The rain poured down on me like a hot shower. The wet drops brought a slight relief to the heat that had beat down on the city during the day, but it wasn't much; not to mention that as much as I had prayed for rain over the past few weeks, tonight was not the night I wanted it to finally break.
I stood on the sidewalk, clinging to a light post like I had it in a headlock so that the ocean of moving bodies wouldn't sweep me up and carry me away with the current. My eyes were fixed on the sidewalk opposite me, and I was focused in on one person in particular.
Monique Helsiner moved with the flow on her side of the street, bumping and shoving past people as she made her way east. She had a distinguished green jacket and little black dress on with fishnets that showed rips and tears below the knees. She was a fish out of water.
To anyone else, she might have just looked like the rest of the gutter scum that moved towards their dead ends and rat holes, but to me see looked like an upper-class that decided to go slumming for the night. She was a fake, even if no one else noticed.
Through the rain it was hard to get a fix on her with my left eye. If it hadn't been for the almost fulsome jacket, I'd have probably lost her in the never ending crowd.
I used my left eye to zoom in while I let my right eye pan out and take in my surroundings.
Despite the bad luck of the hot rain, I did have one thing going in my favor. There had been a car accident a little ways west of where we were, so all of the vehicles in the street were at a stand still. There were still a few motorbikes and what not weaving in and out of the traffic, but I could avoid them easy enough.
Had Monique been walking this exact strip only an hour ago, there would have been no way for me to cross and follow her. My whole stake out would have been for not, and it might have been another week before she would make this kind of move again.
I start to move to the other side of the street, lest the drivers start getting impatient and ramming into each other to get around the accident.
The sounds of horns honking, people shouting profanities, and the general hum of the crowd made me nervous that I might not hear a motorcyclist roaring towards me, but I couldn't take my eyes off Monique. She was the only thing that mattered at this moment in time.
Just as I made it to the other side of the street, the rain stopped, and Monique headed into a dive called The Purple Diamond.
She could have picked any one of the thirty or forty bars that lined this particular strip, but she picked the one with the loudest music and the rowdiest crowd. I knew right away that I wouldn't be able to get any audio, but I could at least get some video and some quality images.
It didn't take me long to get to the door, as the people behind me shoved me forward. I had to brace myself with my left foot to avoid missing the club's entrance all together, and reached out with my right hand to grab the metal frame around the tunnel that lead to the entrance.
I took the few steps to the dark purple door and opened it to be greeted by the roughest, most tatted looking bouncer I'd ever seen. He was obviously tweaked and looked like he was on the verge of an overdose. With a guy his size, I didn't want to anywhere around when his fuses fried and he became a bezerker.
He gave me a once over and turned back to face the door. Being that I wasn't face down in the street meant that I was okay to go in.
I'd lost Monique already in the over crowded bar.
There was a dance floor to my left, but it was just packed with people standing and moving the way that single cell organisms do under a microscope. Along the back wall was a long bar that stretched from the end of the dance floor to the opposite wall.
There wasn't a free standing spot in the whole joint, except for behind the bar maybe.
The broken mirror behind the bar and the people that looked as if they might climb over and start ransacking the place made me respect and pity the owners and tenders.
The music that was playing over the ridiculously sized speakers had a deep, wobbling bass. The bass was so powerful that I couldn't tell you anything else about the song.
Paige, scan for the green jacket. I said.
I felt my left eye twitch and jump as far left as it could go. It slowly started to move back to the right, and stopped nearly straight ahead of me.
Located the green jacket, Kaiser. Paige responded.
I don't know what I would do without her.
Monique moved fast for an upper. I was starting to get the hint that she'd been doing this for years.
She stood in the middle of the grungy dance club with at least twenty men hovering in a circle around her; facing her. She had a mixed drink in one hand, and some old money in the other. I could see her raise the hand of money up and she mouthed something out to the crowd.
The fact that nobody snatched it from her, stabbed her, beat her, raped her, or any one of the hundreds of things that happen in bars like this showed me that not only had she been doing this for years, but she was well established here.
