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Lee Pletzers

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Johnny Dee
By Lee Pletzers
Friday, August 01, 2008

Rated "R" by the Author.

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In the near future, the military has a new weapon. And it's just gone rouge

 Tom Gene shook his head.  The guy slouching up to the taxi looked totally wasted.  His hair was uncombed and wild in growth.  A three-day beard tattooed his chin and cheeks, his eyes were half open and from the dim streetlights, they looked blood shot.  His clothes were dirty.  He wore an unbuttoned coat that was newer looking than the rest of his clothes viewable.  The torn, filthy jeans led down to unlaced heavy work boots.

The guy moved slowly along the street, past the gas station, video store and 24 hour supermarket.  A police cruiser slowed as it passed the man but didn't stop.  It turned into the gas station, out of view.  The guy stopped, looked at the entrance leading to a bar, shook his head and continued.

Please don't be looking for a taxi, Tom thought and cursed under his breath as the guy knocked on the passenger window.  At first, he didn't react until the guy knocked a second time, louder.  Reluctantly he opened the back door via leaver.  A fare was a fare when all was said and done.

The guy clambered into the back seat.  A sharp rancid smell followed him.

"Where we going buddy?" Tom asked thankful for the bulletproof plexi-glass separating them.

The guy didn't answer.  He stared straight ahead.  

"Hey." Tom banged on the plexi-glass.  "Mate, where we going?"

A thunderous roar filled the night, drowning all other sounds.  An unmarked Helislider swooped over the taxi racing through the night sky.  Its high-powered light swept along the streets, washed the glass of nearby shops and turned and penetrated the taxi. 

In the back seat, the guy screamed.

Reflected in the rear view mirror, Tom saw the guy claw at his face, blackened fingernails ripped skin.

The Helislider dipped toward them. 

The light grew brighter, affecting the man in the back seat.  He started thrashing around.  Fists pounded the plexi-glass.  Suddenly he stopped.  In the mirror, Tom saw him drop to the floor.

He turned in his seat.  The guy was lying in a tightly rolled fetal position, his hands covered his ears and he mumbled something that Tom couldn't hear above the done of the Helislider engine above.

A chance had shown itself.  He opened the door and clambered out as quickly as possible.  At full speed Tom ran for the gas station. 

 

#

 

Johnny.  Johnny.  Johnny.  Johnny.  Johnny.  Johnny.  Johnny.  Johnny.  Johnny.

Johnny who?

Who am I?

I'm Johnny...Johnny...

A, b, c, d.  Yes D.  It starts with a D.

Johnny D.  No, Johnny Dee.

"The lights, they hurt."

"Meant to hurt, Johnny.  You like pain, don't you?" Dr. Nakamura said.

"No, I don't."

Dr. Nakamura moved the light to the side.  "Relax Johnny," he said as he rolled up the man's sleeve. “Soon, you won't feel a thing.  I'm going to make you better.”

"Am I sick?"

"Kind of, Johnny." The doctor attached a blood pressure sleeve to his upper arm and started pumping air into it.

"Johnny Dee is sick."

"Not for long," Dr. Nakamura said with confidence.

 

#

 

Tom reached the gas station.  He was breathing hard.  The police climbed out of their cruiser as he approached.  They held their hands out in a stop signal.

He stopped several feet from them.

"Whoa, slow down buddy," the cop with gray hair said.  "What's seems to be the trouble?" He looked over at his partner who was staring into the night sky at the rectangle black Stealth style Helislider. 

Tom's eyes went there also.  The logo he could not see before was now fully in sight.  It looked familiar but he couldn't place it.  "My Taxi," Tom muttered.  "Crazy guy got in."

He watched the Helislider land.  Three metal legs extracted from the base of the craft.  It landed softly.  The engine above roared, hot air streamed out slicing a path through the air.  Two doors opened, sliding sideways on invisible rails.

At the opening, two men wearing dark suits and black sunglasses jumped to the ground and walked calmly toward him and the policemen. A man wearing a white coat followed, in his hand a large syringe filled with yellow liquid twinkled under the streetlights.

Tom watched the white-coated doctor-looking guy with his weathered, wrinkled skin and oriental eyes.  He walked with confidence and purpose to the taxi.

So, they were here for Mr. Crazy, Tom thought.

"What's going on?" the gray hair cop asked.  He stepped past Tom to intersect the two approaching suited men.  "A bit dark for sunglasses, isn't it?"

