Friday, May 30, 2014

Savage 5

Adam stopped at home to change out of his uniform before heading to the Payton Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center.  He realized as he was giving himself a once over in the small mirror above his bathroom sink that he had forgotten to take the anxiety meds Dr. Adler had prescribed him.  Adam had a large collection of pill bottles and days of the week dispensers courtesy of his elderly parents.  He popped open the days allotment with a deft movement of his thumbnail, and snapped it closed again.

Adam felt fantastic.

When he had met Dr. Adler a year and a half ago, Adam was suffering from intense night terrors, paranoia, memory blackouts, and... unusual urges, all the result of severe brain trauma from a near fatal car accident that he ironically couldn't remember.  Adam knew he should be overwhelmed with concern and anxiety over the morbidly cheerful specter of his daughter flashing her pearly whites to sell toothpaste a year after her death.  He knew that his lack of urgency was wrong somehow, that his casual acceptance of this mystery was some manifestation of his illness.  Adam also knew that the tongue and teeth and skin in his sandwich cooler should have elicited a much stronger response from him, he knew all of these things.  He was no stranger to how people were supposed to be.  He had been a student of humanity his entire life, brain trauma notwithstanding.

Adam snapped open the pill case again and emptied the small white and red capsules into the toilet, watching for a moment as tiny bubbles arose from their seams before flushing them away.  Adam looked at the remaining week's pills, and left them safely enclosed in the dispenser.  He knew how people were supposed to be.

When he arrived at the Payton Center, the receptionist waved him through with a pursed lip smile.  Had she been friendlier before?  He stepped into Dr. Adler's office. 

"And you're absolutely sure it was her?  I can look into this, I can contact the agency that posted the ad"  Adam couldn't quite tell if the good doctor was overstepping out of concern for him, but Dr. Adler's agitation was good cover.  Cover for what?  Adam coolly wondered where these instincts were coming from.

"I had another dream last night", Adam offered abruptly, the good doctor stopped writing for a moment and looked up quizzically.  "Emily's mother was in this one, the shadow got her."  Adam surprised himself with the offering, he tilted his head down but kept his eyes on Dr. Adler to see how he might react.  Adam's nightmares in the past had involved this shadow tearing into people Adam hadn't known.  A few adults and children, the children were the worst because the shadow seemed to take a more true sadistic pleasure in them. 

Dr. Adler resumed writing a few notes in his small spiral notebook and looked up at Adam.  "And how did you feel seeing her hurt?" 

"I couldn't stop it", replied Adam, "I couldn't help her." 

"You wanted to help her, though?" 

Adam was taken by surprise for a moment.  He hadn't wanted to help her.  The glimpses of nightmare he remembered offered him a deep sense of satisfaction and comfort that was as far from terror as anything could be.

Adam buried his head in his hands, "I tried to help her, it was like the others, I couldn't stop it."  Even as he feigned distress, Adam saw the shadow chuckling admiringly at his performance from the corner of his eye.

"Let's go back to Emily", the doctor wrested Adam's attention away from his shaded friend, "What did you do after you saw what you thought was her picture?  Take me through it, step by step, you went home, correct?"

"Yes, home, I went to sleep"  Adam answered.  Had he?  He felt more alert than he'd been in months.  He hadn't gone home and gone to sleep. 

"You went home and went to sleep" Dr. Adler repeated, recording in his notebook. 

"That's right", answered Adam, "Home and to sleep, after taking my pills."  Adam suddenly remembered that he had also forgotten his pills the night before.

Adam's shadow creature, the stuff of his nightmares, was more alive than Adam had ever remembered him being.  Instead of using the techniques the doctor had taught him to curb the creature, Adam's eyes followed the shadow as it flitted around the room, settling behind the good doctor.  Why was Emily and Adam's picture in a frame on the doctor's desk?  Didn't he have other clients? 

"So you went home, took your pills, and went to sleep.  And then you got up this morning, concerned about what you had seen, and called me"

Adam hadn't called him until he'd found the human parts in his sandwich cooler, "Yes, I woke up and called you."

