435: News of the World

I was convinced the person in the photos I found online was Cheng. I had seen him in human form before and tall, handsome men tend to stick in the mind. No, still not gay.

The one outside the Chinese embassy was from yesterday, so he might still be in London. That didn’t really help.

What I knew about Cheng was that his mother had been a visitor and had been from Hong Kong. This guy, who the internet told me was called David Cheng (!), was also from Hong Kong.

This guy could have been a relative, of course. Or just a doppelganger. But like Sherlock Holmes, I don’t believe in coincidences, only in the universe fucking with me.

He was identified as a big supporter of Hong Kong, which was currently getting trampled underfoot — and soon, I was guessing, under tank track — by the Chinese Communist Party.

I had recently encountered a Chinese person, recently deceased (nothing to do with me, wasn’t even my drill), and pissing off the CCP was probably not a good next move, but I was actually quite pro-China. I understood their relentless desire to unify all the different parts of their great nation.

Anyone who knows about Chinese history knows they have always been controlled by eunuchs, all the way back to the Qin Dynasty. And, as we all know, eunuchs aren’t bitter, spiteful people who resent anyone who has more than they do. Where would you get that preposterous idea? They just want things to feel whole again.

The pictures of Cheng were all of him dressed up like James Bond, surrounded by the rich and famous at big glitzy events. Nothing says how much you care about the little people like wearing a Hong Kong umbrella pin while you shmooze with models at Paris fashion week.

I wasn’t really a big partygoer myself. It was unlikely we would bump into each other at some soiree. So how was I going to get hold of him?

If Cheng was here, that meant there was a possibility of him knowing how to get back to Flatland. And if he had magic powers like he had back over there, he would be able to protect me from the various organisations who would like to strap me to a gurney and reverse-Frankenstein the shit out of my body.

Of course, there was also the possibility that the person I would end up needing to be protected from was Cheng himself.

We had parted on more or less good terms, but he was still a demon. He had his own reasons for being here, and they probably weren’t of the ‘we come in peace’ variety.

My first impulse was to scour the internet for more news and information about the demon king. This, after all, was why they invented search engines — so we could pry into each other’s business. That and free porn, of course.

David Cheng, it transpired, was a young tech entrepreneur who had emerged a few months ago as the creator of a communication device called the dMon (another !). It was sort of like a smartphone, except it didn’t require a signal carrier, no network, no call charges.

You didn’t need to sign up with T-Mobile or Verizon or any of the other lying bastards who insisted they would give you full coverage and a reasonable data plan, you just bought the dMon — a slim, black card a little longer than your palm — and you could talk to anyone else with a dMon.

How did it work? No one knew. The dMon couldn’t be opened without destroying it. Components were impossible to obtain and the production methods were shrouded in secrecy.

Not much of a secret as far as I was concerned. Magic, obviously.

Even though this new type of phone didn’t have a camera, couldn’t play music or games, didn’t even have an in-built torch — which I consider the only genuinely useful addition to the smartphone compared to the flip phone (the true communication device of the future as Star Trek predicted) — it had a host of other advantages, not least of which was the inability to be traced or hacked.

With such a revolutionary gadget as his creation, Cheng must have become super-wealthy, no?


He didn’t sell them. He gave them away to people. And they cost nothing to use.

He was slowly building up his own global communications network that was impenetrable and untraceable.

This invariably meant he was being carefully watched by governments and corporations, probably through a scope mounted on a very long-barrelled rifle.

But he hadn’t been around long and they were probably still optimistic about recruiting him. I knew the feeling.

Most of the mentions of him on the internet were to do with his appearances at various fancy events. The quotes attributed to him were fairly anodyne — to do with fairness and justice and human rights and all the things I knew he didn’t believe in.

He was a totalitarian king. Their views on the democratic process tend to be a little skewed. His platform would be something along the lines of: Vote for me or die!

