A company in Wisconsin is offering to implant microchips in their employees.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/nation-now/2017/07/24/wisconsin-company-install-rice-sized-microchips-employees/503867001/

That is just downright creepy.  Not only is it an invasion of your privacy, but it’s gotta be a sign of the end times, right???

Oh yeah, I wrote about something like this in a story called Static.  It’s in my second collection of short stories: Twisted Tales vol 2. To celebrate this creepiness, I think I’ll post that story here in a few parts.  Enjoy!

Static

—Chapter 1—

Mildred cowered in the corner of her cell, a hand-dug room about five feet deep, three feet wide and 5 feet high that had been created after the owner of the home had knocked out a hole in the cement block basement wall exposing the compacted earth beyond.  A heavy, wrought-iron grate that had been bolted to the cement wall served as a door kept her from escaping.  She had long since screamed herself out; no longer possessing the strength to yell at her captor as he worked in the room just beyond her cell.

Mildred had been walking home from the convenience store in the small town of Ripley.  She had done it every night for as many years as she could remember. She had taken the same path down the lonely road, not a half mile to her home just on the outskirts of town.  That had been twenty-five…maybe twenty-six nights ago; she could no longer keep track of the time.

A dark van had driven by her, going the same way she was going and had turned around about two blocks ahead of her.  The driver had done a U-turn and came back her way.  As she hadn’t recognized the van, and since she knew most everyone and what they drove in town, she assumed it was someone that was lost; not uncommon, as Ripley was just off the main highway that led to Clayton, the much larger city to the north.  The driver, as he approached, looked to be in his late-twenties to early-thirties, clean shaven and harmless.  Mildred soon found out that perceptions were deceiving.

Holding a map in one hand, which should have registered as strange in a world full of technology, the driver swerved over slowly and leaned out the window as if to ask her a question.  When Mildred approached the van, the driver quickly raised his other hand, which held a taser gun.  He shot Mildred with the gun, and as her body twitched on the ground, the voltage from the gun leaving her unable to control her movements, he got out of the van, looked around to see if he was being watched, and then dragged her body to the back of the van.  Although he wasn’t a big man, maybe 5’8”, 170lb, he easily lifted Mildred into the back of the van and quickly applied a large piece of duct tape over her mouth.  A few wraps of the tape around her wrists and ankles would keep her from moving around too much.  He then used a nylon rope to bind her to a cargo hook in the back of the van; this he had done while humming a happy little tune.

The rest of the basement was a sharp contrast when compared to the cramped cell that Mildred occupied.  Looking as if it were a room out of a NASA space station, the white walls were covered from floor to ceiling with switches and buttons; lights and dials.  Monitors were everywhere.  Mildred had seen enough computers, even in her small home town, to understand that what her captor had in that basement far exceeded anything you could buy at your local big box electronics store.  This guy appeared to be able to control spaceships and satellites from his basement without any problem at all.  And the way he moved from monitor to control panel with crisp, concise movements, denoted an individual that knew how to use the equipment at his disposal.

Her captor wore his hair short.  The dirty blonde hair was cut close to his head and stuck up just slightly in the front, as most young men wore nowadays.  And although she was too busy worrying for her life, Mildred, in her late fifties, would have considered him handsome, though not ‘rugged’, under other circumstances.  His athletic build looked strange in his black business slacks and crisp white, short-sleeved dress shirt; as if a modern man had been dressed in an outfit a white collar worker would have worn back in the ‘50s.  He even had the pocket protector to cap off the look.  The only thing missing was the taped up black-rimmed glasses.

Looking through a large magnifying glass attached to a swivel-arm holder, he was using a hand-held soldering iron on a circuit board, making some final adjustments to his latest invention.  With these minor changes, he would finally be able to test it on his latest captive; that being Mildred.  He had no idea that was her name; he never asked or looked into it when he chose his ‘test cases’ as he thought of them.  And that was all part of his plan.

When he was finished with his last solder, he blew on the weld to cool it before shutting the cover.  After a quick diagnostics check, he felt it was time to give it a go.  Strapping the device on his left arm and running the discharge cord through his left sleeve and then out his right sleeve, he inserted the small male plug into the female receptacle on the ring he wore on his right index finger.  When that was complete, he put the connected ear piece into his left ear and stood up.  Giving everything one final check, he pressed the power button on the device when he was satisfied.  A minor twinge of electricity caressed his ear, as the power surged through the device, causing him to involuntarily twitch his head to the side.  Taking up a pen, he jotted that down on his data sheet to be looked at later.

