by Adam Novak
An L.A. power couple orders an A.I sex droid (Quella) to help them escape their matrimonial prison. The couple starts to lose their power when more automatons arrive at their house. There, the uninvited fuckbots (Gal, Raquel, Tali Cohen) pose an existential threat to humanity. At the same time, a rash of violent Hollywood Hills home invasions dubbed “Helter Shelter” (led by Jupiter Sparx) careens toward a collision course with the mean girls.
Before the voices told Jupiter Sparx to do hurtful things, before he began torturing his father’s militaristic cash cow “The Unknown Soldier” (mummifying the G.I. doll with duct tape, soaking the action figure in water, stashing the anti-Barbie in the meat freezer, lynching the grunt from the treehouse), before the heir to Sparx Toys was diagnosed schizophrenic, before he turned to the guitar, writing hypnotic songs about killing the neighbors, the gardeners, the family dog, before he lost his virginity at fourteen visiting his father’s high-end Upper West Side bordello on Columbus Avenue, before the paralyzing headaches, before the heroin overdoses, before he got written out of the will, before the arrest on attempted murder/arson charges of his father’s favored cathouse (which never went to trial), before he landed in Los Angeles as a Hartford University dropout, before a coked-out A&R guy from Elektra Records signed the busker to a recording deal, before the voices took a sabbatical, before the label paid for Jupiter’s stint at UCLA’s mental health facility, before the singer-songwriter was paired with an experimental A.I. robot therapist, before the voices returned (making touring impossible), before the label washed their hands of the mercurial singer- songwriter, before UCLA exiled him from their psych ward, before Jupiter became a screenwriter, before his first produced script, Warlords of Arkadia, bombed under the pen name Dollars Muttlan, before his community college screenwriting class ended with the killing of Omniscience’s Larry Mersault, before hanging up his scimitar as Jihadi Joe, the G.O.A.T. executioner for Islamic Martyrs Darnah Brigade, before flying back to Los Angeles on Afriqiyah Airlines, before he heisted two North Hollywood banks of $31,000, before purchasing a camping tent at a surplus store on Vine, before settling under the 101 freeway underpass, before writing the cardboard sign Navy Vet Please Help, Jupiter Sparx crowned himself king of the skies.
Two, Five, Four, and Three saw themselves as The Attractions to Sky King’s Elvis Costello. First to quit the band was teenage San Diego runaway Three, whom nobody liked, but Sky King missed her filthy asshole. Sexual deviant Four survived nine years of incarceration in Chino for a string of Beverly Hills Adjacent rapes. Failed heroin dealer Two spent eighteen months at Taft Correctional for one count of conspiracy to possess Fentanyl with intent to distribute. Five was convicted of resisting arrest/ battery on a police officer, felonies that warranted thirty-six months in County lockup where he was sexually abused by a closeted correctional officer who wrote a letter recommending early release after the prisoner lost his hand in a laundry mishap. The ex-cons accepted their numerical titles for the keys to the Sky Kingdom under the 101 freeway (loose cash for beer runs, stepped-on heroin, $1 Chinese takeout). Two, Four, and Five were joined by Sky King’s number One, a 7-11 street harlot who slurped strange dick for Slurpees, met Sky King busking for change in front of the Pantages, fucked him behind Pep Boys, and became Ms. Right Now. Pushing One’s blanket- swathed corpse in a Gelson’s shopping cart down Franklin Avenue to her funeral pyre in Griffith Park, the acrid offering left so much ash Sky King made a snow-angel with her cremains. Without saying a word to his bandmates, the front man turns onto Fern Dell Place towards the Oaks.
One was dead.
Two was cold.
Five wanted nothing.
Four wanted to rape somebody.
They shadow Sky King up, up, up E. Live Oak
Right on White Oak Drive.
Hard left on Poison Oak.
Mountain Oak forks. Sky King picks it up.
Up, up, up Black Oak Drive.
Sky King arrives at the end of a cul-de-sac. His fist shoots up.
The platoon halts.
Sky King wiggles a sooty finger at three mansions.
“Eenie, meenie, miney, moe. Catch the emperor by his toe. If he hollers make him say, ‘I surrender to the USA.’”
Then, right out of a John Carpenter movie, someone in the emperor’s house turns off the lights. Like whores to culture, the couch crawlers follow Sky King’s lead.
Dionysian Frenzy-mode was rarely, if ever, switched on. The makers at Pronoia had a fierce debate whether their A.I. robots should go there, but in the end, they decided: Unleash Hell. Buying a pack of Trojans along with a full tank of gas, Benny Pantera washes down two pills of 50mg generic Viagra with a sugar-free Red Bull. Outside Raquel’s house on White Oak Drive, the producer turns sharply at a baby coyote rustling down the hillside between houses. Better Wile E. Coyote than one of those couch crawlers, he thinks, hoping to bust a nut before it gets dark in the Oaks.
The fuckbot opens the door.
Gal astonishes Benny Pantera with its seductive femininity. Raquel appears behind Gal wearing a Legendary Pictures baseball cap worn backwards, long white T-shirt down to her knees, nothing underneath. The back of Raquel’s T-shirt says HIV+, which gives Benny pause before he decides to double up tonight.
“Take off your shoes, relax!” says Raquel.
Benny Pantera looks out the windows, beyond the infinity pool, takes in the transcendental view of the Hollywood sign.
