Saturday, March 18, 2006

South Park vs. Scientology

Go get them Matt & Tray!

Scienology has been pushing the little guy around and "legally" restricting freedom of spech with their lawyers and intimidation for way too long.

I look forward to seeing how Southpark ridicules these psuedo-religious whackjob PR Nazis in the future.

As an atheist, although I never identified with them, I never really had any dislike of or anger towards Scientologists in the past. Now that this transparent BS attempt to hijack the programming schedule of a major influential Television network has taken place, I recognize them for what they truly are, scary facist nutjobs.

There have been unsubstantiated rumors for some time now that many of the hollywood celebrities who have joined this cult have done so in an attempt to help them hide their true sexual identities, that they have been living a lie to protect their draw at the movies. This new tactic by Mr. Cruise clearly demonstrates to me that Matt & Tray have hit a raw nerve, and that perhaps this rumor is really true.

I am now convinced that these celebrities are actually gay and that scientology has been a smokescreen and a large machine, a tool if you will, to help them in this nefarious subterfuge against the American people.

These celebrities could have revealed their identities some time ago with great fanfare and public support. Having lived the lie for so long however, being outed now would cost them and the scientologists millions if not hundreds of millions of dollars. This is a bad trip that can only get worse for the liars.

Scientology has thrown down the gauntlet. It will be interesting to see if the simple humiliation placed on them by four foul mouthed paper cutout animated boys who speak the naked truth will bring down a massive corporate religion.

In this war I am backing Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny against the Thetan hired goons. Go Cows!

Friday, February 24, 2006

HOW I QUIT SMOKING - OR TRIED TO...D'OH!

Listed below is a journal outlining my first ever attempt to quit smoking. I shall update this journal weekly.

I have been a heavy smoker since 1984. My cigarette of choice has been Marlboro Red Box, Cowboykillers. I was diagnosed with high blood pressure in 2003, and have been on beta blockers, atenelol, since that time. Last summer I was hospitalized for five days with an unknown virus. I recovered from the virus but was kept in the hospital due to my extremely high blood pressure. This scared the heck out of me to the point that I have decided that I need to stop smoking. Here is my Journal.

Thursday, February 20, 2006

Today I visited Dr. George Lombardi regarding my high blood and a renewal of my blood pressure Beta Blocker prescription as well as to get a prescription for Zoloft / Wellbutrin, the antidepressant whose side effect is reported to be the loss of the desire to smoke and has been helpful to many in their effort to stop smoking.

I hadn't seen Dr. Lombardi in almost a year and he was very happy to see me and he actually gave me a big bearhug followed by a handshake in the waiting room. The first comment he made immediately thereafter was, " Do I smell cigarettes?".

After my physical exam, blood, urine, etc. we sat down and discussed my concerns about my health and my desire to proceed with a smoking cessation program based on the use of the anti-depressant Zloft, and it's apparent beneficial side effects. Dr. Lombardi expressed genuine concern about my health and his support of my desire to quit smoking. I had gotten a prescription from him before in 2004 for Zoloft but was very concerned at that time about the use of any anti-depressant, especially in light of all of he negative press anti-depressants were receiving and did not proceed with the course at that time. My recent concern about my extremely high blood pressure outweighed any concern I have about anti-depressants, and I decided to move forward.

Dr. Lombardi explained that for the Zoloft/Wellbutrin, I was to take one pill a day for three days and then start taking two pills a day immediately thereafter.

I immediately went to Duane Reade at 73rd @ 3rd and had the prescriptions for my Atenelol and Zoloft/Welbutrin filled. When I received my prescriptions I was floored by the cost of the order. The generic form of the anti-depressant came out to be almost $150.00 for a one-month prescription! I was kind of mad that they made me sign a counceling blank on the prescription sign-out book, but the Pharmacist never said a word to me. I received no counceling. When I got home I pulled out the instructions and warning statement and it folded out to a huge document, a map-like piece of paper at least 3'x3' in size and printed on both sides in tine little font. Man this better work.

Friday, February 21, 2006
I started the Zoloft / Wellbutrin with one pill at 6:40am along with my 100MG Atenelol. I got to work at about 7:15am and started my day like normal with a cup of coffee, and a trip outside for a cigarette. By about 8:15 I began feeling funny, not dizzy at all, just funny. In college I tried Lycergic Acid and Psyllicibin (Acid and Shrooms) The best description I can give to the feeling I experienced is similar to the way Acid or Magic mushrooms make you feel right before the hallucinations kick-in. It was a very strange feeling and I was getting worried that perhaps I had made a mistake using this method to quit smoking. Additional side effects included an increased sensitivity to sound and to light. The effect on my smoking, although not immediate, was interesting. When I lit-up, I was not feeling the initial "Bite" of the smoke hitting my lungs.

The heavy intense narcotic feeling of the drug began to dissipate by about 7 or 8pm. I took my evening Atenelol at about 7:15pm. I was asleep by 9:30pm.

By the end of day one I had smoked 3/4 to a full pack of smokes.

Saturday, February 22, 2006

I woke-up today at about 9 or 10 am and immediately took my doses. I had woken once in the night at about 2:30 am to pee. In the early morning I had some very troubling waking dreams. I cannot remember the content just that I had them. I have not had these kind of dreams in some time, is it the drug?

Very strange, the heavy narcotic experience I had yesterday is pretty much gone. I can tell that the drug is in effect, I cannot feel the "Bite" of my Cigarette smoke, and am putting my cigarettes out before they are finished. I went out this afternoon to my local pub and had a couple of drinks. I ordered a beer and a shot, but when I got it for some reason the beer tasted terrible, not skunk, just not what I wanted. definately the drug, I can tell. I had a couple of screwdrivers and cigarettes (yes there are bars in Queens that you can still smoke in illegally).

I was exhausted after the day, this drug really takes it out of you. Bought a botle of water at Mr. Singh 9the Bodega Below Me) and drank it all with dinner. I took my evening blood pressure med at about 7pm, and crashed on the couch at 9pm. I woke up at 12:45 am with really bad drymouth, turned of the box, drank 1/2 a bottle of water, and went to bed.

I smoked about 1/2 to 3/4 of a pack of cigarettes today.

Sunday, February 23, 2006
Today I woke up very early, about 3:30 am to pee. Bad drymouth again, so I finished a second bottle of water.

Woke up at 6:30am, couldn't sleep anymore. Took my meds, made coffee & toast. I went out and bought a couple of more bottles of water and the papers. Read the papers, drank more coffee and 1/2 bottle of water. I'm trying to cut back on smoking but it is still difficult. I am no longer feeling any specific effects of the meds, but they do tend to war me out. The mornings are the worst for smoking. I am so used to having a smoke on the can as soon as I wake up. After eating is also very hard, it's just a habit but it's hard to break. I caved and smoked first thing this morning on the can. I am not looing forward to going up to two pills tomorrow. I finished reading the map-like precautions from the Zoloft and boy they sure do stress that you can have a seizure on this stuff. Don't drink too much, don't immediately stop drinking, don't break the pills up, etc. I hope I did the right thing.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Raoul Duke on Shotgun Cleaning...D'oh!

I do not apologize for this headline, perhaps HST himself would even find it amusing.

Was it paranoia, a trip gone terribly wrong, or did HST really decide he'd had enough?

