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View Full Version : The Voyeur - science fiction, inspired by David Bowie's "1. Outside"



michaelcthompson
January 16th, 2011, 09:37 PM
WARNING: CONTAINS OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE AND SCENES OF EXTREME VIOLENCE.

COPYRIGHT 2011 MICHAEL C. THOMPSON. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


I
The Voyeur.

The same thing, playing over and over again on the media networks. Prince James von Sanderberg, a beastiophile, the videos - censored, of course - even shown on the news. The Underclass devouring it. My find. My most recent “kill.” I took the credit for it. A secret revealed only because of my expertise, reinforcing my increased celebrity amongst the Underclass that I am consigned to. Forever. But on the highest tier, working for the Uppers - as close as I will ever get to escaping the crab bucket. I’m fine with that. I’m fine with what I do, with being the sector B-12 Voyeur.

I found Sanderberg by breaking into a closed circuit, one he had wired shut for his own privacy. It was a simple job of hacking into the house mainframe and disabling the electronic shutter that was keeping me out. What I saw was just… hideous. It involved many different animals, most of which you won’t find in the entire North American continent upon which the disgraceful act was taking place. I recorded the event immediately, broadcast it via internet onto a popular Upper gossip network, and let the cards fall. Sanderberg, although not even remotely ruined, was hideously embarrassed. Nothing happened to him of course - nothing ever happens to the Uppers. They just get embarrassed. That’s all. The only actual crimes are murder and rape - of other human beings only.

My job is simple. Secrets? Find them. Reveal them. Keep the idiots entertained, in worship mode. The Uppers don’t mind their secrets being revealed, since it keeps the Underclass otherwise pacified. But I’m smarter than my spiritual siblings. The Unders have no desire to understand the Uppers - only to worship them. They emulate them in small ways, sometimes in larger ones (although rarely do they have the courage). But the emulations are always off, not quite right. Because they don’t get it. They don’t see that they are completely taken advantage of. They worship and obsess over the very parasites that keep them on the bottom of the trash heap, feeding on rotten garbage. Even while laughing at the darkest secrets of their masters revealed, they want to be like them, and wish it was their own dirty laundry that people cared about. That’s okay. I’m not bothered by it. Not anymore. There are few choices in this world - security, or death. I choose security. So does everyone else.

There hasn’t been an execution since the global revolution, nearly 200 years ago. If our history books are to be believed, there was once a time on this planet when people would starve to death. The very idea seems ludicrous to us now. People once believed in higher powers than the GGE - Global Government Enterprise, once known as the United States of America. People killed each other. And the types of people who would now be called Uppers could be convicted of crimes and imprisoned. Now it seems… impossible.

I stare at the monitors, looking for something interesting, something to satiate the ravenous Underclass need for raw humiliation of their Upper superiors. Other Voyeurs might be relegated to typical gossip - who is marrying whom, affairs, non-sense like that. I am employed to find the truly naughty stuff, the choicest bits of strangeness to display for the entire world to observe. I think that the Underclass loves when dirty secrets are revealed of their controllers because it’s the only way that they can vent their suppressed distrust of them.

The wall before me, a good eight feet tall, consists entirely of holographic monitors picking up signals from various Upper residences. Aside from the usual fare - drugs, strange sex, and more typical behaviors - nothing remarkable is happening. There are no closed circuits, at least not according to my computers, and the monitors continue to cycle through the eight-thousand different cameras placed under my scrutiny without displaying any compelling images whatsoever.

The room is dark, aside from the glow of the monitors. I’m sitting in a rolling chair a few feet away from the glowing wall, wearing my work uniform - black slacks, a black woven shirt buttoned all the way to the top, collar turned down, a black leather belt, and black shoes. I’m very tall, about 6’2, and very slim, about 130 pounds. My hair is starkly blonde, and my large eyes seem to shift back and forth between hazel and emerald green, almost arbitrarily, but they are presently a light green. My nose is rigid, attractive, although slightly bent in the middle, and my lips are full, and very red against my pale white skin. The glow of these monitors is the only light my skin sees regularly, and as a result I’ve started to look very unnatural, almost like an albino. I’m twenty-five years old, but look a few years younger, preserved by the darkness that has become my waking existence.

