Witness: Part One.
by Anders Laughton.
updated: 1.9.5: 03 October 2005.
forum: night.blind: Witness.

a collaborative fiction.

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night.blind: 01.9.1: 09 March 2005: Anders Laughton.
          It wasn't the way they fucked, it was the way they fucked.

          Bearing witness, being present, a beautiful agony, a little death, a feedback loop, an infinity mirror, a recursive function: since the day Garfield had been attacked, they had found that things were a little different, a little blended, maybe a little effed up.  Something had happened during the psychic assault, and ever afterward, Majestics 14 and 15 shared something deeper than passing glances, playlists, or six packs.

          Majestics fucked.  Everyone knew that.  The Grange shared the dynamic of a prison: desire surpassed societal judgments.  It was as inbred, incestual, and debaucherous a facility as any, with the stipulation that as long as any extracurricular activities didn't conflict with the Viewers' ability to perform their logs, management wouldn't impose many restrictions on those activities.

          The relationship between 14 and 15 stretched back and lasted further and longer than most in-house flings.  Management didn't care; they both knew they were being watched from time to time by Nagel and his buddies, if the man even had any, but they still got their jobs done, filed on time, completed their playlists.  At the end of the day, they shared a pod and a bed.

          Some theorized that their interactions were a waste of government time and money, after-hours tapping into those precious mutant brains and the gift within each.  Still, they were meticulous during business hours.  Maybe the playtime viewing honed their skills.

          They were easy locks, given the proximity of target, pathways carved through seven years of familiarity.  Most viewings were troublesome affairs, that reaching out and locking on to a stranger a world away, congealing sensory input, the withdrawal after pullout.

          It wasn't like that for Elijah and Gale.

          Take everything you know about tantric sex, add three cups of kama sutra, a pinch of desperation and fold it into sorghum flour and add a heaping bushel of chopped translocation, telepathy and clairvoyance.  Blend it well.  Serve chilled over crushed ice.  Go fuck yourself; you have no idea what we're talking about.  There's no way you could understand what they did to each other, because you weren't born with that particularly delicious bundle of nervous tissue wrapping your pineal body.

          It was frantic, sweat slicked, flopping and scratching, reflective and reflexive and felt so good it was the worst pain ever.  They got it down to a science, that out of body experience that the voyeur sci-boys loved so much.  Didn't hurt that Gale Jordan was a twenty-something something something who salved the sore eyes of many a late-night watch officer.  None of the eavesdroppers could experience her as Elijah had: from the inside looking back.

          They scrawled new spheres of influence across their bodies and minds.  No one had yet proven the soul existed, but once the numbers came in, they'd place bets.

          They'd learned to clear tabletops of glassware.  They'd learned to ask for rounded edges on furniture.  For clean sheets four times a week, monthly suppression therapies for troublesome gametes.  For privacy during off-hours, at least no knocking on the door.  Such interrupting could have broken them more.

          When Remote Viewers have sex, when they fuck, when they pack the mule, bone the chicken, pop the top, wiggle the pickle, sink the Titanic, invade Poland, or tip over the luggage cart, they can choose, if one or more partners are willing, to enter each other in ways more subtle than tab A into slot B.  It just so happened that Gale and Elijah were Scott Petersoning Amber Frey when Garfield went to hell.  Things got mixed up a little.  Paths crossed.  Star-crossed lovers?  No.  Mind-fucked viewers.

          You see, when viewers view their partners during sex, it's apparently quite good.  Better than Verizon good.  Better than Good 'N Plenty good, although it's plenty good, good meaning best, and best meaning that it's like a never-ending circle of thrusting and penetration, shared sensation more shared sensation than any Trojan can advertise, closer than any simple penile-orchestrated cervix battery, harder and faster and deeper than any Vivid girl can beg.  It's like fucking someone while getting fucked while being fucked while fucking.  It's close.  And coming-- double the pleasure?  Quadruple the pleasure.

          So Viewers liked to fuck.

          Gale and Elijah were no exception.

          Gale Jordan, once upon a time, not long after Nagel went off to steal a baby and the Major General welcomed the farmer into her sanctum, decided to test a moment, not ruin it, although she almost succeeded in that, by, at the peak of her sixth orgasm and his second, shouting, simply:

          "I love you, Elijah Rockland!"

night.blind: 01.9.2: 23 March 2005: Anders Laughton.
          So he slapped her.

