a cyberpunk/future version of beauty and the beast with influence from little red riding hood... unfinished.

- chris fanjul


"hey sis, i'm goin out to wastes... you want anything?"

"man, you know that antideluvian laptop you brought back last time... the
one that exploded from the new net protocols?... or the animatronic house
plant? what was that?  all the junk you bring back is always such... junk!"

"easy girl... fine, i won't get you anything... see ya!"

"wait wait... hold on.  i'm sorry bro. you know i love ya, i just don't have
the right eyes to appreciate those... treasures.  hey, actually
there is something i want.  see this woman in the ad, the really pretty one
with the natural blonde hair and like zero bio-enhancements? what's that
she's got in her hands?"

"oh, that's a rose.  mom told me about them before she... ya, and there
ain't a single one around here anymore."

"you think there's one in the wastes?"

"aw come on, i teach you everything there is to know about crypto and hack
and nano-assembler and you want a fuckin plant? you serious? they die you

"i dunno why, i just want one, ok? please?  i promise i'll let you win at
virtua-ninja next time."

"aw how generous.  i'll see what i can do, ok?  now don't let any strange
hairy lookin crazies through the door or anything."

and off he cruised on his patchwork velo. Bug used to like to watch him at
work, adding new features to it and testing it.  sometimes she's cross some
of the wires and watch as the metal horse jerked wildly or shuttered, and
Chi would scramble off the saddle and shut it down, then fall to the ground
laughing. they loved to mess around like that, merry pranksters is what
their dad used to call them before the accident.  that was a couple of years
ago.  Chi had taught Bug everything he knew about tech... the hardware and
software, all the names of things and how to troubleshoot and even build her
own net deck from scratch.  at fifteen she was probably the best coder
around, that's why he started calling her Bug, like she thought like them
and knew where they were in her code. her real name is Tenseinobi (their mother
was from what used to be the mountains of japan before the big quake) but he
liked Bug better.  his real name was Kisochishiki, but that doesn't exactly
roll off the tongue, and he needed a better pseudonym amoungst the hackers.
they respected him for the most part, but sometimes one would get a copy of
Bug's mug shot and start pestering him to meet her. fuckin' coyotes. see
she's a cutey, and he knows it.  don't think she's really noticed... unless
it's in the reflection of a computer screen. 

he's been pretty strict about
her training, but she doesn't really like sitting in a room all day
programming, so she'll usually grab some freeze-dried ice cream from the
kitchenette and climb up the gazillion stairs to the roof.  from there she
can see all the way to the edge of the enclave where the sand has piled up
against the outer perimeter wall, making gently sloping dunes.  she's not
sure what it was about them that pulls on her... but it's kinda like
whatever Chi sees in some wierd piece of tech, whatever hidden prettiness,
something raw and mysterious.  she doesn't know what's out there, out in the
desert wastes, but sometimes she dreams about it,
when the dreams aren't filled with algorithms and bug fixes, that is.

so that's where she went after he left, bringing the ad with her, the one
with the pretty woman and the flower.  if she turned it on its side the
petals almost matched the rolling sand.


Chi picked his route carefully cuz of all the tribes that were out there.
they usually didn't move around too much, unless a well dried up or some
scuffle sent them running, abondoning all the heavy stuff that their more
delicate biological horses couldn't carry.  that's what he liked to
scavenge... the bits of tech that they themselves had once stolen or

they usually didn't know quite what to do with the input jacks and servos...
couldn't eat it, couldn't fight with it, couldn't use it to fertilize the
meager crops.  they called the land Areno, and most people from the clave
called the people arenoids for lack of better intel. not many people went
out there, and when they did it wasn't for ethnographic study.  who would
want to read a study of a bunch of sand-blasted neanderthals like them
anyway?  the rumors were enough to keep small children from sneaking out
there in the middle of the night... "the sand people can hide right infront
of you, and drag you beneath the dunes!  there they make the most horrible
noises and yells... and they smell like acetic acid!  some are crazy from
such a big horizon... they have wildness in their eyes."  he'd heard the
paranoia, spawned more by ingorance than fact, and besides, there was all
that free stuff.

the wind was strong when he started out, but he could still see a couple
dozen meters, and the velo had sonar anyway, so as long as its equine legs
didn't jam or get stuck in the sand he figured he's be ok.  he wasn't having
any luck finding abandoned camps and was on his way back when a big puff of
sand started to roll in, higher than an apartment building, and before he
knew it he had been swallowed up like an airplane in dense fog.


she didn't much like doing out on the streets, especially at night when
people get all wierd and feel like they're free to do whatever they want.
it kinda scares her to see them, although she once did follow a guy to a
place with loud music and lights flashing through the window.  when she
looked in there were people writhing everywhere, and even though it looked
out of control there was something about it, some beat in her blood.