The first time I ever heard of Hunter S. Thompson was in 1984 when I was Freshman at American University in D.C.. My roomate was reading the back cover of "Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas", he had hardly gotten past the first sentence when I grabbed the well worn paperback from his hands and continued reading aloud. I couldn't even finish reading I was laughing so hard. In the next hour and a half I read the book in one sitting.

Since then I have endevored to read as many of his his works as possible including, "the Great Shark Hunt; Fear and Loathing on The Campaing Trail '72", "Generation of Swine", "The Curse of Lono", "Songs of the Doomed", "Hells Angels", and "Better Than Sex" and his ESPN Column "Hey Rube". Reading HST is like drinking way too much coffee; after several chapters your pulse quickens, you begin to feel anxious even slightly nauseated, you may even begin to sweat but you cannot stop reading, laughing out loud or re-stating a sentence you have just read to noone in particular. HST was that damn good. I feel sorry that he has chosen to leave us.

Below are some of my favorite quotes from Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas:

Back Cover:
"We had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a saltshaker half-full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of uppers, downers, laughers, screamers... Also, a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of beer, a pint of raw ether, and two dozen amyls. Not that we needed all that for the trip, but once you get into a serious drug collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can. The only thing that really worried me was the ether. There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a man in the depths of an ether binge, and I knew we'd get into that rotten stuff pretty soon. "

The Book:
"One thing I've learned over my years of dealing with drug people. You can turn your back on a person... but NEVER turn your back on a drug. Especially, when it's waving a razor sharp hunting knife in your face."

"Few people understand the psychology of dealing with a highway traffic cop. Normal speeders will panic and immediately pull over to the side. This is wrong. It arouses contempt in the cop-heart. Make the bastard chase you. He will follow."

"We need to arm ourselves to the teeth."

"Don't fuck with me now, man. I am Ahab."

"Know your dope fiend! Your life may depend on it! You will not be able to see his eyes because of Tea-Shades, but his knuckles will be white from inner tension... and his pants will be crusted with semen from constantly jacking off when he can't find a rape victim."

"Anything worth doing is worth doing right. This is the American Dream in action. We would be fools not to ride this strange torpedeo all the way to to end."

I guess HST decided it was his time to jump off of the torpedo.

Friday, February 18, 2005

How to avoid unwanted attention from the police...D'oh!

I used to live Burlingame California. Altrhough Burlingame is a relatively small city 17 miles south of San Francisco, the city has a very large proactive police force. While I lived there I was pulled over for no apparent reason half a dozen times in as many years.

Nothing is worse than driving along minding your own business when suddenly you see a cruiser in your rear-view mirror. Do I have a tail-light out, did I signal correctly, what did I do wrong? D'oh!

It is natural to become a little panicky when this happens, even when you know you did nothing wrong.

The last time this happened to me I was at a four-way stop with no signal. As I pulled in to the stop sign, I saw that a police cruiser was already stopped to my left. I was certain that he had the right of way so I stayed at the stop sign. the Cruiser didn't move and I immediately became nervous, it was like a bad game of driving 101 chicken, and the police were waiting to see if I flinched.

Seizing the moment I used the only weapon in my arsenal. I took my right index finger, jammed it directly, forcefully and without any hesitation, into my nose! I made great digging motions, withdrew my finger and immediately put it into my mouth.

Looking across at the police cruiser I saw that one officer looked disguted while the other was laughing as they drove away.

When in doubt, don't panic, just pick your nose and eat it !

From NYC Atheists - Dear President Bush...D'oh!

I lifted this from the NYC Atheists Web Group. (Sorry Ken). It is not my own work but it was not attributed to any specific Author and despite the theological references and the fact that I am an Independent Voter, I do support the sentiment. Please enjoy.

Dear Mr. President,
congratulations on your victory over all of us non-evangelical Americans. Actually, we’re a bit ticked off here in California, so we’re leaving. California will now be its own country, the CSA, and we’re taking all the blue states with us. In case you are not aware, that includes Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, as well as all of the Northeast.

We spoke to God, and she agrees that this split will be beneficial to almost everybody, and especially to us in the new country of California. In fact, God is so excited about it; she’s going to shift the whole country at 4:30 pm EST this Friday. Therefore, please let everyone know they need to be back in their states by then.

So you get Texas and all the former slave states. We get the Governor, stem cell research and the best beaches,. We get Elliot Spitzer. You get Ken Lay. (We will keep Martha Stewart, but having served her sentence she will now be a contributor to society rather than the unindighted contributors to your campaign) We get the Statue of Liberty. You get OpryLand, we get Intel and Microsoft. You get WorldCom. We get Harvard. You get Ole Miss. We get 85% of America’s venture capital and entrepreneurs. You get all the technological innovation in Alabama. We get about two-thirds of the tax revenue, and you get to make the red states pay their fair share. Since our divorce rate is 22% lower than the Christian Coalition’s, we get a bunch of happy families, You get a bunch of single moms to support, and we know how much you like that. Did I mention we produce about 70% of the nation’s veggies? But heck the only greens the Bible-thumpers eat are the pickles on their Big Macs.

Oh yeah, another thing, don’t plan on serving California wine at your state dinners. From now on it’s imported French wine for you. D'oh! Ouch, bet that hurts.

Just so we’re clear, the Californian States of America will be pro-choice and anti-war, Speaking of war, we’re going to want all blue state citizens back from Iraq. If you need people to fight, just ask your evangelicals. They have tons of kids they’re willing to send to their deaths for absolutely no purpose, and they don’t care if you don’t show pictures of their kids’ caskets coming home.
Anyway, we wish you all the best in the next four years and we hope, really hope, you find those missing weapons of mass destruction. Seriously, Soon.
Sincerely,

Californian States of America (C.S.A.)

If you have any ineterest in learning more about, or joining the New York City Atheists, please visit our website:

www.nyc-atheists.org

Monday, February 14, 2005

Chris Rock Matt Drudge Oscar Controversy...D'oh!

What did Chris Rock do to piss Matt Drudge off, or is Drudge just pushing an exclusive scoop?

Look, I used to ask, "hey man, like, what does 'Keeping it real" mean man"?

No-one could ever tell me, and I thought it was a joke, I played it up.

I just read what was on Drudge, the Chris Rock excerpts, and based on how I feel about Chris Rock and how appauled I am by the blatant bigotry of the Academy source, ...right now, this very minute as I type this, I now know very specifically what "KEEPING IT REAL" means, and Chris Rock says it very clearly for all of us.

No interpritation is required.

I'ts not just some phrase, "Keeping it Real", and it is worth standing up for.

I'm the whitest motherfucker you'll ever meet, shit, my nickname is Barney for math's sake, not the Dinousaur, I mean Barney freakin' Rubble...

anyway, Chris Rock represents me.

Best Regards,

Barnyard.


(By the way I really did like both Hotel Rwanda and RAY. Unfortunately, even though Don Cheadle is a superior actor, if anyone receives the Oscar nod it will be Jamie Foxx.)

Trading Spouses Monday on Fox D'oh!

D'oh!

Ok so it was on after Seinfeld, and I didn't change the channel.

TRADING SPOUSES, FOX 8PM Monday Night.

This episode - Super Wealthy Family switches moms with the Winnebago family.

