Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Eleven, Part Two
May 2012 04

Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Eleven, Part Two

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

by Steven-Elliot Altman (SG Member: Steven_Altman)

Our Fiction Friday serialized novel, The Killswitch Review, is a futuristic murder mystery with killer sociopolitical commentary (and some of the best sex scenes we’ve ever read!). Written by bestselling sci-fi author Steven-Elliot Altman (with Diane DeKelb-Rittenhouse), it offers a terrifying postmodern vision in the tradition of Blade Runner and Brave New World

By the year 2156, stem cell therapy has triumphed over aging and disease, extending the human lifespan indefinitely. But only for those who have achieved Conscientious Citizen Status. To combat overpopulation, the U.S. has sealed its borders, instituted compulsory contraception and a strict one child per couple policy for those who are permitted to breed, and made technology-assisted suicide readily available. But in a world where the old can remain vital forever, America’s youth have little hope of prosperity.

Jason Haggerty is an investigator for Black Buttons Inc, the government agency responsible for dispensing personal handheld Kevorkian devices, which afford the only legal form of suicide. An armed “Killswitch” monitors and records a citizen’s final moments — up to the point where they press a button and peacefully die. Post-press review agents — “button collectors” — are dispatched to review and judge these final recordings to rule out foul play.

When three teens stage an illegal public suicide, Haggerty suspects their deaths may have been murders. Now his race is on to uncover proof and prevent a nationwide epidemic of copycat suicides. Trouble is, for the first time in history, an entire generation might just decide they’re better off dead.

(Catch up with the previous installments of Killswitch – see links below – then continue reading after the jump…)

[THE KILLSWITCH REVIEW – CHAPTER ELEVEN, PART TWO]

[SUPERBOWL CXC]

[Previous Chapter / Next Chapter]

Stelwyn shouted something as his bodyguards pushed through the turngate past the operator. Alarms clamored as they continued through the security arch, triggering anew as Stelwyn, Haggerty, and Regina followed them under. The roar of the crowd shook the massive stadium. Stelwyn was yelling into his earpiece, trying to explain the situation to security, but the din from the million-plus attendees made communication nearly impossible.

Two uniformed guards rushed from their post with stunners ready, shouting, “Put your hands in the air.” They were immediately confronted by Stelwyn’s men.

Haggerty and Regina complied.

Stelwyn stepped between his men and produced his I.D. “If you want to keep your jobs you’ll lower those stunners,” he said coldly. ‘”If you want to spend the rest of your lives in hellish squalor, keep pointing them at me. This is my damned stadium. Check with the office.”

One of the guards spoke into his com. Bullhorns pierced the mayhem, punctuated by the bark of a sportscaster.

“Sorry for the mix-up, Mr. Stelwyn,” the man said as he unclipped his earpiece. “Enjoy the game with your guests.”

They stepped out onto a first-deck platform amid the raucous crowd in the stands. Haggerty surveyed the two-hundred-yard field below them where the double lineup of gargantuan players in bright-colored body armor faced off as a whistle blew. Even from this distance the genetically enhanced warriors seemed inhuman.

“I can’t stand how the players are deformed,” Regina said. “Their families are so desperate they sacrifice their children so the rest of the nation can enjoy its blood sport. It’s blasphemous.”

Years ago, Haggerty would have said the parents’ choice to have their children mutated was rational, guaranteeing a short, wealthy life with the best of everything rather than a long subsistence in poverty. Since the car accident, his view had changed: Nothing rational warranted the shortening of a child’s life. And parents who might live forever needed their children alive and healthy for at least as long as they planned to live, themselves, or they risked falling prey to despair — and pressing to escape that despair. There were many more arguments to be made against condemning children to an early death in the name of ensuring they lived in material comfort. But right now the players’ lives weren’t his concern.

A flag dropped, halting the next play. A false start call against NewVada unleashed a riot of derision from the crowd. NewVada trailed 21-19, and was lining up to punt, so the crowd was in no mood for mindless penalties. A two-hundred-foot-long plasma screen replayed the call, which only incited the crowd more. The timeclock at the upper right quadrant of the scoreboard indicated three minutes left in the second quarter, which meant ten to fifteen in real time.

Stelwyn clicked off his earset. “Nothing but backtalk from the office,” he told his bodyguards. “You go to the staging area and you to the VIP green room. Use my name and authority. Break legs if you have to. See to it that band does not go onstage. Make sure the stage never rises. Understood?”

The men nodded and left.

“Okay, Haggerty, consider the band stopped. Now help me get my hands on Max. You’re the only one who can identify him. Where do we start?”

“My bet is he’s somewhere out there, watching the game and calling orders from an earset. He said he’d be here in style. That means the suites on the hundred-yard line.”

Haggerty moved along the rail, scanning the stadium. It was impossible to make out the faces of anyone that far downfield and there was no time physically to check each suite.

“Hey man, you’re blockin’ my view,” a fan shouted at Haggerty.

Haggerty turned to his taunter. “Lend me those,” he said, indicating the binoculars at the man’s neck with his stunner.

He finessed the finger dials and surveyed the distant field-level suites. The center suite’s occupants came into focus: Max, Corbin, and a single security guard. He handed the binoculars to Stelwyn.

Unfortunately, the fastest way to get there was through the stands and across the first row. Haggerty flicked the binoculars back to their owner. Then he and Regina followed Stelwyn, descending two steps at a time.

The crowd rose with a roar as Johnson, the NewVada kicker, sent the ball hurtling down the field and the linemen took off after it. Haggerty could not help glancing at the action. The players sprinted forward with tremendous speed. Their agility was inhuman; the biogenetic enhancements had come on so gradually, he’d never really considered it before. When he was a kid the field had been only a hundred yards long. He recalled the first time he’d attended a game, gripping his father’s hand and bursting with excitement. How large the place had seemed then. Eventually the UFL felt the new breed of players warranted doubling the field size. The vastness of this complex was almost beyond comprehension.

