Merry Christmas, Mr. Lorenz (Part IX)

“Well Christ almighty,” Junior said to Bill, “is that a smile I see on your face?”

“You’re damn right!” Bill replied, “it’s a new day for ol’ William Lorenz!”

“Thought I’d never see the day.”

After the two exchanged pleasantries, Bill walked into the cafeteria and grabbed a tray. As he moved his way down the line, he came up to the dessert potions. “Care for some lemon meringue?” the cook asked.

“Ya know, I used to hate lemon meringue,” Bill replied, “but fuck it! Why not?!”

The cook shrugged and plopped the cake onto his plate. Bill then sat down on the other end of the table from Sappy. “Sappy, you disgusting piece of shit! How ya doing this morning?!” Bill greeted.

Sappy didn’t reply.

As Bill shoved his face with sloppy joes and French fries…drenched in nacho cheese of course…a gang of four inmates snuck up behind Sappy. Bill recognized the men. They were all fellow counter-revolutionaries on the outside. The leader tapped Sappy on the shoulder.

“I’m getting tired of seeing you diddle yourself in the shower,” the man said, “if I see it one more time, I’m gonna cut that pecker off!”

Sappy and the gang began exchanging words. Bill licked the nacho cheese from his fingers and approached the group. “What seems to be the problem here?” he asked.

“This has nothing to do with you Bill,” the leader replied, “go back to stuffing that dumbass mouth of yours.”

“Woah woah woah, cool it buster! I’m just trying to keep the peace!”

“How about YOU cool it, turncoat!” the leader retorted. This caught the attention of Junior, who remained on the sidelines with his finger on the taser.

“Turncoat?” Bill asked, “Tom, what are you on about now? Come on man, we lost! Let’s move on with our lives!”

As the two shouted at each other, Sappy quietly pulled out a shiv and leapt toward the leader. Bill grabbed Sappy and wrestled him to the ground. Junior and the guards never noticed the small dull blade being drawn as their sight was obscured by the gang members. Bill forced the weapon out of Sappy’s hand and snuck it into his own jumpsuit. “Sorry Sappy,” Bill said, “but it looks like you owe me one.”

“Everyone back to your cell!” Junior ordered. The guards grabbed the Sappy and the gang then escorted them out of the cafeteria. “What’s gotten into you Bill?” Junior asked.

“What do you mean?”

“Normally you’d be the one to instigate these fights but now you’re stopping them!”

Bill nodded. “Then I suppose you should be thanking Dr. Effington,” he said.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Merry Christmas, Mr. Lorenz (Part I)

“I can’t even beat off alone anymore,” thought Bill Lorenz. He tossed and turned in bed, flipping over and noticing a fellow inmate, Sappy, staring gleefully at him. “That’s enough,” Bill finally said.

He threw off the covers, climbed out of bed, and started banging on his cell door. “Guard!” he yelled.

“Bill, what do you want at this hour?” the guard asked as he was rubbing his eyes. “We’re all trying to sleep around here.”

“Sorry to disturb you PRINCESS,” Bill replied, “but I demand to speak with Dr. Effington.”

“You know she doesn’t come in until 8:30.”

“Call her in!”

“I’d be happy to call in Dr. Effington, Mr. Lorenz. What’s the emergency?”

“I’m unhappy about having a cell mate.”

“But that’s hardly an emergency.”

“It is when you haven’t slept in two days! How can I get re-educated when I can’t get a good night’s rest?!”

“Bill, as you know, you were given a cell mate to help you with your anti-social behavior. If you are having trouble sleeping, we can provide you with medication. Otherwise you will have to wait for Dr. Effington to approve removing your cell mate.”

“I’m not taking those damn sleeping pills! When you see Dr. Effington, tell her that I demand to see her right away!”

“Will do, Mr. Lorenz.”

Bill turned around and noticed Sappy still staring at him. “Keep smiling Sappy,” Bill said, “one day I’ll kick those teeth in.”

