Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Basin City Blues: a noir/science fiction pastiche

Basin City Blues (introduction to the “dtoxiverse”, characters suggested by D. Whiteley)
Setting: Basin City; scene: Kadie's Club Pecos. In an out-of-the-way booth, while a very tall brunette dances a burlesque on stage with cruelly pursed lips, to Prince’s “You Got the Look,” Nancy Callahan is having the tail end of a conversation with a young woman who tells of her harrowing kidnapping/ rape and abuse at the hands of a man she lived with for the past decade. She'd been helping him with his shipping business, and he'd bring her tiny, exotic gifts from all over the world when he traveled. Why did she stay? They had a child together, she says, and eventually his heartless torture stopped. By then, she could not imagine another life...he loved her in his own way, found the truth in love. Not damn likely, Nancy thinks, but she asks: what happened? And would she care for a Smart Water (“they're good when you still have to dance”)? Deep in the back, some twelve feet away beneath no light, an ugly juggernaut of a man sits nursing a Scotch as the conversation drifts back to him. His eyes meet the dancer's; she is new, with willful, haughty eyes.

The girl replies she has been on the run every since the man with no face came and ransacked their home, saying her Charles was a criminal. No face? None whatsoever...she overheard the man accuse Charles of abducting a girl, with the same resources he'd used to smuggle highly-prized animal parts...she fled, and saw on the news where her backyard camping ground had been ransacked and picked over by investigators...Nancy insists she needs to go the authorities, and offers her the card of a cop named Hartigan, encouraging her to contact her family. The girl decides she has said too much, snaps at Nancy, then leaves.

Marv addresses her; she shakes her head, stating the girl is hardly the only mysterious case. A French-Canadian girl has started recently as well, but while she has been very demonstrative on stage, it seems as though she is a different person off. Her behavior doesn't fit the usual patterns of the usual addictions, but there is something about her that is worrying. She notes that a pair of men have been coming in repeatedly since the girl started---"Dawn Angel" is her stage name---and while they only watch and stay briefly, Nancy does not care for their vibe at all. "In this town," notes Marv, "that's saying something."

Then the Dawn Angel takes the stage, timidly at first, as “Black Queen Style” by Mechanical Moth plays. Her motions throw away all pretense of inhibition, and she erupts in a laugh as she spins. Little sparkles of light seem to flow from her sequins, and Marv notes that everyone seems hypnotized, especially the beady-eyed bald man furiously at work with both hands inside his trenchcoat. "Except maybe for that new girl," Marv thinks; "she is shooting daggers at her one minute, then eyeballing her like a cut of prime rib the next. So which is it?" He cannot keep his mind on anything else now but the dance.

When she comes off the stage, Dawn Angel seems very flirtatious with all around; Marv has a little trouble following her accent, nor, he reasons, is she of a mind to pay him any attention. But she defies his expectations by walking straight up to him, leering, almost. She smirks at him, only to have a sea change flash across her face, eyebrows arching innocently, sadly, and she looks lost. “Sexual” by Thaea plays in the background. She reaches out and brushes him. Then she stiffens, looks right through him, and walks away.

Marv asks himself: is she trying to communicate with me? What is her deal, anyway? The trouble in her eyes, the moment she looked helpless, stays with him as he pays his tab and walks out to his Cadillac El Dorado. He watches, though, as the beady-eyed little man furtively conceals himself in the shadows by the doorway to Kadie's, observing the Dawn Angel dancer as she leaves. Not liking the looks of things, Marv decides to join in by tailing the little man. He first reaches into glove compartment for some shells "to keep Gladys", his C.45 ACP Colt M1911, "company". He leaves a scrap of paper with the word "Nancy" scrawled onto it on the dash; "she's got a set of keys if she needs to move it...in which case I will have a whole other world of problems."

Marv follows the pair out of Old Town, to a brownstone tenement Marv notes "isn't much, but at least it's not the Projects like I grew up in." The beady-eyed doll-like man makes a phone call as she goes up the steps, then walks down the street, to a car Marv recognizes. The driver is one of Rourke's men; the last time Marv saw him, he was running for his life from Marv. Now Marv is sure he needs to keep an eye out for this girl, as something sinister seems afoot.

Marv walks past a diner where a curly-headed man in a neck tie sits before organized piles of paper and photographs, a virtual dossier. The man is Vic Sage, television reporter from Hub City, trying to go back to the beginning of this case that seems to connect important people to a kidnapping ring. It all began with a clumsy heist of a wild boar, with the stink of the rutting female taken before still in his nostrils. The animal buried his tusks deep into one of his tormentors at the same time Sage surprised the poachers in his identity as the seemingly-faceless Question. Ruthlessly taunting him with emergency medical care, the Question had gotten the names of two more people in the ring after skillfully subduing the boar. The poachers had been hired to help with a kidnapping as well, tied closely to slavers---some of whom have worked with the mob here in Basin City to coerce mail-order brides to work in their clubs.

Apparently, the mob does not have any influence in Old Town, the center of much of the city's prostitution. Why? And why are members of Senator Rourke's campaign staff linked with payments to a dummy shipping company used by the recruited poachers? Most unbelievable to Sage is the fact that he has been able to ferret out so much in so little time; it is as though the dirtiness and corruption go unchallenged. "Sometimes I'd like to just go join that boar on safari and leave human sleaze behind!" he muses.


