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The Neon Sea


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#1
Harakiri
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Harakiri

    Moss Giant Whipper

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You're wondering who I am
Machine or mannequin
With parts made in Japan
I am the modern man

-Styx: Mr. Roboto

I awoke to a bright, almost blinding light. I tried to cover my eyes, but my arms were restrained by some sort of cold, metal clamps. I tried to move, but I found no way to do so. My head was propped up with a pillow, so I could at least see that the light came from a surgeon's lamp. It was not pointing at my face, it was pointing at my chest, which had been cut open, an incision like an “I” made over my heart. The flaps of skin from each side were pulled back and my innards were revealed. I could see my ribcage, but could also see my beating heart. I tried to cry out, but my jaw muscles were numb. I could see in my peripheral vision that there was some sort of IV needle in my right wrist. Whatever fluid it was mixing into my blood stream was a poison that made my muscles numb. It must have also numbed the pain of the surgery.
The four men standing around the bed I lay on had apparently not noticed I was awake. Maybe they were not worried about me waking up. Maybe they thought the muscle poison would make my eyelids unmovable. But that was apparently a false assumption.
I tried to take in my surroundings. I was in some sort of dirty, brick basement. I could tell it was a basement because a window that's top border was against the ceiling allowed me to see people walking by. It was probably tinted so anybody could see outside, but no one could see inside.
My cop instincts tell me that these guys are not professional. They are not precise in their movements with the scalpel. While that should scare me, and it did, it also gave me hope. If I survived whatever was happening, I would be able to easily track them down, because sloppy people tended to make mistakes.
I spent an entire hour watching the foursome steal my heart, quickly replacing it with an artificial one, a cheap one apparently. Some people may find me acting nonchalant about my heart being taken out. Well, it's hard to express emotion and rage when poisoned. If I could express emotion I would probably be screaming.
How did I get into this situation? That's a good question, because I don't know. One minute I'm in the holo-bar, a stiff drink in one hand, a wad of cash in the other, and the next I am getting my heart stolen by organ thieves.
I had fallen asleep at some point between the stitching and laser surgery that was done to seal the incisions on my chest. I awoke to a rank smell of rotting garbage and excrement, the smell that is most associated with a Chicago back alley on a hot summer day.
I do not wake happy. If anything, I woke up in a rage. I looked around, trying to find a way to follow the thieves. Nothing anywhere.
I found my clothes, which the thieves were nice enough to pile up next to my body. I threw them on, assuming that common decency dictated this. I then searched around the jacket of my suit and found my pack of smokes and my lighter. I lit one up and started heading toward the street, thinking.
Many thoughts came to me. One included my rage at having a cybernetic organ inside of my body. I am closer to a Darwin's Army member than the Cybernetic Alliance, not that I choose sides in a religious and scientific war that has taken many lives and is predicted to turn this country to civil war. I am closer to the Darwin's though, in the fact that I believe that becoming robotic is not the next step in the human evolutionary cycle. I don't want any cybernetic body parts or organs. I do have some regulation cybernetic implants in my brain which help my thinking and reflexes, which, as a cop, is a good thing. But I am otherwise a human, not a cyborg, and want to stay that way.
As I smoked, heading toward the police station, most people would not assume I had just had my heart stolen. But I didn't much care at that moment about the heart, as much as the fact it was stolen. The four men were white, looked like anyone else, probably nobodies. But I knew I needed an X-ray, my artificial heart had to be manufactured by some company.
I got to the station and explained my situation. The chief went with me to the staff doctor who X-rayed me. The woman had cyborg eyes, pale white irises staring back at me eerily as she gave me the news. I needed to get my heart back, and fast because the artificial heart was only meant to last two days and then stop, my death would be thought a heart attack and the organ thieves would get away.
“Human organs are in high demand. The Japanese mass produce cybernetic organs and enhancements. You can't get human body parts, the ones replaced by cybernetic versions are thrown away so the companies make money. So when a human needs a human organ, and not a cybernetic version, it costs a small fortune and takes forever to find. Giving you a cheap heart and keeping the real one, you get maybe a profit of 800,000 dollars.”
“Holy...” I refrained myself from using profanity in front of the boss.
“The heart you have is a Kizuki, basically, the dollar store brand. I'm going to head to the database and check out who they sell these things to.” The chief was about to walk away.