“I would’ve brought my swimming trunks if you’d mentioned you had a pool.”
Quella enters the kitchen bare-assed with a quizzical look.
“Hi, Benny Pantera.”
“You that all-talk, no cock producer?”
“You that farm girl from Wizard of Oz looking for Long Duck Dong?”
“Benny, what are you drinking?” asks Raquel.
“Hemlock, if you got it. Anything to end my misery.”
“That’ll do, babe. That’ll do.”
Accepting a healthy pour of single malt scotch, the producer steps onto the brickyard patio where Tali Cohen butterfly strokes the waters until the A.I. super-soldier emerges naked as the day the assembly line sprayed its exoskeleton with latex.
“Is that a Lebanese accent I’m picking up?”
“My family owned the Portaluna Riviera Hotel before we fled Beirut for Los Angeles in 1983.”
“Didn’t ask for your life story in twenty-five words or less. You going to make a TV series out of her novels or you just chasing her vag?”
“Take it down a notch, Swifty. I need a taste before I buy the kilo.”
“I need,” says Tali Cohen, “to get fucked.”
“Jump in,” says the novelist in the pool.
Benny Pantera produces wood, strips down to his tighty-whities, cannonballs into the water. Quella joins them in the water, circling Benny Pantera like a hammerhead.
“Marco,” it says.
“Polo,” says Raquel.
Tali Cohen barbecues a slab of brontosaurus ribs only Fred Flintstone would love.
“Close your eyes, Benny.”
Paddling over to the producer, Quella and Raquel conspire telepathically, grabbing his junk underwater, startling Benny Pantera with the rapidity of the evening’s sordid undertow.
“You going to give it to me or what, Benny?”
“HBO Max passed.”
“Aw, and still you came over tonight.”
“No is just a moment in time,” says the producer.
Raquel gives his balls a squeeze. Benny Pantera shoves her head underwater, his face scrunches with pleasure until Raquel breaks the surface for air, tag teams Quella to go down where she left off. Tali Cohen brings the ribs into the kitchen and prepares an arugula salad with pecans and strawberries. Raquel throws an elbow around the producer’s neck in a chokehold, gets down to brass tacks.
“Did you bring the shopping agreement, Benny?”
“What shopping agreement?”
“Eggs-actly,” says Raquel.
Like a tragedy at Sea World, a whirlpool of gore forms, froths, and explodes to the surface with something human in tatters. The all-talk, no-cock producer sinks to the bottom of the infinity pool. Wiping Benny off her chin, Quella steps out from the water, wraps a towel around her head, and toasts the Valkyries at the dining table with an Aperol spritzer.
“Pound me too.”
Quella departs to rinse her gory hair in the shower. Raquel stares at the glistening barbecued slabs, takes a sip of her drink, twirls the strawberry arugula pecan salad into a bite-sized forkful.
“You put the sauce on last,” says Tali Cohen.
“Is that the secret?” asks Gal, not eating. “Nobody knows how to grill. Idiots rub the meat with spicy sugar, marinate the rack overnight in acid, pour cheap brown sauce over the ribs, throw it on the grill, all that nonsense catches fire. People think charred means burnt, but you can’t taste burnt.”
“You know who loved to grill? Everything always came out perfect,” says Raquel.
The Israelites give up, no clue.
“I miss my husband.”
“We know you do,” says Gal.
“I am sorry for your loss,” says Tali Cohen, empathetic as a trout.
“We saw the picture you posted on Instagram,” says Gal. “That’s why—”
“There’s someone outside the house,” says Tali Cohen.
Fight Club-mode Gal stands up from the table.
“Benny’s still alive.”
“Not for long,” says Tali Cohen.
“Raquel, we got this.” Gal slides open the glass door, steps outside.
Raquel runs upstairs to the master bedroom.
At the bottom of the pool, Benny Pantera remains in turnaround.
The trio of couch crawlers led by Sky King sack Gal like a rookie in the pocket.
Five and Two duct tape her eyes, her wrists, her mouth.
Four drags Gal to the yoga deck for a namaste rape.
Gal snaps (the moment Four enters) into Dionysian Frenzy-mode.
Shreds the duct tape like wrapping paper.
Digs its ruby red nails into his neck.
Pops off Four’s head.
And punts the noggin into the sky like Ray Guy.
“For the coyotes,” it says.
Five and Two step inside the mid-century modern.
Tali Cohen is waiting for them.
Five and Two flex their muscles at this wigger bitch.
Tali Cohen blinks into Six–Day War-mode.
The home invaders charge like the light brigade.
The Israeli commando smashes their faces until they resemble 85/15 ground sirloin.
On the floor, Five and Two are no more.
The ceiling is now an unsigned Jackson Pollack.
Venturing out to the yoga deck, Tali Cohen sees Four is finished.
The retired El Al air marshal never sees the swinging shovel. Severed at the knee, Tali Cohen timbers to the brickyard patio. Her shapely calf lands in the pool with a splash.
“Kneel before Sky King.”
“Shaft don’t beg for bush,” says Tali Cohen.
Sky King plants the shovel into her gut. Steps onto the blade with his full weight. Tali Cohen gets halved, then quartered by the singer-songwriter.
“Rest in pieces.”
Adam Novak is the author of Take Fountain, The Non–Pro, and Freaks of the Industry. Rat Park opens in 2022 courtesy of Red Giant Books.