Cosmic interlude: A light is born
Solar, the man of the atom, is a creature who was an inventor named Phil Seleski, who discovered he had recreated himself---me!---and his universe through the power of a black hole.
While now I partake in vast quantum energies, I am drawn to placidly observing the wonders of the heavens, for I realize I am, after all, a man, who must consider the consequences of his actions.
The effects of my “black hole accident” manifest across many realms of existence. In 4000 A.D. I noted contact from an alternative earth which had, during the time analogous to my own lifetime, spawned a race of star travelers, who mastered their own physical potentials in attaining ever-lasting forms of energy. As with any alternative reality, I am left with the somewhat egocentric sounding notion: have I participated in its very creation? None of which seems to win me a free pass wherever I go, but I’ve survived a black hole collapse; quoth Alfred E. Neuman: “what, me worry?”
Upon arriving, I found the atmosphere of what I imagine would be our own solar system iterated as a rippling corridor of time/space that happened to center upon my one sentimental planet, Earth. I traced a beam of light on a voyage of tachyons beyond human scope to another galaxy, at the edge of a great mirror that separated a limbo realm from the continuity of the local sector of space. That’s when I began the path of observation that has led to this moment, when two women of supreme power, titans in their own right, became entwined into a kiss that seems more at ease to one than the other. As a man, I find, I must return through the loop of concentration that led here to a moment that leaves me...well,reeling. For, all cosmic forces considered, I am just a man.
Take this perspective: a veritable dimension removed from not only the layers of space and time, but also the layer in which concepts and thought make up the mind and earthly perception, That is one reason I see the attraction in someone I now recognize as a super-heroine named Suprema losing the conflict to initial revulsion, at being greeted by surprise in the manner of a lover by this flying, tan-skinned woman enveloped in her own power of cosmic flame. I encountered Suprema once long ago with her brother, fighting the Spider Aliens in what you would chronologically call the future. She considered herself a polite but firm moral opposition to libertine, profligate ways. I think she is going to find her visit to this planet interesting. A subspace transmission I’ve received suggests this is a galactic throne world called Tamarand.
Apparently, Tamarand shares a quadrant with the limbo zone hidden behind the mirror barrier. The person of interest from that sector is the mastermind behind the light energy that centered upon the rippling Earth. My observations there led me to a mystery of a phenomenon of great consequence, which I have yet to grasp. Until then, I wish to ascertain the motives of any cosmic being so intimately intertwined with the miraculous changes I have seen, in the trans-ruptured world where my journey began. I feel some obligation to provide protection, though I know of no agency other than myself that so employs me to safeguard humanity. People work low-paying, crap jobs out of a sense of their own obligations, so if anyone in the cosmos can stick up for miserable, loveable humanity, it falls to me.
I believe a device invented by the Supreme family alerted Supema to trail the former denizen of limbo. Too bad no device could’ve alerted her to the affectionate embrace of Tamarand culture, I suppose, though, her discomfort aside, in my twinge of guilty pleasure I am reminded Solar is simply Phil...Phil is just a man.
But Solar---now that’s a super-hero, if I do say so myself. In space, no one can hear you brag...
The most praiseworthy achievement now is to inspect this part of the loop, where I was as I tracked Suprema and this light-fellow from this side of the black hole energy event. There I wondered if this was a different means of manifesting the quantum wish fulfillment machinery, inherent in this as well as my prime home universe. As I began investigating this trans-rupture upon the planet Earth, I wondered: did I cause it? Is it a natural process? Are both possibilities the truth? Was this permutation of the form of the world planted in deeds long before, plans long before the sun was imagined? Or does the moment now conspire to transfix its most curious occupant in the light of its ultimate transformation?
These things, I ponder, between the mirror edge of the non-apparent Limbo and planet Tamarand. But there where I see, at the level of people imaginary to those in conventional space/time, the light has reached beyond where there was no source of light to reflect a future to some self there depressed in lower dimensional seclusion of inactivity.
The being calls to Optilux, and declares to this non-entity that they are both Optilux, bringers of a new era of information and light, to all conscious beings within the lights of the stars. For ourselves, behold in the lights of this tiny city of your faith, the dream layer of those within which unveils the future of planet Earth:
Their geographical surface is razed in so many places; the four elements seem to take to the air like an army of ravaging dragons; the lives of humanity all over the globe reach a reckoning. The effects of the light from the cosmos makes the fates of many opaque to my extra-dimensional, phantom-like watch. I see billions of people choose their fate in that light. I marvel at those who remain, whose minds open to a tremendous empathy that binds strangers in the peril of the world, turned for some days into an anarchy of nature, while what some evangelicals I knew growing up would refer to as the rapture itself takes people from space and time on Earth in a vanishing wave. From a distance, I am able to see how, in the matter of days of human life, thousands of years of changes accelerate all around them. Far fewer now are those who remain, and they I believe are the source of what will be the star-traveler race. But I am a man, and my impatience calls me to curiously ponder the invasion, or intervention, of that beam, of the city of light made as a citadel in space for the travelers’ future congregations, wonders if Heaven has been visited, struggling now within the limits of metaphors to gauge the change, beyond description in any religious text of which I have learned. And simply because of a feeling, that something so far beyond humanity’s apparent control might need the eye of one of their own, I would not let this go, and so chose to speed to the light, some ways up the time stream from the chain of events begun on the edge of the hidden limbo.
From nothingness, I spring from the memory of hope, that I may avert some great terror visited upon humanity. I watch now as Optilux commands his lower self to take station in a basin of humanity’s bitter waters, and present himself there a man of the Almighty, for such is he below, as above, and beyond. “Go,” he says, ” and minister to the lady of the light, that she might heal the world to come with her wisdom, and so spread our good news amidst the razed lands, for unto them a Light is Born...”

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