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Black Ice



S P Mount
































Smashwords Edition

Copyright 2018 S P Mount

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Table of Contents

Prologue

Wrong Side of the Tracks

All Hail the Iceman

Life or Death

Epilogue

Prologue

I sensed them: billions of citizens connected to a virtual reality experience via the SkyBrains in the orbits of three worlds. People and androids collectively salivating, enjoying the first-hand thrill of murders exactly as I’d committed them in centuries past.

And afterwards, as word spread, more of them linked in anticipation of the revelation I teased would change the very course of history. The future. Yes I, ‘Jack Frost’, long-forgotten psychopath, turned brightest star in the universe.

The game, Crime Time, allows one’s BrainGrain to link to those of notorious criminals from the ancient past, enabling the participant to jump into the perpetrators’ bodies and execute the most heinous crimes of a millennium—a macabre activity that revealed the truth about just how little humanity has really evolved.

And they connected, en masse, citizens of Earth, the Moon Colonies and as far away as Mars. They connected to me.

Society’s taste buds had grown bored of simply lapping at a saucer of creamy vanilla. Its ravenous appetite demanded meat, a side dish of depravity to whet a more discerning palate. In fact, any other flavour at all would do if it would alleviate the blandness of its everyday worlds. The coat of virtue, so heavily draped across them, revealed itself to be no more than a threadbare yarn, spun-silk lies woven artfully by the high and mighty, omniscient SkyBrain.

And even if mankind’s thirst for blood remained as wanton as ever, oh my, how technology had progressed since I’d first been confined; a far cry from the New Dark Ages that I was dragged up in, when neither man nor computer held any merit whatsoever.

Humans had devolved to an alarmingly primitive state. Crime rose to unprecedented numbers overnight. And machines, without satellite connectivity for functionality, had become no more than children’s toys, or had been disassembled for spare parts in the hopes that rudimentary versions of communication devices could be made to work like once they had in the pre-digital age.

But, at least we’d been real back then, our minds were our own. We were individuals, and not the mechanised society that exists today. Yes, virtual reality these days is virtually no illusory thing at all.

In this era, the citizens accept the technological wonders that would have seemed magical even at the height of my own digital age. The minds of the people have taken a backseat to their BrainGrains. They simply travel through all aspects of life on auto-pilot. The veracity of anything is increasingly difficult for them to discern.

Of course, up until recent months, I’d only ever been able to observe the three worlds of Earth remotely. The SkyBrain had never before allowed my thoughts to interact with mind or machine—the only way people know how to communicate in this far-flung century. In fact, the art of conversation has become so lost to the ages that it might actually have been mythical.

But the experience of the game is changing that. Crime Time is enormously popular, and indeed, the very reason for my salvation. An opportune respite from my mundane existence, just as it is for the citizens.

The voyeurs grabbed onto Crime Time in all but a robotic neck lock when, apparently, a renegade programmer first set the virus rampant within the SkyBrain’s system. Yeah, right. We’re talking the SkyBrain; still the impenetrable mega-computer it’s always claimed, and proven to be. It was a truly inspired programme, though, and even if its author had supposedly joined the ranks of the Detainees for having created it. Nonetheless, the SkyBrain admitted the profound impact it had on society.

Therefore, like everything else, it’d taken control. Regulated it. Imposed rules. It brought the experience into play under official sanction to satisfy the inner desire of a so-called enlightened but increasingly jaded civilization.

Phhh. Politicians. Some things never change.

Yes, Crime Time became an experiment. Perhaps. For despite the SkyBrain’s indoctrination agenda, the citizens were only human, even the robot population; made in more than just their creators’ image. Both the people and the machines’ actual brains had been deprived of stimulation to create a perfect automaton society, blended with no seasoning at all. It was only a matter of time before it boiled to mush completely.

Personally, I couldn’t help but think the timing of the “breach” was all too convenient. But then, of course, that’s the one thing I was still able to do, thinking being the ultimate punishment.

In my opinion, the SkyBrain deliberately devised Crime Time to vicariously stimulate a modicum of evil pleasure within the citizens. No doubt about it. It accommodated the darker flavour of man infused in his genes from time immemorial. And it had recognised as much, regardless its insistence the trait had been phased out of the genome. And that’s a laugh in itself.

Yes, the thrill of the kill was all too alive and well. Always has been. Always will be. And the SkyBrain knew it.

Indeed, it probably had invented the game, but couldn’t be perceived as being complicit. To do so would be against everything it’d ever preached about what it was to be an edified society. Yes, the SkyBrain—a big, fat liar.

But still, the programme became entirely effective. It satiated their ravenous hunger. Removing it from the citizens would have been precarious, like ripping a bloody steak from a lion’s mouth.

After the New Dark Ages had ended and the SkyBrain was installed, each and every aspect of every citizen’s life was recorded via the mandatory installation of the BrainGrain. The SkyBrain gobbled up and stored away every random thought, every movement of each and every individual being. The process didn’t take long to suck the flavour out of humanity completely.

Over the last century, the cache of the criminal mind in particular proved far too alluring not to exploit, the finer nuances of their misdeeds not simply being re-enacted, but relived. Or a player could experience the victim’s perspective—but they needed some pretty big kahunas to select that option.

The pastime is not for the faint of heart, in any event, and so it’s surprising that Crime Time is as popular as it is. Evidently . . . despite what the SkyBrain would have us believe . . . mankind is still as twisted as ever.

