Monthly Archives: August 2016

[1799 words] Mind Control

​It feels like I have just woken from a deep sleep.  I am standing on a street that looks familiar, but have no idea where is it or how I got here.  I don’t even know who I am.  No helpful thoughts are coming to me.  However, I seem to know where I am going.
Crossing the street, I see a pub on one corner. This is where I want to go. Green painted walls, a fresco of shamrocks around one window and the faint sounds of Gaelic music, begin putting me off.  A crowd of men and over-made-up women are blocking the entrance.  Feelings of repugnance persuade me to change direction.  I head away from the pub.
Walking several blocks past the entrance to a mall, I access the pedestrian walkway and begin crossing the bridge leading out of the city.    Suddenly, I recall floating in the cold water of Sydney Harbour.  I know this is a recent memory but it seems disconnected from current reality.  Another flash of memory and I see myself boarding a bus and heading into the centre of Sydney.  
Standing on the bridge overlooking the harbour, I feel confused.  If my memory of recently being in the water is correct, how come my clothes aren’t damp?  I become aware that a smallish sports bag is slung over my shoulder.  Opening its zip, wet bathers and a damp towel come into view.  Further exploration reveals a cellphone in one of the side pockets.  Is it mine?  As I pull the cellphone from the bag I am surprised by how small it is.  Hoping for clues, I scroll through its address book, texts and photographs.  There are pictures of a beautiful woman, seated in a boat, holding an infant boy; both are dressed in bright blue life jackets.  My body tells me I know this woman and child.  How?
I find video clips.  These are strange videos, with what looks like molten metal shapes behaving like animals.  The shapes seem to be playing together like cats, fighting, chasing and bumping into each other before merging into one blob of metal.  What I am looking at on this tiny screen is very peculiar.  It isn’t normal. 
“Dean!”  A young man in his mid-twenties is behind me on the pedestrian walkway. A name comes to mind.  “Rhys?”  A slight frown replaces his smile. “Hi, Dean.  It’s David.  Rhys is my Dad. He works for you. He’s one the scientists working on your malleable metal project. I always get told I look like my Dad.”  I don’t know what to say. I feel stupid.  David steps closer.  He can see I am disoriented.   A knowing expression forms on his face. “May I?”  Taking the cellphone from my hand, he says, “Here….let me show you.” Flicking back to the pictures of the woman and infant on the boat, he says, “This is your wife and child, isn’t it?”  Numbly, I find myself nodding.  David shows me the same video clip of cavorting metal objects. “This is the project my father is working on with you.  Remember?”  I didn’t.  “Together you designed and manufactured a metal that changes shape without using heat. You also designed this cellphone, or the plastic substance it is made from.  It’s a material that expands or grows on a given, electronic, signal. Am I ringing any bells?” 
Pressing a small button on the reverse side of the cellphone, David says, “Watch.”  The cellphone gradually expands, changing shape until it is the size of a 12.9cm tablet.  I cannot remember seeing anything like this before. David pats my arm.  He says, “Dean, you must have put yourself into a forced amnesia state.  Don’t panic.  You haven’t got early onset dementia.  You’re just in the controlled state you and Dad use when you’re working on something important.  You do it when you want to use full brain capacity, clear your mind of unnecessary personal data, and concentrate on a complex task.”
What David says next is even more unbelievable. “You also use, what you describe as, ‘spiritual communication.’  This is a skill you and Dad would like every human being to learn.  Communicating mentally, without the use of speech or technology, could take this world to a previously unknown level of honesty.   David can see my brain is still not fully awake when he says, “Dean, this is how I knew where to find you.  You asked me, through spiritual communication, to meet you at Harrigan’s Pub.  You said you were going for a swim first.  Am I getting through to you, yet?”  I shake my head.  He continues, “I saw you walk past and then followed after you deviated from the pub.”  “I did know I had to go to the pub,” I say, lamely.  David shakes his head,
David’s smile returns.   “You asked me to meet you before you switched yourself into a state of forced amnesia.  You spoke to me just before you started to relax and meditate during your swim.”  I look at him blankly, waiting for my own penny to drop.  “Let me try something else. We need to jog you out of this.”  He turns, pointing to a metal bench next to one of the lookout points on the bridge. “If you sit over there, Dean, I’ll just call my mother and see if she has any ideas.”  As I look across the harbor, the bridge lights and moonlight are turning the water to silver.  David finishes talking to his mother and walks toward me.  “Mum tells me both you and Dad have ‘Full Consciousness Return Signals’ (FCRS) attached to your laboratory doors. She says you should go home. When you see your wife and child it should act in the same way as the FCRS.  Her idea is that, on the way to your place, I should keep filling you in on your past until something starts triggering the reconnection.  So….Here goes.”
David takes a deep breath and begins.  “Dean, you are an amazing scientist. You have won many prestigious awards for scientific innovation.  It was you who developed and trialled DNA Compatibility Testing (DNACT).  It was so incredibly successful, it has since been applied to offender assessment, prenuptial counseling programs, educational institutions, community housing selection, and even asylum seeker assessment.  We now have fewer problems across each of these areas.  Prisoners are no longer confined with other, less compatible, offenders and are linked to more appropriate development and rehabilitation activities. Community housing is less problematic, at all levels.  Individuals who wish to form committed relationships are now able to more confidently predict partnership outcomes, and avoid less appropriate liaisons. This more mature approach to forming relationships is now being taught in secondary colleges across the country.  Educational institutions are also achieving higher graduation rates because course selection processes have been vastly improved by using DNACT.”
I like what David is telling me.  I find it inspiring to hear about such advances, whether I share responsibility for their innovation or not.   David continues, “The most exciting outcome of all has been associated with Asylum Seeker Resettlement Programs.  During a two year trial period, three countries, including Australia (which supervised these programs), used DNACT assessment testing to link each migrant, or migrant family, to the most suitable country, community, and/or district.  Even the development and implementation of assimilation training programs were matched to DNACT and personality test results.  The entire process was empowering, rather than demeaning.  Each potential wage-earner was offered a ‘living wage package’  during the trial period.  Positive community engagement was encouraged and facilitated by ongoing individual and group support strategies.  World leaders are now seeing this project as a welcome formula for responding to, what has become, a global crisis.”  
Seeing the stunned look on my face, David laughs.  “Are you sure it’s me you’re talking about?” I ask.  “It sure is,” he responds emphatically.  “Which brings us back to your current projects; ‘Spiritual Communication’ and ‘Malleable Metal.” You were working on the latter today using forced amnesia to focus on your experiments.  Remember anything, yet?”  I nod, thoughtfully. “I think I am.”
 My phone beeps.  It’s an email from Rhys.
 Dean
 Have some great news.  Your suggestion today re using the Metallic Hydrogen looks like working.  Unlike the mercury we have been using, the Metallic hydrogen is showing the right responses in initial tests. I’m excited to report that the Metallic hydrogen is acting as a superconductor at room temperature.
Talk tomorrow.
Rhys
(End of email)