Nobody rolled her because they knew that she would be back and it would be another payday. It was a form of self control from the worst beasts in the zoo, and that told me that there were lots of paydays and that these paydays were large lump sums.
I zoomed in with my left eye and took a few snap shots of the money going into a large, black man's hand.
I moved my eye quickly and got an image of the man's face, sweaty and smiling.
In return for the cash, the man gave her a medium sized ziplock baggie full of purple powder.
It was one of the largest bags of boost that I had ever seen.
My mouth began to salivate just a little.
And with these images, I had proof that her husband's fears were justified. His wife, like so many others, was a junkie. She was a booster.
I zoomed in even closer, just to make sure that I could get the beautiful color of the powder in all its glory, and snapped another picture.
I got a few more pictures of Monique grinning, tearing open the bag, doing a few bumps off of her pinky nail, sharing some purple with her bar friends, and then heading back towards me. I did all of this for good measure.
Sometimes, if you don't get every single picture during the interaction, the employer will go into denial.
And that's why my right eye had also been taking video.
You just can't be too safe when it comes to the paycheck.
Of course, Jaymes Helsiner wouldn't be happy with the information that I had to give him. Then again, he should have known without ever needing to enlist my services.
He had a higher echelon woman that disappears for entire days, a bank account that had been nearly depleted, and a wife that wouldn't sync up with her own husband. I'd warned him before he ever gave me the deposit that the painting was on the wall, but he needed proof. He needed vindication. He needed to know that his wife was a boost addict. His wife had effectively chosen the purple over their marriage.
It didn't matter how long that I'd been doing this job, and it didn't matter how many cases I'd worked, it always surprised me how much people are willing to pay to get proof of bad news.
I was always willing to oblige them.
I took the last of my photographs and stored them into Paige.
Pictures stored, she said.
Thank you, Paige.
It only took me thirty minutes on foot to get back to my office. Sometimes, having my place of work that close to the slums was a bonus, but sometimes it wasn't.
My neighborhood had its gutter rats, but the population was tolerable. The moving rush of the sidewalks was that of a stream instead of an ocean current. I had no trouble breaking away and moving to the office building where I worked and slept.
The building itself was just like all the buildings in the area. It was old and made of deteriorating brick. The insulation was shit, so I spent a large portion of my day sweating in my chair. It wasn't nearly as tall as the buildings in downtown, but it wasn't as run down as the buildings in the slums.
Most importantly, it was the best that I could afford.
I opened the door to the lobby and was instantly greeted by a few gutter rats. There was one female with rotted out teeth and hair that was gathered into matted chunks. There was a male with the same smile, but his hair had long expired.
"Boost?" The man said.
I couldn't tell if he was selling or buying, but I didn't care. I wasn't going to do either.
I brushed them off and walked between them to the staircase that also acted as a seat for a couple other boosters.
I made my way up to my floor, the fifth, and pulled my keys out of my jacket pocket. I walked to the door labeled "503. Kaiser Vrix, Detective." I put my keys in the door, unlocked all five of them, and made my way into my office.
The rain had cooled the office down considerably, but I longed for more.
