No Signal

luxefaire

Scout
By Bill Gallagher
4885 Words


Our Modern World began once the use of electricity became commonplace. Many things changed after this new electrified world gave birth to itself, and some of those changes will be around as long as electricity is. One of the many changes is called "Accelerated Obsolescence". In our world electrical playthings change so often they become outdated extremely fast, sometimes in a few months, or even less.
Landfills are the monuments today. Books in the Earth. Messages to the future concerning what not to do.
Accelerated obsolescence has also created a situation where a lot of computing and communication power is available for little or nothing to people who could not afford that kind of power before. This availability, along with peoples natural propensity for tweaking things, especially things electrical, has spawned tribes or gangs of mostly young people using social media and their telephones for all manner of entertainments, including but not limited to live shows for chosen audiences, PAYING audiences, shows of an illegal nature and many times violent.
These individuals who are devoted to electronics in unusual ways are pretty much outlaws, brilliant in their way, but so far into kix that nothing in the normal world piques their interest. They are up a tree and out on a limb, and they like it. These people have their own media and scoff at popular things, even spit on popular things. They sometimes gain notoriety for their activities outside of their own world because of plain outrageousness. Some others from that world gain infamy instead, and will not reveal their true identities ever, because the subject matter of their movie making goes beyond adult content into cruelty.
The electronic communications grid is a lot like a big public mirror for everyone to look at if they have the nerve, though many do not.
The old world was dark, lit only by the glow of candles and campfires, the light of flame. The Modern World is incandescent, florescent, and more. It all began very much like sunrise on a clear day, barely visible, but definitely there, you could just see it. That earliest electrical sunrise was nothing but a dim indicator of the day to come. The wireless, highly energized electrical and electronic field-grid such as it has become in the 21st century is a never ending white heat enveloping humankind 24-7, and it has grown steadily every single day since its inception, since that very first dawning.
The entire planet is now one single grid. Soon the Moon and Mars will be included. Geodesic power points have been located, so that synthetically produced and electronically controlled tectonic energies (Ultrasound) of HIGH Amplitude can be used for weather control and wireless communication. These products of the magnifying transmitters are just part of the overall system further consisting of active-auroral-solar-power (Aerosol particulate spraying to achieve high energy effects on the ground), specialty satellites, and many many many (Phased Array) antennae.
The electrical grid has become Evolution.
And Devolution too.

**************************************

Both bicycles were matte black, no chrome, and they made very little noise. There was only a slight whirring sound of rubber rotating on pavement, a sound easily swallowed by the low ambient roar of south Florida traffic, which was everywhere and inescapable, even at two am. The young men riding the bicycles were decked out darkly as well, but congenial, nothing anyone could call ninja or anything like that, nothing alarming or offensive. Well worn pocketed work shirts and worn black jeans, black sneakers, thin leather gloves in pocket for later. The men were in their late twenties.
It was very dark because there was no moon, and the pair were practically invisible. The medium sized black backpacks they wore were full of electronic broadcast equipment and the power to run it. They both wore micro-cameras in several places, and one of their power sources ran a live feed broadcast through three worldwide block-chain filters whose passwords changed automatically every thirty seconds, were randomly generated, and varied between 70 and 100 characters.
The audience tonight was not bad, 82 viewers, and every single one had coughed up 100 bux to watch this heist take place. That money was already long gone and untraceable. These viewers were not just anybody, they were credentialed, they were well known in ways that only other members of the clandestine electronic world would recognize. Autodidactic Freelance Spooks United. Sort of united, anyway.
The broadcast of this little criminal affair would begin once the bicycles were stowed and the entry began. A mansion in Coconut Grove was the target, anywhere USA to the chumps in the geek seats, the voyeurs extraordinaire, the customers.
The mansion was a rich mans abode, and had been surveilled electronically by these burglars for quite some time. The whole neighborhood was somewhat rundown, as if portraying age, a tiredness perhaps. Palm trees lolled large and curved in the darkness, dropped fronds were scattered below, some coconuts too. The area had not been maintained recently. There was meaness here.
According to the public deed the house was owned by a corporation in the Bahamas, and thats as far as that trail went, unless big money was forked over, which was the exact opposite of what the two men were attempting to accomplish.
The mansions sole occupant, an elderly gentleman who was always dressed formally, suit and tie, moved about in very predictable ways. Without fail the large house was always empty on Friday and Saturday nights. The owner always left by taxi right at dark, and returned by taxi just before dawn. Without fail. Tonight had been no exception. The small surveillance cameras planted near the bottom of a telephone pole across the street ran off tiny wafer batteries that lasted 6 months. They looked like electric company inspection tags. The camera signal was then amped up with a small repeater antenna in a tree up the street, made from a larger battery and a few other small things. Ah the wonders of wireless technology.
Initially efforts had been made to locate a telephone hard line to the house, and when that failed some cruising was called for with 12th generation wireless equipment to see if any kind of fields emanated from the place. There were none.
Visual surveillance with cameras had been the last resort, but had worked well enough, considering the extra expense and risk. With the cameras they were also able to see that very little if any police traffic came this way.
The plan for this show/heist/burglary was a quick break-in at the back door, an hour of methodical pillaging, and that would be a wrap, out the back door the way they had come in and gliding away on their silent wheels, 2 hours at most, looking like guys riding their bikes to work early. And every bit but the coming and going would be broadcast live to those with interest enough in Forbidden Spectacle to pay for it. Later, an edited version would be available, at a reduced price, really the best deal for the money.

