Adam Shurte has previously been featured with some rather cool and calm photos in our City@Night 001. Now, we bring you a piece of his fiction!
Collection follows Jorvis as he wakes up in that familiar cyberpunk setting, the chop shop, with some new tech and a debt to repay. It makes for a good, quick read.
by Adam Shurte
“You sure you want this done, man?”
“I wanna get an education. Hell yeah.”
“Can’t undo this sorta thing once it’s done, brotha.”
“Just put me under and screw the damn things in already.”
Jorvis woke up in splitting pain. It felt like someone had drilled a hole into his skull, and several more into the back of his neck. He blinked his eyes open and tried to move around; his arms and legs were strapped down, and he found he couldn’t move his head at all.
His eyes adjusted to the glare, and he found himself staring into an overhead lamp. His throat was dry, as was his nose. He started to panic. Somewhere to his left, a machine started to beep.
He heard footsteps rush into the room, and then heard something.
“Someone’s awake. Let me see…”
Sounds like the Doc, Jorvis thought.
Oh, I must’ve- is it already over? I just closed my damn eyes- Jorvis thought.
Doc Gerald leaned over Jorvis.
“Bad news. You gotta stay still, just like that, for two days. Don’t worry about food or water or nothing else, I got you cathetered and diapered. There’s nutrient and saline IV’s keeping you hydrated and fed. Blink if you’re in pain.
“Blink one to ten times, ten for worst pain in your fricking life…”
Jorvis blinked, then blinked six more times.
“Alright. You want a painkiller? Cost you extra.”
“Three times for yes, two times for no.”
Jorvis blinked three times.
“Bout that, Jorvis. Your credit account…”
Jorvis blinked and looked at Doc Gerald.
“Did a little credit check post-op, while you was under. You gonna owe me some money for a little while, Jorvis. So here’s how it’s gonna be, brotha.”
Jorvis blinked. He felt himself panicking again. The machine resumed beeping away. Doc Gerald chuckled.
“So it’s too early to check and see if those implants worked or not…and you can’t afford no painkillers, man. I hate doin’ this to you man, you weren’t straight with me.”
“Now, it’s not like you won’t have money once you find someone willin’ to slot your ass into something or other. And I’m a patient man, brotha. But I can’t STAND liars, man! Can’t-fuckin-stand ‘em!”
Jorvis started to sweat.
“So you gonna stare into that damn light for two days, while I find someone to sell your ass to. You do a few contracts for them, brotha. After they done with your ass, I figure we’ll be even. Oh, and, by the way…”
Doc Gerald stopped staring at Jorvis and looked around the room. He turned away and walked out of Jorvis’s field of view.
“Enjoy your new implants, motherfucker. Lucky I didn’t gut you and sell you for parts.”
Jorvis heard the door slam shut, and stared into the light.
Several very monotonous hours passed by. Jorvis tried to sleep, but couldn’t. All he could do was breathe, move his eyes, and try to sleep. The latter failed to happen.
Eventually he heard footsteps out in the hallway. He heard the door open.
“So this is your man?”
“In the flesh.”
“How much does he owe you, Gerald?”
“Bout 35,000 dollars.”
Jorvis heard the second man whistle.
“Gerald, you know…sometimes it’s common sense, just get the money up front before an operation.”
“I know. But I trust Jorvis’s sorry ass. Or I used to.”
“Let me take a look at him.”
Jorvis watched as a bald white man in a nice suit with an orange, digital monocle walked up and examined him.
“Think he’s in good shape? He’s slim.”
“Fucker does maintenance and janitorial shit. But his vitals are good. Got something in mind?”
“He’s in good enough shape…and yes. And no, I’m not telling you. We’ll wire you the 35,000 dollars after he’s earned them. And Gerald?”
“Make sure my guys put him in the shower before they send him to me.”
They left. The door shut gently behind them. Jorvis stared into the maddening light. Eventually he drifted off into an unpleasant sleep.
He woke up to the light flashing on and off repeatedly. Doc Gerald came into view.
“Now listen here, Jorvis. I got a morphine shot and some codeine. Gonna bill it to your account. Hope you learned somethin’ here, son.”