The shadow shook with laughter and swung a black circle pendant back and forth mockingly.  Adam smiled back.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Savage 4

Adam couldn't remember the last time he'd slept through the night, even with the ever increasing medication doses doled out to him by Dr. Adler.  He had woken up, stretched, and lay there for another half hour marveling at his deep sense of peace.  It wasn't until he made his way into the bathroom and got a look at the three scratches just under his left ear that he suffered a flash of discomfort.  His fingers traced the scabs lightly and his mind flitted back to his dream.

Dream was the right word now, his night terrors had become markedly less terrifying.  Adam had endured the same nightmare he'd been having for a year, however this time, something was different.  It felt, calmer?  What was torture had become... pleasant?  The images and feelings that had terrified Adam Savage now felt like home.  It was as though his entire subconscious had shifted like a tectonic plate relaxing into place.

The only thing bothering Adam on this fine morning was how he had gotten those scabs, three parallel lines on his neck.  Had he scratched himself in his sleep?  That must be it.  He checked under his nails, and sure enough, there was a bit of dried blood there.  It was chilly enough for a turtleneck under his bright blue work uniform, Adam showered and got dressed.

It wasn't until he was behind the wheel of his truck that he recalled the giant image of Emily's smiling face.  Adam didn't understand how he could have let something like that slip his mind.

"I don't even know her name, she's just some kid!"

Emily's whore mother's voice and pleading face cut through his memory like a scythe, leaving behind a wound that quickly filled with questions.  Adam's eyes jerked towards his rear view mirror, was that shadow laughing at him?  Adam decided to swap out the sandwich machines in the earliest part of the day and knock off the rest for a visit to Dr. Adler.  The sandwiches had a strict schedule, if they weren't swapped out of the machines properly there were health code liabilities to consider.  It had been the elder Savage's routine, and was Adam's routine, to drop the sandwiches that were just about to expire at a food pantry on the East side.

Adam discovered the tongue, teeth, and skin in his cooler during his first sandwich swap stop.  Elkin's Elementary had a snack machine in the faculty room which featured egg salad sandwiches, the egg salad had to be changed out twice a week.  Adam was always perplexed by the thought of anyone buying an egg salad sandwich from a machine, but they were a money maker, all the same.

The tongue, teeth, and skin were all bagged separately and neatly.  Adam caught a glimpse of the laughing shadow again in the shiny surface of the vending machine glass, it took him a full ten seconds to realize he was staring and smiling at the image.  The shadow was tossing a can in the air again and again, looking at him from those eyes that were not eyes.  An Elkin's teacher asked Adam if he was going to refill the egg salad and he snapped out of his trance, quickly shuffling the more morbid contents of his cooler to the bottom and handing the teacher a sandwich without a word.  He called Dr. Adler on his way out of Elkin's.

The Doctor was of course curious about this picture of Emily.

"Are you sure it was her?  I know you feel certain, but how could it be her, we talked about this, she's gone"

Adam described the picture, how different it was, the girl was impossibly one year older than the baby he'd seen lowered into the ground, but it was Emily.  Adler listened, intrigued and astounded.

"And you went to her mother's place?"

"No, why?"  Adam asked, he hadn't told Dr. Adler anything about his dream or the contents of his cooler.  "Why would you ask that?"

Adler affected a quick search through paperwork, "Well, Adam, I would think if you saw your daughter in an ad you'd want to know what her mother signed her up for, that's all"

"Oh, well, I didn't go see her", replied Adam, placated.  "If I showed you something, would I be protected by client doctor privilege?"

"Of course, Adam.  What is it you want me to see?"

Adam shuffled the items in the cooler around, then shuffled them back, and then shuffled them around again.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Savage 3

"Looks bad in there", the young towheaded officer said with a worried look as he paused with his yellow tape to allow Detective Munoz to pass, "Never seen anything like it."

"I have."  replied Munoz, his snow white Hollywood handsome smile unnerved the young officer.