***********************************************************

Abe Steinmetz was not Jewish, not the least little bit, he was African American, pure. His short afro hair cut and very dark skin served to strengthen his rather handsome negroid facial features, and it was because of this classic appearance that some people were caught off guard upon hearing his name for the first time. The tendency to blurt ridiculous twaddle is a genetic trait among some folks, it seems. It may be a dna signature of certain groups, perhaps all groups. Definitely hard to say.
So.
Abe was adamant about clarifying his true heritage to any that needed that clarification. Abe also had no compunction or squeamish feelings about boxing ears whenever THAT was needed too, whether it be someone late on their payments to him and his, or just some potato head saying things like "You sure don't LOOK Jew-ish!".
If it was the latter, AND if he was in a good mood, he would sometimes hand the ridiculous fool a piece of toilet paper, and, with a very stern expression say: "Here, wipe your mouth and quit talking felgercarb", but he only let a person slide once, if that. Abe was a well trained fighter and he worked out regularly. Serious fighting is discipline. You only do it when you have to, preferably for money, and it is not good to dilly dally or have sport with the opponent, that almost always backfires in some way or another. What you do is you get their strict attention right away and then you instill a serious fear, one that will cause them to act in your favor. Its either that or you lay them down as quickly as possible with the least amount of effort. Heavy oak canes work well.
Hapkido.
Abe didn't like fighting, overall he considered the effort too great for the rewards involved. It was just the way of things here, from big to small, everything trying to devour everything else all the time and forever. To Abe fighting was just another tool, another job. A golden oldy his mother used to listen to by CAGE THE ELEPHANT said it well: "...There ain't no rest for the wicked, until we close our eyes for good..."
Because Abe Steinmetz was a serious dealer and a good fighter the ridiculous incidents became less over time and eventually stopped altogether. The problem was this: his real father, God rest his soul, had admired Abe Lincoln, which was why he named his last son Abraham. Steinmetz was the name of the Jewish guy who married his mother after his father was gunned down in drug violence over near the Crandon Park Zoo. His mother insisted Abe change his name to her new name, legally, because at that time he was still under age, and because that name, that KIND of name, carried certain weight all over south Florida. Abe wished he had never done it, he felt he might have somehow offended his fathers spirit, and he thought he might like to change his name back to Abe Roberts, which was what it was to begin with. He was unsure of the procedure though because his mother had taken care of it all before, and it was one of those things he kept putting off. Abraham Roberts Steinmetz had a thriving dislike of all things government and he avoided it to a fault.
Abe was the actual brain of the two man team doing these made-for-wireless break ins, though he did not speak during any of the episodes, he just monitored everything with his camera controls, and passed along the occasional worthy comment from the audience to his cohort, Howard "Howie" Mora. He also grabbed anything he deemed valuable and could be carried easily.
Howie Mora was a Miami native, and got his start in movies filming dog fights live for his online audience. He was the moving force behind introducing cats into dog fights, which was hot for awhile in the Tres Diablos section of Los Angeles, but then began to draw BIG heat, ie. the real men in black. Mora got out as soon as he saw reality, which was in plenty of time. He even made a hundred grand or so while it was going on, most of which he put to use in very self-destructive ways, proving for the zillionth time that there really is an odd and persistent justice constantly at work below the threshold of things. Those in the know say Karma, and Karma never sleeps.
Howie did manage to buy some nice used electronic equipment with his ill gotten proceeds, equipment for making movies, and mobile secure servers whose AIs specialized in parasitic operations (The best invisibility to date) and some other things, which is how Abe Steinmetz got into it. Abe was a natural electronic technician, and he was always busy. He made Mora a package deal on some really fine and powerful used electronic equipment a couple of years ago, and was thereby awarded the design and maintenance contract to Howie Moras Wireless Empire, such as it was, and if he wanted it. He decided he did. Mora had been keeping him busy and the money was good.
Both young men wore special electronic hearing aids with multiple microphones, AI assisted. These augmentations allowed them to hear things with superhuman acuity if they chose to; they were not only minutely adjustable, but could be focused as beams too, they could be fine tuned to hear only in small selected spots. The brand name was 10XK9, the best. The eyeglasses they wore were specially made by a friend of Abe Steinmetz who ran the Electronic Toy Shop at the Big Circus Fleamarket on Sunrise Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale. They contained night vision, live feed viewing areas, and some nice sensing instruments like temperature, humidity, and they would also alert on strong electronic fields which might indicate alarm systems, booby traps, or remote monitoring.
Both men wore special wrap-around stocking masks during their broadcasts, very light, velcroed in place and not uncomfortable. On their baseball type billed caps they had a variety of lights available for their use, mostly underbill LED lights to defeat surveillance cameras or to light an immediate area, though the flash strobes at back and top were nice surprises against a sighted foe if you needed them.

