Fiction Friday: Marco and the Red Granny – Part 14
Jul 2011 01

Fiction Friday: Marco and the Red Granny – Part 14

Posted In Blog,Books,Entertainment,Fiction,Geek,Internuts

by Mur Lafferty

SuicdeGirls presents the fourteenth installment of our Fiction Friday sci-fi series, Marco and the Red Granny, which is brought to you by SG columnist Mighty Mur a.k.a. cyber commentator Mur Lafferty.

Marco and the Red Granny is set in a not-so-distant future where an alien species, the Li-Jun, has transformed the moon into the new artistic center of the universe, where the Sally Ride Lunar Base soon gains the nickname “Mollywood.” These aliens can do amazing things with art and the senses, allowing a painting, for example, to stimulate senses other than sight. However, humans remain suspicious of the Li-Jun’s emotion-imbued goods, so while their entertainment can be beamed back to earth, a trade embargo prevents anything from being physically imported to the planet.

In the previous installments, Marco, a writer whose career has long been in the doldrums, gets a surprise call from an agent he thought he no longer had informing him that he has received an offer from Mollywood for a much coveted Li-Jun patronage. Keen to catch up career-wise with his ex-GF Penelope, who’d unceremoniously dumped him after being recruited by the Li-Jun two years earlier, Marco hastily jumps on the next shuttle to the moon. Once aboard, he finds himself sitting next to a seemingly unassuming old lady called Heather, who turns out to be The Red Granny, a legend in Li-Jun’s reality show world for being a three-time champion of The Most Dangerous Game (which requires contestants to sign away the rights to their life).

After settling into his new accommodations at House Blue, Marco has a brief meeting with his new patron, a Li-Jun called Thirteen. It’s only then that Marco realizes he’s never been shown the terms of his employment, and a sense of unease sets in. That evening, Marco is taken on a trip to see The Red Granny in action in The Most Dangerous Game. After a bloody battle, the senior reality TV star is again victorious. The viciousness of the game leaves The Red Granny unconscious, and Marco shocked, disturbed, and in need of a stiff drink. Unfortunately stiff drinks are frowned upon by the Li-Jun, so Marco settles for an early night

The next day, Marco learns first hand about the process that enables the Li-Jun to put taste into paintings, music into pie, and stories into (nonalcoholic) beverages. Having had his deepest and most depraved memories dredged and thoroughly probed by the aliens so they can be monitored and recorded, Marco finally sees the terms of his contract. He ultimately accepts the Li-Jun’s too-good-to-refuse offer, and embarks on his new life at House Blue. However, though he’s been handed everything he ever wanted, somehow the reality of it is hollow.

Twenty thousand words into his new graphic novel, with his first deadline looming, Marco suffers from a severe case of writers block, and searches for inspiration in the bottom of a glass that’s actually had something worth drinking in it. To this end, he stumbles across an illicit drinking establishment on the seedier side of the moon which turns out to be run by a collective of folks who are strictly persona non grata as far as the Li-Jun are concerned – The Alcoholic’s Guild. There Marco has an uneasy encounter with a glass or three of gin, his ex-GF Penelope, who is now going by the name Knowledge, and her AG sponsor, Defect. After downing one too many drinks, Marco begins to get a sense of exactly how severe of an infraction the Li-Jun consider the consumption of alcohol to be.

While attempting to conceal his inebriation as he sneaks back into House Blue, Marco is caught red handed by his Li-Jun keeper Seven (it was probably his spontaneous vomiting that gave him away). The punishment is a second bout of mind raping/mapping. Afterwards, with his patronage in jeopardy, Heather gives him a ‘special’ necklace to calm his nerves and promises to plead his case with Thirteen.

The following morning, Heather takes Marco on a behind-the-scenes tour of the secret areas of House Blue where the Li-Jun infuse emotion into art. The Red Granny also reveals that everything created in Mollywood will soon be permitted to be legally imported back to earth. Duly inspired and placated, Marco is allowed to resume his patronage…However, that was before he got kidnapped twice in one day. The first time by Penelope/Knowledge and Defect of The Alcoholic’s Guild, who made him realize the Li-Jun had brainwashed him into compliance, and the second time by the Li-Jun, who were rather upset about the fact he’d just been fraternizing with said Alcoholic’s Guild – albeit initially unwillingly.

Marco and the Red Granny – Part 14
She was with him when he woke up.

“I’m disappointed in you, Marco. I thought we were close.”

Marco rubbed his head and looked around. He was in a room with no windows, slumped into a finely upholstered easy chair. Heather sat in the easy chair opposite him. Along the wall hung various environment suits, some Li-Jun made, some not.

