We’re pleased to publish an excerpt from Graham Rae’s novel Soundproof in Satellite Town, set in a futuristic version of Scotland. For more on the book, here’s the publisher’s description:
Soundproof in Satellite Town is a new Scottish sorta-futuristic novel set in the 22nd century, published by Anxiety Press. In it, Johnny Certex and Ratsoup, two disenfranchised young men, have a mad, fast, weird last weekend of drugs, booze, digigames, sex, and muzak, before starting their manufactured jobs on Monday morning, In this excerpt from the book, the two youngstars go to visit their teknofreak friend Eddie Arcadian, who has a strange friend visiting…
As they walked into the living room, Johnny noticed The Carrier sitting staring at the wall in the corner.
“Alright Carrier? Had any good diseases recently?” smiled Johnny as Ratsoup set down his vibrobass.
“Whuh?” The Carrier shook his distracted head in disorientation and dragged his attention away from the wall. “Ummm…just a minute, just a minute, lemme turn off the visuals. You look like…like a…ah…I couldn’t even begin to…ah, fuck it, waitasecond, waitasecond.” The Carrier tapped a key on a small keypad on the glass table in front of him. “There, that’s better. Ohhhwwwwwww.” He sleazily smiled in totally skullfucked orgasmic glee as he rubbed at his head.
“What were you on?” Ratsoup asked as he sat down on an airchair, shifting a small monitor onto the floor to do so.
“What’s that?” Ratsoup frowned.
“Schizophrenia. It’s this chemical imbalance disease that they cured in the middle of last century. Really messes you up, completely dissociates you from reality. Leaves you totally unable to function in the real world unless it’s chemically regulated.” The plague-lover youth shivered in excitement. “It’s a wild fucken brainbuzz, really nice, a total fucken rollercoaster. One of the best I’ve had in a while.”
By now you’ll have noticed that The Carrier is into some strange fucking stuff. Johnny remembered him as a super-intelligent wee bastirt in his class at hi skool during Bioscience 101, the kid at the back of the room with the crazy hungry threatening eyes and an endless curiosity about anything scientific. If a teacher told their class about anything that sounded vaguely scary or insane or interesting or dangerous, The Carrier would immediately go home and surf the net until he had an encyclopedic knowledge of the subject in question.
By the end of hi skool he could do basically everything from build a neutronuke to playing around online with missile guidance defense systems for a laugh. But once he’d gotten heavily into the area of Disease Origin Analysis (DOA), he’d laid aside all of his plans for doing anything except getting fucked out of his face on every disease ever known to man.
Johnny remembered the day in class when The Carrier had first gotten illegal access into the DOA labs in Southern Kalifornia. He’d done it on a souped-up phone, at that. He’d managed to download a virtual reality version of the common cold that had been synthesized by the lab for teaching use. He had interfaced the disease with a multipurpose chip he’d had implanted into his head by one of his crazy friends during a dangerous illegal brain operation…and had gotten instantly hooked from there on in.
Every time Johnny had seen The Carrier over the next several years he was completely fucking wiped and wired on some disease or cocktail of ever-more-insane-and-sicker sicknesses. He had said it was his life’s ambition to virtually experience every disease that had been known to the human race, and Johnny wholeheartedly believed him.
The Carrier had also gained so much knowledge about the buffet of diseases he was sampling that he could probably have been one of the world’s leading DOA experts. But the cunt was only into it for the laughs and the pseudo-degenerative buzz, and would never bother working with diseases in anything but a purely recreational way. “Disease is for fun, not profit,” he’d occasionally been known to mutter, and nobody had ever particularly ever bothered to try and argue otherwise with him. Why bother? It was his body, and if he wasn’t harming himself or others by getting fucked up on a regular basis, let him get on with it.
He’d be up shit creek if he got caught by the fedz or DOA cunts though.
“So you like having schizophrenia, eh? Tasty shit?” asked Johnny.
“Fucking right. Scary shit. Would hate to have had it when it wasn’t treatable. Like the HIV I have running in conjunction with it. Either of those two woulda been really fucken terrible to have back in the day.” The Carrier shook his head in horror in emphasis of his point.