Jorvis felt something punch through his thigh. His head felt like it’d been hit with a truck. He exhaled, long and slow, then felt another sharp jab- a needle in his shoulder. The needle removed itself, then he felt pressure applied to both wounds and some sort of slap-bandage thrown on both locations.
“Wear off in a few hours. You get another dose tomorrow. That means you gonna feel the burn again. After that they comin’ for you. See ya tomorrow.”
Jorvis was still high on the second dose when he heard the door opening again. Footsteps entered the room. He heard heels clicking across the floor.
Doc Gerald stood over him, and started messing with the machinery in the room. Jorvis barely felt the catheter come out.
“Alright, brotha. Word of advice. Don’t fuckin’ run. Lady in the corner? She got a taser, and she got worse things than a taser in her purse. Shit that’ll make you wish you was dead. So when I undo them straps, you can move, but don’t get offa the fuckin bed, liar.”
Jorvis blinked three times.
“Good. Here goes-“
Gerald threw a switch. Jorvis felt the restraints pop off. He tried to move his jaw, to turn his head. He was able to do both.
In the corner was a very corporate looking woman in a pantsuit with a set of handcuffs and a stungun. Jorvis checked her out; she had decent sized breasts, but a pretty ugly face- Big round nose, hair cropped short, beady sunken eyes. She had the charm and demeanor of a pit bull.
“I’ll take it from here, Dr. Lycus,” the woman said.
Gerald nodded, and Jorvis watched him walk wordlessly out of the room.
“First things first. Hands together. I’m cuffing you,” she said.
Jorvis sat up slowly, and held his wrists together. The woman moved quickly, and expertly applied the handcuffs.
“Now stand up.”
Jorvis stood up. The blood rushed out of his head, and he fell to the floor, but barely managed to catch himself. He gasped and breathed heavily.
“I said stand up. Or I’ll make you stand up. Don’t make me make you.”
“I…I heard you, lady. Lemme…just a second.”
Jorvis got on one knee, then stood up.
“Now, Mr. Vule, open the door, walk out it, and turn left. Make a funny move and I hit you with the stun gun, then I slot you with a little something that’ll make you wish you were in hell being eaten by demons.”
“Left. Got it.”
Jorvis walked to the door, weakly; his head wasn’t hurting yet, but he was sure that’d change soon- and stepped outside. He turned left, and found himself in a hallway with a few rooms on either side of him. He heard clicking heels hitting the floor behind him, turned around, and saw the pit bull woman gesture for him to continue moving. He walked down the hallway.
“Make a right,” the woman said.
Jorvis did. Ahead of him was a glass door. The back door.
I don’t like how this is working out, he thought.
He stopped at the door.
At least I’m high, he thought as he pushed the door open and stepped into a dark alley. The sounds of the city at night greeted him as he stood on the truck dock. Parked in the alley was a reinforced car with windows tinted jet black.
“Walk up to the back door and get inside,” the pit bull said. Jorvis complied, and sat down; he noticed the car had a nice leather interior. A driver sat in the front seat, his eyes on the rearview mirror. Jorvis met the man’s gaze, and stared back at him until the woman got in the seat next to him and shut the door.
“We’re in. Let’s go,” she said as she shut the door behind her.
The man in the rearview mirror nodded, looked away, and the car drove slowly onto the city roads, then merged onto a highway and flew down the road. They rode in complete silence.
Somewhere well outside the city, they pulled off at an exit and wove their way through an array of country roads. Jorvis looked out the window; there wasn’t much to see, until they pulled up to a warehouse. His head started to hurt again. He debated asking them for painkillers, before thinking better of it.
Yeah, they’d probably kill me for that, he thought.
They turned in the driveway, and the driver stopped the car and got out. He walked up to a keypad, punched in a code, and the chain-link and barbed wire fence slid to either side on wheels. He returned to the car and they pulled up to the warehouse. The driver stopped the car and shut off the engine, then reached into the glove box and pulled a gun out. He checked to see if a round was chambered; there was.
Jorvis noticed all of this, and swallowed involuntarily.
The drive got out and walked to Jorvis’s side, then popped the door open. He looked at the pit bull.
“Get out,” she said. “And yes, that’s a 9 millimeter he’s got aimed at you. Try and run and we’re killing you.”