Picking up a full, plastic water bottle with his right hand, he walked over to the cell and called Mildred over, “Hey, here’s some water if you want it.”

Standing from where she was cowering in the corner, she started to plead, “Please let me go.  I won’t tell anyone what you’ve done.  Please…”

“Just shut up and take the water if you want it,” he interrupted, “I won’t offer it again.”  He extended the bottle out so she had to reach through the grate to get the bottle.

Mildred moved to the grate and reached through to grab the bottle.  When her hand was extended through the grate, her captor dropped the plastic bottle and touched her with his right hand.  As they touched hands, a static shock traveled through his hand, from the device and gave Mildred a jolt to her nervous system.   In that millisecond of contact, every thought that was in Mildred’s mind traveled back through the contact, into the device and up through the connected earpiece.  And that jolt of information threw both of them to the ground.  Moments before he passed out, her captor mumbled, “Too much juice…Mildred.”

__________

Samuel Mitchim was a twenty-seven year veteran of the force.  He was an underpaid, overworked, divorced, balding, and slightly overweight detective.  But what he was most of all was confused.  He had been given the unwanted task of trying to solve a string of murders that no one else wanted to even get near.  Over the last eight months there had been eight murders.  The victims, all from smaller towns surrounding the larger town of Clayton, where he was stationed as part of the State Detective Unit, and all of them what he would consider ‘soft’ targets.  Housewives, cashiers and fast food attendants, both male and female, in their mid- to late- fifties, and not in ‘fighting’ shape, these victims all had two things in common; they walked home from work late at night and they weren’t in the best of physical shape.  It was almost like clockwork, and that was the grisly part.  A victim would go missing and almost one month to the date they would be found dead within a mile of where they were abducted.  Their bodies were covered with small burns, as if they had been subjected to electrical shock multiple times and they were highly malnourished and dehydrated.  Their clothing was dirty, as if they had been in a pit, but nothing conclusive could be told from that, as it was pretty much the same dirt found throughout the state.  No one on the force thought these murders were a coincidence; they knew they had a serial killer on their hands.  And they also knew that Mildred Simpson, 58 years old, resident of Ripley, widow, cashier at the local convenience store and mother of two had been missing for 29 days.  Detective Mitchim was confused and frustrated, as he hadn’t a single lead and knew in his heart that her time was short.

“Whatcha noodling on Sam-mitch?” asked Jeff Grosling, his colleague and often-times partner for the past ten years.

“What do you think I’m ‘noodling’ on Jeff?  You know as well as I do that it’s looking bleak for Mrs. Simpson.”

“Yeah, it does.  Haven’t turned up anything yet?”

“Nothing.  I’ve gone over the coroners reports dozens of times, I’ve scoured every neighborhood of every victim, and I have uniforms cruising her neighborhood hourly.  I’m at a loss here.  It just makes no sense.”

“You still think the electrical burns are the key to this?”

“It almost has to be.  Every victim has them and the coroner’s reports for the first six victims state that their hearts had stopped due to electrocution.  The fact that the last two died from dehydration and starvation doesn’t take away from the fact that they had the same burns.  It’s as if this sicko is trying to see how much juice they can take before they die.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Well, the first victims showed signs of higher levels of electrical damage to their organs than the later victims.  To me, the reports indicate that he…”

“Or she,” interrupted Jeff.

“Yeah, or she, is dialing back the juice with each victim.  At least that’s what it ‘feels’ like to me.  The coroner can’t confirm that, as the testing can’t get that specific.  But, with the last two victims dying from something other than electrocution…it’s as if he, or she, is learning from the victims.”

“Any chance they are separate incidents?”

Sam gave Jeff a withering look, “Okay, okay…just asking,” said Jeff.  Everyone knew they were related.  It was just in Jeff’s nature to ask the ‘stupid’ questions that no one else would voice.

Everyone in the precinct had read the reports.  This was their number one priority, but Jeff knew that Sam worked best when talking it out loud, so he sucked it up and asked those questions in hopes to trigger a thought.  His friend and partner, Sam Mitchim, was sort of a legend in the state.  He had solved more of the bizarre and cold crimes than any other detective, active or retired; and that was why he was the lead on this case.