They didn't reply and stopped a few feet short of the cop.  In unison, they turned toward Tom's taxi, where another dark suited man had a hand on the shoulder of the white-coated man.  They exchanged a few words. White Coat nodded and took a few steps back.

The other man approached the taxi with careful steps; his hand disappeared under the back of his suit and remained there.  He stopped at the bumper and on tiptoe, assessed the situation.  Giving a slight nod, he removed his hand from under the suit jacket and in it was a gun, the likes of which Tom had never seen before.

"Whoa," the gray hair cop said.  He took a step forward and the man on his left blocked the advance.  "What's going on here?"

"Private business, sir.  I suggest you step back.  Now." There was no hiding the authority in his voice and the coldness of his words proved he would make the policeman step back or wish he had.

Tom looked back at his taxi when he noticed the sudden absence of people.  No one walked the streets, no gang boys stood on the corner and all the shops looked closed yet all lights burned the night.

And apart from the Helislider, the silence was heavy.

The suit moved to the passenger door of the taxi; the gun was leveled at the window.

"Johnny," he said.  "Johnny, come on out now.  You're safe with us." He stepped closer to the door.  "Dr. Nakamura is with me."

There didn't seem to be any kind of response.

"Johnny, get off the floor and out of the taxi." He watched the inside.  "Don't make me come in and get you." He waited a few moments, and then opened the door.

Johnny's screams rode the air along the empty streets, over powering the sound of the Helislider.

The suit leaned forward and the top half of his torso was suddenly pulled in.  The struggle rocked the taxi.  His legs kicked, searching for a hold, an advantage point.

"Johnny, no!" the man screamed.

Two flashes of orange ripped into the night sky.  And the man's feet stopped kicking, stopped the hopeless search.  With strength, Tom had only seen in movies, the man was flung out of the taxi. Two black, burnt and smoking holes scarred his forehead.

Johnny climbed out of the taxi holding the dead man's gun.  He stared at White-Coat and raised his weapon; his face lacked all emotion.

"You're still sick, Johnny."

"Not sick," he replied. 

"I can fix you.  It doesn't have to be this way." White Coat guy motioned to the surrounding buildings. "They want to take you out of commission."

Johnny replied but it was too faint to hear.  White Coat held the syringe in open view and moved behind Johnny.  From Tom's position, it seemed the needle was inserted where head joined neck.

Johnny dropped his gun and his clothes started changing.  They went from a rugged state to a hospital gown.  The stubble and straggly hair morphed into clean-shaven skin and recent fashion hairstyle.

"What the hell?" the cop said.

"You saw nothing," the suit on the left said.  The suit on the right turned to face Tom.

"And you saw nothing as well.  Understood?"

Tom heard himself repeat the command.

"Saw nothing?" the gray hair cop said.  "Who are you?  What's going on here?" The cop tried to push past.  His hand groped for his service revolver but he was too slow.  The man blocking his path, placed his own gun against gray hair cop and squeezed the trigger.  A hole, the size of a quarter burned through the cop's forehead, right between the eyes.  He turned the weapon to the other cop.  A green bolt of pure energy lifted him into the air and slammed him hard on the bonnet of the cruiser.  

"You saw nothing.  You heard nothing."

Tom repeated the words as a haze wrapped around his brain.  He was ready and eager to get back to work.  "Can I go to my cab now?"

Right hand suit turned and checked.  "Your cab is damaged.  We will repair it and deliver it in the morning.  Catch a tram and go home."

"But--"

Right hand suit removed his glasses. White metallic eyes stared at him.

"I'll catch a tram and go home," Tom said.  He took one last look at his taxi and walked away in the opposite direction.

 

#

 

On the Helislider, Dr. Nakamura stared at the unconscious Johnny Dee.  What had gone wrong?  The test mission was a simple one.  All he had to do was enter the house of Dr. Rhine and take the photograph of his family from the living room shelf.  A simple task.  Dr. Rhine had agreed to the test.  He made sure his family was out at the time.

Johnny had entered after hacking the security lock and twenty minutes later, they realized he was gone.  And no one had seen him leave.  That was a good point.  Undetected exit.  He was trained for that. But what had he seen inside the house that caused the state he was discovered in?

Spotting him on the street had been pure luck.

So, what the hell went wrong?

He breathed slowly turning over in his mind a hundred possibilities as to Johnny's malfunction.

The overhead speaker hissed.  "Sir, we're about to land," the pilot said.

