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Chapter #29

Declan 2.0 (The Burger Man)

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She whispered, “One peep and you're dead.”
I laid there, still as could be. I could feel the cold steel
tip of a kitchen knife pressed slightly under my left
rib bone. She was fucking serious.
The reflection of some flashing LEDs reflected in the
sheen of her green eyes as she leaned in to inform
me, “I'm busting out, and you, you little fuck stick,
you are coming with me.”
She leaned back, pulled me up by the soylent tubes
still connected to my belly, then cut them loose with
the knife, then pulled the end still connected to me to
force me off the bed.
In a defensive stance, she halted me as we
approached the door, let go of the tubes just long
enough to sheath the knife, and stuffed a couple of
rags into the soylent tubes. Then she pulled out a
WW3 plasma saber. It looked like nothing more than
a bicycle's handlebar grip, but I knew what it was.
Its blade scrolled out about three and a half feet and
found its blade-like shape, and it was ready to be
energized. I heard the fan in its handle begin to hum
quietly in the darkness as Melissa pressed it against
my neck and said softly, “You get out of this sword’s
range, I'll turn it on and cut you to pieces.”
Perplexed, I whispered, “You don't think I want to
Her eyebrows lowered as she informed me, “You're
my hostage, not my partner. Now follow me to the
I stumbled over the husky guard that was laying on
the ground in the darkness. He was knocked out
cold. Maybe he was dead. I don't know.

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“Hurry,” she said, pushing me. And we both began
almost jogging down the hallways. It was eerily quiet.
You could've heard a pen drop if not for the familiar
sound of Haus' snoring, and it was so dark that we
were jogging toward the kitchen more by feel than
sight. We made it, and I heard a loud explosion go off
in the distance.
Melissa smiled and whispered knowingly, “There goes
the pressure cooker.”
Instantly, alarms started echoing off the walls and, in
my brain,, and lights began flashing on and off.
Melissa pulled the trigger on the plasma saber. I
could feel the heat of the blade as its brightness lit up
the room in between the flashing lights. She struck
the cinder block walls eight or ten times gracefully
quick, and the blocks began raining down as she
jumped back out of their way. She was a master, I
thought, as I saw them falling mostly outwards from
the angles that she had sliced.
I heard the other prisoners begin to bang cups on
their bars and yell all kinds of chaos, and the sound
of several prison cell doors opened up then footsteps
running in the opposite direction. We were headed
east, and they were headed west. The sound of
several shots being fired on the other side of the
prison rang out amongst the chaos and confusion.
Melissa shouted, “Come on,” as she gestured me to
jump out of the hole that she had cut in the wall. I
landed hard on the ground about four feet down and
she was right behind me. We were in the parking lot
behind the kitchen and running towards the food
truck, the same one that we came back from the dig
site in.
“Really?” I asked.
“Shut up!” she replied as she put on some augmented
reality goggles.
I heard another shot. All of the flashing lights went
off, and the alarms went silent.

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I saw a couple of drones fly over the top of the
building as I opened the truck door to climb in, and
then everything went dark once more.
Melissa reached down and pulled out a large pistol
and shot one of the drones while grabbing me with
her other hand to push me into the driver's seat. The
other drone hesitated, then went straight up as she
took a couple of shots at it. My ears were ringing as
she pushed me to slide into the passenger seat, and
then she climbed in beside me. Out of pure instinct,
she whipped around and shot the second drone that
was coming back down for the kill shot on her side of
the truck.
“There will be more in moment.” She started the
engine, and then we sat there. I couldn't fuck'n
believe it. I screamed, “Let's go!” But we just sat
there, and I swear I was about to break into a heart
attack. Her stone face pointed the pistol right
between my eyes as she told me to shut up.
I froze in my posture, knowing I was about to die, and
although we only sat there for an instant or two, it
seemed like forever. I heard the back of the truck
open up and Bam!
Melissa floored it. We smashed through the fence and
took out across the desert as fast as the old beater
would run. It was pitch black, there was no moon,
and the only light out was the stars and a couple of
desert crawler's headlights.
Foom! Foom! Foom! Foom! The small canon was fired
in the back of the truck.
I was watching EMPs exploding in the rear-view
mirror. They were being shot out of the back of the
truck, and they stopped the desert crawlers and a
couple of the tracker droids, but there was more of
them coming, along with some drones.
Pow, pow, pow, powow. It was amazing, whoever was
in the back was one hell of a shot.

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The excitement calmed as the ringing in my ears
slowly faded into the sound of the vehicle’s piston
engine humming and the springs squeaking as we
cut our dusty trail on the desert's floor.
We drove in silence for several miles until we came
upon several low-lying hills. We wound our way
through them until finally rounding a small
mountain with scrub brush and cacti all around.
Melissa stopped the truck on the other side. She
looked at me and then in the rear-view mirror.
Whirring noises filled the back of the truck, and their
vibrations shook the frame underneath it.
I looked in my review and watched a manned Bi-
prop-acycle fly out of the back of our truck towards
higher ground on the mountain's side.
Melissa pointed her gun at me and said, “Don't
Then she crawled out of the truck, reached behind
the seat, grabbed a couple of holoprojectors and
tripods, and set them up several feet behind the
truck. Then she jogged back and climbed in. We
drove straight away, and she stayed focused on the
review mirror. So, I did, too, as the bi-prop-acycle
blew the sand away to cover our tracks before turning
up and around.
We drove down the road a little bit farther and I saw
an image of our truck explode in the review. Then a
shot from the mountain and a small fireball in the
sky. “It's done,” Melissa murmured. “I think we're out
of the woods now.”
I watched some of the tension in her body release.
She reached into a cooler on the floorboard and
offered me some water. I grabbed the bottle and
downed about half of it. I couldn't believe I was being
kidnapped by Marshella, my old flame from VR.
We drove a mile or so across the bumpy terrain
before she took her foot off the gas and decelerated
down to stop, then put the truck in reverse and drove

