Excerpt from Divine Play, pp. 481-485

Alex stopped by the Lashers’ locker room at halftime. Russ Behr came in soon after, and his red eyes opened wider. He took off his flat-topped helmet and flipped it. The spikes on the crown stuck to the magnetized bench. He slipped off the metapolymer full-face mask and laid it there as well. “Je-zuz!” he proclaimed. “You’re spost to be out.”

“I am out.” He sat astride the bench, facing Behr, and around him were rows of transparent cylindric lockers and metal benches, white light from coffin canisters in the wire-strung ceiling, and fumes of sweat and piss and cologne. He rotated his right knee as it started throbbing. New cartilage formed rapidly at the fractures for molyfreaks like him, but new bone took at least two weeks to grow back―five more days of this. He took his usual doses of analgesics and stimulants, but still the knee pestered him, like some loud little man in the stands that won’t let up. He craved more pain meds and speed, but popping pills would amuse Behr too much.

Behr sank onto the bench, perpendicular to Alex, and grunted, “You seen this shit?”

“I heard about it.” He couldn’t bear to watch when he wasn’t playing.

Behr nudged a spot on the convex “glass” inner wall of his locker, and the play appeared. Behr nudged it again, and the scene was twinned outside the locker in 360 degrees.

Ridgebacks had the ball on Lashers’ 12. Third and five. A scrimmage line of gold-suited Lashers (left) and purple-suited Ridgebacks on the silver grid. Steel wire over the shoulder pads, brass-knuckle gloves, spikes jutting from helmets, boots, and kneepads. Microchip loops made the numbers flash on their backs and chests. The scene revolved so the billions at their home 3VAKs [3-D Video-Audio-Kineteo receivers] could see “all the action.” The hundred thousand fans in the stands were jiggling multicolored beads.

Spiked ball snapped to Ridgebacks’ quarrel, Ross Theddick, who stopped it in his magnetized gloves. After a single step, Alex recognized the 4/8 power play. Left offending tackle, tight end, right offending
guard, and fallback charging left toward the eight-hole in formation, with Theddick scurrying behind them. Ridgebacks had the style of a bulldozer, but knowing the moves didn’t prevent them. He saw the rods sliding out of the glove cuffs of the left offending tackle and right offending guard. Cy Burntick, the Lashers’ left defensive end, bullied in, hit the Ridgebacks’ shock batons, and fell back, gibbering in a seizure. The Lashers’ left defensive tackle, Lyan Semblie, and middle laneblocker (Behr) also got blocked and shocked. Theddick vaulted over the pileup and slammed the ball down onto the meshwork. 42K-21K, Ridgebacks.

“I knew it!” Behr yelled. “Fucking dick wands! Why didn’t they call it?”

“They don’t call it when we pull the same shit. The fans love it when something illegal’s snuck in. Especially if someone dies. Where is everybody?”

“Oh, Vollig started in on them with the scriptural verses right in the tunnel. I ducked out an exit. Dumbshits know it’s comin’, but they just submit to it.”

“They couldn’t all dodge it.”

The Lashers jumbled in, babbling, the clear plastic face masks tilted up so the air could find their sweaty faces. They rested on benches, popping pills and chugging bottled water, or got undressed and sat in intervallic, tubular healing chambers, the anesthetizing mist engulfing them.

“Strabs!” said Anna Laudy, the center. “I thought you’d be in a full-body cast!”

“Hey, Alex,” said Randy Malchick, the right wired receiver, “did the bad man scare you?”

“How you doin’, Cy?” Alex asked Burntick as he limped in; his arrowhead face—short hair, sharp chin, and aquiline nose—was as dull and gray as it would ever get.

“Still alive.”

“Of course, you are,” said Eubie Gross, the fallback, “you’re a molyboy!”

Cy smiled. “A freak, you mean. Same as you.”

“Don’t worry,” counseled Theo Durant, the right guard, “we’re gonna stomp that pile o’ shit Mackidaw.”

Alex’s knee started to throb again. Homer Mackidaw, the Ridgebacks’ laneblocker, had tackled Alex and in the pileup got his right leg between two hand compression disks that broke most of the bones. “Mackidaw? “It was a LOTTA [Left Offending Tackle ] and ROGUE [Right Offending Guard] that went after Cy.”

“No, for what Mackidaw did to Telly,” Cy murmured, tilting down his head.

“What happened to Telly?”