****************************************************

Howie and Abe had stashed their bicycles by leaning them into some of the dense foliage at the rear of the house, where they were out of sight but easily accessible upon exit. The men had silently cruised from the street into the dark driveway which ran alongside the house, and they were not seen. They approached the rear door of the mansion, donning gloves and face masks.
Howie spoke his greeting in a low whisper, beginning the broadcast:
"Good Evening my internet compadres, we're now ready to begin this hunt."
Howie Mora spoke with a distinct south Florida Cuban cowboy accent, yet another transient language of mankind that has something of a lazy way about it, and more than its share of local pidgin and idiom. Expect to hear things like "This ain't yer land gringo, this heres ARE land", or bastardized profanity like cone-you, and muddy-cone. Even if the speaker of this language is not chewing gum as they talk, it sounds like it.
The night was warm, humid, and the darkness was nearly total. Mora switched his LED headlight to Red and turned it on. The AI which permeated the video software automatically adjusted the picture for viewers and would even go into night vision if necessary.
Mora took out his lock picks and Abe focused a feed cam on the packet of tools, people liked to see things like that, made them feel part. Howie our star removed a tool from the unfolded pack and inserted it in the keyhole of the large wooden back door, showing his consummate skill. But as the tool met resistance in the doorknob it was able to push inward more than it should have been able to, and thats because the door was not just unlocked, it had been left slightly ajar. Abe got a quick picture of his partners stocking-mask grin as he put his lock-picking tool back in the pouch. Howie shoved lightly on the door, and it silently swung inward. They both entered, Mora in the lead because his cameras were the primary feed, Abe only used his cams for closeups, alternate views, and back-up.
They were in a large kitchen, and the first thing Abe Steinmetz noticed was that the floor was sticky, his Vans were making funny sounds as he walked. He hated felgercarb like that, he had a phobia about felgercarb like that, though Howie Mora seemed not to notice as he headed right for the refrigerator, which he always did first if he could, because, in his words:
"Lookin' inna someones 'frigerator is like looking inna the recesses of their minds, lookin' right inna the animal itself."
The only more personal place was the bathroom, and Howie always looked there too, all the while sharing these revelations with however many people had paid to see such things.
Abe had a few seconds to look around. The place was a shambles, cobwebs, and the curtains were rotten, torn in many places, dust seemed to hang in the very air itself. His cams were available as number two and three feeds to anyone watching, and he hoped some were seeing this, but rightly guessed that the audience entire was focused on Howie and The Refrigerator.
Then Abe watched too as Howie Mora opened the refrigerator, expecting a light but it remained dark, the light was broken or something. The only illumination was from the red LED on his partners hat. He heard Mora let out a low whistle. Making his way scritch scritch scritch across the sticky floor Abe shined a closeup cam into the refrigerator, which was so cold the temperature differential was causing some of the lenses to fog, and cold vapor bellowed out across the floor. Abe was looking at the scene as a whole, and not at what was in the refrigerator. He finally keyed his view to Howies and also noticed that some comments were coming in from the audience, a pretty rare thing in the first place, these were numerous:
"Thats blood man."
"those bottles are old."
"guy must be a hemophiliac".
"Gross!"
"Yum!"
Abe thought they might have a hit on their hands. Using the Flexi keyboard mounted underneath his work shirt he passed the comments about the blood and hemophilia to Howie, and they moved on. Nothing worth stealing here.
From the dilapidated kitchen they walked down a short carpeted hallway which made Abe feel a lot better because his shoes made zero sound, just the way he liked it. The hallway opened onto a large living room with lots of old furniture in it, heavy stuff. Place smelled like the bat house at the zoo, thought Abe Steinmetz, and he wouldn't be a bit surprised if the old dump didn't harbor a wild roost or two.
Then things got fun.
After the incident with the refrigerator Howie seemed distracted, less animated than usual, but he went through his motions, walked to a desk that stood at the back of the room and opened one of the side drawers. He froze. Abe moved up beside him with better light and the close-up cam. Abe froze too. Then comments began to fly in from the audience, waking Abe from his reverie.
"Holy frack!!!"
"is that felgercarb for real???"
"you guys staged this!!
And on and on.
But there was nothing faked or staged about the way Abe Steinmetz and Howie Mora began cramming their pockets full of what was in that drawer, uhnnn-uhh. Anyone watching those two bandits at work saw the real King of Earth, saw with their own two eyes and no doubts about it, the real King of Earth being of course Blind Unadulterated Greed. The men were possessed of a shining, a lust, an energy that was, if not demonic, at least heated.
In the drawer were gold coins, loose, all kinds of gold coins, OLD gold coins, just piled in there like an old time treasure chest, PILED FULL. This was way more than they could ever carry. They were breathing hard, and grunting like little pigs.
The audience seemed rapt, then a few messages:
"Whats that noise in the background?"
"I hear it too, you playing music there?"
"sounds like horn music..."
Abe stopped loading his pockets, they were all just about filled up anyway and he didn't know how he was going to ride the bike like this. He increased the range on his AI hearing device. He could discern nothing like music, just regular things which gave him a headache when he listened too long, so he went back to normal hearing and used his keyboard to reply:
"Don't know what you are hearing, is not from these microphones...we need a second to regroup here....going black-mute, back soon.
Reeling across the now black screens of the audience came this word in big red capital letters: MUTE MUTE MUTE...