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straight back for a pretty good ways and then put it
in drive again while turning to the right. There was
road right there, and we got on it, drove down it a few
yards, and hooked a U-turn. Then we backtracked
down it for several miles.
We didn't talk the whole time. Melissa was focused on
tasks that must've been planned out for months, and
I was focused on the action going down all around
me. Up ahead in the distance, I could see city lights
up against the night sky. When we got closer, we
started passing some of the town’s outermost
buildings. There was no traffic as it must've been the
wee hours of the morning. She slowed down, then
pulled the truck into the back of an old Afganaco
station. It was closed and there were several old
junky trucks and rollo balls in the back where we
were parking.
“Come on,” she whispered in the still of the night.
I got out and thought about running, but where to
I met her around the back of the truck and looked
through the open door. I saw the small cannon that
the sharp shooter was firing sitting on its tripod. The
magnetic stabilizing mechanism was impressive.
There was a “T” sprinter strapped to the side of the
truck bed behind it along with a backpack stuffed
with supplies.
Melissa pointed at them and said, “Alright, Duboc,
hop in there and pitch me that supply bag and the
“T” wheeler.” I knew she meant the “T” sprinter.
I put my foot on the bumper and climbed in as I
handed them down to her. I looked her over. She was
firm and strong with a natural beauty in her pretty,
round face. In the dim light, she looked a lot like her
avatar from Mars.
She twisted the mechanism, turned the wheel rod
perpendicular to the frame, and pushed the button.
“Hurry up,” she said impatiently as I tossed the

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supply bag on the ground and climbed out of the
“Easy with that,” she commanded. Then, “Close the
door, doofus,” as the tire wads popped out of the “T”
sprinter's frame and found shape around the
extruding wire rims. She dropped the vehicle to the
ground and a couple of bats flew out from
underneath the eaves of the old fueling station and
out into the midnight sky. Then Melissa grabbed the
bag off the ground and reached into it to pull out
some handcuffs and a rope, and before I could blink,
the cuff was on my leg. Then she pulled it hard,
standing back up, throwing me off balance and to the
ground. “Hey!” I yelped.
“What?” she said as she tied me to the contraption's
frame. “You jump off I'll drag you backwards. Now
put that backpack on and let's go.”
She got down on all fours, straddling the low-lying
infantry vehicle and gripped the handlebars. “Climb
on and hold tight, and don't get any funny ideas.”
So, I put on the backpack and strapped it tight to
keep it from sliding around on my back and mounted
her. As she throttled up, I wrapped my arms around
her, cupped her breasts and whispered,
“HmmmMmMarshalla, I missed you.” Then I kissed
her softly on the neck.
We pulled out on the smooth highway and the
machine accelerated to like ninety miles an hour in
no time flat. It was fucking scary.
One wrong move and we'd both be ground beef, and I
think I pissed her off.
We plowed straight ahead for several miles as fast as
we could go. Sand and scrub brush, mile after mile.
Finally, Melissa slowed down a little and pulled off
the deserted highway. It was a bumpy, dusty ride
after that, and she had no fear, as the contraption
sped across the desert for two hours until she finally

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slammed on the brakes. We went sliding up next to
low-lying ridge on the desert floor.
Sharply, she lifted up with her right arm, throwing
me off her back, then she rolled around on top of me.
Grabbing both my wrists she pinned me down to the
ground and asked, “Declan?”
Exhausted and sore from the long ride, I answered in
low sexy voice, “Marshella.”
And she began kissing me with great passion. We
were both filled with adrenaline from the ride and the
escape, and my loins filled with excitement, hugging
and kissing, tongues intertwined, until she lifted
herself up and ripped her top off then buried her
hard breasts into my face and moaned with pleasure
as I fondled her light pink nipples with my fingers,
teeth, and lips. I lifted her up, squeezing the pair and
noticed a birthmark on her right breast that
reminded me of the third breast and the great times
we shared in virtual reality.
Her face was filled with desire as she practically
ripped her pants off and pulled mine down around
the rope still tying me to the “T” sprinter. Melissa's
smooth round ass was glowing in the rising moon's
light as I raised up and sucked her moist folds in
between my lips as I gently slipped my tongue around
them and slightly inside. She threw me back and
grabbed my rock, easing it in between her legs,
guiding it inside of her warmth with moans of
pleasure. I was throbbing as my shaft bent slightly
before popping inside. Her pussy was so tight that it
almost hurt going down and, oh, my god, the things
she did with her vagina.
I'll never be the same.
We made love for what seemed like hours and found
ourselves all wrapped up in and around each other,
fast asleep and in love. Before dozing off, Melissa
reached into the backpack and pulled out a blanket
to cover us up. I felt so warm and comfortable lying

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with her. It was like heaven and I didn't want to ever
let her go.
We were fast asleep for I don't know how long, but
when I finally opened my eyes, the desert sun was
well into the morning sky. Still intertwined, I looked
at Melissa's pretty face and then into her opening
eyes. She smiled, reached down, and began fondling
my manhood. I pulled her hair back from around her
face, kissed her softly, then pulled back, teasing her
as I slid it up and down her moistening, sandy folds
before slipping it in. Looking into each other’s eyes,
we made love slowly and softly. Her smooth legs slid
down around my ankles as she closed her eyes and
pulled my head down next to hers and squeezed me,
moaning softly as she began to orgasm, and as I
began to cum with her the sound of a bi-prop-acyle
swiftly grew very loud and began kicking up dust all
around us as it landed. I lifted my head and looked at
Melissa, who was looking back at me, and biting her
lip. I looked back up as the rider got off the bike and
removed the camouflaged helmet. I saw long black
hair fall out as Rosy's familiar stride came walking up
to us.
Her helmet hit the ground as the barrel of her scatter
blaster found my face. She looked pissed.
In a fit of jealousy, she shook the weapon at me
crying, “I thought you loved me, Duboc. I thought you
really, really loved me.” Then she pulled the lever,
charged the gun, and pointed at my face again.
I damn near peed my pants. I thought I was a goner,
for sure.
“Stop fucking around,” Melissa groaned, grabbing the
barrel and pointing it away.
When she let go, Rosy smirked and pulled the
blanket back with the barrel. Then she circled one of
Melissa's nipples with the tip of the weapon. They
were at full attention and Melissa smiled, staring into
her eyes as Melissa cupped her breasts and hid them

