I wrote a little story called All of Us mostly between the ages of 15 and 16-years-old. After that point I lost interest although I explored the darker themes of certain scenes into my first year of college. I wrote it in a spiral notebook during downtime of a retail job where it eventually found its way to a site called Wattpad. I thought making it as a writer was impossible (I was wrong) and that nobody would ever care to read my stories (I was wrong). Although my focus has long since shifted from fiction to non-fiction it’s clear that my fascination with the morally ambiguous aspects of human nature started young. I read a lot of Slaughterhouse Five.
I’m sorry if you find the subject matter upsetting. I did not edit this nor did I finish it. Maybe it will give you some inspiration to air your own early work.
All of Us.
Over the roaring sounds of pelting rain, a car door slammed shut in the darkness. The Spring night was unseasonably cold and the thin gray man pulled his gray flannel jacket closer to his chest to keep out the slivers of cold that slipped into his bones. Overhead, the flickering lights of the parking garage cast an artificial glow which heightened the man’s sallow complexion.
Somewhere in the night a car alarm punctuated the air and a dog barked in response. Shouldering his bag the man tapped quickly up the concrete slope. Rounding the corners he flitted through the shadows on his ascent, gaining speed at every turn.
His jacket flapped about his waist and dislodged a roll of papers tucked into the waistband of his trousers. They fluttered like leaves to the cracked concrete and scattered. The man swore under his breath and stooped to chase the papers which blew along the ground and caught in oil-slick rain puddles.
Bang! Bang! The man jumped with a jerk and swallowed hard to keep from shouting. Blood roared in his ears muting the sound of pouring rain; he knew somewhere below his associate had been caught. He clenched his fist around the sodden papers and rushed to the third story roof level.
The associate was a short bald man with a pug nose. His fingers were short and square, the nails clean and polished. The associate was well built, if a little heavy. He had no name, at least none to the gray man. The associate had been hired to meet the gray man next to a particular parking spot at this particular parking garage at the exact time which the gray man’s heavy silver watch now shone into the ink-black night.
The associate had been late, held up at the intersection of Doulmouth and Spencer by an incident between and old woman carrying a basket of produce and a young moped rider carrying nothing. The crash had set the associate back four minutes.
The associate was now dead.
There had been no back-up plan. The man clutched the now gray dripping papers to his chest and rushed white-knuckled onto the roof level. Above, rolling thunder clouds obscured the moon. The only light came from far off streetlights on the roadways below.
The man stared desperately at his papers, papers which had cost him so much to smuggle from the second mailroom of the basement level of Opius Industries, the tallest building of the busiest street of the capital. He took these papers now and tore them to shreds. The mere thought of being captured by the Cheer Brigade sent ice water down his spine. Better to be caught knowing too little than too much.
He jogged to the edge of the garage and peered down nervously. Three Cheer Brigade cruisers were parked haphazardly in the street, the flashing red and blue lights across the tops of the cruisers distorted by the rain which poured thickly like cough syrup.
The man stepped up on the ledge. He took from a secret trouser pocket a small vial of cyanide. He uncapped the vial and raised the poison to his lips.
The poison, as the man was unaware, was nothing more than sugar. It had been given to him by a senior commander of the Rebellion. The poison, as relayed to him by the senior commander, was to be used in case of capture by the Cheer Brigade while smuggling the documents out of Opius.
The senior commander of the Rebellion was not, in fact, a senior commander of the Rebellion but a junior lieutenant of All of Us, the group which controlled Opius Industries, the government, The Cheer Brigade, the post systems, the highways, and various other private and public outposts including two maple sugar shacks in southern Vermont.
All of Us had infiltrated the Rebellion and had given the Rebels a false sense of hope. This was a cruel joke really, an off-handed demonstration of their all-encompassing power. The cat smiles toothily as he toys with the canary before the swift bite. Likewise, it was the intention of All of Us to now destroy that hope. Crush the hope, crush the Rebellion.
