Flatbone

They call me Flatbone and I'm a psycho see. I don't look like much but you better watch out, I'm real fucking danger.

So here I am all dressed up, sitting in a restaurant like some beta cuck. I'm waiting for my date. My hair is all slicked back, got on a shirt and tie. I drum my fingers on the table, looking around at all the normies and the thots and all of them fucking idiots. They think it's just another night out but this time will be different. My legs press against the bag on the floor, not too tight though, just enough to know it's there. All around I hear the low hum of the voices and I grind my teeth. All the people around me all lost in their own little worlds. I smile to myself cos I know for most of these pathetic fools this night will ruin their lives.

#

The boys back at the warehouse briefed me and set this whole thing up. This is where I get my stripes. Chief, he's the boss, he's ex Spec Ops he took me aside a few weeks ago and we started training for tonight's operation. I was a screwed up kid in a man's body when they found me. Like Chief said, the world's masters want screwed up sheep they can control. People like us don't fit in with the crowd, the herd. He looked me over that first day we met and he called it.

"You're a psycho Flatbone." I thought he was the psycho, calling me out like that but there was something about the way he said it, the way he just seemed to look right through me. Later when he introduced me to the rest of the squad and we got talking did I find out why.

"He's a killer Flatbone, you can't imagine the shit that guy has seen." I hung around with those guys for weeks. At first they were cagey. They kept to themselves and sized me up like. To get in I had to earn my stripes. They got me doing all kinds of crazy shit, stuff simps like you ain't got the nerve for. Like shouting at lonely old people living on stamps. Fucking with the parasites that ain't got the nerve to take the suicide pills. My favourite time, the chief got me to spike some meds. He tolds me they were supposed to be for schizos and the mental cases but we swapped them for laxatives, man we laughed when we saw those crazy fools shitting themselves and running up and down the streets. See, this is how it is, the world is fucked but we are gonna stand strong and remake the world. We ain't got time for the weak and the helpless. See we are doing you all a favour; culling the herds so what's left over are strong enough to fight the savages.

But you see there's the problem, you all think people got to be saved but that's not how it is. If you think that then you're weak and you're just another target for the Rude Boys.

#

"I need to know I can trust you Flatbone," he said a few days ago. We were in the warehouse where The Rude Boys trained and planned their operations. See its like this; I was fucked, my brain was full of shit. Then the Chief found me, he knew what was up. He took me aside and told me how the world really is, he saw it in me see. He saw I was special, something the world needed; a true warrior. So he took me in and made me one of The Rude Boys. Yeah I took some lumps but I stayed the course and kept fighting.

Then he took me aside cos he had a special plan for me. We were going to make a statement like. Show the world full of losers that we weren't going to take their shit anymore. So you probably guessed what's in the bag. Yeah, that's right a bomb. Not just hi ex though, that would be too clean. Its some kind of protein solvent. I saw it eat the flesh of a dead dog in a few seconds, when this balloon pops these pretty people are going to get a whole lot of ugly.

#

I look up just as she walks in. She has big doe like eyes and she waddles in, wrapped in an overcoat three sizes too big. Its some kind of fashion thing I guess, like I give a fuck. I smile when I see her, like I'm glad she's here. She ain't the worst looking, could stand to lose a few pounds but she got a twinkle in her eyes, I'll give her that.

I act all chivalrous and pull out her chair and take her coat. She says,

"Thanks, Flatbone. It's nice to meet you at last."

"Nice to see you too" I say with big fucking smile on my face. I keep smiling and act all nervous. I slick my hair back and wait for her to sit.

"So," I says all laid back like, "Do I call you MysteriousMissy29?" She smiles looking at me over the top of her spectacles.

"You can call me Cassandra..."

"Oh," I says, "thats a nice name...What does it mean?" Hah! Like I give a shit.

"Oh," She makes a face like I 'm supposed to know.

"It's from an ancient myth about a woman who gifted with the power of prophecy by the god Apollo but when she refused his lecherous advances he cursed her. After that no-one would ever believe a word she said." Sheesh, I'm thinking whatta know-it-all! I don't need to be hearing this shit from some smart ass chick! SO anyway I says,

"Wow, that's a cool story, I knew you were special." She scrunches her eyes up so I know she's flattered and shit. So we sit and make small talk. I have to take care not to look at my watch. I pretend to listen instead and feed her the lines. She goes all quiet then and I can see her looking around like she's bored.

