The Unknown: The Red Line.

Hard_Code, Scene IV

The Unknown are in Greenwich Village near Tribeca. Dirk is admiring his own reflection in his mirrored shoes. William is heavy into a mescaline trip, and is drooling. They pass by a Starbucks and a Prada purse store. Scott is giggling.

”No, you’re gonna like this guy. This’ll be fun,” Scott chuckles.

”I can feel the end of my nerve endings banging from the leather soles into the molecules of the seeeeement on the surface of this city which teams like a hive not like a mound which to us looks like cereal but is in fact a teeeeeeming colony,” William professes.

”I think I should trim my nose hairs,” Dirk absently mutters as he scratches his cheek.

Scott knocks on an unmarked door as he swallows a laugh, “This guy did that book on a floppy with William Gibson. The thing that destroyed itself as you read it. It was classified as a weapon by the U.S. government, because of the encryption. People were complaining that it cost too much, so they gave the last remaining copy to Laurie Anderson, who read it at a concert.”

Dennis Ashbaugh opens the door to his studio. Rubberized plasticine fetuses are strewn about the room.

”Fabulous. Great, great, I can work with this. The Unknown. Sit down in those early modernist chairs. Sit still. They’re originals.”

Ashbaugh plucks a syringe from his desk and very quickly jabs William in the arm with it. William yelps, then moans.

”I don’t do that anymore man,” Scott says.

”It’s not heroin. Just withdrawing a little blood,” Ashbaugh says as moves to Dirk and then Scott’s arms. He carefully drips the commingled blood onto a glass slide, which he hands to an assistant who rushes to move it under an electron microscope.

”I like my assistant,” Ashbaugh says, “because he’s quiet, looks like David Bowie, and has a Ph.D. in molecular biology. Now stand in front in the screen.”

Ashbaugh moves behind a Sony Ultra digital camera, then screams, “Got it!” and giggles with glee. Dirk coughs and says, “Maybe I should have shaved.”

The assistant who looks like David Bowie screams, “Completed sequencing!”

”Assholes are made of tongues and hotdogs!” William yelps.

”Stand back here, now. Now watch this, watch this marvelous machine.” Ashbaugh presses a button and a robotic apparatus begins spitting black paint from twenty guns unto a massive canvas, like a gargantuan ink jet printer.

A face is slowly revealed, the cleft of William’s chin, Scott’s nose, Dirk’s heavy brow, Scott’s forehead to the horizon, followed by William’s shaggy mane. Alongside it, a twisted spiral.

”Isn’t that marvelous, marvelous, simply marvelous. That’s you, the Unknown. And that, alongside you, that is the DNA of the Unknown.”

”No shit,” Dirk smiles, “That’s us.”

The assistant who looks like David Bowie stares at the drying painting, his jaw agape. “My god,” he says, “I’ve never seen anything like it — it’s — it’s horribly mutated, it’s clearly been artificially modified and it’s — it’s clearly missing something.”

Scott slaps his head, “Oh. We forgot to bring Frank.”



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The Unknown at Spineless Books.