          There was a moment where her face broadcast shock in its most humble, broken form, an advance rebuffed, five words she knew she should never have vocalized.  He pulled out, rolled off, swung his legs over the side of his bed.  If he'd had wings, at that moment, slumped so, arms drooping between his knees, he would have looked a gothic nightmare.

          Muscles in his neck indicated the rotation of his face back in her direction, and she met his frown with the heel of her hand, breaking his nose with a snap and a scarlet gush.

          He smiled.

          So did she.

          They fucked again.

* * *

          Elijah Rockland was the son of Major General Sabra Aliyah Rockland and Lieutenant General John Rockland.  His maternal grandfather, Abel Aliyah, had worked under Isser Harel in the Mossad, assisting in the capture of Adolph Eichmann in Buenos Aires in 1960, and retiring a disappointed and angry man after the failed attempt to locate Josef Mengele in 1985.  Not long after Harel died in 2003, Elijah's mother had enrolled in the Mossad, dispatched to hotspots around the Middle East to squash the new series of jihads the beginning of the century had borne.

          Participating in an officer exchange program, Sabra Aliyah had met then-Colonel John Rockland at a dinner party.  He wasn't Jewish, but he got the job done.  She requested dual citizenship, moved permanently to America, and rose through the ranks almost as fast as her ambitious husband.

          It wasn't ironic that Elijah had been born on Shoah Day.

          Israeli Defence Force, Mossad, Betak-- and then.  Always: and then.

          They'd gotten it down to a science at that point, or at least as almost a science as the concept would allow.  He had watched medics make notes in his charts each year since he'd first enlisted, always with eyebrows raised, furrowed, raised again as they compared recent data with the previous yearly physical's results.  The physicals were more than a breathe-in, breathe-out, cup the balls, finger up the ass ordeal; they included a battery of inane questions, guessing shapes, word association, psychological stuff, wires and scans the young Elijah Rockland cared nothing for and thought nothing of, at least until the day they sent him new orders.  Military orders.

          He was to report to a screening facility in Washington.  That meant a flight over the ocean, back to his half-homeland.  His concern began when his superiors bid him what felt a final farewell, as if he'd be in America a long time.

          He hadn't seen Israel in a decade.

night.blind: 01.9.3: 25 March 2005: Anders Laughton.
          He hadn't seen his mother in one and one-half decades.

          It wasn't that theirs was a typical relationship, typical for the time, that is, distant and cold.  Somewhere along the course of the rapid human evolution of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, the species had mostly abandoned the nuclear family, the stay-at-home parent, the traditional gender and parental roles.  Maybe something had been lost in that abandonment, the rash of violences a spectrum from bullying in schools to jihads against capitalism, but Elijah's geographical distance was more the reason for not seeing her than any emotional distance.  She was his mother, his Jewish mother, atypical in that she didn't call every other day to inquire about his bowel movements, didn't use a Hebrew vocabulary, and refused to see her likeness in George Costanza's mother.  He loved Sabra Rockland, and their distance only hurt when he saw her again for the first time in fifteen years, because only then did he truly realize how long it had been.


          An eyebrow raised, flanked by the knowing, uncomfortable gazes of technicians.

          He cleared his throat.  "I--"  He noticed her stars for the first time.  "Major General Rockland."  He swept a stiff salute.

          She returned it, motioned him into a chair.  "Please sit, Mr. Rockland.  As of this moment, you are reinstated as an officer, reporting to the United Stated Army, with the rank of First Lieutenant.  This order has been signed by the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Israel.  Is that understood?"  She slid a thin plate of display glass across the table.

          "Understood, sir."  He levered the plate off the tabletop and gave it a cursory view.  "May I ask why I've been taken from civilian service?"

          "You may not, Lieutenant, but your services have been outsourced from the Mossad for the indefinite future."

          "Sir."  He put the plate back on the table.  It melted in.

          "These are Doctors Brecht and Lindevall."  She indicated the lab coats on either side.  "They'd like to perform some tests before we leave.  And no, you may not ask what kind of tests or what our final destination will be."


          He didn't hate addressing his mother so coldly, because after decades and distances, Freud's psychopathies numb themselves.  He listened to his mother, to the two doctors, the trivia they disclosed, sensed something gliding just under the surfaces of those disclosures, panic, desperation, fear, and promise.  Most people know most things before they happen or before they are said, and if only they dig a little deeper into that glorious analog recorder that is the human brain, they can recreate the future before it is the future.

          He remembered once asking his friend Ashley what the name of her new puppy was, and just before she said it, he thought: Tucker.  She said Tucker.