“Take a look.” Behr forwarded to the last play of the quarter. Lashers had just gotten a “blocking below waist” call. Even as the ref curved his arms near his groin to signal the call, the Lashers went rigid, gritting their teeth as the electric charge went through the grid at their feet. Some tried hopping or rhythmically alternating feet to ameliorate sensations of a hammer pounding the skull and hot grease sizzling the legs. They could have lost ten yards, but the refs elected to run some charges through
them. The crowd screamed and howled; they loved to watch the players “dance.” Silvie Belljar, the Lashers’ right safety, passed out and collapsed, and the crowd roared.

Lashers were at the Ridgebacks’ 40. Telly Mnottom was the quarrel. Telly’s arm was swift and true, but he was too easily unnerved. Just past Anna Laudy, the Lashers’ center, Mackidaw was watching him. The face mask seemed too small for his massive head―he looked like a giant in a kid’s Halloween costume. You could see the muscles of his jaw working, enhancing the hate, the eyes white in the eyeholes as his pupils rolled up and dead black when they rolled back. The primers were working, all right. On Monday Night Fiteball, Homer had promised to grind up every quarrelback until the end of the season.

Alex knew Telly wouldn’t risk a running play; he stood seven meters behind Anna. They ran a recycled shotgun as Randy Malchick dodged the right cornerback and did a ninety-degree turn. Both Lasher offending guards and tackles moved in to protect Telly as he looked off, preparing to blast it to Randy at the two-hole.

Mackidaw was the strongest and most agile defensive lineman in the league, and the bloodthirstiest fucker as well. Lately he’d been on heavy doses of Rapid Accelerant. The Lashers’ team docs had predicted he couldn’t take any more RA without stroking or busting arteries, but apparently he could. He got to Telly in seconds, battering the linemen aside and then knocking Telly down and punching him until the plastic face mask broke and he could sink his spikes into Telly’s skull. The sack was a minute old and the refs were screaming into their whistles, but Mackidaw kept on; even when the Ridgebacks lifted him off, he still stomped Telly several times with his boots. The crowd screamed in raucous ecstasy.

Alex felt the rage in him, moving extra oxygen through his blood, spurring hormones from his glands, agitating muscles―receiving, once again, in his memory, the old man’s anger, Werther’s grip on his shoulder, the fingers curling into skin and muscle, seeking soft tissue. “How is he?”

“Brain dead,” said Gideon Bach, the left wired receiver.

“They’ll have to replace it,” said Anna.

“If he can get off life support,” added Eubie.

“Who’s playing?” Alex asked.

“Well, Cy―unless . . .” said Theo.

“I’m out,” Cy informed them, slapping a towel onto the bench. “Doc took me out for a concussion.” He prodded his skull, above his hairline. “Another one.”

“Then me,” answered Maury Gretta, nestled in the steam of a healing chamber; his voice emerged from the translucent speaker in the door. Maury was a third-stringer. The others grimaced.

“Gimme your jersey,” Alex said.

Cy’s slit eyes got round. “Are you nuts? Coach’ll know. Everybody’ll know.”

“Don’t be stupid,” Behr said. “You’ll lose that leg if he gets at it again.”

Alex sighed and turned to Maury. “Gimme an extra jersey, Maury. Please?”

“He runs off; you run on,” Anna nodded.

“You’ll get suspended, you know,” Maury warned him. “Indefinitely.”

“I just want one play,” Alex said. “I don’t care about afterward.”

As the Lashers went into a huddle, Maury called time-out, pointing to his helmet, as if his audio had gone out. He vanished into the piebald wall of humans at the sidelines, and Alex emerged. He was more compact than Maury, but the jerseys shrink-wrapped to fit.

Alex slowed his hustle a little, adjusting to the thrumming and the heat from the grid and the startling movements of players under the ultraviolet sky of the dome. It should be unnoticeable, after all these years of playing. But ground level, up close, everything was magnified. His knee was numb from painkillers and speed, but he could sense the ache, like an insect sinking its chelae into him.

The crowd recognized him right off and was chanting, “Stra-bis! Stra-bis! Stra-bis!” He noticed something glowing in his periphery: Vollig had appeared in holo form, asking Klaus Loop, one of the offending coaches, what was going on, and Klaus was shouting earnestly. Mackidaw, pacing and flexing and swiveling his huge torso, smirked at him from five meters away.