“HIV, I hearda that one. It gets mentioned in the D4 drugdealer thing. It’s a retrovirus they eradicated about fifty years ago, right? Sexually transmitted? Killed millions of people in Africa and around the world? Really fucked shit up in its prime.” Ratsoup nodded vaguely. “Glad we haven’t got that sorta shit around now.”
“Oh, but we do, Ratsoup, we do,” smiled The Carrier. “Even now we got all kindsa new fuckup viruses evolving that are resistant to every drug and electronic cure known to man. Disease is a constantly mutating physiological battlefield we’ll always be fighting on. Cut off one head, it grows back another two. Completely fucken ingenious at survival.” The Carrier chuckled.
“Shit, you don’t hafta sound so happy about it,” Johnny snorted.
“Just means I’ll never run outta diseases to get fucked up on, m’man. I’m still waitin’ for the HIV to truly kick in. I gave myself pulmonary Kaposi’s sarcoma. It’s onea the more subtle, slower blends they had at DOA.” The Carrier swirled the sensations of ancient death around on his tongue like a man with a trained palette contemplating the taste of a fine wine. “If I hadda had this virus for real I coulda looked forward to months of aggressive chemotherapy, to getting thinner and weaker, maybe shitting myself in public, to…”
“Okay, okay, we get the idea, shit.” Johnny cut the retro-retrovirus lover off mid-flow. He’d heard pretty much all he wanted to know – and then some- about some shitty old cured fatal disease.
“Hey Carrier, I wonder if you could tell me if something I heard about is true.” Ratsoup said.
“If I can.”
“Well I heard – and you’ll know better than me if this is bullshit or not –that you can actually kill yerself with virtual reality diseases. That they’ve had cases round the world where people have actually fooled their bodies into believing they had the disease they were experiencing virtually through their chip. The virtual sickness was so convincing their bodies just shut down, like some kinda fucked up psychosomatic death thing.”
“Nah, that’s bullshit, bullshit.” The Carrier sneered. “That’s just government disinformation, lies they made up to try and stop people having fun with diseases. See, what I heard through the grapevine was that they found out somehow that the DOA computers had been broken into and they tried to scare people away from the knowledge they’d lost by spreading all these fucken bullshit rumors about people really dying and shit. It’s utter garbage, they must assume our heads zip up the back if they think we’ll believe shit like that. If playing around with DOA was gonna kill me I’da been dead years ago. Fuck, so would a few people I know. I keep in touch with virus trippers round the world, I never heard of one single case like the government is talking about. So you can categorically forget about that shit.” The Carrier let out a short bitter mocking laugh.
“Like I said, you’ll know better than me. They’re always trying to fuck with a man’s buzz, eh?” Ratsoup offered. “Hey, I heard about this new shit, maybe you heard of it. It’s called deathtrip, it’s super-fucking-illegal and underground as fuck.”
“Nope, never heard of it. Why, what is it?” The Carrier’s interest perked up at the thought of some new virtual viral chaos to inflict on himself.
“Well, I heard about it on this webzine. It’s a deathbuzz. People have killed themselves online and left other people the sensations of dying to download. So, you know, you’ve got people shooting themselves, hanging themselves, overdosing, all of that horrible shit. And I heard there’s even a sexdeathbuzz where people who committed suicide or killed the person they were fucking did the same kinda thing. That would be one serious protocore trip,” mused Ratsoup idly, “make yer disease stuff look totally fucking tame.”
“Ah, ugh, fuck that shit,” winced The Carrier, “that’s sick as fuck. A deathbuzz? That’s fucked up. Who the fuck would wanna experience that kinda thing?”
Johnny, who had been sitting half-listening to the conversation, thought he’d chip in something at this point. “Why, what’s the difference in that and what yer doing with the DOA shit?”
“There is a world of difference, Certex, believe you me. It’s all a matter of class. And that sick shit just hasn’t got any class. No self-respecting DOA user would even consider going anywhere near that type of thing.” The Carrier’s voice dripped contempt.
“Why not?” Johnny was genuinely curious.
“Because they just wouldn’t, alright? I know my people. Just let it go, eh?” The sickness-sampler’s voice grew angry, signaling the end of the conversation.
Soundproof in Satellite Town is available now in Kindle and book form from Amazon, round the world.