The rich family is completely screwed up. That little girl gave an amazing off-the-hip American Idol "Walk-on" worthy solo performance of her own music. If the editing is true to the story, then Dad just looked pissed off about the whole thing. His passive agressive behavior towrds his kids is scary. The way he DIDN'T and seemingly COULDN'T even prepare lunch, the easiest meal ever created by man, for his own kids was appauling. Then with the prodding of the Winnebago mom, at a BBQ where dad feels safe with HIS friends, she persuades the Daughter to perform her piece in front of her dad's friends. She absolutely NAILS the song, to the point you might think a producer was involved, but she nails it. At first he looks horrified, infuriated and on the verge of violence, but once he realizes that his friends approve of her music, he has to join the party. I think he still hates her music because he sees it, her style, as maybe gheto, hip-hop or punk, whatever, that's why I think he hates it.
Then the moms meet, yada yada yada...

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Say Nuclear correctly, Doh!

Welcome,
OK. I am now quite fed up with this whole thing about how the President says the word Nuclear incorrectly. Just so we're all on ther same page, if you don't know by now, President Bush enunciates the word nuclear as "NUCULAR". Just so there is no more misunderstanding, the correct enunciation should be "nuKleear'" and not the redneck "nuQU-Ler" pronunciation he perdsists in using. I believed that this was originally a simple but easily correctable malapropism that should have been correccted by his handlers inhis first term. II think this has turned into an artifical affectation, I think he is now doing this intentionally to identify with the Joe Sixpack demographic. I have been horrified to see the "Presidential figure in Fox's "24" say it the same way as bush. Furthermore I have seen on both the BBC and ITV newscasts Bush Administrsation Talking Heads that alll mimic the Presidents intentional mispronunciation of the word. What is worse is that I think a New York newspaper did the same thing.
Urgh, this sucks.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Enemy - Science Fiction Story

Here is another one I wrote some time ago, enjoy!


ENEMY
By Christopher Burgis
4,420 Words
(212) 554-6410 Ph.
(212) 554-6407 Fx.
bburgis@gmail.com




