(The Shift began its life as a proposal for a SF television show, but I’m now in the process of turning it into a graphic novel script. The world is post-apocalyptic and sprawling, and I’m going to post various bits of things I write about both the world and the characters from the series. This helps with my creative process, and even better if I can interest other people in the project. At some point, I hope to find someone willing to work with me on sketching the characters and certain key locations.)
Jade Syndicate doesn’t throw their trash in the wasteland. Boss Jade is the only female syndicate head—and no woman with power takes for granted what she doesn’t understand. No one understands the Shift, that charred, virus-ridden stretch between the human protective force of teeming North City and the high, old-technological walls of Delphi University. Everything that isn’t City or University is Shift. Every part of the Earth, maybe, but no one in North City knows shit about geography. Pre-virus humans glorified their civilization, forgetting that without their supermarkets and computers and customer service centers, the majority of people on earth had a roughly stone-age grasp of technology. And when a virus eats up the land and kills 85% of them? The climb up that hill suddenly looks pretty damn steep.
So she doesn’t mess with the Shift, but Jade still has to do something with the living carcasses, the mind-bleached leftovers of her Goyles. Their power comes from the Shift, and until it drives them insane, she can use it to help control her corner of the city. Jade is grateful for your service, the disposal managers like to say to the incoming loads of gibbering half-humans. The Goyles are dispatched in a nominally humane way—no warm baths and soothing music, but sharp blades and a speedy efficiency that minimizes both pain and mess. Boss Jade tolerates pain; she hates unnecessary waste. Most bodies are kept in a giant cold room deep underground, protected by three levels of University-grade technological security. On any given day, as many as sixty Goyle bodies are laid out on identical silver gurneys. Jade Researchers use scalpels and saws and pickaxes to hack through the variegated hides of scales, feathers, rock and skin to see what lies beneath. Something in the Shift, the virus, has profoundly changed these humans; turned them into Goyles. With typical pragmatism, Boss Jade reasoned that she might gain an advantage over the other syndicates if she learned what else changed when one turned Goyle. In the cold room, anatomical anomalies are catalogued, photographed and detailed. Their bodies resemble animal carcasses if you squint in a certain way that all Researchers have learned to squint. And when these blood-drained cadavers have fulfilled all possible function, they’re shipped to a meat processing plant on the outskirts of her district, providing Jade with a hefty discount on the costs of producing glue, pet food and hot dogs.
Goyle family members are not notified.