Nuclear fire rained from the skies, the crowning achievement of the endless Great War. It exterminated 99.9% of mankind, but men’s desire to control survived unscathed. From the ruins, a new world emerges, one just as bleak and totalitarian as the one before.
The system grinds everyone down until they fit, all but one man: Weedwhacker. An outsider, a dissenter from birth, Weedwhacker can’t be bought, persuaded, reasoned with, or subdued. No, he is stubborn as hell, and just as deadly.
But not everyone shares Weedwhacker’s dream to right the world’s wrongs. The right to choose one’s own destiny. Freedom from iron-fisted oppression. Escape from a murderous, lying regime. Some fight for these, others profit from their lack. Which side is Mason on, the ruthless, manipulating researcher? And Otto, the tank-riding war hero? And Karen, with her deadly good looks?
In a battle for civilization’s survival, will freedom be the greatest casualty? Will it fade into legend? Or will it rise from the ashes to light the way to a future without endless war, secret police, and crushing oppression? Will humanity’s longing for freedom match its will to survive?
Weedwhacker Episode 1 is a novella, around 28K words long. The full season contains six episodes.
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I wanted to write a cyberpunk story, but one that’s not so bleak and serious as others in the genre. While it doesn’t lack in the serious-stuff department, at times it is light and funny, almost cartoonish. I really love the world this story takes place in – which I’ve been playing around with since long before this specific story came to be – and hope to write a ton more of stuff in it. And this series, too, won’t be particularly short. It should be around half a million words by the time I’m done with it.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The characters are each weird in their own way. The protagonist is as deadly as they come, but totally awkward around women. One of the other POVs is a highly decorated war machine, but with a conscience and a heart. Then there’s the femme fatale who can’t get anything the way she wants, and the horrible villain who… well, I actually like him. So everyone’s a little weird, just like we all are.
The Lucerne was a very old train, from the ancient times. Originally a luxury ride, the Lucerne was almost completely finished in wood, with accents in gold and silver. It wasn’t a stretch to imagine it had been completely sanded and polished by hand. After being forgotten for a spell, it had been brought back to life by the hand of some engineering miracle. Now, it puffed its trail of little black clouds as it glided through the hills and amongst the valleys, between the Alps and the capital, Berlin.
Aboard the Lucerne traveled wealthy vacationers, returning from their ski resorts; troops on leave, bringing back home their pride and limbs; and the poor, wretched masses, enjoying a fancy ride with a fancy view, and hoping for a better life in the capital of their glorious nation. Oh, and one more guy. A guy who’d have others believe he was nice and relaxed, for just five minutes ago he sang…
“Parlo d’amor vegliando,
Parlo d’amor sognando,
All’acque, all’ombre, ai monti,
Ai fiori, all’erbe, ai fonti,
All’eco, all’aria, ai venti,
Che il suon de’ vani accenti
Portano via con sé!”
A beautiful love song about how the water, the shade, the hills, the flowers, the herbs, the springs, the echoes, the air, and the wind carried away words of love a youngster liked to sing about, both while dreaming and while awake. Go figure.
Yeah, right — not this guy. No, this guy was an illegal. And not a common illegal either. Border Control had tagged him as “dangerous, probably armed.” Nine times out of ten it was a false positive, but Sergeant Miller wasn’t happy in the slightest to hear about something like that on his shift.
Before the Lucerne had departed, Miller gathered his men, dressed them up in really fancy riot gear suits, and armed them to the teeth. Then they headed to Cabin 27 and waited. Experience said it was better not to engage right away. It was better to wait, to let targets think they were in the clear and get relaxed. And then he would engage.
Now that wait had come to an end.
Sergeant Miller approached Cabin 28 of the train walking as quietly as he could. He stuck his head to the door.
“In hindsight, split bombs weren’t as bad a thing as the old timers would make them out to be,” a voice said, inside the cabin. That was Harris, the mole. Harris’s job was to strike up a chat with the targets, get them distracted while the team got into position.
Miller signaled four of his officers to come to him, pointing the fifth to the front of the car. If the illegal decided to jump out the window, he’d get shot just the same.
“We only lost about five hundred years of progress. That’s a bunch less than in the church days, the Dark Ages. And definitely a lot less than the Anunnaki before them,” said the perfect voice of a tenured professor. Harris wasn’t really a professor. It was all mumbo jumbo.
Still looking to the front, Miller saw the cars ahead getting darker, and the increasing bumpiness below him indicated they were about to go through a tunnel. Rails weren’t maintained very well inside or near tunnels. Miller never found out why.
“In fact, it was a good thing. Without the nuke fest, we’d probably be stuck up to this day in that silly, endless war,” Harris said. If only he knew.
They were in the tunnel now. The emergency lights came on. The rails were so bad there that it sounded like a whole stack of pots and pans coming spilling out of a cabinet. Except the sound came from below, and it seemed it would never stop.
