Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 27 (of 81)


Illustration by Idiots’Books

All Perry wanted was for someone to cut the plastic cuffs off so he could scrub at his eyes, though he knew that would only make it worse. The riot-bus sounded like an orgy, moaning and groaning with dozens of voices every time the bus jounced over a pothole.

Perry was on the floor of the bus, next to a kid—judging from the voice—who cursed steadily the whole way along. One hard jounce made their heads connected and they both cussed, then apologized to one another, then laughed a little.

“My name’s Perry.” His voice sounded like he was underwater, but he could hear. The pepper spray seemed to have cleared out his sinuses and given him back some of his hearing.

“I’m Death Waits.” He said it without any drama. Perry wasn’t sure if he’d heard right. He supposed he had. Goth kids.

“Nice to meet you.”

“Likewise.” Their heads were banged together again. They laughed and cursed.

“Christ my face hurts,” Perry said.

“I’m not surprised. You look like a tomato.”

“You can see?”

“Lucky me, yup. I got a pretty good couple of whacks on the back and shoulders once I was down, but no gas.”

“Lucky you all right.”

“I’m more pissed that I lost the tombstone I brought down. It was a real rarity, and it was hard to get, too. I bet it got tromped.”

“Tombstone, huh?”

“From the Graveyard Walk at Disney. They tore it down last week.”

“And you were bringing it to add it to the ride?”

“Sure—that’s where it belongs.”

Perry’s face still burned, but the pain was lessening. Before it had been like his face was on fire. Now it was like a million fire ants biting him. He tried to put it out of his mind by concentrating on the pain in his wrists where the plastic straps were cutting into him.


There was a long silence. “Has to go somewhere. Better there than in a vault or in the trash.”

“How about selling it to a collector?”

“You know, it never occurred to me. It means too much to go to a collector.”

“The tombstone means too much?”

“I know it sounds stupid, but it’s true. You heard that Disney’s tearing out all the goth stuff? Fantasyland meant a lot to some of us.”

“You didn’t feel like it was, what, co-opting you?”

“Dude, you can buy goth clothes at a chain of mall-stores. We’re all over the mainstream/non-mainstream fight. If Disney wants to put together a goth homeland, that’s all right with me. And that ride, it was the best place to remember it. You know that it got copied over every night to other rides around the country? So all the people who loved the old Disney could be part of the memorial, even if they couldn’t come to Florida. We had the idea last week and everyone loved it.”

“So you were putting stuff from Disney rides into my ride?”

“Your ride?”

“Well, I built it.”

“No fucking way.”

“Way.” He smiled and that made his face hurt.

“Dude, that is the coolest thing ever. You built that? How did—How do you become the kind of person who can build one of those things? I’m out of work and trying to figure out what to do next.”

“Well, you could join one of the co-ops that’s building the other rides.”

“Sure, I guess. But I want to be the kind of person who invents the idea of making something like that. Did you get an electrical engineering degree or something?”

“Just picked it up as I went along. You could do the same, I’m sure. But hang on a sec—you were putting stuff from Disney rides into my ride?”

“Well, yeah. But it was stuff they’d torn down.”

Perry’s eyes streamed. This couldn’t be a coincidence, stuff from Disney rides showing up in his ride and the cops turning up to enforce a court order Disney got. But he couldn’t blame this kid, who sounded like a real puppy-dog.

“Wait, you don’t think the cops were there because—”

“Probably. No hard feelings though. I might have done the same in your shoes.”

“Oh shit, I am so sorry. I didn’t think it through at all, I can see that now. Of course they’d come after you. They must totally hate you. I used to work there, they just hate anything that takes a Florida tourist dollar. It’s why they built the monorail extension to Orlando airport—to make sure that from the moment you get off the plane, you don’t spend a nickel on anything that they don’t sell you. I used to think it was cool, because they built such great stuff, but then they went after the new Fantasyland—”

“You can’t be a citizen of a themepark,” Perry said.

The kid barked a laugh. “Man, how true is that? You’ve nailed it, pal.”

Perry managed to crack an eye, painfully, and catch a blurry look at the kid: a black Edward Scissorhands dandelion clock of hair, eyeliner, frock-coat—but a baby-face with cheeks you could probably see from the back of his head. About as threatening as a Smurf. Perry felt a sudden, delayed rush of anger. How dare they beat up kids like this “Death Waits”—all he wanted to do was ride a goddamned ride! He wasn’t a criminal, wasn’t out rolling old ladies or releasing malicious bioorganisms on the beach!

The bus turned a sharp corner and their heads banged together again. They groaned and then the doors were being opened and Perry squeezed his eyes shut again.

Rough hands seized him and marched him into the station house. The crowd susurrations were liquid in his screwed-up ears. He couldn’t smell or see, either. He felt like he was in some kind of terrible sensory deprivation nightmare, and it made him jerky, so whenever a hand took him and guided him to another station in the check-in process (his wallet lifted from his pocket, his cheek swabbed, his fingers pressed against a fingerprint scanner) he flinched involuntarily. The hands grew rougher and more insistent. At one point, someone peeled open his swollen eyelid, a feeling like being stabbed in the eye, and his retina was scanned. He screamed and heard laughter, distant through his throbbing eardrums.

It galvanized him. He forced his eyes open, glaring at the cops around him. Mostly they were Florida crackers, middle-aged guys with dead-eyed expressions of impersonal malevolence. There was a tiny smattering of brown faces and women’s faces, but they were but a sprinkling when compared to the dominant somatype of Florida law.

The next time someone grabbed him to shove him towards the next station on this quest, he jerked his arm away and sat down. He’d seen protestors do this before, and knew that it was hard to move a sitting man expeditiously or with dignity. Hands seized him by the arms, and he flailed until he was free, remaining firmly seated. The laughter was turning to anger now. Beside him, someone else sat. Death Waits, looking white-faced and round-eyed. More people hit the floor. A billy-club was shoved under his arm, which was then twisted into an agonizing position. He was suddenly ready to give up the fight and go along, but he couldn’t get to his feet fast enough. With a sickening crack, his arm broke. He had a moment’s lucid awareness that a bone had broken in his body, and then the pain was on him and he choked out a shout, then a louder one, and then everything went dark.

<<< Back to Part 26

Continue to Part 28>>>




As part of the ongoing project of crafting’s electronic edition of Makers, the author would like for readers to chime in with their favorite booksellers and stories about them in the comments sections for each piece of Makers, for consideration as a possible addition to a future edition of the novel.

Doctorow’s Makers will be released in print by Tor Books in October. You can read all previous installments of Makers on on our index page.



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