“What did you do to me?” he asked.

“Thirteen was worried about your allegiance when she learned you’d been consorting with the Alcoholics Guild,” she said, frowning. “Seven followed you to check out her fears. I defended you, but it was too late.”

Marco made a face. “Is who I hang out with also dictated in my contract?”

She was silent. “The Alcoholic’s Guild is about to be declared by the Ride Base authority as terrorists.”

Marco snorted. “Don’t suppose my friends could be grandfathered in, since I knew them before they were terrorists?”

“Why do you take this so lightly, Marco? You’re in real trouble. You’ve already lost your patronage; you could be arrested for consorting with terrorists. The Li-Jun are confused, they think you should be grateful.”

“Grateful? For being mind-raped twice without knowing what was going on, grateful for having my emotions manipulated without my consent? God, Heather, they pretty much removed my will. I was their sheep when I wore that necklace that you gave me.”

Heather was very still, and Marco remembered uncomfortably the speed she controlled even in the light gravity. “You think they do mind control and are here to hurt us.”

“It wasn’t real! I’m not a pet or a doll, sitting and smiling when someone wants me to sit and smile. So what if I’m depressive and resentful? If you remove that part of me, that’s not making me better. And what are they planning on doing with all the stuff they’re sending to Earth? Are they going to control everyone back home? Is everyone going to be their sheep?”

Heather stood and walked over to him slowly. “What if they are? People murder, and rape, and enslave, and do horrible things. My village was massacred when I was a child. I don’t want to tell you the things done to me, or the things I was forced to do to survive. If the Li-Jun are here to make us stop living like animals, why shouldn’t we support them in any way possible.”

Marco couldn’t meet her eyes. “But you’re trading one animal for another. You don’t want humans to be wolves, so you make them sheep. Is that better?”

She took his face in her hand and forced him to look at her. “Do sheep rape? Do they murder? Do they beat and sell their children? Do they steal from their own kind? Or are they content?”

Marco tried to say something flippant, like, I don’t know, I never raised sheep, but he was all too aware of her fingers on his neck. “No,” he whispered. “But do they create? Do they experience passion? Do they view the world in myriad ways because of their uniqueness?

She stared into his eyes and smiled at last. “No. They don’t.”

He spoke quickly before he could lose his nerve. “What about you? You’re talking about these murderers, but how many people have you killed?”

She let his chin go and stared at the suits on the wall. “I am a peacekeeper, I will do what needs to be done to make the world a better place.”

“I’m sure your victims in the arena are relieved by your better world.”

“Marco. Listen to me. We are not that dissimilar. We’re just going about our paths in a different way.”

“And what path is that?” Marco asked.

Heather pointed her wrinkled hand at the door. “That path. Outside here is the Lunar environment, and The Most Dangerous Game stadium. The Games start in two hours. You’re a contestant.”

***
Excerpt from the Marco and the Red Granny, published by Restless Brain Media at Smashwords. Copyright 2010 Mur Lafferty.

Mur Lafferty is an author and podcast producer. She has released several works via audio podcast, including her novel Playing For Keeps, the novellas in the Heaven series, the audio drama The Takeover, and many others. She’s won the Parsec Award and the Podcast Peer award. Her published works include Playing For Keeps (Swarm), Nanovor: Hacked (Running Press Kids), and Tricks of the Podcasting Masters (Que), not to mention several short stories. She is the host of I Should Be Writing and the Angry Robot podcasts, as well as the editor of Escape Pod, the sci-fi audio magazine. Marco and the Red Granny was originally published as the premier podcast serial at Hub Magazine, and is available for Kindle via Amazon.

Mur lives in Durham, NC with her husband, Jim Van Verth, their daughter, and two dogs. You can find her in the Murverse, at Smashwords and on Twitter.

Catch Up With Marco and the Red Granny:
Fiction Friday: Marco and the Red Granny – Part 1
Fiction Friday: Marco and the Red Granny – Part 2
Fiction Friday: Marco and the Red Granny – Part 3
Fiction Friday: Marco and the Red Granny – Part 4
Fiction Friday: Marco and the Red Granny – Part 5
Fiction Friday: Marco and the Red Granny – Part 6
Fiction Friday: Marco and the Red Granny – Part 7
Fiction Friday: Marco and the Red Granny – Part 8
Fiction Friday: Marco and the Red Granny – Part 9
Fiction Friday: Marco and the Red Granny – Part 10
Fiction Friday: Marco and the Red Granny – Part 11
Fiction Friday: Marco and the Red Granny – Part 12
Fiction Friday: Marco and the Red Granny – Part 13

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