"I got a cool car its a 1980 Corvette 305, they're the best they ever made." I show her the photos, it's the Chief's. I tell her I got loads of money and act all important like. The Chief told me chicks dig that stuff. Then the uppity bitch interrupts and asks,

"Tell me about your friends" it felt more like she was ordering me. These bitches who they think they are? I smile, all cool like, the way Chief showed me.

"I got the coolest friends." I said, and that's no word of a lie. Where was I, oh yeah. I guess I should tell you more about me. See I was never like you. I tried to be but I always got it wrong. And people, people like you, never let me forget. Always picking on me and talking about me behind my back. Yeah sure I got family but they're nobodies, just nagging and bitching at me all the time. See what I didn't know then but the Chief, he explained it. They were afraid of me, cos deep down in their reptile brain they knew I wasn't like them. I had to be careful though, the Chief said the rage that was boiling inside me was dangerous and that I needed to learn how to control it.

She's got a smile on her face all smug like. Like she got some kind of secret making her better than everyone else. See in real life I wouldn't stand a chance with a chick like this but the guys set me up with her. See they target the troublemakers. We get inside intel from the gov types on our side and this cassy witch is all about the kinda stuff we gotta destroy. See we're tied in at the highest levels, The Chief said so. We're the vanguard that will make this country great again. He told me how to contact her online through her and how to talk her into a date. We charmed her something special. It wasn't hard, we hacked her social media so we knew more about her than she did herself. That's how I knew what to say to her and how to get her to meet. See I came across as some kind of emo beta wailing on the world's injustice, sucked her right in. See she thinks she came here to save me from toxic masculinity. Damned SJW going to get her dues.

"So Flatbone, what's your real name?" See that's what I go by online. Don't ask me how i got it. I squint my eyes and say back.

"I'd tell you but I'd have to kill you." I keep smiling, all mysterious like. The Chief says it drives chicks crazy.

She laughs a little, all nervous, and I think; a little scared.

"Aww," she says. "Go on tell me. Or will I have to guess?"

"You can try" I say, I keep my voice low so she has to lean in to hear me.

"Hmm, she looks deep into my eyes. I look away, dammit I shouldn't have done that. Can't show weakness to women.

"You look like a Timothy or maybe a James. Am I close?" I don't say anything but my eyes are wide. She just guessed my name. For a second I think she must be some kind of psychic but then I realise how stupid that sounds. No, I figure she must have done some research, been poking on my feeds. It makes me angry and I'm ugly when I get angry.

"Was it something I said?" she asks. The look in her eyes tells me she's getting a kick out of all this.

"I'm sorry Flatbone, if that's what you want to be called. It's a cool name. I'll call you that if that's what you prefer."

"How did you know my real name?" She shrugs, again that little smirk forms at the corners of her mouth.

"I'm not like other women Flatbone. I have secrets I got to keep." She looks all sad and for a minute she triggers my protective side. The Chief warned me about this, its a trap they set.

#

All this while something just isn't adding up. There is something in her eyes, like they're on fire. I don't get it, I'm saying all the right things, talking myself up and being all polite and manly like. I ordered for her, talked about the wine just like we rehearsed back at the base. We all laughed about how we were going to fuck shit up. But I can tell she ain't impressed. Its like she's laughing at me the whole time. She is saying all the right things like "How do you know so much Flatbone?" and she says, "Gee, you know a lot about wine!"

I tell her its important to know all this stuff and that just how it is with me. She nods and smiles but still I sense it, she's laughing at me and my blood starts to boil. Like, fuck this bitch. I could end her anytime. The world let women like this take over and now they are going to pay. She starts talking again, and now there is something different than before, like her voice is harder and meaner.

"So Flatbone, what's in the bag. You keep fidgeting and rubbing your legs against it. Shouldn't I be the only thing you are concentrating on?" She spooked me then.

"It's nothing I say, just work stuff I got to bring home. Then her eyes grow all sad and she speaks again.

"They are not your friends Flatbone, you're nothing to them can't you see?" I get all cold inside when she says that. Is she speaking to me, does she mean the Rude Boys? I shoot her a look of pure poison, she should know better than to get between me and the team. She keeps talking.

"You aren't like them Flatbone, you're just a kid. You could be anything you want. Those men are just using you because they think you're weak."

"You don't know me!" I nearly shout. I take a quick look around and check if anyone is looking our way; everyone is still oblivious.

"No I don't" she says, "but I know those men Flatbone I know what they are doing. You just some dumb frightened kid and they are preying on your fear, filling our head with poison until you're as twisted as they are."

