The Stranglers

Time for this blog to take a diversion.

Faial used the trail of her GPS signal to send a message — today was it.

She spent the rest of her morning following a routine established as a break in a series of messages.

The operator, codenamed Fountain Pen, who gathered information on potential targets received the message and, with the aid of an IT administrator, replaced the message with Faial’s usual GPS signal information for that time of morning on an average workday in a big city.

So much information was gathered that no one was going to pay attention to the change in timestamp for one piece of sand in a world of deserts that the Central Depository represented.

= = = = =

The Committee agreed to send out more decoys and forward scouts to test defense lines of the enemy, an enemy that lived within the walls and secret meeting rooms of the Committee’s inner chambers…as planned.

The enemy was no longer a person, people, place or organisation.

The enemy had long ago become simply information.

Scholars, dilettantes and amateurs argued about the difference between data, knowledge and information, not necessarily in that order.

The Committee didn’t care.  In fact, the name “Committee” was itself simply a placeholder for a network of information gathering and misdisuninformation dispersal.

There were too many people who saw their corporal essence as the end-all, be-all of existence so a group of people were assigned to sit down together both physically and virtually to make a solely symbolic gesture toward the past and call themselves the Committee.

The network didn’t care as long as information fed the network’s need to justify its own existence.

= = = = =

At a reunion concert for a punk band, The Stranglers, a cybernetic organism known as Sir Rah mingled with the crowd.

Sir Rah was a prototype, an amalgamation of electronic and organic parts designed to mimic a drunk/high/stoned party animal whom no one would exactly remember nor question its shortcomings.

Sir Rah’s only duty was to collect skin, sweat, saliva and hormone samples without detection.

The creators of the program that turned a laboratory robot into Sir Rah had originally named their project, fatalistically, Que Sera Sera.

= = = = =

Faial had first heard about The Stranglers in the hallway of an old cotton mill in Huntsville, Alabama, where the Rocket City Jazz Orchestra, in association with the Huntsville Swing Dance Society, sponsored a Sock Hop.

Faial was generally shy, not prone to getting attention, so when she saw the high level of excitement on the faces of the people discussing The Stranglers and one of the band members ’70s broom mustache and long hair, she decided to sneak into the big city and see the band.

= = = = =

The night before the concert, Sir Rah, as programmed, walked into a theatre to view a screening of the film, “The Odd Life of Timothy Green,” written by the son of keystone member of the Mothers of Invention, Frank Zappa, who sported a broom mustache.

= = = = =

Faial, whose mother was of mixed French, German, Norwegian, English, Scottish and Irish heritage and whose father was a testtube baby, exact origins unknown, but said to be a perfect mix of all races and genders, was attracted to men with broom mustaches.

= = = = =

Sir Rah had a few flaws that its creators had not bothered to catalog because their funding had run short after the last political election that turned the general populace against advancements in science.

= = = = =

Faial had bought the latest in self-documentation gear, including necklace, headband, earrings, belt, wrist/ankle bracelets and backpack purse that recorded everything around her, as well as her vital signs like heartbeat/breathing rate and body temperature.

= = = = =

As the early birds found strategic locations to fully enjoy The Stranglers — some with their heads up against giant loudspeakers, some seated in chairs, some up in the rafters, Faial and Sir Rah wandered in, unaware that they both liked to stand in the front row, facing angry-looking bouncers who relished tossing hooligans off the stage and into sections of the throng that weren’t ready for body surfers.

A warmup band, Peter’s Ol’ Toole, an Irish band known for making stadiums full of rebellious youth riotous, offended everybody by naming all the religions they could think of and singing new lyrics to the melody of “I Saw Your God’s Face in My Pile of Stinkin’ Shite.”  Those they hadn’t offended they promised to carve into eentsy-weeny pieces of meat to feed the starving child labourers they kept locked in an unventilated lorry they drove from show to show just so the crowd could hear them screaming when Peter’s Ol Toole sent electric shocks through not only the lorry but several chairs and standing places in tonight’s school gymnasium chosen for this illustrious reunion of a long-forgotten band chosen to follow their magnificent performance.

By this time, Faial and Sir Rah were pressed against each other, joining the misspent youth around them spitting expletives and other joyous words at the band members standing a few feet above them.

The bouncers would occasionally grab a member of the audience, drag him or her over the rail and pummel the person with whatever blunt objects they had in their hands — flashlight, walkie-talkie, billy club, brass knuckles or studded neck collar.