I pushed through the door to my living quarters and pulled myself up a chair at my desk. I clicked the tabletop light on, and dove into the bottom drawer.My hand came back with a small baggy filled with the purple powder that I had purchased earlier in the week."Just a little", I told myself out loud.I had been trying to wing myself off the boost for about a month. One line a day, three times a week was the limit that I had set for myself.So far, I was failing.I poured a line out on the table top, closed one nostril with my finger, and took it directly with the other nostril.Instantly I felt the cool rush just under my skin. There was an electric buzz that started at the top of my skull and moved all the way down to my feet. My head sto
I awoke with the sun still up. The heat tore through my blacked out windows and into my office, making it feel like a furnace.I reached around and unplugged my head from the modem, reluctantly.The night's dreams had made it possible for me to move forward. Knowing that there was something better than the life that I was living was all I needed to tell Jaymes about the indiscretions of his wife.I got myself out of bed and dressed myself in the usual; gray button-down shirt, black jeans, black hat with two white stripes that had been worn to the point of donation, and I left out my usual coat.I pulled myself over to my desk and started a dialogue with Paige.Pull up the pictures of Monique.I said.I wait
Mr. Helsiner responded the way that most uppers respond to news of cheating lovers, thieving partners, or boosting housewives.He started with denial. There were accusations that gutter scum like me were just a spiteful little men that attempted to ruin successful mens' lives. There was a moment where he raised his fist with the promise of a physical attack, but then he thought better of it.After a few minutes of shaking his head no, screaming at me, and pacing his luxurious living room, he broke down in tears. His uncontrollable sobbing was my cue to leave, but he begged me to stay."Please, Kaiser. What do I do? How can I get her off the drugs?""Not my field, Mr. Helsiner. I just provide the information that you pay me for, nothing more and nothing less." I had to have this conversation more times that I could coun
The elevator door opened and revealed that the entire top floor was set aside for Mr. Hernandez.It appeared that we had at least one thing in common: we both worked and lived in the same place.I was certain that this wasn't the senator's only place of business, nor residence, but there was no way for me to know that for sure. I truthfully knew very little about the new politics of the reformed Republic of North America, and didn't care to learn.I wasn't sure if the senators still met in Washington D.C. like they did before the reform, or if they just met via the government domain through sync. Again, these things didn't concern me.The main chamber of the room, what I had to guess was the office, was exceptionally empty. It was a large room, just as white as the lobby, with a single desk in the middle, al
I filled Mr. Hernandez in on how little I knew about computer hacking.The extent of my knowledge was that it had been extremely popular when the net was in its primitive stages, there was an extreme hacking war about five years before I was born, and that it was virtually nonexistent in the present due to modern firewalls being impossible to penetrate."Fair enough, Mr. Vrix. Allow me to brief you on the case that I will be hiring you for."I wasn't sure if the senator was aware of it or not, but the sun would be rising in about two hours, and I had no intention on being caught outside during the daytime. I would give him one hour, and then I didn't care if he was a senator, I was leaving. He could finish up with me via videomail."A little over two years ago, the Republic employed a young man by the name of Ed Shulister. He was exceptionally talented at engineering, and his skills were required for a series of tas
The shuttle pulled up just as the sun started to break the horizon. The top sliver of the orange orb brought a promise of unbearable heat and skin blistering light. My heart sped up a few beats when my eyes took in the reds and yellows coming over to our side of the world.I was thankful that traffic had kept a steady pace, and the high-end droid driver had taken back roads that I hadn't even known existed.I made my way into my building, already feeling the heat of the day beating down on the nape of my neck.But the sun was only one part of the reason that I was moving with the speed of a panic.My hands were slick with sweat, my shirt soaked through, my head was pounding, and my eyes were having trouble focusing.I needed a hit of purple.I took the
After thirty minutes of waiting, Hernan finally showed up. I'd tried to save a seat for him at the bar, but, fifteen minutes into the wait, the small Asian owner began yelling at me."You're bad for business!" He screamed. "You can't save seat! You go away!"With a little work and a little cash, I convinced him to let me stay, but had to give up the chair.When Hernan walked in, his presence was immediately known throughout the small diner. The sheer size of the man was enough to intimidate even the hardest of gutter rats.He had some of the broadest shoulders that a man could possess and stood at an impressive six foot ten. He was a thick man, but I wouldn't go so far as to say he was fat. There was a beer gut that had started to develop, but he was still shy of being overweight. The best way to describe him was 'solid'.<
I woke up from the beautiful world, the gorgeous companion, and the marvelous peace of my Dream Sync Room to find a filthy apartment that baked my skin like an oven.My eyes focused in on the rather large crack on the yellow stained ceiling as I tried to get my head to stop swimming.Memories of the day before were a little hazy, to say the least. I'd remembered leaving Hernan at the bar and walking home, but then it got fuzzy.I could have asked Paige to give me a replay of what had happened, but her day was just as long as mine, so I let her sleep.My feet hit the floor and I walked over to my desk. There, sitting on top, was an empty baggie with little purple particulates that wouldn't do anything but arouse my appetite.I'd done the whole damned bag.<