COMPLETE AUTONOMY



Part I: Dr. Agama


The large laundry cart was tipped over, and out of it rolled a body-bag. It was approached by a male figure, and close behind him another figure was carrying a bucket of water. A third figure, female, was fumbling with her wrist watch before a harsh white light burst out of it, cutting  through the pitch black darkness of the eerie damp basement.

The light reflected off the body-bag just enough to reveal a bit of the first figure’s face crowned by a bold green Mohawk. His leather-clad arms and hands entered into the light and unzipped the top of the body-bag open. The unconscious body within belonged to a bookish-looking man. Middle-aged. Motionless.

A splash of water from the bucket brought him back to life. Confused and disoriented, half by the shock of cold water and half by the bright light, the middle-aged man took a few seconds to gather his thoughts before barking at the trio, "What is the meaning of this?"

The figure with the bucket spoke. "This, my good sir, is a trial."

"A trial? What in God's name are you on about, kid? This is no courtroom. This is... what is this place, a basement?"

Unpleased with being called a kid, the voice with the bucket deepened. "This is the people's courtroom", he said.

"Is this some kinda joke? One of those foolish prank shows? I say, you are all going to be in serious trouble when I get out of here! Do you have any idea who I am?"

"I assure you this is no joke, nor will you be getting out of here, and we all know exactly who you are, Dr. Fritjof Agama", the last two words spoken slowly, deliberately.

The gravity of the situation began to dawn on poor old Fritjof.

"Listen, I... I am just a humble man of books and science. I don't have a lot to offer you if it's money you're after."

The silhouetted trio laughed. It was the taunting laugh of youth, most uncomfortable when fallen on older ears.

"You've got it all wrong, old man" said the female voice behind the light.

"You're here on trial" said the Mohawk.

"For your crimes against humanity" continued the one holding the bucket.

"What're you talking about crimes against humanity? I'm no criminal, I'm a scientist, I tell you, a scientist!"

That youthful chuckle again.

"You speak of science and crime as two mutually exclusive things" declared the man with the bucket.

"Who the fuck invented the atomic bomb?" shouted the voice behind the light.

"D.D.T?" asked the Mohawk.

"How about the plastic bag?" shouted the voice behind the light again.

"Scientists", said the smooth voice holding the bucket.

"What do I have to do with all that ancient shit? Science has long evolved beyond such barbarities, and I have never in my life dabbled in anything that might put any human life in danger."

"Oh is that so, Doctor? And what about your so-called Neuraport?" asked the voice with the bucket.

"The Neuraport? This is about the fucking Neuraport?" Fritjof was aghast."You gotta be kidding me! The Neuraport is hardly even an invention. A slight upgrade on the Neuralink given a new name for marketing purposes."

"An upgrade that will deprive us of what little goddamn attention we have left." screamed the feisty voice behind the light.

"Oh please. This is absolutely ridiculous. You might as well travel back in time and put Antonio Meucci on trial for inventing the fucking telephone!"

"Wait, what? It wasn't Bell?" asked the Mohawk with a sense of legitimate concern.

"Bell built upon Meucci's inventions and would've never been able to file patent had Meucci renewed his own."

"Mother...fucker." said the Mohawk.

"Indeed", agreed the Doctor.

"Speaking of good ol' Graham Bell", said the deep smooth voice, "Didn't he adamantly refuse to have a phone installed in his study?"

"Yes, that is correct," agreed Dr. Fritjof. "He found it to be too much of an... intrusion." He said it realizing the implications of his words only after they were spoken.

"Which brings us back full circle", said the smooth voice with a sly air of conquest, "to the fragile nature of human attention."

"No, no", retorted the Doctor, "what that tells us is that we have a choice. Everyone has a choice whether or not to adopt any new technology, including the inventors themselves."

"Ha! Much easier for the chef to abstain from dinner, knowing he has infused it with poison."

"I... I see your point," admitted the Doctor.