Sir Rah registered each beating as closely as it could get without revealing its purpose.

Faial became fascinated with Sir Rah’s interest in what was going on over the railing so she climbed on a rail to see what would happen.

Within the blink of an eye, Sir Rah lifted Faial onto its shoulders and leaped on stage, stepping on the switch that electrified the whole auditorium because a union steward was upset that his crew didn’t get paid standard wages and wired the whole place to one switch as a joke, daring anyone in Peter’s Ol’ Toole to shock themselves and their drugged-out followers.

The deafening roar of explosions and horrendous smell of burning flesh filled the auditorium and flowed down passageway.

Thinking it was their cue, The Stranglers leapt to their feet as one, burst through the door of their dressing room and ran toward the stage.

They were met by the embodiment of Chaos they had sung about for years.

Bleeding and confused, fan and hater alike fled, knocking over The Stranglers in their haste, those who could stand, limp, walk, drag or run headed toward the exit doors.

Faial and Sir Rah observed the scene around them detachedly.

They were in their element, at the center without being seen, pebbles thrown into a pond watching the ripples they caused spread away from them as they sank to the quiet, still, comforting bottom.

Sir Rah lifted his foot off the switch and set Faial down.

They stared at each other, a switch inside them turning on.

They clasped hands and, stepping over the dead band members, walked off the stage.

= = = =

Back at her flat, Faial shared the recordings of her self-documentation equipment with Sir Rah.

Sir Rah opened up panels to reveal interfaces it could use to download its recordings, including a USB port that mated with Faial’s tablet PC.

While she attached her PC to Sir Rah, Sir Rah’s internal laboratory finished processing the samples it had gathered of violent bouncers, outrageous band members and Faial, the last of which Sir Rah did not know how to process, including  Faial’s lipstick stains on Sir Rah’s lips and Sir Rah’s responding elevated body heat.

Throughout the night and into the next morning, the two of them attempted to make sense of their information.

Meanwhile, Fountain Pen tracked Faial’s GPS signals and misinterpreted her change in routine.

Fountain Pen forwarded his computer’s interpretation of Faial’s GPS signal path from the previous evening and into this morning, when she failed to follow the designated path from flat to croissant cafe to workplace.

The recipient of the encoded message, codenamed Desk Drawer, forwarded the message on to Headquarters.

A clerk at Headquarters, codenamed Melted Wax, still blown away by the literally shocking events of the previous night’s concert, having not even seen the retro band he cherished from his days as a headbanger, had, ironically enough, a headache.

Melted Wax looked at the message and decided it was a tactical error by a secret group known only as the Committee.

“Chief.”

“Yes, Melted Wax?”

“I have a message from the Desk Drawer that came straight from the Fountain Pen.”

“Look, I’m not interested in another one of your crazy drawings.  My daughter hasn’t returned from spending the night at her friend’s house and I can’t get anyone to answer the phone there.”

“No, ma’am.  It’s a message from ‘Desk Drawer’!”

“Why didn’t you say so?”

“Well, I thought I did.  Anyway, I think we have the Committee caught redhanded this time.”

“Redhanded?!  You mean you have proof that rumours tying Bill Clinton to the Communist Russian regime are true?  Is Hillary secretly planning to turn the U.S. over to Putin?”

“No, ma’am.  For your sake, I’m afraid not.”

“Well, what is it, then?”

“According to this message, the child of one of our testtube babies is a core member of the Committee and appears to be tied to the terrorist attack on that rock concert last night.”

“Terrorist attack?  Rock concert?  What was the name of that band?”

“‘The Stranglers,’ ma’am.”

“Ahh…I’m beginning to see a pattern here!”

“You mean you already know about this message?”

“Yes, Melted Wax.  My daughter said she was going to a friend’s house to watch a movie called ‘The Stranglers.’  Now I bet she, her friend and her friend’s hippie parents all went to see that band.  Serves them right it was a terrorist attack they walked into…Communist pinkos like the rest of ’em…”

“But, ma’am, that’s your daughter you’re talking about!”

“Melted Wax, do you have any children?”

“No, ma’am.”

“Then you don’t understand the feeling that some of us want to be a Daddy Grizzly and eat our young who have not lived up to our standards.  Never mind.  Where’s the Committee member you’re talking about?”

“Last location was a flat in downtown.”

“Keep an eye on that testtube baby’s baby.  We may have use for it, yet.”

“Yes, ma’am.”  Melted Wax wrote down a new codename, TBabyBabe, and sealed the file.

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