The answer came in a flash of perfection.  All he had to do was blind Johnny to one task only.  He wouldn't see, or hear anyone or anything else.  The only thought in his mind would be the project at hand.  Nothing else would register unless his existence was threatened. He would need to mess with Johnny's brain a bit, and insert an isolation chip. It wouldn't be hard, just time consuming.

The Helislider landed.  The doors opened to two white-coated technicians.

"Take Johnny to the lab.  I'll be there in a minute."

The technicians climbed aboard and maneuvered Johnny to a waiting stretcher.  Dr. Nakamura stood inside the Helislider and watched them enter the building.

He noticed Commander Drake’s transporter parked in the handicapped zone. He was still fuming from this morning’s meeting: "The project is a failure, Dr. Nakamura." Commander Drake pointed to the screen that showed a live feed from a Big Brother security camera.  A young man dressed in dirty clothes and filthy with dirt, grime and dust, walked along Van Bourn East Street.  His steps were short and pace slow.  He stared at his feet as he walked. 

"Do you call that a failure?"

"Yes, I do."

The Commander had no brains, Dr. Nakamura realized. He couldn’t see the power of Johnny Dee. He would just have to show him.  

 

#

 

The room was completely white.  Not a speck of dust rested on any surface.  Johnny sat on a white table; he stared straight ahead at the facing wall, unblinking.

Dr. Nakamura entered the room with a smile.

"Johnny," he said.  "Glad you're back with us."

Johnny turned to face the doctor.  "Back with us," he said copying the doctor's voice perfectly.

"Very good," Dr. Nakamura said, still impressed after the last few years at the boy's amazing abilities.  Most were not programmed; they seemed natural, if that were possible.  He reached forward and brushed a few strands of hair back into place.  After a brief pause, he said, "What happened?"

"When?"

"At Dr. Rhine's house.  You disappeared from us."

Johnny looked at the floor.  "Don't know," he mumbled.

Dr. Nakamura placed his hand gently under his chin and raised the boy's face until their eyes met.  In a soft encouraging voice, he said, "Yes, Johnny.  You do." The boy did not reply.  "Do you want the wire?"

Johnny's eyes widened in fear.  "No wire, please."

"Then tell me."

"But I don't know," he pleaded.

Dr. Nakamura tapped the phone on the lapel of his coat five times.  In his ear, he heard the ring tone.  It was answered.  "Dr. Jones, please bring in the wire." He tapped the connection closed.

"Not the wire," Johnny begged.  "Please doctor, not the wire.  Anything but not that."

"I'm sorry Johnny.  It's the only way to learn what happened.  All you had to do was pick up a picture.  A family photo.  An easy request."

The boy's face went hard.  The hospital gown flickered and morphed into an army uniform.  His hairstyle vanished, replaced with a crew cut.  In his hand a laser blaster appeared.  Boots covered his feet.

His eyes locked with the doctor as he raised the blaster and gently pressed the barrel against Dr. Nakamura's forehead.

The doctor smiled.  "Well done, Johnny." He tapped the phone again, waited and said, "Forget the wire."

Johnny lowered the blaster.  His army uniform started to morph back into the hospital gown.  Dr. Nakamura noticed and slapped his face.

"This is you," he screamed.  "You are a soldier.  Nothing more."

The army uniform returned, but the blaster was gone.

"Good Johnny.  Good."

Johnny smiled.

Dr. Nakamura walked to the wall and pressed a panel.  A drawer slid out.  From inside he pulled out a pair of slim silver goggles.  He carried them to Johnny.

"Put these on, and relax," he said. "It's sleep time."

Johnny nodded and did as commanded.

Dr. Nakamura activated a holographic screen.  Before him, a square appeared with a series of options.  He pressed 'training'.  Another list showed and he pressed 'light' and hit the install button.  The screen showed a series of images, the sound was on but it never played on preview.  He knew what was being said, though.  He created the training program.

Johnny crossed his arms as the program ran and he drifted into sleep.

Dr. Nakamura returned to the drawer and removed a laser scalpel.  He returned to Johnny and straightened the right arm.  He made a cut along the forearm from the elbow to the wrist.  Blood poured over the table and splattered on the white floor.

There was a knock at the door.

"A failure," he muttered, with a shake of his head.  "I don't know what went down earlier Johnny, but you are a success."

The door opened and Dr. Jones entered pushing a cart loaded with wires and a thin metallic tube.

After he finished the arm, Dr. Nakamura planned on installing a camera in the right eye, so as not to lose Johnny again if he blacked out.  Pity he couldn't access memory files.  He'd love to know what happened during the lost time earlier today. 

