Friday, May 25, 2012

Look at this F***ing Zombie

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Rooftop Party and a Series of Felonies: Human Trafficking, Day One

One of the men we work with spends his time alongside the moneyed elite of our lunatic city.  He was at some ponderous party, one of those sky bars that dot the Financial District.  An acquaintance approached, eager to impress.  They’re all eager to impress at bars like that.  Commissions spend easier than normal paychecks.  Rumors were exchanged.  I don’t know enough about finances to imagine what may have been said.  Interests were peaked when the junior associate mentioned “a car service that offers more than just a car service.”  

Sex work is debated regularly within our organization.  Some say that legitimate sex work, that is, sex work where the woman has made the choice free of coercion, is none of our business.  Others say it is exploitation, plain and simple.  I’m not sure exactly how I feel about it.  There are days when I think it should be totally above board, licensed sex workers working at a chain store of sex, everything open and safe.  Then there are days when I see it as evidence of some kind of moral decay, or worse, I see that any woman working in such an industry must be coerced somehow, by society, by upbringing, by low self-esteem.  I’ve tabled the debate in my head for now.  When we come across a new organization trading in flesh, we investigate.  We’ve yet to find one completely blameless.  There’s always some evil hidden there.

The junior associate handed our moneyed man a business card, advertising the services of a professional masseuse named Ivanka.  He copied the number into his BlackBerry, and wished the associate a good night.  I’m sure he was met with a lecherous smile.  When he reported in to the organization, we ran the number.  The phone is registered to a company called “Novelty Amusements of Uniondale.”  We searched court filings, but the business had none.  The internet was similarly unhelpful.  The only record was its record of incorporation, which was back in 2002.  That’s what a front looks like.  Some local bank somewhere will have transaction records, probably just enough money in an account to pay for a few phone lines.  

Even a front can be helpful however.  Novelty Amusements of Uniondale was incorporated in May 2002, and the officer of incorporation was oh so helpfully listed.  A gentleman named Lloyd Remmens filed it.  A quick search revealed he was a lawyer of small renown, without a discernable specialty.  He’d been to court on cases ranging from personal injury to landlord-tenant disputes.  He worked at a firm no one within the organization could claim to have heard of.  After completing our actionable avenues, an operation was called for.

The lawyer’s office turned out to be in a large residential apartment building.  A search determined his was not the only business located there.  Two therapist’s offices and an accountant shared the same building, but not on the same floors.  His office was on the 16th floor.  I don’t like to break windows at that height.  I know it’s crazy, but I worry about it doing some kind of structural damage to the building.  Wind pressure or something.  A bit of fake physics I’ve picked up from some action movie I’m sure.  Knowing that you’re being irrational isn’t much of a deterrent.  That meant covert entry. 

You wouldn’t think breaking in to a residential apartment building would be very difficult.  It’s not the Pentagon, after all.  What makes it so difficult is the sheer unpredictability of it all.  We counted 10 apartments per floor, with 24 floors total. That’s 240 apartments.  Let’s be conservative and say there are two people in every apartment.  That’s 480 people.  480 people who might have trouble sleeping.  480 people who might’ve been woken up by their dog for a 2 am walk.  480 people who might be doing laundry, or using the gym (it’s a fancy building, you have to plan for a gym).  It’s harder than you would think.

I made my way to their service entrance, but it had a security camera.  Strangely enough, a well-dressed man in a gas mask isn’t the most covert mode of dress.  Since I was going dark, I had forgone the mask.  That meant the camera had to go.  There are lots of ways to beat a security camera, but I settled for the one that would ensure a security guard go check on it.  This model broadcasts its image wirelessly to a base where the pictures can be monitored.  The likelihood of someone competent actually monitoring the cameras was low, but why risk it?  I hid a device the size of a pack of cigarettes in the roots of the small modesty bush they’d planted to offset the ugliness of their service area.  Close enough to the camera to be helpful, but not so close as to be detected.  The device was the Professor’s.  It creates a neg signal on the same broadcast frequency as the camera.  When I turn it on, if there’s a guard watching, all he can see is static.  I was about to break out a tool developed by the KGB for disabling locks, when I saw that the lock was made by KABA.  KABA locks are used all over the world, even on military bases.  It’s your basic push button lock, where a code is given to anyone who needs access.  For a lock used by several different militaries, it’s amazingly bad.  All you need to beat it is a very strong magnet.  Fucks it right up.  As it happens, I carry a very strong magnet.  

