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Chapter #2

Declan 1.1 (Bat Man)

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I looked down at the comband on my wrist and gestured my thumbs and
fingers to try and open up a virtual monitor. Then again, and again in front of
me. Being slightly aggravated, I banged it on the counter a couple of times until
it finally opened a VeeM of my home screen. Stupid comband, might be time for
a new one.
Let's see there's the rolocab icon, Fassball, this location, ASAP,
destination FAU. And let’s see if I can get dressed before they get here.
No sooner did I open the front door and there it was. How do they do
that? Everything so fast, fast, fast these days. I laughed as a drone flew up to
me and tried to sell me some useless crap before I could even reach the end of
the drive way to climb into my ride. Grandpa used to say that the yellow
Rolocabs looked like Ms. Pac-Man. He’d laugh and go “waka waka waka” when
the door opened up.
Cab speaks, “Welcome dshhhhk (seat belt) your arrival time will be
approximately eight thirty-nine at the main hall entrance.” As the rolocab
accelerated to full tilt. I’m glad I have enough to take a cab. Those public
transballs are so nasty. I heard some bum died in one last week. How creepy
would that be? I wonder if anybody ever died in this cab. Ewe, I shuddered at
the thought Hmm, I remember I almost died the last time I was in one.
I said, “Can I get there any faster?”
“For an extra thirty-nine dollars and ninety-nine-nine tenths you can
save ten minutes and twelve seconds by taking the next available shoot.”
“Oh, no thanks, I’d rather be late. Last time, you guys almost killed me
just to save a couple minutes.”
A second passed and then the machine replied, “On your last visit, you
enjoyed a ninety-two percent near perfect-landing.”
“What! You missed a family of four by mere inches! I could see the fillings
in the old man’s teeth as he was screaming for his life.”
A few seconds and then, “The closest you came to collision intersect was no
less than a very safe sixteen point seven inches. A very safe seven tenths
within the legal code.”
I answered, “Anybody can say that.” I hate robots. They want to argue
about everything. Maybe a diversion will shut it up. “How about some music?” I
asked. I hate commercials, but I guess nine thousand commercials for one
song isn’t too bad.

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“Dominix Pizza, the only pizza guaranteed to print out in thirty seconds
or less, or it’s free!”
“One night only, tomorrow night, The Zoo, a Scorpions tribute band, is
playing at the Holodome’s center stage. Tickets on sale now at Ticket Master
dot com.”
The Zoo. Ha. Who listens that old crap.
“MindMeld dot Med why be one? Get implanted, get connected. Free trial
offer ends February thirty first. Gotcha! offer ends soon.”
MindMeld, like anyone would pay to be schizophrenic, I thought to
myself. Think I’ll invest in the company that sells schizoid meds just in case
this thing takes off.
Several commercials later, a familiar song finally came on and I just
couldn't believe it. This is what they play, after grinding my ears with all that
crap? What a song. I hate ‘The Queeny’ song.’ Everybody knows the lyrics.
Even though it’s so stupid. The Bohemian Rappers had a couple of good songs
in their day, but I can’t believe they’ve been playing this one for going on forty
♫ “When you get old and your teeth rot out,
And little hairs start growing from your ears and your snout,
Whoooooos gonna love you? Nobody loves you like I do.” ♫

What a stupid old song. Who would listen to such crap? I better make
sure I have everything for school. Let’s see my pencil is sharpened,

♫ “You start walking hunched over
and your hair turns gray...” ♫

scratch pad, latest downloads-

♫ “And nobody listens to a single word you say” ♫

for my school books. And a,
“Your receipt is available. Your account has been charged.”

♫ “And wrinkles declare victory over your pretty face.”♫

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Thank you for choosing Fasssball rolocab. Have a pleasant day”.

♫ “Queeny, who’s gonna love you” ♫

Well, I made it. Traffic wasn’t too bad. I think I actually got here sooner
than the estimated time. That hardly ever happens. Still, I could tell I was late.
There wasn’t anybody around except a couple of jocks swapping bad jokes and

