Archive for crime

Semi-Automatic

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 23, 2012 by javedbabar

When Mr Kazantzakis’ business executive guests became crime targets, his booking agents panicked. They were getting bad press and stopped sending guests.

There was no need to panic though. Mr Kazantzakis was a solution-orientated individual. He wasn’t Lifetime General Manager of the Lucerne Valley Hotel without reason. He hired a team of security guards to keep an eye on guests. The guards were vigilant both inside and outside the building, and accompanied business executives around town.

One of the guards, Russell, asked to see the LGM. He said, “This should be a professional job. Being a security guard is a matter of life and death.”

Lucerne had a serious problem. There were many professional jobs available but few unskilled ones. Everybody wanted a professional job. The hours were shorter, the workload was lighter, the pay was better and you didn’t get dirty or wet. However few people were sufficiently well-qualified or well-connected, or filled the right quotas, and thus eligible for such jobs.

Opportunities for pencil pusher were endless, but hammer hitters were a different matter. The Authority’s Job Upgrade Plan had created an imbalance. Most manual jobs had been automated or abolished. There were very few jobs for unprofessional people.

With almost fifty percent unemployment, civic order had crumbled. The number of armed and ordinary robberies, stealth and aggravated burglaries, bag-snatchings, car-jackings, violent muggings and kidnappings all rose exponentially. A lack of work led to poverty, boredom, stress and anger, and there were rumours of an imminent uprising, which people were calling the Arcadian Spring.

Mr Kazantzakis was the right man for a crisis. Though the business may tilt or even sink partially, he always provided the anchor or ballast required. He was a man you could rely on. Investment cycles were calculated in fifty year terms, and he was the man to ensure long-term returns.

Mr Kazantzakis said to Russell, “But it is not a skilled job. That’s what elevates a task, the level of training and experience. Anyone could walk into this hotel, I could give them a uniform, and they’d be a security guard, and….”

“You are wrong, Mr Kazantzakis,” said Russell. The LGM was stunned. Nobody ever interrupted him.

“I am following a timeless warrior tradition. In ancient Greece there was Achilles, in India there was Arjuna, in China, Lu Tung-Pin, and in Scandinavia, Beowulf. In the Middle Ages there were archers, bowmen and palace guards, all elite soldiers guarding the king. During the American Revolution, marksmen picked off British officers, helping to win battles. In Napoleonic wars, infantry soldiers learnt how to use the Baker rifle, which was slower to load but very accurate. In modern warfare, specialists take Annual Personal Weapons Tests, and must score above 85% of maximum score. They scout and delay the enemy in close combat. They put their lives on the line. Do you not think we deserve to be called professionals?

“What will you do if I don’t promote you? Will you leave?”

Russell pulled out a semi-automatic pistol and laid it on the table. “I will kill you.”

Mr Kazantzakis liked his style. This was a man he could count on in a crisis. He said, “I am not sure if I can change the job spec to professional, but let’s say semi-professional.”

Placemaker

Posted in Infinite City, Lucerne Village, Sacred Geometry with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 11, 2012 by javedbabar

“This is the place,” said Bertie. “Just perfect. What do you think?”

Shama looked around the village car park. It didn’t seem anything special, just tarmac with some potted trees. “What do you mean?” he said.

“Look, I know you’re involved with the Botanical Garden; that’s a great place too. Lots of people walk around in there before and after work, but it’s a different kind of place. It’s enclosed and full of small trails…”

Shama waved at a girl he’d chatted to in the garden. She smiled and indicated she’d be in the coffee shop. He could join her there when he’d finished with Bertie. Why was this guy so keen to bring him here? wondered Shama; it was only a car park. He said, “I’m not really involved there yet. I’ve just signed up to study. That’s all.”

Bertie said, “What are you studying? Landscape gardening?”

“It’s called Extreme Gardening,” said Shama. “But what’s that got to do with this place?”