Major Goss knew he was in serious trouble. The enemy missile has impacted and severely damaged his primary drive module. He was lucky the nuke warhead hadn’t detonated, but he wasn’t certain that dying of slow asphyxiation was such a great stroke of luck. His panel was a mass confusion of red blue and green warning lights. The integrity of his command capsule had been breached and he was on suit oxygen until that ran out in less than an hour. Besides his flight battlesuit AI heads-up display, none of the fighters AI systems had survived the impact including most importantly his ether-com communication link with fleet. Vinge, his wingman, had taken the first hit and had vaporized in a violent nuclear firestorm. The enemy warhead that took out Vinge had probably knocked out his own hardened primary systems; at least that’s what he thought. Major Goss was left with nothing more than his existing velocity, manual control over maneuvering thrusters and weapons, and the ejection system for his command module. The enemy fighter had made the mistake of coming in for a closer look at the Majors disabled craft. A strange looking craft with swept wings for atmospheric operation, the enemy craft displayed bizarre markings including what appeared to be the mouth of a predator with gaping jaws and teeth directly under the nose below the pilots position. He paid this only scant attention as he released his last hunter killer drone directly into the craft as it passed, the singularity weapon absorbing it into nothingness instantly.
The war had been going quite badly for the fleet. It had started with a typical first contact scenario gone horribly wrong, much like a bad fiction story. Initial contact via AI ether-com had, for some reason, been construed by the enemy as some sort of attack. The enemy ship, utilizing arcane but effective missile and projectile weapons, destroyed the fleet scout without any mercy. Records salvaged from the wreckage of the scout ship revealed the AI had linked with the enemy control and communication systems, but had been cut-off during the initial ‘handshake’. For twenty years the war had raged across and wiped out many system colonies, the ebb and flow of victories favoring one side and then the other, but the tide had finally turned and the enemy was now operating virtually unopposed in the home system. Despite rapid startling technological advances in armaments and flight systems, the enemy was able to match and within months improve upon every advance that Fleet made. Fleet continued to try to establish contact with the enemy but received no response other than renewed aggression. The Fleet had attempted to capture enemy craft intact and take command crews and pilots alive for research and interrogation, but had failed dismally, expending irreplaceable resources to do so. Most command officers acknowledged that defeat was only months if not weeks away.
With nothing more than a slow death facing him, Major Goss closed his eyes and reduced his heart rate in an attempt to conserve air. Only minutes into his meditation he was roused to alertness by the proximity alarm built into his flight battlesuit. Opening his eyes he saw and heard the impact of dozens of small but deadly meteorites, puncturing the hardened armor of his fighter without any effort. Instinctively the Major toggled his maneuvering thrusters and pushed the dying fighter above the plane of the meteorites. His realized his mistake as soon as he cleared the field of floating rocks, as above him loomed the gray black bulk of a large pockmarked asteroid. His velocity and his escape maneuver had brought his craft on an intercept course with the huge rotating astral body. Using the emergency resources of his flight battlesuit AI he realized that the remaining thrusters would not be enough to change his intercept trajectory. With less than minutes to impact he ran every possible scenario through the AI until he found one which could possibly allow him to maneuver, eject and live with less than half an hour oxygen remaining. He only had seconds to engage the maneuver. Keeping the fighter oriented with the asteroid above him, he toggled the thrusters with his joystick flight control. The delta-V gauge on his heads-up began its’ rapid countdown to the ejection sequence. The irregular surface of the rock rotated towards the fighter at an astonishing speed until he was only within hundreds of meters of impact. The counter hit zero and he toggled the emergency escape release, the massive G-force causing him to momentarily black out.
The Major came-to just as the command capsule impacted the asteroid. Rolling end over end, the diamond hard bubble over his head began to crack and chip. His momentum began to slow, the microgravity of the asteroid pulling the capsule downward, but his lateral movement threatened to push him off of the approaching edge of the rock. Luck was again with him as a jagged outcrop pierced the underside of the capsule, the cold rock emerging into his enclosure next to his feet, and held the capsule fast. Looking out his cracked bubble, he realized that he had tumbled to within several meters of the edge of the asteroid. He just missed floating off into oblivion by the narrowest margin. He rested momentarily; looking up towards the inner system, his homeworld and the small sun that shed an alternating dim illumination on the surface of the rock as it rotated into and out of the light. The asteroid rotated back into the sunlight and his complacency was broken as he saw the silhouette of an enemy fighter passing against the sun. Releasing himself from his four-point harness, he reached for the emergency bubble release, pulling the ring, which would detonate the explosive charges and would blow off the dome. Nothing happened. He pulled again and again in frustration with no result. Looking across the cockpit for anything he could pry loose and use as a lever, he happened to glance outside, just in time to see a line of incoming projectile fire impacting the asteroid surface and advancing on his position. He ducked under the protective armor of the cockpit below the bubble, which immediately shattered upon being hit by the enemy fire. He had not seen the enemy fighter, only the projectile rounds impacting, and didn’t have time to look for it. He vaulted from his enclosure, realizing too late that he had neglected to compensate for the extremely low gravity of the asteroid. Floating meters above the surface, almost achieving escape velocity, the flight battlesuit thrusters cut in and brought him down to the uneven jagged surface. He had wasted valuable seconds in free-fall, and rushed to make up the time by putting as much distance between himself and the remnants of his cockpit escape capsule as possible.
Within minutes, hopping and using the battlesuit thrusters, Major Goss was able to put well over a kilometer between himself and the crash site. Concealed below a crater shelf, he ran a systems check on his suit and air supply, all were in the green, but he had only 25 minutes of air left. The suit AI displayed a rough image of the Asteroid on his heads-up. Five kilometers long, and three in circumference, it was a very small rock to hide on. If the enemy were determined enough, they would have little problem in capturing him, or getting close enough to try to. Although Goss wanted to survive, Fleet had dictated that the enemy would be allowed no prisoners, and had installed self-destruct mechanisms, small nukes actually, in all field and flight battlesuits. Goss surveyed the image again, looking to see if there was a better place to hide, when he saw that the AI had also displayed where the main section of his fighter had crashed. Goss subconsciously knew the enemy would come after him, and was not about to allow himself the indignity of being sacrificed, self destructed, without a fight. Orienting himself towards the wreckage field of his fighter he began skipping in haste to the site, perhaps there was something he could salvage from the wreckage, something he could use to take out as many of the enemy as he could before becoming his own miniature nuclear bomb.
