Take a trip to the amusement park with a squad of cybernetically enhanced soldiers who don’t expect to make it out alive…
BRADDOCK GLANCED through the cracks of the haphazardly boarded window at the gargantuan fortress beyond—glowing neon bright in a spring drizzle that made it look like the video reception on a cheap cellphone. The organic security walls like piled intestines surrounding squat plasteel towers topped with anti-missile lasers, all dominated by the central archaic medieval castle and the plaster mountain looming behind it. He wondered if the Mayor really lived in that castle. It seemed reasonable enough based on the sketchy intel they had, but they wouldn’t know for sure until they got there and blew his goddamned brains out.
“Still raining?” Mackie asked. She sat in the corner, legs curled under her, eating steaming algae from a styrofoam cup. The reinforced muscle in her jaw hissed as she chewed.
“Yeah,” Braddock said. The stuff reeked like mildew from ten feet away. He walked the short distance across the room.
“Stop pacing,” Mackie said. “You’re driving me crazy.”
“They should have been back by now. What if they got stewed.”
“Life goes on.”
“Not for much longer if anybody finds out we’re here.”
Mackie looked up from her food, staring into Braddock’s eyes. “You really expect to survive this?”
Braddock hadn’t allowed himself to even think about that. “No…” he stammered. “But I want to take a bunch of them with me.”
“What good will that do? They’ll just grow more.”
“If it’s all so hopeless then what are you doing here?”
Mackie smiled, all shiny brass teeth in the dim light of the portlamp. “I’m an optimist.” She rubbed a hand over her sandpaper-stubbled scalp and pulled a roach out of her dinner, flicking it across the room.
The thin walls shuddered and Braddock could hear the sound of someone clambering up the steps toward them. He and Mackie pulled their weapons, instinctively aiming the HK’s at the entrance. Paddy burst through the thin door ripping it off the top hinge with a splintery crack. He half dragged Parkinson who stumbled along on wobbly legs with one arm over Paddy’s shoulder.
“Christ! What happened to him?” Braddock asked, helping Paddy dump the dazed soldier on a rusty box spring covered with a nylon sleeping bag instead of a mattress.
“Don’t know. Hasn’t said shit that makes sense.”
Parkinson’s neck spasmed and twitched uncontrollably. A bluish goo, reflective like oil, bubbled from his mouth.
“He’s been tagged,” Mackie said, angling toward Paddy. “Why the hell did you bring him back here?”
Braddock stepped in front of her. “Easy Mackie, you don’t know that for sure…”
“Why’d you do it Paddy?” she said again. “Jesus, Braddock, we gotta get out of here. He’s been tagged, man. Why’d you bring him back here, Paddy?”
Braddock could feel Paddy at his back. “What you want me to do? Leave him out there for those things? That what you would have done?”
“Cut it!” Braddock bellowed. “Both of you.”
And in the swollen silence that followed, Braddock could here Parkinson’s teeth rattling and the squeaking box spring and gleeful cartoon laughing approaching and the sound of his own heart vibrating the inside of his skull.