          He'd always had the most vivid of dreams.

          There were more changes to his mother than the addition of the two stars.  He'd spent fifteen years listening to stories about his mother, his grandfather, all the marvelous work they had done in the Mossad, but his own career in the intelligence service had never shown any more promise than a typical agent's.  His cell had once acquired intel that had led them to San Juan, Puerto Rico on a wild Nazi-chase, but that incident had only resulted in mockery, no matter how diligent and serious the organization faced the world.  People expected greatness from Elijah Aliyah Rockland, but he had never delivered, living quite lodged between the shadows of his maternal side.

          She could have been the same woman he'd last seen, stars or not, but the years had weathered her, ground down by the nearly half-finished CNN-proclaimed "Century of Terror."  The War on Terror had officially ended almost twenty years before, but it would never really end, because poor people who believe in a god will do anything to fuck up the world, if they think they'll be rewarded.  He'd enough blood on his hands from four thousand, seven hundred, sixty-one Palestinians to prove that.

          She was talking, and in that communication he saw the years, the webwork of wrinkles that had gouged her mouth and black eyes, a scattering of purest white hairs in the mix of her sensible coiffure.  Her voice was still cold-forged steel, her nails still meticulously groomed, the tattooed tag still visible on her right hand, left perhaps in defiance, a reminder that nightmares can and still do happen while the world drifts by, more concerned with Pop Idol or football than genocide.

          "Do you understand?"

          "Yes, sir."  He had let himself drift too far, partitioned his mind too thin, and he wondered what exactly he had just agreed to.

night.blind: 01.9.4: 07 May 2005: Anders Laughton.
          He had just agreed to life underneath a regional transportation center in Burwell, Garfield County, Nebraska.  It could have been worse, and then it was.

          The first two years and three months were fine, intense tutoring sessions in viewing from Arthur Glenrock and Chuck Wright, the facility's old guard, late-night poker games with some of the other viewers, support staff, and the new human resources guy, Dante Nagel.  Meals in the cafeteria, anything he craved.  As little contact with his mother as possible.  Things had been innocent then.

          One year and seven months into his assignment at Garfield, the big front doors that never opened opened, swooshed, more like it, and the most beautiful girl in the world walked in.  Just another confused, disaffected youth, she was cuffed and kicking.

          Gale Jordan.  Lavalamp-6.

          Personally, Elijah wondered if the government had someone on staff hidden away in an office building basement somewhere in Dubuque whose sole purpose was to come with codenames for Remote Viewers.  He suspected the namer had bifocals and wore plaid vests.

          Gale had gone through the typical six-month initiation into the program.  That's usually how long it took for people to stop breaking their own fists against their pod walls and give up any hope of ever living outside again.  They'd given Gale an extra three months initiation.  Might have been cheaper to vacation her and find a new candidate, but she was good.  They could have spot-burned the spunk right out of her, but in the brain business, burning away the sin is a risky proposition.

          The powers had varying systems of control over the viewers, all viewers, Majestics and Lavalamps and Rubyshoes and Dwightschultzes and Honeybadgers.  Besides the locked doors and armed guards, those systems of control generally included something much more powerful: dirt.  The government had dirt on each viewer, and that was the best way to control them.  Whether criminal records or psychiactric analyses or credit reports, the powers knew that most viewers had secrets they didn't want revealed.

          "I killed my family."

          Elijah snorted a third of an apple juicebox into his sinuses.  He coughed most of it out.  "Oh.  Well."

          "Yeah."  Gale Jordan smiled.  The cafeteria was metal echo with conversations.  It was an innocent time then, janitors mingling with generals.  "And you?"

          Elijah considered.  There wasn't really any exciting reason why he worked there.  "My mom got me the job."

          She guffawed, a disarming, un-lady-like laugh through lips still wearing tomato paste.

          He wondered what her tongue tasted like. 

          "No, really."

          He shrugged.


          "Elijah Rockland."

          Eyes reveal.  "Oh!  Well.  Wow.  That's cool, then."  She was young.  The young communicate in snippets.

          "When's your next shift?"  He sucked the last of his juice out the tiny straw.  The sound it made grated.

          "I'm off for the day.  Still learning the ropes."

          "Well," he leaned in, a conspiracy, feeling everyone already knew, a room not only of janitors and generals, but some of the world's best psychics as well, "want to come over to my pod?"