The man waited for the release of death but received nothing. Horror welled in the man’s stomach and he turned wild eyed to face the Cheer Brigade officers now lined up behind him with stun pistols and handguns. The false senior commander of the Rebellion and true junior lieutenant of All of Us was to the far right.
The gray man looked rather gray. He opened his mouth to shout something, some desperate plea to the vastly cold and indifferent universe which allowed room for such things as betrayal and an unanswered plea.
He opened his mouth to shout this just as the false senior commander of the Rebellion and true junior lieutenant of All of Us raised his stun pistol and shot the gray man with a ball of electricity right in his pleading mouth.
The gray man staggered, his eyes rolled back dully, and he rocked off the backs of his heels and tumbled the full three stories to the wet pavement below.
The false senior commander of the Rebellion and true junior lieutenant of All of Us crossed to the ledge with crisp leather shoe clicks and peered down at the gray man’s broken frame shallowly gasping staggered breaths. He smiled.
The crowd gathered at the green in the business district of the second most important city for an execution. The crowd loved executions, and executions were a big business.
The crowd jeered and sneered and waves of anticipation were felt just as plainly on the skin as the steam billowing forth from a tea kettle tickled the arm. Men and women jostled each other with sharp elbows to get closer to the execution platform.
Somewhere, a man became entirely fed up with the suspense and hollered, “Fackin’ hell, git on wit’ it!”
The crowd was ravenous for an execution. Women tottered about in pointy black pumps and the men had combed and oiled their hair especially for the occasion. The blazing sun of high noon beat mercilessly down upon the spectators, but the white heat did nothing to squelch the unrestrained joyous bloodlust of the crowd.
The crowd knew not the man’s name nor his crime. The crowd knew very little about anything of any real importance, it mattered not to them who was on the execution platform; an individual selected at random might cheer for their own demise if prompted by the crowd’s adulations of joy. The crowd loved a good hanging.
The gray man’s sunken eyes squinted across the sea of bodies. He paused at the face of a beautiful golden women in the second row. Her shining hair was twisted into snarling ringlets across her face. These ringlets twisted this way and that as her face contorted into hideous expressions of hate. Her fine white teeth gnashed together with a clack. Her eyebrows furrowed up and down, kneading her unlined forehead like dough.
The doomed gray man stared into her eyes. There was no sense of connection made as is formed when two people lock eyes, rather her rage-filled glare was cast vaguely in the direction where the doomed gray man now stood.
It occurred to him that he, on the three-legged stool perched upon the execution platform built onto the green located in the business district of the nation’s second most important city might have more shards of humanity left in his soon-dying body than the whole of the crowd.
The clock in the old tower chimed noon. Dong. Dong. Dong. Dong. Dong. And so forth. The crowd roared.
The gray man felt rather weak in the knees. His bowels loosened and a stream of liquid swept hotly down his left leg upon which all his weight was held. The other leg twisted outward at an odd angle, the shin bone gently bulging out the purple skin. The bone sweetly tested the tension limits the blackened skin could withstand without splitting.
The bone existed in an existential purgatory. It both was, and wasn’t. The shin bone stretched forth to meet the world through a veil. It was quite beautiful, if one sat down and thought about it; like the body of a naked women just barely visible through the translucent gauzes of fabric sheathing her silken curves.
The gray man was not concerned with whether his broken leg rivaled the beauty of a naked woman. The man saw no naked women present, and never would again. The man was more concerned that he was about to die.
The executioner stepped forward. He was met with screams of delight much like the old rock stars were met by fans in that long since passed period between the second and fourth world wars when there was such a thing as rock stars.
The man was to be hung now. The executioner threw the premeasured noose just so on the gallows which formed the backboard of the platform. In doing so the executioner brushed the slim bare foot of a decaying woman turning slowly in the breeze. She had a silver toe ring on her second toe and an indistinguishable tattoo above her ankle.
The executioner hardly noticed. A large black crow pecking lazily at the remnants of the woman’s cloudy eyeball was indignant that his perch be jostled. The croaked once and flapped off. He, much like the crowd, loved a good execution.