__________

Holding an icepack over his left ear with his left hand, he tried to type, single-handed, the information he had gathered from the last experiment.  “Mildred Simpson, age 58, address 17961 Beckingdale St, Ripley, bank account number 624593, ATM passcode 6346, two daughters, Amanda from Knoxville and Rachel from Duluth.”  Putting the icepack down for a second, he rubbed his eyes with both hands, to clear his head.  Returning to his notes, with both hands this time, he finished, saying aloud what he typed.  “Works at Smith’s Convenience Store, 4 years now, security code for alarm system is 5524…”

The information he obtained through that millisecond of contact was staggering.  He couldn’t be happier; well he could, if he were honest with himself.  He’d need to tweak the system again.  The jolt he received from the device had knocked him out for thirty minutes and had left him with a miserable headache.  And it had killed Mildred.  Too bad about that, he thought; he’d need to dispose of her like the others, though it would be a few days earlier than normal.  He had let his impatience get the best of him, and now the pattern had been broken.  Oh well, he supposed he could keep the body here for a day if necessary, but he really didn’t want to.  It would start to smell soon.

Looking up from his computer screen, he glanced at his latest victim.  “Dammit,” he said to himself.  He’d been so excited when he had woken up that he went directly to the computer to log the information.  He just hoped rigor mortis hadn’t set in yet, as it made moving the body more difficult when it was twisted as it currently was.  He preferred it when the body was straight as a board when he moved them.  He was funny that way.  As he walked over to adjust the body, he made the decision to just dump the body early.  It might be fun to mess with the police just a bit and not wait the standard thirty days; twenty-eight days were good enough.  With that decision made, he started trying to figure out how to reduce the voltage and still receive back the same amount of information from the transfer; all this while rearranging Mildred Simpson into an easier carrying position.

__________

Detectives Mitchim and Grosling stood back as the local uniformed police secured the area with their ever-present yellow ‘Police Line’ tape.  Mildred Simpson had been found by her neighbor earlier that morning.  He had called the police and the police had called in the detectives.  The body had been set down next to her house, behind some shrubs.  This was the first time one of the victims had been left at their home and that disturbed Mitchim for some reason; that and the fact that it was day 28, or 29, depending on when you looked at your watch.  It was different from the others, but all the signs were the same; within a mile from the abduction location, about a month after the abduction and lots of the telltale electrical burns on the body.

As they watched the scene unfold, Jeff Grosling said, “Have you talked with the FBI about this case at all?”

With a sharp, bark-like laugh, Sam replied, “Heh; that’s a laugh.  I can remember back in ’93 when I joined the force.  If something like this would have happened, the Feds would have been all over it.  They would’ve taken over jurisdiction and we would have been getting them coffee, hoping to be involved in the case.  Now…with all the Anti- Terrorism task forces, we’re lucky if they stop by for something like this.

“But to answer your question, yes, I have reached out to them on a number of occasions.  They’ve said they would let me use their databases, and I have, but as far as any help…we’re on our own.”

“Hrrumph.  Typical.”

Standing there for a few more minutes, Sam said, to no one in particular, “How could they make it in here and not be seen by one of the uniform patrols?”

“Huh, what was that Sam?”

“Oh, just talking to myself again.  I was just wondering how the perp got in here with the victim, dumped her without the neighbors seeing anything, and got away without one of the hourly patrols seeing anything.  It’s as if they knew the schedule or something.”

“Maybe they are monitoring the police scanners.”

“Maybe, but that is a fully encrypted system now; has been for a number of years.  It would take a true computer genius to crack that system.”

“Maybe this puke is a computer genius.”

“That’s a whole lot of ‘maybes’ Jeff.  That would be just what I needed; a psychopathic killer that’s also a computer genius that has the ability to hack into the police radio network to monitor our communications.  What else?  You think maybe he’s also some evil genius that’s out for revenge because of some past slight?  No, this is just some sicko that gets off on electrocuting people.”

“You’re probably right Sam-mitch; it’s just strange, as you say.  Any chance you can pull some strings and get one of those fancy Fed profilers in here?”

“I’m on a list.  Who knows when they’ll be able to help us out.  Like I’ve said before, we’re on our own.”

__________

In the basement of a home built in the late 1880s, a clean-shaven man in his mid-thirties sat in front of a computer monitor typing away at his notes.  Although the home was built almost one-hundred and forty years ago, the basement looked like it belonged in the future.  A genius with a staggering intellect, the man was trying to work out the last details for his invention.

It had been two days since he dropped off his latest victim.  He had decided to throw a curve ball at the cops, and had dropped her off at her home.  It would, he figured, give them something to think about.  The problem with his plan, however, was nothing he could fix; at least not yet.  So he would need to step up his game.  But before that, he’d need one more ‘test case’, as his design was still flawed.  He needed to make the discharge of electrical current similar enough to a static shock you’d get by rubbing wool socks across the carpet.  And currently the people he touched with his device ended up dead.  As he considered it further, he decided he may need more than one more ‘test cases’.

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