Wayward Son – An excerpt from the novella, MODOC
“This way, heretic.” A burly guard pushed Thomas Pennyworth down a dark corridor that smelled of urine and fear. The rooms were poorly lit, and that was just as well, because their inhabitants would have only frightened Thomas more. Most were dirty, unbathed and infested with a multitude of vermin. The floor was slick and wet and smelled slightly of sea water. Likely the hosing system used to wash inmates while behind bars. Without shoes, the floor was slippery with whatever detritus was washed out of the cells during the hosing.
The guard wasn’t too fresh himself and Thomas wondered what he did to have to work and live anywhere near this hole. Likely a misanthrope assigned here because brutality against heretics was just another form of acceptable behavior. Thomas shivered involuntarily. The threadbare uniform they had given him did not give him any protection against the elements and his skin crawled with gooseflesh, some from the cold, some from the smell, but mostly from the fear of never leaving here again. Hopelessness hung in the air like an elderly perfume, overpowering and noxious. His eye was still swollen shut, and his right arm was in a cast and brace. What was the point of giving me medical care if they planned on executing me anyway?
The cell was only slightly wider than Thomas was tall and smelled as if it was recently occupied. The stale scent of its last occupant hung over the cell like a redolent cloud. Its smell permeated his head, and took up residence; he could almost taste it. Strangely, he felt numb emotionally. After the initial shock and the beating in his office, he wept from the pain but it almost felt right, like he deserved to be taken away. After all, he was thinking heretical thoughts. He did not believe in the Theocracy or its mission.
The guard shoved him into the cell and waved for the door to be closed. The electronic lock activated and the door slid shut with an ominous and final clang. There was a thin mattress on the concrete slab that jutted from the wall. It had bodily fluid stains all over it and a single sheet as thin as the uniform he was wearing was folded at the foot of the bed.
“Chow is in an hour, heretic. There will be an orderly around delivering food. Get used to your cell. It is your new home. The next time you leave it, they will be taking you for excommunication and then execution. Make your peace with the Maker, ’cause you will be seeing him soon enough, heh.” The guard towered over Thomas and relayed this information and then he released the leg cuffs through the bars of the cell. He waved his hand and activated the magnetic grappler in his armor and the cuffs shot through the bars to his hand. He turned and walked away, shaking his head.
Thomas did not speak. He didn’t see the point. He sat down, looked around his cell and noticed the scratchings on the wall. “Abandon hope all ye who enter here,” was scratched on the wall opposite the bed along with an image that resembled the Eiffel Tower. They were done by two different artists and it meant that the last two people who had this cell were learned and likely well traveled.
Thomas wondered what would happen to Max when they read the transcripts of their conversations. He hoped Max could find a way to get out of the house before they came for him. Thomas was at least comforted that Justin was getting medical care and would be in the loving hands of his mother once he was executed. This gave him a just a moment of peace before the horror of his situation overwhelmed him and the explosion of emotion took him and rode him hard and the sobs racked his chest and his screams echoed down the long hallway fading into the distance.
* * *
The Proctor paced up and down his lavish office while his transport was being prepared. His normal composure was broken, his calm demeanor, uncommonly ruffled. His view from the aqua-city off the coast of the UNAA bobbed gently in the storm which reflected the Proctor’s internal tempest. He was wearing his the livery of Theos, the unified religion of Humanity of which he was a Proctor of the Seventh Host. His walls were covered with scrolls and banners from his religious campaigns in the Last World War and the minor skirmishes since then.
“What do you mean the boy is missing?” The Proctor stared at the holo-image floating in the air in front of him. In the image was a security team member covered in black armor and speaking in a carefully modulated tone of voice.
“Your Grace, the household computer system indicated the boy went to his appointment as normal, accompanied by the health maintenance bot. While they were there, they were served by their normal doctor and were reported leaving the building.”
“That is where the report gets less clear, your Grace. It would seem there was a flash riot occurring about the same time the boy was supposed to be leaving the building.”
“And?” the Proctor’s voice lowered and took on a more ominous tone.
“We have footage of the event from the two dozen spy-eyes released when the riot began. We pieced the video together this afternoon and after forensic analysis we…”
“GET TO THE POINT!”
