From: Scott Ellis <>
Newsgroups: talk.bizarre
Subject: The New People (Excerpt)
Date: Mon, 1 Dec 1997 23:35:06 -0600
Organization: MBnet - Manitoba's Connection To The Internet
Lines: 321
Message-ID: <>

                                 THE NEW PEOPLE
      What do the New People want?  No one is really sure.  Anything that
      catches their eye, they take.  They don't even have to travel to wher=
      they want to be, just step into from out of the air, leaving you, you=
      friends and your family to wait outside.  Sometimes, if they like a a
      gallery, a waterfall, a person, they take it with them, leaving a blu=
      token.  They say you can trade these tokens for treasure, even for Re=
      Citizenship, if you know how to read the signs that glow within them.=
      They say there are Angels who guard the gates of the New Place, who
      must do your bidding if you put the coin in front of them where they
      cannot see it.  No one knows what this means, but there are stories o=
      people doing this.
                                 *      *      *
      Pilar often wondered why all this should have happened to her and her
family.  She was an ordinary woman, born in Los Angeles without documents,
working as a nanny in Pasadena.  Conchita was the only child she'd ever
have, conceived before the Popcops caught her.  Her patrons, the
McDermotts, managed to keep them from doing Conchita, but not before
they'd given Pilar The Shot without a warrant.  The McDermotts kept
renewing Pilar's temp card and someday she hoped to get a permie, but she
knew lots of people wanted permanent status and how many got it?  And yes,
Conchita was pretty, but surely the New People had their pick of beauties.
                                 *      *      *
      When the New People come, things will be the same, but not as much
      so.  They will stride out of their Doors, high up in the cold, exhaus=
      air, trailing breezes of summers from before you were born, laughing =
      they trip above the queue you wait in, scattering frangipani and half=
      eaten dabaloos.  They will appear in their faint cars that glide like
      pearl mists over a traffic jam swelter.  They will stand swaying like
      tall willows in the faint breeze that seems to follow them, smiling
      indulgently as you overcharge them at your booth in the market, payin=
      with the blue coins you will never want to spend.
                                 *      *      *
      Conchita was playing with her dolls by the abandoned overpass, at the
outskirts of Santa Esperanza where her mother's hut was.  School was out
and she really should be helping around the big house.  But she tried to
stay home as much possible, because that's where she could be alone,
without Mr McDermott always making her get him this or that or asking her
funny questions.  She was dressing Barbie in her lo-grav outfit when the
tall woman with the fine red chains instead of hair walked out of the
concrete wall, the one covered with Aztec Lords spray holos.  Conchita
thought the woman looked like Dimanche, except for the chains.
                                 *      *      *
      When the New People come, everything will be that much thinner.=20
      The one your husband brings home for supper will smile and murmur,
      dipping a glimmering sensor in the sauce made with lemons you grew an=
      preserved yourself.  You'll know, as he does this, that you won't be =
      to tell the meal he generates later from your own cooking.  You'll me=
      him later, after work.  Absurdly drunk on watery beer, he'll drape hi=
      long-muscled, glowing arm over your narrow shoulders, slurring strang=
      confidences.  He'll talk about parties with Hanrahan, Mikhail-7, Silv=
      Orchid and Dimanche and you'll listen with a caught-breath longing th=
      makes belief and disbelief equally impossible.
                                 *      *      *
      The Woman with Red Chains scanned all around her.  She was naked and
her golden body was covered with designs, some with stones and chips set in
them.  Conchita thought she looked like she was was coming from somewhere
without gravity, where you had to orient yourself on every axis.  The woman
sniffed the air.  She pivoted smoothly on her left hip, turning to look int=
the wall, the flickering of its holo-flames.  Then, she stared at Conchita,
as if she had just noticed that part of her surroundings was alive.  She
smiled, flicked out her black, spiky tongue and crooked her finger. =20
                                 *      *      *
      The New People will bring too much of everything and not enough.=20
      Waiting, you don't know for what, you'll watch the New Person on your=
      shift at the factory, the sad one, who doesn't seem to talk to the=20
      others.  And when he doesn't show up for work one day or ever again,=
      you'll doubt the foreman's explanation.  But at the same time you'll=
      shake your head and shrug, because you knew, you always knew he=20
      wouldn't stay.=20
                                 *      *      *
      Conchita looked around, though she knew the woman was motioning to
her.  She glanced up at Casa Pablo Huong, the mayor's cardboard and mud
compound on the top of the hill.  She heard Otis, their village donkey, bra=
as Pablo trudged out to give him his feedbag and his short rest from
pumping the barrio's water.  She heard shots in the distance and saw the
cars approaching.  She turned to the woman.  They clasped hands and
stepped through the wall.