**********************************

Abe said: "We got to get out of here."
Howie: "What? We just got here, its not twenty minutes yet." He stomped a foot, made a chopping motion with his right hand. Heil Howie.
Abe: "Its 23 minutes exactly, time flies when you're havin' fun. No, we already got more than we can carry in our pockets, we can load up the dead areas of the backpacks and get. Say sorry to the audience, thanks, see you next time.
Howie: Now listen man, I am payin' you for this..."
Abe: Well I quit ok? At five thousand an ounce I got me enough pounds of gold to take a good long Jamaican vacation right now and thats what I am gonna do."
They argued for about three more minutes but were already loading the packs as they argued. The drawer was over half empty when they were done. Howie wanted to look in the other drawers, Abe restrained him, no good could come of that. They shouldered their very heavy packs, and made their way to the doorway of the hall leading back to the kitchen, and the back door. Abe clicked back onto the live electronic grid and Howie began his schpiel, thanks very much for subscribing tonight, free edited versions to all who watched, Lalalalala...."
Abe watched the comments and there were not many, a few frack-yous, which are almost obligatory, and are even terms of endearment in this day and age. Abe kept the cameras on out of habit, the show ended at the back door, in the place it began, so the trudge down the hallway and through the kitchen to the backdoor was the last thing the audience would see tonight, kind of a rip, oh well sux 2 b u 2 day.
Howie whispered something about not remembering the hallway being this long before. He shined his bright light ahead from the bill of his cap and the hallways peeling walls were lit for 30 feet or more, with just black beyond. The men walked for a minute more, then decided to backtrack, thinking they had taken the wrong hallway to the kitchen.
Presently they came back to the living room and there was another hallway leading off it, obviously theirs, so again they walked until they realized that hallway too was the wrong way out.
"This can't be happening" said Howie Mora, in his south Florida Cuban cowboy accent, wishing he had a piece of gum.
Again they turned around, heading back to the living room.
They came to a door in the wall. Howie pulled it open. It was a bathroom like neither had ever seen, it was the color of blood, it WAS blood, a charnel house, blood dripping everywhere, raw meat hanging all over the walls, the odor was immense and foul, fat glistening worms fell out of gaping holes in the raw flesh. A perfectly white and shining commode stood untouched like some sort of sculpture in the middle of the bloody floor, a Throne; there was no sink, no shower. Howie slammed the door quickly.
"Was that door here before??" The south Florida Cuban cowboy was becoming manic, his voice was starting to screech. His gum chewing speech took on staccato cadence.
Abe felt himself beginning to shake uncontrollably inside, and his bowels were becoming loose, he felt like he wanted to drop his pants and leave a puddle of it right here. A single message came across Abes eyeglass screen from the audience:
"U R FUKT."
Jesus. The feed was still live. Would stay live all the way to the back door, har har har thought Abe Steinmetz. This show might last for frackin ever. He did not bother passing the message from the audience on to the star.
Then came the one thing that all guys like Howie Mora rely on in a crunch, a berserker mode called Latin Machismo. Howie started running down the hallway screaming at the top of his lungs, putting on quite a show, until he came to a turn in the hallway which was not there before and impaled himself through the throat and other places on a coat of arms decorating the wall, also not there before, a coat of arms with real spears and axes and arrows and stuff. Thats what it looked like to Abe anyway, and he could feel the tears rolling down his face as he viewed all this closeup, with his tearful eyes and his camera.
Abe was not crying for Howie though, felgercarb no, in fact Abe was still smarting from that asshole pulling rank on him in the living room. Abe Steinmetz was crying for himself, of course. He silently loaded his pants then, but was pretty sure no one in the audience knew, as if. At this point Abe would have gladly done the Freaky Deaky fully covered in his own stinking felgercarb, wearing only underwear made of PORK CHOPS, through the bright light of day in front of thousands of people, even millions, on national frackin TV, rather than be trapped here with Howie, or what had become of Howie.
Abe did not even think about the coins Howie carried except to note that they probably aided the mans demise on the coat of arms due to increased momentum as he ran, a true inability to stop, the OOPS just milliseconds before the WHAM. Audience had got their eyes full, no doubt, but all they saw now was a wall, which Howard Mora was mechanically fastened to. Some would find their way over to Abes cams, some might not. He was betting most did, but Abe was officially beyond giving a felgercarb.
Abe was thinking of dropping his knapsack to lighten things up, but those were just idle thoughts.
Howie twitched a lot for being so dead, or so close to death. It was certainly clear he was done, he had effectively ripped most of his own throat out, blood was running down his body in thickening streams, droplets moved to that famous tune called Gravity, but also pulsed in time to that old favorite My Dying Heart. Howies dark clothes now included bright red stripes and splotches for contrast -- the body itself mostly hung by the neck on a long protruding metal spear point, a straight meat hook. The eyes were closed and the head lay limp.
Howard Moras last words had been recorded live, for all posterity, and went something like this: "Unh arrrgh, errrgh op", overall quite an improvement on the south Florida Cuban cowboy accent, at least to admirers of eloquence. Howie twitched spasmodically one last time, wriggling like a fish on a gig, more or less, and one of his big partially severed blood vessels let loose, spraying blood to the ceiling and all over Abe Steinmetz. If Howie had been born a chimpanzee he would have been a turd thrower.
Lots of comments from the audience then, who had obviously figured out where the action was:
"f u guys r faking this s ok keep up te good work..."
"frackin frackin awesome awesome!!"
"subscriber for life...ten minutes and counting hee hee..."
"BUST Ghosters!"
"STIM-ulating...."
And on and on.
Abe ignored all that, because looking down the turn of the hallway he saw something else that hadn't been there before, a window, with tattered dusty drapes. It was large, and the sill was only three feet above the floor. Abe Steinmetz ran like he had never run before. He threw back the curtains. Yes. A large, very dirty window.
He ran back down the hall, grabbed an axe from the coat of arms, then sped back and repeatedly struck the glass of the window, which was so dirty it was opaque, like it was painted. First a crack, then one of the two large panes fell out. He was looking out into the real world, and he could see the earliest blush of sunrise to the east, but only through tight iron security bars which covered the window entirely.
With the strength of a madman he attacked the iron bars, bloodying his fingers and even his head as he tried to squeeze out of the bars, but they alone were still strong in this run down place. Sweat coursed off the body of Abe Steinmetz in rivulets. His odor made him think of death. He looked down the hall and Howie was gone now. He took off his pack and began to empty his pockets. His pockets were still full, but with something that looked like white sand. He touched it to his tongue: salt.
From somewhere behind him a door slammed.
Two words flashed in white on the suddenly dark screens of the audience:
NO SIGNAL.