Bertie’s eyes lit up when he said place. “I think you understand the concept of place, but you’re not being open. The Botanical Garden is a natural space, but we also need a cultural space in the village. There’s the community centre, of course, but that’s a building, not a place for public interaction; it’s part of a design philosophy that separates civic functions, and caters to cars and shopping centres rather than people. We should be creating good public spaces that promote people’s happiness, and their health and well being. A building of any kind is a contrived environment; we should create open spaces.”

Shama saw a guy he’d played soccer with last week. It was just a kick around in the car park, avoiding passing vehicles, but they’d had a lot of fun. The guy shouted, “Wanna kick around later on?” Shama gave a thumbs up, then returned his attention to Bertie. “Sorry about that. What were we saying? Oh yes, open spaces. What do they have to do with me?”

“Look. You’ve come here from the inner city. You told me the police sirens and search helicopters drove you mad, and you craved peace and quiet. Well, here you have it. But don’t you miss all the social interactions? In the city there are too many people, that’s true, and the only way to retain your sanity is to ignore them. But here in the village, we see too few people. It can get lonely. I thought you would appreciate that and support my initiative.”

Shama said, “Well, what are you trying to achieve?” Some high school kids called out to him with a chorus of “Yo!”s. He’d joined in with their rapping last week, gaining instant street cred. He shouted back, “Ho!”

Bertie said, “The way to make a real place is to use the local community’s assets, to discover their inspiration and potential. This is an agricultural area. We should focus on food – its growing, tasting and trading. That would attract local people and increase their social encounters. It would get them out of the boxes they live, travel, and work in and immerse them in the real sights and sounds of Lucerne, plus enhance their thoughts and imaginations. In the five minutes we’ve been chatting, a number of people have greeted you already. If only we could create a focus here. It could be the crossing point of a vibrant community.”

It would be a good place, thought Shama. During his life of petty crime in the city, there were certain things he’d looked for – enclosed spaces, opaque barriers, and no windows and doors nearby; flat or dim lighting, hiding places, uncontrolled access points; high risk targets out of view. Lucerne’s car park had none of these things. It was open and free. It would be perfect for natural surveillance; citizens would keep an eye on each other, and the risk of being caught was high. There would be no temptation to return to his old ways. This was The Place, he thought.

Whirlybirds

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Infinite City, Lucerne Village, Unknown with tags , , , , , , on June 8, 2012 by javedbabar

Danny woke up sweating, tossing and turning. He thought he’d left this feeling behind but here it was again.

He’d come to this village for peace and quiet; to be away from the City; away from its noises, stresses, and crimes. Originally he’d had no problems living in the inner city. It was rundown for sure, but it was a happening area, earmarked for redevelopment. It was only a matter of time. But life was not the same after he was mugged there. Every dark corner held fears; car horns made him jump; groups of guys caused him to cross the road; most of all the police helicopters, whirring and shining strong beams at night, made sleep impossible. He’d left the City and come to Lucerne, the beautiful “village beneath the white mountain”.

Danny slipped out of bed and looked through the window. He saw bright waves in the distant sky, mainly blue, shooting and dancing; was it the Northern Lights, this far south? Maybe a seasonal variation had enhanced their visibility. He looked for the source of the mindless whirring; a sign of something going wrong here, a criminal incident turned into a nightmare for every citizen sleeping; saying you are not safe in your homes. Slim dark shapes moved through the sky; yes, it was helicopters, and here on the edge of the bush, their uproar was magnified.

They woke Danny the next night, and the one after that, every night for a week. Sometimes he saw them in the daytime too; just after dawn, or just before dusk. A few minutes either side would have tripped day into night.

The helicopters were landing near the Lucerne Valley Medical Centre, and Danny went there to ask about them. “We deal with occasional emergencies,” said the unfamiliar poker-faced receptionist.

“But why fly them to such a small village?” asked Danny. “Surely facilities in the City are better? And Strattus isn’t so far away.”

“In such cases every minute is precious, Sir. Now if you’ll excuse me…”

“Okay, thank you,” said Danny but he left unsatisfied. It didn’t make sense to fly patients to Lucerne’s little medical centre. He passed men in air force uniforms as he left the building. There were many scattered around the building and grounds – specks of blue among medical whites.