Detective Munoz had only been on the force locally for six months.  He had been transferred all over Arizona due to personnel and personality conflicts and had finally applied for a less than prestigious opening in Ohio to escape the bureaucratic shuffle.  Daniel Munoz was a beautiful and compact man, a well muscled 5'3" with a face like a tan angel.  He was a pit bull on a case, his record and work ethic weren't the reasons he had trouble working with most departments.  Some of his coworkers might have said he had little man syndrome, others might say he would have been as much of an arrogant prick if he'd been 7' tall, if not worse.  The latter were correct, Daniel Munoz was a cocky bastard.

The woman, a hooker, had been murdered brutally.  There weren't many other ways for a hooker to be murdered, but this woman had been torn apart.  She had been strangled with a towel or cloth that hadn't been left behind, and had also been stabbed repeatedly.  The woman was missing a few teeth, also not left on the scene.  Her tongue had been cut out and was, like the teeth, the stabbing implement, and the rag used to strangle her, MIA.

The sanitary aspects of the kill were somewhat perplexing.  Obviously a passionate murder, sloppy and crude and brutal, she had suffered greatly.  However, none of the neighbors in this two bit motel had heard a thing, and the crime scene offered not a single clue to motive or perpetrator.  If Munoz had to guess, it was a textbook crime of passion, however the absence of evidence and obvious taking of trophy's suggested a darker pattern might emerge.

And then there was the circle of skin missing from her thigh.  About the diameter of a tomato soup can, raggedly cut from the tender skin midway between her knee and waist.  Munoz had seen something like that before.  When he had first arrived in Ohio, he'd been relegated to paperwork for a time while his own paperwork was being processed.

Daniel Munoz loved a good story and the best stories, to him, were darkly criminal in nature.  He had grown up on a farm under the care of a sadistic stepfather.  His mother had passed away giving birth to his baby sister when he was 5, and Daniel had immediately become an unwelcome brown interloper in his own home.  His stepfather had been a template for Daniel's earliest sociopathic study, he spent his time learning how to uncover and digest clues about the big man's behavior and the consequences that behavior rained down onto the small brown boy.  By the time he was in high school, Daniel was as good at predicting crazy as any trained professional.  And so Daniel Munoz, with his passion for morbid psychology, was a natural for the police force.

Daniel considered the similar case from the three months he'd spent going over paperwork and logging old evidence.  A single instance of a boy, about ten years old, with that same circle pattern carved expertly from his upper thigh and lower back.  The boy had been dehydrated prior to death, which made bleeding difficult and possibly made the carving of the circle easier.  He had been molested and had been ultimately killed via strangling, and then left in a ditch just outside of Merlin Ohio.  The boy hadn't had much family, the lonely and socially awkward single child of a disinterested mother with holding down two jobs.  She hadn't reported him missing for three days, he was found a week later.

That had been the work of a serial killer, Munoz was sure, but it was the only case.  A single case does not a serial killer make.  This woman had been savaged.  The scene appeared to be a novice killer's work at best, however the clean up, the clean up was superb.  Daniel didn't know how it fit but he knew the two murders were tied somehow.  Those circles, how much of a coincidence could that be?

Daniel Munoz gathered his report log

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Savage 2

Adam's body stiffened and his feet pressed down hard on both the gas and the brake pedal, causing his white box delivery truck to squeal and swerve.  Amid angry honks and middle fingers, Adam Savage jerked the truck onto the next exit and made his way towards the his baby's face. 

Each corner he careened around brought the building in or out of his view.  Adam's driving, usually cautious to the point of tedium, was a hectic and erratic tumble through downtown traffic.  He had un-clicked his seat belt to strain forward, squinting his eyes to search for details, barely aware of the cars swerving out of his path.  Her hair was dirty blond.  She had gotten braces.  She'd lost weight.  Could he be sure this was her?  Yes, he could.  A good father knows his child.

When Adam reached the building with Emily's face glowing happily on the side, he double-parked the truck and climbed over the passenger seat and out the door.  A row of cars honked angrily behind the truck as Adam sprinted into the small alley beside the building. 

"Want to advertise with us?  Berkhardt Talent and Advertising Agency.  Call 1 888 SMILING"

Adam called.

"You have an advertisement up on the corner of 10th and Sepulveda, a girl brushing her teeth, how would I get in contact with the model?"

There was a brief pause and a click, "Hey buddy, we don't give out the model's info here, particularly when it's a kid, take that down the road, we're not an escort service."

