©Ernest Hogan 2014
"THE ZONE HAS BEEN SECURED," said an amplified voice full of static and the accent of artificial intelligence. "ALL LEGAL AUTHORITIES HAVE BEEN ENCRYPTED OUT. TEMPORARY AUTONOMY HAS BEEN ACHIEVED – REPEAT: TEMPORARY AUTONOMY HAS BEEN ACHIEVED."
There was applause. Strange applause. Full of static and electronic distortion.
I squinted past the floodlights, and could barely make out the crowd that filled Global Delights past the legal capacity that night. It was not the usual tittie bar crowd. Mostly, men -- but some women -- all a little overdressed for the occasion. A lot of them were quite mechanical, looking like awkward robots. Robots?
"And now, we present, for your actual and virtual examination," said Vampiko, "Flash Gomez," more weird applause -- data blasted my brain: organized crime, virtual reality remotes . . . "human host and test vector for Project Brainboost's fantastic Krell chip!"
More applause. I suddenly knew that I was being examined by televoodooists, narcotraficantes, insect trusters, reptile conspirators, plutonium smugglers, black-market hypothalamus dealers, genetic drug engineers, border brujos, system scammers, hackers (and most were not the stereotypical white-nerd-from-a-moneyed-family), freelance info & bio virus farmers, mafia, yakuza, and triad representatives, some of which were attending the event in cyberspace.
"Isn't he cute?" said Lalaita, pinching my stubbled cheek.
"Are there any questions for Flash?" Vampiko asked.
The crowd erupted like a salivating, multi-headed monster; a wall of words came at me, more static than signal.
"Are there any harmful side effects?"
"Is it faster than the latest available computer systems?"
"Do you feel more than human?"
"Could it make the brain obsolete?"
The Krell chip latched onto my vocal apparatus and fired off high-speed answers that sounded as if I was speaking in tongues, shoving me aside into the nether reaches of my grey matter and the cyberplace called the Undernet, where I was suddenly aware of underworld stock market prices for hit men, genetically-engineered drugs, electronic money-laundering systems, government and corporate secrets . . . all kinds of stuff that people didn't dare talk about on Internet. I was also aware of things like:
A feed off a deencrypted White House monitor: The President, disturbed at the tiny insect images on his latest comeback strategy speech, flicks off his maximum-security laptop, then gasps . . .
NEXTWEEK: SUCKING/PENETRATING MOUTH-PARTS
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