♫ “Who’s gonna love you” ♫

Jeez, I can’t seem to get that stupid song out of my head now. I feel like
such a caveman, going to school. I can learn so much faster at home in VR. I
guess it's not so bad though. The campus’ lawn was freshly cut and all the
hibiscus trees and flowers looked perfect except for a couple of those goofy
looking trees that always loose their leaves in the winter, even though it’ll be
eighty-five frigg’n degrees out by noon.
I started walking toward a small courtyard that had some benches
scattered around a concrete path. It had a huge banyan tree in the middle.
Hmm, I kissed that cute, chubby little thing for the first time under that tree. I
wonder what ever happened to her. I haven’t seen her in how time
flies by. I don't even remember her name now. I think it was Betty. John used
to refer to her has Double B. I remember that.
Let’s see, I think I'm supposed to go right after the court yard and
“Yaghieee” a woman screamed
and again, “Yieeee.”
What the? As I turned to look I saw a man in the shadows over by the
back wall, with an open umbrella shading his back, or a cape thingy, or I don't
know what it was but, he was grabbing that girl.
Good lord, I think, it’s Rhonda, from my Dad’s old taco stand. As I
rushed closer I wondered, is this really happening? My hair stood on edge.
Awe, shit man! Oh shit, I’m not the hero type. What to do?! To do?!
But my feet were already running to save her.
I ran up to them yelling, “Hey stop that!” and making a fist way behind
my back hoping he wouldn’t see it coming. I was shaking all over as I closed
my eyes and swung that fist around as hard as I could and SWOOOSH!
I miss him completely, tripped all over my own feet and slammed up
against his black thingy and the wall. I felt something snap just before my head
banged into the bricks.

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I turned and I looked at the guy and my heart stood still. I could not
believe my eyes. The guy had shining, electric red eyes, and red lipstick kisses
on his cheeks and his forhead, he smiled revealing sharp, scary fangs as teeth
and he hissed, “I'm here to kill you.”
My nerves lit up like they were on fire and before I had a next thought I
was half a block away and, feet don’t fail me now. I ran and ran and as he was
yelling something at me, and I turned my head to look behind me, then BAM!!
I smacked straight into the arms of Psychedelic Susie, whisperer of the
damned, and we went flying straight down to the ground, where I landed all
over her.
I pulled my head up out of her bushy black hair. She looked so cross.
And then her eyes popped open wide, all of a sudden, she looked shocked, and
concerned. She told me, “I see you with a mirror before all of mankind.”
I was like W-T-F, as I got off her, apologizing over and over and, like,
tried to brush off the ickyness as if it were transferable. I stumbled backwards
a few steps then scurried off towards class.
What the? I…what the freakin-? Oh fuck man, what the hell just
happened? What was all of that? I’m going to school with Count Dracula? A
freak’n Dracula? Are you kidding me? And my old crush was yelling and
kissing him? Unbelievable, freak’n unbelievable. And what the hell was Susie
mumbling about? A mirror and-- freakin what the?
Jeeez, I know it was vogue for a while for the well-to-do to genetically
modify their kids, but a fucking bat baby? Really? Just then I remembered him
yelling at me as I was running away- “You’ll be dead meat soon!”
I was shocked. He sounded serious. It was downright scary the way he
said dead meat. Jeez… I honestly thought he was trying to hurt lil Rhonda. It
sure sounded like she was in trouble. Surely he will calm down and come to
his senses. I hope he doesn’t beat me profusely or something. I wonder why he
said, “I'm here to kill you.” It was as if he took great pleasure in informing me
of his intentions.
He’s lucky that swing missed. That swing might’ve been the fatal blow for
that guy. I better not miss again, I know that. I sure hope Woo can finish
cracking the classroom codes by tonight. I wish I could afford an Xpod. He
would’ve cracked that thing by now but, I guess we’re all doing the best we can
I was a nervous wreck. My head was pounding. I started to worry that I
might have a concussion. I can't believe I have a bat freak out to get me! What
am I gonna do now? I wonder if bat fangs are poisonous. Maybe I’ll pick up
some garlic and a cross at lunch time. I could use some Maronox.
Fuck, this has got to be the worst day ever. I finally got to class, but
couldn't concentrate at all. I was all keyed up. The only break in the tension all
morning was watching some alg-trig geek flick a booger that went awry and

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landed on the professor’s desk. I don’t think anyone else saw it, or that he
realized that I did, but it’s a good thing for him this lecture was a holographic
recording. You’d think a real teacher would be here on the first day. I guess it
is just orientation though.
I looked around the classroom, tried to settle down and find some
comfort. The pink walls seemed to be closing in on me. I looked over at a
picture of Albert Einstein over by the window. It was the one where his tongue
was hanging out. What a nut case.
I gazed out the window. It looked out over the courtyard where the big
scene happened. I tried to see if there was blood on the wall where my head
banged into it, but it was pretty far away and I really didn’t bleed much. There
was quite a lump on the ‘ole noggin though.
“Ow,” I said softly as I touched it to see how tender it was. Yeah, it was
pretty tender.
This is not exactly how I envisioned my first day back to school. I settled
down in my seat and tried my best to focus on the instructor's speech. As I sat
there I wondered how old the holographic feed was. Humm, I wonder if the
teacher died of old age a long time ago. I love it when they inject new
information into the old feeds. Like a hiccup. Sometimes they just freeze frame
and a simulated voice keeps talking.
I’m gonna be so dead. Rhonda probably hates me. How could I be so
freakin stupid? I wish this would all just go away.
I wonder what classes Rhonda's taking. She looked the same as she did
way back when. I bet I haven't seen her in a coon's age. Long, wavy, dark
brown hair, brown eyes with thin eyebrows, and an Irish complexion. I always
like the way her freckles lightly peppered her face and body. Very little make
up, usually just lipstick and maybe some eye shadow.
Maybe she’ll be in one of my classes. Maybe she wants to kill me too. I
can't believe I have a batman out to kill me. He's probably back at his bat cave
right now stalking me in Sync world.
Maybe I should beat the bat with a baseball bat. Then I'll steal his
woman and call her all mine. Hmm, she’s been with a bat. That’s pretty kinky.
On second thought she might be a little too weird for me. She used to be so
normal. I miss things being normal.

I think maybe I just need to relax and take care of this bump on my
noggin. Just breathe deep and relax. It’ll be lunch soon. I’m getting pretty
A girl walked by that looked a little familiar. It wasn't the same girl but,
her look did remind me of something. Probably one of John's old girlfriends.
He's so lucky. All the girls just love Mr. Charming, and talk about what a

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handsome man he is. I’ve heard them coo over his smooth face and strong jaw
bone, his chiseled physique, and his blond, shock top hair style. All the girls
just love John.
Of course, I still remember him being the chunky dweeb that went to
boot camp. It didn't take him long to buff up though. I can’t wait to see him
tomorrow night. I was genuinely looking forward to it. He’s a second class
guppy in the U.S. Navy now. Likes hanging out in, let’s say, less than
sophisticated places, if you know what I mean.
He told me he’s doing all kinds of classified spy stuff. Mostly practicing
low water reconisence missions, you know, but I’m pretty sure he’s just a cook
or something like that. His tattoo's ripp'n though. I can’t believe what he paid
for it. I’ve seen similar tats in VRs, but to make the anchors drop down out of a
ship’s hull and splash into the sea on a real arm, that’s rip, man. Almost as
awesome as that girl that had the snake crawling up and down her leg that I
saw on the quantacom the other night. Now that was a quantum tat.
I couldn't wait to tell John about today’s events, but then again, maybe I
shouldn't tell him. I wouldn’t want to worry anybody. He’d probably think I’m a
pussy for running away. But those eyes, and just the way they looked at me, it
was scary. I won’t say anything. It’ll probably turn out to be nothing anyway.
Batticus’ll just threaten to beat me up, and life will move on.
As soon as class was out I slipped off campus as fast as I could. I was
headed over to the pharmacy to pick up something for my aching head. I
walked through the door and saw a couple of virtual presence bots gossiping
over the same ‘ole, he said, she said thing, nothing really out of the ordinary. I
was scanning the store, looking and scanning all around and everywhere, I
can’t believe I'm so paranoid of this guy. There was just something about him,
so cold. Yeah, I better do my best to avoid them bat fangs.
Oh looky, giant sunglasses, just what I need to hide behind. I Think I’ll
pick up a new shirt and a hay hat like farmers and sunbathers wear, and as I
rounded the corner I saw Rhonda. She was sitting in the prescription waiting
area talking to some little old lady holding a shiny airconmbrella in her lap. I
jumped back into the aisle. Whew, that was close. I don’t think she saw me.
She looked so normal, like nothing out of the ordinary was going on.
Maybe Bat Doof was calmed down by now. Maybe we’ll laugh about all of
this someday. I don’t know, but I laid down my stuff and escaped out the front
door as fast as I could walk. I was a little ashamed I didn’t have the courage to
face her. I probably should have just asked her if her boyfriend was okay. I
wound up going to the grocery store to find some pain killers, and of course,
some extra large sunglasses, and a bag of banana pepper Doritos for lunch. My
all time favorite chips.
Oh man, now I gotta get to my next class without getting maimed or
noticed. Surely I'm over reacting. As I made my way back to campus, I noticed

