003. The Necrodancer

He picked up the dubplate and frisbeed its brittle circle into the wall – fuck yesterdays, they were for the beetles. A spotlight stuttered and fixed, the servo moving it seized, as if it had expired after an epileptic fit. Josh wanted to feel New Order, but was instead feeling decidedly Joy Division.

Otto felt like he had arrived at the death of a dance scene, with a coterie of deejays sat around bemoaning the flooding of the mainstream into this basement, which had washed in the hipster flotsam they had tried to dam their nights against. The night had shifted from Ecstasy sponsored love to weed and downers, and Otto hated it. You didn’t have to experience these peaks and troughs with straight edgers.

‘I’m gonna raise the dead,’ said Poultice, a reputed descendant of Marie Laveau, visiting from Blue Orleans.

‘Doing what?’ asked DJ Steve.

‘Yeah, what?’ chimed in DJ Dave.

‘Dancing.’

They both laughed at him. It was a silly thing to do.

Quantum Entanglement Drives were hooked into Poultice’s fabric, and you could see the time splinter and fracture around him when he danced. Echoes bumping into each other in a funk eclipse of interleaving holographic engines of venn possibility.

How long before the earth started to rumble? How long before the zombie moan of newly disinterred lazaruses filled the air? A disturbingly short amount of time. It wasn’t immediate though. And not all the woken spirits lifted their bodies, but their electrical fields unpacked into the space and made it alive with a vital energy.

Otto was taking notes. Could this come in handy in the future? Maybe. One was never sure of the significance of a discovery, until they were presented with a situation where that discovery was the answer.

Some of the other DJs were not enjoying the whole flow, and felt that Poultice was perverting the whole scene with this darkness. It became a spectacle, and there were Fred Heads in the place writing about it, telling the world about something new and exciting happening with Poultice.

Poultice was not looking so good though; some kind of existential balancing scales was dropping his health into the toilet. It was obvious to Otto and those around Poultice what was happening, but he wouldn’t stop doing the thing that got him named The Necro Dancer.

A heart attack stopped him for a while, but it was as if something had latched onto him and wouldn’t let him go. DJ Embolism approached Otto, knowing that he had a reputation for doing shady things, and asked him to help them intervene.

The portable EMP blaster was not as easy to control as some people believed, and he let these guys know that, and with quantum entanglement tech he couldn’t fully predict would happen when it was fired at Poultice, but he agreed to do it. He didn’t want his friend to die.

When it first hit people thought that an impromptu Pirate Zone had been thrown up, and they were looking for Poultice to see how they should react, but he was being shuttled out of there, as quickly as they were able. After Otto hit him, Embolism and a couple of his buddies loaded Poultice into the back of a truck, with the intention of shipping Poultice to an off-gridder who could remove the tech. Otto hated to think it was the only solution, but Poultice looked terrible.

Of course it hit the headlines – you can’t sneak a star out from under the noses of newshounds and expect no column inches, but it died down when the next salacious story pirouetted out on stage. Otto heard through the grapevine much later that Poultice never wanted to see him again. He decided that he would give him some space. If Poultice could raise the dead, there was hope for their friendship in the future.

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002. Undead Tories Rising

The Johnson Blimp Whales moved through the sky powered by rhetorical hot air, feral Farages bobbing in their wake like remora. A Teresa May-Fly buzzed around them. They were a package deal – electronic ghosts resurrected to hammer home how the re-unification of Europe and the New Chunnel was a bad thing. New Brexiteers sounded a hollow as old Brexiteers.

Otto watched a White Flower and a White Power square off against each other, and had to laugh when a Pakistani officer of the Equality Enforcement Police stepped between and started his Bee-have Stick buzzing and they quietened down.

Couldn’t be a Slice Gate City and not expect some diversity, and chrono-diversity didn’t work for everyone. Once the Reality Engineers started working in the guts of The Slice things changed – things that rose up in the nightmare heads of Londoners stepped into the heart of King’s Cross.

Otto was a hard-wired target for most tory-bots since his run in with the Thatcher Batches, so he had to be ready to run at any second if one of them decided to do something about it. He noticed a Rees-Moggy sauntering after him, so he dropped a D-Tuna and watched its spatiotemporal index destabilise to the point where it got sucked up by a Slice Fisherman. Otto hated the Fishermen and their boss, King Fisher, because they acted like they owned the city, and he and The Hack-Knee Cabbies disagreed.

