Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Know Circuit: Chapter 3.5

Chapter 3.0

"Whoa there. Let’s not jump to any conclusions. Slow it down, breathe and let’s work this, ok? I’m sure you’re grandmother is fine."

Aristotle’s expression grew sour, the hint of sarcastic disbelief in his wry smirk. "What do you care? You aren’t exactly family guy now are you?"

"Just because I’m an amoral shitheel doesn’t mean I don’t got family… somewhere," Bridge replied. His thoughts drifted to his parents for the briefest of seconds before he pushed the memories aside. They were out there somewhere, but damn if he cared where. "You never talked about your grandmother, so I just expected you didn’t have one."

"Gram pretty much raised me. My parents split when my dad was in Iraq and my mom was a no good nothing, or so Gram said. Last I talked to her, she was living in Boulder."

"Where in Boulder? Near that big dome thing?"

"I cannot be certain."

"Well, see, there you go. It couldn’t have covered the whole goddamn city, right?" Aristotle nodded meekly. "Maybe she’s in the part that isn’t covered."

"She was living near the university when I left Boulder. The artsy district. She’s a bit of a Bohemian. I haven’t been back since I left. I haven’t even visited her. What if she’s dead?"

"Hold on, let’s not jump to conclusions. So she’s by the university. I can get Angie to start pouring through the feeds, see if they can pinpoint this thing. It may not even be anywhere near her."

"Then why can’t I get her on the phone, Bridge?"

"Shit just kicked off, big boy. The power was out. Maybe it knocked out the networks around there. Hell, maybe everybody in the country with family there is trying to call in, or everybody trapped in that bubble thing is trying to call out. The whole network could be jammed to hell and back. You remember what happened during the riots, how nobody could get any kind of service, no GlobalNet, nothing? That’s probably what it is."

Aristotle had been staring down at his feet the whole time, nodding at each new proffered morsel of hope. As Bridge finished, he raised his head again with a forceful nod, his mind made up. "That’s it, then. I must go there. I have to go find out if she’s ok. You have to come with me."

"Wait… what? Hold your horses there, big guy. You’re talking crazy talk."

"No, I’m not. You said it yourself, the whole network could be down or jammed, and it could be days before it clears up. She could be outside the bubble. She could be wandering around alone in a daze. There’s no way I can spend days wondering if she’s ok. I have to go find her, get her out if I can."

"How the hell do you plan on doing that? The cops, the national guard, the goddamn LGL is probably going to lock that site down tighter than a nun’s habit."

Aristotle nodded. "That’s correct, and they are likely even now setting up plans for evacuation camps to hold the survivors. And who better to navigate the red tape of survivors, bureaucrats, cops and administrators than you. Those situations are where you shine."

Bridge grinned with egotistical pride for a moment. "I know what you’re trying to do and it won’t work. You’re stroking my ego, brother, trying to get me to go along. It is not going to work. Colorado ain’t my stomping grounds. I don’t know nobody there."

"Since when is there a place you don’t know somebody?"

"Ok, fair enough, I know a guy. But I’ll be totally out of my pond. Plus, I got work to do here. I can’t just toss nights of profit away on somebody’s grandmother." The force of Aristotle’s reaction slammed the breath out of Bridge. Aristotle had lifted him completely off his feet and into the wall behind him.

"Listen, Bridge. Since I know that you are a cold-hearted bastard, I’ll ignore the insults. I’ll even ignore your lack of sympathy. But I will not ignore the fact that you OWE me." Aristotle’s eyes narrowed to piercing slits. "That’s right, motherfucker. I am calling in the marker on that one. I went to jail for you, and I’m a two-strike man. I could have gone away for a long time FOR you, so let’s be entirely clear here. I need your help, and you will give it to me, whether from empathy for someone you call a friend or because you well and truly owe me. At this point, I don’t care which it is. Are we clear?"

"You picked a bad time to call in a marker," Bridge replied with a grin. "All right, put me down, goddamnit." Aristotle let him down gently, smoothing out his lapels as he did so. "I help you with this, we’re square, right? No matter what turns out?" The bodyguard nodded.

"Then we’re going to need some help," Bridge said. He dialed up the one person he really didn’t want to ask. While Bridge owed his life to Aristotle he owed as much and more to Stonewall Ricardo.

