With this post we are moving into the next Section of The Nothing’s Child. If this is your first visit to this story, you can catch up with the links below. The links are broken down by story sections, with each section housing their own links. Or something…
The Nothing’s Child
Life is a Dumpster Dive
Answer with a Desert Eagle
Behind the Bookcase
Interrogation with no Egg to Stand On
Life is a Dumpster Dive
True to her word, she left me a note before she left. “I don’t care, just don’t jack in at my place. Food’s in the fridge. Don’t touch my soda. Love, Jen.”
How can you not love that? We never worked as a couple though. Same old story, found we were better as friends than we were as lovers. Maybe it happened when she went legit. Who knows, sometimes shit doesn’t work the way you think it will.
My phone rattled and rang. Shocked me, I don’t get phone calls often. When you live in the net, phones are superfluous.
“Check the news.” Jen’s voice from the other end. “You need to do it now.”
“Ok,” I said. “Chill out.” I found her controls and flipped the monitor on. The news flash popped out right away.
“You see that, right?”
I started flipping channels. The story made every major network. “It’s everywhere.”
“What the fuck did you do? Wait, don’t tell me. It’s better I don’t know anything.” The receiver went quiet. “You still at my place?”
“Just woke up,” I said.
“Don’t go home. This is big. I haven’t seen anything this big, ever.”
“I can’t stay here. I don’t want to bring any of this down on you.” I paced through the living room. The story continued behind me.
“You’re going to have to find some place soon. I wouldn’t jack in either.”
We hung up. The story continued. Runs don’t make the news like this. Petty wars between companies are common. Five man team inside. Two of them dead, three in custody. The runner at large, sought for questioning. Nothing about what they were after though. I can hope that they don’t know who the runner is yet.
I cleaned up the pillows and blanket. No point leaving a mess for Jen after I busted in on her in the middle of the night. Wasn’t much but the mindless labor gave me a chance to think.
The crew paid in advance. Not a total loss, but that didn’t fix the situation I found myself in. That security system was stronger than anything I have run across. It won’t take them long to do a full trace, and follow through to find me.
I need to clear my place out. This wasn’t optional. Not all of my files were burners. I had information stashed in drives that I still didn’t have buyers for. But it was more than just the loss of income. Some of that stuff could lead back to my contacts. Relationships worth so much more than a few odd jobs.
Wouldn’t you know, I couldn’t catch a cab for the life of me. When speedy travel is the most important thing, I can’t catch a break. I didn’t like it, but the subway was the next option. My apartment was near a stop anyway. Never did like the subway. Even in the middle of the day, you run into some of the strangest people.
The city never changes. Sure they add new facades and more bill boards. What is it about the bright lights with these damn billboards? Seems to me they would detract from any kind of curb appeal.
Hard to believe the subway still runs. Wasn’t too long ago an effort went into updating the tracks and trains. It’s still smooth, quiet, but just as dirty as it was before the update. Bums still set up lean-tos in the stations. No one cares. They keep their distance and mind their own business.
The crash of the dollar back in ’15 changed one major thing though. We went digital. Started with cards but they had limited use. It all changed over to personal communication devices. Used to call them cell phones, they’re so much more now. Identity, bank accounts, family members, hell these things detail every moment of our lives. Finger print and retinal scanners became the safety measures to protect identity. Course, those can be faked if you know the right people.
Life became convenient though. They even took out the turnstile for the subway. Now the counter saps the charge from your device as you walk through the gates, no muss no fuss.
I keep a burner handy. Something about keeping my identity where anyone could easily snag it, makes me a little paranoid. I know a guy, he keeps me supplied for a modest price.
Midday at the subway station is quiet. Commuter traffic happens at a couple different times during the day. I like missing it when I have to use the subway. The trains are on time and I have a car to myself.
A guy in a black hoodie enters my car at the next stop. No big deal. The car is fricken empty, why does he have to sit right next to me? I pick up and move to a different spot in the car. He follows and sits right next to me.
“Do you mind?” I ask. “Whole open car here, can I have some space?”
No answer. His face is still hidden in the hoodie when he opens a news app. His phone projects the app into his hands. The holo image performs like an old world paper. I catch the headlines just before he flips the page. The heist from last night is on the holo net.
He might not be moving, but I sure am. I disembark at the next stop; 18th street station, about 5 blocks from my apartment. I can’t wait for another train to come by. Time to hoof it home.
I rushed out into the open air when I noticed hoodie at the bottom of the stairs. I needed to shake the guy. I know that sounds obvious but what else can you do when you are being stalked?
The worst thing you can do in situations like this is run. Sure, move quick, but never run. When you run you make mistakes and look like a damn fool to boot. I did some modifications a while back, nothing big mind you. But enough to give me a little protection.
I mean seriously, I’m a runner. I don’t deal with people in the physical world. The sub dermal plating I put in won’t stop a bullet but it is enough to slow down a knife. Most of the other stuff all the rage now, well that’s all well and good if you want to impress the ladies. Some of us don’t have penis envy though.
I had a lead on the guy. If I can find a good alley I might be able to slip through a back door and lose him. Chin’s Chinese takeout, they have a dumpster outside the kitchen door. One or the other should work to cover me for a few minutes.
Of course the kitchen door was locked. I grabbed a milk crate and used it as a step to get into the dumpster. All I can say is, damn. The shit that comes out the back end of Chin’s smells nothing like the stuff they serve in the dining room. The dumpster only had a few bags of trash, but lingering smells were bad. It was a fight to keep from hurling.
I held my breath as long as I could. Sure beat breathing in the funk anyway. The hard part was standing still. I worked it as long as I could. Must have been a good ten minutes. I couldn’t hear anything outside the dumpster.
I chanced it, stuck my head out to get some fresh air flowing into my lungs. The eyes staring at me over the edge of the dumpster, scared the shit out of me. I fell back inside, landed on my rump. The shower after this would be so good.
“You can come out.” A woman’s voice?
I pulled myself over the edge of the dumpster. Used the milk crate as a step on the way down. I’m not sure if the funk stuck to me or I was still smelling the after effects of the dumpster. Hoodie leaned on the wall next to the dumpster. The black hood still covered the face.
“Why are you following me?”
The blonde hair jumped out at me first when she pulled the hood down. “We need to talk.” Her face, she looked exactly like her avatar. Well, her hair was a bit different. Instead of long and wavy she kept it shorter, just enough to cover her ears. Her eyes though, her eyes looked back at me with an unnatural blueness to them.
“Later, we need to get out of here.” She pulled the hood back up. “Your apartment is close right?”
“Couple more blocks,” I said. “Are you sure it’s safe?”
“We need to get there quick.” She looked both ways out of the alley. “It’s probably been hit already so it should be safe for now.”
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