CY BERPUNK'S TALE
Life for Cy had the taste of a dead cigar butt.
It should. He chewed one. Spit it out. Drained the dregs of alkpee from the chipped plastic mug. Dropped it. Crushed it under his spiked heel.
Day of judgment.
Outside he blinked in the nacreous light of the yellow-orange sun. Shards of styrofoam from the injection works filled the air, turning it into a regurgitant moire pattern.
The crapkicker lolled obscenely against the insanely cracked patterns of the show window. His skintight bloodsuit sanguinely dripping scarlet shadows over frenchletters and powderdildos in the window. He did not look up when Cy came near. But knew he was there. The jewel encrusted squid, pendant from one nostril, quivered in anticipation.
“You got?” he grunted laconically.
“Got. You got?”
The kreditkard, still warm from Cy's body, changed hands. The crapkicker sneered laconically.
“Reads ten-thousand bukniks. Deal was nine-thousand. Trying cheat me?”
“Keep the change. Give.”
The RAMchip, disguised as a peanut, slithered from hand to hand disquietingly. Cy stuffed it cruelly between his lips. Ate it.
Gone. Cy was alone. The toothputer accessed the RAMchip. Light and sound rode the starving night. He jumped aside, the vengeful robocab missed. Was swallowed by the strobeshot darkness. No pedestrian was safe in the Spunkk. In the dark alley Cy sought safety behind the overfilled garbage can that compressed under the fatigue of days, discard printout and workweary compchips, derelict discards of onrushing technology, obscenely melding.
Cy ran the RAMchip again.
This was it. Longhidden formula dug screaming from secure RAMbanks. His.
She lay prone on the fukfome bed when he entered. Locked and sealed the door behind him. Stared at her corpsewhite flesh.
“You should get out in the sun more.”
No response. Polkadot paint circled her eyes. Blackleather bra and panties, richly adorned with nylon lace, revealed more than concealed her figure. Not good. Too flatchested. No ass.
“Is this room secure?”
“I unplugged the phone.”
“Here.” He spat the RAMchip into his palm.
“I don't want your lousy secondhand peanut.”
Anger flamed an unseen torch behind his eyes. “Dummy. It's the formula.”
The computer switched on when he kicked it. An ancient IBM PC, gutted and restuffed with macro Z-80's. Now it had more compergs than a Cray. The RAMchip plugged into the specially peanut-shaped orifice. The screen burst to repulsive life, indecipherable symbols hurtled across it.
“Not if you have been trained. That is a three, that a seven.”
She eyebulged at his arcane knowledge. Turned away, rejected. Popped a pentagon-shaped pill. A Tibetan copy of an illegal Icelandic aspirin. It hit as obscene symbols raced across the screen. The laser printer hummed grotesquely as it regurgitated a printout.
“You will. Get everything on the list.” He laughed insanely at the smell of aspirin on her breath.
“Drugs. Illegal. Banned.” Her fingers trembled with vibratory despair as she read. “Alcohol, distilled water, glycerin...”
“Go. Or you're dead.” The muzzle of the .50 caliber machine gun poked its obscene muzzle from his coatcuff. She went.
Cy BerPunk was twenty-one when he marketed the formula. Long lost, forgotten, moldering in the rateaten files of the Amsterdam News. Now reborn, remarketed, aimed unerringly at the crapkicker market. The newest. The coolest.
Pubic Hair Straightener to go with the latest all-nude craze. Once seen, must be had. And Cy controlled the supply. The bukniks piled up and he watched the zeroes multiply. Until one day...
“Enough!” he exulted unpleasantly.
Now they would let him in. Had to. Their bankaccount reader checked his balance even as he approached the front entrance of Power House. Many times had he beat feeble knuckles against the chromesteel entrance concealed behind the hologram of a chromesteel entrance. If they read his balance right — he was in. If not — he risked breaking his nose. No danger was too great. His pace never changed.
He stepped through into the lobby. The receptionist wore a holomask that concealed her face. A pig's head stared back at him. A gold ring in her nose, lips redlipsticked.
“Yes,” she grunted.
“AppleCore needs me.”
Her smile was cold as liquid helium. “AppleCore needs your money. Voodooman training is not cheap.”
“I can pay.”
“See Chandu. Room one thousand and nine. Last lift on left.”
The door closed and the floor smashed up against his feet. Then against his face as the acceleration flattened him. A thousand stories is a long way to go. When the door slid open sinuously he crawled out. Climbed wearily to his feet. Sucked on a octagonular jellybean filled with caffeine. It tasted repulsive. But he could go on now.
Crashed open the door. Saw the encrusted gleam of chrome machinery, the small man who was their master.
“Shut door. Draft,” Chandu ordered as imperiously as the last emperor. His prosthetic left hand whined latinly. It was of Italian manufacture originally designed to open spaghetti pots. He used it to pick his nose obscenely.
