Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Nine, Part Four
Mar 2012 16

Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Nine, Part Four

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 NINE, PART FOUR]

[GHOSTS IN THE MACHINE]

[Previous Chapter / Next Chapter]

“So Max engineered a staged suicide to inspire hundreds or thousands more to bring down BBI?”

“It seems that is the method he chose,” Svoboda said, “and unfortunately his plan is already succeeding. Over eight hundred young people in Asia and Europe alone have taken their lives.”

Haggerty felt like he’d been struck. “Because of the media coverage?” he said weakly.

“The news media has been quite responsible,” Svoboda said. “They instituted a blackout, due in great part to your late friend’s eloquent plea to the Surgeon General.”

“Doug got word to the Surgeon General?” That might clear Consuela, Haggerty thought.

“He did. But nothing hides from the Net. Recordings were uploaded to the Indranet almost as fast as the presses were broadcast. The most horrific act involved the president of the Clone Jesus fan club in Tokyo, who rallied nearly fifty children to death by drug overdose after he pressed an illegally acquired black box. The reports have been accelerating since sunrise on the East Coast, three hours ago. There are four hundred confirmed suicides here in the States.”

“The census bureau reports an average of two-hundred-twenty-six suicides per day in the U.S.,” Elsa stated. “This number, although significantly elevated, is not in line with your projections.”

“Those numbers relate to the elderly,” Svoboda said. “Not to children. The numbers we are seeing now are cumulative and instantly available on the Indranet to any user. Media coverage is irrelevant. One suicide sparks another.”

“Suicide contagion,” Haggerty said.

“Precisely,” Svoboda said.

“But why is Max doing this?” Haggerty asked.

“I taught Max that BBI must fall, and he realized that bringing them down would not only give him his revenge but enrich him far, far more than the Last Supper Club ever could. He’s got truckloads of Happy Styx all over the country, ready to supply the demand for a fast, easy, pleasurable way to die. And you will be blamed for all the deaths.”

“Why me?”

“Max decided you were his best bet to take the fall, and began to study you in depth. If you had pressed last night as he predicted, prior to the concert, things would have gone quite smoothly for him. Instead, you took over the investigation.”

“And how exactly do you know all this?” Haggerty demanded, digging at his thumb to quash the ants.

“I have been following Max’s activities since I became aware of his true character. I discovered that he was profiling you and realized that I should find out why he was so interested. The best way to do that was to crack Elsa. You know the rest.”

The rest being that Haggerty had this man — and Regina — to thank for saving his life and enabling him to figure out what was happening.

“How the hell did he engineer all this?” Haggerty asked. “He’s just a kid.”

“He created the most addictive euphoric drug I know of. But he needed capital to get started. I understand that he approached the Triads first. They laughed at him. What use was an addictive drug that eliminated the potential for repeat customers? Finally he found someone — I still don’t know who it was — and set up the Last Supper Club. The Triads had no objection to offering protection after that, and Max’s association with them provided access to celebrities. At which point he hatched his master plan.”

“And chose the number one band on the charts to help deliver,” Haggerty added, “then used them to befriend Stelwyn’s son.” He rubbed his right thumb against the knuckle of his index finger compulsively. “Can I have more water?” he asked Svoboda, the cup trembling in his hand.

Elsa looked at him intently as he downed the refill. Time was passing and he needed more answers.

“Do you know how agent Corbin’s involved?”

“Nia Corbin was here for a time as well. She and Max were classmates. She’s twenty-three years old.”

That explained the blisterbrands on her body. Plastiche could work both ways, but Haggerty was surprised at how completely he’d been fooled. Whoever had aged her was a master. If Doug had discovered her true age during psycheval, it supplied a plausible motive for his murder.

“So they both know about this place?” he said.

Svoboda nodded.

“You don’t see that as a threat?”

“They know that I won’t move directly against them. When the system falls and they rise to take its place, they know I’ll be there peacefully protesting.”

“Are you in league with Max and Corbin?” Haggerty demanded. “Have you purposely engineered any of this?”

Svoboda met his gaze unflinchingly. “No,” he said.