Scientific memory begins re-flooding my hippocampus.  I immediately recall that Metallic Hydrogen was discovered on Jupiter in 2017 and brought back, in commercial quantities, by NASA.  This substance is now being used in experimental aviation. Focus is currently on superconductor metals (e.g. mercury, lead) and chemical alloys (such as niobium-titanium, germanium-niobium, and niobium nitride).  Superconductors are being used with machines such as MRIs and the Large Hadron Collider. First, they must be cooled to very low temperatures.  All very interesting, but not particularly easy.
I can now remember that in making malleable, or shape changing, metals we have been using quantum physics. It’s a bit like writing a software program using atoms. To get the right program we had to heat, freeze and mix different materials. Fascinating stuff!  The shape changing plastic was another exciting challenge.  It took three years to develop.  We have already dedicated two years of our lives to the malleable metal project.  It’s so good to remember all this.  David sees recognition on my face and laughs loudly.
After we finish crossing the bridge, David leads me into a Sydney street lined on either side by well-maintained, Victorian era, houses.   He slows as we reach a coffee-colored brick home with cream-painted wraparound porch.  I know this house.  I feel it, rather than think it.   David says, “You’re home now. I hope you’ll be okay.”   “Thanks so much, David.  I’ll be more careful next time.”   I’m pretending a little.  Not all of my memories are in place yet.  David walks away, whistling ‘Bird on a Wire.’
I push open the wrought iron gate and walk to the front door.  My hand easily finds the small bunch of keys in my jacket pocket, inserting one into the door lock.  A woman’s voice calls out.  “Is that you, Sweetheart?”  “It’s me!” I answer, the familiar words slipping back into a routine response.  I walk into the kitchen where a small boy seated in a high chair waves at me excitedly, spitting out bits of food as he mouths the word “Dadda!”  I plant a kiss on his blonde head before heading toward someone who looks exactly like the beautiful woman pictured in the photograph stored on my cellphone.  As I embrace her, the last of my amnesia vanishes.

