By Joe Hinostro
Rites of Bravery NYC Midnight
By Joe Hinostro
Impassion fills the air. Man, woman, and child alike rally where cries for equality resonate from the hearts of the forgotten, “DOWN WITH MACHINE-HEAVEN—DOWN WITH MACHINE-HEAVEN.” These fists anger through the air, pumping at each word, to the harmony of their rapture; their vehement sprays toward their resentment, but useless spew can’t touch the high and mighty. A colossus soars before the slight of this earth.
The in-affectual speaks to the minds of the protestors: Remove yourself from the perimeter of the escain rig. Escain is used to fuel Heaven.
Aloof and untouched by anything unimportant: he, or whatever it is, will never understand; why when one of the disgruntled becomes irate, frantic, the man in the mob lashes out--swinging wildly, when he hears the infliction in his head.
Before the man’s fist can touch the celestial being, the man is left frozen inches away from his target. The sight grips the crowd with fear. Some cower, others retaliate. Those that lunged at the abomination are fossilized, and those that cringed are left petrified; they cry in horror, but one among the charge—a boy is unaffected by the absolute’s will.
Continuing what his comrades started, he jumps and throws a rock at the behemoth’s foot.
The eyes of the grandeur fiend peer into the adolescence’s eyes; and for the first time, the boy is immobilized.
The voice of an elderly man urges out, “Run boy!”
The call breaks the youth from the trance, and the young buck runs. The fear fuels his sprint; he doesn’t slow down because he knows what those things can do. Suddenly, armored men drop from the sky; they quickly converge on the boy.
In an act of survival, his innate instincts kick in, to all of them: No, don’t hurt me!
“He’s in my head,” one of the soldiers hollers; his heartbeat elevates as his eyes widen with dread, and his trigger finger squeezes in a panic, “he’s like them!”
Rounds of rapid bursts let loose; and as the bullets near their victim, an unlikely savior shows up. Time stops; impervious to the effect, the boy looks up--it’s the grandeur fiend, the one he hit.
I’m not a monster as your people may think: The giant shares his thoughts telepathically.
The inexperienced soul replies in the same fashion: We just want to be treated like everyone else. He points upward: Why can’t we make the same amount of money as them?! Why can’t we live up there?!
Taken back by the boy’s abilities, the larger than life humanoid shows the boy generosity: I will let you visit one place before these men have to take you in to custody. The overseer offers his hand: Think of a place. The grade-schooler takes the grandeur’s hand, and instantly, they are teleported into the boy’s best friend’s room.
He looks up at the being: Can you unfreeze Poppy?
The boy’s childhood friend is suddenly startled, “AHHH, what the—how did you . . .”
“I was part of the protest for equal rights. They’re going to lock me up. I don’t know how, but one day I’ll be back. I just want to say bye.”
The two best friends hug; and as they are saying their good-byes, a demiurge contemplates to himself: He would have made a good god—if he wasn’t a slight.
Then the boy is flashed back to where military men began to descend upon him. Time resumes, and the men apprehend the child. They put a bag over his head and sedate him. There won’t be any trial, fair hearing. This isn’t a free country—not for the slight.
The youngster wakes up to the noise of conversation, remaining still.
“Do you really think what they say is true?” The guard looks at the boy, “That this runt of a slight went up against a grandeur?”
The boy takes resentment: Fuck you! I’ll show you who’s a runt of a slight.
A man sitting at the other end shrugs, thinking to himself: Don’t know, don’t care. “We just got to do our mission and get paid.”
The men nod to that sentiment.
The environment shakes to the docking of the ship. The men stand up.
Sharp pain enters the criminal’s hip as he feels an attack; and then, hears an order, “Get up!”
The incarcerated squirms to his feet. The bag is pulled off his head. The shackles around his wrists and ankles remain.
He feels a push from behind; and the same antagonizing voice, bosses him, “Move--slight.”
He hobbles as the company escorts him out of the ship. The mercenaries tighten formation around the felon as escain-planet Ugtuth greets them. Escain-planets are manmade.