Adam shored himself with a cool dark calm he hadn't known he possessed until that moment, "No you don't understand", he chuckled lightly, "I'm interested in hiring her, and possibly using your services, I own a bouncy house business, you know, inflatable party houses for children"

The man's mood changed instantly, "Oh sure, Mr.?"

"Mr. Temple", Adam replied coolly, "Temple Party Fun Store"

"Well Mr. Temple, it looks as though that model's agent is her mother, if you'd like I can try to arrange a pitch meeting for you?"

"Yes, that would be nice", Adam cooed, "I'll have my secretary call you to make the arrangements."  He hung up with a staccato click and stood silently, chest heaving.  Her mother was her agent.

Adam had grown up in the Temple Home for Boys, a state sponsored but privately run orphanage with an emphasis on education and the arts.  Temple was the first place he could remember, and the last place he had felt at home.  While the Savages had been kind and generous parents, it was Temple that sprang into the former orphan's head under pressure.  Temple, with its red stone walls and long windowed hallways and rooms filled with laughing and playing and learning children and other things.

Adam could sometimes remember pieces of those other things.  Shadows darker than shadows could be, interrupting the orphan's yard game of kick the can.   They laughed without sound and threw the old soup can in the air again and again, it floated for an impossibly long time with each toss.  These shadows looked at him from inside of the spot where their eyes should have been.  The images seemed out of place with his sunny memories of Temple, sometimes his mental images of the orphanage made the shadows seem brighter, and sometimes their darkness made Temple seem a little less happy, a little less controlled.  Adam only knew that the two were impossibly tied together.  He shook his clouded head and focused on Emily, the way Dr. Adler had taught him.  Adam shoved aside the dark grimy smell of unsure and frustrating memories for the clean scent of her hair and soft skin, his hair and his skin, his daughter. 

"It looks as though that model's agent is her mother"

Adam knew where to go.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Savage 1

Adam Savage was the sole proprietor of a small vending machine company.  Every morning at 5 A.M. Adam woke up, put on a bright blue "Savage Treats" one piece maintenance uniform, and headed to Spring Valley Day School.  This was the first of twenty or so stops for Adam.  Savage Treats had machines sprinkled throughout the small town of Merlin, primarily in schools.

Savage Treats had been founded by Adam's adoptive parents, Stella and Gerald Savage.  This kind, if austere, couple had been unable to have children naturally.  It wasn't until the Savage's 50th wedding anniversary that the couple decided to adopt an older boy to help with their growing business.  Why not hire someone, you might ask.  Well the Savages were at the top end of middle age and considering their mortality.  They wanted a living legacy to their character.  Adam was the oldest boy in his orphanage, he was 17 and had just 6 months left as a ward of Ohio.  He was strong and hard and tall, at 6'3" Adam was also the biggest child at the orphanage, towering over the Nuns and Father.  Adam had to choose between being adopted by the Savages or waiting out his final 6 months as a ward to be set free with 200 dollars, a small apartment with first and last month's rent, and a letter of reference.  This quiet monster of a boy who had been orphaned since infancy and had learned to live with nothing chose family.

The boy's new parents, whom he called "Mr. and Mrs. Savage" and later "Sir" and "Ma'am" at their insistence, were a tough and decent, if not loving couple.  They treated Adam with immediate and unrestricted trust and taught him as much and as quickly as they could about the business he was to inherit.  They were as close to a fairytale ending as a 17yr old orphan could hope for.

Other than his years in an orphanage, Adam enjoyed a somewhat placid life until the death of his parents.  He had long since taken over all of the heavy lifting in the family business.  Adam maintained the machines, handled the paperwork and ordering, and kept the licenses and contracts up to date.  When Sir and Ma'am were no longer able to help, it was more of a blessing than a hindrance for Adam, who had always worked much better alone.  Things were difficult for the boy, however, when he found himself taking care of the more visceral needs of his decrepit and helpless parents while maintaining a full time business.  Some might say it was a blessing when the elderly couple drowned themselves in the tub.  Adam found them there together, holding each other under, their faces frozen and staring open mouthed, water as still as glass.  Their son had seen something like this coming, he'd been complaining worriedly to their pastor and neighbors for months that his mom and dad were morosely concerned with becoming burdens and frequently spoke of "just ending it". 