She says that and her voice sounds soft and she looks at me all sad like. What? Does she think I'm just going to fall for a line like that. No! It ain't that way at all. I'm all woken up now. She knows about me, she knows about The Rude Boys. My head is spinning, if she knows then who else? Maybe the cops know and they are here already. I check the restaurant using the reflections on the mirrors so no-one will notice. I don't see anything obvious so quick I turn back to her.

"You don't know what you are messing with!" I whisper all sharp like.

"But I do Flatbone, I know more about this than you. I know what's in the bag and I'm telling you we, I mean you, don't have much time." Her words churn me up inside but I don't let her see. There are too many people here, I can't fuck this up now. I lean in close and say.

"What the fuck do you know bitch?"

I don't see a lick of fear in her eyes, instead its like they are blazing with something I ain't never seen on a chick's face.

"I know about the Rude Boys Flatbone, I know you're just a simp to them. They told you you're one of them but your just a sucker, a schmuck, a loser. They don't give a shit about you Flatbone, they're setting you up for this. That bomb you got between your legs will blow any second with you still here."

"Bullshit! I..." She cuts me off.

"I know what you think Flatbone, you're supposed to fob me off with some bullshit about going to the bathroom then run for the door in the kitchen. You think they are waiting for you outside, they are close by alright but only to see your skin melt with everyone else's! We don't have much time Flatbone, can't you see I'm trying to save you? Here," she says, pushing her phone to me.

"Its a live feed I put in the van, listen to what they are saying." My head is spinning, Like I can't believe what she is telling me but I put in the earphones and I listen. I hear Carl laughing and he says.

"Man, that dumb faggot fatbone, I wish I could see his face when that bag goes pop." Then I hear the Chief,

"Can it Carl, Alex, you started dumping the web content?"

"Its streaming now Chief,"

Then she shows me my web feed. I see myself on screen babbling about the end of the world and how all the faggots and libtards gotta die. Except it isn't me, I never said those words. They faked me, turned me into something I'm not. I can't breathe and my head is pounding, what do I do now? I look back up to her and she is all wicked smiles.

"Come with me Flatbone, I have a plan!" She jumps up from her chair and she's got my bag. She just whipped it out from under the table before I could grab it. I run after her and she heads straight for the exit.

"Hey!, where are you going?"

"Your boys Flatbone, do you think they hiding somewhere far away? They dropped you close to here, do you think they wouldn't stick around to see the show." She runs and I have to move fast to keep up. She ducks into an alley and I see the Chief's van parked up. There is no-one in the driver's seat so I figure they must be in the back waiting...Waiting for me to explode. She reaches into the bag and resets the timer. I catch up to her as she pulls open the side door, tosses in the bag and slams it shut. I reach out to stop her cos I know what's going to happen next. There's a pop like a light bulb breaking and then I hear the screams. She runs to me and grabs my hand and we start running. I don't know what is happening or how this crazy woman figured all this out. The last thing I see before we leave the alley is the van door slide open and the Chief tumbles out, rivers of melting skin dripping off his face. Then I see it, the look in her eyes, all wild and full of fury. She's a psycho too.

#

"I'm looking for someone Flatbone, I'm looking for him because he knows something and I need to find out what it is."

"Yeah who?" I says. Yeah, she rattled me up there for a second but I'm in control now. She gives me a weird look again, like I'm some skuzzy creep.

"Oh for fuck's sake Fatbo..sorry Flatbone!" Don't act all tough on me now. You saw what just happened. You saw what I can do. Don't fuck with me, now isn't the time."

"Yeah well," I'm saying, "If I'm such a fucking joke why did you get me out of there before the bomb popped?" I see her eyes go squinty and I see her thinking. I know she knows something that I don't and its driving me all kinda nuts. Anyways she says,

"It was a moment of weakness, if I was smarter, colder, maybe I would have let you blow up with those saps in the restaurant but I couldn't let that happen."

"Huh!" I snort, "So you're weak then, just like all those creeps back there."

"Flatbone you fucking weirdo! Don't you get it, we are all weak, we're all saps and we're all so very far from perfect and that's the problem."

"I don't get it."

"Yeah, I know, I'm seeing that there's a whole lot you don't get." So we're standing outside and its cold, it being a winter's night and all. I see the breath steam out of her lungs in short quick bursts. Mine does too.

"Flatbone, something is wrong, something terrible is happening to us, I mean all of us, all the people; in the restaurant, this city, everywhere! The whole fucking world!" That makes me think a second.

