Inspiration Tuesday: Forsaken by Jonas De Ro

Taking in all the detail, I studied this image from Jonas De Ro for about ten minutes. I wanted to write something from within the scene and what I ended up with is something that’s going to show up in one of my science fiction stories. Jonathan will probably be a primary character with Jamaal working for an underworld kingpin.

This is 100% explore the concept. I’ll have to work in a hack scene or two prior to this that delves into this war torn setting.


 

Jamaal Miggs couldn’t make sense of it.

Through the years, he had dream-hacked hundreds of speculators, refuges, and work-seekers traveling in suspended animation to extract info he could use or sell to his contacts who would make the most of the exploit.

During most dream hacks, Jamaal would guide the temporarily unsuspended yet still deeply tranqued, traveler to various places during a typical galactic standard day. From transactions at banks during the daylight to secret indulgences under nightfall. He would find what captured their interests and what vices tempted them the most.

But this sleeper—this Jonathan Doughberg—just wouldn’t crack.

Jamaal tried all the prompts he knew to get Doughberg to actually go through his thoughts and all recreations—every single one—started with a battle-worn city. Vehicles riddled with bullet holes, buildings damaged by shellfire. Destruction and discarded furniture lined the side of the road and peppered the sidewalks: rubble, casings, casted off possessions… But the war torn streets were clear.

Hell, Doughberg wasn’t even present. It was Jamaal, alone on the streets. And for some damn reason, he was a kid.

This Doughberg conundrum had vexed him for months. A couple times a week, he hacked into Doughberg’s domicapsule to try again and again only to find himself standing in the same annihilated city.

Fuck, Jamaal actually had a dream of his own where he stood in the same spot; looking at the same shit.

He drummed his fingers on his leg. The Prism Corp neural interceptor that he bought for a hefty sum—and used without incident—weighed lightly on his hair. The Corp’s psychiatric unit used these devices to piggyback onto their deep space crews’ recollections.

Instead of merely being able to observe whatever random thought sleepers had during transport, the mods Jamaal built into the syncpads allowed him to guide the sleeper. To manipulate the sleeper. And–in some cases–even control the sleeper.

And it had always worked.

Until this guy.

“Shit.” Jamaal’s voice came back to him and it sounded weird. It sounded all growed up and he had used a dirty word. “Whoa!”

Jamaal flung the neural interceptor from his head. Its pendulum mount squeaked as it rocked back and forth. He was an adult and he used profanity all the fucking time. He wiped his face. Something about that scene had twisted his thoughts up enough and regressed him so that he actually thought from the point of view of his own youth when shit was the dirtiest word he knew.

He eyed the helmet of thin wires.

There was something new in the dream. He hadn’t noticed it until he ripped out, but there was a red ball. A red ball right as his feet. He was going to pick it up.

Jamaal bolted out of his chair to pace the narrow walkway in front of Doughberg’s domicapsule.

That damn red ball was going to haunt him for days. But there was no way he was going to go back into Doughberg’s sleep. While he hadn’t come across anything like this before, something at the edge of his conscious understanding warned that while he was trying to hack Doughberg; somehow, someone was hacking him.

© Ezekiel James Boston


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An Exercise

Here are three different openings that I did as an exercise about assassins experiences a hotel room where their target is going to be. It was good fun writing how three different character could/would perceived the same room.

 

Violette Simms

Violette Simms tried to blinked the past away. She had heard the Numi Hotel air freshener spritz—it would every hour—and had expected the light orange scent from her stay in this exact room last month. The subtle peach permeating the hotel room knocked her straight back to her early adolescences.

To Gainesville Texas.

To the Red River Peach Orchard.

To a time when life was only about occasionally plucking peaches with friends, getting home before Miss Lindsey texted a second time, and killing for a living was something only James Bond did.

She shook her head and exhaled sharply.

The different smell had thrown her, but that was good. Get the only difference to the room out of the way. If she didn’t get her job done in an hour, she’d be able to steel herself against subsequent spritzes.

While just short of luxurious, Numi’s rooms were quite spacious. The staff would leave the beige curtains open so, that upon entering, the picturesque view of Bear Lake—resplendent in the late spring sun—would steal your attention from the blueness of the room. It’d be a bit before the teal carpet and aqua wallpaper would register.

Violette had closed those curtains. She wanted Terrence Goodwin, better known as rocker Johnny Win of The Winners, to have nothing else to look at besides the saffron loveseat and, more importantly, the smorgasbord of pills she had laid out on the round glass table top set upon a lacquered tree stump.

Johnny had released a song railing against the President and, rather today or tonight, Violette would make sure that he would be yet another rock n’ roller who, tragically overdosed.


Oskar Lee

Oskar Lee slipped on his nitrile gloves and slipped into room 313 of the Numi Hotel. Shit. There was absolutely nowhere to hide until night.

The twenty feet wide by thirty feet deep hotel room with blue walls and dark blue carpet had sparse furnishings – sort of like his own apartment. In his case, too much stuff made it difficult to up and relocate on a moment’s notice, but this was supposed to be one of Bear Lake’s more luxurious resort-hotels.

Smelling peaches, his gaze shifted to the glass tabletop set on one of those pricey tree stumps in front of a yellow, dual lazy boy loveseat. Where was the smell coming from?

No peaches.

No welcoming bowl of fruit. Clearly the Numi—with its $250 per night rates had a bunch of shills stacking their ranking on TrueHotelAdvisor.com.

He shrugged off the scent and switched his cinnamon toothpick to the lucky left side of his mouth as he hustled past the loveseat to the king-sized bed positioned two feet from the floor to ceiling windows against the right wall. Early morning sunshine lit the hills on the other side of the lake.

He lifted the dark mustard comforter.

Crap. An oaken base. It’d be possible to hide inside… He knocked on it. Nope. Solid. He smoothed the comforter out.

Oskar had a few scarce minutes to get hidden, comfortably hidden, before the maids made their rounds and the door code was changed. The clients had ordered a Carradine—his specialty—on Jonny Win and it was always a good deal easier to chloroform someone when they were asleep. And a chloroformed target always made for an easy hanging.


Homicidal Artist

This was one of those times when people, obviously, didn’t understand the difference between hiring a lowly assassin and giving patronage to a truly prolific homicidal artist. I mean, when it comes down to it, any monkey can splatter paint on a canvas just like any thug can pull a trigger, but there would only ever be one Jackson Pollock.

One Monet.

One Picasso.

Most understand that they are not buying my art. No. My art is mine, and mine alone. They are paying for my discretion and simply providing me with a canvas… And, after this piece of death-art, I’m going to track down the designer who laid out this abortion of a room and make it so they never can do this kind of work again.

Anyone who would pair aquamarine wallpaper with dark teal carpet should have their hands chopped off. Then, their eyes scooped out because they obviously didn’t use them when they picked out sun porch yellow comforters for a king-size bed, and, and chose saffron for the loveseat—is that pleather?

I don’t want to enter this blue rectangle.

I don’t. God, I don’t. But I have to know…

Yup. It’s pleather.

What was that squirting sound—oh my God! Stock-gray Glade air fresheners? In Numi?

Are. You. Kidding me!

That’s going to cost them their nose.

I have to.

So, that’s: their hands for the blues, their eyes for the yellows, their nose for—

Wait. That’s not a typical Glade scent. No, it’s… Peaches… White peaches.

Well, they can keep their nose.

© Ezekiel James Boston