Sanderberg was not my first major bust. I uncovered a murder plot, the first in GGE history, two years ago. As I have already mentioned, there has never in our existence been an actual murder of any sort. The discovery of the plot was very scandalous, and made me famous amongst the Underclass. Once revealed, however, the plot never came to fruition. Had it, I’m sure there would have been some kind of repercussions, as murder remains illegal for all citizens of the GGE. But not plotting murder.

Although my fame had increased, the Uppers, as expected, took no notice of me. There were two more incidents before Sanderberg - an Upper, a Duke of Florida, raped a young Underclass female. He had a closed circuit which was very difficult to break, but I managed to do it. He claimed that I fabricated the video, for which I had no defense. The government would not back me, nor would they fire me. And nothing happened to the Duke, of course. Although rape is illegal, his claim of fabrication was enough to create a “suspicion of doubt,” thus letting himself off the hook. This entire game is a charade anyway - voyeurism and sustenance alone have appeased the working class. Nothing that I do truly matters whatsoever.

The other major case I exposed had involved an affair between an Upperclass politician’s wife and an Underclass male, aged fifteen years. Although rather embarrassing for all parties involved (save the boy), once again, there had been no reaction save the humiliation of the observed.

What sets me apart from my contemporaries, as there are Voyeurs the world over, doing the same job as me, is my ability to think fast. Some of the encryptions on closed circuits are so bizarrely constructed that for most people, to solve them by the time that the juicy act is done being committed is an impossibility. Not for me. There are tricks to every code. What takes most people minutes to understand typically takes me seconds, and a secret of the trade is that although many Uppers use closed circuits to hide their most embarrassing secrets, there are very few programmers who know how to create an electronic shutter program capable of blocking GGE Voyeur cameras. In all, there are about twenty different programmers who remain on the large, and though their coding is dramatically different, their own programs remain basically the same. Crack one of their programs and the rest of them will be easy to follow.

Three of my four major busts involved a program created by a fugitive the GGE only refers to as “Number 1.” He probably thought he was a genius. I know we’ll catch him eventually, and I can’t wait to meet him, and tell him how easy it was to break his non-sense. While it’s illegal to create shutter programs - as only the Underclass do it - it’s not illegal to use them. At least not for the Upperclass. There’s no point in complaining about the double-standard - that will only get you a day in jail.

This is getting boring. I do a lot of thinking while waiting for a closed circuit to pop up in the B-12 radar. I’ve been doing this job for four years now, after graduating from GGE College 18243 with honors. I was hand-picked for this assignment, some might say it’s my calling. I don’t know if I would agree. Something feels not quite right about this existence, but this is a feeling our society calls “déjà vu” - and which most ignore, with the exception of a few lunatic Underclass cults.

It’s been a few days since I saw a closed circuit, and when I broke it, I found only an Upper politician doing lines of some kind of drug which I couldn’t quite make out. It wasn’t juicy enough to be valuable in any way, as this particular socialite had been caught doing drugs many times before and was known outright as an addict by everyone in both classes. I skipped over the scene, not even bothering to see where it went. Before that happened, it’s been… months. I get smaller busts, sometimes, little bits I upload to media networks almost out of sheer boredom. But nothing that really captures major attention, not since Sanderberg.

As if conjured by contemplation, a black screen suddenly pops up on the radar. Then another to the far right, focused on the same auditorium. My attention is revived. I stand up, walking to the first monitor and tapping it with my finger so that it doesn’t flash away when the rest of the monitors shift. I quickly do the same to the second closed circuit. I step away from the monitor, looking at the location for each camera. “GUISELEY AUDITORIUM, BOSTON, MASS.” The time-stamps are correct, it’s presently 3:20:04 A.M. in this time-zone. The cameras are set on different mainframes so that the circuits cannot all be closed at once. So whoever is blocking these circuits has hacked two different mainframes almost simultaneously. Which should be impossible. I enter a command into the computer.

“System, bring up all Guiseley Auditorium cameras on the monitor.” Without hesitation, the entire left half of the wall blacks out. All of the circuits are closed. I quickly count the black squares - 36 total. 36 mainframes hacked into, blacked out. Shuttered. Who could do that so fast? “When did these circuits get shuttered?”

