SUBJeCTIO NeX (Working Title)
By: Josh K

    I always knew it would end up this way.
    As I walked up the steps toward the court house, CDC officials and FEMA officers keep the crowds away from either side. In the distance, I can see the press coalescing, trying to penetrate the line by diffusion.
    I continue to walk.
    Overhead there are helicopters scrambling to form some sort of surveillance or containment grid around the courthouse. An unintelligible voice blares from the helicopter's loudspeaker. Two of them teetered near the steps, then fly off in opposite directions in search of something more interesting.
    I shoot a glance to my left. A hastily laid tarp with the three-horned biohazard logo rests on top of a dome. One of the helicopters swooped by low and the tarp flies off like a magician unveiling the woman he'll pretend to stab with swords.
Under the tarp is a dome made out of metal bars. Hanging from the dome is a woman, her intestines tied through holes in her spine and radiating out to the bars of the dome above. She looked like an angel. Blood still drips from the triangle of bullet-sized holes in her forehead. Below her, a man is sitting full lotus, his arms held out like a 'W', convulsing as the muscle tissue burns out around the implanted electrodes just beneath the skin. Wires trail off from a crown of holes around his forehead.
    If one looks closer, they will see little trails all over the man's skin, like the victim of some exotic parasitic worm. Every now and again, the skin is torn and wire is visible. All this connects to a control box lost in a briar patch of spikes and cables on the ground surrounding them.
I continue to walk.
    One of the reporters has made his way across the line and approaches the dome. A motion detector catches his footsteps and signals the control box. The man with wires running down his head contorts. An implant flexes his diaphragm, flooding his head lungs with air. After this one shuts off, the ones around his larynx turn on. The man starts to talk in tongues. The reporter just backs away slowly.
    The microphones and speakers built into the dome amplify the man's babbling so that the crowd can hear. Chaos breaks loose. FEMA has their arms full. Colored flares start burning from random points in the crowd. A FEMA officer is being beaten to death with his own riot shield.
Just then, the woman, the angel, opens her eyes and begins to wail.
    I take a few steps, turn, and watch.
    I always knew it would end up this way, because this is how I planned it from the beginning.

*****

    Rewind. Take the equation and extrapolate backwards ten years. Sable Art School ñ Chicago. Poor Winston Alexander, not poor at all. The little starving artist that I so desperately wanted to appear as says a final "fuck you" to the fly-by-night art school chain that I wasted too much time in. No time for long goodbyes, I stubbed my last cigarette out on the faux marble steps and caught the nearest bus.
    Like usual, the bus ride was tolerable. That is to say, that one could easily tolerate the crowded isle and the puddle of fluid under my feet that may or may not be urine. I squinted at the news terminal on the wall to the side of me. Something on about the increasing number of frog mutations in the Midwest. Static started to flicker across the screen, then scan lines. The image on the screen faltered and twisted off in impossible directions.
Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt your regularly scheduled broadcasting.
    A black snake slowly crawls along the screen, light reflecting off of its slick scales. Blink. An apple lying on a mound of white sand, with a burnt orange background. The images continue. A series of moving photographs in hyper-saturated colors, and empty piece of parchment. A burning tree.
After the sequence was finished, the screen went to static and a black iconograph of the sun rested in the center like graffiti. Sunspot, as the artist was known, had been pulling this shit for years. He was like a ghost, nobody knew anything about him, they only knew his work and the telltale logo. He, or she for that matter, pissed off enough corporations that they had such billions into hunting him down, or at least stopping him from interrupting their programming. Nobody could find him, and nobody knew the first thing about the technique with which he broke into some of the most secure servers in the public sector without so much as a trace. Regardless, he had become a household name.
    I never used to give much thought to his artwork, but I was always enthralled by the fact that he forced the attention of his audience. People go to art galleries, movies, converts, and they this on their own volition. Sunspot's artwork, however, was completely non-consensual. It was socio-political rape.
    The bus came to a stop on the corner of Washington and Lake next to the Integral Neural Procedures building.

    I went inside.

    Walls filled with the latest infrastructure followed beside me as I approached the circular waiting room.  A woman stood in front of the receptionist desk showing shouting "Doesn't anyone have some fucking Gabbapentin?  This over the counter shit doesn't fucking cut it!"

    The woman didn't appear strung out, physically that is, but most singe addicts who get that far need to be going to a real hospital.  The receptionist noticed me, and lifted a jaundice finger to point me over to the K-Wing.  Looking over the junkie's shoulder, she mouthed ,"three-o-four."

    Anton was waiting in the room, instruments all clean and sterile.  For the last two years I have needed his treatment.  It was the only thing that could fill the well again.  I needed inspiration, and who has time to develop it the old fashioned way?

    When I was in high school, I edited together this video of scenes from movies that made me feel sad.  I would watch this so that I could feel that way again, like an emotional drug.  Eventually, I developed a tolerance, it wouldn't fill the emptiness anymore.  So at that point, drugs seemed to be the next logical step.

    God I was such a fucking opportunist back then.  They say imitation is the highest form of flattery, but that's a load of shit.  That's the funny thing about narcissism, you get this impression that you are this great innovator, the second fucking coming of Christ.  In reality, you are just another art school cliché.

    Today's pill is blue.  The pills always come color coded.  The colors have no conceptual connection to their effect, well except in the mind of Anton, my own personal pharmacist and savior.  It would be a hallucinogen, and it would have dissociative effects as well.  The perfect vehicle for an out of body.  

    An out of body dissociative is especially useful for handling the kind of data being pipelined directly into my skull.  Random shit, things that Anton says will stimulate that promethean fire that young artists crave.

    Now I know he does these procedures on hopefuls every day, but I figured I was different.  I was a friend, so he wouldn't give me the same dreams that the rest of them get.  The ones they use to make vaguely fascist corporate art.  I would get the secret stash, the bottle of inspiration that he keeps only for himself.  However, if that was the case, then perhaps I was worse off than I thought.  It seemed that everyone had to out edge each other, and I was fighting with a bokken.

 

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06-22-04