Tuesday, February 21, 2017


Chapter 1 

Goblin badger Kilgor Traft steered the wheel of his bouncer past Ozarium’s welcoming sign, once an illumination, now as dead as the pale faces floating in the river below. 
He wiped a clawed hand over his face and mumbled displeasure in his non-caffeinated state and yawned. And scratched his head and chin. Then mumbled: “Is the Jolt maker working yet, Nimbus?” 
The onboard computer Nimbus beeped an answer via digital scroll across the windshield: Not yet, sir. I am still working on it.
Traft grumbled. And yawned again. Not only did his home brewing Jolt machine fail to work this morning back at the vault—because of some hideous Tourette Syndrome virus going around, no less—his brand new recently installed Jolt Maker for the bouncer was on the frizz. Freakin’ unbelievable. He'd just ordered the damn thing off the Gridd and had the techs install it yesterday. Had they forgot to connect a wire or two? Did the two bone headed humans who drank more beer on duty than do their actual duty for the day screw this up? All he knew was all work and no Jolt makes Kilgor Traft a dull goblin badger. 
And that, my friends, was a recipe for disaster doing this type of job.
Sort of.
I mean, you could go out and do the job but....there's that particular issue of not getting a "bump" to help you along. 
Traft clucked his purple tongue. “There isn’t a chance the j-maker got a virus, is there?”
I wouldn’t rule out the possibility, sir.
Lovely. The only good thing was the maker wasn’t spatting obscenities at him like his home brewer had. Wasn’t that a mind riot? Waking up, strolling into the kitchen, hitting the fat red button only to receive obscenities instead of “Good morning! How about a cup ah Jolt?” He kinda liked to hear it every morning. It was kinda nice and an uplift to the start of the morning. But...being called a pointy eared dweeb with bad breath was far from a good start to the morning. And an additional “You suck beef liver and onion-flavored Gobstoppers” or “Go to hells and stuff sea weed-flavored Pop Rock candies in your mouth” or “Your mama has a carbon fiber leg with a titanium kickstand and sticks the ends of red licorice up her nose” set the wrong mood for the day.
Sir, your maker does have a virus and its choice of words are quite …disturbing.
And, speaking of wrong moods for the day why don't we resort to the obvious:
“Use the anti-virus, Nimbus.”
Yes, sir. the anti-virus’ algorithm will take longer than expected I’m afraid. 
“Fine,” he grumbled. “Just…fix the damn thing, please.”
Yes, sir. While you wait, may I suggest a pre-Shift blend, such as Folgers or Maxwell house?
“No, you certainly may not. I may as well as drink a cup full of river water from a corpse's mouth.”
How about two Sting The Beast tabs, sir? They are manufactured by Jolt.
“Negative, Nimbus. Damn things give me the kraken vibes and the last time I consumed them I had a rash from hells. I can only take so much caffeine in the morning and those tabs are five times the size of a regular cup of Jolt. They don’t call them Sting The Beast for nothing.” 
I have forgotten that, sir. My apologies.
“No worries. Please do what you can to get me a cup of Jolt brewed.” He yawned for a third time and looked out the window. Ah, good old Ozarium. The place needs a serious facelift.
He peeked at the sky.  
And a new weather system to run the program, no less. Why Mr. Gorph doesn’t just clean this place up and make it his own is a mystery. However, there is that more serious problem at hand, the reason why they can’t do that. The reason why I’m here. 
Clawdious sent me here to locate another unwilling soul to work in Troughs. How many more bodies did the guy really need to work the lines? I’ve already lost count of the bodies I've collected. Honestly, how many did it take to work the lines? Twenty? Thirty? A hundred? I’m betting Clawdious has revenge in his head since they hurt him pretty bad. 
Your Jolt coffee, sir.
Ah, finally!
Kilgor sipped the steaming brew and allowed it to tease his tongue with hints of blueberry and a mild bitterness. He swished it over his teeth before he swallowed, then smacked his lips, and with a wide stretch under his nose showing off his choppers he spoke as if he was playing an actor for a Jolt commercial holding his cup high: “Good job, Nimbus. There is nothing like Jolt Coffee!” 
Thank you, sir.
“Sometimes you surprise me, buddy. You always come through. My right hand man.”
I complete my job as necessary, sir.
“And you do it quite well.” Traft's mood morphed for the better, now as happy as a kid munching down on her candy necklace.  
He sucked in a deep breath, blew it out, and turned on the infrared option. Time to get the show on the road. 
A red blip appeared. 
He zoomed in and found it was inside the Slader Corp building—as usual. He shook his head. It seems they all congregate there. 
He drained his cup and punched the accelerator toward his destination and a holomercial splashed the dashboard.   
“Stop by Vern’s Virtual Worlds and receive your first ten minutes free when you purchase a virtual vacation!” said the tiny dancing guy in the suit wrapped in a brightly colored jacket. A lady in a brightly colored dress popped out of the air and joined the suit. He grabbed her and spun her like a toy top. A picture burst open behind them and unfolded a collage of inviting vacations while you sit in the Cushy Chair connected to the console. It showed an example of a woman lounged in the Chair with her eyes closed and a smile carved under her nose.
Before the holo ended the couple vanished, cutting off their Charleston dance from the pre-Shift days.
Kilgor opened his mouth to express something but lost his train of thought when one holo replaced the last: a large face of a clean shaven man promoting the latest anti-virus program to prevent the Tourette’s Syndrome Virus effecting your home appliances. 
How convenient, Kilgor thought. If only I knew of it by n—.
