Carl's Conscience Part 1

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is the first story in a series of short stories. Maybe good for a graphic novel. Future primitive private eye gets lost in time and space. Set in the not to distant future.

Submitted: March 25, 2008

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Submitted: March 25, 2008

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Oh come on, the steam is a little over the top.”
The voice in his head always sounds like some grizzled old P.I. with one lung and a whiskey soaked tongue that’s been run raw from a razor wit. It’s as if it belongs to another, older man. Some cheesy mach-up of the old ideals that spawned an age of investigative technique. Nothing like Kyle Dodge’s nasally tenor. Kyle had even named this vocal specter, this mental cliché residing in his cranial cavity, Carl, Carl Turner. As far back as Kyle could remember (which was only two years, four months, and 3 days) Carl had been with him and he had never steered him wrong. True, it probably represented a massive system crash somewhere in his gooey Ram, or maybe it was the onset of some kind of schizophrenia. Either way Carl was right, the amount of steam in this particular alley was ridicules.
 It blocked out the stars. Billowing out of unseen vents from all sides like yeti breath, the steam turned the alley into an unreal, alien landscape. Dumpsters looked like moss covered boulders, criss-crossing power lines and clothes lines appeared in and out of the haze as creeping vines or snakes, almost as if this piece of alley was connected to some strange, primitive jungle. He Barley registers that his ancient S&W 45 has appeared in his hand, hammer back, ready to let fly.
Watch yer ass, buddy. Looks like a good place for an ambush.”
Kyle crouches low and steps for the cover of a dumpster/boulder and instantly winces at the thunderous sound of a broken glass galaxy crushing underfoot. He feels the hairs stand-up on the back of his neck and a weird sucking sensation in his gut so he dives for the dumpster as the alley lights up and the spot where Kyle was standing disappears. He barely hears the deafening roar of whatever was just fired at him as he stares at the glowing, super hot ring of molten concrete.
“What the hell..?”
Kyle chances a peek around the boulder, only dimly aware that it is supposed to be dumpster, and sees the steam swirling towards the shooter. He raises his piece just as a rat scurries past his foot then turns to reveal six little beady eyes and seems to sprout a few legs.
“Shit!” 
He must be seeing things. He has been up for 5 days straight. He needs to sleep. Too many days on Smoothiway© juice and StimMeat©can take their toll on a man. This is why he doesn’t usually take these bounty gigs.
He flips into thermal mode. His glasses have a super microcomputer that can filter out or add just about anything to the input of his optic nerve and right now they are a screaming, swirling, puke green color indicating bad radioactive mojo all over the place.
“Oh what the fuck man, nukes? What kinda psycho still uses that shit?” Kyle asks no one in particular.
Who still wears Vans©and carries a 45 revolver?” Carl chimes in.
“Ok, good point.”
No one wore Vans© Skate Shoes anymore. People viewed them in museums. It all started when that Tony guy won the Street and Pipe Comp at the Mountain Dew Xgames© for the 34th year in a row, at the age of 87. He was filthy rich, heavily modified, and most of his tech was black market shit no one else could lay hands on. The whole situation enraged the skate youth enough to rise up as one and start banning “the old school” (or “T.O.S.” for short) to the point of forming roving bands of skate Nazis who would round up anyone who they considered supported “T.O.S.” and flog them with their boards. This caused Vans©, Independent© and a number of other Skate Board related companies to shut down and go into making software. That was 48 years ago and now “T.O.S.” clothing is now the most sought after merchandise in the world. On the day Kyle was born his father had paid $433 and 57 cents (all he had on him at the time) for 986 pairs of Vans©from a besieged warehouse and barely made it home with his life. He had to cross a skate riot in a moving van. He ran down two skaters, lost part of an ear and more than one window. So, when his father died, Kyle inherited a small fortune in shoes. He also inherited a bunch of debt, a knack for finding trouble, and a butt-load of guns of course. Let’s not forget those.
 
 
Kyle’s father had at least two passions that bear speaking of in the light of day. The first, of course, was skate boarding. Barry ‘The Bone’ Dodge was never very good but the time he spent on his board was something that could never be taken from him, “T.O.S.” beatings or not. He would work 8 hours a day and ride for two. “As old school as it gets” was his motto and he could not pass up a juicy rail or smooth bank. The second passion grew from the first, or rather the beatings the first got him. It was his third near fatal beating for doing nothing more than riding the wrong bank, in the wrong way, with the wrong clothes, in the wrong part of town. After waking up (just barely) in a particularly cheap hospital, his doctor prescribed Vicodin for the broken ribs and fractured skull, and a Smith and Wesson 45 revolver (that the good doctor carried in his smock pocket) for what he liked to call pain prevention. Thus began The Bone’s fascination with firearms and a very short career smuggling guns from various struggling dictatorships to other struggling dictatorships. Apparently a fair amount of his profits went toward a huge collection of guns. Kyle only knows all of this because his mother told him so. Mrs. Miriam Ann Dodge was hardcore. She endured. Miriam met Barry during a bar fight. Her right hook bruised his jaw and stole his heart. Miriam Ann Whitebird did 10 months for manslaughter (yep, she killed a dude) and Barry Dodge wrote to her every day. They were married the day she got out. She patched Barry up after every “T.O.S.” incident. She held the homestead with young Kyle while The Bone was supplying half the world with cheap firepower. She endured. Kyle’s Mom came to him in the hospital as a stranger and she cried. Then she laid this tale on him. She came to his room one week after they found him, half dead in a gutted VW van in Baja with no memory. She came every night for two weeks and talked to him of his childhood. According to his mother they had some falling out sometime during his second year in the Academy and he hadn’t spoke to her in years. He was ashamed and angry all at the same time. Why would he hurt her like that? What had he done after the Academy? Two weeks after Mrs. Dodge told Kyle all she could remember she died in a bazaar car fire. The accident was bazaar because Miriam never owned a car. She never owned a car for the simplest of reasons. Miriam Dodge was terrified of dying in a car fire.
 