“At precisely 3:20:00 A.M.,” the robotic voice of the B-12 Voyeur mainframe responds.

“All of them? At the same instant? How is that possible?”

“Unknown,” it responds. I stare at the blacked out monitors, pondering. I can’t break open all the shutters at once, so I guess I’ll have to settle for one.

“Bring up the primary Guiseley Auditorium camera, focused on the stage, please. Maximize the screen.”

The monitors all become black and merge together on the holoscreen, but now the words “GUISELEY AUDITORIUM DIRECT SHOT” and the time-stamp “3:21:21” are much larger.

“Begin entry into the mainframe,” I direct the system.

A holographic keyboard appears before me, and the screen goes entirely black. I enter the first command, attempting to bring up the mainframe directories and, as expected, I am blocked by a denial of service - caused by the electronic shutter program that’s closing the circuit from the Voyeur mainframe. I expect the coding to be familiar, but it’s not. It seems chaotic, there is no pattern to it whatsoever. It typically takes me less than ten minutes to completely deconstruct an electronic shutter, but after a half-hour, I’m nowhere with this one. What could possibly be happening in the Guiseley Auditorium that someone wouldn’t want the Voyeurs to see? Most secrets happen in the privacy of homes, not out in the public. After about 35 minutes, I give up and decide to call GGE Security for the B-12 sector. An older woman answers the phone, sounding as though she had been dozing off.

“Am I speaking with Voyeur Eric Knell?” she asks as soon as the line is opened, before I can even say anything.

“That’s correct,” I tell her.

“How can I help you?” she asks.

“I’m having a problem with a closed circuit in the Guiseley Auditorium. I was wondering if you could send some people to check on it. All 36 mainframes have been shuttered, which sounds impossible.”

“At the Auditorium? At this time of night?” she asks, sounding almost disbelieving.

“I’ve never heard of anything like it,” I tell her, trying to sound sympathetic to her skepticism.

“Neither have I,” she says. “I’ll wake up Director Hartford and we’ll send a team right away.”

“Would it be alright if I met you there?” I ask. My curiosity is high, and I’m highly frustrated at being locked out by whoever designed these shutters. I suspect that they might be gone by the time the Security force arrives, but the Auditorium is but a few blocks from the Voyeur’s B-12 headquarters.

“That’s not exactly in the Voyeur job description…” she says.

“But it’s not illegal,” I tell her.

“It’s illegal for you to enter the Auditorium premises after dusk or before sunrise. You can wait outside, but I advise you not to go in.”

“Alright,” I tell her, satisfied with just being allowed to go. Although an Upper would have no problem going as he pleases in the Auditorium, at any time of day, an Underclass citizen would be faced with a 24 hour period of jail-time. And potentially, if he works for the GGE as I do, job reassignment. I would rather not have either.

Although my shift is not over for three more hours, I suspect nothing more interesting than this will come along for the evening, and so I leave with the intention of return after my curiosity has been satisfied. I run to the Auditorium and reach it after about twenty minutes, my chest heaving, my throat hurting and my head spinning. I bend over, breathing heavily, my hands on my knees. As I try to catch my breath, I hear a door open, and look up to the auditorium. A man is walking out, behind him several others who appear to be much larger. Some of them carry heavy looking bags, and they are covered in what appears to be red paint of some kind.

The man in front I vaguely recognize, although his face I cannot place. His attire is ridiculous. He wears a silk tuxedo, blood red, with a black under-shirt and a white tie. He looks like a proud dandy, as many in the Upperclass are wont to do. His face is made up, covered in what looks almost like white greasepaint, sprayed in red splotches like the faces of the large men with him. His eyes are covered in thick black shades. His equally black hair hangs out from beneath a red fedora, the same hue as his absurd tuxedo. He smiles as the group approaches. I count the men, all similar looking, burly, dressed in the same all-black clothing, to be six total. The dandy makes seven.

He steps up to me as the world spins around from my quick run, touches my shoulder.