***

“Sappy’s a goddamn rapist!” Bill said to Dr. Effington, “why did you send him to my cell?”

Dr. Effington sat in her chair while she sipped on tea. There was no desk to separate the two. No guards. It was just the two of them sitting alone in a small, intimate room.

“His name’s not ‘Sappy’,” she replied, “It’s Jeffrey Rohmer. He has a history of not recognizing personal boundaries and we paired him with you because you are recognized as having a more aggressive personality. From you, he might learn consequences from crossing boundaries. From him, you might learn how to deal with difficult people. You both suffer from antisocial behavior. We had hoped that this would be a learning experience.”

“Sappy is a criminal! I’m not!” Bill stated, “I’m a political prisoner!”

“You engaged in activity that resulted in the deaths of several people. That is criminal behavior in every jurisdiction.”

“I had the right to preserve my ideals!”

“Be that as it may, after you were found guilty, you declined the other forms of treatment for reintegration into society. So you were sent here where you will learn how to live in society. This is how the system works.”

“I oppose the system. It’s brainwashing!”

“The aim of the Revolution was to create a more fairer society. That included changes to the justice and incarceration systems. If you play by the rules, you will be fully reintegrated with a clean slate.”

“Fuck you. The Revolution was bullshit. A difference of opinion is not criminal!”

“I’m not here to argue history and politics, Mr. Lorenz. My aim is to rehabilitate you, no matter how long it takes. Because of the Revolution and the new governing regime, I have all the resources to do it.”

“I take that as a threat.”

Dr. Effington finished her tea and lowered the cup to her lap. “Mr. Lorenz, if sharing a cell with Mr. Rohmer is too difficult, we can have him removed,” she said. “Now that that matter is settled, I would like to continue with your therapy.”

“Not today,” Bill replied, “you’ll have to find someone else to brainwash.”

Effington shook her head. “Very well,” she said, “please let the guards know if you need any reading materials. This need not be a painful experience for you, Bill.”

“Thank you, Doctor,” Bill replied, “but you can stick that offer up your ass.”

TO BE CONTINUED…

the shape of things to come

Had a dream where I was back in the Army. David Duchovny’s character from Californication was also court-ordered to serve. He was a complete fuckin asshole and I beat the shit out of him.

I tend to do that in dreams because I have unaddressed anger issues.

Unfortunately the Army was doing some time-travel experiments. So they put me to sleep and I woke up in a gutter, shoeless, and covered in piss. I grab some dude off the street.

“What year is it?!” I ask him.

“6025,” he said.

“6025? Why aren’t we exploring space?!”

The man began to cry. “We just plum forgot about it 🤷‍♂️,” he replied.

The future didn’t look that much different from the present. Except that people were much taller, more androgynous, and looked younger.

People were attending grade school in their 30s. The world grew so complicated that it took several decades before anyone could become “adults”.

I was getting some strange looks.

“You don’t have to be bald, ya know?” the receptionist lady told me. They made me go to therapy to update my appearance. “Male-pattern baldness was eradicated centuries ago.”

I wept for joy. “Please move my hairline forward and don’t make me a redhead 😭😭😭,” I said.

I had a full head of hair but I was still short as shit.

As I was driving through Chicago to get to O’Hare, the roads were paved with with old, derelict cars. This system wasn’t perfect though. As I went under an overpass, an old 1950s-style truck fell from the bridge and killed several motorists.

I was fine though.

Honestly, this future sucked. One thing was pretty accurate however: material conditions made life so comfortable that people viewed fiction as more of a reality than reality itself. The only struggle people had was the ones provided by entertainment.

Therapy to cope with the death of a beloved TV character? Sounds about right to me! 😀

2051: a space monstrosity

To avoid alienating my audience with discussions on politics that are completely boring and academic, I’ve decided to make a return to fiction.

Once again, I will challenge myself by writing in a genre that I’ve never done before. This time HARD science fiction (if you know what I mean 😉) a la Arthur C. Clarke, albeit in first person because that’s the only way I know how to write.

