The oddball tended to lurk best in corners, lank frame fitted well into dark urban alleys
framed like Nosferatu in the shadow of the night. He was skeletal and bone, a mess of contradictions and confusions. He skulked around late at night looking for answers, an unholy ancient fire burned in his mind, burned for an answer to an unknowable questions, revelling in disorder. A student of Neo-Nihilism – The church of the infinite nothing, he jeered, he sneered he rattled and railed. A circle in a world of squares, bent double against the lamppost he stomped his way down the concrete streets to get back to his flat, half cut from the 6 beers he’d drank on the way back from his work downtown, now stumbling autopilot style back to the mess he called home.
Stumbling up the rusty metal staircase, his vision blurring he arrived at this flat, turned the key and fell like a rock onto his bed, the world turning and whirring, his mind in some sort of swirling vortex. Memories churned and danced in his minds eye, his youth, his loves, his losses, his pitiful moments, his self despair, his bullshit.
And eva, she got in there too. She always did, at times like these when he was alone, she was never far from his thoughts, the ghost at the membrane just waiting for a chance to break the skin. “Not now” he thought as he turned off his light and stumbled into a dark and numb sleep of nothing.
A roaring digital screech pieces nothingness and the Oddball’s eyes slowly open, he lifts himself up in a daze, looks around his room and groans, throwing a book at the alarm system on the other side of his room, “Fuck off!” He shouts. “Command Not recognised” replies the alarm AI”, “Stop Alarm” shouts Oddball, louder this time. “Goddammit, you fucking thing” he whispers silently under his stinking hungover breathe, before falling back into a deep slumber once more, to be swallowed in the mire of his own mind.
Then in a large room, a machine mantis staring down, long tendrils extending out from it’s mechanical insectoid form as it’s beady LED eyes look down at the Oddball and it’s disgusting mechanical mouth begins to move – “Oddball, we have searched our records and found you are in dire need of a reprogramming, you believe yourself to be a humanoid in the year 2060, in the city of Berlin. We must perform a cranial re-adjustment to fix this, so prepare fo…”
The impact is so loud the whole neighbourhood is woken up by it, the impact blast reverberating though the street, Oddball jumps up from his bed, a look of wild confusion on his face as he stumbles for his glasses in the early morning light. “What!!! What! Was that!!?” he thinks in a hungover haze.
He rushes to his flat window and peers over, and then there on the other side of the street he sees a car smouldering and burning, horrified onlookers gathered round. Two people inside the car seems to be burning, and it all starts playing out in Oddball’s head in slow motion, the licking flames dance like some macabre spirit had possessed them, the burning flesh like some devil’s dance though the street, demonic and dire. Death Masks of shock and horror line the faces of the gathering crowd.
Oddball returned to his bed and grabbed his notepad, time to write he thought, he had to document this down, keep a record of this moment, and cynically he thought perhaps he could get that first published article out there with an account of an event like this, he grabbed his pen and notepad, hurriedly got dressed and ran out the front door.
“realty re-adjustments, you’ll experience a few strange events whilst we reset yourrr…”
Oddball rushes out into the street and observes the scene around him, woman men and children’s gather outside, with looks of shock and disgust. He grabs his pen from his black shirt and starts to scribble down notes, “What are you doing” a voice suddenly says to his right, “I’m…I’m writing” he says turning to see a woman with dark hair and sunken sullen eyes, staring deep into the flames, the light dancing off her strong features. “Why?” she retorts, “Why bother?” “They’ll keep on destroying regardless of how much we write against them, these mechanical Mantis fucks!, heartless beasts of our reason.” “Umm ok if you say so” Oddball says looking away from her and returning to his notepad. “Didn’t you hear me? Write that down in your little notepad!” Oddball beginning to feel nervous slowly edged away. “Do you know what happened here?” Oddball asks, “Why ask that question, when I just answered it? It’s the Mantis folk man. They’re responsible for all this terror, all this horror. You hear me, there were kids in that car man, senator of the state, wife two kids, now burning because our government can’t negotiate with the problem we all created”. Oddball just nods, his gaze returning to the burning husk of the car down the road as the security service bots mechanistic Mantis drone engines produce a loud abrasive buzz as they hover down the street, spraying water onto the burning car carcass. Take it all in he thinks, hurriedly scribbling down more notes.