Go to Chapter 4.0


Monday, February 23, 2009

The Know Circuit: Chapter 3.0

November 2, 2028
02:07 a.m.

The crowd in the Tanz looked on the events playing out on the screen in stunned silence. People looked from one face to the other as in a shared dream state, experiencing the uneasy camaraderie of the traumatized herd too shocked to remember the natural distrust they should have of each other. The house lights had been turned on somewhere in the middle of the broadcast, and Bridge’s eyes ached. He’d been going pretty hard lately, a three-day stretch of lost sleep and constant footwork. His body still felt the effects of the hallucinogenic seizure he’d experienced, and the other jacked-in victims appeared equally drained.

Bridge jumped as his cell connection buzzed to a life, a tingly irritating vibration in the back of his skull that signaled an incoming call. "This is Bridge, go," he said by reflex.

"Was that you ghosting through Ars just a minute ago?" It was Bridge’s girlfriend, Angela. He could feel the barely-controlled panic in her voice. "I was cruising the taverns and I swear I saw you in the Blooded Falchion, but then I was in the Tanz with you. And what was that about Boulder?" Angela was one of the operators of the virtual world Ars-Perthnia, spending most of her time in that world dressed as the lich-queen Baroness Eletheia.

"Are you still jacked in?"

"Of course, there’s a tourney tonight."

"Check the news feeds, baby."

"Which one? CNN?"

"Any of them. All of them. It’s all over the place. Boulder just went nuclear or something."

"Oh my God, hold on." The artificial sound of virtual breath being drawn tickled Bridge’s auditory nerves. It was hard for someone in a crèche to gasp, but she managed it. "What the fuck happened?"

"They don’t have any idea. But apparently that little hallucination you just had of me in the Blooded Falchion was shared. I swear I was in the Falchion AND the Tanz at the same goddamn time. You know that weirdo feeling you get when you’re jacked in without a crèche and have to look at the real world and the Net at the same time? That double image bullshit that gives you a headache from hell? That’s what it was like. I could feel the table twice. Always makes me feel like the walking dead."

"Did you jack in wireless?"

"Hell, no. You know I don’t jack in anymore unless I have to. This wasn’t conscious, it just happened."

"You sure you didn’t get slipped a nannymick?" Bridge had already considered the idea of a nanobot attack and dismissed it.

He replied, "If it had just been me, I’d have considered it. But everybody in the club with a jack got hit the same way, all screaming out ‘Boulder’ over and over again. Ask around in the joint, see if the other gamers had the same experience." Bridge noticed Aristotle for the first time. The bodyguard was frantically dialing numbers on his cell, putting the receiver to his ear, then cursing at something and repeating the process. "I’ll get back with you, Angie. Something to take care of." Angela broke the connection quickly, with barely a word. Bridge wondered if he should have given an ‘I love you’ but was still unsure where their relationship stood. Living together was one thing, actually saying the words and meaning them with everything that entailed? Something for another time.

"Yo, brother, what’s the problem? Who you trying to call?"

Aristotle looked up quickly from the phone in his hand, his expression one of sheer abject animal terror. He quickly went back to the receiver, dialing again and cursing while ignoring Bridge’s question. His curses only grew louder as his frustration grew. "Fucking piece of shit, why won’t you get through?" he finally screamed into his palm. As if realizing where he was, he looked around quickly and saw the stares of the nearby patrons. Everyone in the joint was on edge, their nerves frayed from the disruption of their normal lives by the outright weird. Bridge put a hand on Aristotle’s shoulder and led him away.

"Calm it down, big guy. We got a reputation to protect. Now who are you trying to call?"

Aristotle seemed unwilling to tell Bridge at first, his eyes darting from Bridge to the phone and back. At last he sighed and stared into Bridge’s eyes. Almost on the verge of tears, he said, "My grandmother. She lives in Boulder, Bridge, and I cannot raise her. I think she’s dead."

Go to Chapter 3.5


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Know Circuit Interlude: Part 2

Interlude: Part 1

The following is the second part of a transcript from the November 2nd, 2028 early morning broadcast on the Chrono News Network (CNN), presented by Candy Fontaine with the title Breaking News: Boulder Rocked.