                                 *      *      *
      One will gesture and the machine he carries, the one you can almost=
      see, will give him a starry new sky, cool, with Venus in the Fourth
      House and a bulbul calling from the cypress tree.  While the office
      lights buzz, he'll lean back on the cracked chair, breathing the jasm=
      scented breeze, waiting for you to check his passport.  On the phone,
      while you watch them stagger, giggling and blowing golden flutes,
      perpendicularly up the side of the bank towers across from your two-
      room apartment on the 243rd floor, Mary Ellen will say she hardly
      notices them.  But later, reaching under the bed at her place, you'll=
      three Hanrahan biochips and some well-worn holos of Scimitar, Dimanch=
      and Kris K.
                                 *      *      *
      When Pilar got home she ran around the village, calling.  Finally
someone told her that Octavio, the leader of the Aztec Lords, had the blue
marker the New People leave when they take something.  Pablo Huong said he
would come with her to see him. =20
                                 *      *      *
      Dancing past, a coppery boy will drop something orange, sticky and
      whirling, as you trudge home from the office.  You'll wait till he ro=
      the corner, then snatch at it, hating yourself.  Eric will come in la=
      sidling through the apartment door holding something small and often
      green, with a shape you can never describe.  Someone named Zanva gave=
      to him.  He will almost be able to tell you what it does.
                                 *      *      *
      When Pilar and Pablo Huong came to the Bone Fortress, stronghold of
the Aztec Lords, Octavio was lying in his hammock under a big willow tree i=
the courtyard, flipping the coin back and forth on his new abdomenal
      "Buenas dias, Jefe," said Pablo Huong. =20
      "Hola, Lord Mayor.  Mamacita."  Octavio snapped his long, steel
fingers.  Hector, Octavio's Jaguar chief, turned his visor off, then placed
two glasses of yage tequila before them and went back to his viro, the
latest BodyKnife BattleWorld.  Pilar would not, could not drink, for fear s=
would start shouting if she opened her mouth, so Pablo Huong downed hers
before he spoke. =20
      "Jefe, this woman's daughter may be missing." =20
      "A daughter, eh?" said Octavio, examining the blue coin with his
gunsight eye.  "Hector, have we taken in any ten year old girls lately?"
      Hector corkscrewed in mid-air, slashing invisible foes while he
thought.  "How lately?"
      "Today.  Three hours ago."
      "Not today, no."
      Octavio shrugged at his guests.  "I guess you will have keep looking.=
      Pablo Huong was about to concede this before Pilar caught his eye.
"Actually, Jefe," he said, "we know... that is... we believe... that the Az=
Lords may have some interest in this matter..."
      "What has this to do with us?"
      "She thinks the New People may have taken her.  She believes that
they may have left one of their tokens."
      "A token?  Something like this token?"
      "Something like it, yes."
      "Let us say that something like this is true and that this is the
token.  What would she like me to do about this matter?"
      "Find her!" shouted Pilar.
      "Oye, Mamacita, look around you.  Do we look like skip tracers?"
      "Big man," she sneered, "are you afraid of the Angels?"
      "Hector!  Mamacita says we're scared of the Angels!"
      Hector leaped into the willow tree, spinning upwards around the trunk
and hung in a defensive stance.  He frowned, slightly.  "The Angels can be
dealt with, if you can reach them."
      "There's your problem," said Octavio, turning back to Pablo Huong.  "=
you can reach them.  Not to mention," nodding at Pilar, "the price."
      "I work for the McDermotts, who have a Harvest concession.  Help me
find Conchita and I will bring you through their Gate, where you can take
what you want from the New Place."
      "Now this, at least, is a proposition.  Hector!"
                                 *      *      *
      Conchita and the Woman with Red Chains stepped through to the New
Place, in a valley of tall trees and drifting opal mists.  "I've changed my
mind," said Conchita.  "I want to go back to my village.  In answer, the wo=
reached for a gnarled trunk.  It writhed at her touch and Conchita saw it
was a serpent, whipping its coils free.  Hissing, it darted at her. =20
      But when the great mouth gaped, it was full of fruit, yellow, red, bl=
and colours without name.  The woman reached in and picked a purple-green
curly thing.  She smiled, broke it open and handed half to Conchita.  It wa=
full of milky, lilac-scented juice.
      Then a long call, like a bird and like a cough, echoed through the
valley.  The serpent turned to bark again and the mists were thicker and
grayer.  The Woman with Red Chains turned, motioning Conchita to follow,
down a path that glowed under her feet and faded as she passed.=20
      "No," said Conchita.  "I told you I want to go back."  The woman took=
notice, rapidly becoming dimmer in the shimmering mists.  Finally, just
before she disappeared completely, the girl's nerve broke.  "Wait.  Wait fo=
me," she called, running behind.  The woman smiled over her shoulder as she
caught up, but said nothing and kept walking down the steep, glowing path.