FIN



























By Bill Gallagher
4675 Words


Our Modern World began once the use of electricity became commonplace. Many things changed after this new electrified world gave birth to itself, and some of those changes will be around as long as electricity is. One of the many changes is called "Accelerated Obsolescence". In our world electrical playthings change so often they become outdated extremely fast, sometimes in a few months, or even less.
Landfills are the monuments today. Books in the Earth. Messages to the future concerning what not to do.
Accelerated obsolescence has also created a situation where a lot of computing and communication power is available for little or nothing to people who could not afford that kind of power before. This availability, along with peoples natural propensity for tweaking things, especially things electrical, has spawned tribes or gangs of mostly young people using social media and their telephones for all manner of entertainments, including but not limited to live shows for chosen audiences, PAYING audiences, shows of an illegal nature and many times violent.
These individuals who are devoted to electronics in unusual ways are pretty much outlaws, brilliant in their way, but so far into kix that nothing in the normal world piques their interest. They are up a tree and out on a limb, and they like it. These people have their own media and scoff at popular things, even spit on popular things. They sometimes gain notoriety for their activities outside of their own world because of plain outrageousness. Some others from that world gain infamy instead, and will not reveal their true identities ever, because the subject matter of their movie making goes beyond adult content into cruelty.
The electronic communications grid is a lot like a big public mirror for everyone to look at if they have the nerve, though many do not.
The old world was dark, lit only by the glow of candles and campfires, the light of flame. The Modern World is incandescent, florescent, and more. It all began very much like sunrise on a clear day, barely visible, but definitely there, you could just see it. That earliest electrical sunrise was nothing but a dim indicator of the day to come. The wireless, highly energized electrical and electronic field-grid such as it has become in the 21st century is a never ending white heat enveloping humankind 24-7, and it has grown steadily every single day since its inception, since that very first dawning.
The entire planet is now one single grid. Soon the Moon and Mars will be included. Geodesic power points have been located, so that synthetically produced and electronically controlled tectonic energies (Ultrasound) of HIGH Amplitude can be used for weather control and wireless communication. These products of the magnifying transmitters are just part of the overall system further consisting of active-auroral-solar-power (Aerosol particulate spraying to achieve high energy effects on the ground), specialty satellites, and many many many (Phased Array) antennae.
The electrical grid has become Evolution.
And Devolution too.

**************************************

Both bicycles were matte black, no chrome, and they made very little noise. There was only a slight whirring sound of rubber rotating on pavement, a sound easily swallowed by the low ambient roar of south Florida traffic, which was everywhere and inescapable, even at two am. The young men riding the bicycles were decked out darkly as well, but congenial, nothing anyone could call ninja or anything like that, nothing alarming or offensive. Well worn pocketed work shirts and worn black jeans, black sneakers, thin leather gloves in pocket for later. The men were in their late twenties.
It was very dark because there was no moon, and the pair were practically invisible. The medium sized black backpacks they wore were full of electronic broadcast equipment and the power to run it. They both wore micro-cameras in several places, and one of their power sources ran a live feed broadcast through three worldwide block-chain filters whose passwords changed automatically every thirty seconds, were randomly generated, and varied between 70 and 100 characters.
The audience tonight was not bad, 82 viewers, and every single one had coughed up 100 bux to watch this heist take place. That money was already long gone and untraceable. These viewers were not just anybody, they were credentialed, they were well known in ways that only other members of the clandestine electronic world would recognize. Autodidactic Freelance Spooks United. Sort of united, anyway.
The broadcast of this little criminal affair would begin once the bicycles were stowed and the entry began. A mansion in Coconut Grove was the target, anywhere USA to the chumps in the geek seats, the voyeurs extraordinaire, the customers.
The mansion was a rich mans abode, and had been surveilled electronically by these burglars for quite some time. The whole neighborhood was somewhat rundown, as if portraying age, a tiredness perhaps. Palm trees lolled large and curved in the darkness, dropped fronds were scattered below, some coconuts too. The area had not been maintained recently. There was meaness here.
The mansions owner, an elderly looking gentleman always dressed formally, suit and tie, moved about in very predictable ways. Without fail the large house was always empty on Friday and Saturday nights. The owner always left by taxi right at dark, and returned by taxi just before dawn. Without fail. Tonight had been no exception. The small surveillance cameras planted near the bottom of a telephone pole across the street ran off tiny wafer batteries that lasted 6 months. They looked like electric company inspection tags. The camera signal was then amped up with a small repeater antennae in a tree up the street, made from a larger battery and a few other small things. Ah the wonders of wireless technology.
Initially efforts had been made to locate a telephone hard line to the house, and when that failed some cruising was called for with 12th generation wireless equipment to see if any kind of fields emanated from the place. There were none.
Visual surveillance with cameras had been the last resort, but had worked well enough, considering the extra expense and risk. With the cameras they were also able to see that very little if any police traffic came this way.
The plan for this show/heist/burglary was a quick break-in at the back door, an hour of methodical pillaging, and that would be a wrap, out the back door the way they had come in and gliding away on their silent wheels, 2 hours at most, looking like guys riding their bikes to work early. And every bit but the coming and going would be broadcast live to those with interest enough in Forbidden Spectacle to pay for it. Later, an edited version would be available, at a reduced price, really the best deal for the money.