Anna snapped the ball, and Alex dropped back behind Eubie while Eubie charged up the middle and Gideon did a forty-five degree toward the six-hole. Alex tried to look off, but Mackidaw drove through Anna and the guards before they could breathe. Mackidaw was on him so fast Alex thought he was nailed, but blindly fired off the pass to Gideon. Mackidaw crouched low, but he crouched lower, clamping onto Mackidaw’s ankles. Mackidaw fell forward along Alex’s back. Alex straightened, dragging and then boosting Mackidaw in the air, launching him upside-down. No way a human could lift 180 kilos of Mackidaw plus equipment, much less flip him overhead,by reaching behind. But he was a wound-up, revved-up, drugged-up, pissed-off little molyboy, designed to exceed mechanization, like John Henry outdigging a steam shovel.Alex caught Mackidaw’s ankles again as he plunged headfirst, flailing his limbs and howling. Alex raised him up and slammed him down like a posthole digger. The spikes on Mackidaw’s helmet bent from the impact as his cervix cracked and his brain swung wildly in his skull, before it ceased all processing. Mackidaw’s body lay facedown on the grid. And the crowd cried.

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Hi, Celia, it’s Walter…Ferguson. Huh, I knew you’d let my call go to voice mail. You always do. I wonder if in the fifteen seconds that your phone is playing that brassy Adele song and my number is flashed on your screen, you can’t steel yourself sufficiently to answer? Maybe it’s not long enough to filter the irritability out of your voice, leaving that perky neutral tone? I guess you have to undergo the same process every time you answer the phone at the law office, but there you get paid by the hour, and dealing with me is charity.
So I’m in my ’76 Ford Fairlaine. I managed to get a restored muffler in mint condition from a guy in Toledo, so the noise wouldn’t be so annoying to you. But…it’s OK, because I need to cancel our date next Saturday. I have a….strong intuition that I’m going to be rammed head-on by a truck. It’s a very tactile vision. I mean, I experience this godlike force bashing into my car, crushing metal and glass and bone as the car does a backward somersault. What a waste of a cherry ride! “Cherry”! That’s an old slang term. Come to think of it, “ride” is probably outdated too—but, of course, I’m…older. Fourteen years old than you. I have to admit, that’s a lot. Almost a decade and a half.
The good thing about calling off our date is that it will open up your evening to spend with your son. I forgot his name. Is it “Justin” or “Austin”? Is he twelve or thirteen? Maybe he’s with his Dad this weekend. Maybe he prefers to hang out with his friends. I did. I hated my old man, and my mom was so fragile and passive I couldn’t bear to be with her.
If Justin or Austin is like his mother, he’ll be uneasy and distracted the whole time you’re together, until some allotted arbitrary number of hours has passed, and then he’ll make up a reason to leave. On our dates, you only really smile at me when you’re putting on your coat.
Are you just cold and or is it me? Ah, that’s hypocritical, because I don’t really believe it’s my fault. Let’s just say you’re “reserved.” That’s an appropriate term, because you are obviously “reserved” for someone other than me. I mean…Jesus! You must have been attracted to me a little bit. I was overjoyed when you walked into the restaurant that first time. You were so small and trim, with a face like a…like a cameo or something. Way prettier in person than your photo on the Internet dating site. But when I handed you that rose wrapped in green paper, you held it like a…a used napkin, with your thumb and forefinger, and your expression was…I don’t know, somewhere between panic and disgust. Then you forgot it on the table when we left.
I have to say, while we were watching that movie about the crippled boy in Afghanistan, sitting close together in the dark, I had this paralyzing certainty that our relationship was…stillborn. Is that the right word? But I suppressed the feeling, because you were so beautiful and kind, and I was so lonely.
Hey! I lied about having a premonition about a car wreck. It’s already happened. My body was completely mangled, but my cell wasn’t damaged. Isn’t that funny? Since nothing matters anymore, I figured it was an ideal time to cancel, without having to make up an excuse.
You don’t have to call me back.

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The truism is that men fall in love with (through) their eyes, and women with their ears. Writers would seem to be assured with success in matters of the heart. Unfortunately, the words of writers, except for those contained in plays and screenplays, are not read aloud, and even in those exceptions, the majority of text is devoted to stage and camera directions, of which audiences and viewers may never be aware. And entire books of poetry are rarely recited. What we are left with is the “written”—i.e., “read”—word. If the ability to entice another’s devotion is based upon the extent and quality of one’s writing, male and lesbian authors will very likely be lonely, and female and gay authors will not.