Adam didn't like to admit that life after his parents had become much easier.  The small family hadn't had any friends beyond surface relationships with their parish priest and neighbors.  It was nothing at all for Adam to let those filmy ties wither after they'd passed, and so he did.  His neighbors brought a few casseroles over, and that was that.

In fact, the next meaningful relationship Adam developed, and possibly his first, was with his daughter Emily.  His sweet girl's mother had been a whore named Crystal.  She'd balled Adam for 15 dollars and contacted him 9 months later with the news that he was a father.  Emily was the love of Adam's life.  Without that funny and fat little brunette, there was no way he would have been able to fight off his bad dreams.  Without Emily and Doctor Adler, Adam might have clawed his own flesh from his bones.

Adam suffered from both nightmares and daymares.  When his mind drifted, which was often, images of crying children with perfect circles of skin sliced from their faces, thighs, and chests haunted him.  Worse, he'd catch glimpses of his parents screaming beneath a still plate of glassy water in every reflective surface.  In his rear view mirror, behind him as he lifted his chin to shave, in a metallic napkin holder at a diner, there they were.  Mouths open in twin silent screams, eyes fixed on Adam, their white hair swirling slowly and slowly and slowly, hypnotizing him as circles of their skin peeled up and away.  Adam was a troubled man, but he was getting better.  Learning to cope with his visions through human connection.

Once a week he saw Dr. Adler and his visit with Emily occurred simultaneously.  Once, Dr. Adler took Adam and Emily on a day trip to Cedar Point, the amusement park.  Adam thought Emily's legs around his neck and her small hands gripping his forehead as he walked her proudly around the park on his broad shoulders was the cleanest feeling he'd ever felt.  They had chilli cheese fries and Adam won Emily a goldfish at the ping pong toss.  She named the fish Harry Potter and asked her daddy to keep him because she wasn't allowed, then the girl woefully begged Adam to bring Harry to their next visit.  Adam agreed, and promised to buy the Taj Mahal of fish tanks for Prince Harry.  And he did.  This was Adam's first day in a very long while without any daymares.

Emily died in a car accident along with her mother just a week after the trip to Cedar Point.  Dr. Adler broke the news to Adam on the night before his next therapy visit and helped him make the arrangements.  Only a few neighbors came to the funeral, Adam was mildly surprised at how little family on her mother's side the girl's death had drawn but too overcome with grief to fully realize anything.  Of course nobody was there for Adam besides Dr. Adler.

And so here he was, a year later, getting back to normal.  Adam had never moved from his parent's house and never stopped working.  He couldn't stop working.  The sandwiches in his vending machines didn't refresh themselves, the soda didn't replace itself, the juice didn't stay new.  Adam had gone to work the day before and the day after his baby's funeral and every day around it as he had since being adopted by the Savages.  Idle hands are the devil's playground, after all.

After finishing up his Merlin city rounds, Adam had an appointment a few miles east in Neville at a middle school he was hoping to add to his route.  He was halfway to Neville when he spotted his dead daughter's face, fifty feet high, brushing her teeth and smiling on the side of a building.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Control Room

In 3069 the Milky Way became fully automated, at least in matters pertaining to sentient beings.  This was the year that the Thought Organizator was patented by Freud Herzberg.  Freud immediately sold the Thought Organizator, the most important patent of the 30th century, to Magnif Corp. for 12 Earthos.  12 Earthos was a hell of a lot of money in 3069.

The Thought Organizator was an entirely self sufficient machine about the size of Brazil.  I went on a tour of this miraculous device when I was a child with my Future Machinists of Earth troop.  During this tour I wandered off by myself, following a cluster of bright purple iridescent chips.