***********************************************************

Abe Steinmetz was not Jewish, not the least little bit, he was African American, pure. His short afro hair cut and very dark skin served to strengthen his rather handsome negroid facial features, and it was because of this classic appearance that some people were caught off guard upon hearing his name for the first time. The tendency to blurt ridiculous twaddle is a genetic trait among some folks, it seems. It may be a dna signature of certain groups, perhaps all groups. Definitely hard to say.
So.
Abe was adamant about clarifying his true heritage to any that needed that clarification. Abe also had no compunction or squeamish feelings about boxing ears whenever THAT was needed too, whether it be someone late on their payments to him and his, or just some potato head saying things like "You sure don't LOOK Jew-ish!".
If it was the latter, AND if he was in a good mood, he would sometimes hand the ridiculous fool a piece of toilet paper, and, with a very stern look say: "Here, wipe your mouth and quit talking felgercarb", but he only let a person slide once, if that. Abe was a well trained fighter and he worked out regularly. Serious fighting is discipline. You only do it when you have to, preferably for money, and it is not good to dilly dally or have sport with the opponent, that almost always backfires in some way or another. What you do is you get their strict attention right away and then you instill a serious fear, one that will cause them to act in your favor. Its either that or you lay them down as quickly as possible with the least amount of effort. Heavy oak canes work well.
Hapkido.
Abe didn't like fighting, overall he considered the effort too great for the rewards involved. It was just the way of things here, from big to small, everything trying to devour everything else all the time and forever. To Abe fighting was just another tool, another job. A golden oldy his mother used to listen to by CAGE THE ELEPHANT said it well: "...There ain't no rest for the wicked, until we close our eyes for good..."
Because Abe Steinmetz was a serious dealer and a good fighter the ridiculous incidents became less over time and eventually stopped altogether. The problem was this: his real father, God rest his soul, had admired Abe Lincoln, which was why he named his last son Abraham. Steinmetz was the name of the Jewish guy who married his mother after his father was gunned down in drug violence over near the Crandon Park Zoo. His mother insisted Abe change his name to her new name, legally, because at that time he was still under age, and because that name, that KIND of name, carried certain weight all over south Florida. Abe wished he had never done it, he felt he might have somehow offended his fathers spirit, and he thought he might like to change his name back to Abe Roberts, which was what it was to begin with. He was unsure of the procedure though because his mother had taken care of it all before, and it was one of those things he kept putting off. Abraham Roberts Steinmetz had a thriving dislike of all things government and he avoided it to a fault.
Abe was the actual brain of the two man team doing these made-for-wireless break ins, though he did not speak during any of the episodes, he just monitored everything with his camera controls, and passed along the occasional worthy comment from the audience to his cohort, Howard "Howie" Mora. He also grabbed anything he deemed worthy and could be carried easily.
Howie Mora was a Miami native, and got his start in movies filming dog fights live for his online audience. He was the moving force behind introducing cats into dog fights, which was hot for awhile in the Tres Diablos section of Los Angeles, but then began to draw BIG heat, ie. the real men in black. Mora got out as soon as he saw reality, which was in plenty of time. He even made a hundred grand or so while it was going on, most of which he put to use in very self-destructive ways, proving for the zillionth time that there really is an odd and persistent justice constantly at work below the threshold of things. Those in the know say Karma, and Karma never sleeps.
Howie did manage to buy some nice used electronic equipment with his ill gotten proceeds, equipment for making movies, and mobile secure servers whose AIs specialized in parasitic operations (The best invisibility to date) and some other things, which is how Abe Steinmetz got into it. Abe was a natural electronic technician, and he was always busy. He made Mora a package deal on some really fine and powerful electronic equipment a couple of years ago, and was thereby awarded the design and maintenance contract to Howie Moras Wireless Empire, such as it was, and if he wanted it. He decided he did. Mora had been keeping him busy and the money was good.
Both young men wore special electronic hearing aids with multiple microphones, AI assisted. These augmentations allowed them to hear things with superhuman acuity if they chose to; they were not only minutely adjustable, but could be focused as beams too, they could be fine tuned to hear only in small selected spots. The brand name was 10XK9, the best. The eyeglasses they wore were specially made by a friend of Abe Steinmetz who ran the Electronic Toy Shop at the Big Circus Fleamarket on Sunrise Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale. They contained night vision, live feed viewing areas, and some nice sensing instruments like temperature, humidity, and they would also alert on strong electronic fields which might indicate alarm systems, booby traps, or remote monitoring.
Both men wore special wrap-around stocking masks during their broadcasts, very light, velcroed in place and not uncomfortable. On their baseball type billed caps they had a variety of lights available for their use, mostly underbill LED lights to defeat surveillance cameras or to light an immediate area, though the flash strobes at back and top were nice surprises against a sighted foe if you needed them.