Jorvis nodded, and swung his legs out, then, using his cuffed hands to brace himself, stood up and climbed out of the car. The woman got out, walked up to him, and pulled a small case out of her purse. She popped it open.
“Hold still,” she said. With one hand she grabbed the back of his head at its base, and with the other she slipped a chip into one of the slots on his head and locked it in. Jorvis yelled.
“Shut up, drone,” the woman said softly but sternly, “and remember. You’re a drone from now on…”
Suddenly Jorvis blinked; a flash of white light blinded him. He screamed again and fell to the ground. The taste of dirt filled his mouth, then the pain subsided somewhat, as he felt his captors raising him to his feet. He blinked a few times, then shook his head.
“Ain’t…ain’t you supposed to sedat-“
“Shut. Up. Now listen. We’re throwing you in the dogpen. The wolves are hungry. This,” the woman said, reaching into her purse and pulling out a sheathed knife, “is your weapon. That chip should’ve taught you how to use it, if your street surgeon was worth a damn. If not, we won’t be feeding the wolves tonight. Understand?”
She unsheathed the blade; it looked like a bowie knife. Jorvis blinked as the recognition dawned on him.
She tossed the knife at him. Instinctively- lightning fast- he caught the blade by the handle, despite being cuffed.
“What the fuck-“ Jorvis said.
The woman smirked.
“Good. You might live through the night. All right dogmeat, go meet the wolves. I’ll remotely release the cuffs once you’re locked inside.”
“Then we’ll let the hounds loose,” the driver said.
“Exactly. Last two minutes and we’ll activate their shock collars. Now march. The door is over there,” she said, gesturing with the remote.
Sweating, Jorvis walked to the gate. He yanked the door open, and stepped inside. Behind him, the driver shut the door. He heard it lock shut.
There was a beep from his cuffs, and they went loose. Jorvis shook them off, then idly tossed the knife from hand to hand, scanning the area surrounding him. He felt his mind calm down suddenly as he matched eyes with the hungry wolves. They were growling, and soon they’d be upon him, and his training would pay off.
But I’m a janitor-
The thought was interrupted as the cages slammed open and, as one, the wolves leapt off the ground and charged for him- six wolves to one man with a knife. He waited as they approached then, spotting the biggest, fastest one, he crouched, and lunged. The wolf did the same.
The knife flashed, a cold reflex; the alpha went down behind him. He spun, the knife still flashing as it clawed through another wolf. Claws dug into his leg, and he switched hands and rammed his knife backward mechanically, killing a third, then slashed underhanded forward into the fourth wolf. The other two wolves, still growling, backed off. One of them tried to circle around behind him.
Suddenly they both yelped and ran back to their ages. Four steaming wolves were bleeding out on the warehouse concrete, and the doors opened again. The driver and his female companion both aimed their guns at Jorvis.
“You’re in luck, slot machine. Looks like the damn chip worked. Now for the real test. Drop the knife. You can kill one of us and die, or you can come with us,” the woman said.
Something like calculus flashed through his mind. He did the odds. She was right. He dropped the knife.
“Good boy. Kick it over here, nice and easy,” the woman said.
He did so.
“I’m gonna cuff you again, and unslot you. Any funny moves, Mack pumps you full of lead faster than you can blink. Got it?”
“Got it,” Jorvis said, surprised by his calm, professional demeanor. He waited; she walked forward and cuffed him, then backed off a second.
“Now, I’m warning you- this is gonna hurt. Hold still,” she said, putting her gun in her purse and pulling out the stun gun. She pulled the trigger.
Jorvis screamed and spasmed he felt as though he’d been slammed everywhere and all at once by a truck. He went rigid and fell to the floor, then twitched for a while. Meanwhile, he felt his head click and the chip unslot. Another white flash, then he was his old self. Jorvis Vule, janitor, experiencing pure animal terror.
“What the fuck just…what the fuck just happ-“
“You passed the test. Means your implants work,” the driver said.
The woman smiled as she cuffed him.
“At least one of the slots. They’ll figure out the rest at corporate. Back into the car, slot machine,” she said, gesturing with the stun gun. Jorvis saw it’d already been reloaded.
“Looks like you’re not dying tonight, drone. Welcome aboard Daimonics Incorporate. You’ll be paying for your medical bills after all, Mr. Vule…”