Read SF in The City Anthology Online

Authors: Joshua Wilkinson

SF in The City Anthology

BOOK: SF in The City Anthology
6.69Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

 

SF in The City Anthology

By Joshua Wilkinson

 

Twitter:@JoshuaWilkinjp

 

 

 

Self-Published. Copyright © 2014 by Joshua Wilkinson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Contents

Episode 1: Cyberpint                                              2

Episode 2: Gynerator                                              21

Episode 3: Charactor                                               32

Episode 4: The Gray Box Hack                              48

Episode 5: Dream Off                                             77

Episode 6: The Scent Out of Space                         95

Episode 7: Copy Rites                                             116

Episode 8: Solicitin                                                 138

Episode 9: “Laugh” the Android Said                     156

Episode 10: Surfin’ Nerd                                         170

Episode 11: Agitators                                              184

Episode 12: The Not so Surprising Visitors            210

Bonus Episode 1: Mixx                                            242

Bonus Episode 2: The Dusketeer                             265

Bonus Episode 3: The Sewer Rat                             286

 
             

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Episode 1: “Cyberpint”

 

            
 
“I’m only going to ask you this once, so please pay attention. Which hand’s pinky do you value less?”

             
Jon Desai could feel his feet sweating into his protocell shoes. On the other side of the traditional kotatsu
[1]
, a man named Iwao Mizushima – a thin but strong individual – ran his thumb over the blade of a laguiole knife, evaluating its bite. Tradition mattered to Iwao above all else, but such a sensibility had gone all but extinct. He professed to be of a nationality in a world without nations, so the geographic point of origin of his favored cutting instrument no longer mattered either.

             
Only Iwao knew that his weapon originated from a tradition that began in a locale once called France, a land from a bygone era – the age before The City.

             
“I told you I’d get the DUs (data units) by the end of the month, if the data harvest came through,” Desai squirmed in his cross-legged position. “I need more time, that’s all.”

             
Iwao laughed and motioned to a rotund black man across the room. As the gentleman exited the basin in which he lounged, he threw a polyflex towel over his shoulder. Approaching the kotatsu, his purpose in the gang lord’s mind game became clearer.

             
“Hold up your hand. Let Jon here see what happens to those who fail to deliver,” Iwao said as a young woman wearing Necomimi ears set a sirloin steak in front of him.

             
Jon winced, as he saw that the pinky on the left hand of this man ended in a stub after the first knuckle. The large fellow merely shrugged his shoulders, unbothered by the hazards that arose with these types of dealings.

             
“Mr. Mizushima,” Jon’s voice wavered, “the type of data that I can harvest depends on the parameters established within my formulator. Unfortunately, there are so many copyrighted parameters; I can only use the less profitable ones.”

             
  “Which is exactly why half of the movies and novels you’ve harvested are in ‘Germinese’ – correct?”

             
“I officially list it as ‘Cherman’ when selling it,” Jon eyed the laguiole again, “but yes, the formulator spits out most of its work in mixed languages.”

             
“Your debt to me will disappear if you go back in the decagon,” Iwao’s lips smacked with satisfaction as he started to devour the steak.

             
“I’m…not sure that I can,” Jon eyed one of the gangster’s henchmen, as he sauntered closer, his fingers curled around the yoku of his sai.

             
“What’s the big deal anyway?” Iwao threw back a swig of vodka. “You’re not the one doing the
real
fighting.”

             
“I lost the stomach after what happened to Knut,” Jon wished his boss would lend him some alcohol. He was the one in the hot seat.

             
“Knut was a fluke,” Iwao waved dismissively. “You know as well as I that most simulatars only wind up with injuries. Aldo just has a serious problem with me. He had to have that great ape of his rub a defeat in my face, and what better way to do so than killing Knut. I’ve been watching simulatar fights much longer than you’ve been fighting in them, and I’ve never seen a neck snap like that.”

             
“Just give me more time,” Jon tried to hide his discomfort. “I can get you more data, without having to fight again.”

             
“It’s a nice thought,” Iwao scarfed down the last piece of rare meat. “Let’s be honest with ourselves. You’ve only produced 200,000 DUs this year. That’s exactly 60% of what we agreed on. What, 90% of that mierda
[2]
  won’t sell? You’ve always harvested better lit. than vids. We both know which of these is more profitable.”

             
“Yes, but the PESTS kept hacking the system. It was a full time job keeping them out. If I had better vengware protection…”

             
“Which you can’t afford!” Iwao now stood above Jon, turning his knife over in his hands. “Jon, I know that you’ve been wasting money on Ephemerol. Now I’m not trying to tell you what to do with your life, but…you’re really a baka
[3]
.”

             
Two men hoisted Jon to his feet. He tried his hardest not to piss his pants. Iwao approached his face, the smell of vodka somehow stronger on his breath than it ever was in his drinking glass.

             
“I’ve given you more opportunities than you ever deserved, and all because I liked you,” the gangster ran the back of the knife’s blade over Jon’s face, just close enough to tickle his unshaven stubble. “You are going to fight for me tonight. If you don’t show up, your daughter will die. If you fail, you will die. This is the nature of our arrangement. It would be best if you started acting like an adult.” 