          Lavalamp-6 smiled.

night.blind: 01.9.5: 03 October 2005: Anders Laughton.
          One of the advantages to being a Major General was full clearance to any area of the Burwell facility.  One of the disadvantages to having full clearance to any area of the Burwell facility was the fact that if you didn't knock on a pod door, you stood a good chance of walking in on your son fucking another Viewer in the face.  Sabra Rockland met that scene with a chuff of disgust and a quick turnaround to the still-closing door.

          Elijah couldn't tell if he was more embarrassed that his mother had walked in on him bumping uglies, that Gale had screamed approximately seven times Fuck me, Daddy during the course of their conjugation, further crystallizing his suspicion that she had dispatched her family for a tangled web of father/daughter improprieties, or the fact that he was in the process of ejaculating when the pod door opened, and his frantic dismount and grabbing for covers only partially concealed that fact under thin cotton.

          "Ma nisrat lech bamoch?"  Rockland gave her son enough time to cover the room's overflowing vice completely.  "Nim'as li!"

          "Should have knocked, then."  His grin was half-cocked, much like himself at that point.  "You've met Gale?"

          "I hired Miss Jordan, yes."  Her gaze not so much cut as fileted.  "And we have rules--"

          "--None of which apply to sexual relations between two willing Viewers.  What do you want?"

          Rockland stabbed a smoldering look at Gale as she spoke to Elijah.  He got the distinct impression that her head was somehow hinged, capable of internal rotation to allow a disconnect between her eyes and mouth.  "I need you on an overnight lock, the details of which I can't discuss with her in the room."

          "But she's--"

          "Brand new.  Almost no clearance."  Her mouth realligned and targeted the young woman.  "Get out.  We'll discuss this later."

          "Yes, Major General."

          Gale was all hands, gathering discarded garments, all knees and footfalls, the distance from bed to door bending upon itself and making her exit comically abrupt.

          "You've got to be fucking kidding me," Elijah spat as soon as the door had slicked secure.  "I'm an adult, and--"

          "--And she's a little girl who not so long ago murdered her family.  Cover yourself, tambalon."

          Rockland wandered the pod as her son re-dressed.  It was a small wander, but she didn't spend much time with her offspring, couldn't, really, given the job and the circumstance.  She felt that every moment she was in his space was a moment she could try to absorb some of what he was, who he was, the world he'd sculpted from the steel and concrete beneath the Nebraskan expanse.  She had never spent much time with him, and she couldn't honestly form into coherent thoughts why exactly then, at that moment, she actually wanted to get to know her son, or why, at that moment, she chose to exhibit some form of maternal protection.  She knew she didn't deserve what she felt.

          The room was sparsely decorated, but from what artifacts it possessed, she gathered that Elijah enjoyed Ansel Adams photographs, small wooden statues of dogs, and turn-of-the-century rock and roll music, the kind where the singers had big hair and wore tight pants.  She never would have suspected any of those details of his life.

          "What's the mission?"  He'd hiked up boxer briefs and was belting issued cargos over them.  She winced internally at the four bullet scars on his chest, but no more than she winced at the long, elaborate Betak tattoos.  She had her own.  She should never have let him stay enlisted.

          "We've had a lot of chatter lately, a lot of displaced noise that no one can grab tightly."  She flicked a bra, presumably Gale's, from the nearest cushion on the utilitarian seating bench and sat.  "We're doing an overnight with the five highest-tested to try to scrape something from dreamland.  You're number five on the list."

          "Thought I was six."

          "You're moving up in the world."

          "Lucky me.  When?"

          "As soon as I get out of here.  The others should be locking in as we speak."

          "You know I work better alone."

          "I know."  Eyes scrawled tenderly over the four-thousand, seven-hundred, sixty-one kill tallies etched into his skin.  "But something's about to happen.  Can't you feel it?"

          He shrugged.  "Play's been a little off lately.  Something's coming."

          His mother stood.  "So get locked."  She walked toward the door, pausing halfway through.  "I don't want you to be with Lavalamp-6 anymore."

          "I know."

          She walked out.



copyright 2005 Anders Laughton.
Anders Laughton:
Anderson Laughton is a web developer from Burlington, VT.  His previous work includes a "trilogy" of new media readers, winning industry prizes in 2002 and 2003.  Once a resident of Seattle, WA, he became disenchanted with the west coast and moved east to get his MFA in Writing from Bennington in 2004.  He currently resides with his wife, their three children, two cats, and a mortgage.  Writing is something he does when he can't sleep.  You may contact Anders at: