By Gary J Byrnes
Story is taken from THE WRITER AND OTHER STORIES - First published in 2013 by Gary J Byrnes.
Copyright 2013 © Gary J Byrnes.
The right of Gary J Byrnes to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright & Related Rights Act, Ireland, 2000. All rights reserved.
In this work of fiction, the characters, places and events are either the product of the author's imagination or they are used entirely fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
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London, England - 2022
The matt black jetcopter descended rapidly over the Chelsea skyline. Nightfall over London. With her laser-guided tube trains gliding fifty feet above her glistening wet streets, her multiple, sharply-pointed, glittering skyscrapers strung along the Thames, her once-shocking pipe bomb explosions and tracer fire from the endless ghetto battles, the megacity's nightfall was a special time.
The fading star leaned back in her dolphin leather seat - so smooth! - and tilted her ersatz-champagne glass as the 'copter banked sharply and lost altitude like a falling investment banker during the final crash of 2015. I'm back, she thought. And I love it.
'Approaching the studios now, ma'am,' crackled a voice in her oversized, calf vellum headphones, as the shining pyramids of XWHY-TV, the world's greatest entertainment factory, appeared among the dark trees of Hyde Park.
'Call me Shaz, I told you.'
'Ten seconds, Madame Shaz-Oz. And you promised to sign a piece of skin for my grandmother...'
'Of course,' she said, rummaging in her wheeled handbag for a scrap from her last facelift, the current trendiest memento. She found a wad, worth a fortune on sellanyfuckingthing.com, but the pilot was worth it: he'd diverted from their assigned course to hover beside the hottest rooftop restaurant in the city so she could wave down at the whowhatwhy people, the TV stars, the producers, the media stooges who'd stopped taking her calls after she was canned.
'I'm back!' she'd cried giddily, waving like a kid.
So she signed her name with her Mont Blanc marker. Then she zapped the scrap of skin with a cold, green beam from her patented, pocket-sized DNA Destroyer, just as the wheels kissed the giant, yellow H.
A lackey was waiting, the word Lackey printed across his chest, another glass of fake champagne on a silver tray. He ushered her off the landing pad and through a long Plexiglas tunnel and into the world she loved so well.
'We have thirty seconds in make-up,' he said, the numbers lighting up his fly's-eyes goggles. 'Then we're on.'
On? I thought this was a meeting with The Man? 'Great!'
The makeup crew coated her with Liberace-grade TV foundation, plied her creases with molecular diamonds, zapped her with an ultrasonic ray to firm up her implants, then checked her jacket for hairs and lint. She glowed. Literally.
She was quickly ushered to the PseudoCoke (TM) station, white lines on a silver tray, a fat, laser-toting rentacop standing there: this stuff, all the way from the World Government labs in Geneva, this was for the talent only. She inhaled a line, and another, and she was ready. If only the sweaties knew that everyone on TV lives on stimulants and synthi-booze and adulterous sex and orgies and Apepi worship and endless credit from the Corporations and the favours, oh, the favours.
Her communicator was pushed deep into her right ear, its hair-like transmitters gently puncturing her eardrum, fusing with her, no escaping the Voice now. The Voice, screaming. 'What the hell were you doing up there? You put this entire show in jeopardy!' Him.
'I, I'm sorry...'
The lackey took her arm and they marched down to the airlock, the chamber that was the gateway to the other life, the fake life, the TV life. She had five seconds to inhale deeply, deeply, deeply, then the fingers closed into a fist and the hatch hissed open.