tonight she had a craving for some pizza, and Chi had eaten the last cold
two-week-old slice before he left, so she put on her surplus army boots
and locked the door behind her.  Chi woulda freaked, but she was
munchin.  coding does that to ya.  the closest pizza joint was two blocks
away (they wouldn't deliver to a place so close... some funky corp policy),
and when she got there they said it would be about ten minutes to construct
and process a whole pie, so she stood outside and let her gaze wonder.

the city had grown up around an old mining town where people had gone to
hide during the war.  for a long time they had no communication with any
other towns, and they thought maybe they were the only ones for thousands of
miles, but at one point a band of strangers came in and caught us up on the
last decade or so, bringing with them some newer tech to replace our old
stuff. ten years is a long time when it comes to technology.  they all
seemed a little wierd, kinda boney and jittery, like they weren't as human,
like they'd left something behind when they got swept up in the rush
forward.  at least that's what the history books say.  so this city got an
influx of knowledge, some latched on, some even took it to the extreme. they
don't come out much... brains are frizzled.  

as Bug was standing there she noticed a store across the street, blinkng
neon that said "medi-sin"... some pharmaceutical joke.  she went over and
looked at some of the ads in the window.  things about magic cures for
carple tunnel and stress and infa-red burnout.  she could see in the
darkness of the store an old lamp with a blue lightbulb and some huddled,
shuffling form.  when she leaned closer to cup her hand against the glass,
block out the street lights, something on her jacket clinked on the big
pane, and the form turned towards her.  it was human, but barely, pieces of
metal and plastic sticking out where they shouldn't have been, lenses and
wires and sockets, almost like a little city erupting from pale skin.  the
sight of it made her jump a little, and she quickly turned away and walked
briskly to the pizza joint.  the only place she'd ever seen anything like
that was in the vr chatrooms, some geek with an avatar like a cyborg from an
old tv show.  but at least she knew that in cyberspace it wasn't real.


he struggled against the winds and the particles, trying to get to some sort
of shelter, anything.  if he got off the big metal horse and the two walked
perpendicular to the wind, him behind it, then at least he wasn't stung
through his clothes and the scarf around his face.  like that they went on
for what seemed like forever, maybe hours, but it felt like days, until the
winds lessened, and the sand settled, and before him was a valley.  Chi
could see greens and reds and yellows like nothin they replicate on the
net.  everything looked soft and inviting, and he could even see a lake, a
place to clean up and get the sand out of his underwear.

he wasn't too comfortable with all his cloths off, like he was defenseless
against something, but the water felt real good and he almost forgot the
time.  as he was getting dressed he noticed a garden full of lots of green
and flashes of color... pinks and oranges and the deepest red, so deep it
was almost black.  upon closer inspection they looked just like Bug's ad,
like his mother had described.  it was getting late, and he didn't want to
get stuck out in the desert at night, so he looked for a really pretty one
and broke it from the rest.  it came of not so neatly, with a couple little
fibers ripping all the way down the next stem, but it gave way to force.  it
was heavier than it looked, and when he smelled it his brain almost
overloaded.  it was so different than any perfume, and especially the reek
of the alleys.

then he felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up, and when he turned
he saw a man, clad only in a pair of baggy pants, standing on the surface of
the water, looking straight into him.

when he spoke it was with a wolf's growl and an eagle's shriek.

"you don't know what you've done. you can't know.  your blood is thin. be
gone and take that flower with you... that peice of me can never return. now go!"

Chi jumped on the velo and galloped out faster than he'd ever gone before,
and somehow amongst the dunes he found his way the the clave, altho for the
life of him he couldn't figure out how.


the plot from here: Bug recieves the rose and hears about the valley.  one
night she can't stand it anymore and runs away, out into the desert.  she
falls asleep and awakes in the valley, and when she meets the man he seems
beastly to her.  he's a shaman, a medicine man, and he says that he is glad
that she has finally come, and that the only way for her to find her way
home is to understand the desert, to understand nature.  every day he
teaches her something until one day when he asks her if she's ready to go
home.  here is the conflict - to go back to the beastly ways of the city -
can she save it by what she's learned?  (perhaps i'm too ambitious with this

the underlying theme to this all is how there is something harsh in both
nature and civilization.  she has to see this in order to survive in her
world, but she has to go outside in order to get the understanding.  it is
an initiation for her.

i wonder tho if i have tried to put too much symbolism in the story so far.
i also wonder how she will come back into the world - what is the end
product of this learning.  i'll have to make sure that she finds the shaman
very wierd but grows to understand why she has these natural impulses, but
also she has to see that his art of magic is only a technos, a skill or art,
in iself, and the nature he is connected to is kind of like the urban
jungle.  at the moment i'm very confused, but i know that i want her to go
back with her own sort of magic, for what purpose i don't know.

[ a technical note: japanese translations - 
tenseinobi - natural beauty
kisochishiki - fundamental knowledge (this should be the name for the
shaman... i need to change it.)
areno - wilderness; desert ]

grendel's workshop