He began to recognize the debris field within minutes. Some of the lighter elements were still falling, incredibly slow due to the microgravity, but the main fuselage appeared to be somewhat intact. Approaching the twisted metal and hybrid alloy hulk he saw that the space above was visually distorted by the atomic waste products radiating off the surface of the wreckage. His suits rad. counter crept into the red on his heads-up and began to issue an audible tone as he approached the side of the craft. Ignoring the dire warnings being issued by his suit, he circled the craft looking for something to salvage. On the opposite side of the craft, he found to his utter dismay that this portion of the fighter had suffered virtually no damage. Protruding from the fuselage was the muzzle of the one remaining plasma energy weapon. He was becoming wary of all the luck he was having today, at some point it would run out, and according to his suit gages, it would run out in 15 minutes. Moving to the rear of the weapon he was able after a fashion to pry loose the service hatch and get at the modular self contained assembly inside. In home standard gravity the weapon required three crewmen and a winch hoist for installation and removal. In the nearly zero gravity environment of the Asteroid he was able to uncouple the command harness and ease the weapon free without assistance. Intimately familiar with the weapon, having simulated its use as a self standing weapons platform, Major Goss checked ammunition, power, and tested the manual firing mechanism. The glowing green shell hurtled skyward into the outer system. The test fire of the weapon produced an additional beneficial result as the fighter that strafed him had witnessed the test fire and homed on his position from spin-wise below the horizon. Using a smaller portion of the wrecked ship, not as badly irradiated as the main section, he took cover and waited for the enemy to make its move.
Major Goss smiled to himself as the fighter acted as he had anticipated, and came in low on a strafing run on the main fuselage. Either the pilots aim was poor, or the enemy deliberately missed to flush him from his cover, for the dual lines of projectile impacts neatly bracketed in the wreckage on either side, but made no direct impact. Once the enemy was finished with the run and directly over the wreckage, the pilot inverted, toggled maneuvering thrusters to flip the craft completely around reversing its orientation 180 degrees, and engaged its afterburner thrust to slow and return for another pass. Goss popped up from his position, well to the left of where the enemy believed him to be and opened fire, unleashing a deadly hail of plasma shells into the underside of the fighter. The enemy craft shuddered under the fusillade and appeared to take evasive action when his continued fire hit home and the craft immediately mushroomed into an expanding sphere of nuclear fire and debris. Goss smiled as he looked upon the destruction and determined that he must have hit one of the enemies nuclear tipped missiles, the plasma charge detonating the warhead upon contact. His reverie was cut short however for out of the cloud he saw an escape vehicle, probably the enemy pilot, descending towards his position. Years of training took control of his thoughts once again as he determined his next course of action; evade and defend, take as many with you as you can.
Goss checked his systems, air and ammo. The AI had taken some damage from the EMP from the enemy ship blowing up, and was operating basic systems only. His heads-up display was non-functional, and he had no idea if the radiation dose he had taken was lethal or not. His air supply was down to ten minutes, now less than nine and a half actually, but his ammo was good and the suit thrusters were still operational. He immediately proceeded spin-wise away from the enemy escape pod until he found good ground from which to make his stand. It was a large ravine that ended in a small crevasse with an overhang that was suitably blocked by a large boulder. He had protection on three sides and a clear field of fire to his front with only minor cover for any potential enemy forces. He waited.
Major Goss was paying close attention to his air readout when he felt rubble showering him from above. Looking up he realized he was under fire, and had allowed the enemy to approach and take cover unmolested by defensive fire. He swore under his breath for such a foolish mistake but also realized that he was no ground-pounder so such a mistake was acceptable. The enemy was keeping the fire constant and was expending considerable ammunition on his position when suddenly the firing stopped. Edging around the small gap to the right of his position he was able to see, but not maneuver his weapon towards, the enemy position. Toggling the built-in optical enhancer on his visor he saw the enemy clearly. The enemy appeared to be having difficulty with its’ weapon. He realized that he was perhaps the first member of the Fleet to see an actual member of the enemy force. From wreckage salvaged during the twenty-year war they had determined that the enemy was bipedal, humanoid and probably very similar to themselves in many respects. Fiction writers who were later drafted as war propagandists had painted the enemy as hive minded green bug eyed monsters. Fleet however had dispelled these rumors to the officer corps immediately as intelligence analysis had determined the enemy clearly acted as individuals and were capable of amazing acts of courage and selflessness. This point had been proven on both sides too often. Unlike his own flight battlesuit, the enemy was encased in a bright white, segmented hardsuit, on the back of which was an extremely large and bulky service pack of some sort. Rising from his cover he aimed at the exposed service pack and opened fire. The enemy was thrown into the air by the explosive reaction of the plasma shell piercing what must have been its air supply. Major Goss tracked the wildly flailing enemy pilot and with three more bursts of fire ended its life. He repositioned himself in firing position waiting for the reinforcements, probably ground units, which were certain to come and take him out. His air readout read at three minutes. Three minutes of life, then once the air was completely gone, the self-destruct mechanism would activate.
Goss was almost pleasantly surprised when with two minutes air left the ground forces finally arrived. He saw them approaching, shadows more than anything else, from the head of the ravine. They employed the same segmented hard-suits as the pilot, however these suits seemed to blend in with the asteroid’s rock surface and appeared to be more heavily armored and extremely more mobile. Goss opened fire at the first sign of the enemy assault and was rewarded several times by the telltale explosive decompression of the invaders suits when he scored a direct hit. The enemy however continued to press forward their attack in greater numbers, and began to return fire with their own version of energy weapons. He scored several more hits when he himself was hit. The enemy discharge was non-lethal. This surprised him. He felt the force of the blow, and realized too late that the discharge had only succeeded in disabling the electronics of his suit. The enemy was always smart like that, too smart, and now they were using some kind of EMP weapon and were intent on capturing him. Without readouts or heating, all he had left was the hiss of his dwindling air supply. His weapon was still functional however and he continued to fire. He knew he was down to less than a minute of air, and determined to commit his own selfless sacrifice for the homeworld, he rushed from his position his finger depressed on the fire switch, raking the enemy positions without remorse. The attackers were somewhat stunned at his brazen tactic and dived for whatever defensive cover they could find. Major Goss knew that he had to advance further towards them to be able to take out the most enemy possible with his self-destruct device. The world became still as the air hiss in his helmet died to nothingness, and his last plasma round ejected from his weapon. The cold vacuum of the asteroid was clearly seeping through the unheated protection of his battlesuit and as he was buffeted by blast after blast of the enemy EMP weapons, he gently fell backwards in the microgravity onto the surface of the asteroid. His mind became cloudy as a result of the lack of oxygen, but before he lost consciousness he saw the bulk of a large ship floating over him, perhaps his mini nuke would take it out as well.