"Excellent," said the smooth voice laying down the bucket. "Then you won’t object to appropriate punishment." Gun-metal caught the glint of watch-light, with the barrel aimed perfectly at Dr. Fritjof Agama's head.

“What?" yelled the Doctor. "Execution? You call execution appropriate punishment? You're gonna fucking kill me over a goddamn Neuralink update?"

"Hey!" screamed the feisty one behind the light, "Your so-called 'update' will bring misery directly into the minds of billions of people. How do you think you ought to be punished?"

"I think that if you want this to be a fair trial, I ought to have my defense present. My attorney. I'll give you his contacts, and you can tell him to come straight away."

That youthful chuckle again.

"Nice try", said the smooth voice holding the gun.

"You are your defense, Doctor." said the one behind the light.

"Ain't nobody know your motives better than you", said the Mohawk coolly.

“So”, said the smooth voice, “You can either start defending yourself, or let us get to it.” The  barrel of the gun pressed against the old Doctor's temple.

"Very well", said the Doctor. "I do sincerely believe the Neuraport will make human beings reach their fullest potential and become more free than they've ever been before. Just picture yourself downloading an entire book directly into your brain in the span of mere seconds. Forget about spending months or even weeks learning. It would take seconds, just a handful of seconds. Christ, imagine what it would do to our education system? Imagine how much money people will save by not wasting their prime years at overpriced, obsolete institutions. Imagine what it would do to communication. Say the three of you are all on the same chat channel; you will practically be telepathically connected. Isn't that a glorious step in the evolution of mankind?"

"I gotta say, that does sound pretty fucking cool", said the Mohawk.

"No, no, not cool." yelled the high-pitched voice behind the light. "Chat-apps are monitored. Under surveillance. Every single one of them. You put that shit in your head, then your fucking thoughts are monitored. Is that what you want?"

"Ah, but you speak of a crime I have nothing to do with", said the Doctor. "You should take it up with legislators and government people, not me."

"Wrong, Doctor", said the voice with the gun. "You're a man who knows his history, knows the history of science. And knowing telephones were eventually tapped by government and abused by telemarketers, and knowing  that same pattern found its way to television, the computer, the cellphone, the palmlink and so on, you must be intelligent enough to realize the migration of such media from tangible devices to the bowels of the human brain also means bringing that media's problems into the bowels of the human brain. Learning and communicating might become a seamless experience, but so will advertising. It'll live within our minds and become indistinguishable from our very own thoughts. You speak of making people more free, but then make it easier for corporations and special interest groups to get into our heads. What's to say any decision we make will ever be our own anymore?"

There was dead silence from the Doctor.

"Knowing this", continued the smooth voice, "the negative consequences of this technology are all on you. Perhaps, you shouldn't attempt to unleash it upon society before thinking about the consequences.”

"I'm just... a scientist" said the Doctor in despair, "not a lawyer, not a congressman."

"Science doesn't exist in a vacuum, dipshit." shouted the voice behind the light. "It affects society. Very deeply. You can't just work on your 'science' with complete disregard to the culture. That's bullshit."

"You... you think you're ideal little shits, do you?" said Fritjof, his voice trembling with rage. "Exemplars of morality? Look at what you're using to execute me with. An apparatus known to cause thousands of innocent deaths every day. And for what? The profit of a handful of greedy, heartless men. Real criminals. Real criminals who you are actively aiding by the simple fact you own one of those things, that you're using one of those things. Hypocrites, you are, the lot of you. You all make me sick!"

There was no chuckle from the trio this time. There was only silence. And the glimmer of gunmetal faded as it retracted back into darkness. "He's right", said the smooth voice. "We can't do it like this."

"What else we gonna do it with?" said the feisty one, frustrated.

"Let's figure it out", said the no-longer smooth voice. "Court adjourned."

"Ah fuck", puffed the girl as the trio made their way to the exit door.