~*~

I’d thought my day would never come. I’d long since been offended that my own crimes might have been so unworthy that they’d simply been rejected. Skipped over. Flicked through like a person with ADD and a TV remote at 3 am. But then, they don’t have television. Perhaps that’s precisely the problem. Is there some merit, after all, to a mind-numbing occupation that sprouted generations of couch potatoes?

More Detainees are featured on the programme every week. The citizens just can’t get enough. The pitiful mewing of otherwise bashful kittens turned now to worrying roars, demanding blood. They clawed and scratched for a lion’s share—and not just of the game, but individuality.

And when I was eventually showcased, my offerings had been exhilarating for the player indeed. I sensed it. But my pièce de résistance had yet to come, for I would not simply be filed away, hoping against hope I would be selected another time.

No, I held a bargaining chip, one that I initially hoped would finally see me put to death, for I hadn’t expected the outcome to play out quite as it has. But then, a bit like black ice, all but invisible and potentially lethal, I always was a slippery customer.

Huh. Invisible. How ironic.

The game consists only of ancient crimes that are all but forgotten for no murder has been committed in living memory, since one might argue the Detainees aren’t alive at all. They experience a consciousness, yes, but incarcerated deep within the SkyBrain’s belly, in their current state, the Detainees are no more than a stomach bug that it will tolerate for infinity.

And even those murders aren’t considered real because they happened in the ancient past—a bit like Jack the Ripper’s victims to the people of my own century, I suppose. Those Victorian crimes I’ve dangled in front of the citizens only teased them with a promise of a peek into the pre-digital age. No, it didn’t bode well for my cause to show my hand all at once.

Humph. Hands. I must say I do love my new pair.

Yes, slicing and dicing in that murky era was positively exhilarating. I found it even easier to get away with than those I committed in the New Dark Ages of my own time. Those killings could only be shown from the murderer’s perspective—or that is to say, mine—owing to the lack of BrainGrains in the Victorian era.

But, despite their one-sided viewpoint, I plan to have those gruesome crimes become Crime Time delicacies, for they offer up a sense of history that the experiences of no other Detainee can, and the citizens are obsessed with eras in which many people lived in the long-cast shadow of degeneracy.

And only the truth can be told, even though Detainees can choose exactly what they wish to share, withhold, display, or simply narrate. There can be no manipulation of the facts, no fabrication, nor any artistic licence taken. It’s not possible.

Yes, lil’ ol’ me, Detainee 01, all but forgotten, retaining information that will change the very nature of all existence. I found it insulting to have waited so long to speak, treated as inconsequential among thousands of other Detainees. Millions maybe. Me! The first prisoner ever, while what might be tantamount to blindly sticking pins into the pages of a pre-digital phone book selected lesser criminals, amateur flashers and slashers who wouldn’t know how to slit the throat of a chicken effectively. Outrageous.

But when my time did come, I incited a level of excitement not only in the citizens, but also within that almighty eye-in-the-sky itself, positively popping it, I imagined. Why? Because, there’s no story like mine in the history of any world; the epic tale of the lifetimes I’ve led.

Yes. That’s right: plural. Lives. Ah, my mother would have been so proud . . . Well, she would’ve been, if she’d ever met me, even once.

Crime Time Ep. 333 - Detainee 01 - 31.10.3013

Citizens,

No doubt you’ve enjoyed the perfectly gruesome experience of murdering my prey, and have absorbed the pure exhilaration of the kill. And I will share one more, so, please, remain linked. But first, I have something to say that you will not wish to miss, for reasons not least of which include discovering exactly why I mutilated my victims in the way that I did.

But, other information that I will impart here today, with the SkyBrain’s generous permission, has the potential to change the progression of mankind’s very existence. In fact, if I am permitted to speak of matters outside of my crimes, you will bear witness to the beginning of what will be the greatest event in all of history. Right here, right now. A true story, I assure you, unlike any you’ll have heard before, about the life of a person, citizens, that not even the SkyBrain had the ability to document.

~*~

I sensed a collective gasp: pure astonishment, followed by stony silence, I was sure of it. And to me, mere moments that seemed even longer than the centuries I’d endured, as I waited to see if I’d simply be disconnected to suffer countless more. And if that were to be the case, the likelihood of ever getting the opportunity to speak again would be more remote than a chat room connection with Mars, I knew.

But I felt them there still, billions of citizens connected, and more of them linking all the time. Yes, I’d baited my rod carefully indeed. I had, after all, the luxury of time to select the juiciest of worms.

~*~

Ladies, gentlemen, and androids, it seems, as I remain live, that the SkyBrain has most generously granted me an audience. So, please, activate your Idiolect Translators, for there will be a glorious abundance of ancient references and expressions throughout my narration for your enjoyment. In fact, you could say, words that belong to twice-upon-a-time . . .

Wrong Side of the Tracks

As if by cue, a smattering of snow had fallen in the wee hours of that first day of winter. My birthday. And in the glow of the red flashing lights, it looked like pink pixie dust, even if there was nothing magical about it. It settled on the young woman’s body that was sprawled on the road like a dead deer, her long, bare legs slightly overlapping the track of the railway crossing. No, no fairy tale ending for little miss ‘Snow White’—or, as it turned out, for me, the notorious Jack Frost. But it hadn’t been for the want of trying.

No doubt those legs had been statuesque once upon a time, but they were swollen then, despite the bitter cold, and blue because of it. But the light made them appear a pretty shade of lavender that accessorised the deep purple of the leather miniskirt from which they poured. Yes, no doubt they’d been shapely assets that had sustained the nature of her profession, the oldest of any.


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