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behind her hands. “Rosy,” she blushingly
commented. Then she dipped her head around and
grabbed her clothes.
Rosy laughed and looked over at me, “Had ya going,
didn't I?”
I answered, “I know you love me,” and winked at her.
Then Rosy asked for some water. Melissa pitched her
a bottle and Rosy took a long slow drink, lowered the
bottle, and exclaimed, “I can't believe you two.”
Shaking her head,
Melissa looked at me and then Rosy and explained,
“Yeah, well, I got horny.”
Rosy spewed, “All the preparation and planning, and
you risk it all for what? To fuck this little Duboc?”
“Little?” Melissa replied, looking me up and down.
Then she looked over at Rosy and smirked. “Besides,
you’re just jealous. You want me all to yourself, don't
you?” She got up and gave Rosy a quick little scoop
Rosy rolled her eyes and explained, “I was out there
patrolling all night while you two were moaning and
groaning without a care in the world.” She sat down
on the ridge of the desert floor and took another large
gulp of water. She said, “There'll be plenty of time for
that. We need to eat a bite and get out of here. It
won’t take them long to find us.”
I was still laying there in the sand under the blanket.
I stood up, pulled my pants up, and asked, “Melissa,
can you unlock my leg from this contraption?”
“Nope,” was her reply.
“But I have to pee,” I explained.
“Pee where you stand. The last thing we need right
now is you trying to make a run for it.”
Rosy lowered her head and shook it back and forth in
disbelief that Melissa could be so cruel to me after a
night of passion.
I walked away from where they were talking as far as
I could, dragging the tail of the contraption with me.

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Then I wet the sand and dragged the tail back
around. I put my shirt on after trying to wipe some
sand off me. The top itself was nothing more than the
pajama top that I was wearing in the VTC lab. I don't
think this thin cotton is going to offer much
protection from the sun.
Melissa pulled out a can of beans and a can of corn
along with some bacon jerky and we all had a little
bite to eat. I heard Rosy say something like, “Never
eat corn before anal sex,” and laugh under her
Melissa rolled her eyes at Rosy. Then she bent down
and trenched a small trough in the sand to bury the
cans in, and then turned to me and asked, “Ready?”
“Yup,” was my reply, picking up the backpack and
putting it on my back. Then I looked at Rosy, then
back at Melissa pulling the contraption over by my
chained leg.
“Good,” she replied. Then she gave Rosy a peck on
the cheek and mounted the “T” sprinter.
I smiled and blew Rosy a kiss, then I climbed on, and
we took off once again. I held on tight and thought, I
think I'm in love, but I could never say so. We were
cruising straight across the desert floor, navigating
the low-lying hills. We were on a mission. There
wasn't a town or even a road in sight.
After pounding our way towards the middle of the
desert for several miles, we stopped for water. Melissa
said, “We’re almost there. Just a little bit further.”
“Almost where?” I asked, looking left and right, “The
exact center of the badlands?” Then I took a large
chug off the water bottle.
“The rendezvous point,” she exclaimed while
calculating our position after putting on her goggles.
Judging by the sun’s position, it was a couple of
hours past noon. We began to head east, and the
desert floor was flat as a pancake. My skin was
beginning to bake as we cruised across its terrain.

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This time Melissa kept the goggles on to help locate
our destination.
The fuel cells were getting low on power. I could hear
the engine waning. Yeah, it was waning right there, in
the very heart of nowhere. Freag'n great.
The thought of running out of power in the middle of
nowhere was pretty scary, but Melissa did stop before
the battery was completely drained, so I guess the
contraption did get to some particular spot. It really
didn't look like a particular spot, but I guess it was. I
got immediately off her as the sweat between us was
starting to feel like a rash developing. I hope I didn't
catch lupus. The thought haunted me, but deep
down I kinda knew it was hereditary.
She told her goggles, “Enhance shadows.” Then told
me keep an eye out for anything out of the ordinary,
especially a moving shadow.
I put my hand to my eyebrows as I examined the
barren wasteland. I didn't see anything out there at
all for a long time, but then I did notice one that
wasn't too far away. It was the shadow of a vulture
that had just started circling. I'm pretty sure he was
circling us, but Melissa was less than amused when I
pointed it out.
Curious, I questioned, “Are you and Rosy close?”
“You jealous?” she replied, goggle-eyed with a stone
face. Then she said, “You don't look anything like
your avatar on Mars, Declan.”
It was kind of weird being called that. It'd been a
while. I answered, “Well, I was younger then.”
She said, “It wasn't that long ago.” Then she focused
and pointing with a head nod, “There it is!” with a
spark of enthusiasm.
“What?” I replied, as I put my hand over eyebrows
again, looking hard to see the shadow.
“Our ride,” she reassured me.
I didn't see anything at all until it got really close. It
was only traveling about five or ten miles an hour

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and barely cast a shadow at all, just a light, thin gray
Melissa looked around and then gave a signal. A door
opened in the very landscape. The vehicle had perfect
camouflage and hovered like a flying saucer with a
dust collector for flying low over desert terrain. There
was even a light underneath that helped soften the
Melissa folded up the “T” sprinter as I climbed in and
I was pleasantly surprised to see Otis the walrus'
familiar face. My presence seemed to disturb him. He
had a small box in his lap that he was clutching
“Did everything go alright?” Melissa asked.
“Of course,” Otis gruffed, “I know area 51 like the
back of my hand. This baby was checked out this
morning to do tests on the sand and the soil where
they've been experimenting.”
I couldn't help but admire the events of my own life
as I sat there in the perfect escape vehicle. I turned
and looked at Otis. He'd added a strap around his
chin to hold the foil hat onto his head. That was good
idea, I thought to myself, wondering about the sand
and the soil that needed testing.
Otis demanded of Melissa, “What the hell is he doing
here?” He pointed his finger at me. Then he informed
me, “You’re supposed to be well on your way to the
death chamber by now.”
Melissa looked at him as if he was questioning her
authority and answered, “Insurance.”
Otis looked down and shook his head as Melissa
threw the gear on the seat and climbed in.
He looked at Melissa and explained excitedly, “This
guy knows things, and he's way too hot right now!”
He looked at me accusingly and asked, “Did you tell
anybody what I found in the desert? Hmm?”
“Not even the devil himself,” I replied.

