Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Ten, Part Two
Apr 2012 06

Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Ten, 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 TEN, PART TWO]

[PURGING THE SYSTEM]

[Previous Chapter]

“It’s a pleasure to meet you in person, young man,” the woman said, shining a laserlight into Haggerty’s eyes. “I’m Annette, Joe’s wife.”

Haggerty was lying on a makeshift examination table with an old-style IV tube in his arm. The infirmary was larger and much better equipped than he would have expected in a wilderness outpost. His spasms had quelled although his dose hand continued to twitch. The cramps had subsided. “Nice to meet you too, ma’am,” he said hoarsely, his throat raw.

Like her husband, Annette Svoboda appeared to be in her prime. A handsome woman with dark blonde hair, she was dressed in one of the ubiquitous robes the colony favored, though hers was embellished with colorful embroidery at the neck, hem, and sleeves. Haggerty couldn’t resist asking if she were anywhere near her husband’s age.

“Lord, no! Joe’s a baby. I was a hundred-sixty-three last month.” She took a blood sample, put a few drops into a tube, and watched the reaction. “But let’s not worry about my age right now. I don’t like what I see in this tube. What have you been doing to yourself?”

Regina spared Haggerty the necessity of explaining.

“If you need a sample of the drug,” Elsa told the doctor, “I have one.”

“No,” Haggerty said weakly. “It’s evidence.”

“What’s it gonna be, son?” Annette asked him. “You want me to keep you going or not?”

Haggerty covered his face with a hand and nodded.

Elsa produced a tube from one of her ports. “Is it enough?” she asked Annette.

“Should be,” Annette replied.

She pipetted drops into tubes of her own, frowning as she watched the reaction. She moved to the machine displays, then correlated data at her computer.

“If that stuff isn’t the devil’s work, there’s no devil,” she pronounced. “I won’t go into the whole array of effects, but, basically, this drug works selectively on nerve cells, stimulating pleasurable sensations.”

“I’d noticed,” Haggerty said.

“Trouble is, the nerve cells become overloaded, leading to violent convulsions and death. I think I can fix you up, at least for a day or two. But you are going to have a full system flush the moment this crisis is over, is that understood, young man?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Haggerty whispered.

“Never seen such a high concentration of celtrex before. You’ve got a whole pharmacy load in there fighting for you. I’m sure it helped prolong the interval between doses and probably saved your life, but it wasn’t nearly enough on its own. We need to help it out, and I have something that might do the trick.”

The smile with which she graced Haggerty was even more intimidating than her scowl. Haggerty could not help wondering what Doug would have thought to hear this.

“Shall we get rid of that temp plastiche job while we’re at it?” she said.

“Please do,” Regina answered for him.

Haggerty nodded consent.

“Your new face is all over the newscasts, so it’s useless as a disguise,” Annette said. “It’s starting to peel, anyway.”

Annette withdrew two steel containers and two syringes from a cabinet and returned to Haggerty’s side. “All right, then,” she said. “After the therapy we take care of the plastiche.” She flipped open the first container, extracted a vial, and filled a syringe.

Haggerty eyed it uneasily. “And the therapy is . . . ?”

“Two things,” she said matter-of-factly, rolling up his shirt sleeve and swabbing his biceps with antiseptic. “The first is something to counter the stimulation causing the damage. It’ll stop the convulsions, slow your heart, allow your system to get back to equilibrium. Once we get you to that stage, we use the second thing to make sure your heart doesn’t get so slow it stops beating, among other things. The second thing’s nothing to worry about, just a highly effective, highly specific antivenin. Your geno-immunizations should provide all the protection you need from the first thing until I can use the second.”

Haggerty looked at her warily as she stuck the needle into his arm. “And the first thing is . . . ?”

“Rattlesnake venom,” she said dryly, pushing the plunger.

* * *

Annette had given Haggerty a healthy dose of painkillers once she’d satisfied herself that the venom and the antivenin had done their work. The ants were gone but Haggerty felt lousy. All things considered he preferred the ants. At least he was wearing his own face again, though his skin was still patchy and felt raw. He’d taken a few minutes to shower, after which he dressed in retro-denims and a T-shirt Regina scrounged together from the colonists. He was in desperate need of sleep he wasn’t going to get and was cleaner rather than truly clean, but he was in far better shape than he’d been when he arrived at the settlement.

“Take these,” Annette said, handing him a container of pills as he readied to leave the infirmary. “They’re maximum-dose celtrex. Take one every half hour until you can get yourself flushed.”

Haggerty wouldn’t complain about that. He poured the tablets into his pillcase and popped it closed.

Svoboda entered the infirmary with a burly blond associate and kissed Annette. “It appears Mr. Haggerty has been tracked,” he said. “Antonio Stelwyn is on his way here as we speak. I’m debating full evacuation of this camp.”

“It’s all right,” Haggerty said. “He’s on my side.”

“But not on my side,” Svoboda snapped. “I can’t have this location known to him. I have people to protect.”

Haggerty bit back his irritation. Whatever his feelings about Svoboda and his decision not to act, he wished the colonists no harm.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “The pod must be rigged with a trace.” He gave a short bark of laughter.

“You find the situation funny?” Svoboda said.

“I’m imagining you giving Stelwyn the scenario you gave me — and how he’ll react to it.”

Annette placed a supportive hand on her husband’s shoulder. He didn’t have much choice if Stelwyn already had the camp coordinates.

Svoboda turned to his burly blond subordinate. “Contact Stelwyn. Scramble the satellite relays and bring him in cloaked. Put everyone on evacuation standby.”

The man nodded and left.

Svoboda turned to Haggerty. “You’ve put us at great risk.”

“Welcome to the party,” Haggerty said. “If the rest of the country is in half the peril you predict, why should you be insulated? What’s the situation out there?”

“The news blackout has failed. Word of the triple press and the suicides that followed has saturated the Net. Governor Benfield has bowed to the inevitable, lifting the blackout and allowing news coverage, using spin as damage control. It’s not working, of course. The copycats are increasing. We’re trying to get hard numbers but we’re having difficulty.”

“Maybe Elsa can help with that,” Haggerty said.

* * *

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

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