Turmoil convulses all around them, guns on a swivel as the cavalry rolls on. Through the gaps of his man-made cage a jailbird steals a keek.
Melee all around them—screams and havoc. Then the world shakes; the convoy falters to its knees; descry the mighty, a green and white flame flairs through the crust and past the atmosphere.
The servicemen and their package are forced to remain bowed as the air succumbs to the splendor. The howling like the horns of the king to come; as if to say, behold me, the reason why . . . “Fall back!” The commander orders. They might die as they dodge the reign of the majestic.
Globes of plasma hurl into the soil. The chaos has left the veterans scattered. An opportunist takes advantage of the situation. From the sky the boy witnesses an enormous rabbit-like creature descending upon him. Instinctually, his eyes close; and he shields himself. Then the sensation of him being pulled through the air makes curiosity open his eyes. He sees himself ascending through the air in the clutches of a gigantic jack-o-lope.
The fauna of Grisha, planet Cribus, talks to the inmate, “Hey sport, nice to meet you. I’m Surge. This is no place for a youngster.”
Before the patriot can answer, the major imposes, “Hey, the prisoner is our responsibility.” Raising his gun; his men follow his lead, all eyes on the crosshairs.
The hare takes a slight position in front of the delinquent, “He’s not a prisoner—he’s a union member of A.L.S.U.” He looks back at the undeveloped human male, “Isn’t that right?”
“Step aside jack,” the jarhead warns, “it’s not worth the trouble.”
Not talking to anyone specific, Surge speaks underneath his breath, “Time to grow up kid,” he pulls a contract from within his fur, “Sign this.” He hands the convicted a writing utensil.
The lad signs the paper.
The cottontail snatches up the paper. He pushes it in the air like a shield, “See, you can’t touch him under space code nine-hundred thirty-two section two-A dash three point five. It states—”
The commanding officer’s weapon drops while his other hand pats the air, obstructing the rhetoric, “Yeah—yeah, we know the law.” The guns lower, and militia turns around.
As the footfall of the elite becomes faint, Surge speaks to the newest A.L.S.U. member, “Welcome to the union, kid.”
“I’m not a kid. I’m ten.”
The bunny smiles. “Sure. You’re lucky I got to you. This place devours people—I see it all the time.” He’s starts hopping along, and his understudy follows. “You’re now my apprentice. You’ll be making more money than you’ll know what to do with,” turns around to looks at the novice, while still moving, “So why did they bring someone like you to a death trap like this?”
Slightly embarrassed, “I was--” A line of various life forms marching along breaks his thought.
Surge notices the kid staring at the people with collars linking them. The mentor explains while he turns back around, “Prisoner labor.”
The boy resumes what he was saying, “I was protesting against machine-heaven.”
Surge stops in his tracks and looks at the juvenile. “You’re from Earth?!”
“Yeah—but how did you know?”
“No one besides you Earthlings calls Heaven, machine-heaven.” Surge starts hopping along again, “I mean I knew you were human or at least half human.”
The boy sets him straight, “I’m full human!”
“Damn, it’s an honor! I never thought I’d live to see the day,” whistling, “A full-blooded human! Wait until I write home about this. They won’t believe it.”
Surge gives a glance back, and that’s when he notices his student is stopped some ways back. The boy is stunned, as he internalizes, he has never had anyone feel honored to meet him--quite the opposite.
Surge insists, “Hurry up.”
The little one catches back up.
Surge speaks upon something, “You don’t look like the textbooks.”
“I was born without any modifications, the old-fashioned way.”
“Humans don’t make creation like that anymore. They stopped doing that in thirty-ten.”
He rolls his eyes, “I know what the textbooks says. But I’m a slight, and that’s the only way we can afford to birth children.”
Surge reaffirms, “You’re as human as they come buddy.”
His mentor’s remark fills his chest with pride. He never felt like he was human--until today. He has always seen himself as just a slight.
As they make strides, the greenhorn points to the decaying bodies of life-forms strung up.