Haggerty looked to Elsa. “He is telling the truth as he knows it,” she said.

“What are you planning to do to help stop Max?” he asked Svoboda.

“Nothing,” Svoboda said calmly.

Haggerty stared in disbelief. “You can’t just let thousands of children die!”

“More like tens of thousands, Mr. Haggerty,” Svoboda said. “But there is nothing that can be done. You misunderstand what’s happening. This isn’t merely a reaction — it’s a correction.”

The ants danced fire over Haggerty’s skin. “What the hell are you talking about?” he said.

“In the sixth century B.C. the Chinese philosopher Confucius came down from his mountain retreat at the request of the Emperor to bless the kingdom. At the end of a meal with the royal family, Confucius offered the following blessing: ‘Grandfather die, father die, son die.’ Interpreting this as a curse, the Emperor had Confucius imprisoned. After many months, a follower of Confucius risked his own life by telling the Emperor that he had misunderstood what Confucius had said, that it is indeed a blessing when the natural order of death is upheld. When the grandfather dies first, the father second, and the son third, all is as it should be. If the order is changed, some unnatural tragedy has occurred.”

“And what is the relevance here?”

“The relevance is that we as a society have been breaking the natural order for over a century. The grandfathers and fathers aren’t dying, and the sons basically are being raised as a slave class. CC status gets harder and harder to come by, and soon the Gen-Ohs won’t be able to procreate at all. It’s an affront to nature that can only end in genocide. But Nature will have her way. Max is just a catalyst that was bound to come along at some point, if not now then ten or twenty years from now. I doubt he fully understands his part in all of this. We’re about to witness an event that has never occurred before in human history.”

“You’re one of the grandfathers who refuses to die,” Haggerty snarled. “You say it’s for a greater purpose, but these kids are copycatting a triple homicide. What greater purpose can that possibly serve?”

“Simply this, Mr. Haggerty. The old refuse to die in a country short on space and resources, and the young people — responding to some deep-seated drive that holds racial survival over personal survival — are going to die for them. And when the parents of those young people find that their only child is dead, the child they waited years and years for permission to have, what do you think will happen? Elsa, please give us statistics on parental suicides in the U.S. following the deaths of only children.”

Elsa looked to Haggerty, who nodded, dreading what he was about to hear.

“Two out of five parents of one child commit suicide when that child suffers accidental death,” Elsa stated. “When the child commits suicide, the rate rises to four out of five parents within two years after the child’s death.”

Haggerty’s own experience told him this was true. He closed his eyes in pain.

“Grieving parents will start pressing your little black buttons in droves, Mr. Haggerty,” Svoboda continued relentlessly. “And when it’s over, the population will be corrected. The chinks in the system will be revealed, and that system will finally be abolished.”

“Enough!” Haggerty cried. “You’re as insane as Max is, willing to sacrifice generations for your own ends.”

“Not true, Mr. Haggerty. It grieves me profoundly that this is going to happen. But it will happen. I couldn’t stop it if I tried.”

“Why do you insist that this will happen?”

“For the simple reason that Generation Zero wants to die, Mr. Haggerty.” Svoboda took a small hypersteel box from a cabinet and extracted two gleaming metal disks from it. “Let me send you to my source — the Indranet.”

“A prophecy off the Net is what’s causing your reluctance to stop this?”

“Surely you’re not such a neophobe,” Svoboda said. “The Net embodies the collective consciousness of millions of people and in turn provides acute intuition. Find out for yourself why I believe what I do.”

He offered the disks to Haggerty.

Haggerty grimaced. He had no desire to interface with the Indranet, but understanding the Indran “prophecy” was his best hope for finding something that would persuade Svoboda to help him stop the looming disaster.

“Is it like Regina’s rig? The one we used —”

“That was nerve impulse transfer. This is EEG.”

“Will it impair my thinking?”

“No,” Svoboda said. “It’s like linking, with the addition of visual.” He adhered the cold metal disks to Haggerty’s temples. “Close your eyes. It will be too confusing if they’re open.”

* * *

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

0 comments