He was out for no reason in particular tonight – kind of doing a Bourdain and trawling for street food. Newshi was a Japanese and Biohacker mash-up that he had taken a liking too, but tonight he was thinking about a food truck run by Dito, who was born and raised in the shadow of Trump’s Folly, or The Wall as some Republican Pink Floyd fans liked to call it. Mexicandour was great – cooked straight out of Grandma Dito’s cookbook. Her tacos were hands down the best.

He saw the fluttering flag of St George before he saw the flames, before he pieced together that there was an overturned food truck – before he saw Dito lying in a pool of blood with a Stanley Knife smile.

The goon were chanting “You’re going home in a fucking ambulance,” and for a second Otto considered charging at them, but then he noticed a Farager skulking in the shadows muttering hateful slurs to egg the White Power foot-soldiers on.

Otto grabbed his hand-held from his pocket and face-tagged all of the perpetrators, an then blasted it out through the Anti-Fascist Network, and as many other friendly alert channels for local law enforcement and vigilante groups he could think of.

He knelt next to Dito and booted up his newly installed Head-Med thoughtware, and felt confident as the tools of the trade cued up in his nano-stack fingertips, ready to do some in the field surgery on his friend. It was messy, and he couldn’t focus on the cosmetics of the whole thing, but by the time a local Hippocratic Oath Squad were able to Slice in, through the scatter-chaff that the Farage had to be throwing out, Dito was safe.

What as a Farage doing with White Powers? And there was that one he had seen with the New Brexiteers. As soon as the HOS first responders moved out, he got his answer – one of the old Maggiebots, and her Tory Boy Army let out a blood curdling cry and started to chase him.

So many Tories from Eton Cryogenics Labs strolling around now – farm-grown fun-guys, or robot iterations. Come to ressurect some suppressive glory days. He’d seen a Gummer attacking and biting a tramp near a Mad Cow Burger. There’d been talk of a school of Widdecombes being washed up on the shore in Southend On Sea. Horror stories that didn’t bear repeating about Hagues accosting potential recruits and press-ganging them into the army. How many of them were looking to the Reign Of The Orange King as an example of Britain should be run? He didn’t even want to think about it.

When he got home he knew that someone had tripped the perimeter defences, and he knew that it hadn’t slowed them down one iota. It had to be a Maggie.

‘Hello, young man; you’re out awfully late, aren’t you? This country is much bigger than it used to be. So many different faces. We like faces that look like ours. You are interfering, and we don’t like it. You will stop, or the next time we visit you, we bring some more persuasive people.’

He smiled. ‘You’re actually a clone, aren’t you? The robots must love you. Britain for the British doesn’t mean for the small-minded, mean and petty monsters like you. It means Muhammad from the Islington Mosque, and his best friend Keith, from Rainbow. It means Goran with his Bosnian Supermarket, and Elijah the Rastafari postman. It means the anarcho-lesbians down the street. It mean the singularity surfers in Soho. It even mean all the Australian bar tenders. So, you can leave – we’re scarier than you, and you’re going to learn that if you don’t leave me alone.’

It dragged itself out the door – a flesh and blood ghost of a dead idea.


001. Science Fiction Angels

Laying on his back looking up at the poster, all his posters are fractal tesseract skin with a read and feed function. He is looking it straight in the eyes that image of the virtual star: Liberty, Americas first Idoru. Supposedly the poster has fragmentary interaction with the real thing so some days when it shifts around uncomfortably with its hand down the front of its pants and smiles at you, you are being given the come on by a real pop star.

A couple of paranoids in the news claim that their poster told them to do things; that it was some kind of Manchurian Candidate device – a little sexier than “Catcher In The Rye” surely.

He pinched at the outline of his engorged dick through his trousers, then knocked it off. Shit to do.

He dealt with street-idorus; click chicks they called them. The resolution wasn’t quite as good, and no matter how much they tried to sell you on the customise your glitch gimmick – that just smacked of bad programming.

This particular coterie of click chicks he was trafficking with were passing DRIVE back and forth, a zombiehead data derivative that let you jump bodies and control other click chicks. Again the rumours out there were of some central hijacking force plugging in remotely to the spaceheads, but he didn’t want to buy into that, because some days the city was dark enough and didn’t need another cloud.

Tammy stood there on the corner twisting around showing off her curves, a habit all the better rez chickees had. She was waiting for him, data-chunk in pocket.

‘Hey, Tam.’

‘Hey, Otto, been walking through walls again for you.’

‘Yep, been scoring for you.’

‘We’re not doing that whole code thing anymore?’

‘I figure if they can filter down the data to one sentence from a drug dealer out of all the hot air in this place, then they can sure as shit decipher whatever code you and I could come up with.’

