Far Horizons: Tales of Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror. Issue #13 April 2015 - Page 98

Everyone remembers where they were that day. Actually, that’s a lie. Things had got so bad that the Attacks kind of blended in with all the other Bad Stuff that was going on at the time - cities swallowed up by the sea, nuclear power stations going bang, the endless wars in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, the ongoing economic crisis, the famine in Greece... it all blended in together. But still, the co-ordinated terrorist massacres were definitely a high watermark in horror, even for these days. They’d simultaneously activated sleeper cells in capital cities around the world and ordered them to simply wander around killing as many people as possible. Their bodies had been rigged to blow on capture - a combination of C4, toxic chemicals and radioactive sources from smoke detectors and old watches and stuff. The idea being to cause maximum terror, of course. It worked. What really got to us in what is laughably referred to as the 1intelligence community1 was just how wired the attackers were - both in the sense of being on drugs and in the sense of being completely wired for sound, video, even infra-red. They’d been wearing commercially available headup displays equipped with cameras and hands free phones; as with military issue combat monocles the displays were based on, their controllers had fed them constant updates, alerts, mapping information, thermographs... like a video game. That’s what it’s called in the trade – ‘gamification’. They turned the massacres into a game, a really fucking warped one where you only get one life and the worse the things you do, the more points you get. Oh, and did I mention the drug dispensers? I did allude to them earlier. Basically, they were hopped up on a cocktail of methamphetamine, SSRIs, steroids and benzodiazapines. But that wasn’t the weirdest thing about the attackers. The weird but was that they’d been fitted with IV cannulae, like you get in hospital, and connected up to computerized drug dispensers with vital signs telemetry fed through a separate phone line. Like I said, wired. Seriously so. We think the drugs worked on a reward-response basis; that was some serious operant conditioning right there. Kill someone, get a hit. The more innocent the victim, the bigger the hit. Claims of responsibility were oblique enough, but essentially, we knew it was the Terrorists. They’d held onto their rump religious state and even expanded outposts of it into rural Russia and the Americas, cut deals with local drug lords, computer hackers and fuck knows who else. They had sympathisers everywhere, including numerous local governments and media outlets, and they were owning us - hard. And then this happened. As usual, their spin machine went into overdrive even before the last shots had been PAGE 97