And instead of descending into pure action schlock, as my stories tend to do, I will try to end this one on a hopeful note.

Per usual, I will be winging it and make no guarantees that it will be good.

“Fuck space!” I said to my executive officer while we were docking at Space Station Tranquility Bay orbiting earth. “This will be my last mission, so help me GOD!”

“You said that 5 missions ago, Bill,” the XO replied. “Personally, I love it out here. It truly is a never ending frontier.”

“Speak for yourself, Jackass!”

Dr. Sergei Jackass and I served together for 15 years. I was a military man. He was trained astrophysicist from some dump of a university in east Europe. We came from two different worlds, but together we made one hell of a team.

After our ship, the USV Jim Varney, completed docking maneuvers, Dr. Jackass and I were ordered to meet with Admiral Stockdale for debriefing.

“Captain Kananga, I trust that your mission was a success,” the Admiral said.

“Yes sir,” I replied, “the two years studying the black hole around Uranus was money well spent.”

“We gathered all the sufficient data sir,” Dr. Jackass interjected.

“Good. You men will have a fortnight’s rest and then report USV Carl Sagan for your next mission.”

“Wait a minute, sir,” I said, “with all due respect, there’s a reason why the Sagan is called the Starship of the Imagination: because your imagination is the only thing that works on that piece of shit. If you want to send me into deep space in that thing, then you can have my resignation.”

“Captain Kananga, I understand that you want to be on the front lines in the war in North Africa, but this is important. We need you out here.”

“What can be more important than fighting for peace and democracy?”

“Because this information is classified, I was going to wait until you reported to the Sagan. But I will tell you now. We have received a strange transmission from a planet orbiting Tau Ceti.”

“Admiral,” I said, “I’ve been on one end of the Solar System to the other, and let me tell ya: there ain’t no aliens.”

“Space Fleet Command disagrees. STRONGLY,” the Admiral replied, “take a look at this report.”

The Admiral handed me a folder filled with charts and graphs I didn’t understand. “You know I can’t read this shit,” I said, “I’m a soldier, not a mathematician.”

Dr. Jackass took the paperwork and was stunned. “My god,” he said, “Captain, this is for real this time.”

I paused and rubbed my face. “Tau Ceti is over four light years away,” I said, “there’s no way the Sagan could make that kind of journey.”

“The Sagan has been updated and outfitted with all the necessary technology for interstellar travel,” the Admiral added. “We need you Captain. Damn it Bill. We need you. BADLY.”

The Admiral extended his hand.

“Okay Admiral,” I said as I shook his hand, “one more mission.”

***

I celebrated my birthday while on leave. I was somberly drinking myself into oblivion when Dr. Jackass stopped by my London flat.

“Doctor, I don’t want to be lectured,” I said.

“All I said was ‘happy birthday.’”

“With all the heavy interstellar objects that we’ve spent so much time around, we’ve aged so much slower than people on Earth. I’m the same age as my son now! Nobody told me that was gonna happen!”

“Is this about not being able to fight in the war?”

I took another drink. “I don’t know doc,” I said. “I feel like I’ve let so much time on Earth pass. This planet’s gone to shit and I’ve been wasting time flying around space doing nothing about it. The resources dedicated to Space Fleet could have been redirected to fight this war. I feel useless. Old.”

The doctor poured himself a glass of Irish Whiskey. “Captain, I know we haven’t always seen eye to eye,” he said, “but the exploration of space is Earth’s destiny. War is a machine of humanity’s past. It’s time to put childish things away and build a future.”

“Dr. Jackass, you’re an idealist. I’m a realist. We don’t live in the future. We live in the present. And presently I’m drunk as shit, depressed, and want to kill people.”

“You’re too short sighted.”

“No, I see the universe for what it is: a vast empty wasteland, void of any meaning or God. And if there is a God, he has to answer for creating this shitty planet. I swear.”

“I think you need to sober up.”

TO BE CONTINUED…