Ashland Chapter IV: Tastes Like Chicken

Posted: October 2, 2011 in sci fi
Tags: ,

 This is a continuation from “Number Six Would Be Proud”, posted on 03/25/2011. Surprisingly enough, it has nothing to do with Soylent Green, or turning people into food.  It is yet another chapter in my Captain Ahab – like obsession with a story I started to write in 1989 or something. I actually finished the whole thing once, and then scrapped it because too many of the things I was writing about, started happening in real life. If you ever want to be freaked out, something like that will do a remarkably good job. Anyway …

I took the gig. What choice did I have? Dr. Linares supervised the crew that reversed the aphasia, taking extra care to make the experience as painful and as humiliating as possible. The good doctor was always one messed up little puppy. Perhaps, when this is all over, we could find a way to put her, ah, talents to use.

There were these two kids. Pretty sad, really. In way over their heads. They were a couple, I suppose. Based on the stills from the face recognition software, he was your typical liberal arts student pretending to be a snob at a coffee chain. Dopey expression, not nearly as clever as he thought he was. How he managed to get the girl was a mystery. Sure, she had a weird haircut and stranger fashion sense; she was an “artist”,  I guess, but she was still very well constructed.  Her parents should’ve got an award.

I had to track ’em down. Find out what they knew. Probably, well, most likely, kill them when I was done.

chicken 1

The doctor gave me a lead on them. They had last been seen in the middle of Kansas, near one of the big meat factories.  Normally, that’s very restricted territory – the companies don’t tend to like people mucking around all that muscle tissue – but my bosses outrank the free market, so off I went. I wondered which one of them thought up the factory idea, though. It was almost pretty smart, in a way. The meat’s ambient temperature would mask them from most thermal imagers, and the companies were so paranoid they probably wouldn’t have a lot of cameras hooked in to the grid. Problem was, meat factory guards shoot to kill first, and ask questions later on in life, generally after they’ve retired.

Take this one, for instance.  Her nametag said “Bob”, white letters engraved in cheap black plastic. Her uniform bunched up in all the wrong places, and I’m not sure she ever had a neck. If I had to guess, I’d say she was a Europe War vet – she had that clackety, jerky way of moving that soldiers who’d been gassed a few too many times have. All the while I talked to her, I got the feeling she was working out in her head how to kill me in the most efficient manner possible. I hoped she couldn’t sense I was doing the same thing.

“Love how you spooks think you can just waltz in here and start ordering people around,” she growled. “I’m supposed to just let you fuck around in our files for vids of a couple runaways? Bullshit.” Bob leaned in close. “Tell me what this is really about, or take a hike.”

I sighed. “Look, Bob,” I replied. “I’m only asking you to let me at the files out of courtesy.  I know your bosses, and I’m pretty sure they know who I work for. Just let me do my job, all right? ”

Bob started to mull it over. That was a mistake on her part, because for that brief instant she was distracted. A second or so later, she fell to the floor dead. Now, I could get to work in peace. Best part? Meat factories have a lot of fast and easy ways of getting rid of surplus muscle and bone tissue.

chicken 2

 

words and pictures © Christopher Ward. All rights reserved.

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