The gray man was forced to walk back to the gallows. He did so, slowly, ever so slowly, each step on his right leg eliciting a small whimper from his lips. The man was instructed to stand on a special section of platform which, at the pull of a lever by the executioner would drop away and leave the man swinging from his neck.
The executioner knew to tie the noose in such a way that the sudden action of the dropping floor would not break the man’s neck. Rather, he would remain alive a few minutes longer, struggling and choking in that existential purgatory between life and death.
The noose was fitted about the man’s neck. Women screamed and beat at their chests in approval. The men screeched and cheered. A child raised her lollipop in the air like a victory sword. The man’s gag was removed, but no veil was placed over his head. The crowd would have nothing obstruct their view.
The gray man’s eyes blinked rapidly, but not a tear fell. A member of the Cheer Brigade droned the Formality which in short commanded that the man die. The Formality was a formality in that neither the crowd nor the executioner cared very much what the man had done, only that he pays for it. The tension in the crowd grew. The officer of the Cheer Brigade trailed off and nodded to the executioner.
The executioner pulled the lever. For a sweet moment, the man stayed suspended in air. He was a water droplet on a spider’s silk, a gossamer ballerina at the apex of her leap, or the swell of the sea before the wave break.
The moment passed and the beauty was shattered by a thin gray man croaking and choking and spitting and swaying. His nails clawed uselessly at his bondage, his feet kicked but met no solid ground. The crowd hushed in cathedral silence.
The man’s face turned red, then purple, then blue. His eyes bulged. His tongue swelled and poked out of his foaming mouth. It was several moments before the desperate motions slackened and a single line of blood leaked from the gray man’s nose. He jerked once more and the last bits of light died from his eyes.
The crowd was silent. Then applause grew and the crowd hooted and whistled as if they had just witnessed a great performance. The stool was taken away by a custodian and the executioner examined the body. There was no doubt about it, he was as dead as the woman who a foot away grinned a toothy skeletal smile through the exposed tendons and muscle scraps clinging to her face.
The crowd disbanded. Men clicked back to offices in shiny shoes and women tottered on their stilts over to cafes or else tugged children off to sterile-looking toy stores or daycares with promises of sweets.
The crow flapped over to the gray man and perched on his shoulder. He pecked twice at a large vein straining at the skin of his neck. One might imagine that to the bird it might resemble a juicy earthworm. At some length the bird took off, swooping among the high rises framing the execution platform located on the green in the middle of the business district in the nation’s second most important city.
Octavian Taft stood at the wall of glass windows on the 29th floor in his office at the Opius high rise idly watching a crow flap from the green. He loved a good execution.
He was not a tall man, but there was something in the set of his shoulders or in the sure lines of his face which made one feel quite small. His voice was a high, dry tenor which made one think of long thin piano fingers and stiffly starched shirts.
There was a small scar on one of the man’s long, thin piano fingers, fingers predicted by the tone of his voice but fingers which had never touched an instrument.
Octavian Taft was the CEO of Opius Industries. He was an executive with All of Us, privy to some of the more sensitive information, a Sagittarius, and, as of late, a bird watcher. He had a large, sprawling corner office lined from plush-carpeted floor to ceiling with windows. He sat at a mahogany desk and wrote with a smooth-flowing golden fountain pen. He was worth an awful lot of money.
He extracted a small black box from a pocket of his fine white suit. The box resembled a television remote, only when he pushed a button on this remote the television looming in the corner of the room did not switch on.
Instead, the heavy door of his office slid open and an attractive woman with short cropped dark hair and slim legs entered the office. Her dark clothing clung closely to her body. Her lips were lined with cosmetics in a shade like blood. She looked like the sort of woman who could bring a man to his knees with her sensuous charm or a blade slid softly between his ribs.
Her name was Evangeline and she was Octavian Taft’s personal assistant. Her job description was mostly dirty work; she handled Octavian Taft’s day to day affairs and quite often those of an extracurricular nature late at night. Octavian Taft, who was worth an awful sum of money, had met Evangeline when she had appeared to him as a call girl late one night.