(2:02 a.m.) Fontaine: We’re going to take you back to Boulder for an update from Thad Melton of WCAF TV7 in Denver. Thad is currently in a helicopter over Boulder, isn’t that correct, Thad?

Melton: Yes, Candy, I think we’re currently circling the Boulder area. The reason I say ‘think’ is because even our pilot isn’t sure where exactly we are. He tells me that our normal navigational instruments are going haywire. I’m looking at the helicopter’s compass and it’s spinning wildly as if something is interfering with the magnetic field around us. The turbulence is unbelievable.

Fontaine: Thad, can you see the blast site? Is there a fire?

Melton: Candy, I’m not entirely sure what I’m seeing. I apologize for the lack of a video feed. As we began to approach the city limits of Boulder, my cameraman suddenly collapsed into some kind of trance. He’s just mumbling the word Boulder over and over again. I’ll try to grab his camera and… Oh my GOD!

Fontaine: Thad, are you all right? Thad? Are you there?

Melton: Yes, yes, Candy, I’m still here. I just got a glimpse of the blast site. It was hard to see at first because the power seemed to be out all over the city. It’s just an inky blackness below us, no streetlights or signs of buildings or life anywhere. But it’s not a blackout, Candy. Our chopper just got close enough for the lights to reflect off of this… It’s hard to describe. It appears that a dome of some kind is surrounding the city, a shiny, coal-black bubble as far as the eye can see. What’s our altitude, Steve? Candy, we’re hovering around 1,500 feet up, and probably a couple hundred feet below us is this dome. I can’t see any anything through its surface.

Fontaine: Thad, do you have the capability to send us a picture of the dome?

Melton: I’m going to see if my camera is still active. [Sound of muffled fumbling] Yes, Candy, the light is still on. We have a live feed. Joe, are you getting this back at the station? [Picture of Melton appears on screen] Candy, do you have this feed?

Fontaine: Do we have that? Yes, Thad, we’re seeing you clearly.

Melton: Ok, I’m going to turn the camera on the dome. [Little is seen at first. The camera jostles frantically. The helicopter’s running lights blink on and off, reflecting off of a dark, mirror-like surface. The chopper’s main floodlight struggles to find an end to the surface.] I can’t tell for sure, but I think this dome may be covering the entire city. Wait, something’s happening.

[Veins of light begin pulsating through the surface at irregular intervals.] I don’t know if you can see this Candy, but there are tiny streaks of light glowing on the surface. They seem to be blinking in a pattern and building in intensity. I’m straining against the window to see where they are going but they seem to be gathering around a point below us. It’s getting stronger. Wow, it’s getting really bright. Hey, Steve, should we be this close to that? Candy, are you getting this? I can hear a sound now, like a whooshing sound, and it’s getting louder and louder. Oh God. It’s… it’s like lightning on the surface, except it’s an orange color. Steve, I think we should definitely be moving away from that. It’s going to hit… [Loud burst of static as the picture blinks out]

Fontaine: Thad? THAD? My apologies, ladies and gentlemen, we appear to have lost contact with our fellow reporter Thad Melton from WCAF TV7 in Denver as he was investigating the source of the mysterious explosion in Boulder, Colorado. I hope it’s only technical difficulties. As soon as we have more information or can get Thad back on the air, we’ll let you know.

We’ve also begun receiving multiple reports of what appears to be some kind of mass hallucination or seizure. Reports are coming in from Los Angeles, Denver, St. Louis, Seattle that people with certain types of cybernetic implants called interface jacks have been struck catatonic. Most of the stricken seem to be mumbling or screaming something about Boulder. What connection this has with the mysterious explosion in Boulder is still to be determined.

Go to Chapter 3.0


Monday, February 16, 2009

The Know Circuit: Interlude: Part 1

November 2, 2028
01:45 a.m.

The following is a transcript from the November 2nd, 2028 early morning broadcast on the Chrono News Network (CNN), presented by Candy Fontaine with the title Breaking News: Boulder Rocked.

(1:45 a.m.) Fontaine: We’re just receiving word in our studios of some kind of explosion or ongoing event in the city of Boulder, Colorado. Early reports are sketchy. Perhaps a gas main has exploded or there’s been some sort of industrial accident. We’re not really sure of the source, or the number of casualties, but eyewitnesses from as far away as Denver are reporting a column of fire stretching hundreds of feet in the air.