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He smirked and said, “I was kinda glad when Big
Chief Michio found out that you'd shown up at the
dig site. Dead men tell no tales.”
The perfect guy for the job, I thought to myself at the
Then he added, “The big chief even gave me some
TOA coin to keep you down there for the duration of
the dig. Said that there were all kinds of government
officials from the United States at the prison
demanding that he turn you over to them.”
I shrugged my shoulders, “Thanks for hiding me out
for a while,” I told him, “You probably saved me from
a few weeks in the virtual torture chamber, not that
busting up rocks was much better, but we did find
something really cool, didn't we?”
Melissa looked at both of us and asked, “What did
you two find out there?” Then she turned, looked at
me, and asked, “What did you dig up out there?”
I just smiled and shook my head no.
After that her mood inched towards the pissy side
and she got all quiet. So, there we were, flying
lackadaisically across the desert floor. The vehicle
was creeping so slowly that it was making me
anxious, and I asked, “Couldn't you have stolen
something a little faster?”
Otis was gazing out over the landscape through the
virtual windshield. With a slow tongue, he replied,
“They're looking for somebody in a hurry, and they're
diligently looking everywhere, anywhere, and all over
the place, except way back here.”
I took a deep breath and let it out slowly, stretched,
and decided the best thing to do was try and relax.
I found some peace of mind and started thinking
about just how and why these three got together, and
what the hell is really going on here.
I asked Otis, “I thought you didn't work for area fifty-
one anymore?”

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He said, “I still subcontract for them once in a while.
They asked me to set up the dig with the prison. They
know I know people over there from hanging out in
holding cells to get away from it all, the things I
found trenching.”
Then he explained, “I used to go there to try and
escape the thoughts I'd trenched up on the mind-
meld network.”
“I remember,” I replied.
Melissa looked over at me, stone-faced and cold, and
I grabbed her and kissed her hard.
She pulled away surprised and unsure how to react.
I think she wanted to smack me.
Otis said, “Oh, fuck me, you two are in love.”
Her face scrunched up as she turned into the nasty
bitch that everyone knows and loves and shrieked,
“Fuck you!” She smacked him upside the head. Then
she looked at me and back at Otis, all hateful, and
explained, “I don't love anybody, not even myself!”
He cowered back away from her as she leaned into
him and yelled.
She's my hero, I chuckled inside. That bitch is tough
as nails.
Then she grabbed my throat and demanded, “What
do you know that I need to know? Huh?” Then she
threw my head back and commanded, “Well?”
I wanted to rip her clothes off right then and there. I
choked out, “I just wanna go home. That's all I know
right now.”
Then a moment filled with nothing more than the
look in eyes screaming, “If looks could kill!”
“Fine!” she proclaimed, after giving me several
moments of a dirty look.
Then we both looked down at the box in Otis' lap,
which he swiftly wrapped tightly under his other arm.
I reasoned that must have been the navigation
instrument from the alien time shifter.

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She said, “Rosy told me we were going to that dig site
to get the weapons that we were going to need to
escape. She didn't tell me you were digging up
anything special.”
“It's not that special,” Otis told her calmly. “Just the
fewer people that know the better. The mind-meld
network is pretty big right now, and they're going to
be none too happy over at area 51 when they find out
what I have in this box.”
I inquired of Otis, “Which one of us do you think is
the world’s most wanted?”
He replied, “Dude, you killed a presidential
candidate. Not only that, Susan Ruttenburge was the
alien cat-people’s special pet. She was poised to pave
the way for an easy, warless transition of world power
and domination.”
Then the walrus looked out and then back at me and
lifted his chubby palms skyward and asked, “What do
you think's going to happen if Big Chief Michio
doesn't find you before it's time to make the trade?
He's going to have to spill the beans, tell the Feds you
escaped. Good God, I'd hate to be you. Every camera
and person in the world is going to be looking for you
when they find out you escaped! It's a miracle already
that you're still alive. I can't believe you're not six foot
under the jail.”
“Thanks for reminding me.” I told him, “Thanks a
“You asked,” he smirked.
I was still trying to put everything together in my
mind. I asked Melissa, “How did the three of you get
together, and why is Rosy helping you escape?”
Otis answered. “I set up the prison dig with Rosy, and
then she set it all up.”
“So Rosy's on the run because she helped you set up
a dig with some prisoners?” I asked, doubting.
“Well, she set up that, too,” Otis replied.
What did he mean, 'that, too?'

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“What else did she help set up?” I demanded to know.
Melissa looked as if she just put something together
in her own mind as she asked, “Rosy helped set up
Susan Ruttenburge's demise, didn't she? She told me
she found the perfect bonehead to take the fall for
something big that she was involved in the last time
we w re on the train together. I didn't think it'd be
anything this big, though.
I remember her being scared half out of her mind
when we were talking about it.”
Otis said, “I really didn't know why Rosy wanted the
I could tell by the look on Melissa's face that she was
serious. Then she said, “I was worried about her, so I
told her I could get us skins, you know, fake IDs.”
Then she cut her eyes at me and said, “What am I
telling you for?” Paused then added, “Hostage.” Then
she kicked my leg hard. She's so cute. I could tell she
liked me.
Otis looked down at his box and whispered to me,
“I'm going to learn
quantum navigation from an alien time shifter.”
It was at that moment that I realized that Otis was a
mad scientist. I asked, “Don't you think that thing
would be safer at area 51?”
Melissa snugged her nose in the air like she didn't
care about what was found.
“Oh, no,” Otis said. “Most of those are low level. The
cats have built a hierarchy within the mind-meld
network. They want nothing more than to destroy
this thing.”
I commented, “I guess that makes you the galaxy’s
most wanted.”
He checked his strap.
I sat there quietly trying to put it all together for a few
miles. Then a fleeting thought hurt my feelings. I'm
the bonehead. The perfect fall guy for Suzy's demise.
The thought hurt, but I know deep down she loves me.

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I asked, “Where is Rosy? I hope she's alright.”
Melissa explained, “She'll be fine. We're all meeting in
Lovington. She's just making sure we're not being
followed and taking care of some business. I'm sure
somebody paid a lot of coin to have her set everything
She'd probably make more by turning us all in, I
thought to myself.
Melissa opened the backpack and took a quick
inventory of weapons and ammo. She'd used up most
of the bullets for the pistol shooting at the drones
that were following us, but there was still a couple of
shots in the revolver’s cylinder, I could see that.
There was the light saber, a small plasma laser pistol
that she plugged in to make sure it was fully charged.
It didn't look powerful enough to kill anybody, but we
also had and a couple of hand grenades and a very
sharp kitchen knife.
The walrus looked down at the arsenal with some
measure of disappointment in his eyes. He
murmured, “I sure hope we don't come under any
attack. A child with a slingshot would have a pretty
good chance at destroying us all right now.”
Melissa looked up and reminded him, “You were in
charge of the weapons.”
He said, “Think it was easy just getting what I got?
That canon about killed me. It wasn't easy to unearth
and put that thing in the back of the truck all by
I smiled and winked at Melissa. She rolled her eyes,
then we all just looked out across the barren desert.
The ride was exceptionally smooth. I wondered if
Karma was still out there as I laid back on the small,
round couch that wrapped all the way around the
inside of the vessel. I was still confused, but mostly
about the whole bonehead comment. I wonder why
everyone seems to think I'm such a bonehead. I must
come off as a gullible human being, dumb as a rock.