“Awww,” Surge explains, “Scabs, trying to undercut us union workers.”
“I thought this was against the law?”
“Come on kid,” his tone takes on a more solemn note, “let’s move on.”
Things get quiet and remain so; until, they get to the foundry. Surge shouts out, “I got a new apprentice!”
They are greeted by the others. One of Surges contemporaries disparages, jokingly, “Aww man kid. You have rotten luck.”
The others laugh.
Surge explains, “This one is going to live. He’s a human, full blood.” Thus far none of Surge’s previous apprentices have made it.
They shoot the breeze; and shortly after, his training begins. And from then on, the earth-boy’s trajectory is forever changed. Surge is hard on him but for good reason. Sure, he almost dies more than a few times--but it was worth it. The lessons learned and earned will become the cornerstone of how he lives his life; and those chips in that stone, have cemented the man he has become and will become . . .
Living the life of a galactic bachelor; and the bunny wasn’t wrong, the money flows plentiful.
Laying in a trove, he writhes from a throng of naked bodies. His feet slide against the money littered floor. He puts some clothes on and heads out.
Out on the street, on his way to get some food, he hears his favorite voice, Xihia—his main chick, “You leaving without me?”
He smiles as she comes rushing up next to him; and he discloses, “Never,” putting his arm around her arm, “How about we get some food?”
“Why do you always walk everywhere? When you could take your phantom?”
He smiles at her as he admires her beauty and plays it close to the vest: It’s a slight thing—you wouldn’t understand. “I don’t know. Weird, huh?”
“Yeah.” She affectionately squeezes on his arm.
They walk like young and in-love should. They get to the restaurant to only to be confronted by a blockade of the downtrodden.
Irritation festers inside him, “God, these people need to get a job.”
The two lovebirds try to walk through the leering and shouting, but they are postponed by aggression. Hand-like extremities try to detain the once feeble boy.
Contempt in his voice, “Don’t put your hands on me!”
At his command, his attackers are forced in to a bowing state. The mob won’t stand for this, they swarm. But before anyone gets hurt, with a mere gesture of his hand, the horde is parted.
He motions with a sweep of his arm, “After you my lady.”
“Thank you. I didn’t know you had abilities.” She walks along the path while the angry pound on the invisible barrier.
He says nothing to her statement.
While they continue on their merry way, a sudden knock at his leg halts him. He turns around. He sees a young human boy. Something about the boy captures the attention of the former Earthling.
“Come on,” She pulls him away, “let’s go enjoy ourselves.”
He pulls his arm from her pull and remains fixed on the boy. There is something about the boy--trembling with terror, and yet, he stands against the conceited maniac; and then, suddenly it hits the former Earthling. Without looking, he releases the ones who attacked from their near suffocated state.
He squats down next to the boy, his voice showing a forgotten side, “I’m human too.”
The boy backs up in uncertainty, commenting on how different they look from each other, “You live in Heaven?”
He smiles. “You’re not from Earth, are you?”
The boy shakes his head. “I’m from Gologus.”
“That’s a nice planet.” He reaches into his pocket and pulls out all the money he has. He gifts the money to the boy. The deed may be just pocket change to him, but that will keep a family of four going for years. He stands up and heads back to his place.
She follows him, “We’re leaving because of some beggars looking for a hand out?”
“They’re just hungry and upset with the situation.” He breaks up with her, “You’re not what I’m about, and I’m not what you’re about. Don’t follow me.”
His mind is made up. He will go back and help his people like he always wanted to. He lives like a prince, but this plan calls for a king’s ransom. He kicks everyone out, and then, makes a long overdue call.
“Hello,” a women’s voice, “who is this?”
After a long pause, “You said you’d come back.”
He smiles because she remembered. “It’s just taking a little longer to get home. I got lost on the way.”
“A grandeur coming to my house with an incoming inner-planetary call. None of us knew what to think. Dad thought it was here to take me away.”
The two talk, and a friendship rekindles. The next few years, he calls Poppy every night; all the while, biding his money and time, until, he can start a union for his people.