19th post: Short story, after i read some Neuromancer: The Meeting

Freakin’ neuromancer, so good.


The meeting

At the sound of the door being opened, the child rose from his play on the carpet.
His father entered, wearing his smile above a perfectly tailored jacket. The small boy leapt up into a hug, adorable as a koala. A branded plastic bag containing the new nintendo console spills conveniently onto the floor. The father wraps his arms around his precious son. Buy in person. Show you care.

A line of purple slashed across the scene, and then the screen froze. The moving crowds on the street below barely paused. Mick, who had been staring as he walked, woke up into the noise and movement. The momentary distraction of the screen had reset his mind hard. A mistake that brought back the simmering anxiety. Mick let the fear take him for awhile as he continued to walk towards the meeting. He remained offline, paranoid about visibility.

All around him the unmarred perfection of the rich office types served to unsettle Mick further. This was not his scene, and the strain of the act confused his fists and gait. He clenched and unclenched his sensitive hands, was conscious of his posture which kept drooping suddenly. All the money in his pocket felt heavy, and underneath his jacket marked him as an impostor amongst these well dressed people who did not stoop to using cash. Mick saw the reflection of a cloud upon blue sky drift across some glass tower, an illusion caused by the tint, or maybe even nanos. The calm scene served to induce the breathing exercises. Mick calmed his mind. He looked up past the buildings to a patch of sky the color of pavement. The familiar scene dispelled his doubts, and summoned up Mick’s resolve.

He patted the cash and remembered the points.

Check the info, make a fresh copy of the text, keep one eye on the messenger, and leave last.

Simple rules.

The main road flanked by obscenely expensive stores narrowed to a street less gentrified than the rest. Mick heard in his head the derisive way the office types referred to old soho. He banished the thought, not wanting to get caught up in some bullshit debate about class. It had been many years since he talked shit for no good reason.

The coffee shop cafe was a clear window constantly cleaned by nanos, and a row of grossly colorful rich-waster types staring at their screens inside the frame, unaware of the zoo. The Chat, it was called, short for Chatterley.

Mick checked his phone, made sure he was still ghosting- he did not look forward to the deluge of messages he’d have to tend to later. The person he was to meet, the messenger, didn’t seem be one of the ones staring out at the view- a sign this wasn’t a complete shit show. Mick still had his doubts. First times contain too many unknowns. Mick went through the retro door, looking at the tables for the book, and straight away finding the backdoor with his eyes. Harsh animalistic laugher from some stoned bastards almost ripped Mick from his concentration. Maybe they’ll panic if the cops show up, think they’re after them. Of course if this was a sting it wouldn’t matter.

Like some regular Mick walked to the counter and ordered some kind of coffee, trying to imprint the whole place in his memory. He spotted the messenger, the paper book with the right title facing the door. A she, dressed for an office, with black screen glasses and wearing a tasteful designer phone on her wrist. Mick took his coffee, logged in to pay (with one his fakes), and sat next to the lady, a view of the front door. His hammering heart obeyed the command- not our first time, we’ve got this.

The messenger reached into a pocket and produced the drive. Mick placed one hand on the drive, and one on his phone, and hesitated. Still silent she nodded assent, and Mick smiled a tiny smile. Mick’s left eye went virtual, the other looked out at the real world front door, as if he would have enough time to do anything except flush the data, before he’d get taken down. The info was as he thought, but fucking hell, the sheer amounts. He would make a killing on this- his gambling regulars wouldn’t mind the volatile stock, crazy for the slightest edge in equities. Banks might have the best legit info, but all that legislation and oversight prevented them from acquiring some of the real data. At least overtly.

Mick copied the text to the cloud- a standing command for when he surfaced. Then he double checked the dates and the signed names. A quick search confirmed they were all highly placed in the corp. Mick felt like a fucking cowboy, all done in less than twenty seconds flat. So far so good. He looked the girl right in her shiny glasses and gave her the big shit eating grin. Her mouth maintained that hard line, even as he reached inside his pocket for the chunk of cash. He felt then, rather than saw, her stiffen. He wasn’t going to pull anything- only an idiot would think he’d do that here…fuck.

Of course Mick didn’t run shadows for as long as he had without topping most cog-kinesis charts.

He threw his coffee into her face. She jerked back shrieking as her skin burned and he tore the screen from her eyes revealing two false contacts, high fucking tech corp ware. He crushed the glasses already halfway out of his seat.

The whole room looking as he ran to the backdoor. He processed: fuck i’m going to have move cities again.

Behind him he heard the pros come through the front yelling at everyone.

Too late to try shit, Mick was out the backdoor, in some alley where the garbage still stank. “Taste some real fucking magic.” he muttered to no one, the adrenaline refusing to be contained.

He ran with one eye open, switched identities and surfaced on the net, sent the data to the cloud, all mirrored on a disposable phone. His real world eye scoped some poor office type having a smoke working his own phone. Mick tackled the guy, throwing him to the ground. He took the guys phone, throwing down a disposable in its place- his false identity blasting out it’s location like some scrub who wanted to tell his boss how fucked it’s all going.

He was out the alley and then across a main road- no traffic till he made it to the other side, like some sick angel was helping him. A quick check, and yes, the heavies weren’t following, their supervisor must have told them to check the fool in the alley. Mick almost felt bad for the guy. Almost.

Mick was pissed. A goddamn sting from some upstart nano-tech- the freaking nerve of the corp made Mick want to punch things. Fuck ’em dead, he thought. Rather than sell the data on the market, Mick decided he was going to screw the bastards, right up the ass. Go public to one of the open source news sites- fry their rep. Let’s see how everyone else likes how these assholes do business.

Then Mick burst out laughing, the adrenaline catching up to him. The thought that he might look like a good guy was hilarious.