Gladys, Gus and Maude stand at the woods' edge.
Before them is open field. The savaged ruins of a large psychiatric hospital
lay out beyond the field. The kids scrutinize the much-overgrown and
shadowy complex as best they can, up and down the rows of mostly wrecked
and burnt buildings. No overt signs of current human occupation. Birds
and small animals in residence.
Following the wall of one of the buildings the kids pick their
way through underbrush and brambles. Remnants of sidewalks, now tossed and heaved,
an impediment to their transit. They arrive at a more open area, what had been
the main entrance to this facility. Gaping holes in the structure indicating
fiery explosions. Gus points his small flashlight in through a couple of the
gaps and scrutinizes the dark smelly interior.
Along an exterior wall is a large burnished steel sign. Nearly
broken from all its mountings, the lower right corner of the sign leans on the
ground. Scars and dings from heavy-caliber machinegun fire. Graffito's, slogans
and tags messed across its surface. The biggest and clearest graffito is 666King,
way up the wall where the sign is still sort of attached.
If you stand back a short distance, sort of where the kids are, there beneath
all the scarrage and defacing, the big black enameled lettering engraved deep
into the sheet of steel is still very clear. Gus holds his flashlight beam on
the big familiar psychiatric symbol overlaid on a crucifix, next to words he
The big block lettering: COLORADO SURGICAL JESUS MIND CENTER,
NO. 14. BY THE AUTHORITY OF THE NAME OF JESUS, OVER ALL THE WORKS OF SATAN. GRANTED
ON THIS DAY, TO THE CITIZEN BELIEVERS OF CHRISTIAN COLORADO. PASTOR GOVERNOR
The economically desperate, but Biblically deranged citizen's
of Colorado elected Pastor Bill Kingson Governor by a landslide. Immiediately
following Kingson's electoral landslide Team Jesus began setting up and administering
the facilities necessary for the Colorado Surgical Jesus Mind Project. Kingson
spent his nearly-four years as Pastor Governor mounting an extensive and exhaustive
program to surgically alter the human brain toward a more complete Jesus-centeredness.
Structural Holiness was to be accomplished by cutting out the evil-inducing parts
of the brain and replacing them with Biblically diagrammed bioplastic Jesus-loving
To start, 115,000 sinners were decapitated and their brains
carefully scrutinized by the collegium of pataphysicians, mail-order surgeons,
debunked and disbarred psychiatric sadists and cranks that headed up the Colorado
Surgical Jesus Mind Project for Kingson. The Project protocol targeted 250,000
sinners for various surgical procedures. 178,000 were operated and experimented
on, all of whom, eventually, died.
How long would this kind of thing be allowed to go on? Oh,
you'd be surprised! The Euros, the Japanese, the PRC and the Soviets did eventually
come to a loose agreement on a post-United States world, and finally dispatched
retired South African President Mandela to negotiate an end to the Surgical Jesus
Mind Project and the departure (loot inhand) of theocratic tyrant Pastor Governor
Kingson. Then the United Nations, almost reluctantly, came into Colorado with
their half-hearted efforts to try and make it all better. But no one but the
starving and displaced were interested in better.
Gladys picks up her satchel and stands closer to Gus.
"Did, they like, have the Devil in here?"
"You're the rocket scientist, Gladys. Right? You don't
believe in supernatural stuff. Right?"
Gladys presses her lips together and keeps silent.
Gus unbuttons his parka enough to get at his dagger if needed.
His small flashlight in hand, he heads inward.
"Let's go in."
"Oh, shit, Gus. It's, like...really...gross, in there...."
Maude shoves Gladys and says:
"Ha-ha. Satan's gonna get your ass bitch. Chop, chop,
chop you up for dog food."
Gladys steps away from Maude.
Gus gives Maude a look. Maude laughs, grabs Gladys and holds
her close as the three of them pick their way through the dark entry hall. Gus'
narrow flashlight beam just barely reveals a safe path forward.
Most of the building that they explore is dark and stinks.
In one side wing there is a short row of small confinement cells still in fair
shape. One cell has its small window, way up high, broken out. It's cold, but
the fresh air helps cut the lurking stink. The cell is dry and feels private.
Gus clears the cell of the rubbish and then he drags in a couple
narrow nearly undamaged mattresses from a nearby hall. They are the foundations
for this night's nest.
Maude drops her satchel and gets out some candles. Gladys shrugs
"Can I...eat some of the bread?"
Maude shrugs, but Gus says:
"No, save it for morning. Have the fruit cocktail stuff
UNICEF gave out today."
"It's not enough. I'm, like, really hungry...still."
Gus and Maude are getting their bedding out and set up. Gus
gestures toward his satchel where the canned fruit is and he says:
"You can have Maude's too."
Maude nods and adds:
"And you still got yours, Gladys. Right?"
"See. You'll be full, and ready to sleep."
Gladys sits on her haunches and eats small blue containers
of sweetened fruit.
"Where's yours Maude?"
"Just a second."
"Gus? Gus, when you go pee, you gotta take me with you."
"I can piss without your help."
"Gus.... It's, like, too dark...out there...for me...."
Maude laughs at Gladys.
"You're fucking afraid of Satan. Ain't you?"
Gladys glares. Maude pokes Gus.