"Hey! What about me?" asked Fritjof "You're just gonna leave me here?"

"That's right", said the Mohawk, "And if we hear one peep out of you, I'm gonna come back down and beat you to death with my bare fists, you got that?"

Fritjof tended to avoid confrontation with leather-clad punks, and it seemed like just as good a time as any to do just that. So he bit his tongue and kept quiet.

Not far from the building's rear entrance, the silhouetted trio discussed the matter in hushed, desperate tones. "You all know he's right, right?"

"Yeeeah" said the Mohawk. "I could fetch my bat from upstairs."

"Good thinking" said the smooth-talker. "I'll look around here, maybe I can find a stick or something."

"I could get my whip" said the girl.

"Your whip?" said the Mohawk, "We don't want to flog the motherfucker, we want to kill him."

"One of the chairs in the kitchen", said the smooth one. "Break one of the legs off and use that."

"Those are antique chairs, Dagen", said the girl, "they belonged to my great grandmother."

"Exactly", said Dagen in his smooth assertive voice. "Good solid wood."

Thirty minutes later, the trio re-entered the basement, where Dr. Fritjof Agama was still in the body-bag with just his head poking out. The one with the Mohawk held a bat. Dagen had a discarded metal rod he’d found. And the girl held a beautifully carved leg of an antique chair. All three marched for the Doctor with clear intent.

"No, no, no!" said the Doctor, panicking. "You don't want to do this. Sooner or later they're gonna find out who did it, and your lives will go down the drain. You have your entire lives ahead of you, don't throw it away like this!”

"The people have decided", declared Dagen, the metal rod rising above his head.

"Wait, wait!" pleaded Doctor Fritjof, "I could split you in on the money. Neuraport is bringing in lots and lots of money. You could live the rest of your lives like kings, all three of you."

"Ha!" snorted the Mohawk. "What became of the humble scientist who owned nothing but books?"

Dagen smiled, and Fritjof was at a loss for words. The rod came down with a hard metallic thud. The Doctor's scream was cut short by the Mohawk’s bat, and the antique leg of solid wood was swung with repetitive ferocity by the angry young woman. Screams faded into muffled pleas until nothing else could be heard save for the sound of dead meat and broken bones.


Part II: Couptalk Walker


After dispensing of the body in the river, the trio returned to their apartment in the city center, exhausted after a hard night's work. As soon as they entered, the lights turned on and the girl –more visibly a redhead with curls– let her makeshift club drop to the floor, staining it with a bit of blood. She began discarding her clothes as she strutted for the bathroom. "I'ma hop in the shower" she said, almost to herself.

The Mohawk picked up the woman's weapon, and leaned it along with his bat in the corner, before collapsing on the vintage sofa without disrobing his leather. Dagen placed his metal rod in the corner alongside the others and made his way to the large windows overlooking the big bad city.

The apartment was what one might call a bohemian enclave, with every piece of furniture salvaged, yet curated. All carefully chosen pieces that showed the wear of time and the character of previous owners. Some pieces were more like creative solutions rather than actual furniture: half an old door laid on cinder blocks for a coffee-table, and old wooden crates for bookshelves. There were a lot of books in the apartment, not just on shelves, but everywhere. Old books, which gave the place an aroma of woody glue and yesterday's French Roast. It was a good smell. A real smell that was all but absent from the city, which seemed to have been dominated by the various scents of artificial air fresheners. The handsome figure looked over the monstrosity of a skyline with its flashing lights and buzzing delivery drones. The holographic billboards and speedy hover-cars were a constant affirmation that he was fighting the good fight. Indeed, their bohemian pad was a jarring contrast to the city around them, a hippie camp in the middle of an investment bank.

"So much to be done", said Dagen in his smooth voice, half to himself, and half to the skyline.

"My thoughts exactly" said the Mohawk, "I'm wondering if it even makes sense."

"What? You're not backing out, are you?"

"No no, that's not what I'm saying, Dagen. What I mean is, maybe we ought to scale up. If we wanna be effective, y'know?"

"And how do you propose we do that?” asked Dagen .

"Well, listen”, said the Mohawk, “This city is no bubble. How much of the way people live is influenced by things outside of the city? Factories on the other side of the world flooding our markets with things nobody asked for, would-be entrepreneurs in sunless basements in God knows where, coming up with the next thing that will chip away at what little freedom we have left. What are we supposed to do about them? Fly out to a new city every week? We don't have the resources for that, man. So how do we really make a difference?”

"So what are you proposing?"

"Recruitment. International recruitment. Maybe with a pay-what-you-can membership fee to bolster our resources. There's gotta be plenty of other people out there like us, man."

"No", said Dagen sternly. "A decentralized movement is key if we are to avoid getting eliminated."

The Mohawk sat up to say something, but then stopped himself instead.

“Listen, Naz" said Dagen, "I get it. It's frustrating to know that we won't be here to witness the collapse of this sad excuse of a civilization, but we can take solace in knowing we're planting the seed to make it happen.” He made his way to the old-school record player in the corner as he spoke, past the wall covered in old protest posters and bold original art. The type of stuff produced in printmaking co-ops that no longer existed.

"All we can do is set a good enough example to inspire others to take action." He flipped through the records until he settled on a metallic red one with the word RAGE embossed in big over-sized letters. He slid the record out of its sleeve and laid it on the turntable. "And the best way to do that", he continued, "is to keep doing what we've been doing." He turned a knob and the record began to spin.

"You're so fucking fearless, it's making me hard" said Naz. The needle just about made contact with the spinning record, which crackled softly before the beat dropped.

"I think that's my cue to suck your cock now" said Dagen, turning to look Naz in the eye.

"Fuck that, I'm sucking yours", said Naz, before Dagen threw himself at Naz and the two began making out with hot intensity.

Emerging from the bathroom with a towel around her body, the girl with the curly red hair stopped in her footsteps. The two men were half-naked and engulfed in flaming passion as Zack de la Rocha shrieked through the sound system.

Ya got to know,
ya got to know,
that when I say
go, go, go

She let her towel drop, and her tight tatted body pranced across the living room floor, leaving behind a trail of water drops.

Amp up and amplify
Defy

The three made love, their movements that of a single beautiful organism, unfettered and undisturbed by the overbearing city behind them clamoring for attention.

I've got no patience now
So sick of complacence now
Time... has... come... to...
PAY!
Know your enemy!

*  *  *

A week later, Dagen was pacing back and forth in the same basement where he and his lovers beat Dr. Fritjof Agama to death. The metal rod he beat him with was in his hand again, splattered with dry crusted blood.

Naz entered, bat in hand.

"Finally!" said Dagen in disbelief.

"Sorry, man, I got held up at work and traffic was a bitch. They're not here yet, are they?" said Naz, catching his breath a little.

"Any minute now. Dude wanted to get down with Mel at the club right then and there. She really had to work her charms to pull him out of there."

"What's this guy's deal again?"

"Some hotshot rapper. Big ladies man. Invented this th--", but before he could finish, red-haired Mel entered the basement laughing with the trio's next victim.

"Crazy, crazy unbelievable, right? So I says--", the victim never finished his story. A quick scan of the place –and the two men in it holding clubs– had him uneasy. "What the fuck is goin' on here, sweetheart?" directing his question at Mel, who had already slipped her heel into her hand and was swinging it at his face.

On the floor, disoriented and bleeding out of his eye, the victim screamed in agony. "What the fuck you do that for? What is this?"

"Hoooooooly shit" said Naz. "Are you..? Are you fuckin' Couptalk? Couptalk Walker?"

Couptalk Walker looked up at Naz in pain.

"Ohmygod, you're totally Couptalk Walker!" said Naz excited. "Guys, this is Couptalk Walker!"