(1:48 a.m.) Fontaine: I’ve now been given a bit more information on that explosion in Boulder, Colorado. The apparent epicenter of the explosion is the University of Colorado campus located on the western side of the city. Eyewitnesses have reported a column or plume of fire rising hundreds of feet into the air, lighting up the night sky as bright as day. We have unconfirmed reports, and I want to stress that these are completely uncorroborated reports that the fire took some sort of shape, like a bird or… is this right? A bird or a dragon or something similar. Again, those reports are unconfirmed.

The University of Colorado at Boulder has an enrollment of over 30,000 students, with over 15,000 housed on the campus itself. Again, there’s no word on the number of casualties or the cause.

We’re going to be bringing you video of the incident from the local affiliate in Denver, WCAF TV7, who has a crew on the scene now. Who am I speaking with?

Thad Melton (via cell phone): This is Thad Melton, action reporter with WCAF TV7, Candy.

Fontaine: I understand you have some video to show us, Thad. Can you set the scene?

Melton: Certainly, Candy. It was a typical November night in Colorado, a slight chill in the air with patches of the first snow on the ground. Roughly eleven minutes ago, a roaring explosion broke that stillness. The resultant fireball lit up the night sky for miles around. In fact, I can see the light from here.

Fontaine: And how far is it to Boulder from your location?

Melton: It’s about 28 miles from Boulder to our station and the sky is still lit up. Can you see the light?

Fontaine: Yes, Thad. My God, that’s almost 30 miles away and it’s bright as late afternoon. Thad, have you heard anything about casualties? We’ve been told it came from the University? Can you confirm?

Melton: No, Candy, I can’t confirm its location. We’re firing up our traffic helicopter now to get a better view of the situation. I can confirm that communications into and out of the city have been completely cut off. Cell phones, GlobalNet access, landlines, radio, it’s all gone silent. We’ve made multiple attempts to contact our Boulder offices and some of our employees that live in the city, and so far we cannot get through. [Muffled] Ready… ok, let’s go. Candy, I’m going to have to get back with you, our chopper is ready to take off.

Fontaine: Keep us posted, Thad, and be careful. Again, to update, we have reports of a mysterious explosion in Boulder, Colorado with a massive fireball that has lit up the sky for almost 30 miles around.

Go to Interlude: Part 2


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Know Circuit: Chapter 2.5

Chapter 2.0

Aristotle was shaking him, the gargantuan bodyguard firmly gripping his shoulders while screaming in his face. Bridge shrugged off the hands angrily, answering back with a "What?! I hear you!" Bridge had somehow slipped to the floor. He grabbed hold of the chair and tried to pull himself up, but the exploding lights that blurred his vision caused him to sit right back down. "Why are you yelling at me?"

"You were screaming out the word ‘Boulder’ over and over," Aristotle replied with a concerned expression.

"Yeah, Boulder. What the fuck was that about Boulder? Where did Angie go?" He finally noticed the silence of the club. There was no beat, no music, just the murmuring of dozens of similar conversations being had all about the place. He peered around through the dense smoke and dim lighting. Fully half of the club’s patrons were on the floor, some still screaming like Bridge had been while others were in various states of disheveled confusion. Even the Ardents were on their backs. Their vocal mikes were still hot, and Bridge could hear Bobby screaming. The singer lay writhing on the floor staring blankly at the ceiling. The unaffected patrons were busy either trying to help their friends or trying hard to ignore it, fearful of catching whatever had caused the seizures.

Bridge’s interface jack was burning and itching and throbbing painfully all at the same time, and he began to rub it as he mulled over the seizure. Maybe it was some nanobiological in the air? That was the only way to affect so many people without spiking every drink in the club, but such a tactic would likely have affected everyone and not such a random selection. Or was it random? As Bridge examined each victim closely, a pattern began to form. The conscious ones were all rubbing their necks, and not just their necks but the same spot on the back of their necks. It was the spot where interface jacks were implanted, right underneath the hairline at the base of the skull. He peered closely at the ones who were not affected. None seemed to have an interface jack.

"Look around, Aristotle," Bridge whispered. "Notice something?" The big man shook his head. "Look closer, man. Everybody on the floor has a jack. You ain’t jacked, are you?"

"Negative. I always felt wrong about defacing such a splendid body with cold metal just to see the Web faster."