"Yeah, like the chief said, the system is collapsing." Her shoulders sink a little

"No Flatbone, the system isn't collapsing, it's being replaced with something else." Before I get to ask what she means, she tells me.

"Flatbone, have you heard of the algorithms?"

"Sure, everyone has."

I know what she's talking about, Chief (For a second I think about his face melting and I feel kind of sick inside) told me all about it.

The tech corporations, the governments, they think they got us all figured out, what we are, what we want, but most of all what we are going to want and what we are going to do. See with the media on their side (I'm not clear about this, Chief always said I wasn't ready to know yet) Sometimes he said maybe it was the media that were in control then other times it was F.E.M.A., but maybe that's not important now. I think I got the gist, see they can sow little seeds, plant tiny ideas in our heads cos they know just a nudge here and a thought there they can control us. Well not me, I'm not a simp see. She talks again.

"That's the problem Flatbone, you and everyone else has got it all wrong."

I say "Bullshit! you're a crazy chick and all kinda nuts" but it's like she can read my mind and she cuts me off.

"I know what you think and I don't have time to sell you on this. But I gotta get inside the Rude Boys clubhouse"

"Headquarters!" I correct her.

"Yeah, whatever. There is someone in there I need to talk to."

#

I'm still trying to figure out what's going on, why the Chief and the guys tried to set me up like that, why this chick saved me. I start panting and reach for my inhaler then I speak.

"Who? You just whacked the Chief and his number two, they knew all the stuff."

Her eyes narrow and she stares at me, like I'm stupid or some kind of cretin.

"Do you know Rottenbelly?"

I let the name sink in, then I start laughing, cos yeah, if this broad is looking for Rottenbelly she's all wrong in the head.

"Why the fuck you looking for him. He's a nothing, a doofus, a complete waste of space."

"So you know him?"

"Yeah, sure we all know him."

See, what you gotta know is the Chief has, well had, schemes to bring in the moolahs. He's, was, real smart and he knows right now the cops don't care no more. See Rottenbelly is the lowest of the low, some dweeb, a soft and weak waste of space. We got him holed up at the HQ. We give him a net deck to play with and throw food and water at him and he just spends all his time on the net working for the Chief. But here's the thing, cos he's a mental case he gets big welfare checks off the government. See the Chief is his designated proxy and he picks up the cheques, Rottenbelly, parasite that he is, only gets a cut, whatever the Chief thinks he's earns from his online errands.

But then, what's happened in the last few hours starts to sink in. If the chief was setting me up then maybe Rottenbelly is just another schlub like me. Cassandra sees I'm starting to figure things out.

"Don't you get it Flatbone, you're being set up, Rottenbelly is another rube like you. Who do you think pasted all the fake video onto the net in your name?"

"That bastard!" I mutter.

Cassandra cuts in again "It's not Rottenbelly's fault."

I snort back, "No, I meant the Chief."

"Sorry Flatbone." her eyes look all sad.

So like I said Rottenbelly was the bottom of the heap. Hell, when I first started the guys used to get me to spit in his takeouts before he got them. The only reason he got to stay at the HQ was cos the Chief needed him on the computer. He was good at that shit, but I always looked down on him all the same cos he was a cripple, just another waste of resources, like the chief always said; only the strong are worthy of survival.

Yeah, I used to laugh along and now I'm just starting to feel like shit about it. But all the same I didn't get it, why Cassandra needed to find him. I was about to ask when she says.

"He knows more about what's going on here, maybe more than he realises and I need to get to him."

Damn! I hate when she just answers my questions before I even open my mouth. Can she read me like a book?

"Stop doing that!" I shout at her. "You don't know what I'm thinking."

"I'm sorry Flatbone, but I kinda do."

Behind me I could hear the distant howl of sirens. I guess the police know what's happening. All the same we covered a lot of ground. I mean she's a female and all but this chick knows how to move.

"Are you alright Flatbone?" she asks. I keep trying to gulp down air and my inhaler is just about empty.

"God dammit," I gasp, "how do you move so fast?" She shrugs, all humble and demure like.

"I exercise, maybe you should try it sometime."

"Ah, fuck you!"

Then she laughs, like she's enjoys winding me up. I forgot for a second, but the look in her eyes reminds me she's dangerous.

"So we should be getting close now" she says.

I look around and she's right. We're near HQ.

"Why do you even need me here?" I ask, all exasperated.

"Because you're my hall-pass Flatbone, you're going to get me to Rottenbelly."

