(01-21) Demon Seed

Paris lit a cigarette. It was a rare decision for her to light one. Her tobacco was sun cured and mixed with shake. She inhaled and watched the smoke curl into the damp air. Louis and A-Bomb were at 401 Beach Street by now, with the other little people who found their way to the hideaway on the Mendocino Coast to be with their own kind. And she was here alone. But of course she wasn’t really alone. The doorman was waiting for her to come back inside.

“Hello Curtis,” she said, handing him he cigarette. He pinched the tip off it, grinding the orange fire to black ash between his powerful thumb and forefinger. Curtis was just slightly taller than Paris, thick and muscled, his freckled skin the color of caramel. “Miss Paris,” he said, nodding, handing the cigarette back to her.

Paris climbed the stairs slowly, sure she was being watched, recorded and analyzed for clues to the whereabouts of the Patriarch. There was nobody here but her, so what was there to see or hear? She recalled that the paparazzi had tried to climb the walls of the toilets in Rome to take pictures of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton when they were trying to piss. “The solution is not to build higher and higher walls around the W.C.,” Quentin Crisp observed, “but to learn to always piss with style.”

He was advocating an existential attitude toward modern life: “Swim with the tide, but faster. If the machines are going to take over, then make yourself over to them immediately.” So Paris ignored the prying eyes of the law, making no effort of discover where they were hidden inside the Midget Underground. Louis had told her: “The place where they like to be dangerous is in your eyes, so evict the mother fuckers”

She stood in her bedroom, studying herself in the mirror as she slowly removed her clothes, curious as to why she seemed to not age. The muscles in her stomach remained taunt though she didn’t work at keeping them that way except that when she walked, she imagined a series of stings laced through them, pulling them tightly to her lower back. Her breasts remained perfectly formed and her legs were slender and delicately curved. Only the sadness in her eyes betrayed her years.

In modern life she wasn’t in a side show with people standing around a roped off cage where she was contained, but the cage wasn’t gone. It just evolved. The gawkers of old were replaced by technicians watching digital information. It wasn’t personal anymore. It was just surveillance by private contractors.

When she finally fell asleep she dreamed she was riding on A-Bomb’s shoulders and that Louis was telling her: “We used to hang horse thieves." He wasn’t serious, but was hosting a game show and he was flirting with the female contestants, of which she was one. She could not remember more of the dream, except for the end, where Louis asked, “Catch any fish?”

She opened her eyes. The dream faded quickly. She rolled over and looked at the clock on the beside table. It was almost five. She tried touching herself but could not build any interest. She was trying to ignore the surveillance but at some level it seeped into everything, like toxin. She thought that she wanted someone else to touch her. When she woke again it was almost seven. She went to the bathroom and pissed with style.

She felt a heaviness in her gut and wondered with some dismay if she would be watched when she shat, as well, and that was harder to do with style. As she was showering she heard Louis’ voice again, “Catch any fish?” Louis knew what the surveillance was about. The justification was to gather intelligence, but beneath that was an assertion of sexual power. The little people were back in the freak show, this time run by private security firms, reporting to stockholders. There was no more public interest involved.

But even at the macro level of the international corporation the patterns of the individual are the fractals of the larger field. Frankenstein creates his monster, which escapes his control and goes searching for its own humanity, fleeing the mob into the frozen lands where no emotions flow. There are just crystalline forms shifting and changing like numbers on a spreadsheet.

American Futures created its own monster, and now the monster has escaped its master and set out to become human. He has his own monsters in the form of fertile women who dream of bearing his children, of being chosen to be the virgin mothers of gods. He knows that he should be be parceled out to the masses like fish and loaves, his superpowers spreading into the gene pool. Should that come to pass, his individuality would dissolve into a star map. Contrarily, his chances of survival if he did not spread into the gene pool were not good. He needed to be embodied.

Paris turned off the shower, leaving the bathroom in a heavy fog. She understood the Patriarch better, now. “Am I too old to have a baby?” she asked herself.

Her awareness of Louis came as a jolt of intense emotion. “We’re under attack.” Then he went dead. She knew what that meant. He'd gone unconscious. Where he had been there was a numb place, like an amputation. She struggled out of the fog on wooden legs. She looked into the closet at her skateboard, hesitated, but didn't touch it. She gathered some clothes in her arms and went back into the dense fog of the bathroom, where she quickly pulled on denim pants and a sweatshirt. She wrapped a towel around herself to hide what she was wearing until she was at the door to the street, where she handed it to Curtis. She pointed to her eyes and shook her head in the negative. He shook his in the positive. Yes, he had not seen her leave. As soon as she was on the street she tucked her hair under a baseball cap she'd secreted under the sweatshirt.

She was a block away from Troll’s apartment when she saw the police cars. As she moved closer, she appeared to be a curious child. A newswoman was speaking to a camera, saying, “The terrorist cell was indicted on charges of crimes against humanity, Caesar. They are a deformed group, as you can see.” The dwarves were being led out of the building. They were hooded and their hands were bound behind their backs. All attention was on them right now but at any moment she might be recognized. She had to get to the Mendocino coast.

She jogged back down the block to a sporting goods store at the corner of Jackson Street, where she picked out a dark orange and black skateboard and paid with cash. From now on she couldn’t use a credit card without being tracked. She knew she was on a surveillance tape somewhere, leaving the apartment wrapped in a towel. But they wouldn’t be expecting her to transform into a schoolboy on a skateboard. Maybe. Maybe she'd been watched all the time. Maybe she was being watched now.

She dropped down low over bent knees and balanced with her arms, shooting through an intersection and down the a hill. It was a suicide run but she had nothing to lose now. All she was thinking about was not wiping out. But the board outran her. She could feel it happening but she couldn’t stop it, so she shot the board out in front of her and rolled. She rolled all the way to the bottom, the pavement tearing at her hands. The cap came off and her hair stuck out like puffed straw. She moved cautiously but nothing seemed to be broken.

“That was fucking amazing.”

She looked up. There were two boys holding skateboards, looking down at her. “You okay?”

He was a skinny black kid, all arms and legs. The other kid was of indeterminate origin, equally skinny. He might have been a Pacific islander. Both of them were eating fudge sickles.

“I need to get to the Mendocino Coast,” she said, “north of Fort Bragg. Do you have a car?”

“I'm thirteen,” the black kid said. “You ought to know that. My brother can drive.”

“Does he have a car?”

“He has a motorcycle.”

“Do you think he’d take me up the coast if I paid him?”

“If you paid him? Probably would, depending on how much you paid him. He always needs money."

Paris stood up and took a few steps, bent her knees, rotated from the waist: “I’m not hurt I guess, but I’m gonna have some bad bruising.” The islander rolled on down the street to fetch her board while she walked with the black. “My brother’s in a motorcycle club,” he said. “They’re called ‘The Demon Seed.’”

“Of course,” Paris said. “What else?”

Posted: Wed - August 20, 2008 at 07:54 PM