Which, admittedly, is kind of catchy, would look good on a button, but which wouldn’t really work here. Honesty in politics is just too hard of a sell.

The more I read about what he was doing the more I liked it. I mean, obviously, he was making a lot of enemies by not playing by the rules. The rules no one else followed either, but that was because they were the ones who made the rules, and the people who make the rules only do so with the sole purpose of getting everyone else to follow them except themselves.

What was he up to? Could he be trusted? Why was he so secretive about his private life?

All the media outlets owned by billionaires heavily invested in traditional communications networks, who stood to lose out if this technology became more widespread, seemed to take a surprisingly hostile stance against Cheng.

As objective journalists, they were probably just exercising their professional scepticism, just as they did with all public figures. You know journalists, very fair and balanced in who they choose to smear.

But they lacked evidence. Which wouldn’t normally stop them, but they couldn’t even come up with gossip or innuendo. His background was a mystery — almost as though he hadn’t even existed until recently (!!) — and no one was able to locate his friends or family.

Cheng was clearly up to something and currently, that involved the Chinese government.

His support for Hong Kong had caused some issues, but for whatever reason, the CCP had been unable to do anything about Cheng. I suspected they had tried very hard to silence him. Probably permanently, but had not managed to succeed. Having fought with Cheng myself, I had an idea of the problems they had encountered. Hard to silence a political rival when he literally eats the people you send to kill him.

I spent quite a few hours doing what I think can reasonably be called research. There was not even a single break to watch any youtube videos of Joe Rogan talking about chimpanzees. Not one. So I think it’s clear how seriously I was taking this.

To be honest, I was counting on Cheng to be the answer to all my problems. Well, not all my problems. There probably wasn’t much he could do about the way my first piss of the morning always came out as twin jets and missed the toilet completely. But my problems with existing in a world I no longer belonged to, he could solve those.

There were just three things I needed.

  1. Get in touch with him.
  2. Convince him to help me.
  3. Hope he wasn’t holding a grudge against me for hooking him up with Mandy.

Mandy was the annoying Chelsea bint who I had arranged as a bride for the inexperienced young demon king. For which he had been grateful, at the time. But as we all know, nothing gets old faster than a tart who relies too much on her looks. By which I mean, makeup can only hide so much before the stretch marks start showing.

And once the looks go and all you're left with is undisguised, raw personality — sheesh.

Superficial? Yes. Sexist? Sure. Misogynistic? If you say so. But sexual objectification is a two-way street and I live at number 32, which is handy for the bus stop.

Anyway, my plan was to find out where Cheng was, apologise, and then ask him to help me get home.

He would probably want something from me in return, but that was fine. I had a good idea of the things I could offer and quite frankly he was welcome to all of it.

The problem, though, was that there was so little personal information about him on the internet that I didn’t know where to even start looking for him. His Wikipedia page didn’t even have his birth date on it, never mind a current location or contact details.

Google, of course, was useless. They had long ago sold their soul to the devil — by which I again mean the CCP — so they weren’t likely to provide me with accurate information. And the other search engines were no better.

What I needed was someone who had access to information we plebs didn’t.

I rang Archie. It was late at night, past eleven, but I was confident he was going to be up.

“I see you are interested in Mr David Cheng,” were his first words, before I’d even said hello.

“Yes. He seems… familiar to me.”

“He does? From… over there?”

How much did I want to tell Archie? As little as possible would be best, but you catch more flies with honey than vinegar, and you catch the most flies with horseshit.

“I’m not sure, I need to get a closer look at him to be sure. But if he’s who I think he is, it would be a good idea to meet him and make friends with him.”

“I see,” said Archie. “He’s that powerful a person?”

“I didn’t say he was a person.”

There was a long pause. “There is a gala at the Royal Albert Hall tomorrow night. He will be attending. I will arrange for tickets.”

And so I finally got an invitation to my first ball. Eunuchs everywhere would hate me.

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