My heart starts pounding again.

"That won't work." I say. "Those vids the guys dropped, they want me dead. Like you said I'm just a joke to them."

She rushes up to me and grabs me before I can move.

"You're not a joke to me Flatbone. Anyway, I have a plan. I just need you to play along."

#

So I Hammer on the door of the HQ. It's down an alley in the inner 'burbs. I look around to the camera hidden to the left and I make the secret sign. I hear movement inside and a spy hole opens and I see Rottenbelly's eye peering out at me.

"What da fuck you doing here Flatbone? Where's the Chief?" So I do what Cassandra tells me to do and I start acting like my life depends on it. It's hard though, I gotta fight for every breath and I keep waiting for a shotgun blast through the door. But anyways I keep talking.

"The Chief is gone, he went down before I could get into the restaurant."

"Bullshit," Rottenbelly squeaks out. "we were listening to him on the feed, I saw you go in."

"No man, it was all a fake. We were set up, the deep state man, they penetrated the security and set us up for a capture and replace."

"Fuck no!" Rottenbelly says, I hears he's all jumpy even through the door.

"Yeah man, just like the chief said they do it." Rottenbelly can see Cassandra on the video feed. She's behind me, acting like her hands are tied together.

"Is that her?" - I hear him say.

"Yeah, that's the bitch" I say. For a second or two I don't hear a thing but then the bolt slides and the double doors creak open. See I'm thinking we're dead for sure but Cassandra read it right, these guys really suck at the thinking stuff.

#

So the first thing I notice is how empty the place is. It's quiet and eery like. The older guys, the vets have all gone, the boxing ring is empty and the place has been cleared out. See its always shoulder to shoulder, for weeks now they been getting ready for the big push. I'm angry cos they're putting it all on me, but since I got told I was just a patsy for these guys I look around and its like I'm looking at somewhere I don't recognise. Rottenbelly's all nervous and jumpy, he doesn't know what's going on. He's looking at me like I do.

"So hey Flatbone, what happened out there?"

It's like I don't know what to say, really I just want to punch him in the face but I square up to him and ask.

"Its just you here Rottenbelly?" He nods, his face all downcast and miserable. I look back to Cassy. She shakes her head, kind of reminds me of a disappointed schoolteacher.

"You know you're fucked right? It won't be long til the cops get here."

I see it hit Rottenbelly.

"Aww no! My Mom..."

See here's the thing, this ain't the Chief's place, right now we're just in a big garage, part of a bunch of units Rottenbelly's family owns.

"Yeah well, sorry and all.." she says but that's just how it is"

"Hey! Who asked you?" Rottenbelly looks Cassandra up and down. Until now he thought I was doing the talking. He's acting all tough like the guys showed him, funny now he decides to man up when a woman is around. Real quick like, Cassy reaches into her bag and pulls out another surprise, one of those disposable micro tasers you can get at the drug store. It was the last thing Rottenbelly expected and he drops to the ground with a squeal just as soon as she stabs it into his neck. We both stare at him for a few seconds while he squirms.

"I want to help you Rottenbelly but I need answers. I'm looking for someone, or maybe something, I don't know yet and there isn't much time." I can see Rottenbelly is all afraid now, not cocky and quickfire like he used to be.

"C'mon" she says and helps him to his feet.

"Take me to your computer." See I always figured the only reason Rottenbelly's here is he let the guys use the garage. I just figure out he's sharp on the computer. This whole time he was setting me up.

He opens the door to his little office and I take it in. There must be thousands of dollars worth of cyber gear. Four monitors, three computers and stuff I don't have a name for. It looks awesome.

"I know the Chief has you monitoring the official channels and you handle his private communications." She jumps in.

"Jeez!, How do you know all this? You a fed?" I feel kinda bad for Rottenbelly, he's just about back on his feet and looking miserable as hell

"No, before all this I used to be a kindergarden teacher. I guess that's how I can read men like you so easy."

Ooh! Sick burn. And Rottenbelly does his high pitched little laugh. She turns to him all sharp like.

"I see it's clean in here, guess you keep the VR rigs in your bedroom." He's quick to get her talking about something else so he says.

"What are you looking for?" He's all jumpy and his voice is shaking. I can tell Rottenbelly is spooked. See even I'm nervous around her, like I don't even know anything anymore. I'm thinking to myself, if a school teacher freaks him out like this, what happens when the police get here. See, I'm not stupid, I know what happened and what I'm a part of now. I'm sick inside, feeling the way Rottenbelly looks, all stirred up and my brain all racing. With a firm hand she pushes Rottenbelly to the console and sits him down. He doesn't put up a fight, he's her baby now.