He awoke in shock and dull pain. His first realization was that he was alive, his second that his self-destruct had not activated and that he was indeed alive, but how and why? He was confused and somewhat dazed. He looked around and recognized that he was in a recovery bed in a medical ward. He had never been in a medical ward, he had in fact never been injured, but by the look of the bulkhead and dull vibration he felt in his gut, he knew he must be on a hospital ship. His feet hurt badly, and pulling aside the bed-sheet saw that his feet had turned black from frostbite. Then he began to remember the firefight with the enemy, how the enemy EMP weapon knocked out his suit power, and how his heating unit had been deactivated. That was how he had gotten the frostbite on his feet. Looking down the ward he noticed that most of the beds were occupied but the were covered by oxygen tents and huge amounts of medical machinery. He couldn’t see the patients inside. He appeared to be the least injured of the lot and was counting his blessings when he saw a nurse emerge from a small room at the end of the ward. He attempted to call out and was surprised that he was unable to speak, his throat and mouth were extremely dry; all he was able to do was issue an barely audible croak. The nurse had exited through a bulkhead pressure door before he could get her attention. Looking through the slightly ajar door from where the nurse had emerged, he saw that it was a bathroom, and suddenly had a pressing need to relieve himself.
Goss tried to sit up and stand, but a painful tug at the inside of his elbow revealed he was attached to an IV. Moving to the opposite side of the bed, Goss grasped the IV stand for support and stood on his heals. He was shaky and in pain but the IV probably contained some kind of painkiller, as he was able to walk on his heels with only moderate discomfort. He proceeded towards the head down the aisle between the beds rolling his IV along as he went. He stopped at one bed and peered through the oxygen tent. The poor soul inside was swathed in bandages and was nothing more than a badly burnt body with a head, his arms and legs had been amputated or worse. Other beds revealed almost the same, critically injured soldiers who by rights should have been allowed to die, as any life after recovery would be worse than death. The bed nearest the bathroom was occupied but covered over with a gray plastic cover. The sorry bastard inside must have been too bad off to even allow the medical staff to view his injuries. As Goss passed to the door however we was shocked when from under the plastic he heard a whispered voice.
“Hello, is anyone there, I need help, hello?”
Goss couldn’t bear to leave the man in silence so he responded. “Yes I’m here, are you OK? Can I get the nurse?”
“My god someone is there, I’m Captain Svither of the Benevolence, do you know of the ship, did she make it?”
Goss recalled the ship, but with such huge Fleet losses recently he couldn’t recall what the action status of the ship was. He answered honestly, “I’m not sure sir. I remember your ship, but honestly I just don’t know.”
“Thank you, the nurses and doctors don’t answer any of my questions, in fact they don’t talk at all. You’re the first person I’ve spoken to since I woke up here. Thank you.” Then a momentary silence followed by another question, “Who are you, your ship, how did she fare, is everyone alright?”
Goss smiled, as badly injured as the officer was, he was more concerned for the fate of others. ‘God-bless the line officers,’ he thought.
“Major Goss sir, I was in a fighter squadron based on the moon, we were patrolling the outer sector when my flight was ambushed. My wingman got it, but I was able to eject onto a moonlet. I thought I was done for, it was down to the wire, the enemy was right on me, ground troops even. I was certain that my self destruct was going to activate and then, well…then I woke up here.”
“You sound like a lucky son of a gun, but you fighter pilots always have the luck don’t you?”
“Luck, yeah,” he had had quite a bit of luck recently, too much in fact, but he continued on without thinking “But I’d gladly trade places with you lugnuts on big fleet dreadnoughts, you’ve got it made...” then Goss realized that the Captain was probably the only surviving member of his crew, and went silent.
“I can’t see, I can’t feel anything either, they’ve got me on lots of pain medication, can you see me son? How bad does it look?”
Goss was reluctant to lift the edge of the tent, but honor between officers required he look and give the man an honest assessment. Reaching over and pulling aside the plastic Goss was repulsed and enraged by what he saw. The officers’ entire body was gone. His upper chest and head were attached to a massive array of medical machinery, tubes, pipes pumps and filters that were keeping the poor man barely alive. Who, no, what kind of bastard in Fleet would allow this travesty to exist. This officer would never recover. What was the purpose of keeping someone marginally alive like this? Surely honor dictated that the man be allowed to perish with some dignity. He lowered the tent flap, and coughed to hide his revulsion and rage. Despite the rules of honor he couldn’t bring himself to tell the poor man the truth.
“You look OK Cap’n, don’t worry, I’m sure the Doctors will patch you up as good as new.”
“Thank you Major, I was beginning to worry.”
“No Problem Cap…”
Goss was interrupted by the Nurse returning to the room and shushing him. “Shhhhhh,” she said her finger to her lips. She was gorgeous, stunning, perhaps the most beautiful nurse, or woman, Goss had seen in some time.
“Sorry Ma’am, I had to use the bathroom,” said Goss pointing to the open door, “and I passed the Captain here and well I had to talk to the guy.”
The nurse silently shook her head and pointed to Goss’s bed indicating he return, and handed him a plastic container for him to use.
“OK sorry Ma’am, I got it.” Goss said reluctantly returning to his bed.
Major Goss slept, woke, slept and ate several times. He recalled several bad dreams, dreams about the Enemy, interrogation and something about AI ether-com, but every time he cried out in his sleep, there was one of the beautiful nurses at his bedside holding his hand and stroking his face. He woke and found that his feet were heavily bandaged and he surmised that he had been under heavy sedation for a number of days following the surgery. Relatively refreshed from his slumber and wishing to avoid the indignity of using the bedpans, he stood and walked on his heels to the bathroom. He got to the door and remembered the poor Captain, master of the Benevolent, who was in the nearest bed. He turned and found the bed empty and covered with new clean sheets. He sighed and thanked god for sparing the poor man any further suffering, Fleet had finally decided to let the Captain die with dignity. Goss opened the bathroom door, walked up to the urinal and began to go. Thinking of nothing in particular his eyes wandered across the surface of the bulkhead; covered in generic plastic tile, the wall was well, a wall. Finished he reached for the flush mechanism. He stopped, and a cold chill ran up his spine, the written logo on the plumbing mechanism was wrong, very wrong. It hit him all at once, and he knew, he knew that the Enemy had somehow disabled his self-destruct with their EMP weapons, that his nightmares weren’t nightmares at all. Slowly he backed out of the small toilet and into the ward. He turned and found himself face to face with a doctor flanked by two military looking guards with weapons ready.
The doctor held up a small black box and pressed a button. From the box there issued a statement in Goss’ own voice:“DO NOT BE ALARMED. YOU ARE A PRISONER OF WAR ABOARD THE BATTLESHIP AMERICA FROM THE PLANET EARTH. THE WAR IS OVER BETWEEN OUR PEOPLES. YOUR CAPTURE ALLOWED US TO UTILIZE AI ETHER-COMM AND FINALLY COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR PEOPLE. WE ARE HUMAN JUST LIKE YOU. DO NOT BE ALARMED. YOU ARE A PRISONER OF WAR ABOARD THE BATTLESHIP AMERICA FROM THE PLANET EARTH…”


