was that, Frankie? Gunfire? Bruno put down the beer and looked surprised
at his friend.
- Ah, just the regular crap on the news,
the cops putting away some of those blasted `truders, Frankie mumbled
uninterested without turning his head. His eyes were glued to the
topless waitress while his fat fingers were playing with some coins
on the bar-desk, - yeah, those bastards are getting more and more
impudent each day.
- But the telly is not on, Frankie! Bruno
pointed a tobacco-stained finger at a large screen that was hanging
unsupported in the air close to a wall full of dusty sports-pennants
and old postcards. His skinny, tall body was a sharp contrast to
his stocky mate at the bar-desk.
- What? You're kidding! Frankie forced his
eyes reluctantly away from the girl, and turned on the barstool
with a deep sigh.
- You see? It's not on, somebody must be
shooting outside! Bruno scratched his sharp nose and looked a little
- So turn it on, you dope, so we can see
what this is all about!
- Yeah, Frankie! Good idea, Frankie! Will
do! said Bruno keenly, raised his lanky body and started to hurry
across the empty floor. There were only the two of them in the small
bar besides the girl behind the desk, who was dressed in a metallic
miniskirt and nothing else besides make-up.
- Sit down, you stupid boozo, what do we
have Nicole for? Hey, Nicole, push one of your pretty nipples on
the TV-button, channel five!
- You're not supposed to tell her to do
things like that, Frankie, it's against the regulations! Bruno looked
distressed from Frankie to the girl who had climbed on to the counter
behind the desk and in a most awkward position was trying to push
her breast against a small control-panel on the wall close to the
- «Against the regulations, against
the regulations...!", Frankie mimicked. - What kind of sissy
are you? She's a cybo, have you forgotten? Shut
up your silly trap and let's see what's going on outside!
picture on the screen showed four-meter high waves thundering at
a huge wall of large concrete blocks.
"The seawall at Sandford Point is getting
close to it's completion, the news-commentator's polished voice
filled the room, - and the Prime minister has assured that there
will be no more problems with floodings..»
- That what she said last month too, just
before the Birkshire seawall broke, Bruno mumbled and took a large
sip of his mug.
- Hey, Nicole, what's that for? I said I
wanted to se what's happening outside, not the blasted news! Frankie
slammed his fist in the bar so that both Bruno and the coins jumped
in the air.
- «Hey, Nicole, push one of your pretty
nipples at the TV-button, channel five», the coarse voice
of the stocky man came from the girls red lips, and then changed
to her normal sexy voice, - you are looking at channel five, Sir!
- Go and fry your circuits, you bloody cybo-punk!
- Can I use the microwave, Sir? The waitress
turned around and tried to put her head into what looked like a
old fashioned microwave-oven from the nineties.
- Stop it Frankie, please! Bruno's eyes
were as begging as his voice, - she will do it, you know, and then
what will happened? We'll be kicked out of here. No more beer tonight!
- OK! OK! Hey, Nicole, stop acting like
a lousy standup comedian! Just switch to the correct channel so
we can see what's going on outside!
- The camera to the world outside is on
channel fifteen, Sir, Nicole said polite and touched the control-panel.
With a long-nailed finger.
seawall disappeared, and after a five seconds commercial for the
beer they were drinking they could see a close-up picture of a solid-looking
- Voice-activated, please ago ahead, a polite
voice from the screen invited.
- OK, turn your damned camera around so
we can see what the heck is going on! Frankie shook his head impatiently
while Bruno stared motionless at the screen with foam of beer dripping
from his unkempt mustache.
The camera started to sweep slowly around.
The wall besides the door was of gray, unpainted concrete.
- Zoom out and keep it moving!
street outside was empty. It was hard to tell if it was day or night.
It was not really dark, the streetlights were on. A kind of fog
seemed to whirl in the air, and glittered almost like snow in the
beams of bright light.
- Do you want a commentator, Sir? The polished
voice cut through the sound of wind.
