ParaVice: Chapter 0
Updated: Apr 29
Jeffrey Arce is an author and illustrator of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. With a passion for epic world building, his stories are forged in otherworldly dimensions full of history, ecology, mythology, crisis, and characters with colorful personalities and special abilities. As a traveling cartoonist and prolific thinker, he collects new ideas for stories through experience and dreaming. He has written hundreds of short stories and is a constant blogger at his website Morbidtoybox.com.
The only elements that remain in abundance on this planet
are human flesh,
What is ParaVice?
“In the cradle of the machine, awaits your salvation.”
A high-profile murder opens the door to an ancient chthonic nightmare that is feasting upon the streets.
Director Taron Odale is a seasoned investigator of domestic terrorism and a native to ParaVice, a nefarious city. A forsaken territory of Neuterra. When he is dispatched to investigate the brutal massacre of a controversial political icon in his city, he immediately suspects a deeper, darker conspiracy hard at work.
Meanwhile, at the epicenter of a virulent criminal breeding ground, a deadly storm is vast approaching. Shadowed by discord and chaos, two rival entities secretly prepare for war. A notorious mafia known as The Company are forced to confront a nuisance that is actively plaguing their sinister operations. They call her Red Lips, Madam of an esoteric gentlemen’s club, and the greatest threat they will ever cross swords with. Her sisters, endowed with extraordinary talents, are veiled by a cloak of gorgeous skin and armed with a cajoling charm that only the very rarest of bloodlines possess an immunity to fend off. Underneath their aesthetic masks they have an ugly little secret salivating for the taste of evil, and an entire city in their grasp, burgeoning with the ripest of sin.
Story and artwork by Jeffrey Arce AKA Jarce ArtThor.
Dedicated to You, Constant Reader.
We are nothing without you.
Good Morning Neuterra
The emblem of Neuterra Media (a cartoon depiction of a globe with a network tower crowning it) materialized next to the golden boldfaced letters of the signature Good Morning Neuterra as the program streamed across television screens throughout the nation. When the words dissolved and the camera zoomed in on the effervescent host of the morning news show, its serene homely setting invited her audience to layback, open their mouths and swallow down the following with ease. Her smile was beguiling. Her bouncy blond hair was mesmerizing, and her crystalline blue eyes were hypnotizing. She was the human embodiment of all the right ingredients to coax her viewers. Even on the darkest hour of news cycles, she was able to wrap it all up with honey and ween her watchers on a world in ever-growing peril and despair.
Then, after the daunting preamble is through, she can brighten up and gleefully pivot to a lighter topic to ameliorate their mood.
“Welcome back,” she said with that enchanted smile she was so famous for. “My next guest is joining us via satellite transmission from her rather unconventional home in Tikawacha Sunland, also known as The City of ParaVice. She is a philanthropist, social activist, and the recipient of many prestigious accolades in the fields of molecular science and Nuclear Physics. Please welcome the CEO and founder of the energy superpower Impetus, Miss Emily Stevens.”
An apparent live studio audience applauded as a digital window materialized beside the dashing host of Good Morning. Emily Stevens appeared in the pixilated double box. Her tall, lithe figure was clad handsomely in a black suit, black dress shirt, and black tie. Her spiky hair was cut short, and her green eyes were glowing despite the hazy feedback lag. She sat up with a perfect posture that would rival even a marble statue, holding a steamy cup of tea between her hands as she offered the slightest bit of a smile upon her stony face.
“Good morning to you, Miss Stevens. How are you today?”
Emily opened her mouth to answer, but the feed glitched and all that could be heard was a loud crackle of disorienting noise with an end tail resembling something of a human voice.
“I’m sorry, we didn’t catch that bit.”
Emily licked her lips and tried again, “I am well. And please, just call me M.”
“Of course, I…”
“Also, if I may,” Emily cut in curtly. “Though I whole heartedly respect the antiquated tradition of formality, I would prefer to be identified by my pronouns: Their, Them, and They.”
The host momentarily stumbled out of character. She could only imagine her generally conservative audience hissing at their tv screens like sunbathing vampires as her studio suddenly fell anxiously quiet. Her smile near faltered when she proceeded with caution. “I… do apologize. I meant no offence…”
“None taken, my dear. It’s a common misstep.”
She fluttered her heathered lashes as she started over. “So, M… you have taken residents in the city known infamously as ParaVice, one of the most dangerous places to live in Neuterra. Why?”
They took a sip of their tea. “Simply put, I grew up here. This is where my roots were planted. Besides, I like to stay close to my assets.”
“As a… ummm… forgive me…” the host looked down at her notes nervously. “a person of your diverse quality, I imagine it was quite a challenge excelling in a world mostly dominated by men, to compete with the likes of energy giants like Imhullu.”
M shrugged. “It was.”
Another awkward silence.
“To say the least of your resume, it is quite impressive. But I wonder, how does someone such as yourself go from a fruitful foundation built on viral studies to the head of one of the most influential energy conglomerates in Neuterra?”
M leaned in on her elbows and said, “As a child who stumbled upon the great triumph of the double helix, I found at a very early age that I had a precocious mind for gene sequencing. But the sad cold truth is that power in this world is decided by physics.” They left that hang in the still silence for a moment before continuing. “When you want to change the world, you have to be able to see it first. So, I built a mountain. And when I got to the top of that mountain, I could finally see… everything. From up there, with a sturdy financial backbone provided by a lofty career in nuclear physics, I can at last finish what I started all those years ago.”
The host was intrigued. “And what is that, might I ask?”
A wash of pixilated static once more rolled across the image, distorting M’s almost menacing grin.