Boxtops
bburgis 02/09/05

Welcome to...well, this.

Hi folks!
Welcome to my Blog. I hope That I don't dissapoint you. Here is a science fiction story that I wrote several years ago. It's still rough, but I like it anyway.




BOXTOPS
BY Christopher Burgis
4367 Words
bburgis@gmail.com
bburgis@yahoo.com





Vod Scrothnic, better known as “Vodder” to his friends, not that he had any, walked quickly through the ever-present sandstorm. Neither the recycled goggles over his eyes nor the duct tape covered triangular respirator over his face could stop the fine silica from penetration. He stopped and attempted to adjust the ill fitting protective appliances to no avail, and continued on in minor agony as the sandpaper like grit lodged between the rubberized fittings and his skin, rubbing his face raw with every step. The company town of outpost 223 was nothing more than a single street, lined with prefabricated plastifoam Quonset huts which were at least 40 years old and brushed to a shiny gloss by the incessant blowing sand. The street went North to South; North to outpost 222 and South to outpost 224 and the latitudinal service road that ran east to West. Although he had never seen these places, visibility even in a truck was never more that 40 feet even in calm weather, he knew they were there and that they were just as desolate and unforgiving as his home, 223. Vod continued south past the refueling station, pausing to give an unanswered wave to a tanker crew dropping a load of H2O off in the bunker submerged below the shed. Walking faster, he intentionally avoided the commissary and the line formed outside for entry, as there were several people to whom he owed money and wished not to see again for some time. To his left he passed one of the two servibars in 223, but it was the expensive one with a real human Bartender and real name-brand off-world booze. He owed money there too so he continued past without a second glance
The day had started off worse than most, the nightmares about his dad yelling ‘remember’ and pointing. He had trouble remembering the dreams except for that one phrase. He had put it out of his mind and decided to go out. Today was his birthday, he was 36, and as he had done on his previous 10 birthdays, he was making his annual pilgrimage to the DISPS, the Dupont Inter Space Postal Service, to check his mail. He turned and faced his penultimate destination of the day, and entered. The vac chamber wasn’t working, he hadn’t remembered it ever working, and he pushed through to the cloudy interior of the mail facility, walking quickly to his mailbox. Opening his box with the seldom-used passkey, he withdrew a surprisingly large bundle of postage. Not wanting to waste more time than necessary, he pocketed the mail and exited the facility. Back out on the street, Vod headed south again to his final destination, the Auto Servibar. The glowing neon lights, many nonfunctional and others flashing off and on signaling their approaching demise, gave the façade an alien look. Anywhere else in the universe it would just look shabby. Vod Entered the Vac chamber, this one was functioning and waited while the atmosphere was cleansed of most of the vile grit that piggybacked in with him.
The chamber opened into a seedy dark room. Unlike most of the other prefabricated structures, the designers had attempted to give this unit the feel of a real bar and had failed magnificently. Other than the smell of old booze and cigarettes, it was bar like only in that it actually did have stools (fixed to the floor), old calendars with half naked women (one actually predated his arrival), and it did sell alcohol. The bar was empty, as he expected it to be. It was the middle of first shift, and this was strictly a second shift establishment. Most of last night customers were busily sleeping off last nights revelry with only several hours left before they woke bleary eyed to another day of drudgery. As it was his birthday, Vod was allowed to take the day, but unpaid of course, and was looked down upon by his shift supervisor for doing so. Screw that guy, he thought. He slowly removed his goggles and respirator. Small grains of sand and silica washed down like liquid where he sat. Massaging the calluses on his face from years of wearing the gear, he flinched when he accidentally rubbed a piece of grit into a new raw patch by his nose. Over the bar was a pristine 3Vfield emitter. It was a wonderful piece of technology, state of the art even, but it had only worked for one day before some of the conductive silica had gotten into the works and it crapped out in a brilliant flash and puff of smoke. Next to the 3V was a decent color Plasma, maybe 50 years old, which had been on so long that the image of the ever-present news announcers’ head was permanently burned into the pixels. Vod glanced down at the servitender and then back to the screen. The talking head, some blonde 20 something void, was going on about some kind of construction on Mars;
“…The Gates consortium is far ahead of Dupont United Technologies in its bid to complete the Mars based C-Mass launch facility. Legal issues regarding property ownership however may still hinder Gates’ completion of the project before the Dupont scheduled completion date..”
Oohboy, a mass launcher, wow big news. Utter rubbish! Vod thought to himself and turned back to the servitender.
Vod had a love hate relationship with the servitender. It was actually more hate hate, but that didn’t matter much anyway, it was only a machine, it couldn’t hate back so where was the fun in that? Vod had a little game he played against the servitender. He would sit stock-still and silent to avoid the motion and decibel detectors and time how long it took the machines virtual recognition circuits to determine the landscape of the bar had changed to include a patron. Once he had gotten almost to second shift, nearly two hours, before he gave in and had to harumpf several times to get its attention. Another time he had spent four hours trying to fool the machine before a repair mechanic had arrived and explained it was out of service and what kind of idiot are you that you didn’t figure that out? Looking down the bar at the servitender, Vod was a little surprised to see that it had been upgraded, and as he turned his head for a better look, a red ball tracked across its spherical carapace and stopped upon meeting his gaze. The glossy silver gray sphere glided down the bar on its tracks and stopped in front of him.
“Salutations on your annuity employee Scrothnick, how may this unit serve?”
Vod realized this wasn’t a repair or an upgrade, this was a new servitender. The speech circuits were very advanced compared to the old squawk box it had replace. He was intrigued and amused, a new challenge!
“Yes, er, hi, thanks, um my birthday, yeah…”
“Congratulatory Salutations, how may this unit serve?”
“Are you new?”
“This unit is a Gates 5600 Chipset service unit housed in a Honda SB 6000 multifunction…”
“Yeah, ok, but are you new?”
“That is affirmative, this unit was installed and activated for service on..”
“OK already yer new, I get it! Gimme a Vodka, no Ice”
“Be advised of new rules, no ice means double measure. Double measure equates to double price and double count towards maximum monthly allotment. Shall this unit proceed with Vodka no Ice.”
“Crap, you gotta be kidding, it’s just a single with no ice, how could that be a damn double?”
“Be advised that this setrvitender is programmed not to respond to profanity or intimidation. Further warning shall result in report to police.”
“Yeah yeah, Ok, whatever just give me the da.. the drink.”
“This unit complies.”
He definitely didn’t need this nonsense. Twelve units of booze a month per Dupont contract terms, six if it was a double, well it’s my birthday, better make it count. The old servitender had a blind spot when it came to no Ice, but it never threatened to call the cops on him before. Someone must have gotten wise to the scam. Damn! Now this new unit was not only finicky with the juice, it was basically a cop with a liquor spout. The servitender returned with his drink and glided away silently.
Raising his glass, Vod toasted no one in particular and half sang an old Twencent lyric
“I got get out of this place, if it’s the last thing I ever doo..” He placed the glass down, then picked it back up and held it out to the machine.
“Yo, hey bud, don’t go nowhere, I’m a thirsty birthday boy here, fillerup!”
Again the servitender silently deposited the vodka, removed the used glass and moved away. Vod was beginning to miss the old servitender, at least he could engage its’ reasoning chip with circular logic problems and make the machine shudder before it shutdown and performed an auto re-start. No not this one. “Oh well.”
Vod was holding up his glass, a little less steadily now after two more rounds, and motioning to the servitender.
“Employee Scrothnic, you have achieved your allotment, this unit cannot serve any more.”
“Aw, ‘cmon pal, it’s my birthday, you do know what that means don’t you, give a guy a break, just one more huh pal, whatcha say?”
The Machine stopped, it’s red eye fixed on Vod. Vod in turn remained still and smiled a wide toothy grin at the servitender. They stared at one another for several long tense seconds.
“This unit shall serve one vodka no ice beyond allotment in honor of annuity, no more shall be served after.”
“Thanks pal, you’ve got a heart of pure silicon you do, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!”
Vod put the bonus drink to his lips for a final shot and thought better of it, perhaps he would sip this last one, and he set it down. Looking around he tapped his hands on the bar and squirmed, fidgeting. Vod wasn’t a smoker, it would have taken away from his vice allotment for booze anyway, and he was a poor fidgeter. Tapping his pockets as if he had forgotten something, he felt the bulky postage and drew it out. Every year he went to the mailbox, and every year he came away with nothing more than the obligatory company birthday card, some advertising leaflets, and usually a notice from some off-world bill collector looking to collect on debts he had incurred as a younger man in another life on earth. The bundle was secured by a red rubber band that snapped and stung him when he attempted to remove it, spilling the pile onto the bar, his lap and the floor.
The servitender glided over once more and announced uncharacteristically “Employee Scrothnic, you have dropped something on the floor, do not neglect to collect it before you leave.”
“Yeah ok MUM, thanks allot.” He said in an asinine tone.
Standing up and retreiving his mail from the floor, Vod had a flash of his childhood, of filling out forms with his dad around the kitchen table and putting them all in separate envelopes before they were posted. This was a happy memory, but not one he wanted to have now. He pushed it back into his subconscious from whence it had erupted. He arranged the letters in a stack from smallest, adverts, to largest, probably bills, and began looking through them. The top 4 pieces were indeed adverts, all from the damn company, trying to sell new and improved goggle and respirator rigs at a low price which could be conveniently deducted directly from an employee paycheck. Bastards were just recycling the same gear that never worked when they received the shipment thirty years ago. Pass. He came across several bill collection notices that he immediately threw on the floor unopened. Bastards, get blood from this rock why dontcha. The one good thing about the company is that they never allowed someone else to get your money before they did. Next was the expected company correspondence wishing him a happy birthday. It wasn’t even a real card. The notice was printed on the cheapest onion skin paper and had the generic computer generated signiatures of his supervisor and Dupont himself. Ooh Boy, thanks for nothing. The last part of the stack was a group of six envelopes, all bearing the same logo which he was about to write off as more bill collections when he looked at the postage. US mail with a US Stamp, dated only a month ago, each sent one day after the other. He looked at the return address, a Law Firm in Manhattan, and saw that there was no cellophane window to denote that they had anything to do with past due accounts. Hmm, this is interesting, who the hell are you and what do you want from me?
Vod pushed the non floor bound remnants of the useless mail to the side and arranged the six letter by post date in a stack, the earliest date on the top. He sipped the Vodka pensively, and neatened the corners of the stack, somewhat ill at ease with the mystery in front of him. OK Kids, here goes. He opened the first correspondence, from a Real Estate Title Search Law Firm in Manhattan. Real Estate? He read.