 
Kyle pokes his head out and catches sight of the perp, a solid red-orange shape among the swirls of green and blue. Pressing the side of nose to activate the Rebreather© tech surgically implanted in his nostril (you never know what those goddamned Atomic firearms are pumping into the air), he taps his glasses three times. This seemingly random tapping activates his homing beacon, a completely worthless extra that came with the glasses that activates the emergency auto-extractor upgrade that he couldn’t afford. A force of habit he picked up at the Academy but he can’t remember.
Couldn’t hurt.” Was one of Carl’s favorite sayings.
At Kyle Dodge’s shabbily designed studio apartment a completely useless little red light next to his desktop starts blinking on and off, on and off and his GIS software takes note of his global position. After popping a precautionary ElimaRads©for radiation sickness he is out from behind the boulder and rolling for the cover a large fallen tree. From there he spots a little alcove in the rocky hillside to his left. Two steps toward the alcove and he stops cold.
With little or no information to work with Kyle’s mind goes completely blank. He cannot cope with what apparently has happened. The information he has is no longer valid.
 He was tailing Joe Hearst’s bagman, Lenny Something-or-other. He was five nights in, at an average of 73 zigbucks a night, (you gotta buy a few drinks to blend just right and good Imbigion© is pricey these days) when some brassy dame Lenny was with spots him. Lenny lights out of the Squish bar and Kyle goes after him, pretty basic stuff. Two blocks later Lenny cuts through this alley and shoots some kind of Nuke-cannon at him and now….
And now he is standing slackjawwed in what he can only imagine is an ancient jungle, waiting to be shot by Lenny So-and-so, with some sort of fission blaster that was outlawed 20 years after the last thing that even resembled a jungle on Earth was wiped out. Which is physically impossible. But sure as shit, here he is. A real-live frickin jungle.
 
F
 
“I just don’t get it.”
Waiting to be shot…..
“What the hell is going…..”
Waiting to be shot…..
“MOVE IT KYLE!!” Carl’s growl brings him back to the moment and, as he dives for cover, some sort of insect or something has a munch on the side of his head. And then…Silence. His glasses have gone all blue, yellow, and red. Can’t see shit.
“I can see you, Lenny, you cocksucker.” Kyle lies. He figures a little bullshit can’t hurt at this point. He toggles his glasses off.
Nothing. No sound but the flurry of jungle minutia. No sign of Lenny. His back is to a steep rocky hillside, to his left a slight incline into a dense stretch of dark and menacing vegetation, and to his right are a couple of huge boulders (that used to be dumpsters) and a drop off of undetermined depth. Only two possible ways out of this place and he is fairly certain no one went up that steep rocky hill very fast. Man his head hurts.
After making a quick but thorough check to see that no one is going to blow his head off, he heads off in a low three-point stance toward the Bush. His head is throbbing so badly now that his eyes involuntarily shut at each throb and each step is like driving a hot nail through his skull. Red and blue spots creep in on his vision. Carl is screaming at him in some wet bubbly language that makes him want put mud in his ears. He is pretty sure his liver is exploding but he manages a few more steps. His right foot is having some nasty argument with his left knee and starts to kick at it angrily. He falls directly on his face and drives his jawbone into his skull. This causes a general revolt inside his body and the last thing he remembers is every muscle he has going berserk on each other while his mouth decides to chew it’s way home through the leafy ground cover.
 
“Are you alright baby?”
As Kyle opens his eyes his retinas are assaulted by a vision of beauty so staggeringly intense, tears stream unbidden down his face and a small sob escapes his throat.
“Angie?” He manages. Just barley. She is there, right in front of him. Red flowing locks, blazing in Dusk’s waning glory, frame the perfect milky white face with loving blue eyes that could hold you up. An Angel, the one.
“Uh, yeah! How many other women in your life would put up with you passing out on them in the most romantic restaurant in Paris? Seriously, are you ok?”
“Yeah, I……HUNH?”
“Djoogit manni pueto Orits!”
“Whaaa?” Karl opens his eyes to the strangest monkeyman thing he has ever seen.
“Handook Sei cunni kowog hitiutu pueto Oritis!”
The monkeyman is trying to dump some brown goop into his mouth and Kyle gets the feeling that he should just open his mouth and use the time chewing to think for a second. He remembers the bite he got on his head and falling to the ground in a jungle so this must be real. He must have been dreaming. Who was that women? Angie who?
 “Humm, this goop is good,” he murmurs greedily and he gets a weird rush from it.
He isn’t really sure which of these folk found him or how long he was out but he doesn’t really care. He does know he is alive and has these strange new friends to thank for it. Through primitive pantomime (and some sketchy moments where he was sure the head monkeyman was going to brain him with what looked like a human femur bone tied to a stick with some sort of leather straps) he figures the basic story out.
A hunting party found him screaming in the jungle. He had been shot in the head with a poison dart of a type that these people had never seen before. The Mooklu (medicine man?) had dug out the dart, did some voodoo or what have you and he had slept for three days and three nights. The Handook’s (chief?) Sei (daughter?) was in charge of making the goop they fed him. This apparently meant they where married. As if that wasn’t scary enough, Carl hadn’t spoken inside his head since Kyle woke up. He had to figure this out and find a way home and he had to do it alone!
 
To Be Continued…
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


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