“It’s a bit late to be out running, isn’t it?” he asks, grinning. He pats my head, then looks at the men around him. “Where’s my fucking car?” he asks one of them. “I said be back in one hour. Why can’t I get what I want just this one time?” Headlights turn a corner, alighting on me and the bizarre group standing behind. “Finally!” the dandy shouts, and the group walks past me, paying no heed. The car, a long white limo, pulls up beside them, the door thrown open, and they file in one by one. It slams shut and pulls away, peeling out as though on the run from something and coming within inches of me in the process.

I turn to face the Auditorium, finally catching my breath and trying to memorize the faces of those strangers. Eventually, Security arrives. I tell them what happened and they enter, allowing me to come inside with them (a nicety that I did not expect). What we see in the chamber is abominable. I’ve never imagined anything like it, except in my wildest fantasies of the past, pre-revolution. Violence, hideous in it’s construction. A head lies on the floor, it’s blue eyes open, it’s male face staring outward, transformed by it’s death into a relic of once-electric flesh. The tongue hangs out, hideously. I vomit. Everyone else does too.

Hanging high from the Auditorium ceiling, symmetrical to the large diamond chandelier, are two arms, dangling from hooks. Blood drips from them, pooling onto the white tile below. I turn for the door, wanting to leave. Then I see the rest of the hideous experiment. The torso has been cut in two, each half nailed symmetrically to the side of the door leading into the Auditorium. The entrails are missing. Upside down, above each half of the torso, are the detached legs of the dead man, held in place only by a single nail for each, and about two inches above the monstrous halves.

A word, written in blood, hangs high above the gory spectacle. A gruesome signature. It reads:

“Dali, the Bull.”


(END CHAPTER 1/5)

Luckystars1987
January 16th, 2011, 11:52 PM
A really good read, i think i will re-read tomorrow though, so sleepy!
One thing i did pick out was the last couple of lines. You say A word written in blood, maybe change that to The words, written in blood hang high or something along those lines as three words are painted there.

Really good read, enough description to keep me entertained but not over done so I can't paint the fuller picture with my mind i would like to read on. :)

michaelcthompson
January 17th, 2011, 04:43 AM
Thanks!~ I will take your advice into account when I do the next draft. The first draft is completely done, it's 9,923 words. This was part of an exercise to write a story under 10,000 words to send to sci-fi magazines like InterZone, Fantasy & Science Fiction and Analog. I'll post part 2 up here in a bit. Really appreciate your time and interest.

michaelcthompson
January 17th, 2011, 04:59 AM
COPYRIGHT 2011 MICHAEL C. THOMPSON. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


II
The spectacle.

To work for the Uppers, I must maintain a state of cognitive dissonance, knowing the corruption of my benefactors and yet “understanding” it without having to rebel at the same time. Most of the Underclass are easily pacified and largely very ignorant of the actual workings of reality. They do as they’re told, in large part without any question. They are convinced that they deserve what’s happened to them, and that there is a secret way to escape their caste - by “working hard” and “being obedient.” I’m not so stupid. All of the laws and rules are set up to keep the impoverished at the mercy of the government. There is no escape. But the hallucination of a good government persists, the illusion of hope and opportunity thrives in spite of it’s increasing irrelevance. And, in spite of the veiled fascism, it’s highly preferable to the chaotic darkness of the world pre-revolution. At least now, no one starves to death, and there is no genocide. It is, in spite of the problems, a lesser evil than the world that came before.

Still, it came as a shock to me when the GGE actively covered up the scene of the Dali murder, and my investigation of the closed circuits were shut off without warning. I was advised to leave further incidents involving multiple closed circuits in one location, like the Dali incident in the auditorium, alone. The identity of the absurd dandy came to me within a few short hours, although his cohorts were impossible to place. He’s the son of the Massachusetts Central Bank CEO - Edward Harvard. “Dali the Bull,” as he would apparently like to be called. And although this would seem to be the first murder to ever occur in GGE history, the GGE refuses to allow it to be broadcast over media networks or revealed to the Underclass. My network uploading abilities have been heavily restricted, and I’ve been warned that if any information about the incident is released, I will be jailed indefinitely for compromising global security.

I have tried to appear as obedient as possible, but I cannot stop replaying the scene of carnage in my mind, the meticulous detailing of the horror by the perverse artist that created it. What could cause a human being to even conceive of such insanity, such abominable behavior? Although consistently condescending and hateful, the Uppers do not ever demonstrate such animosity toward their inferiors.