- Yeah, thanks, that'd be great!, said Bruno
and looked a little scared at Frankie when he realized that he had
been the one giving the order.
- You are now looking down Runburn Road.
The weather is fine with some smog. There are however possibilities
for a few poison-clouds, and we recommend you to use Rill's all-weather-dress
if you are going out. Rill's are developed by leading scientists
and tested under the toughest conditions,. They are also on a special
sale today, so just...
- For God's sake shut up!, Frankie snarled,
- Skip the bloody commercials and just zoom onto were the sound
of gunfire is coming from!
The voice died away without protests, and
the camera zoomed slowly in at dark shadow a few blocks down the
empty street. The smog made it hard to see what it was, but a hundred
meters or so further away they could spot another shadow, obviously
following after the first. The sound of gunfire was a lot stronger
now, amplified from the screen.
- See, Bruno, what'd I tell you? Just the
cops chasing some of those `truder-bastards, Frankie shrugged his
shoulders and turned back to the bar. The girl was now licking her
lips and caressing her naked breasts while looking teasingly at
the stocky man.
- But Frankie, this is our neighborhood,
Bruno protested and pulled his left earlobe. Deep wrinkles had appeared
between his bushy eyebrows, - I have never heard that the `truders
have been this far into Clintonville before. The PM said that most
of the `truders already was helped out of the country, you know!
- For Gods sake, what are you? A miserable
funk? Can't you bloody see that the cops are taking care of the
problem right now? Just like they always do. I thought we had seen
enough of this boring shit on the news?
- But why do they have to shoot the `truders,
Frankie? They are people, you know!
- «They are people you know...»,
for Gods sake, Bruno, you're giving me the creeps! Haven't you got
into your stupid brain that this is our country? Our country! They
are trying to steal our country, steal your home, steal your food
and your beer! They are the bloody enemy!
- But they could not help that their country
was flooded, Frankie! It was the greenhouse effect, you know, we
polluted the atmosphere so much that the south-pole to melted and
the sea-level rose more than thirty feet! Bruno eyes ping-pong'ed
from Frankie to the screen. - Their homeland was flooded, thousands
of people drowned and more than fifty millions had to flee for their
lives! How could they help that, Frankie?
- Yeah, yeah, yeah, but that don't give
them any bloody right to come here and steal our country. We have
always taken care of our own problem here in our homeland, they
should bloody well take care of their own as well!
- But where else should they go, we had
already promised that we should help them if something happened
to their low-lying country? And it wasn't their factories and cars
that spewed tons and tons of carbondioxide into the air every day
for centuries! It was ours!
looked a little surprised at his barmate. Bruno's arguments gave
away that he might be a more educated person than his worn clothes
and untidy look tried to give the impression of.
- Yeah, they were never clever enough to
become as civilized as us. They were wasting away their time under
the sun while we built our country. We sweat for our country's development
in the factories, died for our country in the wars, while they were
crawling like dirty bugs in their rice fields and propagated like
rabbits in their palm-leaf huts. Shall we take the blame for that,
- Well, we could at least... Hey, Frankie,
look at that! Look at that!
Frankie pulled reluctantly his eyes away
from the cybo-girls bosom and cast an unenthusiastic glance at the
screen. The first dark shadow was much closer now, while the second
still were a block away.
- See what? That bloody `truder? Don't worry,
the cops will get him soon. Can't I drink my beer without you bothering
me all the time?
- But, Frankie, can't you see? Its a child,
it's just a young boy!
- So what?! If the cops don't stop him he
will soon be breeding more damned `truders trying to steal our country!
Come on guys, get over with its!
camera zoomed in on the darks shadow. It was not a boy. It was a
young girl, might be ten or eleven years old. The black hair was
standing out like a galloping horse's tail, and the her eyes were
that of a wild mare lassoed for the first time. Blood was running
down her left cheek from a small wound just above her temple. She
was gasping desperately for air, but kept on running as fast as
her scrawny legs could carry her. She seemed to be heading straight
for their door.