Bridge frowned. "That’s not what we use them… never mind. It only hit the ones with jacks. What the fuck is…?" Just then, Bridge’s musing was interrupted by the sound of ringtones, a chorus of ringtones sounding out at once from all over the club. Cell phone hand units were buzzing, screeching their pop music snippets and default tones all at once. Every person who had not been affected by the first wave was answering a phone. Bridge looked over to Aristotle, who retrieved his phone from the front pants pocket and flipped open the screen. "Who is it?"

"It’s a text. It says, ‘Boulder'."

"That’s it? Just one word?"

"Affirmative, just the one word. ‘Boulder.’ What the hell is going on, Bridge?"

The band used a set of video screens set to randomly switch between GlobalNet feeds, and Bridge noticed a number of news feeds in the spew. One in particular caught his eye, a shiny logo that said "Breaking News: Boulder Rocked." He chuckled at the overbearing cheese. Jumping up, ignoring the dizziness that caused him to wobble on his feet, he made his way to the DJ’s booth next to the stage. The DJ, who had been relaxing with a drink during the Ardents’ set, was laid out on the floor next to the attractive blonde he had been hitting on. Bridge reached over the DJ’s panel to stop the random switching, focusing all the club’s monitors on that news feed. Chrono News Network raged into loud life around the club, causing Bridge to dial back the sound. The screen was overtaken with the stylized titles, dramatic music playing in the background.

"We’ve just gotten word out of Boulder, Colorado of an unspecified explosion. We’ll be taking you to an affiliate in the Denver area shortly with an on-the-scene report."

Bridge stared over at Aristotle, whose face had gone an ashen color. The bodyguard frantically punched in a number on his phone, putting the ear piece to his head and chewing nervously on a thumbnail.

Go to Interlude: Part 1


Monday, February 9, 2009

The Know Circuit: Chapter 2.0

November 2, 2028
01:39 a.m.

There were ghosts in the club.

The Tanz was full of people both there and not there, a disorienting dance of ghost figures and solid constructs, neither one carrying the visual or physical solidity Bridge’s mind required to surround himself with a coherent reality. His head, his mind was in searing pain, trying to reconcile itself with its warped perceptions. The club itself was the ghost, the dance floor, even the table beneath his hands an immaterial shimmering construct of light. His hands were translucent, their edges fuzzy and glowing with reflected energy yet they did not pass through the ghostly table.

The rest of the club had the same smoky quality, a half-remembered mirage left on the inside of his eyelids. Some of the club’s patrons looked around at themselves as if seeing their bodies for the first time, while others were staring at these lost souls as if snakes were crawling out of their ears. The latter were even less substantial than the former, barely lit phantoms observing an alien landscape.

Overlaid on top of the club’s interior was another world, another series of lights and sounds and smells and things, all of it much more substantial than the actual club. His table was wrapped with another table like the skin of a 3D texture, a rough-hewn wooden table with the knots of the tree’s rings still visible underneath a slick varnish. An ornate flagon of ale rested on the table in the same position as Bridge’s bourbon. It was so real he could smell the ale, see the beads of overflowing liquid tinkling down the side of the metal cup.

Across from him, in the place of Aristotle sat Angela in her virtual disguise as the Baroness Eletheia, the white-haired lich queen of the virtual world Ars-Perthnia. "Angie?" Bridge
stammered, his voice sounding distorted and distant, as if he heard it underwater.

"Artie? What the hell are you doing in… what am I doing in the Tanz? Everything’s going slideways… sideways… losing focus…" She seemed to be struggling with something, something that Bridge could even now hear in his head.

The sound wasn’t even an audible sound, so much as a driving compulsion, a rumbling emotion that crested in waves barely underneath the level of perception. It was a name a place a thought a concept a there a here a thing a people a something he needed to get out of his head. And as it grew he screamed its name.

The club returned to normal, the ghosts gone as quickly as they came. He was on his knees by the table, and he was screaming.

One word. "Boulder!"

Go to Chapter 2.5


Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Know Circuit - Chapter 1.5

Chapter 1.0

After Ms. Angst had left the table, Bridge’s gigantic bodyguard Aristotle walked over and sat down with a loud exhalation. “Are you really going to get that diminutive paparazzi wannabe a urine sample from a pop princess? Isn’t that a little scuzzy, even for you?”