“The boy was seen pinned down during the riot by an aerial assault droid’s sonic cannon and the maintenance bot was seen trying to protect the boy. The bot was presumably destroyed and the boy was injured. He was seen being treated by two medical team members and loaded on to an insurgency vehicle.”
“Do I have to really ask? Where was the vehicle going?”
The security team member hesitated before answering. “It was on its way to a processing facility in New Jersey, your Grace.”
“Send me all of the information, digital feeds, compiled data and analysis and any other workups you have completed. Were there any other operatives compiling this data?”
“No, your Grace. There were two AIs involved. KPT 45901 and an older lesser intelligence engine for processing. I am transferring the information to your virtual arrays at the Sanctuary, where they will await your access. They have been configured for your access only.”
“Soldier, what is your name. I want to inform your commander of your service.”
The soldier did not seem pleased with the complement. Instead, his voice quavered with fear. “My name is Rama, sir. Sergent Laurencio Rama. Second Division, Lead by Lt. Commander Panama.” He amended his statement quickly. “Your Grace.”
“In this day, we are beset with trials and tribulations, our struggles to see our way clear to the light is always a challenge to our spirits. We beseech the spirit of the Universe, Theos, to guide us and to help us know better how to serve our fellow man in this our darkest hour of need. See to our humble servant, Sergeant Laurencio Rama and speed him on his way to his reward for his dutiful service. In the name of Theos, we are grateful, humbled and as always appreciative for our chance to serve The Greater Good. Amen.”
Laurencio Rama, Sergeant, Second Division, takes off his helmet, bows his head, makes the sign of the benediction and places the tips of his fingers upon his forehead, palms together. “Amen.” Looking up from the benediction, he stares at the Proctor, his eyes filled with tears, and whispers, “Please, your Grace. I won’t tell anyone.”
The Sergent slumped over the terminal, his heart seizing up in his chest. He moaned and spittle fell from his open mouth. He tightened up and then reared back with his face contorted, his powerful neck muscles flexing against his armor neckplate, he died, coughing and choking, until he fell forward on to the console, barely twitching and after a few seconds, he stopped moving, blood oozing from his mouth onto the terminal.
The Proctor stood excited, breathing heavy, tiny beads of sweat forming on his forehead. His moment of near-orgasm puts out of his mind, the reasons for his current need. “Annju, come to my study.”
He turned back to the terminal, “KPT 45901, activate.”
“Online, your Grace,” a cool, androgynous voice responds.
“Send a cleanup detail to take care of Sergent Rama and to make my condolences to Lt. Commander Panama. All records regarding Justin Pennyworth are to be secured and to be unable to be accessed by anyone without my authorization. Any attempts to access these records, is to be traced and a sanction team is to be detached immediately.”
“Understood, your Grace. Your will be done.”
Annju Melik, strides into the room, a veritable giant, bronze with dark hair and even darker eyes, filled with menace and adoration. Wearing flowing silks from Madagascar, his muscular body was barely covered and the Proctor was overcome with lust.
“I am here to serve, your Grace.”
“Yes, you will. Now.”
Annju closed the door behind him.
First Appearance: The Proctor, bless his evil soul, first appears as the main protagonist in my dystopian future novella, MODOC – Metal Organism Design only for Cuddling, where an android nursemaid in the form of a feline, secretly plots world domination when a religious order deems most of the remnants of the human race inferior and unworthy to travel to other worlds. With the world on the brink of war and starvation, time is an element in short supply as MODOC, his charge Justin and their house AI, Max attempt to escape the Proctor and rally the starving masses of Earth against their oppressors before the ability to leave the Earth is lost forever.
About the Artist: Known only to the deviantART community as CelticBolt, this digital artist of superheroes is a craftsman. From the UK, he is commissioned to create art sometimes created from City of Heroes templates, other times from his imagination, but his work is impeccable. He creates supers who could have easily spring from the pages of a comic, with vivid colors, excellent shadow and powerful themes. If you are looking for a portrait of a superhero, (which I am) you can stop right here and enjoy. His catalog is quite extensive, so I am certain there is something there for everyone. The piece I am partaking of is called Pagan Priest and he was evocative of the creepy feeling I wanted the Proctor to have.