The Fiction and Poetry of Jason Thibeault

Chapter 1

pancake hiked his jeans up again as he rounded the corner, keeping them from sliding just low enough that they’d end up around his ankles. The red San Francisco Giants cap sat just on his head, his shaggy blond hair hanging over most of his face and eyes. The blue light behind his right ear pulsed energetically as NWA pumped from his phone into his head, routed by a neuroscript to the auditory portion of his brain. it was a script pancake and written himself, which he would never admit that graymatter had improved immensely to remove a bunch of signal noise. Since then, lots of people had downloaded it garnering him a little bit of coin. Secured on the stacksocial chain, it was one of a dozen scripts he, t-rex, and graymatter had written and published, allowing them all to live without having to take bullshit corp jobs. The high-fidelity neuroscript had even allowed pancake to upgrade his implant with more storage and power. Better CPU and memory meant he could run more complicated scripts, even selling his downtime to Amazon or Applesoft while he watched tv.

some banging trashcans and loud curses drew pancake’s attention to one of the many rundown houses in his neighborhood. a disheveled man stumbled from the alley between two houses, picking his way around the rubbish that spilled from the can he tipped over, and the random objects strewn around the dead grass.

hey, the man called out.

pancake paused a tune and stopped just long enough to glare at the guy.

you supposed to be some gangster?

fuck you bitch

whatever. you got anything? man I need a score

shit tweaker, you better scram before you get smoked

the man let out a barking laughter.

you aren’t even strapped I bet. Maybe I’ll just beat the shit out of you and take what I want.

The man stepped towards pancake as menacingly as he could, but pancake could see that he was struggling to even stand upright. No shoes, tattered jeans, a stained t-shirt with the logo long since destroyed by meth-induced benders on the floor of some drug house deep in the bowels of pancake’s neighborhood.

pancake, though, didn’t hesitate. You couldn’t show an ounce of weakness in this Oakland neighborhood. when the gentrification efforts had failed in the 2030s, Oakland had fallen back into the malaise that had plagued it in the 90s. but pancake could afford a house there and so he’d just made sure to adopt a persona that reflected his attitude of don’t fuck with the whiteboy.

He drew the glock from the back of his pants, holding it pointed down towards the street, his finger off the trigger. Although pancake didn’t like the idea of having to shoot the homeless guy, the years of CoD had left him with an itchy feeling of actually wanting to shoot someone, about finding out what it really felt like when you pulled the trigger with a real person on the other side of the barrel, about seeing if all that time spent behind the scope of a virtual rifle made him really capable of duking it  out on the bad streets of his neighborhood.

The man stopped dead in his tracks but didn’t run away.

That was the issue with tweakers—you never know when their desperation would get the better of them.

Why don’t you just crawl back to your meth house and fucking die there.

The man stared at him. A dog barked in the distance, picked up by others closer until the neighborhood was alive with the sound. It stopped just as suddenly as it started.

pancake shrugged and slid the gun back into his waistband. He started walking again, glancing over his left shoulder occasionally to see if the tweaker was following him, but the man had disappeared, back into the shadows of the alleyway, off into the deep ends of the neighborhood where pretend bad boys like pancake never ventured.