chicago for shrink control management. What should I do?”
The engine outside roared and some great grinding sound came from the gas chugging machine and Ellen saw her Tesla mini coup and the smart cars of Gupta and Jones-Smith turned into shattering heaps of metal, plastic and safety glass. The big red truck then roared louder and pushed that wreckage that was not caught under its wheels onto the sidewalk and, as Gupta and Smith-Jones began deploying their side arms, the menacing, monstrous, holdover from an evil industrial age crashed through the office window front, bending the entire metal frame, twisting the door, which flew from its hinges and flattened Smith-Jones face into caramel and cherry pudding.
“No!” screamed a panicked female voice in shrill octave, and Ellen realized it was her, as Gupta half drew his pistol, misfired and blew a hole in his right foot and fell back squealing before the desk and Ellen realized that she was unarmed.
“Oh my Earth, what is the weapon locker combination?”
For answer, Gupta, the tactical officer, simply screamed like a dying animal.
The truck did not continue inward to crush her as she had feared, but stopped moving and kept idling as the driver’s side door opened and James Droden stepped out, dragging a propane tank with some off hose contraption attached to it and a large plastic tool strapped over his back by a wide nylon belt.
Ellen mused weirdly, “Is this all so he can stage one of those protest barbecues, violating dietary, energy use and fire ordinances all at once? Oh my Earth, Smith-Jones is dead!’
The man had a far away look in his eyes, and held a facial expression of ultimate, complete and everlasting PEACE. He walked purposefully and unhurried, even gingerly avoiding the wreckage, through the wrecked window frame, crunching across the shattered safety glass scattered like so much square hail.
His left shirt sleeve on his blue cotton button shirt was rolled up to expose a bleeding homemade tattoo on his forearm, which she absently wondered about., ‘What is that…”
Droden now stood over Gupta and squeezed a valve on the hose and with a metal click a roar of fire emerged from a two foot nozzle and ignited Gupta’s shoes and polyester pants and service jacket as poor Gupta screamed like the very soul of biblical damnation. The smell sickened Ellen, who was frozen in shock as Gupta erupted in flames—and began to crackle like Better than Bacon hitting the canola oil in her frying pan.
Then, as Gupta howled like a damned soul and writhed in melting and crackling agony on the floor, the torch was deactivated and the thing strapped over the shoulder was swung around.
‘A leaf blower?’ mused Ellen, in shocked apathy. ‘There are no leaves in here—besides, leafs blowers are against the law: Planetary Footprint Ordinance: 362-C.’
Then the leaf blower started up, bringing back confused memories of her hurried childhood before the Great Migration, even as Gupta began smoldering into a gibbering travesty of a caricature of a fetus—and when the supercharged air from the old screaming leaf blower hit the burning form of Gupta, Gupta roared like a torch and thankfully died as his lungs were scorched and the crackling of his body fat and the stench of roasted man and polyester combined to cause the world to spin.
Ellen never recalled falling, or her head hitting the floor, though she would imagine that would have hurt and wondered what it would have sounded like. But as she lie in Critical Care looking down at the bottom of the bed were her feet should have been, though they were gone from the knee down...she finally cried, cried alone as the medical drone adjusted her pain medication and she eased back into the uncaring embrace of undreaming sleep…
Wake Christopher
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