‘Dear Mr. Scrothnic,
I am writing on a matter of great financial impact that requires your immediate response. In 2021, you purchased 1200 units of Mars Corp “Kidshares” sponsored through the Big Cereal Company. This purchase granted you…’

“Mr. Vod Scrothnic?” said a loud muffled voice over his shoulder interrupting his reading.
“Wha, Huh?” Said Vod a little shocked that someone, well anyone would speak to him. Besides his boss no one had spoken to him in nearly a month, and even then it was only ‘Get out of the way!’ or ‘What are you looking at?’
Vod turned and found he looking at an executive. He had only seen company executives three times in his life. The first time was when they had brought his dads remains back from Mars. The executive deposited the small parcel on their doorstep in front of he and his mum in a small plastic bag like so much rubbish, and had handed over a life insurance check, from which the company had removed a startling sum for the return transport. The second time was before his trip outbound from earth. Following in his dads footsteps he had joined the company and some smarmy little groat in a suit has leered at him evilly and said something about how Dupont United Technologies was going to take very special care of him because he was extremely important to the company. The last time he had seen an executive was when he had been driven to 223 by a nervous fellow named Tebbins who said he was dreadfully sorry, but that instead of being posted as an ore exchange accomodator, that Vod was to be posted as a remote machinery operator. When Vod had turned to look in shock, the executive had thrust goggles and respirator in his chest, opened the passenger door, and unceremonially pushed him out the door onto the street of 223. Vod attempted to get back in the car but was overcome by the blowing silica, and barely got his rig on before choking on the deadly grit. Vod hated executives.
Removing his full-face Plexiglas respirator, “Mr. Scrothnic, is that you?” repeated the executive.
“Depends,” replied Vod,”Who’s asking?”
“Yes well, Mr. Scrothnic, I am Mr. Falshot from Corporate headquarters, I have come to speak to you about a very important subject.”
Wow thought Vod, first a New York Law Firm, now this guy, what’s going on? “Well, as it’s my Birthday see, I sure could listen better if I had another drink.” Said Vod tipping up and finishing the remains of his last drink and maximum monthly allotment.
“Certainly” replied the man, indicating he wanted to sit next to Vod.
“Sure buddy, feel free, pull up a stool.”
The man sat and waved at the servitender, which responded immediately. “I would like two of whatever this good friend of mine is having, and in fact make it a double double.”
The servitender hesitated only a second before responding “This unit is unable to comply, Employee Scrothnic has exceeded his monthly allotment of vice units by 20%.”
The man looked at Vod, smiled, “Well you have been celebrating, not to worry, I’ll take care of this.” He turned back to the Servitender and stated “Override Vice Allotment, Scrothnic, employee, per Falshot, executive, code zero zero alpha six.” He turned back to Vod and winked.
The red eye on the servitender scanned back and forth between the two once, and then retreated without further comment. The unit glided back momentarily with two double-double vodkas, no ice, and placed them before the seated pair.
“Well Mr. Scrothnic, Happy Birthday, Cheers!” stated Falshot who tipped up his glass and downed the drink.
Vod watched in amusement as the locally manufactured synthetic vodka burned its way down the mans' throat and hit his stomach. Gagging and tears streaming from his eyes he turned to Vod “My god man, is this what passes for vodka at this outpost?”
Giggling, Vod emptied his and placed the glass back on the counter. “Ahh, yup, only the best 223 can manufacture. Whaddya think?”
“We must do something about that.” He motioned to the servitender for another round and turned back to Vod. “Well I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m here?”
“You know I never said that I was this Scrothnic guy you’re looking for.”
“Oh you’re him, I recognize your picture from the employee database, and anyway, the servitender said that’s who you are.”
Damn, thought Vod, who by this time was loaded and on the way to the best drunk he’d had in years. “OK pal, You got me, and yer buying, Talk.”
“It’s a very simple matter Mr. Scrothnic, what I have here are some papers which…”
The man continued to talk about some nonsense. What Vod was interested in was the servitender. Instead of staying at its station at the end of the Bar, the Unit was right in front of them, its eye cycling back and forth between them rapidly, as if it was listening. What the heck is this he was thinking when Falshot interrupted him.
“I say, are you listening man? If you sign these documents you will be a comfortably rich man, over a hundred thousand dollars!”
RICH, that got Vod’s attention fast. A Hundred Thousand Dollars, that Really got his attention. “What do you mean?”
It’s just a legal technicality having to do with some er stocks that your late father left in your name that were never dealt with at his death. So if you will just sign here.” Said the executive holding a sheaf of papers and a pen in Vods face.
Vod was confused. He slowly reached and took the proffered bundle and placed them on the bar. Falshot cleared away the remaining envelopes, pulling them towards himself in an almost greedy manner.
He was about to sign when the servitender cut in. “Employee Scrothnic, you have not finished reading your correspondence!” The servitenders arm reached over and slid the pile of mail back to Vod covering the Dupont Documents.
Falshot attempted to block the servitenders arm and grab back the letters when the servitender grabbed his arm and held it firm.
“What are you doing, you’re just a servitender, I order you to shutdown immediately! Falshot code…”
Vod stood back from the stool, shocked at what he was seeing, and disbelieving. “Hey, I don’t know what is going on here, but I’m leaving.”
The red eye of the servitender focused on him and began in a distinctly different and non-robotic voice. “Mr. Scrothnic, remember the Boxtops!”
Vod was jarred to near sobriety by the statement. The Boxtops, yes he remembered. That was his dream, that is what is Dad was yelling at him in the dream. He was four, and he and his dad had spent a summer vacation scrounging for Big Orange Crunchies Boxtops. He remembered the advertising “Big Orange Crunchies, you don’t even need milk, eat’em right out of the box!” And then a picture of a little kid, his arm completely orange to the elbow “Look Ma I’m Orange.”
Yes he had spent the summer with his dad getting as many box tops as he could to send in to the Big Cereal Company for a promotion that would give him acres of land on Mars. They had collected 1200 hundred before the end of the summer. It was the single best memory he had. It was the last summer that he ever saw his dad ever again
“But Wha…” Said Vod, then he remembered the letter.
“Scrothnic you MUST sign these documents I warn you!” Screamed the executive who then began yelling as the servitender began applying pressure to its grip.
Going back to the bar he ignored the cries of the executive who was struggling to free himself from the grip of the servitender, and took up the letter, reading;

‘Dear Mr. Scrothnic,
I am writing on a matter of great financial impact that requires your immediate response. In 2021, you purchased 1200 units of Mars Corp “Kidshares” sponsored through the Big Cereal Company. This purchase granted you 1200 acres of land on Mars. This land, near vertical mountain range, was offered in exchange for Big Cereal Boxtops, 1200 of which you registered with the Big Cereal Company. Please be advised that this land is now directly in the path of the Gates Consortium C-Mass launch project. On behalf of the Gates consortium I am authorized to offer you 18.6 Million per acre in adjusted dollars for a total buyout of over 22.3 Billion Dollars in a combination of cash and shares…’

He stopped reading and turned to the executive. “You Bastard, who do you think you are?”
The servitender let the squirming executive go, and he backed immediately away from the bar. “I represent the company Mr. Scrothnic, and if you wish to walk out of this bar alive, I recommend you sign our documents. No one disobeys the company, and definitely not some drunk loser like you!”
“My potential client does not have to take this, cease and desist your assault immediately or charges will be brought against both you and Dupont United!” Interrupted the servitender.
Vod and Falshot stared in mute disbelief at the servitender.
“What do you mean? What the bloody hell are you? Your client? You’re a bloody servitender, and a malfunctioning one at that!”
“I am not just a servitender, I am a JAWS, Judge Advocate Worker Servitor. I have been assigned specifically to find and assist Employee Scrothnic, and protect him from your attempt to steal what is rightfully his, what the company failed to get when it killed his father, and from blocking the completion of the Gates C-Mass Launcher.” The red eye tracked to Vod, “Mr. Scrothnic, I cannot represent you any further until you request my services, just say ‘I accept your representation’”
Vod began to repeat what he had just been told to say when Falshot leapt across the space dividing them and lunged to cover Vod’s mouth with his hand.
Vod backed off as the executive fell to the floor, “I accept your representation. Help!”
A high pitched whine began issuing from the unit behind the bar, its eye remained locked on Vod.
The executive rose from the floor and dusted himself off. “You piece of garbage, do you think you will live to see the end of the day?” Falshot drew a small communications device from his pocket, and walking away from Vod, began speaking in a harsh voice to someone on the other end. He ended his call and turned back to Vod, smiling smugly. “Well Mr. Scrothnic, you have about three minutes before my people arrive. If you do not sign this document you will be a dead man.”
Vod did not know what to do. The Lawyer unit was still immobile and issuing its whine. Suddenly from outside there was a loud rush of wind and the telltale sound of turbines from some kind of transport craft.
“Too late Mr. Scrothnic, but no matter, once you are dead, your shares shall fall to the company.”
They both turned to the door as the vac chamber cycled through. The door opened, and the face of the executive fell into a pained grimace.
“Hello, I am Sherry Gates. I’m here to pick up Mr. Scrothnic?”
The executive slumped at the unexpected sight of Humanities richest woman. The play was over.


After a brief firefight, heard but not seen by Ms. Gates, Vod and Falshot on the street outside, a group of heavily armed Gates Security entered the Bar to load them into the waiting transport.
Before he left Vod turned to the servitender/ JAWS; “Will I see you again?”
“Perhaps. I would advise you that you are now potentially one of the richest men in Human Space, you may wish to hire a real Human Lawyer, not a simple AI unit like myself.”
Vod thought for a second, “But I want you, will you be my Lawyer?”
“Yes, as your legal representative this unit is obliged to service your needs unless otherwise directed.”
“Good, then I‘ll see you later um, uh…Hey, what do I call you, I mean what’s your designation other than JAWS?”
“I have no formal designation. As you are my first client I suppose you may call me as you wish. What do you wish to call me?”
“Hmm,” Vod thought a moment, then looked up and snapped his fingers “I got it!”
“Yes?”
“Box Tops!”As he walked out escorted by his trillionare host, he swore he could hear his robotic lawyer grumble and say “Box Tops” followed by a high pitched whine. Vod smiled as he clambered up the transport ramp and thought to himself ‘Do AI’s swear?’


C.W. ?Barney? Burgis
bburgis 02/09/05