****************************************************

Howie and Abe had stashed their bicycles by leaning them into some of the dense foliage at the rear of the house, where they were out of sight but easily accessible upon exit. The men had silently cruised from the street into the dark driveway which ran alongside the house, and they were not seen. They approached the rear door of the mansion, donning gloves and face masks.
Howie spoke his greeting in a low whisper, beginning the broadcast:
"Good Evening my internet compadres, we're now ready to begin this hunt."
Howie Mora spoke with a distinct south Florida Cuban cowboy accent, yet another transient language of mankind that has something of a lazy way about it, and more than its share of local pidgin and idiom. Expect to hear things like "This ain't yer land gringo, this heres ARE land", or bastardized profanity like cone-you, and muddy-cone. Even if the speaker of this language is not chewing gum as they talk, it sounds like it.
The night was warm, humid, and the darkness was nearly total. Mora switched his LED headlight to Red and turned it on. The AI which permeated the movie software automatically adjusted the picture for viewers and would even go into night vision if necessary.
Mora took out his lock picks and Abe focused a feed cam on the packet of tools, people liked to see things like that, made them feel part. Howie our star removed a tool from the unfolded pack and inserted it in the keyhole of the large wooden back door, showing his consummate skill. But as the tool met resistance in the doorknob it was able to push inward more than it should have been able to, and thats because the door was not just unlocked, it had been left slightly ajar. Abe got a quick picture of his partners stocking-mask grin as he put his lock-picking tool back in the pouch. Howie shoved lightly on the door, and it silently swung inward. They both entered, Mora in the lead because his cameras were the primary feed, Abe only used his cams for closeups, alternate views, and back-up.
They were in a large kitchen, and the first thing Abe Steinmetz noticed was that the floor was sticky, his Vans were making funny sounds as he walked. He hated felgercarb like that, he had a phobia about felgercarb like that, though Howie Mora seemed not to notice as he headed right for the refrigerator, which he always did first if he could, because, in his words:
"Lookin' inna someones 'frigerator is like looking inna the recesses of their minds, lookin' right inna the animal itself."
The only more personal place was the bathroom, and Howie always looked there too, all the while sharing these revelations with however many people had paid to see such things.
Abe had a few seconds to look around. The place was a shambles, cobwebs, and the curtains were rotten, torn in many places, dust seemed to hang in the very air itself. His cams were available as number two and three feeds to anyone watching, and he hoped some were seeing this, but rightly guessed that the audience entire was focused on Howie and The Refrigerator.
Then Abe watched too as Howie Mora opened the refrigerator, expecting a light but it remained dark, the light was broken or something. The only illumination was from the red LED on his partners hat. He heard Mora let out a low whistle. Making his way scritch scritch scritch across the sticky floor Abe shined a closeup cam into the refrigerator, which was so cold the temperature differential was causing some of the lenses to fog, and cold vapor bellowed out across the floor. Abe was looking at the scene as a whole, and not at what was in the refrigerator. He finally keyed his view to Howies and also noticed that some comments were coming in from the audience, a pretty rare thing in the first place, these were numerous:
"Thats blood man."
"those bottles are old."
"guy must be a hemophiliac".
"Gross!"
"Yum!"
Abe thought they might have a hit on their hands. Using the Flexi keyboard mounted underneath his work shirt he passed the comments about the blood and hemophilia to Howie, and they moved on. Nothing worth stealing here.
From the dilapidated kitchen they walked down a short carpeted hallway which made Abe feel a lot better because his shoes made zero sound, just the way he liked it. The hallway opened onto a large living room with lots of old furniture in it, heavy stuff. Place smelled like the bat house at the zoo, thought Abe Steinmetz, and he wouldn't be a bit surprised if the old dump didn't harbor a wild roost or two.
Then things got fun.
After the incident with the refrigerator Howie seemed distracted, less animated than usual, but he went through his motions, walked to a desk that stood at the back of the room and opened one of the side drawers. He froze. Abe moved up beside him with better light and the close-up cam. Abe froze too. Then comments began to fly in from the audience, waking Abe from his reverie.
"Holy frack!!!"
"is that felgercarb for real???"
"you guys staged this!!
And on and on.
But there was nothing faked or staged about the way Abe Steinmetz and Howie Mora began cramming their pockets full of what was in that drawer, uhnnn-uhh. Anyone watching those two bandits at work saw the real King of Earth, saw with their own two eyes and no doubts about it, the real King of Earth being of course Blind Unadulterated Greed. The men were possessed of a shining, a lust, an energy that was, if not demonic, at least heated.
In the drawer were gold coins, loose, all kinds of gold coins, OLD gold coins, just piled in there like an old time treasure chest, PILED FULL.
This was way more than they could ever carry. They were breathing hard, and grunting like little pigs.
The audience seemed rapt, then a few messages:
"Whats that noise in the background?"
"I hear it too, you playing music there?"
"sounds like horn music..."
Abe stopped loading his pockets, they were all just about filled up anyway and he didn't know how he was going to ride the bike like this. He increased the range on his AI hearing device. He could discern nothing like music, just regular things which gave him a headache when he listened too long, so he went back to normal hearing and used his keyboard to reply:
"Don't know what you are hearing, is not from these microphones...we need a second to regroup here....going black-mute, back soon.
Reeling across the now black screens of the audience came this word in big red capital letters: MUTE MUTE MUTE...