“Sir, this is a regular occurrence, I take it?”
“I can't rightly say. But heart attack related deaths have become a major problem in Chicago. And I bet I know why.”
The chief went to check out Kizuki on the database while I was examined by the doctor, disgusted at the giant scars that now crossed my chest. The laser the thieves had used to patch me up must have been very weak, because they still needed to use stitches on some sections.
I stood in the hall, butterfly knife in hand, pacing back and forth. I flicked the knife around like I had learned from my days as a street rat, back when the only thing on my mind was joining the American Yakuza. This was when Japan had become the major player in world economics, became so rich due to their cybernetics and genetics industries, which took off. Every country paid billions for the things Japan invented, and they slowly spread across the world. America, whether you think so or not, is run by Japan. Every television station plays anime and Japanese shows. Most people knew Japanese better than English. The signs in the Neon district of Chicago were mostly in Japanese characters. Over the course of forty years, the Japanese became the most powerful people on Earth. The biggest minority in America at the moment: Caucasians.
I was taken out of my revery by the chief. He explained that only one group in Chicago buy mass amounts of Kizuki Artificial Hearts, and that group resided in the Neon district.
I took a squad car and headed for the apartment the hearts were sent to. It was a floor above an adult entertainment establishment, a neon sign displaying the silhouette of a naked female, Japanese characters beside it, the name of the place.
I got out of the car and made my way up the metal staircase to the apartment door. I pulled my pistol from it's shoulder holster and checked it real quick. All thirty bullets were in the clip. The slide worked fine.
I knocked on the door, the weapon at my side, tapping against my thigh. A young man opened and peeked out a little, one eye staring at me, sweat building up on his brow. I showed him my police badge and he breaks out even more, turns a bit red. I ask him to let me inside. He opens the door hesitantly. I assume he is giving his friends time to clear everything out.
I kick the door. Hard. The door flies open, sending the kid to the ground. He grunts and goes for something at his butt.
I shoot him in the arm before he can grab the pistol he had tucked in the back of his pants.
He cries out and cradles the arm as I jump over him and run into the next room, a dirty kitchen. I jumped backward out of the kitchen and back into the front room. Bullets smacked against the spot on the linoleum floor where I had just been standing. I peeked around the corner and saw a man with dark buzzed hair, searching for me as he slowly walked into the kitchen.
I jump out of cover and shoot him in the chest, rolling over the counter and to the opposite side as bullets ricochet where I had occupied for the shot.
The next room contains one man, who carries a knife. He waves it menacingly in front of his face.
I shoot the wall two inches from his head. His bladder fails him and he falls to the ground, scuttling for the back door. I grab him by the neck and shove him against the wall. The knife falls from his hand. I look at the opposite end of the room and see three open boxes and a part of a cybernetic heart peeking out.
I question the man. “Where is you boss? Where is my heart?”
I leave him on the floor, scared to death, shuddering, as I access the implant in my brain that allows me to speak to the police. I am answered by the chief. I tell him the situation. He tells me he is sending police to arrest the men in the apartment, while I head for the location where the scared man told me his boss is trading my heart.
Holo-bars are a very basic concept. It's a bar, drinks and everything. But it contains holographic projectors throughout. You can watch the news on a hologram, and play holographic games. It's a huge deal because you can meet with people through holograms for a fee. It's better than phones or talking through cerebral implants for the sheer reason you can see each other.
I tended to spend a lot of time in these establishments for reasons concerning my wife's line of work. If I never mentioned I have a wife, I'm sorry. It's not really important at this moment in time because she's killing Yakuza in Tokyo. And not Little Tokyo, or New Tokyo, or Tokyo 2. I mean the highly guarded, nigh impossible to get into Tokyo.
Why am I not with her? She doesn't want me there. It would ruin my reputation as a cop to be off killing Yakuza randomly. It's already bad enough that people know I'm married to a murderer, an assassin, and someone wanted by quite a few major governments, one of which being the Japanese.
Anyway, the holo-bar is known as Al's. It's a very urban name for a place in the Neon district. Typically, places like holo-bars were owned by the wealthy, the entrepreneurs, the up and coming big shots of the Yakuza. This one was operated by a white guy with a lot of money he more than likely obtained illegally.
