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Today's Story by Darren Callahan

Will that be hard?

City of Human Remains – Chapter 3



The image on the Visor takes his attention.  He loses track of the time.  When he jumps and twists over his shoulder, no one is there.

Good riddens.

Jose’s gone and Lorenzo likes it that way.  He wants to preserve his aloneness.  The nightshift, its primary purpose, is to give him 10 hours free from noise.  That’s the reason he volunteers so often.  In the daylight, the orphans make no discernable impressions on him, only merge into the sound of a loud, broken motor.  He can hardly put 2 thoughts together.  He is overwhelmed with happiness when Lights Out arrives (8 PM sharp.)  His office clock moves forward another 33 minutes as he becomes lost in the droning broadcast.

81 children.

He drifts off to sleep where he sits.

81 children.



He dreams that 1 of them is Hektor.

I just saw the boy!  He’s here!  He’s alive!  You fucking liars.

            In another dream, Lorenzo wrestles against dogs.  Big fierce dogs with teeth and sharp claws.  Almost like bear claws.  But he wins. 

When Jose shakes him at 5:58 AM, Lorenzo’s forgotten everything about the night and his dogs.

The Media is outside, Jose announces, his voice riddled with bullets of fear, duty, and paranoia.  I’m going to go to shoo them away.  Do you want to come?

When Lorenzo removes the Visor, the sides of the device have left deep creases in his face.  Who’s gonna watch the floor?

Calento’s arrived.

Why me?  Burutzagi should—

You’re bigger.

Lorenzo nods.  He understands.  At 2 meters and 105 kilos, with faded tattoos from gangland days, Lorenzo makes a good counterweight to Jose’s slim frame and soft face.  The ward captain jumps to his feet.

Jose leads Lorenzo to the building’s elevator and presses ‘G.’

I appreciate you doing this.

Who is it?  Do you know?

32 Sun.

I hate the flash editions.

At the ground floor, the 2 workers meet Mr. Burutzagi.  The guard – stooped and frazzled – reeks of stale coffee.  66, retired from the regular force but fits the orphanage’s security uniform, conscripted to mind the desk.  I wouldn’t go out there, the old man cautions.  They’re vicious.  I’ve placed a call to Ms. Ximon.

Jose hesitates.  She coming?  For this?  You should have called the police.

If they’d answer, huffs Lorenzo.

Burutzagi thinks and makes a face.  You’re right, yeah, you’re right.  You are.  I shouldn’t have called her.  She’s got bigger things going on.  I’m so used to just…to just, whenever there’s— I’ll call her back and tell her to—

Jose shakes his head disapprovingly and rockets through the front doors of the orphanage, out into the morning light, the clear, sunny day.  He burrows into the mud of Media clumped outside: a Post It Man with a hand-held imager, a driver, and a young Make-Up Girl, and a Reporter with his lightpad and pen.  Lorenzo does his best to block the Post It Man, who’s young, wiry, and has the imager trained on the orphanage’s front doors.

The Reporter assaults them with his questions.  Has Ms. Ximon been here today?  May we speak with her?  Only 10 minutes.  Just a few questions.  Is she here?  Is she here?  Is she here?  Is she here?  Is she here?

Lorenzo shoves the Reporter back with a high-pressure exhalation of arms.

Jose gates the ward captain with his body.  Lorenzo—!

Jose’s trying to shut Lorenzo down, and that’s not likely.  Lorenzo doesn’t care for prudence; he enjoys muscle.  The throat’s a muscle.  Louder and with emphasis: GO AWAY, you fucking ASSholes!

This is in violation, Jose feebly injects, red-faced.

Just a few questions, insists the Reporter close to Jose’s face, leaving only tiny dots of courtesy in a voice colored with belligerence and impatience.

Lorenzo bats the Reporter away with a clip on his lightpad.  Jose catches Lorenzo’s leathery hand as if it were a baseball, and before it can strike again.

The Make-Up Girl doesn’t know where to stand – too far to the left and someone could roll her over; too far to the right and she might get the back-end of a cocked arm.  She’s young, and brunette, and wrong for this.

The driver, an even match in size with Lorenzo (probably brought along for a show of strength) steps up quickly.  Wrapping arms like a straightjacket, the driver cuts into the swatch.

Jose and Lorenzo divide and stumble further from the door than the barbarians of the 32 Sun.


Lorenzo turns.  Jose’s said this.

Lorenzo catches the supervisor’s eyes.  Something’s changed.  Anger floods every tick of Jose’s face.

Leave her alone! Jose shouts.

Yeah, leave her alone! Lorenzo echoes, but must admit that he’s less committed to the sentiment.  He’s about to give it another, better try, but is drowned out.

You’ve no fucking right to get in someone’s fucking business like this, you leeches, you fucking ciphers!  Go find another parent.  Or, better yet, go find who’s taken them!  Yeah, that’s it!  Who’s taken them?  THAT’S where the story is, you fucking idiots.  GO AND HELP INSTEAD OF STANDING RIGHT HERE WAITING!

Jose takes hold of the imager’s boom recorder, snaps it off, swings it like a sword.

DO SOME GOOD! he screams.

Jose doesn’t need me, thinks Lorenzo.  The supervisor’s 10 meters tall – 300 kilos and a monster.  Lorenzo is as shocked for the Media team.  Fuck yes.