[1424 words] A Flight to Singapore

I am at my desk completing a press release for Mike, the former mayor of Cebu. I write former mayor because he relinquished the position to a rival following the well-publicized June election.  Now in opposition, Mike is working hard to maintain a media presence.  He wants to make sure the citizens of Cebu remember him and what he accomplished while in office.  He intends running again at the next election.    Of course, this suits me.  Mike is one of my best clients.  I’m an Australian citizen enjoying a comfortable and profitable lifestyle in the Philippines. 

You would think Mike’s demands on my time would have eased up a little, considering he’s been out of office for two months.  Not so.  One of his former colleagues, Mayor of another city smaller than Cebu, was recently sworn in as  President of the Philippines.  This new president is cracking down on crime, corruption and, in particular, drug dealers.   For some reason I am yet to understand, Mike became a black publicity target during the election campaign.  Too many people believed the lies.  This cost him the mayorship.  Cleaning up the mess, in the wake of Mike’s loss of status, is my job. Consequently, I am busier now than before the election.
The President delivered a speech to the media this week.   In it, he named Mike, and two former, high-ranking police officers from Cebu, as coconspirators with members of the local Drug Mafia.  The President declared that, throughout Mike’s tenure as Mayor of Cebu, known drug dealers had been awarded protection.  We immediately released a statement contradicting these assertions, pointing out that during Mike’s mayorship there had been arrests of several high-profile drug dealers, and apprehension of many small time dealers.  Our statement also emphasized the minimal influence Mike had over any of the Cebu City Police Chiefs, pointing out that the appointment of each of these men had been made by the current President’s predecessor.
The press release I am now writing is one which begins to outline Mike’s intentions to meet with the newly appointed Police Chief.  He decided to view the so-called evidence supporting accusations being made against him. This meeting was meant to take place yesterday afternoon, at the Cebu City Police Headquarters.  Mike was to report back to me before nightfall, so that I could include his findings in this current press release. I haven’t heard from him yet.  This is a bit unusual.  Generally, Mike contacts me several times a day, either by text or email. The last email received from him arrived in my mailbox at 9.15 am, yesterday morning.  In it, he reiterated his intentions, telling me to expect some interesting news before the day’s end. 
I don’t usually attend such meetings with Mike.  This responsibility belongs to Tom, Mike’s speechwriter. Tom likes to observe and record the reactions and responses to Mike’s speeches.  He also assists Mike, in any ad hoc meetings, by monitoring his speech and behavior, using a privately concocted sign language to politely steer him away from any points of peril.   Tom and I work together when it comes to the writing the press releases.  Tom checks everything over a couple of times and even signs off the press releases if Mike is too busy, or not available.  Like today, I find myself thinking.  I wonder where Mike is. 
*****
My cellphone rings.  It’s Tom. I’m surprised.  He tends to send emails and texts. I tell him that I am getting ready to email the latest press release to both himself and Mike.   “Where’s Mike?” I ask him.  He doesn’t answer my question. “Where are you?”  He asks.  Confused, I respond. “I’m at home.  Why?”  His hoarsely whispered words reach my ear.  “Get out of the country!  We are in big trouble!  