I walked into the holo-bar and sat down at the bar, throwing a couple bucks at the bartender, Al I presumed. He handed me a glass of sake. I was paying attention to the activity in the bar behind me. I noticed no one out of the ordinary. A bunch of punks and thugs sat in the dark recesses of the bar, women sitting on their laps and smiling as more and more money was thrown on the table. Some of it was yen I noticed. Very few people threw around yen for the basic reason it was worth a fortune. The American dollar is worth next to nothing anymore. But it's the only thing in circulation, you can only obtain yen from the Yakuza or smuggling operations. A yen was the equivalent of five hundred dollars. Yes, you read that right.
Four people walked into the bar and I recognize them all as the ones who performed my surgery. They carry a briefcase and head toward me, past the various holo games; the briefcase is set on the bar next to me. I turn away and they don't pay attention to me as they order. The bartender makes up some expensive drink and discusses about Darwin's Army and their idiotic ideologies. Everyone has a good laugh. I sit back and try to stay as hidden as I can possibly be from an enemy two feet away.
Then said enemy grabs my shoulder and wants to know what a man in a suit is doing alone in a bar, at the bar, instead of in the back with the punks and the women.
I have to turn. And they see my face.
All but one recognize who I am and I smile, pulling the pistol from my jacket. It explodes into the man who had tried to have small talk with me. The bullet goes through his heart, straight out of his back. He slumps to the side, eyes glazed over.
I fall backward as the three remaining men started wildly spraying at me with Uzi's. Yes, even in 2071 there are Uzi's, and AK-47's. Efficient weapons will always be efficient, despite the passing of time. If it can kill, and do it well, then it is fair game.
As displayed by my Heckler and Koch as it blew the top half of one of my enemies skulls off, a pinkish mist exploding in all directions.
I slide behind one of the pyramidal holo-projectors as more shots are let loose. The occupants of the holo-bar have either run away screaming, or in the case of the punks, found this an opportune moment to sport weapons of their own and choose a side.
Being the unlucky man I am, they chose to side with my enemies.
Now it was six on one.
Nope, wait. The bartender has a shotgun and is pumping it, aiming it at where I hide.
Seven on one, two with Uzi's, one with a shotgun, four with pistols. I didn't exactly wonder if I had the authority to shoot the bartender, or the punks. I just kind of blind fired over the holo-projector and apparently hit one of the punks.
I looked over my cover for a moment and noticed they were doing a pincer movement on me, the two organ thieves coming from my left, the three remaining punks coming from my right. And I had nowhere to go.
I looked up. Directly across the bar from me was a window, leading to the street.
I hoped the two groups weren't idiotic enough to shoot at me while I ran between them. They'd be shooting each other, and me. We'd all be Swiss cheese. It was either that or take the sure-fire option and get gunned down behind the holo-projector.
So, being the suicidal idiot I am, I jumped over my cover and ran for the window. No triggers were pulled until I shot the window and jumped through, tucking and rolling on the pavement amidst cries from people walking by or running by, due to the violence.
I started shooting into the bar. I took down three people inside, leaving me with only three more; a punk, an organ thief, and the bartender who now joined them.
“I swear to God we'll have all that idiot's organs after this!”
A realization hit me. The bar owner had something to do with the transaction. The thieves weren't there to trade with someone in a populated and rather shady place. They were there to trade with the owner of said shady place.
Then another realization hit me as I ran from my opponents' insane bursts of fire out of the window. They were killing people in the street, as if they were target practice.
I checked my clip. One bullet was left. I shoved it back into the weapon's body and worked the slide.
This bullet had to count.
I ran back into the bar as shots blew into the walls and ricocheted off the floor. And then the punk's magazine ran dry.
I slid behind the bar. I grabbed a bottle of alcohol and turned it over in my hand.
I had one shot, literally. I'd seen it done in movies of course; but if it didn't work out in real life, then I was dead.
I grabbed a few more bottles of alcohol and raised my head just over the bar enough to get a trajectory. I started throwing bottles at them, one of the bottles smashing into the punk's face. Regardless of the pain inflicted by the bottles, I needed the bad guys all gone.
I got up from behind the bar and shot at the alcohol that had pooled all around them.
Then the inferno burst from the ground like hell itself had come to take them. More than likely, that was the truth. They screamed as they burned, waving around, trying to roll but the pain was too much to bare.
I hopped over the bar and grabbed the briefcase. I open it and find a heart, vacuum sealed in plastic and surrounded by ice. I smile to myself and close the case. I then leave the bar, waving my badge around as civilians try to stop me and ask what was going on.

