You may remember that I featured an excerpt from Jeffery Zavadil’s debut novel Mallworld Incorporated a few weeks back – a story set inside a huge, dystopian shopping mall.
Well, as promised, I have another excerpt from the second book in the series, which is out now: Mallworld, Incorporated: Bound Together.
In the second book, Jime, Sam and Rebound have won Mallworld’s first democratic election. But Mallworld is far from utopian – the movement is still struggling to gain control, and things take a turn for the worse when one of their key leaders is assassinated…
Mallworld’s gendarmes stood there staring, storefront neon reflecting off their gleaming algaeplastic helmets and shields. Jime was afraid but also determined. His stomach felt as if he had swallowed a burning rock, and his legs were made of rubber. Radio static could be heard from behind the police line, then a voice taking orders: “Sergeant Harris here . . . roger . . . proceeding.”
A Mallcop announced over a loudspeaker: “You are ordered by the authority of Mallworld, Inc. Management to disperse. You are disrupting the normal flow of commerce. If you remain, you are subject to arrest and prosecution.”
Jime was about to repeat his demand when, off to his right, he saw someone walk forward from the ReBound line. The person was limping on a crutch, and Jime saw that it was the injured teacher Marc Hebert. Marc walked right into the middle of the no-man’s land. He then propped him- self on his crutch and proclaimed to the police line:
“My fellow Mallworld citizens, we thank those of you who wear the Mall Security uniform for your service and for protecting the public. It is a hard and risky job, and we are grateful.
“The protection you provide must be equal for all. One of our voices was murdered today. As you can see, I am nursing injuries received from a beating a few weeks ago, simply because I am a ReBound member. You are sworn to protect us all, to preserve the peace and prevent violence.
“We are together here to peacefully object that protection is not being provided to everyone equally, and insist that it should be, and must be.”
There was silence for a long moment. Then the voice over the loud- speaker said: “You are ordered to disperse. If you remain, you are subject to arrest and prosecution. This is your final warning. We will use nonlethal measures to remove you.”
Jime then heard someone from the ReBound side yell “Fuck you!” and a half-filled plastic water bottle went sailing through the air, bounced off one of the Mallcop’s riot shields, and skittered across the pavement.
There was a long silence.
Then Jime heard a voice shout from within the police formation. “That’s it! They attacked us!”
From the back of the police detachment, orders were barked, some of the officers shifted their stances, and there was a rhythmic stomping as the troops changed formation. After a moment, there were two or three loud “thumps,” and tear gas grenades arced over the no-man’s land. They landed amidst the marchers, skittered and sparked, and started spewing smoke. Jime then heard several “pops!” in rapid succession, and some ReBounders started screaming. Something fast glanced off the arm of the man standing next to him, who grabbed his bicep and yelled “Ahh! What the fuck! They shot me!” Jime looked back at the crowd, and someone yelled out, “Rubber bullets! They’re using rubber bullets!”
Jime turned back around and saw that the police were marching for- ward, firing beanbag guns, rubber bullets, and more tear gas shells as they advanced. Marc Hebert gripped his crutch, shaking but unmoved, as seven or eight Mallcops walked up to him. One pointed a taser at him point- blank and fired, and Marc fell to the ground, convulsing in spasms of electricity, his crutch clattering to the pavement. More people around. Jime were hit with projectiles, and his eyes began to sting and his nose began to run from the tear gas.
Then the front wall of the police phalanx was upon them, and the ReBound line broke. A Mallcop rushed Jime and slammed against him with his riot shield, knocking him to the ground. He lay there stunned for a moment. He could feel motion and panic all around him, and saw truncheons swinging and striking people, many with hands and arms raised to ward off the blows, futilely.
Jime got up and scrambled, ducking and covering, toward the place where Marc had been. He found him lying on the ground, half conscious and twisted in pain; his attackers had moved on to other victims. Marc’s crutch lay shattered, and his wrists were bound with zip ties. Jime looked around and saw that the coast was mostly clear from the middle of the thoroughfare to the sidewalk. He picked Marc up, back straight as a board, and, despite the chaos all around him, walked him over to the side and out of harm’s way. He leaned Marc against a storefront and turned back to search for other wounded people.
Jime jogged back, again ducking low, to look for someone to help. He saw a Mallcop barking at a protester to get on the ground; when the pro- tester didn’t, the cop raised his shield to the horizontal and bashed the ReBounder right in the mouth with its edge. Jim heard the cracking of teeth and bone and saw blood spray; the ReBounder immediately went down.
Jime juked to his right to skirt the edge of the fray. The gas was getting to him, making his eyes water and nose clog, but he was determined to help his people. Jime saw a Mallcop holding two dogs on leashes; he released them, and they leapt forward, yelping, to chase down a young man. One jumped him and knocked him to the ground, while the other bit into his right leg with sharp fangs. The young man howled in pain. Jime saw the dog shake its head back and forth several times, tearing at the leg muscle; blood welled, and he could see the red of the exposed muscle under the skin. Jime then heard a crunch like breaking celery as the dog bit deep and with a yank ripped off flesh, leaving a gaping gash where a whole and complete leg had just been. The young man screamed. Jim’s eyes closed involuntarily.
When he opened them again he looked to his left and saw a woman on her knees, hands up, being hit repeatedly by Mallcops with their clubs. The “whack! whack! whack!” of the blows sickened Jime; then, as one strike landed on her arm, he heard a loud “crack!” of a bone breaking. He wished he could close his ears.
Jime ran. He ran through the smoke, trying to somehow shield his eyes from the gas. He came upon some cover: a seating area in the causeway, with a small pedestal that held a holo-advertising stele, surrounded by benches. All around him were the sounds and smells of the combat—for that, he thought, was what it was. Militarized police conducting combat against the citizens they had sworn oaths to protect, all because those citi- zens were protesting a murder. Non-lethal measures, he thought. Right.
About the Author
Jeffery Zavadil is an author and political theorist interested in democratic socialism, classical republicanism, environmentalism, liberalism, and communitarianism. He lives and works in Washington, D.C., where he has done policy work on democracy and human rights as well as analysis of global political extremism. He has taught college courses on ideologies, democratic theory, and political metaphor. He is an activist with progressive political groups and helps organize the best philosophy book club in D.C. He lives with his long-term girlfriend and their cat, and when not reading, writing, or discussing philosophy and politics, he enjoys jazz, modern art, and modern architecture, and travels when he can. This is his first book.