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A short story by Brendan Butts (Slither)
Parli knew the kind of things that went on in Bansupuro Park. Before he had been kicked out of TERRA, he had interviewed several victims of Dem Boyz. The gangers that controlled the Park were known to be vicious, cruel, and, above all else, cannibals. They never killed their victims, preferring instead to toss them over the park fence and into the city beyond.
The victims' stories were like spent casings from the same caliber bullet. They caught you walking close to the Park. One of Dem Boyz would confront you. If you tried to run, you found yourself surrounded by gangers. After a quick struggle, one of the gangers would knock you out with knuckle dusters or a rock.
You awoke to find yourself lashed to a six foot tall tree stump. Begging brought only sneers to the gangers' faces. The terror of where you were and what was going to happen sank in while the gangers built up a fire.
It didn't matter if you were a man or a woman. The gangers always started with rape. They spent themselves inside your every hole, leaving your body shattered and your soul broken.
After the rape, it was all making you drink your own blood and castration and cutting off your toes and eating them. When your eyes had become so dull and your body so accustomed to the torment that you could remember nothing else, they let you go.
Because what good was doing all these things to a person if they weren't going to remember it?
Parli had checked up on some of the victims he had interviewed. This had as much to do with a morbid curiosity as it did with a concern for their current wellbeing.
It was never pretty. What they had been put through had broken some fundamental part of their psyche that no amount of medical or psychiatric care could fix. Their bodies kept breathing and their severed limbs were replaced with mechanical counter-parts, but inside, everything had been hollowed out and discarded.
In an age where permanent death had been all but eradicated by the advent of brain mapping and affordable human cloning, the only way to do lasting damage to a person was to do it to their mind.
The Progia-7 Gridphone on Parli's synth-wood desk vibrated for the second time. He never answered the first time a call came in. Then he could say he was too busy for a job he didn't want to take or use it to his advantage when negotiating his fee.
Parli slipped the phone off his desk and flipped it open.
"GD Detective Agency, what can I do for you?" He asked.
The voice that replied was male and corpie-accented, which immediately piqued Parli's interest. A job for a corpie meant there would be little need to haggle over price. "My daughter has been missing for almost twenty-four hours. She hasn't cloned, so we know she's alive. I've had her SIC traced, and she's in Bansupuro Park. The police can't help. From what I hear, you can."
The governing council of the city pretended the Park didn't exist. Though behind closed doors and after security scans for listening devices were complete, it was said they called it a 'necessary evil'. The dredges of the city had to have some place to go or they might take up roots in parts of the city the council still found profitable.
"I can." Parli said, then named his fee.
A group of the world's largest corporations had come together, decades earlier, to purchase the land Withmore City had been built on from a bankrupt United States. The corporations had built the city and now their CEOs made up the council. With an eye on profit, the Council made the decisions and the laws.
The city's police forces were all privatized. The complex internal politics of the Council meant that the most lucrative security contracts went to the most well connected corporate entities. The best contracts switched hands like currency, but one thing always remained the same: TERRA was responsible for Red. TERRA was a stepping stone for some, a punishment for everyone else. Distinguish yourself in TERRA, and you were well on your way to a high paying job in CorpSec. Fail your corporation repeatedly, and a permanent posting at TERRA would be your only job prospect.
Parli had climbed high on the CorpSec ladder, only to be thrust back down again. He had grown up on the streets of Red, and his choice to go into CorpSec hadn't been a popular one with his friends and family. The corporations had no love for the Mixers that lived in Red Sector. The corpies that worked and lived in the nicer sectors of the city were like to get off with warnings where harsh punishments were dealt out to Mixers.
When Parli had been ordered to give two Mixers clone death while a corpie involved in the same crime got off with a steep fine, he had snapped. It was obvious to him that the Corpie had orchestrated the crime and only brought the Mixers in as muscle. All three of them deserved death for the crime, and so Parli gave it to them.
The next day he was back on Red, patrolling the streets in a TERRA uniform. He was lucky the corpie had not been well-connected, or the punishment would have been much worse. A couple of months later, he washed out of TERRA too. He couldn't get legitimate work for any of the Corporations so he started working as a private detective, using the few corporate connections he still had to obtain a business license and a few scattered clients.
Parli knew that getting in and out of the Park wasn't hard if you knew what you were doing. The main entrance was a fifteen-foot-high steel gate. This was fine if you had 'legitimate' business to handle.
The problem with the main entrance was that the sentries would spread word of your arrival. A former TERRA agent-turned-private detective entering the park would not go unnoticed.
Parli opted for a more subtle entry. Numerous buildings lined the border of the Park. Parli entered a five-story apartment building, breezed through the lobby like he owned the place, and headed straight for the stairs. His booted feet crunched over the shattered remains of Ex-D7 vials lying on almost every step.
