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Urban Fantasy Fiction Science Fiction

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

If you had a pulse you were promoted. Ryan Hament was nothing if not a man who could wake up in the morning with an active, beating pulse. He’d been doing it his entire life. All twenty-eight years. It was a point of pride. Letting his heart beat and not getting in the way of that plump, fleshy life fist clenching and relaxing. Moving the blood along where it needed to go. Never letting too much of it spill out at one time either. That was the trick. Keep the blood on the inside. Once it got outside, all bets were off. Once it got outside there were no guarantees about getting it back in. If you lost too much of that smooth, red sauce that was it. Night night. If you lost a little, ok, no problem, you’re just drowsy. You nap it off. You lose a lot then you got to rely on other applied sciences. You gotta rely on human beings being competent in their profession. You really want to rely on that? Good luck buddy. So, things go south and a lot of it spills out and miraculously they wire you into some bonus blood. Blood from the bank, from the vampire depot or wherever its housed. Lose a pint, gain a pint. Lose four or five pints and its night night. Was that the saying? Anyway, Ryan knew it was the blood that keeps you going. Keeps you an active player in this world we got, however shitty and corrupt. You hang around long enough, keep your blood on the inside, and something cool might just happen.

So, Ryan got promoted. 

He was great at breathing too. He didn’t show off, but he also never took a day off either. That got him a corner office. He liked to call it the coroner’s office. It was funny because there were so many people dying. The people left alive needed a little humor, no matter how dark. Occasionally he’d dress the part. White frock. The gloves. Walked around with a clipboard and have everyone’s name on it. He’d lean over your desk and show you your name then draw a line clean through it. They. Would. Howl. There goes Ryan. A guy like that may never die. 

Then like a jazz lullaby eighteen years goes by. He’d worn through his keyboard. It was a slate of black buttons. He’d close his eyes and let his hands drizzle over the keys and go like that for hours. He’d wake up with cheeks wet with tears and a chin saliva sheen and hit send and off that email would go. It was beautiful. He was beautiful. If his mom was alive, she’d marvel at her son, the abstract, corporate artist. But she had gone with rest of them. Let all her blood slide through unattended. He didn’t blame her about it, how could he? The trials weren’t even close to complete yet. No one knew what was coming.

He remembered when the first ad campaigns came out. He thought they were hilarious. Everyone did. Like some ad man gone wild. If you’re suffering from social media neglect, lack of acknowledgement, moral abuse, irrelevance. If you’ve ever sat at a table of two, with one person unbreakable from their cell phone, contact us at HumblyYours.org. We’re not only here to acknowledge you, but we do so sincerely. How’s that you say? Well, we already know you. We know all about you. We know when you had your first kiss and popped your first zit. We know when you gave up on your dreams. And we know the sad reasons why you persist. But we aren’t here to judge you ok, we’re here to reignite you. And if you’re a dud, that’s ok too. We’ll poke you full of holes and take your blood regardless. Ha ha ha. 

In essence, that was the ad.  Ryan, through trial and error, physical test trials and multiple errors, managed his way into the company and through heartbeat and breath alone carved himself a rock-solid nook, that no jaws of life contraption could extract. He was tenured. Then the world went ahead and violently convulsed.

The mechanisms of finance, of commerce maintained, but wealth was now measured on a dignity quotient thanks to a horrible, planet cranking war that destroyed world banks and crypto currencies and even simple barter and trade systems, leaving little else to value. A super technology was infused into human bone marrow and rivulets of computerized dignity could now be measured in the veins of humans. When you bled out these days, it really meant something. Crows and vultures took a back seat. Humans were now the gold standard of planetary scavengers. Not that they weren’t already. But now it was also in physical, feasting form. So, Ryan really couldn’t blame his mom for falling victim to the human piranha scourge because she was basically a wagyu steak of dignity sitting on a silver platter. A pint of her blood meant a lifetime of leisure and excess if you played it right. So, they feasted on her, and others.

Ryan took stock. He measured. He analyzed. He breathed in and he breathed out. He avoided blood draining situations. He found some minor, undignified habits and he played them slow, unsuspecting, riding the line.

I should mention that there was a major upheaval in the justice system and the commercial jailing of “criminals”. Shit got walked back a country mile and a half. Almost every prison in the US was shut down. Corporations scooped them up for pennies on the dollar and they became the new office buildings for Fortune 1500 companies. The preferred office building. The only place the corps felt safe. What with all the school and workplace shootings, you’d have to navigate a Fort Knox-esque security environment at one of these spots to even get to a point where there was someone worth shooting. By that point you’d be dead yourself. Guards, lasers, dogs. Your blood spilled easy and drained into a Dignity Scope and was then ranked, categorized, and quickly exported to the best cost per cell buyer. Your dignity cut with baking soda, if it was even pure to begin with.

So what was the problem? Was there a problem? I don’t know, you tell me. Ryan’s high on the hog in a renovated prison, living in a cell suite (4 conjoined cells) and eating three squares a day, running the daily inquiries of blood dignity and making determinations of sale. The only problem was the data trends were dropping. Unusually dropping. He’d seen dips before. Of course there’s seasonality in this kind of market. But this was new. This wasn’t an outlier. This was a legitimate downward trend that if extrapolated out five years, or even three, showed not just a shrinking market. But a dead market. By dead market that kinda meant the whole of humanity. 

On the upside the renovated prison micro market café was offering free food and beverages for the next month and a half. From his coroner office he could navigate a hallway frosted over with fat bellied dead cockroaches, grab a couple chicken focaccia sandwiches and a fruit punch power aid and make it back to his desk before the next dignity lines dropped.

July 15, 2022 04:44

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9 comments

Charlotte Larson
21:24 Jul 17, 2022

“If you’re suffering from . . . irrelevance . . . contact us@“ Ryan had managed to get onto the back of the beast that was profiting off other’s life’s blood. In order to survive, ironically, he had to maintain deliberate irrelevance and be satisfied having vital signs. For me, “Deferred Sentence” implied, the beast will eventually win. I found this to be a sobering story of a dangerous, future currency; a value system gone belly up.

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23:53 Jul 17, 2022

I like your take. Thanks for reading and replying Charlotte!

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Katy Borobia
16:57 Jul 17, 2022

This is such a neat urban fantasy story! From the very beginning, I was completely hooked. "Abstract, corporate artist" is a wonderful descriptor. And the idea of the prisons becoming offices is a very creative yet entirely believable future situation. Well done and good luck in the contest!

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18:05 Jul 17, 2022

Thank you Katy! Glad you enjoyed it.

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Michał Przywara
20:53 Jul 21, 2022

A nice, bleak view of the future, and the ending just makes it seem ever bleaker. But that, too, is deferred. A problem for another day. As Charlotte Larson pointed out, having to feign irrelevance/indignity to survive is a great idea. It makes me wonder how all this will end. I expect, with bloodshed :)

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15:34 Jul 22, 2022

Thanks for reading it Michal!

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Ba Eubank
23:59 Jul 20, 2022

Great flow. Paints a scary future.

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Tommy Goround
05:07 Jul 18, 2022

Scott sent me over. Yep. Good voice. Voice verse plot/vision? I dunno. Reminds of chuck palhuni-ack; Orwell, and willy Smith's Spider F'ck all rolled in a burrito. (And yes. You are completely right about blood banks being... Outrageously rich). I hope to see more stories by you.

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01:50 Jul 18, 2022

Breathe in. Breathe out. Type "the voice this is written in is fun".

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