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Excerpt from Divine Play, pp. 786

Monday, FEBRUARY 18, 2037

[San Marinate, Neva Beach] The Huntington Library announced that hologrammic copies of a new set of Dead Sea Scrolls were available to qualified researchers. According to archeologist Lukken Themud, PhD, who supervised the most recent excavation, these leather and papyrus manuscripts were found in 2017 in a previously undiscovered cave “around in the back” of the eleven caves near the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea, in which the first Dead Sea Scrolls were found, beginning in the late 1940s.

According to Dr. Themud, these documents, written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, comprise a new book of the Apocrypha, known as the “Book of Bewilderment.” “It’s certainly bewildering us,” says biblical scholar Wegot Dibbs, Ph.D., former director of the Palestinian-Israeli Antiquities Authority. “This book turns the story of the Fall on its head and reverses the roles of Satan as villain and Adam and Eve as victims.” He explains that in this version, Satan, God’s favorite angel, is seduced by Eve into stealing fruit for her from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in Paradise. When the three are expelled from the Garden for this treachery, a vengeful A & E convince Satan to lead his cohorts into a campaign of guerilla warfare against God and his angelic paramilitary force. Faster than one can say “Grenada,” Satan et al. are crushed underfoot.

Predictably, God spares A & E and casts them further into the world, reasoning that childbirth, disease and a forty-hour workweek is sufficient punishment for their wickedness. The Mother and Father of Mankind proceed to bicker and mate for several hundred years, or, as the Bible says, “to multiply and refinish the earth.” In the process they invent most of civilization’s most popular crimes, including murder, rape, robbery, fraud, and distribution of controlled substances.

A & E assign Satan the task of designing lesser, more esoteric offenses against God and man. Some of the sins fabricated by Satan are:
• plaustraperditry, abandoning one’s shopping cart at the unloading point rather than
returning it to the supermarket corral;
• impedivection, accelerating one’s vehicle to prevent someone else’s car from cutting in;
• gestarmuqusion, sneezing into one’s hand and surreptitiously wiping it on one’s garments;
• insolentiality, making rude replies to telemarketers; and
• simulaecarism, pretending not to see someone in a public place.

“We always knew the Lord had names for these iniquities,” says Revv. Tloom Varroom, chairman of the Council of Obsessive Christians, Hindus, Jews and Islamics Everywhere for the Cultivation of Overzealousness (COOCHJIECOO). “It’s nice to know that even sins can get a make-over.”

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From Divine Play, pp. 1-14 (abridged)

Aiden Fesyo trudged through red and yellow leaves toward the easy chair in the midst of the forest. The blue plastic briefcases he bore seemed to yearn for the vividly littered soil beneath him, and the creases in his palms were aching. He’d been among the first to get Dr. Q’s Positronic CarryAll and delighted in walking about with the cases levitating beside him, but then the model was recalled. When they took his away, the truck driver, a small man with big teeth, confounded Aiden’s stereotypes by offering a rationale that included complaints of “wormholes” and the company’s need to “renormalize” the infinities that had been sprouting up in offices, homes, and playgrounds. Meanwhile, workers in space suits slipped the CarryAll into a metoplast case for transport…

His gray bioplasmic suit, as advertised, augmented more than conformed to his body (Einbruch Systems, Inc., recruiting froma market of millions of licensed data “retrievaers” like himself, justifiably imposed some anatomical prerequisites), yet it also dammed bodily warmth…

Aiden laid the cases down and kneaded his palms. “Oh, boy . . . oh, boy”—the word-sighs escaped his lips. He took off his suit coat and covered the high back of the roseate fur chair. He sank into the feel of flesh, hearing flutes. A few feet away, the forest sloped to a deep chasm that sustained a translucent river. The “flutes” had been the shrieks and cries of the three sunbrowned women bathing below him, their vocalizations baffled and transmuted by the nearby cannonading waterfall.

Now whistling birds and barking dogs improvised over the whining rhythms of locusts in his arboreal domain. The women were prostrate on varicolored blankets on the white beach, arrayed like manzanita leaves, guarded by a bloated sun above black volcanoes at the horizon. Should he take them all now—obliviate himself in flesh?…

“Oh God, oh God, oh God,” Aiden groaned now, alone in his chair in the forest, dangling his right arm over the long, black box on the square, white, plastic table beside him. The women, the waterfall, his indecent “padded” suits, his dead-end dead-ass job and junior existence…all respectively aggrieved him. “I want to die right now!” he screamed and then frantically pressed his thumb against the fingerprint identifier, illuminating numerous tiny portals of colored beams. His forefinger plied the red beacon, and the universe ended.