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A view port opened up in the Virtual windshield and
zoomed in a small town in the distance. We were
approaching Lovington.
I gestured the port to zoom in to take a closer look
and panned left and right.
Otis prompted the vehicle to map and display all
available cameras in town. Then they began opening,
zooming, and panning, then finding their place on an
expanding grid laid out in front of us. There were only
about twenty cameras in all, and most of them
around the synopsis building. The small town looked
even worse than the dilapidated ghost town that I’d
ran from screaming, Viva, viva viva! a few months
The portals showed tall weeds growing up between
the cracks in the sidewalks and scrub-brush growing
out of the sides of the buildings, and all of them with
faded peeling paint and broken, deserted windows.
The whole scene gave me an uneasy feeling deep
inside. I hope I don't go to jail for stealing that steak
and that beer when I was here earlier.
Otis questioned, “See anything suspicious?” Then he
asked Melissa, “This guy wouldn't double cross ya,
would he?”
Melissa shook her fist at him.
We circled the entire town and scanned the entire
area around the small town. There were only a couple
of main roads in and out that were in any usable
shape at all. Otis sent up some drones to do
“Can’t be too careful,” he exclaimed. He let me control
one of them. I was flying in and out of the windows
like the birds in hi def wrap around VeeM. It was fun,
but we didn't see anything suspicious. Other than the
fact that there was nobody anywhere to be found
anywhere at all, except in the VR condos laying there
in their own little worlds.

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Otis told the drones to take up position. We waited
and watched the VeeMs that all of the drones were
beaming. Otis was running an app that perched the
drones in random positions and flights to create a
sync world scenario. And then he immersed himself
in that world with a VeeM that wrapped around his
own head.
Melissa reached over and grabbed my penis. I pushed
her away. I was shocked. I looked over at her, and a
single corner of her mouth rose slightly.
She was trouble. Tee are Oh you, be Elley, trouble.
By the time it got dark, Otis had shown us the map of
where all the cameras were. I'm sure every camera in
the world would recognize my ugly mug by now.
We came to a slow stop near the edge of town.
Melissa put on her goggles and said, “Stay right here.
I'll go and find the burger-man.” Holding her hand
out, then gesturing the vehicle’s door open, she
continued, “The sooner we get out of this creepy
place, the better.”
As the door closed, I heard her tell the goggles to sync
up with the sync world on Otis' app. That's a pretty
cool app, I reasoned. There wasn't a soul in sight. Not
even a single hologram moving around town. Otis and
I accessed our sync world and immersed ourselves in
wraparound VeeMs set to augmented reality. Our
actual positions were set very faint, but it was there,
like a looming, ghostly presence in sync world.
Along with reality, there was a grid of the camera
layout in town in one corner of the view and another
one below it with our drone’s positions. One of the
camera icons turned red, and we saw Melissa walk by
in one of the windows. Otis looked at me through the
augmented reality and I asked, “Motion activated?”
He nodded, “Yeah, must be.”
The whole scene was horribly sad. The town was
dilapidated and falling apart everywhere except the
synopsis building. I recognized it immediately when I

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saw it, and it stuck out like a sore thumb. It was
shiny with pillars around it just like the one in New
York City, the one where I'd met Jizmo.
I szumped to Melissa's position. She was entering the
tiny diner where I'd seen the guy smoking skunk out
back. No surprise. Who else would she be meeting in
a town of one? I figured it was him the first time I
heard her say “The burger-man.”
He told Melissa to have us meet them at the hospital.
She panned the sync world maps and circled it to let
us know what he said.
Otis asked, “You don't have a catalog? Just give us
the new identities.” His words formed as text floating
in front of us in sync world.
Melissa relayed the question. The burger-man's
demeanor shifted, as he spouted, “Pick your own!”
It made me nervous. Angst filled the air as Otis
begrudgingly opened the door as he camouflaged his
box with a wraparound VeeM and placed it on the
seat next him. He was scared. Scared to leave it
behind and more scared to take it with, I guess.
No choice, so Otis and I stepped outside the vehicle.
Otis looked around and bookmarked the spot as the
door closed. We made our way through town, being
careful to avoid the cameras peppered around.
We met the burger-man by the emergency entrance to
the hospital. The burger-man accessed his com-band
and gestured something to happen, probably some
camera receptors to move into place, in and around
the building.
He smiled when he recognized me, but I just acted
like I didn't know him.
After all, I did owe him for a beer and big ole steak.
I put my hand out and whispered, “I'm Doobie, nice
to meet you.”
He looked at Melissa and said, “I thought you needed
two female and one male identity.”

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Melissa said, “That's right. My friend will be here
shortly. She's just hanging behind, watching our
He seemed a little anxious as we entered the hospital.
We walked directly over to the emergency room beds
that had been converted into Virtual reality
chambers. The people laying in them were shriveled
and pale, hair and fingernails grossly overgrown. I
covered my own soylent tubes with my hand,
checking that they were still bent and closed off, as I
looked down at theirs hooked up.
Burger-man stuttered, “D-DDo you think they're still
alive?” Then he swallowed hard. He looked torn and
emotionally broken.
“Who?” Melissa replied looking around.
Otis answered, “Of course, they are. They are all
having the times of their lives. There is no difference
between Virtual reality and reality. Not that your
mind can tell anyway.”
The burger-man seemed less than convinced. His
eyes revealed a psychotic and unstable human being.
He told us, “Ya'll are the first people I've seen in
months,” and then he looked at me and mumbled, “I
could swear the last person that come through here
looked exactly like you.”
“Never been to this town before,” I told him.
The burger-man motioned for us all to follow him and
said, “Come on, let's go see who you wanna be.
There's a lot of names to choose from. Try to pick one
that looks something like you.”
I and Melissa both looked out the window as if
she was looking for something. I think we were both
starting to worry about Rosy, but there was no sign of
her out there anywhere.
The burger-man told Melissa that he was making so
much money that he didn't know what to do with it
all, selling soylent to the government insurance