“Yeah, we know this is Couptalk Walker." said Dagen.

"We brought him here." said Mel.

"Wait, why'd you bring CoupTa..." and then he realized. "Nooooooo, why?"

"Couptalk Walker is the inventor of the InnerHear" said Dagen.

"Damn straight", confirmed Couptalk Walker.

"It's being rolled out as we speak, and will likely replace every other electronic audio device on the market. Airbuds, hear-rings, you name it, will all be rendered obsolete by the end of the year", explained Dagen.

"Damn straight", confirmed Couptalk Walker.

"It's a chip you plant inside your ear canal. Claims it's the best way to experience digital sound." said Dagen.

“You better believe it," said Couptalk Walker.

"Ehhh, yeah, so what's the problem with that?" asked Naz.

Mel rolled her eyes and spelled it out for him, "Podcasts, streaming music, the fucking radio, all that shit comes with ads."

"Inside your ear", continued Dagen. "And what's to say that people don't eventually start getting spam? Y'know, like spam-mail."

"Except, it's spam-talk" said Mel.

"Inside your ear", stressed Dagen.

"Mmm, I dunno, it doesn't sound as much of a big deal as the Neuraport, y'know?"

"It might be even worse than the Neuraport", explained Dagen. “The Neuraport connects to thoughts and optics. Bad, yes, but it doesn't make you hear voices. The InnerHear on the other hand..."

"Okay, but like, the Neuraport makes it hard to distinguish between thoughts, right? Like what's yours and what isn't. But this InnerHear thing... if it's an actual sound that you're hearing, you know it's not originating from inside your head, y'know? You're fully aware it's the chip in your ear."

"How the fuck are you defending this, Naz?" said Mel, not believing her ears.

"Yo, this is fucking Couptalk Walker we're talking about here!"

"What about him?" asked Dagen.

"Couptalk Walker, man!" Naz started singing, "Unconstrained, the city forever towers."

Couptalk picked it up, "We complained, campaigned, explained. Asked for a life sustained, unchained."

And then both of them together, "But down came the powers! Solution?"

Couptalk again, "Detained."

Dagen and Mel shared a look, impressed. "To be honest, that... is pretty fucking dope", admitted Dagen.

"Can't believe you ain't ever heard of Couptalk, man."

"I've always been more of a guitar guy. I dunno about... rap."

"Chip-Hop", Naz was quick to correct.

"What?"

"It's not rap, it's Chip-Hop."

"Okay, fuckin' Chip-Hop, whatever."

"The point is", stressed Mel, "does this guy get away with crimes against humanity just because of the songs he wrote a lifetime ago prior to selling out?"

“Selling out?" asked Couptalk, hurt.

"Yeah, I don't think a couple of good tunes make up for the evil his invention will unleash upon the world" said Dagen.

"He's gotta go" said Mel.

"Go?" asked Couptalk.

"I dunnoooo" said Naz.

"Y'all, y'all listen up!" interrupted Couptalk, "I didn't invent shit, aight? I just bought the thing off this chick I was bangin'. Put my name on it, just to market the shit is all."

"See? He's innocent!" said Naz. "He shouldn't even be here."

"Uh-uh, not so fast", said Dagen. "He might not have invented the thing, but its because of him it's gonna become popularized. Which is the real problem."

"But if that's the case", said Mel, "then we shouldn't be going after inventors at all. It's advertising execs we want. Creative directors and copy-writers."

"Fuck. You have a point", said Naz.

"Which makes what we did last week a biiiiiig mistake", said Mel.

"Uh, what y'all do last week?" asked Couptalk.

"Listen, it's too late for that now", stressed Dagen. "This fucker's seen all our faces, he knows where this basement is. Ain't no way he's walking out of here alive."

"Whoooooa", said Couptalk. "Yo, don't worry about me, I'm all about what you cats are up to. In fact, I'll give that bitch inventor a call and have her come down here right now and waste her myself, how's that sound?"