I am taken to a reputable hospital for the replacement surgery. I am put to sleep, and the doctors do the switch.
And when I awake, the mechanical heart sits on a tray, and my chest has had laser treatment, even more ugly scars crossing it.
I smile up at the surgical lamp. Then notice many faces surrounding me. The press, God's worst contribution to the Earth.
The next day, in my small apartment home, I see myself on the news. I deal with it, the story they spew is garbage anyway. Nobody will question my motives and actions.
I go out for a walk in the Neon district; during the day, a boring area of the city with signs and brick buildings. But as night falls, the signs light up, the people become much more rambunctious, and a cop is needed.
I'm Zach Archer. I'm the cop you call.


==============================
I wrote this for a short story project in my Sophomore enriched English class. I basically wrote this in the course of one Friday night a couple weeks ago. I had a page limit, and it shows since I move really, really fast. Otherwise I hope you enjoy this. I'm actually writing a full novel, not based on the events in this, but based on the same character and environ.
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#2
Earth_Poet
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Earth_Poet

    Scorpion Pit

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I really, really enjoyed reading this. Thank you so much for sharing it.

There is only one major thing I want to point out. Be sure to keep your verb tenses consistent. Your story jumps from past tense to present frequently. Other than a couple of typos (it's should be its, you should be your) I didn't notice anything else, because I was too wrapped up in the storytelling. This is good stuff.

I know you say it moves really, really fast, but I enjoyed that aspect. Fast-paced stories tend to keep my interest for longer. You handled the action scenes beautifully. I was watching it play out in my mind.

I also enjoyed the concept, sort of a Dirty Harry meets science-fiction. You set up the story well with the background information of the Yakuza and the growing debate of cybernetics, and you did so without bogging us down with exposition. You kept the story moving. It's a great story, with a good title. I would love to read more about Zach Archer. Good stuff. :thumbup: :thumbup:
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#3
Harakiri
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Harakiri

    Moss Giant Whipper

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  • Joined:9 July 2007
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I really, really enjoyed reading this. Thank you so much for sharing it.

There is only one major thing I want to point out. Be sure to keep your verb tenses consistent. Your story jumps from past tense to present frequently. Other than a couple of typos (it's should be its, you should be your) I didn't notice anything else, because I was too wrapped up in the storytelling. This is good stuff.

I know you say it moves really, really fast, but I enjoyed that aspect. Fast-paced stories tend to keep my interest for longer. You handled the action scenes beautifully. I was watching it play out in my mind.

I also enjoyed the concept, sort of a Dirty Harry meets science-fiction. You set up the story well with the background information of the Yakuza and the growing debate of cybernetics, and you did so without bogging us down with exposition. You kept the story moving. It's a great story, with a good title. I would love to read more about Zach Archer. Good stuff. :thumbup: :thumbup:


Thanks for pointing those problems out for me! I had quite a few verb tense problems when I did my first edit of the story and fixed the ones I noticed.

I personally did not think the action scenes turned out too great, but if you think so that's good :D This had to be school appropriate of course so I wasn't quite as violent or use any colorful language. My book version of this is a lot grittier, a lot darker.

Thanks for the criticism and praise :D I personally think this is the best thing I've written yet.

I built this more as an homage to film noir. A cop with a suit, smokes a lot, and lots of neon.
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