Each person, each living thing, has a chip.  We don't have them installed, the chips find us almost as soon as we're born, sent out in swarms periodically at random or on purpose from the thousands of chip bays extending from the steel walls of the Thought Organizator.  When a mother is giving birth, for instance, her chip signals that a new chip will likely be needed soon and so a brand new purple winged dot is marked and sailing through the cosmos for her infant before it breathes its first breath.  Sometimes the chip arrives  far in advance of the infant and the mother or father has to catch it and store it in a jar to keep it from trying to install through the mother's skin.  I had seen this happen once with my youngest brother.  The tiny purple dot shimmered in the upside down jar, tapping rhythmically against the side facing my heaving and screaming mother.  I was more interested in the chip than I was in the birth of my final sibling, despite all of the childbirth videos I'd been urged to view in order to prepare.  When my brother Kazar was born lifeless, his fat limbs purple and limp, the beautiful beetle shifted its flight pattern and began to tap against the jar on the side facing the Thought Organizator, away from my mother.

The chips return to their bays to record their findings and to ready themselves for a new mission when the body they are programmed to install in expires.  My father lifted the jar just far enough to crush the purple chip under its rim as it tried to squirm past.  You see, the chip's mission had reversed the moment the chips in my mother and father recognized that Kazar would not need one.

The robot doctor and nurses, all a part of the Thought Organizator along with the chips and everything else in this life, flicked their inquisitive lights towards the dead chip for a moment before returning to mopping sweat from my mothers brow.  I left the room silently, feeling a little guilty over Kazar but unsure why.

Understand, my father wasn't mad at the chip, it was reverence for the chip's intended purpose that he felt when he crushed it dead.  The robots take the dead, we have no ceremony, and ceremony helps.

The chips had saved my life a few times, as well as the lives of everyone I've ever known.  They work by reading every aspect of our moods, thoughts, and experiences and comparing them against all other chips in order to get the average of every possible situation.  If a person is being attacked their chip sends out a distress signal.  This signal is read by all nearby chips, including the attacker's chip, which immediately begins shutdown proceedings in order to stop the attack.  If a person succeeds in murdering someone despite this safeguard, they are instantly judged against every possible opinion via every bit of information from the victim and murderer's own minds.  If found guilty, the killer's chip will terminate.  Those are some of the more dramatic applications of these devices.  In reality, the chips mainly keep themselves busy figuring out what sort of music we're more likely to enjoy and what we prefer on our sandwiches.  Because of the chips, society moves in a completely organic and seemingly thoughtless but efficient majority rules fashion.  No need for government or law enforcement, most people avoid crime because they understand they will be instantly caught and judged by the matrix of humanity.  True democracy.

On the day of the Thought Organiztor tour, I had been separated from the Future Machinists of Earth by this cluster of tiny purple beetles buzzing through the air in perfect formation.  They moved in such a way, their tiny wings humming along, I had to follow.  I couldn't take my eyes away from them as they turned each corner in unison, a grid of unwavering points set in the air fluttering exactly one inch and a half apart from each other.  The chips were completely oblivious to the chubby girl in a white paper robe and booties trotting and sliding and panting behind.

If I had been panicked or upset, I would have set off the alarm in my own chip.  If my scout master had noticed my absence, a similar alarm would have been set off and they would have been led to me by signals from my chip.  That didn't happen.  Instead I eventually found myself in a room filled with a few dozen children my own age.

Each child was purple and damp like my distant view of Kazar had been, before the robot nurse bundled him away.  These children were thinner than my limp fat brother, though, and I didn't think they were dead.  They stood in no particular arrangement swaying slightly.  I shuddered.  Each of these creatures had a small port between his or her eyes, I noticed, and it was to these slim ports that the fluttery chips migrated.  The glass door I'd come through read "MOOR LORTNOC".

I turned and ran when several of them began walking towards me mouthing my name soundlessly, "Hulia Yossarian, Hulia Yossarian" tears streaming from their lavender eyes.

The Thought Organizator design that was developed by Freud Herzberg didn't have a room filled with walking children's corpses.