The number of helicopters increased, and also the number of air force personnel. He even saw some in the coffee shop near the highway, and overheard one saying, “The enemy was surprised and took a big hit, but we paid a heavy price for our advance. We lost a quarter of Strike Force Twelve…”

Danny edged closer to hear better, but someone said, “Let’s continue this discussion at base.”

He awoke one night sweating more than ever, and ran to the window. The noise was louder. The Northern Lights were brighter, their blue waves now transformed into fierce orange streams. He saw bigger darker shapes, larger helicopters, flying in and out. Danny couldn’t bear the noise any longer and needed to get out of the house. He went for a late night walk heading towards the medical centre.

As he strolled by, a rear door opened and a patient ran out. He ran up to Danny and grabbed him by the shoulders. “This space war is horrible!” he raved with eyes blazing. “They say they are peaceful – why won’t we believe them? They’ve taken out our blue lazers and are hitting back with orange beams. We’ve got no defence against them! They’re coming south! We have to get out of here!”

Black Light

Posted in Infinite City, Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , , on May 25, 2012 by javedbabar

The city had got too hot for Shama. Things seemed hopeless, like a blackout blind pulled over his life.  The landlord would keep his damage deposit, but he hadn’t paid last month’s rent anyway, so all’s fair-square. Not that he had any wish to please that asshole, but it was the easiest way out. He threw what he had into his backpack, took the bus to the edge of town, and stood beside the Sea to Sky Highway.

It wasn’t long before he caught a ride to Strattus, and on to Lucerne. Shama didn’t want to go way into the bush, what would he do there? He could barely manage urban survival; forget wilderness survival. Being in the bush may also attract attention. Fewer people but more bears.

He pitched his tent at the base of a mountain near a natural spring. The one thing he couldn’t do without was water. The river was nearby, good for washing. He walked into Lucerne Village daily, which took an hour each way. A few people started saying hello to him. He wasn’t rude, just unresponsive. He said hello back and moved on.

A weird-looking old guy became familiar, over six feet tall, unshrunken with age. His beard was a strange golden white. He walked around in monk-like black robes, and was clearly ethnic, though from where was hard to say. People seemed to treat him as special, but he remained always alone. His only activity seemed to be walking along the Lucerne Valley Road, at a steady speed, to God knows where. Shama had only been here two weeks, but couldn’t recall an occasion when he hadn’t passed him on the road when going in or out of the village.

One day at dusk, Shama spied the old man ahead. He gritted his teeth and prepared to speed past him. A car went by and the old man’s robes caught its headlights; it seemed as if their black glowed.

Shama wondered if the man had any money. If he robbed, or even killed him, who would know? He could wash his knife in the river. This was the thought going through his head as he approached the old man.

“Don’t even think about it.” Shama heard a soft voice inside his head. “Your weapon is useless against me. My mind is greater than your weapon.” He looked at the old man, but he couldn’t have spoken these words; he was too far away. Shama stopped and turned around, and then started walking again, faster. The voice continued, “One truth we know is that you can’t get away from yourself. Wherever you go, there you are.”

“Who’s saying that?” Shama shouted. “Who are you?”

“I am Guru Baba,” said the old man. “Walk with me awhile. Let’s talk.”

“But you’re talking to me inside my head already! Get out! Get out!” Shama moved threateningly towards the old man but knew that it was a useless gesture. From his days of street crime, you know when someone’s untouchable.

“I have a proposal for you. You see me walking every day. Despite the power of my soul, my mind is deteriorating. So many people still need so much from me. I need an assistant. Will you help me?”

Shama was surprised. “Me, help you? How?”

“We’d be helping each other. You can help me with administrative tasks, and I will gift you my lifetime’s knowledge and experience. I will help you imagine better, and become your best self.”

Only at that moment did Shama know that this was the goal he had sought in this and many previous lifetimes. To find his true master and fulfil his true potential. To turn internal conflict into external co-operation, and become part of the cosmic dance.

The next driver on the Lucerne Valley Road was surprised to see a scruffy vagrant and one of the world greatest holy men dancing together. The holy man’s robes gleamed black, showing the truth of illuminated darkness.