      In a little while they came to a sudden canyon, a crooked knife-gouge
at their feet.  Miles down was a slash of a river, hurtling over fisted roc=
and shooting a thousand colours in the cold, white sun.  From so far away i=
seemed not to roar but to clatter and scream.  Conchita paused to catch
her breath, watching her guide, who seemed to be waiting to answer her
      But before Conchita could speak, the woman stepped deliberately into
the void, tumbling headlong into the chasm.  Too stunned even to scream,
the girl watched the golden body pitch down end over end, the red chains
flailing out like a tiny, crazy flower. =20
                                 *      *      *
      Where the New People come from is not anywhere you can go.  After the=
      honeymoon, your daughter will call.  "How are you?" you'll ask.  She'=
      fine, really, fine.  "Where are you calling from?"  Well, that's diff=
      to say.  It's close, really.  "How's everything?"  It's wonderful, it=
      different.  It's just... different.  You'll see her in a couple of da=
      and you'll realize that she's right.  It's all different.
                                 *      *      *
      As they waited in one of the Aztec Lords' chopped-down, armoured,
stretch Hyundais, Pilar stole a glance at Hector.  He was probably young,
she thought, but so covered with scars it was hard to tell.  Some were
patterned, ornamental, tattooed silver.  Others jagged, random.  They were
in the afternoon traffic jam, La Congest=A1on, on the way to Pasadena, wher=
the McDermotts lived and kept their Gate.  They watched a New Person, a
mile-long Chinese dragon, pass through the soot-coloured sky overhead.=20
Hector had turned off the unlicensed manual override and settled back in
his seat.
      "Why do you follow him?" she asked.
      He paused, and she sensed him closing down screen windows behind his
eyes.  "Octavio?  He is el Jefe."
      "But why is that?  He's small.  They say he's greedy, and demands mor=
than his share off the top.  That he has to get liposuction, new blood and
muscles every year, because he won't move or stop gorging himself.  You're
fast and strong.  Why do you obey him?"
      "He has mi Animo." =20
      "All of us have self-will."
      "I don't.  Octavio won that in a battle, long ago."  And he showed he=
the fine, silver threads that circled both his wrists, then wound around hi=
arms and neck, to where they ran into his head through the middle of tiny
red orchids, tattooed behind both ears.
      "What would happen if you were to cut your threads?"
      "Cut them?  That happened three years ago.  Big Luis did it.  He kill=
15 people with his teeth and nails.  Then he died, screaming.  Blood shooti=
through the pores in his skin."
      "But how will you go through the Gate, if Octavio holds your Animo?=
He can't reach you in the New Place."
      "That's true.  For this thing, Octavio has lent me back my will,
      "And what will you do, if we come back from the New Place?  When your
Jefe puts you back under his thumb?
      Hector didn't answer.
                                 *      *      *
      There are those who try to rob and murder the New People.  But how
      do you mug a woman whose body turns to a mass of needle crystals when
      you reach to grab her?  Or shoot a man continually dissolving to and
      coalescing from clove smoke and musk?  If some miracle put Hanrahan
      within your grasp, would you use your knife or get down on your knees=
                                 *      *      *
      Conchita stood dumbly at the edge of the gorge, staring at the spot
where the Woman with Red Chains had vanished in the flashing, clattering
river.  She didn't know what to do. =20
      Then she noticed that the river was changing, somehow.  It seemed to
be swelling.  No--rising.  Leaving its banks and floating faster and faster
upwards.  Then the flood parted and she saw the golden figure, standing
whole and apparently unhurt amid the waters. =20
      But they weren't waters.  As they drew nearer and nearer, she could
see they were shards of--it looked like--it was--pottery and glass.=20
Shattered white porcelain, splinters of green canning jars, flinders of
rose-patterned boneware, bits of stained church windows, earthenware
scraps and broken beer steins, they all hurtled on, scraping, squeaking and
banging, except where the Woman with Red Chains stood, on a tiny island of
still, flat-stacked shards. =20
      The river rose to the edge of the gorge.  The woman turned and began
walking across to the cliff on the other side.  Wherever she stepped, the
fragments stopped and waited, edges flat, for her to pass.  She smiled her
loopy smile over her left shoulder, motioning Conchita to follow.
      "No!" she said.  The woman kept walking.  "Take me back!  I'm afraid =
heights!"  The woman had reached the other cliff and was climbing it.  "The
splinters--They'll cut my feet!"  She was almost out of sight.  "Stop!  I'l=
Wait!"  Closing her eyes, Conchita stepped into the chasm.
      Below her feet she could feel the shards slow and stop, vibrating lik=
an enormous engine.  She didn't look down.  Sometimes she sank in the flood
and she could see glittering slivers flashing razor edges up above her
head, hissing and racketing.  But she closed her eyes and kept walking.  An=
nothing cut or even scraped her.
      Finally, she reached the gray cliff at the other side.  And there was
the Woman with Red Chains, smiling down from its summit, a few feet above
her.  "I'm glad you crossed quickly," she said in a low voice.  "I couldn't=
held the Broken River much longer."
      Conchita turned just in time to see the shards topple, a flock of
glittering birds, diving down into the gorge.

sae - Burying a body is like starting a business: Location, location,=20
      location.  (Carl Hiaasen)