“main system core, but don’t worry the flashes will stop eventually whilst we reboot your primary functions, so just remain calm”
“I’m sorry I didn’t quite catch your name” Mumbles Oddball to the young dark haired woman “Eva” she responds, Oddball freezes for a second in shock, ‘Eva?’ He thinks in frozen panic, before his rationale kicks in. “Are you from around here?” he enquires “Yes I live just a up way Jackson Block, why?”, “Well, the thing is I’m a writer and I’m looking to get some accounts of today’s bombing, did you see much before it happened?”
“Not much to be honest, I just heard the explosion and came out to check it out”
Oddball scribes it down then asks “What makes you think the Mantis folk could be involved in this? Don’t you trust AI?” “Nah man, call me old fashioned if you like but I prefer when we didn’t put so much power into the hands of these tin cans, like where is it leading you know? People say I’m paranoid and a luddite but how clever are those things you know? I don’t trust them”, “Hmm” Retorts Oddball “but when has there ever been a recorded incident of a Mantis flipping out? Don’t you think it more likely to be some sort of political attack?, a bit of old fashioned organic vs organic violence, I mean if the Neo-Nihilists have taught me anything, it’s that if there is one thing you can trust us humans on, it’s ultra violence in the pursuit of powe…” “Look Dude. that’s my opinion you can take it or leave it but I gotta be places ” and with that Eva strolls away into the distance, turning for a few seconds as she crossed the road and glancing with her sullen sad eyes to the sky. She strangely reminded Oddball of her, but he knew it could not be so.
“And there we go, your booted up again Oddball, tell us what did you dream whilst encased in the nether? So that we may delete the residual memories” “Oddball blinks in static space but can’t speak his mind outputs the lines “Where am I? Who are You? What is this? Where is my body?” The lines are spat as 0’s and 1’s in data onto the large monitor screen in the Mantis repair lab. “We need to do a fresh flush Mantis 1986, he’s still gone” and with that everything went black.
Oddball quickly starts running through the chaotic streets recording everything he see’s around him as he darts in and out of the gathering masses, the buzz and whirr of the Mantis Mechs punctuating the air, the smell of acrid burning smothering, until he collapses into his room, and sits down at his desk, ready to write. “What a way to start a day” he thinks, as he pulls the gear to the side of him to boot up his AI interface and prepares for a long haul. Hours pass, and then more, a torrent of words rushes forth from his fingers until he can barely remember who or where he is, the symbiosis of words and mind, a subtle dance… Coffee.
“Sleep, young one sleep, it’s ok they are gone they have passed far from here, you’ve no need to worry anymore, our adepts will protect you” said the tall woman softly with a smile, her body draped in the black robes, her complexion white, with green eyes and dark brown hair extended down over her shoulders, giving her the appearance of some old world Slavic angel. Alice looked up and smiled, her shaking subsiding and she returned to her lotus position, “The mantis people are far away now” She thought, still shaking a bit “They won’t find me here, they can’t find me…” Alice thinks as she drifts into sleep.
“Mother Nothing protect her” thought the sister, slowly walking down a corridor lit with the glow of red neon and the sound of pulsing ambience. Just another day in the citadel.
There we go think Oddball, that’s done! he thinks as he completes the edit on the piece on the explosion from today, he thought he had done it justice, covering the mood of the crowd, the potential causes and groups that could be involved, well researched, concise and with a human touch, he could be in the money and out of the red by next week! The thought gives me a rare instance of a smile on his pale face, as he sends it off to print, and prepares to walk to the offices of ‘Der Wahrheit’ to hand in his manuscript.