They stare at Couptalk.

"He's a natural backstabbing prick", said Dagen. "We definitely have to kill him."

"Agreed", said Mel.

"Guys, this is not how its supposed to be!" said Naz in a tone most unbecoming of a badass-looking punk.

"This is happening." said Dagen. "This is happening right now whether you like it or not, y'hear?"

Silence.

"First blow is yours", said Dagen to Naz.

"Oh, c'mon, maaaaan", Naz protested.

"Do it!"

Naz hesitated.

"Fuckin' do it!" shouted Mel.

Naz aimed his bat at Couptalk's head, dry bloodstains clearly visible to Couptalk.

"I'm sorry, man" said Naz before swinging the bat at Couptalk's head. Mel and Dagen swiftly joined in, and Naz found himself taking a few steps back, trying to look away but failing. There were swings, and thuds, and pleas, and bursts of blood, followed by the silence of death.

Naz wasn't in any condition to help them dispose of the body. They left him at the apartment, and when they returned, he was still bawling. A complete mess. Dagen managed to talk him into taking a shower to freshen up, which he went ahead and did, leaving Dagen and Mel alone in the living room. Their bohemian paradise no longer felt like a defiant fortress. It was dull and sad, like the city's sickness had seeped in, with air so heavy you could cut it with a knife.


Part III: Naz


"I really think you're overreacting," said Mel to Dagen.

"Hey, I've never seen him like this before, have you?"

"That doesn't mean we fucking...", she caught herself, noticing her voice was too loud. She continued in hushed tones. "It doesn't mean we fucking murder him."

"Everything we've been working towards could be jeopardized. You don't think one of his colleagues at work is gonna notice something about him tomorrow?"

Mel knew there was some sense to what Dagen was saying.

"And if not tomorrow, what about the day after? Or next week? You think he's gonna get his act together by then? Of course not. The guilt is tearing him apart", continued Dagen. "Listen, I know what I'm suggesting is crazy horrible, but we vowed to put selfishness aside. Everything we're doing right now has nothing to do with us. We're doing it for the future, for people who do not yet exist. People we will never meet. That's how it's got to be if we want to live noble lives free from ego or personal gain."

This was all making sense to Mel, but she was having trouble coming to terms with it. "Can we just not talk about this right now? Wait till tomorrow?"

"No", said Dagen. "We do this now."

"I can't, Dagen, we already just kill—"

"The longer we wait”, Dagen interrupted, “the higher the probability of him breaking down and telling someone about all this. What if someone presses him at work tomorrow? We really gotta be rational about this, Mel."

Mel was at a loss for words.

"And besides, it'll be better for him that way. Can't you see how much pain he's in? The sooner we relieve him of that pain, the better."

Mel was nodding.

"He shouldn't have to carry that pain around with him, not a single second longer," said Dagen standing up, metal rod in hand.

"Right now?" asked Mel.

"Yes. While the shower's running. It'll be a much easier clean-up that way", said Dagen matter-of-factly.

Mel stood, her legs feeling weaker than usual. With the leg of her great grandmother's antique wooden chair in her hand, battered and covered in dry blood, she followed Dagen towards the steamy bathroom. Inside the bathroom, Naz was standing in the bathtub under the shower-head, washing shampoo out of his eyes.


* * *


Mel woke up the next morning in the center of the king-sized bed where she usually wakes up. To her right, Dagen was still sound asleep. To her left, there was no one.

Her eyes teared and her throat swelled, but she tried real hard to keep it together. She mustered the willpower to sit up and make her way off the bed. After dragging her feet to the kitchen, she filled the electric kettle with water and turned it on. She opened their can of Fair-trade Ethiopian roast, and shoveled six scoops of coffee into the French Press. She grabbed 3 mugs from hanging hooks and laid them out next to the French Press before realizing a third mug was no longer needed. And then she started crying.

