By Jamez Chang
The lights on the black armored bus blinked in three-second intervals. Red flashes signaled the platform was lowering to the ground; that the riot police were soon to follow. Beside me, in the open air, was a girl whom I’d recognized from first semester Symbolic Logic with Professor Chesner.
The girl dropped her protest placard when the lights had first blinked, and reached into her backpack. Out came a violet goggle-cam, ordinary swimming-pool goggles, really, except for the wireless retina display that would record the first blows. We were a pitcher’s mound away from the bus.
There was a rumbling, and near the ground a gnawing rattle—like a buzz-saw—as the piston-hiss in front of us gasped, sent dust, paper, and students to scurry or scream behind us, to yell “Here they come!” “Oh, God, here they come!”
The girl, me, and seventeen other students stood at the front of the line, undeterred, not moving, even as the hydraulic pumps from the retractable doors churned to a hollow, holy thud; even as the thirty-seven anti-insurgency officers coiled out of the two-ton vehicle.
The clack, cling, clack, cling of boots descended from the police bus onto pavement, cauterizing the promenade sidewalks of Historic Bruin Plaza. Ground sizzling with every staccato step. Officers pinched the tuft ends of their cobra claws, forming a line at the edge of our grass in four rows of nine.
“I didn’t know they came in purple,” I said to the girl. She wore a goggle-cam I couldn’t recognize, a stripped-down gas mask drenched in violet hues. I gave her a thumbs-up sign. The girl pointed to the bridge of her nose and simply said, “moxy”; then she pressed her thumb on the goggle plastic between her eyes, and instantly two mox guards—spongy yellow bullets—dangled like oxygen masks before getting sucked right up into her nostrils—swoosh!
I wore Dennor Gasmask 4 that day; she wore goggle-cam version 5. I wondered what in the hell I was doing at a Lucid Combat[i] rally so early in the morning; she was programmed with the latest in tensile moxy-guard technology, designed to protect her from the tear gas, pepper spray, and moxy-cloth acid hurdling directly toward the two of us.
[i] Provision 17-C of the Lucid Combat Rules requires full alpha-state compliance before engaging in anti-insurrection activities.
– refers from the phrase “with threats of blocking their InterLink” in the story The Department of Extinct Objects – Case Number 1985 by Jessica Patient