by Jason Erik Lundberg
Bachy Soletanche. Bachy Soletanche. Bachy Soletanche? Nah. Never heard of him.
What? Ten? Only ten? Ah, fifty, good. Hundred, even better. Oh, yah, Bachy Soletanche. Yeah, we’s acquainted. Followed his exploits, cheered on, lent an occasional hand. Hands holding huffily hilarious hornswaggles, Horatio.
Look, we never actually met. Don’t know what he looks like, him, hum, higgeldy hero. Got some emails, sure, but never saw. His face, you see? But oh, oh, oh did we have us some fun, we did. A man of smoke he was. Could sneak slide slip into anywhere anywhen then vanish without leaving behind a fingerprint or scuff on the floor. A djinn? No. No. Maybe, who knows. Sneak sneak sneak, them local superstitious supercilious silly sycophantic slumberers think of him a ghost, sure, seeing ghosts everywhere, them, in the trees, in the sewers, in the toilet water, nowhere to hide, and weren’t nowhere he couldn’t get.
Yeah, saw the headlines, the naughty nomenclature naming him, a terrorist, they said, hah. These fat flatulent fucking philandering photo-whores spreading that filth, them. No call for that, no sir, no, not necessary nor niggling nighttime lovers of laughing lacivious loneliness, no, wasn’t fair wasn’t right, they. Terrorists spread terror, but Bachy. Bachy. Bachy spread art, spread snark, spread satirical dissatisfaction and they can’t have that, no, them with their hands around the throats of the populace, wiretapping, scunts, search-tracking, IP monitoring, analyzing buying habits, determining nationalism, do you love this flag enough? Nation-building, how committed are you?
But Bachy Soletanche, Bachy Soletanche, ripple, float, fly, infiltrate all the nooks and crannies, yes. Can only tell what I know in person, but yes, it was him hacked the local broadcasts, replacing sad stupid silly serial soap dramas, them with the crying eyes and dramatic wide eyes and squinting eyes and the bad bad bad. So bad, the writing, the acting, the cheap production, but yet the locals eating up with a spoon, this mind garbage, this pestilential putrid putrescence of the populace, and so yes, yes, yessir he hacked, hooded and holy, and replaced with Marxist debates, with techniques of water desalination, with that man sitting in a black box studio reading the dictionary, some people think that man Bachy Soletanche, but no, no. Bachy Soletanche not that stupid to show his face. Not me neither, though I volunteered.
And the augmented reality. Oh the genius! The slight sly slipstreaming somnolence of the little bits, the binary of quality/non-quality invading iSpex over the entire population, Haru, spicy and speculative, avatar architect autonomous apotheosis and aggregate of information feed and overlay. No more the GPS directioneering, no more the instant access to the stringy vibrations of knowledge, but instead the compulsion to volunteer, to raise the poor, to serve community as “mandate” by the gahmen, gah man, heh, hah, a whole society putting down the shackles of more and new and shiny, putting aside the love thyself for love thy neighbor, doing for the meek, helping the helpless, homeless, heh heh, oh such gracious gratifying goodness gifted from the “gahmen” til the real gahmen re-established the iSpex links, rebooted the moral/ethical, replugged into the commercial buy buy buy you aren’t good enough and forget about those sleeping on park benches and under train station awnings, why aren’t you spending? But the seed, the seed of involvement, they couldn’t quash that, no.
But the best time, the best time, the very very best time was that one morning. Oh, that morning! You know, you know the one I mean, yes, yes you do, we all do, the morning all the Members of Parliament awoke molecularly bonded to the ceiling of the chambers by their buttocks. Ah! Ah! The raucous religious range of refrigerated revisioning that came after, but we knew, we knew. Minds foggy still druggy they awoke, they realized, they screamed shrieked shriked shanked but then all fell silent as their PM, their man, their leader, descending denuded downstairs donning nothing but his shoes, naked on that staircase into the chambers as the day of his birth and singing a meme-virus planted by Bachy Soletanche that infected the rest, songs of protest of solidarity of false flippancy. Of course, of course, they should, the song told them, put aside power, protect the population, encourage dissonant dissident deductive debate, allow a multiplicity of political parties, party on, rather than unicameral unitary unilateralism. Them, them, oh them, were it to be but no, no, not all susceptible, and those meme-immune managed to masterfully manipulate monsterish montages of mental mopery that halted the song and brought them back to themselves.
But Bachy, Bachy Soletanche, vanish after that, him, can’t bring about such humiliation without retaliation, and the death warrant, the bounty, turned the man of smoke to dissipation, scattering to the winds but he still, still out there, a unique form of continuity in space. The city rises with abstract speed and sound, and falls with text fixed in type, in electrons. His name everywhere, his being everywhen, on the side of construction cranes, spread all over sites of recalcitrant regulatory renovation even. In your head, in your head, zombie. Bachy Soletanche. Bachy Soletanche. Bachy Soletanche. Bachy Soletanche. Bachy Soletanche. Bachy Soletanche. Bachy Soletanche.
Jason Erik Lundberg is the author of several books, most recently The Alchemy of Happiness (2012) and Red Dot Irreal (2011), as well as the founding editor of LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction, the editor of Fish Eats Lion (2012), and co-editor of A Field Guide to Surreal Botany (2008) and Scattered, Covered, Smothered (2005). His writing has appeared in venues such as Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, the Raleigh News & Observer, Qarrtsiluni, Sybil’s Garage, Strange Horizons, Subterranean Magazine, The Third Alternative, Electric Velocipede, and many other places. Lundberg’s short fiction has been nominated for the SLF Fountain Award, shortlisted for the Brenda L. Smart Award for Short Fiction, and honorably mentioned twice in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. He is a graduate of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop and holds a degree in creative writing from North Carolina State University.