“We go in after the train leaves the tunnel. Swift moves. Try not to shoot up the place. This is a nice train, and I don’t want half of it blown off,” Miller said to his troops, moving his lips in exaggerated moves, but not making a sound. He knew they’d make a mess of the place, though. These illegals came in two kinds. The ones who liked to hide and sneak, who wouldn’t put up much of a fight when caught. And the ones who were overt — like this one — and confident. These usually had good reason to be confident.
“What’s your name again, kid?” Harris asked. Miller could hardly understand it under all that barrage of noise.
“People used to call me Weedwhacker,” the illegal replied.
“Whacker, huh? Are you a hit man or something?” Harris asked, only half joking.
“No, that’s literal. I worked in the fields. No weeds in that farm — no, sir. Although once there was a — “
At this point the tunnel became a lot thinner, its walls coming very close to the train, and a deafness-inducing swoosh took the place of every other sound. It was a lot worse than the rattling rails. Sergeant Miller took the opportunity to make a sideways, up-and-down motion towards the muzzle of his submachine gun. It was code for “fix bayonets,” which his troopers did. Miller hated this part — butchering the unarmed. At least his chances of dying were small, there in Border Control.
Brightness gradually returned up ahead. The emergency lights turned off. The swooshing disappeared as suddenly as it had come, and the clattering pots and pans faded away. It was time.
Miller looked at every one of his troopers, and they all looked back at him, waiting. He held on to the magazine that stuck out of the side of his gun and walked back a couple steps. He was about to kick the door in when…
“Well, it was nice to meet you, Mr. Weedwhacker,” said Harris, “Now if you’ll excuse me, the old man here’s gotta take a leak.”
The knob turned, and Harris walked out. Harris was wearing a disguise that day, as he often did. Fake beard, fake moustache, fake eyebrows. There was nothing fake about the fedora, but Harris never wore a fedora either.
“He’s armed and dangerous. Shoot first, ask later,” Harris murmured, whisper loud, on his way out. There was something really off about him. Like he was a bit too pale or something.
Miller raised his fist, three fingers sticking out. Then two. Then one. He kicked the door open, and they all rushed in like water through the hole of a pierced balloon.
And saw no one.
Miller turned around himself at least three times, trying to make sense of it. Then he ran outside the cabin and shot a puzzling look at the trooper who was supposed to watch the windows. The trooper shook his head. The illegal hadn’t jumped. Miller called him back to the cabin to help and —
“Gia la speranza sola,
Delle vendette mie…”
— someone sang from the car behind.
Back in the cabin, Miller wondered out loud about the situation, but no one could make any sense of it.
“We should get Harris back here,” one of the troops suggested. But before Miller could give it any thought, a muffled moan came out of the closet.
Maybe it was the adrenaline, maybe it was fear, maybe it was plain habit out of having survived a whole tour in infantry…
Sergeant Miller stabbed his bayonet right through the closet doors, twice, and twice heard the pained groans that confirmed his accuracy. The illegal dropped with a thud in there. Keeping his submachine gun pointed firmly at the now-pierced closet, Miller nodded for one of his troopers to open the little doors.
A body fell out. The trooper brushed the hairs out of the poor creature’s face and jumped away with a gasp.
Miller could hardly believe it himself. It was Harris. Minus the fake beard, the fake moustache, the fake eyebrows and the fedora, of course. And now with two extra holes that shouldn’t be there. If the metallic smell and the growing puddle were any indication, soon Harris would be known simply as Harris’s body. What a shame.
One of the troopers untied the knot on the shoelace around Harris’s jaw and took out the sock that was stuffed into his mouth.
“Top drawer! Top drawer!” Harris yelled, with a raspy voice that had none of the power it once did.
Miller opened the drawer and saw a cylinder. It was the thickness of a soda can, the height of two of them put together. It was completely flat, though, its only feature being its shiny, slick, silver surface. It took Miller a second too long to understand it, because suddenly the distant voice returned to finish the song —
E giubilar mi fa!”
— else Miller would’ve heard the clicking and thrown the thing out the window. But he didn’t. And when he finally made sense of it, it was too late.
The explosion left no identifiable trace of Miller or his squad. And he’d been right, they did make a mess of the train.
“Hope alone of vengeance already consoles my soul and makes me jubilant,” the song said. And Weedwhacker meant every word of it.
Allan Körbes first developed his love for great stories by carefully checking every item on the family’s video rental business — incidentally, that’s how he taught himself English. Growing up a single child whose parents moved around a lot, he soon developed a habit of imagining and conceiving the weirdest kinds of worlds and happenings.
Before making the jump to full time fiction writing, Allan worked as a computer programmer, restaurant manager, and spent a few years learning and working as a professional classical violinist.
Allan lives in Florianópolis, a little paradise island in the southern part of Brazil, with his wife and cats. He spends his nights making up crazy stuff across the glass from his laboratory, where his home built computer-controlled cutting machine squints at him, planning and calculating for world domination.
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