Men who find themselves worth an awful sum of money are also the sort to find themselves awfully lonely. After spending one night with Evangeline getting to know her skill set he had offered her an exorbitant pay to stay on with him as his assistant. Evangeline had ditched the short skirts and stilettos for… slightly more expensive short skirts and stilettos. She had worked for him three years now.
Octavian Taft was thirty-four years old. He was worth 19 billion American dollars, in other words 12 million British pound sterling, or rather 1 trillion Indian rupee, or perhaps 2 trillion Japanese yen. He was worth an awful sum of money.
Evangeline was not her real name. Her real name was Renee Harrison, named after a long dead aunt. Evangeline, whose name was not Evangeline but rather Renee, was some 5 feet 9 inches tall, weighed an undisclosed number of pounds, and had aged, to this date, an undisclosed number of years. Beneath the hair dye, as only she and her hairdresser knew, was a quiet mousy brown. Beneath the tight clothing and full breasts, as only she knew, she wasn’t worth very much.
Evangeline, whose real name was not Evangeline, strutted to Octavian Taft, twirling her sharply filed nails around her cropped black hair whose true color was not black.
“You rang?” She asked in her voice like dark chocolate; deep, smooth, sexual, and slightly bitter.
“Bring me the Cheer Brigade’s latest report on their mission with the Rebellion,” said Octavian Taft offhandedly, said Octavian Taft who had not actually “rung” at all.
The small black remote which he had extracted from his fine white suit pocket to summon Evangeline had not made a noise at all. Around Evangeline’s left wrist was a small silver band embedded into her skin.
There were small silver bands embedded in all the left wrists of the workers of Opius Industries, the government, the Cheer Brigade, the post systems, the highways, and various other public and private outposts including two maple sugar shacks in southern Vermont.
It was estimated that somewhere between 83 and 86 percent of the world’s population had the same silver band embedded into their skin. The only exceptions were children under 10 years of age and the upper one percent. These groups had no bands and a lucky fraction of the upper one percent had small black boxes quite like Octavian Taft’s.
These black boxes were rather special indeed. When one pushed a button here or there it could perform all the expected remote control functions like turn on the television, change the channel, control the lights, open doors, or start cars.
It could also summon people whose wrists were bitten into by the small silver bands. It could summon them through harmless vibrations. It could relay short texts to those wearing the silver bands. A sentence of up to 100 characters would illuminate in blue writing scrolling across the face of the silver band.
But what was most special about Octavian Taft and his upper one percent’s black boxes were their ability to deliver pain.
Pain could be delivered in any number of ways. A top one percent member could cause the silver band to tighten into the person’s wrist, sear white hot, or send a jolt of electricity through their body.
A top one percent member who was undoubtedly worth an awful sum of money might obtain a black box of their own through Octavian Taft, who, among other venues controlled the company Herring’s Steel who produced the items on special request by Taft. The boxes were water resistant, heat resistant, worked within a three-mile radius, and were a wonderful way for a man worth an awful sum of money encourage civilians to cooperate.
Evangeline brought Octavian Taft the Cheer Brigade’s latest report on their operation to repress the rebellion. In the report, it outlines one junior lieutenant of All of Us’ covert role as a false senior commander of the Rebellion, the shooting of a Rebel associate, and the execution of a man by hanging which had taken place only shortly before.
The names of the two rebels were listed as “unknown”. The health of all Cheer Brigade officers was listed as “good”. There had been no civilian casualties and investigators deemed no immediate threat to All of Us or its branches in Opius Industries, the government, the Cheer Brigade, the post systems, the highways, or their other public and private outposts including those two maple sugar shacks in southern Vermont.
Octavian Taft smiled and tossed the folder onto his lacquered mahogany desk where a darkly haired woman perched with one slim leg crossed over a slim knee, the fabric of her dressing slipping upward to reveal a smooth section of thigh.
Octavian Taft found the report good.
Somewhere beneath the streets of the City, in a series of abandoned subway tunnels a young woman crouched in the dirt. Things were not good.