Don takes a swig of rum and surveys his creation. He calls it the Eagle’s Nest—outfitted with state-of-the-art surveillance technology. From this central location he can monitor every nook and cranny of his coveted 10,000 square feet and surrounding 200 acres.
The high-end Knight Security system set him back a cool $500,000. Biometric checkpoints (iris, voice, thumbprint scanning), pressure mats, driveway and seismic sensors, wireless night-vision cameras, window screens that scream when cut, and a dozen remote-controlled XM8 assault rifles. Even if an unwanted Outsider gets through all that, the Eagle’s Nest itself is an impenetrable safe room hidden behind a Kevlar-lined faux bookshelf door and encased within five feet of concrete.
And to think, Carrie wanted to spend their savings on a vacation to Paris. For Chrissake, paying good money to spend time around the goddamn French. After that, it was night classes. What good would night classes do when at any moment some Outsider could pillage their long-collected creature comforts? What would they have left without a lifetime of prized purchases to define them?
The sound of knuckles rapping repeatedly on oak is only startling for a second. The counter-balanced door slides open and a bath-robed Carrie sways in on slippered feet. Blond curls silhouette her concerned face, accentuated by well-defined cheekbones, large green eyes, and full, pouty lips. The bathrobe is hugged close, hiding the perfect proportions he selected her for. Her voice is whiny silk.
“Don, come to bed, won’t you? You’ve been in here all day. Just let the system monitor things for once. That’s what it’s for, isn’t it?”
Don ignores her, staring at a visual disturbance in quadrant 34. Probably a squirrel or something, but you can never be too careful. He takes another swig of rum, emptying the glass with a sigh. This is the third time today Carrie has tried this shit. The scratch on her face from a medium velocity impact with his class ring should have conveyed the “leave me the fuck alone” message clearly enough. He doesn’t have the energy to start another fight.
Ignoring pleas of: “Don it’s so late,” and: “Please, just come into the bedroom… I’ll make it worth your while,” he focuses on monitor number five. Something is registering on his thermal vision camera. The body-heat signature is too big to be a squirrel. Perhaps a stray dog? Well whatever it is, if it’s looking for a yard to crap in it’s going to find a hail of hollow-point bullets.
The thrill of this constant control is more satisfying than plain-old sex.
Taking the hint, Carrie finally sulks off back to bed. Unsympathetic, Don chuckles to himself. If only she had the slightest clue how he had gotten them all this land. The ample supply of amenities she is so accustomed to. Then maybe she’d understand the importance of the time he spends in the Nest.
Those idiots didn’t even see it coming. By the time they knew what Don was up to, it was already too late. With the Outsiders sending the population density through the roof, nothing’s more valuable than beachfront real estate. Problem was, those motherfuckers next door weren’t selling. Self-righteous yuppie bastards with their precious hybrid cars and solar panels. They were the first to go.
The thing is, regardless of how much of a goodie-two-shoes somebody is, if you videotape them long enough they’re bound to slip up.
And these hippie-wannabe neighbors were no different. It was just a matter of pointing his ultra-zoom cameras in their direction. Sure enough, Mrs. Hippie-wannabe enjoyed a little afternoon-delight action on the side with Mr. Hippie-wannabe’s brother. After showing her the recordings, acquiring their property was cake.
And their house, with all its eccentric eco-friendly trappings, quickly met with a demolition crew. The view from Don’s bedroom window never looked better: ocean as far as the eye can see.
Of course, it didn’t stop there. Neighbor after neighbor was spied upon by his high-tech home security—every aspect of their lives recorded, scrutinized, categorized. Don always made reasonable offers to acquire adjacent properties through typical channels before resorting to blackmail. But these days, chances are if you’re fortunate enough to own property you aren’t selling for the world. So with neighbor after neighbor, he revealed the dirty knowledge he’d accumulated through long hours spent in the Nest. And low and behold, every last one of them vacated their properties as soon as they could finish packing. Houses were ripped down until everything was clear for 360 degrees.
Now he can spot an Outsider from a mile away.
The high-pitched shriek of a triggered motion-sensor snaps him back to the mission at hand. The disturbance is in quadrant 12—right at the end of the driveway. And this time, his thermal cameras all scream human. If the mass of orange and red on the screen in front of him is any indication, a small group of humans. Outsiders.
Don puts on the remote control to his auto XM8’s: leather gloves attached to a toy gun loaded with enough sensors to capture his every movement. Linking up to the rifle in the quadrant nearest the intruders, he waits, finger on the trigger. These fucks, they think they’re so clever. He’ll be damned if any Outsiders sneak through his land after illegally entering Gated Sector US394875.
His heart rattles against his rib cage, giddy in anticipation. The slimy bastards come into full view on monitor number eight, and he let’s them have it. The automatic rifle swivels and pumps its entire cache into their trespassing bodies—they don’t even have time to hear the silenced rounds before they’re torn apart.
When the chamber is empty, Don flips on the floods. His glee dissipates as the monitor glows with three motionless figures sprawled out on the concrete driveway in pools of blood. A fashionably-dressed couple obliterated along with their cutesy toddler—the kid staring up through a mess of skin and bone that used to be a face. Expensive cameras render every exquisite detail in high def. Don looks at monitor number two and notices the luxury sedan with its flat tire at the end of the drive.
Fuck, just what he needs. More collateral damage. Couldn’t they read his “No Trespassing” signs? Cleaning up this mess won’t be pretty. Plus, if Carrie finds out this happened again she definitely won’t let him keep funneling money into the Nest. There’s still so much he needs to invest in if they are going to stand a chance against the Outsiders.
With an exasperated exhale of breath, Don switches the system to auto and opens the bullet-proof door.