“You think you got it in you? Become voodooman. A keyboard killer?”
“I know. Don't think. I cut my first tooth chewing a computer mouse.”
“You can do?”
“Nobody can do what Chandu can do. I teach.”
The prosthetic slurped with a sound like sucking spaghetti when he pointed to the leering console that almost filled the room.
“80386 CPU. 2 meg RAM. Math coprocessor. Pixel dedicated VDU.”
“Forget the basics.” He caressed the VDU obscenely. “This is mine. My VDU. I will be a voodooman. Slap the dermatrodes to my skull. Hook me into the circuit.”
“To skull? What you smoke? Surging currents from VDU surge your brain to fried mush. Need body to absorb surges. Far from brain. This is suppositrod.”
“Suppositrod!” his senses reeled. “You are not going to fix it to my temples? You are going to stick it up my ass?”
“You got it in one.”
Now he knew why there was a hole in the seat of the console chair.
But his physical body was forgotten as the current surged succinctly. He was one with the VDU, a voodooman. His senses hurtling through the bowels of the computer. All black, all white.
“Can't you afford color?”
“No believe propaganda,” the disembodied voice whispered into the core of his being. “Just for holo ads in subways. Get suckers sign up. All black and white. Needs less RAM.”
Cold whiteness of ice, hot redness of red slid from his memory and crashed into empty oblivion. Something loomed from the darkness, came closer, towering out of sight. A skyscraper-size filing cabinet. Made of wood. Covered with cobwebs.
“What gives?” he screamed into the blackshot darkness.
“Gives a filing cabinet. No better way represent computer functions. What you expect? Infinite blue space? Grid of pale blue neon? Color-coded spheres? Bullshit. Holofilm crap for kiddies. How can chemical speed operating human mind follow computer one-hundred thirty million operations a second? Can't. So program written follow what is happening. That program generate this image for slow human brain to follow. Is file cabinet. Open. More file cabinet inside. Open drawer. Find program, card. Go to subprogram. All boring.”
“All boring as buffalo chips!” His errant soul roared arrogantly into the susurrating darkness. There was no reply. Chandu had fallen asleep.
Cy learned. It took every buknik he had. And more. He wanted to be a keyboard killer. More than he wanted sex, drink, pot. Wanted it so bad he could taste it. It tasted lousy. He still didn't mind.
But more money was needed. And only one place to get that. In the Spunkk. The subcity below the city. A world aside. Never entered by authority who did not want to wade in the sewer that was the only entrance. Cy waded. Kicked free of the last curl of encoilingly oleaginous water and strode into El Mingatorio. Yellow light the color of a baby's bad dream washed over the clientele. Which was a good idea since most were pretty repulsive. Cy shouldered them aside and slammed his fist on the microscarred plastic of the bar.
“Ouch!” he said. There was broken glass there.
“We're all out of Ouch,” the bartender sneered through the sneer permanently painted on his lips. With indeliblepaint. “The usual?”
Cy nodded. Distractedly. He had forgotten what his usual was. The obscenely fat bloated walrus of a man draped across the bar to his left was drinking something that smoked of vile greenness. Not that.
The crapkicker on his right, every obscene spike of purple hair tipped with a tiny condom, was gagging over a glass of smoking purpleness. Not that either.
A glass cracked down before him. Chipping the plastic. “Yours.” There was no pity on the barman's lips when he spoke. “Ginger ale.”
Cy's sneer matched his as he raised it to his mouth. Drank deep. Felt the rush of revulsion. “You gave me diet ginger ale?”
The only answer an obscene laugh like a dying soul that slipped away into the darkness.
In the Spunkk everything was for sale. Cy sold it. Doing anything for the bukniks he needed. Sold his blood. Washed windows. Babysat a two-headed baby. Nothing was too repulsive, too repugnant. He had to. He would be a voodooman.
The day he graduated they came for him.
He could not escape. The windows unbreakable. The door did not stop them.
They broke it down.
“We have you,” the first one said, the streetlights through the Venetian blinds shining on his face like an obscene polar projection.
Was that his voice? Who else's could it be?
The paper was slammed into his reluctant hand, like a poisonous papyrus rattlesnake, rustling like its rattle.
There was no escape. He was drafted.
“I was drafted. I ended up here. A voodooman with no VDU. Wasting my life, my talent. Wiring up circuit boards.”
His tears of self-pity dripped unheard onto the sands of the desert. There was only silence as Cy's voice trickled away. The story was done. Not that his audience noticed this since they were all zonked with fatigue, lulled by his voice, all now sound asleep. Not that he noticed this either since he had been popping pills steadily while he talked and was stoned out of his mind. As the last words fluttered down from his lips he fell over into the sand and began snoring.