"I want you to look for a name," she says. "Look for it in the Rude Boy forums."

Quick as, he opens the pages. I don't know much about this stuff but even I know this is serious secure shit, deep in the dark web. Its where all the Rude Boy cells cross communicate and share intel about the zombies. In case you're wondering, boobs like you are the zombies. So anyway he opens up the page and his fingers hover over the keyboard, waiting for Cassandra to speak. Me, my eyes are darting everywhere. I know we don't have much time til law enforcement show up and I'm starting to freak. I don't know how much time we got and there is something else. Why did everyone just up and leave? Now the Chief is gone it's like whatever was holding us together just melted away and we all just flew apart. It kinda nags at me like I should know why but I can't figure it out.

Then Cassandra speaks again and I shake off the panic and listen.

"Ok Rottenbelly, search for someone called Judas Goat" – she says.

"Whoa! I can't do that!" I see the look of pure fright in Rottenbelly's eyes and he turns to me and I see the deep well of fear inside him. I cut in and ask

"Who the hell is that?" but I can see he already knows something. Even worse, I see the look in Cassandra's eyes, its that wicked look again, bright and powerful and for a second I'm wondering if she's pure fucking evil. Something stirs in me, like I can't take my eyes off her and she is something just too amazing to be real. Then she speaks.

"What do you know Rottenbelly?" she has her hand gripping his shoulder and he is pinned. He looks at me his eyes full of recrimination, like this is all somehow my fault. I say to him.

"Yeah, c'mon Rottenbelly, spill before shit gets real." I turn to her all proud cos I'm acting like the psycho that I am. She winks at me and I feel good.

"Bu.. Mu.. " He says, trying to string the words together. I kneel down beside him and I look him in the eye. Then I'm all inspired and I say

"We can help you Rottenbelly, get you safe and sound before the law shows up, but the lady here" I shoot a quick glance at Cassandra "needs to know who ..."

"Judas Goat!" She cuts and keeps going, " And I don't think its a who, I think its a what." My eyebrows arch a little cos I'm not sure what she's getting at. Rottenbelly says,

"I don't know what or who Judas Goat is, I thought it was a contact the chief had on the inside."

"The inside of what?" - I ask.

"Uh, Everything, the cops, the feds the government. Man, Judas goat knows everything about everyone."

#

See I'm all over the place, like I'm trying real hard to make sense of all this. Cassandra, I don't even know if that's her real name, is the boss now. She's got Rottenbelly under her thumb and she's been here like what? Five minutes. I'm just staring over their shoulders as they look at the screen feeling useless so I take a look around. I can't get it out of my head that there'll be payback for what just happened. There's got be right? See its bugging me why the cops ain't here so I head for the stairs and the roof. When I get there like always the street's empty. I just see a few old beat up cars and vans creeping by. Even the skies are deserted, I don't see any drones on patrol. It's like every squeak, every dancing shadow is something coming to get us. Then in the distance I hear a slow deep boom and a billowing red flame reaches into the sky. My jaw drops but not seconds later there's another explosion, then another. The whole city is going up in flames. See I thought the pigs were hot on our trail but I guess they have their hands full tonight. I think as fast as I can, we gotta be ready to run. Whatever she finds on the web I hope it's worth it.

#

So now I'm here searching the HQ for something we need, but I don't know what the hell it might be yet. I go looking for guns but I see real quick they're all gone, not even a few shells left. The door to the Chief's office is open, like I said its like everyone just upped and left. My heart is thundering when I get in the there. It's only after I run in that I think; what if he has the place booby trapped? It ain't and I check the drawers of his desk and look for anything we can use. Then I see it, just hanging up on the wall, the keys to his Corvette, awesome! Finally something's going my way! I picture it in my head all clear like; me and Cassy riding into the sunset, like in the movies. Things is, on the inside I'm shaking. I thought I was ready for anything, thought all this is about the revolution but I'm being set up. I'm just a dumb sap and I can't get it out of my head. I can feel the veins in my head all popping and I'm wishing someone'll start on me so I can smash them up real good. So I zip round all over the place and throw anything not nailed down and kicking up all fierce like. Then finally I think for a second. It don't matter what I do, I'll still be in this mess when I'm done. Cassy must have an inside track, like maybe she's in cahoots with the law to wipe out the Rude boys. Yeah, and what you going to do about it fatboy? I hear that angry bitter voice in me and I get angry. Yeah I'm feeling pretty useless right, like some schlub on the sidelines and that ain't right. I gotta know what's going on and I gotta do something.