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company that was feeding everybody in town, but I
could tell he was disturbed.
We followed the burger-man up to an abandoned set
of stairs then down a dark corridor. He opened the
door to a small room and there were two bodies lying
together on a full-size bed. The room was unusually
well kept and nice, especially considering the rest of
the small town. The burger-man pointed at them and
said, “You can be anybody in town except for one of
these two people.” I wondered, but then he explained
while crying right out loud, “They're my mom and
dad.” Then he had to walk away. He stumbled right
out of the room with head down, eyes covered, and
trying to catch his breath between holding back his
He was emotionally distraught, and chills ran up and
down every fiber of my very being as I felt his pain.
He couldn't stop and so he walked across the hall
and we all just stood there listening to him blubber.
It was awkward.
The walrus' eyes grew big as he got scared. He said
softly, “I hope this guy doesn't snap before we get our
I put my arm around Melissa and said, “Come on, we
need to find someone that looks a little like you, hon.”
I looked at Otis and told him, “good luck finding
somebody as ugly as you are.”
He was less than amused, Melissa took my arm off
from around her, looking a little displeased that I'd
done such a thing, but we shuffled on down the hall
just the same.
I asked in a low serious tone, “The guy in the bed
back there, did you see his name glistening from his
shiny virtual reality helmet?”
“No, I didn't,” Melissa replied with some interest. “It
was Chill Lee Burgerman,” and then I chuckled softly
at my own joke.

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She gave me a look and turned her head away with
no expression at all. Yeah, she was less than amused.
“I'm serious,” I informed her. She just cut her eyes at
me and back in a nanosecond and kept walking.
We searched through several rooms. Most of them
were dimly lit at best with six or eight bunks in them.
The bodies were all piled up like loads of dirty
laundry. Most of them resembled an old World War
Two holocaust feature from history class, and on
them and in them were soylent tubes and wires
strewn all about chaotically. Every room had a cheap,
out of date, QN-tango, data receiver/transmitter in it,
but I don't think that they all worked. The only sound
was the sound of our own voices echoing up and
down the hall alongside soft breathing noises creating
an eerie white noise in the background.
We went through room after room and they were all
depressing and dark. We entered room eleven eleven,
Melissa stated in a gruff voice, “That one there, that's
Rosy.” She was focused on the task at hand I could
“Yeah,” I agreed, she does look a bit like her. I wiped
the dust off of her VR helmet and the name read,
“Linda Carter.”
The burger man just so happened to be creeping up
behind us at the same time. We didn't see him, so he
startled us when he spoke. “That was my junior high
gymnastics teacher. She caught me getting high in
the hall after school one day. I remember it because
something weird happened. I tried to lie to her as I
scattered the substance all over the hall with my
fingers, but I just couldn't. It was weird. I couldn't lie
to her.”
“We'll need her identity for our friend Rosy.” Melissa
informed him. He gave her a nod and we moved on.
The walrus was in and out of the rooms much faster
than Melissa and me. He'd already combed through

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our floor and was probably a couple of stories above
us by now.
We went through a few more rooms and I started to
walk into another, but the burger-man looking
startled, as if he had just remembered something. He
grabbed my collar and pulled me back out after
walking a few feet in. I was just past the bathroom to
the right of the door and looking around the corner. I
caught a quick glimpse of a young woman lying there
with her legs spread wide and no panties on.
I didn't say anything. I wanted to. I wanted to accuse
him of rape, but I held my tongue.
We moved up to the next level and we found a woman
that looked similar to Melissa, so I pointed her out
and said, “How about this one?”
Melissa cringed and then she smacked me. Then she
informed me, “I do not look like that woman.”
I looked back down, admiring her and said, “I don't
know, I'd say ya'll are about the same height and
body shape. Look at those hips.” I smiled and then I
looked Melissa up and down a couple of times.
She said, “She looks like she's ready to crawl out
from some biblical famine. You can see her bones. I'm
freak'n ripped, you've seen this.” She gestured up
and down her body with her hands.
“Yeah, but you have to imagine what she would look
like if she was up and about, and eating real food,
she could be you. I'm telling you.”
But Melissa had already walked out of the room and
on to the next. I heard the walrus yell down the hall,
“Hey, you guys in here?”
“I'm right here,” I yelled back. Then I heard his
footsteps coming down the hall. He came in saying,
“Man, don't go up to the next floor. One of the bodies
has been dead for a few days. The smell’s horrible.”
Then we all looked at the burger man accusingly.
The burger man shrugged his shoulders and
exclaimed, “It happens.”

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I thought this burger man needs a helper to take care
of these people in VR.
I was walking out of the room and into the hall. I
could see Melissa going from one room across the
hall to another just ahead of us, but I couldn't
stomach it anymore. It was bad enough he'd been
raping at least one of the girls in here, but now he's
letting people die and rot to stench?
I was pissed, so I reprimanded him right then and
there. My voice shook the walls as I shouted out,
“Dude, you let some poor guy die up there? And then
left him to rot for days?” My fists were balled up tight,
and I was ready punch him in the face.
He stood up straight, waived one of his arms around
wildly, and proclaimed, “They're all dead! Just look at
them! They're all dead!
They haven't even moved or felt anything in years!”
He marched up and down the halls, ranting, and he
told me, “Come here!” Before I could take a step, he
raved, “Rats are eating their feet!”
As he ripped a blanket off one of the older men, I
went up to peek and the guy looked a lot like me.
“Cockroaches crawl all over them and in and out of
their mouths and every hole their body.” Then he
looked me straight in the eyes, pointed his finger at
me, and proclaimed, “The entire upstairs of the
courthouse all died from brain rot in the last few
weeks, and nobody even cares!”
Melissa's eyes popped wide as she headed straight
towards the first exit. She was getting the hell out of
here, and I was right behind her.
She told me, “Get that girl’s name you were looking
at,” but then she stopped dead in her tracks and
tensed up all over. A lupus attack consumed her with
pain. Her hands and arms tightened up as pain
trembled through her entire body. I held her tight
and it was all I could do to keep from crying myself.