"Give me a cig."
Gus fishes for a cigarette part.
"Me too, Gus."
"I don't have that many."
Gus hands Maude a half cigarette.
"Hurry up, Glad. I'm only doin' bathroom escort once."
"We can't, like, leave the stuff alone."
"There's no one gonna come through that little window.
We're just gonna be right in the hall."
Maude shakes her head.
"Huh-uh. Far enough down the hall that I won't smell it
"That is so bogus, Gus. Asanowaka could never bring Terao
down with some sort of leg or thigh gripping throw.... Terao's legs are just
too fat to grip. And anyway, Asanowaka is so tall, a move like that would put
him at the disadvantage...."
"What the fuck do you know about sumo throws?"
"As much as you do!"
"I had two chances to get into one of the big Los
"Oh shit. In your dreams, o-sumosan."
Gus stands up, takes his zip-up sweatshirt, puts it to his
waist, ties the two sleeves behind his back so the sweatshirt hangs in front
of him as his maawashi. First Gus stamps each foot as hard as he can. Left, right,
left, right. Then he swings both arms out and up so the hands clap together above
his head. And he follows through by swinging his right arm back down and curling
it so his elbow is extended and his right hand touches his waist. His left arm
swings out so that hand points straight out.
"You're the little teapot...short and stout."
"Fuck you. That was dohyo-iri."
"Very nice ring-entering ritual, o-sumo-san."
"Yeah, that was cool, Gus. But, you're not big enough
Gus pokes what is now more sagging skin than bulk.
"My stomach is all fucked up."
"Come on, Gus. Get back in the bed. I'm cold."
In the morning the inquisitorial hospital is dripping damp
cold rain and the kids make a little fire and boil some coffee grounds. They
add a couple amphetamine tablets. The brew has the right perkiness effect, but
doesn't taste much like coffee. They eat the remaining bread so that the sort-of-coffee
doesn't give them indigestion.
Gladys, Gus and Maude pack up and explore a couple sections
of this former Surgical Jesus Mind Center. Gus and Maude stop and start making
out, Gladys smirks at hre older friends and forges on alone.
Gladys heads down a corridor dodging wreckage and stinky smells.
At the next intersection, to her left and right the intersecting hall has collapsed.
Gladys scrutinizes up ahead to see if it's worth going further.
The corridor looks mostly in tact for a long way. Some gaps
in the ceiling where the drizzle is coming in. Such as the one coming up. Gladys
watches the light rain fall through the gaping hole and splash into a very large
Then, suddenly, the very next moment, way way on down the long
corridor, Gladys sees lights come on. She quickly crouches down against a wall.
Rows of fluorescent tubes along the ceiling. Way way on down there.
Gladys can make out people coming and going in the lit area.
After a minute or so the people disappear and the lights go out. Gladys hears
distant sounds of a heavy door being shut. A big heavy metal door.
Gladys wonders if there are still brain experiments going on
down there. But she is more intrigued than scared. The young girl slowly heads
down the hall, staying near the wall, trying to keep her boots out of the deeper
With some effort and three sections of the lightweight polycarbon
wall paneling Gladys bridges the bigger puddles. She comes to the intersecting
hallway she'd seen the fluorescent lights on in. The corridor is now lit only
by cloudy sunlight through the holes in a nearby wall.
Trying to avoid the naturally higher adult-sized line of sight
Gladys crouches and looks around the corner at floor level. Gladys sees a big
heavy security door. She looks for cameras but sees nothing obvious. Gladys looks
up at the rows of fluorescent fixtures on the ceiling. All in perfect condition.
Gladys gets out her little spy-glass thing that Maude found
in the purse of a woman they robbed on a train. Gladys studies the security door's
small recessed control panel, it's alphanumeric pad and various keycard slots.
Looks fully functional. Gladys has got a couple cracker inserts for standard
stuff like telecoms and ATMs. But nothing that could touch the door's set up.
Back behind her Gladys hears distant human voices calling out.
Gus and Maude.
Gladys backtracks dragging the plastic puddle-crossing panels.
Gladys is almost too excited to tell them what she found. She
keeps shifting from a whisper to a loud staccato.
Maude grabs the younger girl and says:
"Are you sayin'..."
Maude points down the hall.
Excited rapid nodding.
"I saw them. Like I said. There's a door...."
"You open it?"
Gladys shakes her head no and answers:
"It's a big security door."
She points at the nearby battered metal frame and twisted metal
hinges of what had been a security door.
"Except, like, the one back there works...."
Gus looks ahead in the corridor. Maude walks to one of the
broken-out window frames and sticks her head outside and scans the structures
far across the way.
"It's one of those...over there...."
"No doubt some horrible mind-fuck shit. And I do not want to get anywhere
near them. Right?"
Cold wet rainy day. Gus' breath coming out of his mouth and
nostrils in gushes of condensed moisture. He scans the near horizon at treetop
level. After a minute Gus points to the far side of one wing and up at wisps
of steam generated by hot air vented out a camouflaged plastic chimney. All three
stare at the quickly disappearing drifts of steam.
This excerpt is a preview of the novel No Aloha published as part of the Native
Agent series, due for release in July 1999. For copies write to: PO Box 50514,
York Station, Los Angeles CA 90050