#

I keep thinking about the name Cassy used, Judas Goat. I keep picturing someone behind all this I can square up to, but there's no-one there. Like Cassy said its just dozens of algorithms turning everyone against each other. I think about who wins, I think about what kind of world they're trying to make. This shit is global. I'm stuck here waiting for a Cassy to come up with a plan, cos I ain't got the smarts to figure one out for myself. Goddamn, I hate this fucking mess. All the while I hear the voice in my head telling me to scram, GTFO as fast as I can. A part of me is hating on Cassy cos she got me into this, never mind that she saved me, she took everything from me too. I'm breathing heavy and I suck on the inhaler.

"Flatbone!" I hear her calling me and I run to her, fuck all else I can do.

"So," I say all cool like, "what did you find?"

I figure out something is wrong when I see the way Rottenbelly kind of flinches when he sees me.

"So what's did you find?" I ask. Even Cassy looks like she got a fright, then she talks.

"Fuck me Flatbone I knew you were in trouble but not this..."

"I uh...what do you mean?"

"You're the trigger for the whole thing, the collapse." See, you simps oughtta know the old world is ending. Like I said before, too many people, too many heads full of soft weak shit. See I fell in with the Rude Boys because I was sick of it all and they were saying the shit all the simps out there were too scared to say out loud. I can tell from Cassandra deep down she thinks I'm a dick but I did what I did cos I thought it was right. I see over her shoulder the info dump playing on all the web. The bomb in the restaurant isn't the only one. The other cells had guys like me and just like I see from the roof, more bombs are out there. I'm dumb but not that dumb, the Rude Boys are stepping in, making out like they are saving the people and they should take charge. Its like a whirlwind all over the web and Cassy jumps from feed to feed and I keep seeing my face, saying all kinds of evil shit, that's what she meant. The Rude boys are making out like I'm the leader of some underground network of terrorists and shit. So I'm fucked see, my shoulders sag, I remember way back when I was just a stupid kid...I was always afraid. I guess when the Chief took one look at me he knew I'd be putty in his hands.

#

I can't get something right in my head, How does Cassy know the police or no-one is going to show up. Its like I'm late to a party and walk in while everyone is laughing at a great joke I'm there to hear.

"So, its happening huh!" Says Rottenbelly with a knowing smirk. I think to myself, Jeez, even he knows? I just play along and say "yeah, I guess so." I'm thinking so hard my head is hurting, trying to figure out what the hell is going on. "What they got you doing?" I ask. Rottenbelly acts all smug like, and says

"Let's just say I'm on the preferred list." See, what does that even mean? All the while I hear Cassy punching the keys and I look over to see what's on the screen. I see the fear in her face, like she sees something she don't want to, or figured something out and its more than she can process. I know how that feels.

"We're too late Flatbone!" she says. "I thought we could stop them but the bombs are gone already."

"Yeah, "I says all despondent, "I can see the city burning from the roof"

"You were supposed to die Flatbone, all the rest did! We, I mean you, maybe have a few hours but when the cops figure out you aren't dead, they'll come for you and they won't stop."

Then I work it all out, bad as I am she was trying to save me and cos of me, we're both on the wrong side of the law. My head hurts I'm thinking so hard, like I'm trying to outsmart something I can't even find words to describe. Then I get it, Judas Goat is all the algorithms. Us Rude Boys thinking we are the winners but a million little nudges and deceptions all we are is wild dogs wound up by cold machines. Its all sinking in and I'm feeling worse every second.

"You can keep broadcasting," I says, trying not to panic, "tell people it's all a frame up. I dunno..." I'm all kinds of low about this and she cuts in.

"I'm sorry Flatbone I thought I could save you."

"Why?" I ask," like you keep saying, I'm nobody, a dick, a schmoo." She shrugs and says "I know, I figured you were small fry, you'd be easier to save."

It doesn't feel so bad the way she says it but I'm scared now, no sign of the cops yet and somehow that's worse than hearing the sirens.

"Isn't there anything I can do?" I says, I can't keep the shakes outta my voice. She looks all grim and determined but Rottenbelly scoffs.

"Hah!" he snorts out. "You're fucked Fatbone! Nothing anyone can do about that!" Then I think, maybe there is. It's like the idea lights me up inside and I turn to Cassy and say.