Black cavernous void―it soothed him, as if he’d survived the Big Freeze or the Big Phlegm, exempt from entropy, all interactions canceled.Then the translucent walls of the apartment commenced, undraping the humpbacked kitchen appliances to the left, the oval bed of carbonated glycerin before him, and the cave of water closet to his right. Diluted lumination showed plastic disks like silvery rings on the adiaphonous floor, rumpled clothing, unclassifiable paper and plastic bits and fragments, shoes like stubby volcanoes. Aimlessly his left hand hovered o’er scattered, semiopaque cubes hoarding thousands of hours of 3VAK2 broadcasts and cinema. Beyond the phosphorescent buffers above, below and beside him: a child wailed; the thump, warp, and warble of bass, drums, and lectroguitars braced a Gregorian chant; a woman nightly wept, “I love my children!” to which her heartfelt children answered, “Shut up, Ma!”
He cringed when the shrieks and blare of strings and brass sounded from the box beside him. A mellifluous self-possessed female voice (which he called Nancy) stated tautologically: “You have deactivated your Environ II Comfort Hologram Series 112375: ‘Beach Chiquitas.’ Remember, Dr. General has determined that discontinuing hologrammic service for more than five minutes can cause a depressive state that has been conclusively linked to cancer, social diseases, criminal—.”

Aiden impeded the blue beam, and heraldic music tintinnabulated and engulfed him…A congratulatory baritone (Sid) lilted: “You have activated DINER, your Digital Interactive Neurosensory Entertainment Resource, serving the solar system with over eight hundred thousand cha—.”

He flicked the turquoise beam, and Nancy explained: “You have requested the Menu Grid. Please specify channel by integral, decimal, centennial, millennial, myriad, and lakh. Please indicate hour, minute, and/or second by unit, decasector, centisegment, or millipart.” He prodded the white beam, and Sid affirmed: “You have chosen the last page viewed.”

The grid manifested itself out of darkness: boundless, immaculate, impending above him like a stone tablet, graven with the cuneiform of program listings, intricate, insistent…

He nudged the rose beam, and Sid advised him, more perfunctorily: “You have elected auto-scan. To hold preview, touch the silver beam. To continue auto-scan, touch the lilac beam. To increase preview duration, touch the copper beam. To decrease preview duration, touch the evergreen beam. To exit preview, touch the yellow beam. To exit auto scan, touch—”

“Shh!” Aiden commanded. He could make no more decisions tonight. DINER would preview random samples for his discretion. Only one question prevailed:

So . . . What Else Is On?

Eftsoons he was onstage, “Live from Faund Wāgas,” amid showgirls as they spun, strutted, and thrust their perinea. They were arrayed in feathers and elastic glittery unitards, designed with severe Vs at chests and groins. Their trilateral lizards’ heads emerged orthogonally from leathery necks, their eyes (and eyelids) sliding about in their sockets.

On “Needless Surgery,” he stood behind the surgeons for an incised view of a woman having her nose severed and reattached in the same place.

On one of the Articist Alley shows, he followed a woman in housecoat and curlers trudging through her rubbishy home, occasionally coughing up iridescent light rays.

He lingered in the Choosy Channels for “Best Scams,” promoting retinal implants that simulated blindness (entitling the wearer to government benefits) while internally furnishing sports, news headlines, or porno.

At “Sexe Shoppe,” he anticipated a lurid “infomersh,” but found a chaste dramatization for one of the ChoiceLife products. He was sitting very near the bed, on which a couple were entwined, under the covers, as the camera panned and dollied to a red-eyed, plaintively bleating scanner on the nightstand. “Uh-oh!” said the male voiceover (VO), over sprightly music, while the couple unwound and surfaced: a young man and woman in plaid nightgowns, who were trimmed, coiffed, and kempt.