"The most amazing aspect of this machine", we were lectured by my scout master who had caught up with me as I ran past robot bay 902, "Is the CONTROL ROOM".  She went on to explain that the machine itself had realized, because some people had realized, that majority rule wasn't always a wonderful thing.  Sometimes, majority rule was a terrible thing, and therefor not the best idea for a master interplanetary guidance system.  In the infinite wisdom of the Thought Organizator machine, which was of course powered by the infinite wisdom of the majority, it was decided that a group of beings whose minds had not yet been corrupted by cognitive dissonance be kept as a control.  The majority is the safeguard against the tyranny of the individual, and the CONTROL ROOM is the safeguard against the tyranny of the majority.

I've been in the CONTROL ROOM of the Thought Organizator for 512 years.  I know everything that ever was and everything that ever will, I know everyone and everywhat.  There is no word for what I feel all of the time.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Cat Planet!

To understand how cats could have taken over New America and subsequently committed interplanetary genocide, one must first grasp how an Evo-Virobac Sterilizer Grande functions.

Earth borne viruses and infections had been nearly eradicated by the 23rd century, or at least relegated to the lower levels.  Despite fantastic advances in everything from targeted advertising to recyclable food bricks,  this was a dark time in the humanitarian history of Earth.

Society was divided between the upper classes and the lower.  The wealthy and unforgivably lucky upper classes enjoyed sunlight and all of the amenities that could be crammed into their vast network of gorgeous sky cities, while the lower classes endured a damp grim life filled with hard work, mold, and the very real probability of being shat on by their betters in the heavens.

Because the groundwater that lay in abundant fetid pools on the lower level was teeming with live filth, and because filtration systems were costly and usually only produced one ounce of cleanish water per every pound of gunk removed,  the poors mostly relied on rainwater for cooking, cleaning, and drinking.

Unfortunately their view of the sky was severely limited due to the glorious sky cities, and so it was very difficult to tell whether or not it was cloudy.  The Poors of this sad and gross world had a saying, "Don't trust the rain and watch out for turds".

Of course the frequent raw sewage rain was a problem for the lower level, but their biggest problem was disease.  A paper cut was a death sentence for a Poor.  The infant mortality rate was through the roof and long defunct diseases had made an impressive comeback in this muggy and bacteria nurturing environment.

The 23rd century also heralded the first visit to Earth by the Fralzbs.  This race of gentle genius arthropods from the Walmart Galaxy did not arrive empty handed.  the Fralzbs carried with them a method for unlimited clean energy that utilized a dimension bleeder so simple and tiny that it could be handled by a child, space-bend travel technology, and a virulent disease that wiped out all of New Dallas.

The sky city people weren't used to becoming ill and they certainly weren't used to dying in ugly or dirty ways.  These guilded bastards had their own saying, "If the universe wanted me to get shat on, gang-raped, and murdered before my tenth birthday, it would have made me a Poor". 

The Fralzbs's disease wasn't given a name because unlike the lower level where disease was rampant and it was useful to know how many and what you had, this Fralzb thing was the only sickness going around up there.

If you were sick, you had "It" and if your family didn't kick your flaming corpse loose to bump and thud its way down the scaffolding to the dark world below a.s.a.p., they would also get "It" and be dead soon enough. 

When this disease hit and bodies started dropping, Earth's top sky city scientists got to work immediately along with the guilt ridden Fralzbs to find a remedy.

That is why the Evo-Virobac Sterilizer Grande was invented.

And now for the how.

The initial Taj Majal sized device and subsequent much smaller versions function by identifying and altering a creature's stem cells.

In a normal Earth body, the stem cells are masters from which all other cells are copied.  The Evo-Virobac Sterilizer Grande causes the stem cells to bond with whatever diseased cells are present.  In this way, the creature's cells infects the germs rather than vice versa.

After the initial bonding, these new cells are forced through a few billion growth cycles.  Technically, an entirely new species is "born" with each new growth cycle.  This would be a problem were it not for the evolution binder, which is a clump of original stem cells that are kept pristine so that they might do battle with the new cells for the rest of the creatures' life.  This creates a stalemate, or evolutionary stall.  In a very real way, the treatment works by tricking the disease into believing it has won.

When word got out that a cure for all disease was making life on the upper level even more mind-blowingly wonderful than it had been before, the Poors began to get restless.  They had been dying at even more phenomenal rates now that "it" had made its way to them through the hygienically inspired dumping of flaming diseased corpses from above.