The Du-Wear backpack he wore was weighed down with the gear he would need to reach the park, and it had him breathing heavily when he reached the top of the stairway. He paused for several moments, catching his breath and vowing to switch to a healthy brand of cigarette. When he was satisfied that he had recovered, he kicked the wooden door leading to the roof until the wood around the lock splintered and gave way.
The rooftop was a barren mass of broken shingles and black tar with an edge about fifteen feet in front of him. A pitiful-looking, two-foot wall surrounded the rooftop. He figured the noise from the splintering door would have people double checking that their own doors were firmly bolted instead of running to investigate, but he couldn't be sure.
He moved quickly to the edge that faced the park. It was dark. No electricity in there since the Council had disowned the place. He could barely make out the tops of a few nearby shacks. He mentally noted the location of several fires, knowing the girl would be tied to a tree stump at one of them.
Parli walked along the edge, looking straight down until he found a good entry point.
He slipped the backpack off his shoulders and removed a flat metal disk with a U-shaped protrusion welded to the center on one side. Then out came a drill and several long screws. In under a minute, he had bolted the metal firmly to the rooftop, a foot from the crumbling wall. He reached into the backpack and removed a long length of coiled rope. The rope had a hook attached to one end, which he slipped into the protruding U of the metal disk.
He stood up and tossed the coiled rope over the edge. With a look down at the ZMI .357 magnum sitting snugly in his belt holster, he straddled the edge of the low wall, gripped the rope in his hands, and began climbing down.
It took him almost three hours to locate the right fire. If he had gotten the call earlier, the girl's screams would have led him to her quickly, but the gangers would have taken her voice hours earlier with the ends of their cocks.
Grimly, he crouched in the shadow of a large tree and watched the group of gangers. They were sitting in a clearing on a semi-circle of logs that faced the fire. There were twelve; all their facesturned to the figure tied to the stump. The girl's arms were hung from the top of the stump with rope. She dangled eighteen inches or so off the ground, covered in dried blood and tattered clothing.
At some point, the fire had been built up below her, and Parli winced as his gaze fell on what remained of her legs. The burned and blackened mess of her right leg ended just below the knee. As he watched, one of the gangers stood up, walked over to the girl and picked up a hacksaw that had been leaning against the tree stump. He put it to her left leg and started to saw. The girl let out a long, raspy cry, her eyes wide with terror, pain, and pleading.
Another ganger got up and moved toward the girl. He reached up and grabbed some of her hair, jerking her head down.
"Se'eta!" He said in Mix-Mash. When he was satisfied that her eyes were on the hacksaw, he released her head and moved away from her, unzipping his pants.
Parli straightened from his crouch and crept along the edge of the clearing, taking care to remain out of sight. He had the ZMI Magnum in his hand by the time the ganger disappeared into the trees behind the girl.
Parli had access to a variety of silenced handguns, either from his personal collection or a black market Fixer, but he had known from the get-go that this job was going to have to be noisy.
He moved toward the spot in the trees where he had seen the ganger disappear. He could hear the sound of the ganger's piss hitting the rocky ground. Parli moved into the ganger's peripheral vision. The ganger turned with a curious expression on his face as he started shaking his cock off. Parli raised his gun and shot him in the crotch.
The sound of the gun blast was followed by a scream. The ganger crumpled to the ground still holding the ruined stump of his cock. Parli had thought the man might black out and was happy when his screams continued.
Parli broke into a run, moving away from the clearing with the magnum still clutched in his hand. He heard the sound of gangers yelling and running to the aid their fallen brother. He changed direction, heading in an arc back toward the light from the fire.
A fast-moving blur to his left was his only warning. He barely had time enough to pivot toward the on- rushing ganger before the man was on him. He could smell the ganger's stench as he grabbed Parli by the gun arm with both hands. Parli tumbled backwards, pulling the ganger with him, and the ganger's hands went out automatically to break his fall.
Parli's reflexes were too well-trained to allow his body to betray him in such a way. As soon as the ganger's hands were off of his arm, he pressed the barrel of his magnum to the ganger's temple. The shot rang out as they hit the ground together. The air went out of both of their lungs in a woosh.
Parli was the only one to suck it back in again.
When he reached the clearing, out of breath, it was vacant. Only the girl remained, hanging limply from the stump with both her legs gone below the knee now. He approached the stump, holstering his magnum and slipping a hunting knife from its scabbard on his waist. The girl became aware of him then, her head lifting and her eyes locking with his.
"Please," she rasped, "Have mercy."
She thought he was one of the gangers, but that didn't matter. He could hear them stomping through the trees, following his trail. Soon they would realize he was back in the clearing. He had no doubt what would happen if they caught him here. After he had killed several of them, he would be overpowered, and then it would be him hanging from a stump.
It wasn't going to be easy getting out of the Park alive, but he would manage. Then, in a couple of hours, when the girl was safely back at home with her family, a generous amount of chyen would be deposited into his bank account.
Parli lifted the knife. And slit the poor girl's throat.
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