An idea hit him; he could install an isolation chip with a recorder.

"I will need you to assist me," Dr. Nakamura said as he clamped off the veins, halting the blood flow.

"Yes, doctor."

#

 

The screen stilled showed the street from Big Brother, but it was light out.  The street was busy, shops were opening and people headed to work, and unaware they were about to lose their country.

Commander Drake stared at the screen. Where the hell was Nakamura?

He strode to the door and pressed his hand against the plate. 'Access denied' flashed in bright red letters against the door. "What the hell?" He tried a second time, producing the same results.  "Son of a--"

"Good morning, Commander Drake."

He spun around and faced a holographic screen, filled with the image of Dr. Nakamura.

"The door's locked," he said.

Dr. Nakamura smiled.  "Yes," he said.

"Why?"

"For this," he said, and the screen split into several squares, each filled with the image of world leaders.  He recognized them all: China, Iraq, Japan, the United Korea, France, Germany, Russia, and United States.

Automatically Drake saluted the president.  "My Lady," he said.

She acknowledged him with a slight nod of her head.

"Johnny Dee is defective. The project should be canceled," he warned, taking a step toward the screen.

"Canceled," she said.  "After all the money spent on development?  That is not an appropriate course of action, Commander."

"Yes Ma'am." His eyes lowered to the floor.

"May we proceed?" Dr. Nakamura asked.

"Proceed?" Commander Drake asked.

"This footage was taken one hour ago." The screen blacked for a second, then a new image showed Johnny Dee, walk into Harvard, a full security prison for hackers, terrorists and mass murders.  The guards ignored him, like a ghost.  The camera stayed outside the prison as Johnny vanished behind the brick and steel walls.

"What's this?" Commander Drake asked.

"Watch," Dr. Nakamura's voice whispered through hidden speakers.

A moment later, blue light filled the prison, and the sky above it.  A single jagged bolt of lightening slashed the day sky striking somewhere in the prison grounds.

Several minutes later, Johnny walked out wearing a guard's uniform.  He morphed into a child wearing a school uniform and strolled along the footpath.  Two police cruisers speed by and pulled into the prison as the child walked out of camera view.

"We called the police as soon as Johnny entered the prison. Their response time was very fast. But Johnny deflected any suspicion. Children are always considered innocent," Dr. Nakamura said, a hint of pride coated his words.

The screen changed to the News Station.  A camera showed the devastation of the prison.  Charred bodies filled every cell.

"A hundred percent death rate, Ladies and Gentlemen--"

The President broke in, "Ladies and Gentlemen?"

"Yes.  We have borrowed heavily from several institutions to complete our funding.  We are in the business of profit."

"This is outrageous," the president declared.

"This is business," Dr. Nakamura countered. 

The door behind Commander Drake opened.  He spun to face it but no one was there.  He walked to the doorway expecting trouble but none came.  The corridor beyond was empty.

"Oh, one more thing Ladies and Gentlemen, as a final demonstration."

A fist struck the commander’s face.

Commander Drake staggered backward.  A second strike sent him backward through the holo-screen causing the image to scatter and reform.  He lost his footing and hit the floor. 

Struggling into a sitting position, he saw the holo-screen scatter, but a second before the pieces reformed, a face impressed itself on the pixels.

A heartbeat later, he was pulled up the wall and pinned off his feet.

"Unmask," Dr. Nakamura said.

The invisible image reformed into Johnny Dee in full army uniform.  He held the large commander with one hand.  His right hand, held up to his face.  Between the fingers, blue electricity jumped, circling each finger until a large white ball filled his palm.

"This is what happened in the prison," Dr. Nakamura said. "Only on a much smaller scale."

Commander Drake's face was a deep red.  "Please Johnny," he managed to say, his voice strained with each word.  "I have a family."

"And I have a mission to complete," Johnny replied.  "Surely you of all people should understand that."

Commander Drake closed his eyes. He understood fully.

Blue lightening ripped from the ceiling, struck Johnny's palm and the white light exploded.  Commander Drake's body turned to ash.  The desk in the room ignited into flame.  Paper's caught fire and smoke filled the room.

No alarm went off.

The whirl of vents filled the room, sucking up all the smoke and replaced it with clean air.

Dr. Nakamura's face filled the holo-screen as sprinklers showered water on the flaming desk.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to introduce you to Johnny D.E.E 5 point 2." He smiled.  "So," he said at length.  "Shall we start the bidding at two million?"

 

 

END

 

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