"Can I make more vids?" She checks the screens and types in some stuff.

"Sure, why?" She looks at me, like I'm a stupid kid saying stupid stuff.

"You got the Rude Boy lists?"

"Yeah," she draws the word out like she ain't sure what I'm getting at.

"Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" I says. Her eyes go all quizzy and I can see her thinking real hard.

"Um, actually no." I'm pissed about that for a second, truth is I was kind of hoping she did cos I'm not sure how to explain it.

"How much of that deep fake out on me is there?" I ask.

"Oh, hours and hours"

"Huh yeah," Rottenbelly giggles, They got deep fake of you jerking off to hentai porn and... " he starts giggling.

"Yeah," I say between deep gulps of air "yeah its all fake."

I bite the bullet and keep talking

"What if... what if I make more videos?"

"huh?" She says, all stumped like and even Rottenbelly is looking at me weird.

"If they are using me to spread all this shit and start the revolution what if I keep making vids telling them it all lies?"

Rottenbelly cuts in. "Rube! That won't work! They got you all figured out." The algorithms got you by the balls. I'm struggling to answer that but Cassy interrupts.

"Wait!" she says and I'm hoping she's two steps ahead

"We have the Rude Boy channels and I got copies of the vids. You can broadcast the rude boy locations and..."

"and?", I see her turn all sad before she speaks.

"They'll still find you FB..."

"We gotta run," I say, cos I can't think of nothing else to do.

"Run for what, to where?"

"Didn't you find anything we can use?"

"Sure, loads."

"Then we gotta get to someone who can use it!" I say and my voice squeaks and goes all high pitched. Rottenbelly looks scared, like he's only just seeing how much shit he's in. I feel kinda bad for him but I got other things going on.

"Listen," I says. "I got the keys to the Chief's car, we can get outta here - we can figure out what to do on the move!"

"Why RB, what's in it for a psycho like you?" she asks all suspicious like.

"Cos it ain't fair, I got set up and I want payback!" I says all angry like.

"A few hours ago you were all set to watch it all burn." My face goes red but I forced the words out.

"Yeah, I was wrong about a whole lotta shit but that things is out there moving peeps around like puppets and its gotta be stopped..."

"Before? she interrupts me.

"Before there's nothing left running us but algorithms and...I don't know what else..." It's like the world made sense a few hours ago and now I see it how it really is and I can't speak.

#

Judas Goat, whatever it is, is smarter than everybody, playing us off against each other. It hides behind the drones and the cameras everybody's got. Its words are bleeding into us through every post and message we see online. See I figure Cassy might stand a chance against it, she might even find a way to stop it but not with me. My face is splashed all over the media, me and like a dozen others, the scapegoat the men like the Chief set up so they can grab the power. It settles on me like a weight, knowing I gotta do this. See it's like she's trying to break it to me softly, like you tell a kid his dog just died.

Judas Goat, not a him or even an it. Just the name of scheme to suck dweebs like me to the slaughter. We got the Chief, well Cassy did but out there there's a dozen of those lying shit-faces, talking all hard and dragging the world into chaos. Why is it that we need to be the strongest when we're at our worst. We might have a few minutes here but the feds will come soon enough, there's too big a trail to miss, the Rude Boys saw to that.

"You know they'll never stop looking for us Flatbone."

"No," I says. "they'll never stop looking for me. You can say I kidnapped you, dragged you here and you managed to get away. If you give me the codes for the Rude Boy forums I can get somewhere safe, get the truth out there" I say it best I can trying to keep the fear outta my voice but I can tell she looks right through it. She smiles but she's all sad like and says.

"I know you'd try Flatbone, but you're just too dumb. Anyways, I can't let you have all the fun!"

I reach into my pocket and show her the keys to the 'vette.

"So, we're hitting the road?" she asks and there's tears with her smile.

"Yeah!" I says, so finally I get to do something that makes a difference. We don't waste any time and get the corvette loaded up as fast as. Even Rottenbelly helps out, guess he sees he's as screwed as the rest of us. Cassy's smart, she fixes up a portable webcast to run while we drive. I turn the engine in the car and we're off.

"Hey Cassy, get the mic on me, we gotta get the message out."

"Ok, listen up! This is Flatbone and I'm a psycho see, broadcasting on any open channel! I'm not what you think I am and I done nothing you think I did. I'm gonna keep driving and uploading all the stuff I got on The Rude Boys and Judas Goat, stay tuned..."

END