In my coat I carry a handheld, Israeli-made thermal imaging device.  Attach it to any surface, and it can tell you if anyone awaits you on the other side.  No one did.  Once inside I dispatch the Professor’s rolling surveillance pods.  We may have to give them over to the military one day.  They roll throughout the service area, taking pictures like a Google Street View van, telling me what I face.  For something so mobile, they’re really tough to spot; smaller than a marble, they rarely pique anyone’s interest.  They then compile their collective data, and send a complete tactical picture to headquarters, or in this case, to the small tablet in my coat pocket.

I needn’t have worried about security cameras.  They link up to a hub two doors down.  A computer handles the feeds, probably networked to a second computer at the front desk, where the lone security guard is sure to be sitting.  Since I’m all alone down here, I decide to see if anyone is up and about in the building.  A heavyset man is using an exercise bike in a small gym, and someone is doing laundry.  If anyone else is about, I don’t see them.  The main lobby feed is up, and the man at the desk doesn’t seem to be paying any particular attention to anything, in that nether zone of night work, where you’re awake but asleep.  A few keystrokes ensure that even if he should check the cameras, all would look normal.

I sprint up the stairs, and head for the lawyer’s office.  Never take the elevator.  That’s a trap.  When I reach the lawyer’s door, I finally get to use my KGB toy.  I love it.  The Russians were true masters of the craft.  Their device looks like an ice pick.  Instead of a pointy end, it has spokes that look like an unfinished key.  You place the key-ish bit in the lock, and gently let the key bits interact with the architecture inside the lock.  The key bits on the device can be pushed inward, so if you’re gentle, your device will sync up with the pins in the lock.  Once you’ve got it synced up, you lock the key bits in place, and you’ve got a key that fits the lock.  It’s brilliant in its simplicity.

I close the window shades and turn on the lamp in his office.  Flashlights are a dead giveaway.  After some futzing on his computer and a look through his file cabinets, I find out the real owner of Novelty Amusements of Uniondale.  George Vincent, and his son George Jr.  Welcome to the night, gentlemen.  You won’t enjoy what we have planned for you.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

don't stop believing... as sung by the movies

Oh Sony Vegas... one day I will master you. And on that day... well, I'm not gonna do anything like this. This seems like way too much fucking work. But something. Oh yes. Something.

Monday, April 9, 2012

welcome to the night

No one thought arresting Jason Timmons would be a problem.  He’d been arrested plenty of times before, why would this be any different?  Considering our city’s many problems, the warrant squad is actually pretty effective.  Surprising, I know.  They work nights, late, when they know you’re home sleeping.  The building was owned and operated by City Housing, so they didn’t need to get buzzed in, they already had a key.  According to the report, they knocked on his door at 3:34 am.  That’s when the shooting started.

We’re a violent city, that’s for sure.  But full-scale shootouts are actually pretty fucking rare, so I hopped to it.  I was on the job, already suited up, so I made my way to the nearest roof and signaled for the glider.  The leap of faith is the best part of my job.  I run for the ledge and throw myself off.  I always have that small nagging thought, “This is the time the glider won’t catch you, idiot.”  But it always does.  

It wasn’t far to the scene of the crime; I got there before it was over.  I leapt from the glider, smashing through a nearby window.  I never run in to the fray.  That’s how the last man who wore my cloak died.  I always set up a defensible position and send the rollers for recon.  Ask the professor about the rollers, he’ll tell you at great length that they’re his finest invention.  The size of marbles, they move of their own accord, and a small handful of them create a fly’s eye image of the project hallway that’s turned into a warzone.  They coordinate their many pictures with the mainframe back at base, giving me a 3D image of what’s happening. 

The officers had fallen back around the corner from the apartment door.  A man inside had set up a metal barrier in the doorway he was taking cover behind.  His eyes were wild.  Any hope of a peaceful ending was out the window.  Jason Timmons is black, 35, shaved head.  No scars.  Endless tattoos, cheaply done, barely visible on his dark skin.  A roller made its way down towards the officers, and I understood the calamity.  I knew two of them.  Alvarez, McKenna, and the new female whose name I haven’t learned yet.

Alvarez and McKenna are brutal, even by our standards.  They work warrants, so they have a ready-made excuse to boom your door and rifle through your possessions.  More often than not, what they find isn’t turned in to property.  That they also fuck people up should probably go without saying.  I know of two different dealers confined to wheelchairs because of them.  The female officer was new, but probably not the most solid of citizens if she was paired up with those two.  God, I’m getting cynical.  