When Dagen woke up to the sound of muffled sobs and whimpers coming from the kitchen, Mel had been crying for quite a while. He made his way to the kitchen in a panic and found Mel on the floor unable to contain herself. He hurried to her and hugged her and brought her close to his comforting chest.

"Shhhh, it's okay, baby, it's okay. It's all going to be okay now", Dagen told her. "Listen, we have each other, and we have a reason to live. A good reason to live. A mission."

Mel was still sobbing.

"We have it soooo good, baby" said Dagen, "how many fuckin zombies are out there who have nobody to lean on, and no purpose to live for, huh?"

"No, you're right", said Mel sobbing. "You're right. It's just that this isn't how it was supposed to turn out, y'know?"

"I know, baby, I know. But y’know,  you can’t direct the wind, but you can adjust your sails, right?"

"Right, you're right", said Mel, calming down a little.

“Hey… hey. Let me take care of the coffee. You shower up and clear your head, yeah?"

"Mmmkay," said Mel, Dagen helping her to her feet.

The pure white bathroom was squeaky clean. The couple having spent the wee hours before sunrise scrubbing every nook and cranny of it, there was no longer any trace of the previous night's deed.

Mel tried hard to block the memory of the incident. It wasn't easy, but at least the bathroom looked different enough. The sun was shining through the small window above the toilet and glinted off the perfect white tiles. She quietly disrobed and turned on the hot water, which burst out of the shower head with intense ferocity. She made her way into the bathtub, and pulled the translucent curtain shut. After letting the hard water beat down on her head and body for a couple minutes, Mel reached for her shampoo, “for curly hair” the label said. Her bottle was sandwiched between two others, one for dandruff, and one for dyed hair.

Her throat began to swell again and her chest felt heavy. She wasn't sure she wanted to do it anymore, this quest, this mission they'd taken upon themselves. She definitely didn't want to club sweet Naz to death, it's Dagen that talked her into it. And then she realized that all this talk of free will was complete bullshit! Dagen had totally manipulated her. He talked her into doing things she wouldn't have voluntarily decided to do. She didn't need to be afraid of new technology to manipulate her decision-making, it was Dagen. It was Dagen all along. And Dagen shared an apartment with her, a bed with her even. It was Dagen she had to get rid of, not some scientist or inventor she'd never met before.

But then she wondered why she only thought of it then and not before. Was it because of Naz's shampoo? His coffee mug? Traces of his existence lingering around the apartment telling her to avenge his death? Maybe its just that stuff that needed getting rid of. Then no one would have to die anymore. Or maybe… she was being haunted by Naz's ghost?

No, she decided that was silly. It was just her in the shower and no one else. And it was only her making her own decisions. Finally, without dirty scheming or influence from anyone. Even if she were to get rid of all of Naz's stuff, Dagen would still drag her into his weekly hunts. She knew what had to be done.

She hopped out of the shower and left the water running. Opening the bathroom door just a peep, she checked to see if she could spot Dagen in the living room. She couldn't. She slid through the door crack and tiptoed right across from the kitchen, noticing Dagen wasn't there either. Good, he was in the bedroom, she figured. She pranced across the living room floor, leaving behind a trail of water drops. Her antique chair leg was in the corner against the wall right next to Naz's bat and Dagen's metal rod. She held the chair leg in her hand and took a couple of steps towards the bedroom before stopping and changing her mind. She stepped back and returned the makeshift club where it was, and grabbed Dagen’s metal rod instead. She allowed herself to feel its weight in her hand and decided she was pleased.

In a few seconds she would be in the bedroom, where Dagen would be on his stomach  sprawled on the bed. He would be immersed in one of the many books from his bedside table. Its title:




Authored February 2018
in Denver (CO)

Words & Pictures: Ganzeer
Editor: Dan Hill

Special thanks to my good friend Motasem, as well as the great Naguib Mahfouz for inspiration.

Copyright © 2018 by Ganzeer, Inc.
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License


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