I thought I'd give you all a treat and introduce you to a buddy of mine. Michael Shean is an author who lives and works in the Washington D.C. area and I consider myself lucky to call him a friend. He also happens to be one hell of a writer. (No, he is not a client.) His first two novels, Shadow of a Dead Star and Bone Wires are currently available. He's just finished his third novel and is working on a fourth.
This short piece he brings us today is a precursor to his first novel and offers a quick glimpse into the dystopian world where his dark stories take place.
Anyhow, here' a quickie from my pal, Michael Shean:
The following short piece is written in the style of an editorial that comes out a few years before the events of Shadow of a Dead Star. It probes deeper into the history of the Princess Dolls, which are at that time a relatively new and unknown phenomenon. I hope you enjoy it.
Anatomy of a Princess
by Wade Bullock
(Excerpted from the Los Angeles Examiner, 'Crime' section, December 12, 2073)
Christmas is supposed to be the one time when the family, such as it is these days, is supposed to come together. The malls are filled with shoppers, and the corporate offices are empty on this one day. If there's such a thing as a holy season in the world anymore, it's the stretch from November 27th to December 25th. But not even the shopping holidays are sacred these days. No, citizens, it isn't enough for the wealthy elite that rules over our little lives to put Metzen coupes and the latest Tammy Lane handbag under their plastic trees. It's little girls that stuff the stockings of the rich man these days. Little girls full of machines.
You might have heard about the little problem Ansbach Taylor, president and founder of Taylor Energy Concepts in Seattle, has been having lately. A week ago, Civil Protection and agents of the ISB crashed a little holiday party the fusion power magnate was holding up at the Crystal Tower; the usually-crowded Waters commercial district played host to a veritable fleet of patrol cars and troop carriers as CivPro's armored best, the Special Tactics unit, crashed their way into the Tower and took out Mr. Taylor's augmented bodyguards. Anonymous sources within the contracted police agency said that no less than ten heavily-augmented men were shot to pieces by the guns of the corporation's paramilitary detachment. The interesting part isn't the nature of Taylor's entourage; Civil Protection had knowledge of them for quite some time. It was what Taylor was caught unwrapping that is the real story, and it is what had the technology cops out in force alongside Seattle's finest.
If you were a good and upstanding member of society, chances are you never heard of a Princess Doll before the news about the Tower raid came out last week. What is a Princess Doll, you might ask? well, a Princess Doll is one of the newer abominations to come out of the steaming jungle of Great Siam, which we folks on the street know as Wonderland. The Princess Doll is child prostitution taken to an even greater level of disturbing; little girls are snatched off the streets of Phuket and Vientiane, spirited away to black-market labs in the urban blocks, and transformed into product under the skillful hands of specialists.
Their bodies are heavily modified: estrogen treatment freezess their growth progression, and their breast buds are removed to help keep them looking young. Eye color, hair color, even the growth (or absence) of body hair can be manipulated by Wonderland surgeons. Sexual organs are either augmented or entirely transplanted to assist in making them more suitable 'receivers' of their new owners' affections. Furthermore, a large portion of the brain of a Princess Doll is removed and replaced with expensive biological computer hardware loaded with programming that will allow them to sexually respond in whatever method the ordering client desires. And if that doesn't disturb you enough, consider: the average Princess Doll is often as young as six and never older than thirteen.
Ansbach Taylor was entertaining a set of ten-year-old triplets when Civil Protection bashed in his door.
The first official record of an arrest involving the traffic or purchase of princess Dolls was back in 2069, when the hyper reality rock performer Nigel Mathers started to be seen in London bars with a very well made-up but very young-looking young woman whom he referred to as 'Lady K.;' Mathers raised a lot of brows at these appearances, both at the provocative costumes his female companion wore and the affection with which he treated her. But Lady K. was also being featured in promotional holovideos and print ads for his tour, and Mathers' promotional machine managed to quiet concerns by explaining that she suffered from Avrogadro's Syndrome, which typically makes its sufferers appear much younger than they actually are.
It was a believable gambit, and people bought it -- until an underground video surfaced on NewsNetNow in which Lady K. was seen engaging in a sexual performance with Mathers in Berlin's infamous nightclub, burn Hotel. After the performance, Mathers was recorded boasting about her prowess: 'Not bad for a twelve-year-old,' he was clearly seen to say. the Bureau was waiting for him when he came into New York for the next leg of the tour, and then the truth was out. Rolling Madonna was the last album Mathers will be making for a very long time; he is currently serving out a fifty-year stint in a federal cryopenitentiary. English citizenship and superstardom might protect against a pedophile in the usual case, but not when you break American technological statutes.
In the four years since then, twenty-seven cases have been made concerning these extremely controversial products of Wonderland ingenuity. Besides smugglers and distributors of black-market goods, the consumers arrested have exclusively been men aged forty to sixty-five, all of whom have been powerful and influential in the business community. And let's not forget wealthy: the average Princess Doll is believed to be worth over half a million dollars for the most basic 'model,' and more features cost more money. The talented and well-spoken Lady K. was supposedly worth two million, and who knows how much Taylor has dumped into the sin-cauldron for his own debauchery. We can assume that details will surface as the ISB continues its investigation.
So what is it that makes someone like Ansbach Taylor, Nigel Mathers, and others stoop to such depravity? Some consumers of Princess Dolls have been career pedophiles who, until their dalliances with Wonderland, have manged to either hide or suppress their desires. Some of them, such as in the case of Mathers, have been so eroded from substance abuse that they don't care what lines they cross. and others seem to be unsure as to why they have gone down this particular road. For Taylor Energy Concepts, an enormous amount hangs in the balance; the company's N-series of municipal fusion reactors is being reviewed by no less than ten major American cities for installation, and this arrest may cost the company billions of dollars. It might even be sunk by the controversy.
It's a strange price to pay for underage tickle, but this is by no means a modern story; rich and powerful men have been dragged down by their basest desires for millenia. For the past hundred years, however, the rate at which people have been exposed as the worst kinds of sinners has expanded by leaps and bounds. It isn't just about rapist dads and murderous housewives anymore; even serial killers have been transformed of late, with city standbys like the Gorgon incorporating strange technology into his morbidly artistic 'displays.' the establishment of the Wonderland cartel has granted us a new and terrifying means of exploring the darkest parts of our psyches, in ways that people couldn't have imagined even thirty years ago. The government says that it is working hard to curtail Wonderland traffic, but the ISB will see yet another cut to its funding in fiscal year 2074.
So, who knows? Perhaps the government is simply streamlining its operations once again, and preparing to unleash a new drive into the black-market technology trade. Or perhaps Ansbach Taylor is just one in a growing fraternity of wealthy perverts, a fraternity whose membership may or may not be discovered for what they are.
Well, that's justice for you.
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Los Angeles Examiner.