Alvarez is key player in the hidden web of corruption that plagues my city.  McKenna is his lapdog.  They’ve gone too far this time, causing a shootout in a project hallway.  If there aren’t at least two dead neighbors behind this bullshit, I’ll be fucking shocked.  They’ve got to go.  The woman… maybe she gets a pass this time.

Let me be clear:  I’m not a killer.  That said, if there’s a guy already willing to do the deed I need done… why not help the man?  I make my way to the busted window that was my entrance.  Gas mask on; the cloak flutters in the wind.  The officers have taken up a position two windows down from my location, but that’s easily reached.  I can see them now, crouching behind the corner, waiting for a clear shot.  They probably don’t have real permission to be here.  They were planning on hitting the door, and writing it up after.  They’re figuring out how to murder Mr. Timmons before the rest of the department gets on scene, and they know they’re running out of time.

I activate the device that radiates blackness from my clothes… tendrils of blackest nothing unfurl from my every seam.  They’re all deaf from the gunshots, there’s little need to be sneaky.  I smash out a window panel and throw two gas charges towards them, and instantly they’re filled with a feeling of overwhelming dread.  They never remember seeing a canister; their brain just registers a cloud of smoke.  That’s when I burst through the window.  Terror on the faces of evil man… I’m not ashamed to say it gets me hard.  It makes giving up the drugs that sustained me for years easy.  

The city has had rumors of a man in a gas mask for years… but it never stops scaring them shitless.  Only a fucking lunatic would attack unarmed, gas his only friend.  What does he want?  What would a man like that do if he caught you?  What… what’s he going to do to us?  

“Come with me, my children, join the infinite, become the night!!”

I just shout weird disturbing shit at people, that’s my thing.  It enhances the whole “lunatic in a gas mask” gimmick.  I discreetly fire a small sedative dart at the female officer, and she collapses instantly. 

“Alvarez, McKenna… you will join the infinite black… you will live in my soul forever!”

McKenna’s eyes go so wide, I’m worried they’ll break the tensile strength of his lids and pop right out.  I dial up the generator, and the hallway falls into darkness.  It’s a scene from a fucking horror movie, the monster walks in a cloud of smoke and dark, and the only natural human response is to run.  Of course, they’re only human after all.  They turn the corner, and I return the lights to normal.  They’re perfectly framed in the gunman’s sights.  Officers Alvarez and McKenna are no more.  Someone else’s problem.  

“Timmons!  You will join me next!  You will be my servant in the infinite dark!”

I know telling a black man he’s going to be your servant is a little unseemly.  It’s supposed to be.  He runs at me full force, his eyes wild, having given himself over to the power of the gun.  Before he can lay a hand on me, I’ve smashed the median and ulnar joints in his arm.  He won’t be using that arm for 6 months easily.  I’m about to tear his throat out when Operations calls in to my earpiece.

“We can find a use for a cold blooded killer… There are bad men in this city Michael.  Subdue and transport.  Quickly, backup is reaching the front door now.”

Timmons is screaming in pain.  Even after some surgery, his arm is always going to be a little damaged.  Sedative dart to his neck quiets him down.  I pick up my two gas canisters and put them back in the holster.  I remove the sedative dart from the female officer’s neck.  

Besides a busted window and a vague recollection from the rookie, no one will know I was ever here.  The disappearance of Jason Timmons will soon be another city legend.  Hopefully his future work for our company will be as well… but a better sort of legend.

Hours pass.  Timmons wakes up in darkness.  He’s strapped to a table, but it’s too dark for him to see his restraints.  All he knows is, he can’t move.

“Mr. Timmons… welcome to the night.  We have a lot of work to do.”

Monday, April 2, 2012

mc chris - dischord

I don't watch My Little Pony. There's gentlemen who do, but I'm not particularly one of them. What I love about it though, the boys who do watch the show, they're fighting back against hundreds of years of gender stereotyping in order to do so.  We're told from the earliest of ages that girls are pink and boys are blue.  Girls are inside, boys are outside.  Girls are weak and boys are strong.  But it doesn't have to be like that.  We don't have to follow the same rules our parents did.  We can make our own decisions about how it's gonna be.  Who's gonna tell you different?  Fuck em.

"you can't tell me what toys i can play with
you can't tell me not to grow my crops
you can't tell me which sex i can marry
its so scary the weird way that you watch"

- mc chris 

the catpod

Damn am I excited for this movie.