Bridge smiled back. “Have you seen Ms. Angst’s numbers? That little half-breed pulls down huge uniques every time she opens her mouth. Hell, even that bit she did when Matt’s place got raided was competitive with the Misogynist Theatre preview vids in the teen/tween demos. She’s a hot property.”

“My word, you sound like a television executive pitching a smoking hot pilot. Mr. Thames would be proud,” Aristotle replied with a devious grin on his face. Bridge’s memories of the slick Chronosoft executive who had forced him into leaking a scandalous video of the former mayor were bitter ones. The comment was without malice however, so Bridge just returned his friend a one-finger salute.

“I hate the gossip mill she works, but I’ll be damned if those kind of numbers might not come in handy some day. It's all about who you know, you know?”

“Oh, indubitably,” Aristotle smiled back. He worked the pad on a PDA. “According to my records, that was your last appointment tonight, boss. Are you ready to retire for the evening?”

Bridge shook his head. “Why do you still use that relic? You need to get jacked, big guy.” Bridge pointed to the interface jack at the base of his skull, the cybernetic hub for all his chipped-in internal software from scheduling to cell phones to his internal clock. Aristotle just shrugged. Some people just didn’t like metal implants. Bridge let it drop. He knew Aristotle would never get with the cyber times. “Nah, I’m gonna hover for a little, see if I scare up any walk-ins. Besides, I like this band. You can split, if you want.”

It was Aristotle’s turn to shake his head. “What bodyguard would allow his charge even a moment unescorted through this calamitous jungle?” His smile wilted into his serious face. “I caught a glimpse of Paulie. Have you figured out how you’re to discharge that particular burden?”

“Not yet, no. I could always call up Arneson or Beach.” Bridge stared into his half-finished drink visualizing the two hired guns, mentally toting up their qualifications for such a task. Arneson was cybered-up enough to be more than a physical match for the ex-footballer. Beach claimed to be a shootist, one of the few assassins who followed some weird sort of Samurai honor by killing their prey with the most impossible displays of trick shooting. Beach’s flair was way too expensive and Arneson was fucking crazy. Come to think of it, Bridge believed they were both two steps over the line from crazy into batshit territory, but they were effective. But worst of all, Bridge really just didn’t want to kill anybody. Paulie was a thug, a son-of-a-bitch and a sadistic cunt, but he’d just been doing a job. Even the threats he’d made to Angela at the end were just how things were done. Once he started whacking guys who crossed him, Bridge became no better than thugs like Paulie or Nicky Sharver. Besides, Bridge HAD cost Paulie a couple of fingers. “I’d rather not get into the assassination game if there’s another out.”

Aristotle nodded knowingly. Though they never spoke much about it, he respected Bridge for the fixer’s hesitance to use violence. Bridge didn’t even let Aristotle fight for him, claiming that he couldn’t afford a real bodyguard. Even so, Bridge was sure that if needed, the man would take a bullet for him. Aristotle was THAT guy. Bridge wasn’t. Aristotle grinned at him and said, “We’re going to have to start calling you the Not So Amoral Bridge if you don’t watch out.”

Both men giggled. “Fuck off. I didn’t make up that nickname!”

“And yet, you use it with such prodigious frequency.” Bridge shrugged.

They sat in comfortable silence for a few minutes, letting the music wash over them. The Ardents were building their set to a crescendo, the music stacking itself in layers upon layers as if independent of the musicians’ actions. Drums fed into guitars into cowbells into bass intertwining with video snippets and found sounds. The tension between the duo was palpable, and only Bridge knew why. The tap Bobby had put on his sister’s life months ago had been discovered, and she was ultra-pissed about it. Rather than tear the band apart though, it actually improved their live performances, their anger and resentment towards each other feeding a fire of creativity that infused the music with an almost heavenly quality. Bridge wished he’d hired a bootlegger to catch this performance, but he had been too busy to think of it. He made a mental note to do just that for their next gig, if there was one. Since the Arsenal had shut down after Twiggs’ death, the Tanz was one of the few clubs that would still book them, even though the vapid celebrity clientele didn’t appreciate this kind of challenging music.