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that there were quite a few people, along with several virtual presence modules,
in the halls and roaming around campus. Normally jocks and brainiacs are the
only ones to actually come all the way down here to the campus.
Still, I don’t think the face to face interaction thing is working very well.
Everybody still has their head buried into their combands. Look at them,
surrounded by VeeM’s and talking to their friends online when all kinds of kids
and people surround them. Oh well, at least they’ll get some social credits,
although I did read in the fine print that virtual Presence Modules, didn't count
towards the extra credits. Personally, I like the VP mods with the full length
displays instead of the ones that just show your face. I'll be glad when the three
dimensional models become a little more affordable. It's so weird talking to
someone wearing a two dimensional VPM, like looking in a mirror and seeing
someone else. Sometimes I feel like I should have been born a hundred years
ago when humans were more human.
I made my way through the busy halls to the physics lab. I really like
learning physics. I settled into a seat and started to wonder what might happen
if all of the protons in my body suddenly polarized and started vibrating in the
same rhythmic time, on the same linear planes. As my great grand pappy
would say, “Beam me up, Scotty!”
The instructor, Alberto Swansont, a tall skinny man whose short black
hair was just starting to gray, was rattling on about physics in the news.
Apparently judges can now order the use of some new time bomb technology to
view the past. Apparently you don’t actually go to the past, but rather the
equipment shows exact events by reversing algorithmic interference patterns in
three dimensional space. Then something about local zone and analyzing field
lines of relativity, and influx quantum computer simulations, and blah, blah,
blah, within the expanding matrix of gravitational interference patterns or
something like that. What the hell am I doing here? I don’t think I’m smart
enough for all of this.
I Think I’ll head over to the Holodome after class to see if The Zoo needs
any help setting up the stage or anything. Lord knows I could sure use the
money. Maybe I could hook up some plazars, or set up the mirproz projection
tubing for the holoprojectors, or build some scaffolding, or something to make
a few extra bucks. That’d sure beat asking Uncle Paul if he needs a little
plumbing help. He always makes me do the nasty, stinky jobs.
Uncle Paul, what a trip. One time when we were both sitting around. He
was out of work, and the taco stand was closed for repairs so I was out of work
as well. He looked up at me with a totally evil grin on his face and said, “Come
on, I got a plan.” We got up and zoomed to the bar, and he ordered us up a
couple of draft beers that neither one of us had a penny to pay for.
Still, we sat there laughing and joking, drinking, and eating garlic ginger
dino tails.

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I remember thinking that reverse engineering the chicken made for some
pretty tasty eats, but I had no clue what this genius plan was to pay for all of
this. The bartender was very friendly and also very sexy in her neon threaded
micro skirt. I just carried on like I wasn't worried about it.
I finally asked Paul, “How are we supposed to make any money like
Paul had a very unique grin and he was, you know grinning it when he
replied, “Money? You don't always need money. Just wait.” A few moments
passed and sure enough the bar tender said loudly, “Not again,” after
conversing with a man who had a concerned look.
Of course Paul asked her, “What’s wrong honey?”
She said, “Ugh, the stinkn' commode is backed up, you know a good
Paul was right there with “Clark's Plumbing at your service.”
Then I joked, being about half lit up from all the beers and the banter,
“And all you got to know to be a plumber is; that shit floats and water runs
down hill!” None were amused.
Shortly after that, Uncle Paul walked out and exclaimed, “All fixed!” And
the bartender said, “My hero! Yours is on the house today.”
Now, we all know how he knew that something was going to happen to
their bathroom fixtures, but I never said anything. It was nice just hanging out
there and having a little fun for free.
“What?” Holy shit, I forgot I'm in class! “Were you calling on me
professor?” I asked with my eyes wide. What the fuck was the question?
“Well, I really couldn’t say.”
And now the whole class thinks I'm an idiot. Hmm, I wonder what the
statistical probabilities might be that they're correct.
Professor Swany wrinkled his face as an, “Uh Hmm” made its way as
reply. Then he continued with his explanations, “When the energy from the
blast diminishes, the present snaps back at an exponentially accelerating rate.
Class dismissed.”
Well I’m glad we got out a little early. Time bombs, that's some crazy ass
quantnology. If Einstein could see us now...I don't know. Personally I think the
past has the same amount of possibilities as the future-infinite I suppose. Only
the present is real. I mean, if you went back to a past when you did not exist
and killed your parents, then why wouldn't you be able to go back to a future
where you do not exist? No paradox.
I opened the door and walked outside, the heat of the day hit me. The
humidity was unbelievable for this time of year. Not a cloud in the sky. The
only shade was coming from the printer streams, parcel bots, and the-well-to

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do buzzing around in the flycars. And there's a lot of them down here this time
of year.
Hmm, no sign of Freak’n Bat freak. I don't know which was harder, the
brick wall that I slammed my head into or the solid muscles of the bat man. I
slipped into the public roloball that pulled up to the ball stop where I was
waiting, Ew, so yucky, but a clean get-away. Note to self: bring Lysol. All the
same, it was a nice swift escape into a muggy South Florida afternoon.