“Looks like someone forgot to take precautions!” VO joshed…“Now you can decide if pregnancy is right for you. If the time isn’t right, it’s good to know that your local Choice Life Fertility Center is open twenty-four hours a day to guarantee that your potential child will find a womb in a woman who thinks a child will save her marriage, or who wants to nurture without the muss and fuss of a man.” The couple, now joined cheek to cheek, gazed at the silver tube that the ex-mother held. “Remember, too, that centers pay top dollar for eggs with high genetic—”

Aiden forded onward. Among the selections on Blabby Lane, he came across the show hosted by Gilly Vero, president of the Consolidated States of America (COSA). The two men and two women sitting unclothed and transparent on either side of him had altered the absorptive and reflective qualities of their bodies to exhibit four levels of anatomy: the skeleton, the striate gnarls of the musculature, the palpitant clumps of internal organs, and the branches of the peripheral nervous system. Aiden was brought within an arm’s length of them. The first had no face, only a skull with eyes. The second had a face, but the rest was glutinously raw, as if he’d been skinned alive. The third one was a woman with a comely, angular face and lavish red hair, but Aiden was compelled to stare at the writhing unguent mass of vital organs in her middle. The fourth was a transpicuous shell with protuberant eyes and flinching strands. Aiden was queasily compelled to focus on President Vero, whose eyes and thistle hair were orange and who berated his guests in shrill, penetrant tones, prompting clamorous joy in the studio audience and inciting the simulacra of hologrammed viewers that enacted their indignation when Gilly called them forth. Aiden prompted the lilac beam.

The News Pipeline offered hundreds of scandal programs. Aiden emerged in a thickly draped and carpeted bedroom. One figure roiled above another on an expansive bed with black metal corner posts topped with gargoyles’ heads. The woman was obscured, but the flabby, pale buttocks of the man were unfortunately visible. A whisper: “Insta-Scam cameras have captured Governor Boralema’s latest affair live and up close. Stay tuned for the reenactment of the meeting and mating on ‘Disgrace of the Day,’ following immed—”

Aiden switched. Initially he had been enthralled with the technical prowess involved in creating a two-hour real-time film in fifteen minutes, using morphed images. (He was less impressed when the latest pretenders would slip themselves into classic films opposite legendary movie stars.) When he reached Cinema Main, he scratched the orange beam and plodded through the taxonomical offerings, such as “Psychopath Surprises” (adolescents dispatched with power tools), “Predestination Comedies” (protagonist and/or family solves crises in one hundred minutes), and “Jōb Opportunities” (triumph and redemption over disability and/or terminal illness, with swelling strings).

On Neoclassics, he endured the colorized, reconstructed Casablanca, until a blasphemous nude scene with Bogart and Bergman. He scrolled through the Calmedy shows . . . “My Funny Gay Friend” . . . “We Po’ But We Laughin’” . . . “Bromas Insipidas” . . . Articist Alley—or maybe Psience—provided a ceremonial suicide dance of translucent hydralike Venusians on Mount Ohlyolomahammemmaheemaa, in commemoration of the massacre four years before. When Earth had begun sucking minerals out of the molten surface, Venusians had broadcast their intent to protest, while COMFI dispatched space soldiers in order to protect (human) lives. Venusians had developed a form of ritual combat, but no weapons—intratribal feuds, but no wars. The soldiers had corrosive chemical sprays in lieu of bullets. No humans died; fourteen Venusians did . . . He was near enough to discern that their diaphanous “skin” was reticulated, composed of myriad octagons. They glided over the gray molten surface by ejecting a continuous mist from the bottoms of their “stalks,” proceeding with an unfaltering malleability, like sea urchins. Stable instability. Because this was 3VAK, transmitting visually, auditorily, and kinesthetically, he could sense the ponderous atmosphere and density of the carbon dioxide air (though he realized he could not be breathing it)…

He waded through Sex Trough, but the mechanistic sexual rites, even the carnal carnivals of Standard Deviates and Permutations, did not exhilarate him tonight. Another Disaster, on the News Pipeline, disclosed scuffed bodies and flaming ruin in the aftermath of a flying saucer crash on the set of NewWorld Order III: Armageddon, which had been promoted as “nonvirtual, nondigital, and nondeceitful.”

Newsbites reminded him that COSA had supplied a team for HorrorShow, after threats by SPORT to foreclose on its government loans.

HorrorShow! He’d forgotten it started today. 3VAK sports did not customarily entice him, but this was epic sports. It was on Sorreal Plaza. He dialed 630600 on the console. Hovering above the elbow joint of California Island, he was peaking, soundless but for the flapping of his tie and whack of trousers cuffs in chuntering frigid wind (neural trickery, but still captivating). His canting chair precipitously plunged through the block letters of Sports HorrorShow, through ads and credits in the guises of birds and bugs and clouds, rushing from the island, overwhelming him. He was halted at the massive, corroded metal gate bearing the name: Dondi Divine Coliseum and Maximum Security Prison. Over brassy fanfare, the poignant, adenoidal voice of Al Gieri intoned: “Alive from the Dondi Divine Coliseum on California Island, it’s the Sports HorrorShow . . .”