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The attack subsided slowly as I told them to keep
moving down the hall.
“We'll catch up, don't worry,” I assured them.
“You alright?” I asked as I felt the tremors subsiding
after several moments.
“Hell, no! I'm not alright.” she scoffed.
Then she yelled, pointing her finger, “Go get that
name. Let's get the hell out of here.”
I said, “I know her name is Bee otch, and it fits you
The phrase earned a halfcocked smirk as she forced
herself to keep moving forward. I made a quick
rendezvous, scooped up the name on the way out,
and wrote it down so I wouldn't forget it. And we
jogged round and round the stairs going down. I bet
the elevators haven't worked in years.
We walked out of the building and the sunlight hit
me in the face. It felt so good. God, it's great to be
alive, I thought. I brought my eyes down from the
morning's blue sky. She grabbed my hand and we
ran and crouched down in one of the abandoned
buildings across the sidewalk where we hid in a dark
corner. She pulled out the small plasma laser pistol
that she'd charged earlier. She whispered, “I think I
saw a swarm cam flying by outside of one of the
We hunkered down in the corner and she set the
weapon to scan. I realized that it was designed
especially for detecting and eliminating swarm cams.
As we quietly waited for something to happen Melissa
sadly stated, “I like my name. I really don't want a
new one.” Then she paused a moment, looked at me
and explained, “You know, Melissa means honey bee
in Greek.”
“No, I did not know that,” I softly replied.
“That burger guy's losing it. We gotta get what we
came for and get out of here before he snaps.”

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Melissa looked at me, nodding her head, and said,
“Yeah, he's a snappa cracka.”
Then after several moments that seemed like hours,
we got up. Melissa said, “Maybe it was just a natural
wasp flying by.” She got up and moved over to a
broken window in the front of the room and poked
the gun out and waved it around.
I slowly got up, as the weapon didn't detect anything
outside. “Yeah, false alarm,” I whispered.
“Let's hope,” was her reply.
We made our way back to the diner. The burger-man
was unloading a truck full of soylent green. The
Walrus was sitting in one of the back booths across
from the table where I sat the first time I had been
There was no round-eyed waitress this time, though.
Just another deserted building. The burger-man told
us that he'd be with us shortly after loading the
soylent cylinders.
I'd started to sit down across from Otis, and Melissa
was pulling up a chair, but I thought, Loading? How
peculiar, surely, he was unloading them, but that's
what he’d said. I walked over and peered through the
round window on the swinging doors that led to the
kitchen to see, because I was sure I'd misunderstood
him. But no, he was loading soylent into an
unmarked auto-truck in the back.
I inquired, “Do you make soylent?”
The burger-man laughed out loud and said, “No, silly,
I simply sell the excess that the government
insurance company ships in. It fetches a decent buck
on the black market. They ship way more than the
zombies in this town need to survive.”
I was enraged, burning inside. Those poor people in
VR were nearly starved to death from what I saw, and
this fucker is stealing their food and selling it on the
black market? I wanted to choke the living shit of the

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guy. It was all I could do to keep my cool, but I
I went back to the booth and sat down across from
Otis. Melissa had pulled up a chair and was sitting
on the end of the booth next to me. I was boiling
“What's my name?” Melissa yearned.
I sarcastically replied “I don't know, Honey bee?
She punched me and said, “No, what's my new
Then I realized what she was talking about. I replied,
“I'm telling you.”
She got angry tried to bury her heel into my foot, but
I was quick to draw back, and she missed.
“I'm not playing. What is it?” she demanded.
I told her, “What's mine? I need one, too. You're not
feeding me to the wolves just like that.”
A little surprised, she leaned back and said, “Alright,
alright I'll pay for yours, too. Now what's mine?”
About that time the burger-man man burst through
the doors and said, “Come on, let's go up to my
office.” He walked over and locked the front door and
turned the open sign to closed. As if someone might
actually try and come in.
“Well?” Melissa nudged me as I got up.
“Mine first,” I replied.
We went out the back door and up a staircase on the
side of the building that led to a covered doorway.
Burger-man opened the door and said, “Come on,”
waving his hand to usher us in. “The office is right
over there.” He pointed across what must've been his
living room. So, we all walked into the office together.
It was a rather large office. Across the room was a
large desk overlooking the small town. There was a
bank of quantum servers along the length of the wall
leading back to the desk.

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I knew they were quantum because they had the
liquid helium lines coming out of the wall and into
each individual machine and a return line.
Burger-man saw me admiring it and proudly stated,
“Impressive, right?”
Otis was also intrigued. “It's brilliant.”
Burger-man said, “The whole town passes through
this system before delivering the information to the
server inside the synopsis building. I call it the
scrambler. It's like the quantacom's brain on drugs.
Everybody in the VR matrix within a thousand miles
is actually existing right there, and the folks running
the synopsis project have no idea. It's what I use to
scramble identities.
It's delivering an illusion to the governments server at
the synopsis building, and they have no idea.”
That is what he uses to steal the soylent and rape
people, I thought to myself.
He sat down at his desk across the room, and we all
followed him and sat down across from it. Melissa
was lingering back. There was a bank of monitors
watching the synopsis building and its guards’
activities behind his desk and a banner that had a
picture of him on it. Apparently, he was the president
of a charity that gave exoskeletal suits to people who
no longer wanted to live in VR but couldn't really
afford a suit to rehab their muscles until they were
strong enough for real life again.
Melissa moseyed over to the desk, looking around the
room. She took her backpack off and laid it on
burger-man's desk and took out the bug zapper
pistol. Then she scanned the room with it. She gave it
to the walrus and strapped her plasma saber to her
side before sitting down. She told Otis to keep an eye
on the pistols scanner then she said, “I'd feel a lot
better if Rosy was here.”
Otis told the burger-man, “Let's get on with this.
Make my identity Albert E. Boseman.”