Behind the music, something was building, something at the very edge of hearing/seeing/thinking. At first, Bridge thought it was just a new psychoacoustic effect the siblings had added to the show, but as it began to tickle the interface jack at the base of his skull, he realized it was something else. Like a tide slowing rolling into a wave that fed itself into larger and larger waves until the whole sea bubbled over and buried everything underneath its watery embrace, this something radiated out from the jack through the nerves in his spine, his shoulders and hips and arms and legs and hands and feet and fingers and toes.

Bridge began to scream and he was not alone.

Go to Chapter 2.0


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Know Circuit - Chapter 1.0

November 2, 2028
01:20 a.m.

“Come on, Bridge, I know you know a guy,” the lithe Puerto Rican/Chinese vlogger whined to Bridge, pointing a finger directly in his face. Bridge just leaned back in his seat with that bemused smile of his, confirming the girl’s assumption without a word. “I just need the hookup, yo!”

“Look here, Anna,” Bridge said, intentionally using her real name, knowing that would get her goat. The smoldering stare and arched brows of her 16-year old face was a minor victory for him, a sign that he had gained the upper hand. “Sorry, Ms. Angst. What you are asking for is… well, it’s pretty goddamn impossible.”

“Bullshit, Bridge. You’re the bomb. I know you got Fez that in with Raging D-Bags. Did you see his numbers on that story? Cuz went stratospheric, yo!” She was trying damn hard to butter him up and if he went in for smoking hot jailbait, he’d have bit. She had the flawless skin of a teenager with the taut body of someone who spent their nights chasing celebrities in limos to get that one hit video clip. When not busy hounding celebs, she worked the crime beat. Bridge wondered when she ever got the time to go to high school. He figured her for smart enough to pass without ever seeing the inside of a classroom though, so her attendance was likely immaterial.

“You’re asking me to get the urine of a pop icon with more security than the fucking Mayor. And trust me; the mayor’s got a metric fuckton of security. All so you can break the story that she’s pregnant, which by the way, she may not even be pregnant. What do you do if she’s not?” It wasn’t the most disgusting thing Bridge had ever hooked up for someone. But it would be damned hard to find a bodyguard who not only had access, but was willing to risk his job to get the sample.

Of course, Bridge knew a guy. He’d gotten Rick the job with Ms. Shawnee when Rick was at his absolute lowest, two steps from getting his hands chopped off by the recently deceased Nicky Sharver. Rick owed him a whole lot more than just two working flesh hands. But Bridge knew better than to give in too easy. After all, a good businessman set the price as high as the market would bear.

“If she ain’t preggers, at least I got the scoop on that too. It just won’t get as many hits. Anything with Shawnee’s name trends upwards, yo. My advertisers like dem trends.” Bridge put on his best thinking face, selling his effort for all it was worth. Angst was smart enough to recognize the game. “You DO know somebody!”

Bridge pretended to give up with a sigh. Leaning over the table and pulling her closer with a conspiratorial whisper, he said, “All right, I know a guy. But this is major big-time bad mojo for him if he gets caught. You have got to be completely anonymous on this one. I mean it, no names, nothing more specific than sources close to the subject.” Finally, he leaned back, his dance reaching the climactic flourish. “But it’s going to cost you.”

“Yo, I pays, brau. You know I pays.” She did pay, and more reliably than most of his repeat clients. Value was established, and the two parties began haggling out the particulars. As he finalized the details, he noticed a figure over Ms. Angst’s shoulder, the towering bulk of the ex-footballer Paulie. The giant spotted Bridge. He aimed his shiny new cybernetic fingers at Bridge in the shape of a pistol, fired a pretend shot and headed for the door with a predatory smirk on his lips. Time was running out on that debt.

Go to Chapter 1.5


Monday, February 2, 2009

Under the Amoral Bridge Recap

Under the Amoral Bridge was the first in a series of novels called The Bridge Chronicles serialized in blog form. It was originally released on Jan. 31st, 2008 and consisted of 14 chapters and an epilogue. Below are links to every chapter for your convenience. If you'd prefer to read the novel in trade paperback form, you can purchase it here (use the coupon code S3M97LBV to get the book for $8), Barnes &, {indie} - you may even be able to special order it at your local brick and mortar bookstore. You can purchase the Ebook version at, the Kindle Store, the Barnes & Noble eBook store, and {indie}

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14



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