The victim himself remains anonymous. I have not been told anything about a further investigation of the events, and his identity, assuming it was ever discovered, was not revealed to me. The auditorium was closed for twenty four hours, cleaned, and then re-opened without a word. Meanwhile, my nightmares persist. The idea that Harvard could get away with something so awful, simply because of his caste, makes me sick with rage.

It occurs to me that my knowledge of his identity - although I have yet to disclose that I recognized the stranger to my superiors - could put me in a compromising position. I could now be viewed as a liability and re-assigned, or perhaps something unimaginably worse. My senses are shocked by the government’s refusal to make this public - I had not expected such a response, knowing how open they typically are when it comes to airing the dirty laundry of the rich.

My nights in the Voyeur station are much the same - boring, uneventful. Instead of watching the monitors for hours on end for closed circuits, as I typically do, I have been exploring the B-12 mainframe’s system memory of the closed circuit program that popped up in Guiseley Auditorium on the night of the murder. The code is the most complex thing I’ve ever seen in my life, far more complex than any of the other programs I’ve ever come across while dealing with electronic shutters.
If it was known that I’m using the mainframe’s memory in such a way, it’s possible that I could get myself in trouble, but I have become obsessed both with the code and with doing… something… about the vicious rich boy calling himself “Dali.” It’s been over a week now, and I’ve been getting closer with each attempt to cracking it. I know I won’t see the video the shutter was designed to prevent once I do - whatever happened in the Auditorium that evening is lost forever - but at least I’ll have some idea of how to crack it should a similar shutter ever pop up again.

This is what I’m doing when my screens black out. More closed circuits. They go simultaneously, four squares on the monitor, from four different mainframes - this time focused on the Post-Modern Art Theatre on the outskirts of Boston. I rush to the screen, shouting commands at the mainframe.
“System!” I yell. “Pull up all Post-Modern Art Theatre cameras, now.” Three-fifths of the wall goes dark. “When were these cameras shuttered?” I ask.

“4:15:00 A.M.,” the system responds. It’s currently 4:15:23.

“Bring up the Theatre’s central hall mainframe,” I command. The screen merges as before, going dark, and I begin to hack away. The first wall of code crumbles this time, going down as quickly as it has in my various runs on the last shutter used in such a fashion. The second shutter wall is slightly more complex than in the first program, and it takes five minutes to break, but it’s still similar enough for me to understand it far more easily than I did when confronted with it the first time. I consider calling Security in spite of the warning I have been given by my superiors, but decide that likely the only thing that would happen would be that I would get myself in trouble. The warning I had been given about further pursuit of similar incidents was very clear.

The third wall, surprisingly, is easier than the second - I suppose because the programmer, so arrogant in his craft, thought no one would ever break the second. He didn’t count on my copying his Guiseley shutter and wearing down the code. Foolish. He shouldn’t have underestimated my tenacity.

The black disappears, and the main hall of the Post-Modern Art Theatre is plainly visible to me. Standing in the center of the stage, his back turned to the camera, is “Dali the Bull” - red tuxedo, fedora and all. In front of him, bound in ropes from neck to toe, stretching in four directions - is what appears to be a young woman, shrieking. Dali places something in her mouth - a ball-gag.

I then notice that off to the side are various different people - some of them the same men that I saw with him last time. One of them walks up to him and hands him a large mask, which looks as though it has horns and fur on the face. I can’t quite make out what it is. I zoom in with the camera, bringing myself close to the scene with all the brilliance of high-definition 3D cameras. It’s almost as though I’m there. I can hear everything.

Suddenly I realize I’m not recording. I enter a command into the computer and a small green dot alights in the far right peripheral of my vision, signaling that all events I’m presently witnessing are being stored in the B-12 Voyeur mainframe’s memory. Satisfied, I put my attention back to the scene at hand. Although I can zoom in, I can not actually go around Dali, or see the front of the mask. I can see, as he moves back and forth in front of her, small glimpses of his intended victim. She has brown hair, blue eyes - a very pretty young woman, except for the bruises all over her face and her shrieking, open mouth. He shoves something in it - a ball-gag. I am repulsed.