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“You got it,” the burger-man said. Then he started
gesturing around some floating icons. His eye glanced
up towards one of the monitors displaying the lobby
of the synopsis building. There were two unusual
looking machines in the lobby and one of them lit up
brightly. I watched as it went from bright to a black
so dark that it seemed to be burning a hole in the
monitor, then bright once more, and then light
returned to normal, revealing a man standing on a
pad at the center of the machine. Then he simply
walked off and walked over to the security desk with
an android sitting at it.
I asked, “Did I just see what I think I just saw?”
“Yeah,” The burger-man's reply. “There's a couple of
teleporters in the lobby. They send a guard over to
download the security information and check on
things in person once a week.”
“Teleporters are real?” I asked.
He looked at me and asked, “You've been in prison a
while, haven't you?”
Otis informed me, “Only the elite of the elite can
actually afford to use them.” Then burger-man added,
“Yes, them and the synopsis agency. They already
had the computing power, so it wasn't much extra for
the add on.” Then he told Otis, “Okay, you’re Albert
E. Boseman. All set. Who's next?”
Then he looked over at Melissa. She said, “I'll need an
identity for my friend Rosy.” She reached into her
back pack and pulled out Rosy's information and
said, “She'll be Linda Carter from now on.”
The burger-man said, “It'll be extra if she's not here.
It's very risky.”
“Do it,” Melissa demanded. Then she looked over at
me and said, “Give this Duboc a new identity as well.”
“What do you want his name to be?” Burger-man
I asked, “Do have anyone in there named Declan?”

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He asked, “Did you see anyone in there named
I looked down and replied, “No, I just like the name.”
Annoyed he gestured up a VeeM and said, “Search for
The machine answered, “Found, Declan Robert
Zombie.” Then he gestured the VeeMed Icons around
like before and asked Melissa, “And yours?”
She slapped my arm hard and asked, “Well?”
I answered, “Smiley Cyrus.” The burger-man grinned
and said, “I used to have such a crush on Smiley
Ray's twin sister, Hanna.” Then he started shaking as
he gestured the icons around.
I could see Hanna's memory was deeply disturbing
him. His eyes and facial expressions grew
increasingly disturbed as he finished the action.
Some deep-seated tear was slowly ripping him apart
emotionally from the inside out. Hanna's memory
must've fractured his already fragile mind.
He grumbled, “That fucking bitch.” Then he looked at
Melissa. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the
teleporter light up. He said, “That bitch broke up with
me in Malibu. I bought her a ring and everything, but
before I could ask her, she broke up with me and
look at her now, she's fucking dead, dead like
everybody else.”
Out of the corner of my eye I saw the teleporter light
up. Me and Otis looked at each other, eyes filled with
concern as Melissa told him kindly, “She's not dead.
She's simply living as a princess in some beautiful
kingdom far away from our harsh reality.”
He screeched, “She's dead, they're all fucking dead,
and nobody even wants out anymore!”
I saw QD of all people teleporting to the synopsis
building. He was wearing a L.L cool Jay's Cryo-
repairman's uniform. Nobody else noticed as I quickly
looked down and then around at everybody.

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The Burger-man stated, “There's at least a hundred
thousand people in there, all living the same reality!
They're not even individuals anymore. Subliminal
messages in the once diverse alternate realities have
narrowed down everybody's desires and fantasies into
a place where they do nothing but sleep and watch
mind-numbing, politically correct memes all day.
Almost every one of them has been reduced to a
single six-year-old child named Lilith!”
His eyes filled with rage as he slammed his fists down
on the desk and stood up proclaiming, “They're
gearing up for larger cities of human beings to be
placed in what could only be hell!” His face morphed
as he mocked the original salesman that said,
“Nothing bad ever happens to you in VR!”
I was shocked. His words left me speechless.
Then the Burger-man looked up at QD on the
monitor and asked, “Who the hell is that guy?!” And
his mind must've completely snapped.
We all looked up at the monitor to see what he saw,
and Burger-man took the opportunity to reach into
Melissa's back pack and grab one of the grenades.
Melissa screamed out, “No!” as he pulled the pin and
threw it at the server rack across the room hard. It
stuck in an elongated vent hole as the burger-man
went insane. He was ranting and raving that they
were all dead.
Melissa was out of her chair and running across the
office towards the grenade yelling, “That poor child!” I
jumped up at the same time as Otis.
Wicked laughter filled the room as we bumped into
each other.
The burger-man had completely lost it, as he cackled
and kept shrieking, “They're all dead, they're all dead!
Let the dead die, we have to let 'em die!”
I pushed Otis out of the way as he started to climb
over Burger-man's desk behind me. I was moving
towards Melissa as she was pulling the grenade out

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of the vent. I watched her fall to the ground holding it
tightly within her bosom as I panicked out “No!” I
tripped to the ground. I covered my head and closed
my eyes, instinctively knowing that time was out.
The insides of my eyelids flashed pink as the grenade
went off! The explosion left my ears ringing and then,
as if everything was moving in slow motion, I stood
back up, turning away from the carnage. Crying out,
I grabbed the bug zapper pistol that Otis had dropped
on the floor in his flight, and I started shooting the
burger-man over and over, but there wasn't even
enough power to faze him as the short little blasts hit
his body all bloodied from shrapnel striking him in
his face and upper body. I looked down and Otis' leg
was badly bleeding, then I saw burger-man's hand
reaching back into the bag, so I grabbed his arm.
Rosy burst through the door, glanced around the
room, shouldered her master blaster, and began
dismembering the burger-man as I was jumping out
of the way. After several shots, she looked at me and
said, “We gotta get out of here. They're on their way!”
I took off my hospital gown and began swirling it
around and around to make a tourniquet and
wrapped it around Otis' leg. I looked over at Rosy.
The adrenaline had turned her into a hot mess of
emotional turmoil. The pain in her eyes ripped
through my very soul as I manned up and put my
arms around her. I tried being strong for her sake.
Still, a single teardrop formed and slowly rolled down
my face as Otis moaned in pain behind me. I looked
over to the scene that Rosy had stumbled across. The
ringing in my ears began to subside as the peaceful
sound of the server’s humming became the only
sound. There was hole in the floor the size of a
wrecking ball, and it was a gory mess.
Rosy grabbed my chest and asked what she already
knew. “Is that Melissa?
Is that Melissa?”

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I couldn't answer. I just looked away because I really
just could not answer her.
“We have to get out of here,” I stammered. I turned to
Otis. He wasn't going anywhere fast. He said, “Here,”
as he pulled out the remote for the sand and soil
testing mobile.
“Get the black box from the time shifter.” Then he
reached back into his pocket and handed me some
notes. He pointed his finger a commanded, “Run!
Run like the devil’s chasing you. There's not much
time. You gotta get this to Colonel Bradshaw of the
U.S. Navy stationed in Atlantis. Tell him it's from Me,
Otis Kalmar. Make sure it's him.”
“No, I'm not doing it,” I told him. “I have my own
But he insisted. “Declan, the fate of the human race
is your hands now.”

The Fading