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From Divine Play, pp. 274-276

Lt. Carnell badly needed her in a sting against a cartel that thrived on child slavery and snuff films, and was immune to infiltration except by an attractive woman whose AmerAsian features would appeal to Bertram “Icepick” Jaaku, a Japanese who affected the traits of an oyabun, without any connection to yakuza or any other time-honored criminal institution.  Hence, his elimination would compel no reprisals.

Her entry was as a typist (in short skirt) in the corporate office. It took a day or so before a tsukaiipa, an errand boy, for Jaaku approached and began the brash accelerated process of procurement. He blatantly inspected her with his glacé eyes and told her that his kumi-cho, his boss, wanted her to visit his place for some “night work.” She was thinking how easily she could kill him with a thumb-drive to his neck, or by stomping on his loafer-clad (Sammy Gucci) foot, while her back-fist cudgeled his glossed skull.

The “night work” began with attending parties at Jaaku’s mansion that were, fortunately, too mannered to be orgies. However, the décolleté gowns she wore garnered his affection. She accompanied him to clubs, in pluribus unum [one among many], appeasing his vanity only—since many were available to gratify other needs.

She’d filled in only a third of the names on the organizational flowchart before he maneuvered her into his vaulted bedroom, its floor and walls stifled by Persian carpets and woven wallhangings and silken pillows. Jaaku had preserved a vengeful rape fantasy for Asian chicks, de rigueur for one who saw the world as bristling with instrumentalities for his pleasure.

He was 1.7 meters tall, weighing maybe 81 kilos, with dyed blond hair punctuating the tawny rutted face and fleshy lips. The appositive black eyes were transparent or opaque in accordance with his passions.

He slapped her around and tore her negligee while she screamed and pleaded; he grabbed her hair, wrenching her neck, spewing saliva and curses. “Bitchcunt! How many men shove eels in that filthy hole? Huh? You dripping disease! Inside you are blackrotten skag! Smear pus and shit on my silk sheets! Huh?” Then he smacked her again.

Her swollen face was throbbing; she felt blood trickling along her belly and back. Her father had trained her for transcendence. She had perceived the absolute when his punches and kicks had struck so powerfully they stopped her breathing. She’d glimpsed perfection every time her fingers were smashed by a wooden bo or her bare feet were gouged by a spear. But never had she been ashamed of her body, made to feel her life was futile, that she was no more than a flinching, squealing little creature. Just let him beat on you a while longer, and then fuck you, and tomorrow he’ll be more careless, less vigilant, just trusting enough . . . So much evidence, so many secrets. All the little children being raped and killed. All the little ones. He knocked her down and kicked her, the narrow-toed shoes slipping between ribs, penetrating her. The suffocating potpourri, the blaring pseudo-soul of ersatz-orgasms hammering her skull. “Bitch! Bitch! Bitch! Bitch” he squealed.

He produced a hunting knife, slashed her thigh, and sliced apart her bra, the blade’s tip lacerating her throat. But the pads adhered to her skin, and the overlapping pairs of flaps, of cloth, wire, and fat, absurdly wobbled as she dodged the knife. In his dilated eyes, she saw the fundament of lust and rage and, with divine sight, beheld herself, naked, mutilated, heaved from a trunk by her arms and legs, and flung into a shallow desert grave.

Daken taijutsu, attack the bones. She blocked his right wrist, numbed his hand—and the knife clattered to the floor. Her right hand became a sword, scything the air, fracturing his collarbone. He howled and gripped her throat, and she pressed her palms against his ears and opened out, shattering his eardrums. Sputtering blood and fury, he swung at her, and her right leg swept against his legs. Upended, he seemed to spin as he fell, like a glass bottle, breaking his nose on the brick fireplace. When he turned, blood was splattering from his mouth. He clutched a poker and bared his red-stained, jagged teeth. He leaned on the stone to boost himself upright, and in that moment, the heel of her right foot rammed his chin and snapped his head back, damaging his brain stem just enough to stop his breathing. I’m a great assassin, just like Daddy.

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