- Hey, it is a girls, and she is coming
this way! Bruno turned to Frankie with his mouth hanging wide open.
- Yeah, guess she has seen our blasted camera
moving, not much else moving this time of the day in our part of
town, Frankie said irritated and clasped his hands together, - what
the heck are the cops waiting for, they must have had her zoomed
inn for quite a while now?
- Might be they don't like to shoot a girl,
Frankie! Bruno was biting on a fingernail with a look of distress.-
She is just a young girl, she have come together with her parents,
you can't blame her for that.
- Oh yeah? So you like `truder girls, do
you? You ever tried one, Bruno-boy?
The girl was rushing towards their door.
- What? Tried what?
- Tried one, laid one, you know...! Bruno
made an obscene gesture with a straight index finger and two fingers
on the other hand forming an O.
- Me, no, no I never... I don't... I...,why
do you...? Bruno blushed and looked away.
- Just joking, old pal! Frankie looked smugly
from Bruno to the girl behind the desk and then to the screen with
growing interest. - Hey, look at her now, they have almost scared
the shit out of her! Yeah, boys, go for it! Come on!
laughed and slammed his fist in the bar-desk: -Come on boys! Get
her! Get her!
The girl was rushing up the steps to their door, and they could
see her heaving chest and hear the air rushing in and out of the
open mouth. Then her face filling the whole screen. Her eyes were
big and black. Scared, very scared.
- Please.... pleeease.. help...me..! The
desperate words thundered out from the screen.
- Hey, Nicole, turn that bloody volume down
a bit! What are you trying to do, blast our eardrums?
- Please....open the door..! Please... help
- Let's let her in Frankie! I can't look
at this, they gone kill her! She is just a girl!
- Hey, what did I hear? Frankie shook his
head and looked with disbelief at the other, - save a bloody `truder,
and get a lifetime sentence for hiding her?
- She hasn't done anything, Frankie, she's
just a young girl!
- You must be hot on those dark-eyed bitches,
ey? Frankie cast a fast glance at the half-naked girl behind the
bar. - Well, I can understand in a way. With only these cyber-girlies
around I wouldn't mind try some real meat for one times sake myself...
I would not mind at all, not at all... His words died slowly away
and then he looked at the screen with new interest.
- Yeah, might be we shall let her in for
a while, and then throw her out again before the cops find out where
she has g...!
sharp bang of a gun thundered from the screen. The girls begging
eyes widened, looked at the camera with pain and disbelief, and
then she slipped slowly down and out of sight.
- Got that light-footed `truder, whoever
is in there! The stout figure of a uniformed cop filled the screen.
He smiled bravely into the camera and showed thumbs up. - Well,
you can sleep well tonight, this one won't bather you! Neither will
her family. And don't worry about the mess outside, we'll will take
care of it. G'dnight folks!
- He shot her, Frankie, he shot her! Bruno
cried with a shrill in his voice.
- Yeah, what did you believe the cops would
do, take her down town, book her into a hotel-room and sing her
a lullaby? Bruno turned away from the screen, emptied his mug and
gave a loud belch. - Well, the show seems to be over for tonight,
and I'm getting tired of all that bloody jawing of yours. I guess
its time to hit the sack.
- But Frankie, we could have saved her,
they should not have shot her, she was just an innocent...
- `night, Bruno! Frankie sighed, bent over
the desk and flicked a switch.
disappeared. The screen. The bardesk. The cybogirl behind the bar.
A small spotlight on a naked ceiling cast a yellow beam on a skinny
man. A skinny, tall man with nicotine-stained fingers sitting in
a chair in an small, empty room in front of a tiny control-panel.
The walls were glowing for a short while and then went blank.
The man rose with an effort from the chair
mumbling quietly to himself.
- Well, well, well. You can't win in these
role-playing VR-games every time.. Oh well, might be I'll give it
a try again tomorrow night...
"The Wold Outside" is a science fiction short story written
by Terje Dahl.
- click here
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