Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Ten, Part Three
Apr 2012 13

Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Ten, Part Three

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 TEN, PART THREE]

[PURGING THE SYSTEM]

[Previous Chapter / Next Chapter]

Haggerty, Elsa, and Regina followed Svoboda to the square. On the viewscreen throngs of angry protesters demanded that BBI give up those responsible for supplying the Junior Citizens with the units and suspend its activities during the course of the Federal investigation.

“How’s it coming, Ricardo?” Svoboda asked the young man busy at a remote-access terminal hardwired into the exposed groundwire.

“It’s hard to sort through the data,” Ricardo answered. “So much of it is clutter and repeats of the same incidents.”

“Can you use this terminal to access the nationwide BBI boards?” Haggerty asked Elsa.

“I’m not sure,” she said. “My log-in would give central control my coordinates.”

“Not if you’re using PE,” Svoboda said. “We can leapfrog your access all over our network.”

“How shall I interface?” she asked.

“Let me see your prongs,” Svoboda said.

Elsa raised her left hand and extended her two middle fingers; twin prongs snapped upward from the tips.

“Those are RJ,” Svoboda said. “We’ll need an adapter to convert her from masscapture down to sinewave.”

“Whatcha got under the hood, darlin’?” Ricardo asked Elsa.

She looked at him quizzically.

“What model are you?” he rephrased. “Archimedes or Descartes?”

“I’m a Marcus,” she replied, almost proudly.

Ricardo whistled appreciatively. “Hot rod,” he said. “I think I’ve got an adapter in my shop that will work.” He went to check on it.

Onscreen the viewcaster reported, “Federal agent Keenan has issued warrants for the arrest of Jason P. Haggerty, the BBI employee suspected —”

The transmission broke up. A grainy image of a young man appeared. “We interrupt the latest government propaganda to bring you the real news,” he said. “Here’s why you don’t want a Killswitch, folks.”

“Pirate broadcast,” Svoboda explained.

The boy’s image was replaced by that of a pretty girl no more than fifteen standing in what looked like a wooded area, holding an armed KV unit. She was clearly distraught. The transmission kept breaking up, making it difficult to hear what she said.

“. . . what does any of it . . . too much . . . showed me the way. Is this my answer?” The girl stared at the box, tears brimming over. “Is this what I —” A coughing spasm shook her; her finger convulsed on the button.

Her eyes widened as she dropped the box, which kept recording from where it fell to the ground, a dizzying angle.

“I didn’t mean to!” she cried as she collapsed face to face beside the box; the lens focused on her wide brown eyes glazing over as the toxin took effect. “I’m so sorry —”

The transmission cut off. The grainy image of the young man reappeared briefly before the “legitimate” viewcast reasserted itself.

“We apologize for these continued interruptions,” the viewcaster said. “Federal officials are taking steps to locate the source of the illegal broadcasts. Representatives from BBI assure us the recording is not authentic but was likely engineered by one of the so-called Ban the Box groups who oppose the use of the Kevorkian unit. So far no one has claimed responsibility. In other news . . .”

“Why would BBI assume that the recording is not authentic?” Elsa said.

“Because it’s in their interest to say that it isn’t. Clearly it’s real,” Haggerty said.

“Instructions on how to crack the boxes and retrieve the recordings are circulating the Net,” Svoboda said.

“Whoever gave the order to cover things up will probably claim it’s to keep a lid on the panic,” Haggerty said bitterly. He’d come across such things from time to time in his career. The presses were always judged accidental and were so rare as to be acceptable, however tragic. This was different. This child’s death was not an isolated, regrettable incident but part of a much larger picture purposely shrouded from public view.

Haggerty felt ashamed. For decades he had accepted the use of a device that made suicide easy. He was part of what was going on. The idea that more young people might get caught up in the suicide contagion, regret their decision, and be unable to reverse it appalled him.

“What’s the usual time frame for copycats after a publicized suicide?” he asked Elsa.

“It varies,” she said. “The statistical majority occur within the first day, usually within the first few hours, depending on commitment level and access to means of expiration. It tapers off considerably after that, the percentages decreasing over twenty percent per hour, seventy-five percent per day, corresponding in most cases to level of media saturation.”

Ricardo jogged back. “Try this,” he said, catching his breath and handing a palm-sized electronic device to Elsa. “And we’ll pray you don’t fry out the terminal.” He offered her a stool to sit on.

Elsa fitted the device onto her finger prongs and slid the end into the requisite port. “I shall need instruction,” she said.

“Get a feel for it first,” Svoboda said. “See how the bit rate comes through at irregular intervals?”

“Highly compressed packets of data unfolding in waveform as they decode.”

“Beautifully put,” Svoboda said. “Try to create a packet yourself, reversing the process.”

“I understand,” she said, surprising him. The BBI gateway appeared on the monitor and requested authorization. “Inferior to standard modes of encryption but quite admirable considering you are piggybacking on preexisting technology not designed for this purpose.” The terminal began synching and taking in data. “We’re inside,” she said.

“Get us reports on all national pressage from the moment of the live broadcast until now,” Haggerty ordered.

“Processing,” she said.

Regina gripped Haggerty’s shirt sleeve.

“Fourteen presses overnight across all zones and forty-six presses nationwide since nine a.m. Eastern Standard Time, eighty-nine percent of them from geographical locations in the Eastern time zone.”

“You said we were already seeing deaths in the hundreds,” Haggerty accused Svoboda.

“I’ll be more than happy to be proven wrong,” Svoboda said. “But those are only the East Coast numbers, and only the suicides that utilized BBI equipment. It’s a Sunday afternoon. Kids are inventive and that type of data is slow to report.

“Aside from utilizing BBI equipment, all other methods of suicide combined average two to seven hundred against termination by press,” Elsa said. “Based on that fact I find your predictions unsound.”

“Be that as it may, it’s been seventeen hours since the press,” Svoboda went on. “Twelve hours since the first cracks began appearing in the news blackout, five hours since the news went viral. I believe you will see an exponential increase in those numbers by this evening.”

Haggerty winced. “Keep monitoring, Elsa,” he said. “Let us know if there’s any spike.”

“Affirmative, Jason,” she said.

“I’ll teach her a few tricks to access what we need on the Net,” Ricardo offered.

* * *

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.

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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

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