**********************************

Abe said: "We got to get out of here."
Howie: "What? We just got here, its not twenty minutes yet." He stomped a foot, made a chopping motion with his right hand. Heil Howie.
Abe: "Its 23 minutes exactly, time flies when you're havin' fun. No, we already got more than we can carry in our pockets, we can load up the dead areas of the backpacks and get. Say sorry to the audience, thanks, see you next time.
Howie: Now listen man, I am payin' you for this..."
Abe: Well I quit ok? At five thousand an ounce I got me enough pounds of gold to take a good long Jamaican vacation right now and thats what I am gonna do."
They argued for about three more minutes but were already loading the packs as they argued. The drawer was over half empty when they were done. Howie wanted to look in the other drawers, Abe restrained him, no good could come of that. They shouldered their very heavy packs, and made their way to the doorway of the hall leading back to the kitchen, and the back door. Abe clicked back onto the live electronic grid and Howie began his schpiel, thanks very much for subscribing tonight, free edited versions to all who watched, Lalalalala...."
Abe watched the comments and there were not many, a few frack-yous, which are almost obligatory, and are even terms of endearment in this day and age. Abe kept the cameras on out of habit, the show ended at the back door, in the place it began, so the trudge down the hallway and through the kitchen to the backdoor was the last thing the audience would see tonight, kind of a rip, oh well sux 2 b u 2 day.
Howie whispered something about not remembering the hallway being this long before. He shined his bright light ahead from the bill of his cap and the hallways peeling walls were lit for 30 feet or more, with just black beyond. The men walked for a minute more, then decided to backtrack, thinking they had taken the wrong hallway to the kitchen.
Presently they came back to the living room and there was another hallway leading off it, obviously theirs, so again they walked until they realized that hallway too was the wrong way out.
"This can't be happening" said Howie Mora, in his south Florida Cuban cowboy accent, wishing he had a piece of gum.
The pair came to a door in the wall. Howie pulled it open. It was a bathroom like neither had ever seen, it was the color of blood, it WAS blood, a charnel house, blood dripping everywhere, raw meat hanging all over the walls, the odor was immense and foul, fat glistening worms fell out of gaping holes in the raw flesh. A perfectly white and shining commode stood untouched like some sort of sculpture in the middle of the bloody floor, a Throne; there was no sink, no shower. Howie slammed the door quickly.
"Was that door here before??" The south Florida Cuban cowboy was becoming manic, his voice was starting to screech. His gum chewing speech took on staccato cadence.
Abe felt himself beginning to shake uncontrollably inside, and his bowels were becoming loose, he felt like he wanted to drop his pants and leave a puddle of it right here. A single message came across Abes eyeglass screen from the audience:
"U R FUKT."
Jesus. The feed was still live. Would stay live all the way to the back door, har har har thought Abe Steinmetz. This show might last for frackin ever. He did not bother passing the message from the audience on to the star.
Then came the one thing that all guys like Howie Mora rely on in a crunch, a berserker mode called Latin Machismo. Howie started running down the hallway screaming at the top of his lungs, putting on quite a show, until he came to a turn in the hallway which was not there before and impaled himself through the throat and other places on a coat of arms decorating the wall, also not there before, a coat of arms with real spears and axes and arrows and stuff. Thats what it looked like to Abe anyway, and he could feel the tears rolling down his face as he viewed all this closeup, with his tearful eyes and his camera.
Abe was not crying for Howie though, felgercarb no, in fact Abe was still smarting from that asshole pulling rank on him in the living room. Abe Steinmetz was crying for himself, of course. He silently loaded his pants then, but was pretty sure no one in the audience knew, as if. At this point Abe would have gladly done the Freaky Deaky fully covered in his own stinking felgercarb, wearing only underwear made of PORK CHOPS, through the bright light of day in front of thousands of people, even millions, on national frackin TV, rather than be trapped here with Howie, or what had become of Howie.
Abe did not even think about the coins Howie carried except to note that they probably aided the mans demise on the coat of arms due to increased momentum as he ran, a true inability to stop, the OOPS just milliseconds before the WHAM. Audience had got their eyes full, no doubt, but all they saw now was a wall, which Howard Mora was mechanically fastened to. Some would find their way over to Abes cams, some might not. He was betting most did, but Abe was officially beyond giving a felgercarb.
Abe was thinking of dropping his knapsack to lighten his load, but these were just idle thoughts.
Howie twitched a lot for being so dead, or so close to death. It was certainly clear he was done, he had effectively ripped most of his own throat out, blood was running down his body in thickening streams, droplets moved to that famous tune called Gravity, but also pulsed in time to that old favorite My Dying Heart. Howies dark clothes now included bright red stripes and splotches for contrast -- the body itself mostly hung by the neck on a long protruding metal spear point, a straight meat hook. The eyes were closed and the head lay limp.
Howard Moras last words had been recorded live, for all posterity, and went something like this: "Unh arrrgh, errrgh op", overall quite an improvement on the south Florida Cuban cowboy accent, at least to admirers of eloquence. Howie twitched spasmodically one last time, wriggling like a fish on a gig, more or less, and one of his big partially severed veins let loose, spraying blood to the ceiling and all over Abe Steinmetz. If Howie had been born a chimpanzee he would have been a turd thrower.
Lots of comments from the audience then, who had obviously figured out where the action was:
"f u guys r faking this s ok keep up te good work..."
"frackin frackin awesome awesome!!"
"subscriber for life...ten minutes and counting hee hee..."
"BUST Ghosters!"
"STIM-ulating...."
And on and on.
Abe ignored all that, because looking down the turn of the hallway he saw something else that hadn't been there before, a window, with tattered dusty drapes. It was large, and the sill was only three feet above the floor. Abe Steinmetz ran like he had never run before. He threw back the curtains. Yes. A large, very dirty window.
He ran back down the hall, grabbed an axe from the coat of arms, then sped back and repeatedly struck the glass of the window, which was so dirty it was opaque, like it was painted. First a crack, then one of the two large panes fell out. He was looking out into the real world, and he could see the earliest blush of sunrise to the east, but only through tight iron security bars which covered the window entirely.
With the strength of a madman he attacked the iron bars, bloodying his fingers and even his head as he tried to squeeze out of the bars, but they alone were still strong in this run down place. Sweat coursed off the body of Abe Steinmetz in rivulets. His odor made him think of death. He looked down the hall and Howie was gone now. He took off his pack and began to empty his pockets. He made low grunting noises but kind of whining noises at the same time. His pockets were still full, but with something that looked like white sand. He touched it to his tongue: salt.
From somewhere behind him a door slammed.
Two words flashed in white on the suddenly dark screens of the audience:
NO SIGNAL.

FIN
 

Tom

An Old Friend
Just a side note:
I was once told by my sister's father-in-law (who wrote and taught creative writing) swearing in a story should be kept minimal and only used when the character's personality demands it.
He said, "Challenge yourself Tom, to be creative enough with wording, to accurately transmit feeling without resorting to swearing."

From a practical, real-life experience I've noticed most people can express themselves without resorting to foul language. Someone who frequently uses a foul mouth is a 'turn off' to many people. Most people only resort to swearing when in emotional upheaval.










Hope this helps.
 
Top