A cautionary council of 99 upper level kings and one representative from the Poors were called together to discuss whether to lend the lower level losers some of these new miracle cure machines.

The Poors representative, famed autodidact and president of old New York Jim Reefer, was of course in favor of sending down a few dozen of these infinite energy utilizing machines to aid his misery addled fellow petri dishes.

The primary argument against sending machines down was that the Poors hadn't contributed to the development of the remedy.  A secondary and more sinister point was that it would be useful to have a live breeding catalog of every disease humanity had hosted for scientific and military purposes.

Jim Reefer spoke up valiantly for the Poors.  In less time than it took for a Sky City turd to fall onto a Poor's head,  upper level housewives and romantic university students began to fall in love with this eloquent and handsome man. 

Reefer knew how to work a crowd.  His passionate speeches often ended in wracking coughs as he sprayed bloody spittle against the inside of the plastic bubble he was forced to wear to council meetings.

Reefer reminded the upper kings that while the Poors hadn't done anything to help with the cure, they were certainly dying at record rates from a disease that had been literally dropped onto them by the upper level.

The most popular of Jim Reefer's arguments, and perhaps the most revolutionary, was the simple question he posed of "Why not?".  Why not help?  Why not cure all disease everywhere?  Why not share the good?  Why the hell not?

"Why not?" shirts and hats began appearing on campuses and the phrase spread into music videos, targeted advertising, and fast food brick commercials.

After months of heated debate and a few million deaths, 52 of the 99 upper level kings relented and the "Why Not?" initiative passed.  This began the months long process of deciding where, when, and how to send a dozen Evo-Virobac Sterilizer Grande's to the lower tier.

Unfortunately, Jim Reefer succumbed to a brutal combination of syphilis, shingles, the flu, tuberculosis, and an infected hangnail just two days later.

The Evo-Virobac Stabilizer Grande's all had built in dimension bleeders so they could be used around the clock, and initially, they were.  It wasn't long before one of these impossibly huge and complicated machines began to fail in a most spectacular way.  However to be fair, when dealing with alterations of biology, any failure is going to be spectacular.

Machine 12 was installed in old Houston, an area hit particularly hard by the giant space bug's disease.  The aspect and timing of machine 12's malfunction was a perfect storm.

Evo-Virobac Sterilizer Grandes were designed to run themselves.  The diseased simply stepped in and pressed the button, and stepped out when done.  One at a time, idiot proof.

The first few months required around the clock guards to keep gasping and oozing dying people from rushing the machines, however, after the majority of the population were either healed or dead, these behemoths of alien technology mostly just sat around collecting dust.

Nobody was in or around machine 12 when a healthy and bright eyed small boy with turd dust in his dark hair approached with his glassy eyed cat, Janet.

For several months, Janet had been dying of feline leukemia.  These machines could heal any creature, provided it had stem cells.  It was common for Poors and Sly City dwellers alike to bring pets for treatment once the hellish initial rush to heal humanity had faded.  What was unfortunate about this particular day, was that machine 12's evolution binder was  malfunctioning.

Without the evolution binder to maintain the evolutionary stalemate between old cells and new, any creature in an Evo-Virobac Sterilizer Grande would evolve rapidly.  The end result of this was that in just a few short moments, any creature placed into machine 12 could skip a few billion years of evolutionary advancement.  That is exactly what happened when Janet was placed inside of the machine.

History from that point on is a little sketchy.  Who can say whether the shit-dusted boy who cared enough for Janet to use machine 12 to save her was rewarded for his kindness with a speedy death? 

It's anyone's guess how quickly after gaining a significant boost in cunning, intellect, and strength, Lord Janet hatched her plan.  We can only marvel at the machinations of this brand new creature, forced into artificial evolution to emerge reborn.

In just four years, Lord Janet had used machine 12 to hyper-evolve billions of cats.  Within ten more years, Lord Janet and her army of vicious yet disarmingly soft brutes had bested both the lower and upper levels and had enslaved the gentle Fralzbs's in order to use their ships to conquer the burgeoning moon colonies.

There were two options under Lord Janet's rule, slavery or death.

The end.