Another replaced it, this holo’s transmission quite bad as it flickered and warbled, making the speaker’s tone crawl. The background tune had caught the disease as well, but the point it wanted to promote was for the ghost catcher, the Cryptronica.
“Nimbus, jam these things, would ya?”
Copy, sir.
And as soon as the next voice chatting about some strawberry shampoo of the century that could also be used as a bubble bath appeared Nimbus cut it off.  
No more dancing little people or slow motion vocabulary or a naked man taking a bubble bath with oozing bubbles in the shape of strawberries. 
Traft's bouncer shot over the infamous Bork Burgers, one of the many fast-food restaurants in Westerphere with a flying saucer crash-landed in its roof.
Traft licked his lips. I wonder if they have any burgers left tucked inside a freezer? Be nice to try one… 
Slader Corp grew in the windshield and he redirected his thought pattern. It was the tallest building in Ozarium. 
Traft launched the bouncer over the rooftop, found a spot to land and disengaged the landing gear.
Traft drained his cup, smacked his lips, and sat it back on the tray. It disappeared inside the dashboard. Then reappeared filled to the rim. He grinned, showing his palate of canines again and drained it in one swallow. He noticed he left a drop. He drained that, too. Then he stood and stretched. Yawned for the fourth time today and snatched another second to stretched. Again. And, scratched his head again.
“Okay. Let’s do this, buddy.” He sniffed.
Yes, sir.
Traft picked up his weapon of choice and programmed it to link a connection to his HeadKase, the microcomputer in the form of a chome cockroach which attached to his brain. His neurotransmitters relayed the signal.
a woman’s voice said.  
The barrel spun with a whine. 
The levels pulsed a bright yellow ten.
The charge was one hundred percent, plus the external battery.
He stuck two fingers to his breast pocket, found it empty. He moved to the next one, found that one empty as well. Then, checked his front pants’ pocket. Only lint. He padded himself down before popping open the glove compartment. 
Traft frowned. “Where are they, Nimbus?” he said while looking under his seat. 
Where is what, sir?
“My Life Savors.”
I do not know, sir.
“Figure you could use your infamous clairvoyance and locate those for me.”
It’s not clairvoyance, sir. 
“What’s it called, then?”
“It’s the same thing, Nimbus. Same meaning.”
Not according to my records, sir.
“Your records are wrong, buddy.”
No, they are fully functional, sir. They are up to date with Gorph’s Library.
His nostrils flared and drain a pocket of oxygen. His mood slightly turned south. “Right… Just make them find my damn Savors, please.”
Can’t be used for that, sir. 
my foresight option is only used for our missions. Not to locate personal items. 
“In this case, it is part of the mission.”
No, it cannot be. 
“What would be the difference of you locating my Life Savors or locating a Target?”
Lots, sir.
Yes, sir. Locating a Target is our mission. Locating your Winter Green Life Savors has nothing to do with our mission.
“I beg to differ. What if I didn’t have my Jolt for the day? Would you give me the same response?”
Yes, sir.
“Unbelievable," he snorted. "Let’s pray to the gods who ride in the spheres that does not occur. Ever. Look…I need my Wintergreen Life Savors like I need Jolt, both to consume to perform my job. Helps me get in the mood, you know.”
How would it put you in the mood to do your job, sir?
“Trust me, it just does. Now, help me search for my Life Savors cause I ain’t goin’ anywhere until I find ‘em.”   
Your actions will not effect me, sir. We could sit here all day.
“Oh? Being a bit sarcastic are you? Tell you what, buddy, you are in charge of logging our progress. You download the reports once we arrive back home. If it’s off by a filament, I mean a hair off, if there are any other notes other than what our work includes, Clawdious will switch you out and replace you with—” 
Something was kicked across the floor.
“Oh. Never mind. Scratch that. Here they are.”
The pneumatic door of the tug whispered open and cool air ruffled Traft’s dark hair and the white streak stretched across his cranium. A swath of grey colored the skies, casting bleach white clouds wavered above. Pockets of darkness appeared in the windows of a nearby building, except for one small orange glow.
Traft frowned and clucked his tongue.
Please be careful, sir.
“Copy on that, Nimbus,” still gazing at the orange.
Mutated worms scattered at his first step. 
“That’s something you don’t see every day.”
The worms took refuge inside a decayed corpse sat upright against a defunct air conditioning unit, as if the box posed as a gravestone. The worms made the dead’s lower jaw click open.  
“Nor that.”
Traft swiped a claw across the screen on his Smart bracelet and opened an app. A tiny emoji flame appeared on a graph, flickering. He also scanned for any others and found nothing.  Traft stood in front of a wall and tapped on a keypad.  
Nothing happened.
“Well, crap. Nimbus, a little help.”
        Nimbus’ voice was like a bullhorn had been jammed in his ear.
“Whoa! Turn back the internal voice!”  
      Better, sir? 
"Uh, yeah, much." Traft screwed a digit in his ear and wiggled his claw.
A second later the keypad glowed neon green and a spot on wall stretched open.
“Thanks, buddy.” Traft sniffed, peeled open the end of the Wintergreen Life Savor's roll with the tip of his claw, and slipped one of the circular candies on his tongue. 
Then stepped inside.


Roderick Christopher said...

Nice start, Brick! I was immediately wrapped up in the story and cant wait for the next instalment :)

PS: you need to get someone to edit

Brick Marlin said...

Thanks, man! Yeah, I'll get a proofreader next time. :)

Greg McNatt said...

Look's as if this will be a very cool read. Thanks man for the chance to read the first chapter. Excited for the rest.

Greg McNatt said...

Wow read the next two chapters and definitely has my attention. Count me in on the book.