The Influencer

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Chapter 10

Carl felt himself God-blessed and grateful every time he drove into the violet-electricity-lined opening portal that sucked the limo into the unknowable, indefinable highway of extra-dimensional space. Karjiel’s ability to manipulate these rips in time and space were useful for traversing Earth-places quickly.

Since human beings’ perceptual limitations keep them bound to a three-dimensional view of things, Carl (and his two gas-masked, buxom accompaniers) didn’t see the wormhole as Karjiel did. Where Karjiel saw hyper-dimensional strands of light, data... Carl saw colors and lights. And these colors and lights were unlike anything else. They weren’t like other colors; they weren’t like other lights. It was, Carl imagined, like a blind man seeing for the first time.

But, that didn’t keep Carl from doing his job. As the two gas-mask gals sat together in the front passenger seat, asleep and in a bunched bundle, Carl looked through the rearview.

“Mr. D, you doin’ okay?”

“I am vexed, Carl. I am truly... vexed. You know, this—this mission that I am on, it is very special. Many others were passed over. Qualified... eh... people. But I was chosen. And now troubles have arisen. Troubles, Carl. Troubles. There are always troubles.”

“Ain’t that the fuckin’ truth. Well, you wanna unload?”

“No, thank you. I am anatomically incapable, but I’m glad that you’ve had the opportunity to.”

“Oh... no, no, Mr. D, I meant... nothing... nothing sexual. Do you want to—uh, how to say it? Do you want to talk about your troubles? What’s on your mind?”

Karjiel poured himself another glass of vodka into a very tall Back to the Future collectible cup and began guzzling. “Well, Carl... it’s the Owl.”

“The Owl? Whatchu’ mean?”

Karjiel laughed to himself. “I see him. Through the others. He wants to stop us.”

Us, Carl thought to himself and smiled.

Karjiel gazed out of his window at the light show. “I am watching him now. He is a cunning one. I... I must draw him out.”

“Watching him? What do you mean?”

“Through the drones. The mindless ones, the ones I have taken in exchange for hearts, for souls. A price so willingly paid…” Karjiel trailed off. He sipped the collectible cup, leaving his lips to trace the rim of the glass in an unsettling manner. “I see him. He is plotting. A prodigious—truly prodigious—memory he must have. A paranoiac, he must be. I see him sitting in his vast stores, under the silt and foundations that obscure the light. I know where he is, but I cannot know what he has planned. We must attempt to draw him out.”

“Well, what did you have in mind?”

Karjiel smiled and tapped the side of his head with his index finger, as if indicating a precious store of information was locked away inside. “Wake up Santa’s little helpers. Doc Brown is brewing a little plan, Marty.”

* * *

Sunset Park—Later that Evening

Yoma was shocked to see Hezzy waiting outside of the VFW when she showed up on her Triumph. She kicked down the stand and took her helmet off. Smitty wasn’t there, either.

“Somethin’ happen?” she asked.

“No,” Hezekiah answered. “Here, follow me.”

They walked briskly. Hezekiah’s eyes were shifting back and forth.

“Hezzy. What’s goin’ on?”

Shh. Listen, just act normal. Make a face like I said something funny.”

“Well, if I pretend you say something funny, then I ain’t actin’ normal.”

Hezekiah gave her a look that was half reproof and half good humor. “When I say ‘go,’ we run up around the corner, past it, and wait. You know the bodega with the yellow flags and the big neon Newports sign?”

“Yup. And that’s some false advertising. Them fucks haven’t sold loosies, or even cartons for—”

“NOW!”

They ran as fast they could; Yoma was surprised that Hezekiah could keep pace. They rounded the corner then stopped right at the bodega. Once they were there, Hez spun around, quickly pulling a .22 pistol from his hip.

“Hezzy! What the hell are y—”

Shh. Shut up.”

After a few seconds, Yoma saw a sewer rat with a tiny cellphone surgically attached to its back skittering after them. Hezekiah popped it. The little sucker fell dead, the bullet pushing through the phone and splattering out its underside. The owner of the bodega, Paabohn, popped his head out, but Hez flashed a fake badge and waved him back inside.

“Come here,” Hezekiah said as he walked up to the rodent carcass.

“Hezzy, what in the sam hell is goin’ on?”

He holstered the gun in his back waistband. “I’ll tell you in a minute.” He took out something that looked like a taser and depressed a blue switch. The cellphone on the rat’s corpse shot out sparks; the lights instantaneously disappeared from the surrounding buildings, traffic signals and streetlights.

“Shit, Hez. Was that an EMP?”

They were standing over the fuzzy little cyborg. Hez put on rubber gloves he’d had tucked into his back pocket, along with a translucent blue trash bag for recycling. He threw the rat in the bag, then pulled out another one to double-bag it.

“Meet me in Breezy Point in three hours. After that, we go dark.”

“For real? But I thought–”

“Yes. Yes, Yoyo. It’s that bad. You know the big thing we didn’t know we were getting ready for? It’s here.”

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