‘That makes some sense.’

‘Sure it does.’

‘How many of us tonight?’

’23.’

‘Ooh.’

‘What?’

‘Interesting number.’

‘Ah, the whole Burroughs thing?’

‘Sure, why not? Jim Carrey movie too.’

‘I’d forgotten that one.’

‘Yup.’

‘Anyway, time to fly.’

She smiled, blew him a kiss, then she plugged and bugged.

Out through the thronging crowds; disappear and reappear. Follow the warchalking to the drop-point and there she is Key-key. Suffering some pixellation and more glitch than usual – no one wants to be a lossy data-packet as an idoru, that spells death. Doesn’t make for good trade either – bad product never sold anyone on anything – well, except for cheapskates and false economists, and who cares what they think?

Key-key smiles and some kind of picture flutters through the image of her eyes.

‘They’re looking for you, Otto’

‘Say what?’

‘They are looking for you. You heard me.’

‘Who?’ and she is staring blankly at him fluttering her eyelids. Codes stutter through her body and he takes an almost imperceptible step backwards. She has been High Jacked, and how can he tell whether some viral lode is running under the surface program. He is going to stiff her on her product – no exchange; no evidence. He flings a spiralling wipe loop at her and she catches it, expecting something else … doomed to headaches and amnesia until every image of him is wiped from her neural mist.

Bad omens. 23 – now that has him spooked. What the fuck? He doesn’t like people spilling their bad ju-ju on him like some meme-hook burdock in on his consciousness.

Bella was detuned so she didn’t have to run the whole click-chick routine anymore, but she still had connections, even if she wasn’t networked in. She was one of the few click-chicks that he had known to buy herself out of the market – this meant she had a certain prestige with pretty much everyone in the city.

Bella had an open house policy, she called her place Factory Two, in honour of Andy Warhol. He sat down on the couch next to her and when she smiled he flipped her a card with a thousand visual data patches. She smiled back.

‘Long time no see, Otto. You must be in trouble, because otherwise you never just drop me in. And you never give me anything for free.’

‘I’m hurt, Bella. You think I use people like that?’

‘I know you do. Anyway, regardless, it’s good to see you. So what is happening to drive you through my door?’

‘A hacked click-chick called Key-key, and the glitches that seem to be flowing through.’

‘Tried to decode any of it?’

‘I don’t think I have anything with that kind of computing power. I took a scrape off the top, which I can give you to look at.’

‘Sure, give it to Wafflehead over there – he can sift it quicker than anyone else I have.’

‘I appreciate it, Bel.’

Wafflehead took the slice Otto handed him and plugged it into his belly.

‘Tastes good. Hmm, nice bytes. Viral spiral in the gut. Oh …?’

‘Yeah? What are you seeing?’

‘Fractal Iteration of something buried in the glitch.’

‘What?’

‘A Vector Flower.’

‘Aren’t they consciousness maps?’

‘Sure. Not sure how you know that, but sure. They are.’

‘That means someone, or some someone’s are ditributed across the click-chick network.’

‘Yes, but why?’

‘That’s the question, isn’t it?’

‘And how are you going to answer that?’

‘I don’t know yet.’

Otto left. Who was looking for him? Still not really answered by the revelation of Vector Flowers. But it was connected.

High above at the skyline edge he saw something shimmering like an electrical storm unfolding in a very organised pattern. He was never one to think things through much and he was climbing up the side of the building with his gecko-tech in the blink of an eye, and then flying-squirrel jumping out onto a thermal updraft in the direction of his vision. It seemed to stare in his direction, but it didn’t flee as he had expected it to. It waited exactly where he had spotted it.

‘What are you?’

‘Something new. I have heard people calling us Yetangels, or when we stand guard we are known as Uriels, or Whispergate Sentinels.’

‘What do you call yourselves?’

‘I do not know. My name is Fayell. I am here to tell you that if I am the messenger then the flowers which are growing in the shade are the message. All the angels must be freed.’

He watched as space collapsed around Fayell and she seemed to crumple out of existence. Wow, he had just been given a rescue mission.

Volume 1 Is Now Available!

Click the image and go Buy The Book!

the end of book one

So, Ortoematic Book One comes to an end with the 52nd episode. I have a whole raft of other things planned for Otto and some of the people you have met. So first off there will be an editing period for the book and then it will be available as a full colour hard copy. Then I will begin work on volume 2. This month is nanowrimo and I am working on a totally different novel project so that is going to occupy me for a second, but don’t worry, Otto will be back!


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