They’ve arrested Mike.  They think we’ve both been assisting him to run a drug empire.  They’re claiming that, between my speeches and your press releases, we’ve been sending coded messages to drug cartel leaders, their dealers, and corrupt officials.  One of my friends who works at the courts rang me thirty minutes ago, telling me an arrest warrant had already been issued for Mike. They are now in the process of applying for arrest warrants for us. I can’t get out of the country. I don’t have a passport. I’m not going to tell you where I’m going, but you need to leave the country now!  Get out of your house now!” The call ends.
*****

Tom’s urgent command, ‘Get out of your house now!’ is still rattling my brain. Feelings of panic are confusing my thought processes.  I need to get to the airport in a hurry.  I want to leave this country and fly back to Australia.  What if the airport has already been alerted?  I’m thinking, possibly irrationally, that I should just head to the Australian Embassy….Could they help me?  The paralysis of fear is beginning to fracture a little.  I think the airport is my best option. The courts wouldn’t have had time to organize a legal hold departure. I am banking on logic and hope I’m right.  
My hand shakes as I grab my laptop, search for and locate an online travel booking site.   My airline ticket is for a 6PM flight from Cebu to Singapore.  It is now 3PM.  I throw all electronic gadgets into a leather satchel, grab an overnight bag, stuff in essential clothing and, within ten minutes of Tom’s phone call, I’m walking down the street looking for a taxi.
*****
I’m on my way to the airport but don’t feel safe.  The same motorcycle has been behind us for at least the last three kilometers.  The driver pulls out and overtakes, but doesn’t stop.  I’m shaking.   Two police cars pass the taxi.  Neither stops us. I alight from the taxi outside the International Departure entrance, my hand is shaking as I push far too much money into the driver’s outstretched palm.
*****
I’m a little more relaxed.  I am thinking that if the police trailed the taxi to the airport they would have stopped me by now.  Breathing deeply as I approach the Bureau of Immigration desk, I try not to look anxious. This will be the big test. The woman checks my ticket and passport against the data on her computer screen and then smiles at me. Heading toward the gate, I glance at my watch.   It is 5PM.

 

My heart continues its erratic beat.  I won’t feel at ease until I’m in the air.  The final hour drags.  I try to ring, text and email Tom; several times.  No response.  The boarding call reminds me to behave normally.  I don’t want to arouse any suspicions.  The plane takes off. 
*****
It is four hours since the flight left Cebu.  The lights of Singapore are now beneath us. It’s raining as we land; the landing wheels bumping hard against the wet runway.  Without checked in luggage I’m one of the first passengers to face the Singapore Airport Immigration staff. There are several police officers, like neatly dressed toy soldiers, watching all of us.  I’m not in the clear, yet.  If Cebu authorities have already contacted Interpol, I’m a goner.  Interpol is a much faster machine than the Philippine police force.  

*****
The immigration officer is taking his time in checking my passport.   He signals his supervisor to come over to the desk.  I force a smile.   I feel like I’m going to break out in the sweat.  To my relief the supervisor is only needed to help the officer log back into the computer.  He hands back my papers.  I’m on my way!  I’ve never been so happy to be in Singapore. 
*****

The morning sun pushes a few of its beams past the hotel window blind.  I get online to check the Philippine news.   The headlines assault me.  Mike was shot dead at the police station.   The news report claims he was trying to escape.  Police are claiming they found drugs and a huge cache of firearms at his house.  I don’t believe it.  I’ve seen almost every nook and cranny in Mike’s house.  Never spied a gun or even the smallest joint.   There is no mention of Tom or myself in the article.  I try calling Tom.  Still no answer.  I start thinking about the quirks and unfairness of life.  I’m the one who is alive and free.  Should I thank God?
*****

Crimson Corruption first 800/100,000 words

Crimson Corruption written by Lance Schukies 

Description:

 Dean moves to a third world country to set up a IT business unbeknown to him, he is been shadowed by corrupt policeman, who’s goal is to put Dean in jail in order to extort a huge sum of money from him, this is a cat and mouse game which dean can lose everything. 