My hand trembles, wanting to call Security, but afraid of what might happen to me if I do. My paranoia elevates. Does the GGE know about this, are they letting it go on? Will they kill me if I do something wrong? The idea of murder, unexpected death, seemed so alien and impossible to me a few days ago. But now that I’ve seen the body, the look of shock and horror on the face of the previous victim, the idea that something like that could happen to me seems more and more likely.

Suddenly one of the men, likely bodyguards or assistants, walks up to Dali and whispers something in his ear. As he walks away, Dali turns and faces the camera, looking directly at me. The face I see is that of a bull, the body resembling a minotaur, with live human eyes staring out at me like soft blue diamonds. They gleam with lunacy. He takes off the coat of his silk tuxedo, then the tie and woven shirt beneath, all the while his hideous mask gazing at me. Finally he stands shirtless. Scars zig-zag across his body, some old, knotted and white, some fresh and pink, glistening. And then he speaks, projecting his voice so that I can hear him better.

“So you see us now, Voyeur?” he shouts over the theatre, his words echoing loud, sounding almost supernatural. “Watch, then,” he says. “For art is meant to be viewed.” He turns to face the woman, her arms and legs drawn apart by the taut ropes binding them. There is an awful agony in her eyes, and she tries to scream through the ball-gag. Dali, the minotaur, begins to speak to her.

“Do you know why you’re here?” he asks her. She shakes her head deliriously, confused, horrified. “No?” he asks, his voice still slightly projected, for my benefit. “Why should you be anywhere else?” he asks. “Do you have something better you could be doing than being useful to me?” She begins to cry, losing hope in any sort of rational interaction amidst this depraved and unthinkable situation. Her body tries to go slack, but the ropes suddenly yank at her from all directions. I move the camera upward, seeing them extend into the darkness of the rafters. Below, they are drawn under the stage. She shrieks through the gag, tears spill out of her eyes. And blood, horribly, seeps through the ropes.

The minotaur gazes at the camera once more, at me. “And what would you do to stop this?” he asks. “What could you do? Do you not see destiny in the eyes of this bitch?”

No, I think. Only terror.

“This spectacle is for your benefit,” he says to me, through the digital ethers.

“You’ve earned it, having made your way through the shutter.” Suddenly the ropes draw tighter, she screams and blood gurgles through the gag, flowing down her chin and rope-bound chest. One of the men walks up to Dali again, handing the minotaur a scythe which he raises high, pointing at the camera.

“FOR YOU, VOYEUR!” he shouts. My heart speeds up, that he would know my name sends my pulse skyrocketing. My head begins to spin.

“Do you know why I make you suffer?!” he shouts at the woman, and perhaps at me as well. She has lost her mind in agony as the quartering of her limbs exceeds her pain threshold. Her only response is the increased volume of her shrieking. Dali pulls the scythe back, ready to strike. “BECAUSE I MUST!” he yells, and letting go, cleaves her in twain. Her upper half rises high to the rafters, spilling out the intestines to the stage, before stopping and hanging in mid-air, gyrating between the taut ropes for a moment and splattering thick gore out onto the masked monster below, who revels in it. He drops his scythe, which clatters to the floor, and then takes off his mask. An attractive young-man, his face painted white with paint and red with blood and gore, smiles at me. Edward Harvard. Royalty.

“Do you know why else?” he asks, no longer bothering to project his voice, knowing I am fully captivated and listening to every syllable. “Because, Voyeur, you watch. I do it for you. To captivate you. And because I am bored. Do you wish to play a game with me?” I don’t. I want to be done with this, already. I wish I had let the closed circuit remain that way. “You be my Voyeur,” he says, grinning with his perfect face. “I’ll show you mine. And you’ll show me yours.”

The screen goes black. The circuit is closed once more. I try to hack it again, but the code is even more outrageously dense and chaotic than what I hacked through just a few moments ago. I give up within minutes. I shiver, recalling the scene, and then, finally gauging the horror of it, run to the bathroom and vomit. Staring into the toilet bowl, feeling my head spin, my body shivering, I can’t help but have the strangest feeling.

Like I’m being watched.


(END CHAPTER 2)