“Matheson takes the snap,” the sportscaster called. “He drops back, he’s looking deep. . . Nolan has a step. . . Matheson airs it out. . . and Nolan makes a beautiful leaping catch! That ball was nearly a hundred yards in the air, folks. First down!”

Stelwyn reached field level and cut across the front row with Haggerty and Regina close behind. They dashed along the thirty-foot wall through screaming and swearing fans, toward the New York players’ warm-up bench on the green. Haggerty struggled to keep up.

A hush fell over the crowd as Gerald Sohl, a NewVada linebacker, lay motionless on the field after taking a big hit. Young footballers died now and then; it was part of the thrill of the game. If the linebacker were dead, the game would be delayed while he was carted off the field and replaced, then play would resume. A quarterback’s death could theoretically stop the game, but this had happened only once before, to a stunning talent named Sturgeon, years ago.

“We’re moving too slow,” Stelwyn shouted. He broke into a run. Haggerty and Regina ran after him, shoving people out of their way as the downed linebacker got up and the stadium went wild.

Inhuman, Haggerty thought. He sprinted toward stadium midpoint, his shoes hammering against cement, pounding and pounding, his legs about to give out, his lungs threatening to explode.

The buzzer sounded. The sportscaster’s voice echoed across the stadium: “We have reached the two minute warning, as NewVada, still trailing, is struggling to move into field goal range. It’s been a heartstopping first half of action here in Superbowl One-Hundred-Ninety!”

Two minutes left and over half the stadium still to cover. There was no chance of making it to Max’s suite before halftime. When the band did not appear, Max and Corbin would flee — and there was no predicting how many other schemes Max might hatch if this one failed to bring about disaster.

Regina skidded to a halt, breathing hard. “I think I can buy us time,” she said, looking over her shoulder at a cadre of kids in Clone Jesus jackets in the first row. She pulled Haggerty’s head down for a hard kiss.

“Get outta the way,” one of the boys shouted.

“Go nail that fucker!” Regina yelled, ripping a colorful airboard from one of the fans’ backpacks and clutching it to her chest. By the time the boy got to his feet Regina had powered it on, leapt over the rail, and was plummeting toward the field with the board stretched beneath her at arm’s length. Haggerty felt a surge of pride and admiration as she rolled her foot atop it, balanced on the edge of the wall, pulled up a few feet above the field, and surfed the green toward the center of the game, cannonballing straight for the players.

Haggerty tore off after Stelwyn.

* * *

Excerpt from The Killswitch Review, published by Yard Dog Press. Copyright 2011 Steven-Elliot Altman.

Steven-Elliot Altman is a bestselling author, screenwriter, and videogame developer. He won multiple awards for his online role playing game, 9Dragons. His novels include Captain America is Dead, Zen in the Art of Slaying Vampires, Batman: Fear Itself, Batman: Infinite Mirror, The Killswitch Review, The Irregulars, and Deprivers. His writing has been compared to that of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Michael Crichton and Philip K. Dick, and he has collaborated with world class writers such as Neil Gaiman, Michael Reaves, Harry Turtledove and Dr. Janet Asimov. He’s also the editor of the critically acclaimed anthology The Touch, and a contributor to Shadows Over Baker Street, a Hugo Award winning anthology of Sherlock Holmes meets H.P. Lovecraft stories.

Steven also bares ink on his body, and is bi, as in bi-coastal, between NYC and LA. He’s currently hard at work writing and directing his latest videogame Cursed Love, an online free to play gothic horror RPG from Dark Hermit Studios, set in Victorian London. Think Sherlock Holmes, Jack The Ripper and Dorian Gray mercilessly exploit the cast of Twilight. Friend Cursed Love (Official Closed Beta) on facebook and you can have fun playing out this tawdry, tragic romance with Steven while the game is being beta tested!

Diane DeKelb-Rittehouse spent several years in Manhattan as an actress before marrying her college sweetheart and returning to the Philadelphia area where she had been born. Diane first worked with Steven-Elliot Altman when they created the acclaimed, Publisher’s Weekly Starred-Review anthology The Touch: Epidemic of the Millennium, in which her story “Gifted” appeared. Diane has published a number of critically acclaimed short stories, most notably in the science fiction, murder, and horror genres. Her young adult fantasy novel, Fareie Rings: The Book of Forests, is now available in stores or online.

Interested in buying a printed copy of The Killswitch Review? Well, Steve’s publisher Yard Dog Press was kind enough to put up a special page where SuicideGirls can get a special discount and watch a sexy trailer. Just follow this link to KillswitchReview.com and click on the SG logo.

* * *

Related Posts:
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter One
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter One, Part Two
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter One, Part Three
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter One, Part Four
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Two, Part One
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Two, Part Two
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Two, Part Three
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Three, Part One
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Three, Part Two
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Three, Part Three
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Four, Part One
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Four, Part Two
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Four, Part Three
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Five, Part One
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Five, Part Two
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Five, Part Three
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Six, Part One
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Six, Part Two
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Six, Part Three
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Seven, Part One
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Seven, Part Two
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Seven, Part Three
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Seven, Part Four
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Seven, Part Five
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Eight, Part One
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Eight, Part Two
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Eight, Part Three
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Nine, Part One
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Nine, Part Two
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Nine, Part Three
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Nine, Part Four
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Nine, Part Five
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Ten, Part One
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Ten, Part Two
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Ten, Part Three
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Eleven, Part One

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