First 800 words:

Arrival in Manatree – Feb 2012

Walking across the tarmac from the aircraft he first notices the smell.  A pungent odour of raw sewage and rotting plants.  At 11pm, on this dark, moonless night, Dean feels himself merging into a surreal and dreamlike state. Lack of sleep isn’t helping.  He pinches himself. These new surroundings are disorienting.  It is his first visit to Manatree.  It is also the first time he has visited a third world country.  Listening to the garbled fluency of people talking in a strange language, he begins to feel like an alien. 

Most of the people he can see are Manatree locals.  There are a few business people like himself, but definitely no tourists from this late night flight.   Manatree is not a tourist destination. Tourists do not usually travel to miserable dumps like this to either watch people rot or risk losing their holiday money to the extortionate fees applied by anyone who has even the tiniest bit of power over them.  For example, airport porters.  There are too many of them.  All uniformed, with ID badges pinned to crumpled shirts. Poised and hawklike, only one step back from the incoming passengers waiting for their luggage to spill into view.  A few porters begin to crowd around Dean and the other aliens, each hoping to grab one of their bags and claim an outrageous fee.  Dean brushes them off with a ‘go away’ glare and, for the more persistent ones, a discouraging wave of his hand.  Dean notices a western woman who has red hair and he is reminded of Vicki, his ex girlfriend of 20 years. he quickly moves his thoughts to his surrounding to avoid the hurt and tears that will surely manifest. “damn 6000 miles and I can’t get away from her” he says out loud to no one. the nearest porter looks at him and seeing dean talk to himself quickly moves away. He is so busily engaged in warding off porters he fails to notice a man in a gray shirt watching him, Dean pulls his bags from the airport luggage conveyor and looks around. 

Nothing about the Manatree International Airport looks familiar to Dean. The main building is old and rundown, built during the 1950s and never expanded.  The paint is faded and discolored and, in some areas, peeling from the walls. The darker color beneath tells another story.  Dean muses that, more than likely, a painting contractor had cut corners by slapping cheap paint on without preparing the surface.  The scene is absurd.  International airports are not supposed to look like this…are they?  Even the airport staff look different; both from what Dean had expected and from each other.  Their uniforms are made from cheap, synthetic fabrics and none look the same.  Varying in colour, cut and style, some are even threadbare. Uniformity without uniformity.  The scene is an odd one.

A number of armed guards are spread out across the airport, presenting their own contradictory image with unmatched uniforms and mismatched weapons.  Some of the guns look aged and rusted.  Even bullets lined up along belts look the same ages as the rusting guns.  A few of the ammunition belts are complete and others have bits missing.  There are gaps in ammunition holders, spaces where some item or tool should be and a general inconsistency in appearance.   Dean had not expected to see this run down, private army protecting a government-owned airport.  He makes a mental comparison between these men and the Australian airport guards. There is no similarity.

Dean reads a sign secured to a far wall.  Written in several languages, he understands only one.  ‘To the Quarantine Station.’  Throwing his bags into a trolley, he follows the arrows and heads toward the station to pick up Rover, his faithful ‘bitzer.’   He had been told that the dog would be available for collection after landing.  Rover would not be carrying any disease unfamiliar to Manatree.   His most recent trip to the veterinary clinic in Sydney had resulted in the dog being given a stringent health check and a few unwelcome injections. Rover, he knows, is a very healthy animal.   Dean is not expecting any hold-up. But, in this country there are other kinds of delays.  Dean is about to learn that the staff at the Quarantine Station like to collect ‘taxes’ from visiting aliens with accompanying pets.

Again dean didn’t notice the man with the grey shirt who was standing next to the security officers at the luggage carousel, with his grey shirt he could have been mistaken for one of the Airport supervisors.  Now with his phone in his hand he could’ve be mistaken for  the security guards supervisor. the man wearing the grey shirt didn’t work for anyone in the airport he was there looking for targets like Dean.