Tuesday Fiction: “Dance Dance Revolution” by Charlie Human

Today we have a short-short from South African writer Charlie Human.

Dance Dance Revolution

By Charlie Human


Special Forces secure the perimeter of the town and give us the green light to parachute in. Clearing hornet nests is something of a specialty of ours. Special Forces don’t like us, but they’re wise enough to keep their mouths shut.

We advance, Alpha Team in Swan Lake formation. The phosphorescent flares Special Forces have sent up make everything glitter with radiance. The town’s populous wail and cry when they see us. A woman, gnashing her teeth and pulling her hair, throws herself at my feet. Navy Seals they spit at. Dancers they beg for mercy.

Our Killbots trundle next to us awaiting orders. I watch mine, Nureyev, drive over a fruitseller’s stand with his heavy, spiked tracks. I smile. I have a suspicion that his programming has a few sadistic lines of code.

The insurgents engage us with a few exploratory rounds of rifle fire. I click my heels together. You’re not in Kabul anymore, motherfuckers. I pirouette which sends a volley of heavy machine gun fire back. I know the hit is confirmed even before the green lights blink on Nureyev’s back.

Alpha Team snaps into motion. Dance is an intuitive, responsive medium. We react to the attack without thinking about it. The machines are linked to us via biofeedback which translates our dance steps into destruction. My new tutu is lighter and more accurate at mapping my movements, based as it is on cutting edge motion-capture technology used in CGI movies. Heel-toe, Heel-toe and dip. Four men die without knowing they’ve been spotted.

The first forays into Military Dance Interface were predictably clunky, death by Fred Astaire 1.0, but things improved. It’s easy to marvel at how far information interface has come in society; from the flipping and flicking of touchscreen devices to controller-free sports games which map human movement. This is just like that. Just with 50 calibre machine guns.

Beta Team moonwalk across my vision laying down a barrage of RPG fire. A round clips my shoulder and I see a sniper on a rooftop with my head in his crosshairs. I break formation to reach for the sky and shimmy. The insurgent dies in a hail of bullets. Disco has saved my life more than once.

Rounds ricochet off the wall behind me but I hardly notice. In this business you’ve got to dance like nobody is watching you through laser-guided scopes. The fighting has become close and Alpha Team switches to a Bollywood dance sequence. The Killbots respond by initiating close combat mode.

Clasping my hands together and lifting them above my head; Nureyev chainsaws through kevlar and flesh. Bobbing my head from side to side: Nureyev snaps necks with the passionless precision of machine jiu-jitsu. Delta Team scythes through opposition on our flank. For a second I pity the enemy. Those line-dancers are brutal.

We glide down an alley and straight into a trap. Nureyev is hit by a grenade and our link is severed. Dancers fall to gunfire all around me. One of them, Katya Illinova, teeters on pointed toes as bullets rip into her. She doesn’t falter as she performs a last bow which initiates a kamikaze run by her Killbot. The explosion lights up the town like an orange sunset.

I pirouette into a house to avoid any surviving snipers. Straight into the arms of the Dictator. I recognise him from intelligence photos; a handsome man with a long moustache, dressed in military uniform. We lock eyes. I hold out my hand and he takes it. We tango slow and sure. He smells faintly of explosives, sweat and vanilla, his hand on the small of my back, his breath on my neck.

He dips me and I bring my leg up to his shoulder. The military network satellite responds to my muscle command and dispatches several Tomahawk missiles to our location. We’re still dancing as everything is obliterated.


Dance Dance Revolution (c) 2010 Charlie Human. First published in Chew Magazine.


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