             
With the nod of his head, Iwao sentenced Jon to a swift knee in the gut from one of his employees. Then he had him thrown out of the bath house into the blistering hot street. Even at night time, the streets tingled with the high atmospheric temperatures. Having removed this unwanted presence, he turned to see his wife Hoshimi approaching with a glass of water, and a clenched fist. When she opened her hand, like a gorgeous little cherry blossom, two ghostly white pills rested in its center. They were capsules of MEM 4048 – a “smart drug.” Rising to the top in The City required augmentation, and Iwao was more than willing to “reinvent” himself on a daily basis.

             
“Who was that dearest?” Hoshimi asked innocently.

             
“One of my employees, who has had troubles lately,” Iwao responded as he downed the pills. “Why did you decide to drop by here?”

             
“I was out shopping with furenzu
[4]
.  Did I tell you that they are having a sale on ionic foot detox baths?”

             
“No you didn’t. Why don’t you tell me about it when I get home?” Iwao cast a furtive glance at the door through which his “employee” had just been cast. Hoshimi didn’t enjoy violence, and it didn’t take smart pills to teach a man to avoid situations that upset his wife.

***

              Jon saw the name of the bath house, “Yakuzzi,” fly by in neon trails, as Iawo’s men continued to beat him. They avoided hurting his head of course. After a couple of agonizing seconds, they left him with a warning and walked back into the dimly lit building.

             
His adrenaline was pumping, forcing anger to boil near the surface. This was a good thing. If Jon had to fight again, getting back in the mood couldn’t hurt. He walked over to his bike’s parking spot. Gas powered transportation had become less and less popular in The City, unless one had the money to expend on VTOLs. Jon’s bike had a smart wheel on it, complete with a solar charger. He had a several mile ride to his desired locale, but he could use the electric smart wheel part of the way, saving his energy and time. Sensing the surrounding darkness and Jon’s weight on the seat, the smart light on the handle bar kicked to life. 

             
As he coasted down the cramped street, the fotia gas street signs melding into a single fluid trail of light, his contacts switched to “street cred” mode, allowing Jon to navigate around people until he could reach an all bike lane street. He caught site of an old man with a tightly stretched face, his eyes bulging and mouth muscles pulled tightly. Those were the telltale signs of a man using Clench. Jon felt for him. His own decision to start using substances had caused more than enough remorse. Then again what choices didn’t he regret?

             
His Auto Tunes activated, apparently sensing from his brainwave pattern that he was in the mood for music. Through the micro-liners of his ear canal, the duo J-Pow and C-Wow started rapping. Their anti-mainstream group, God-awful Music, had recently released its first album –
Maw Breaker
. As entertaining as he found J & C, he just didn’t feel up for their antics at the moment, regardless of what his brain allegedly wanted. He conjured up the lyrics from Deltron 3030’s song “Virus,” and his music player adjusted. Even though this piece was old, it felt like a great jam for the bike lanes.

             
The Blue Dragon weaved its way over buildings and beneath traditional automobile lanes. Though it did not have the most lanes of any biking route, it held the record for being the longest. Over 500,000 people used it on a daily basis, reminding Jon of just how small he was in the urban sprawl. In all honesty, he did not care.

Passing O’ Hotties, Jon made a right turn and glided into the parking lot of the Kaijuice stimulant bar. While it wasn’t his favorite locale to visit, he knew Aisling Aperture always frequented it on Saturdays. More importantly, she owed him a favor.

              When he finished locking up his bike and walked to the door, a woman in a Gamera costume greeted Jon. He knew exactly which table Aisling would sit at, and he told the greeter she was expecting him. As he squeezed past a six foot tall Pulgasari and slid into the booth, the woman barely looked up from her table to acknowledge his arrival. With a small holo-projector reflecting her computer’s desktop onto the tabletop, she browsed through a selection of head therapispa.

             
“Here is your menu sir, and I will be back in a few minutes to get your order,” a friendly waiter dressed as Gorgo said.

             
“Gracias,” Jon responded and turned his attention to Aisling. “You are still as old fashioned as usual.”

 
              “I’m sorry if I like to see the cyber world with my own eyes rather than directly in my mind,” Aisling responded as she switched to a book review site.

             
“What would you recommend that I drink?”

             
“You want to drink a stimulant?” Aisling laughed in disbelief. “I thought hallucinations were your vice.”

             
“Were,” Jon said as he opened the archaic plastic menu. “I’m giving up on ephemerol. The payoff isn’t worth the cost.”

             
“Are you in dire financial straits,” Aisling asked as she looked into Jon’s eyes knowingly. He had forgotten how crimson her irises appeared in the light.

             
“I’m in some trouble with Iwao Mizushima,” he focused his attention on the stimulant option titled: Rodan slam. It had an appealing color and more importantly, a decent price.

             
“You want me to provide you with some DUs,” Aisling turned off her holo-projector and paid serious attention for the first time.

             
“I’ve been harvesting a bunch of junk data because of my set parameters,” Jon could see his waiter returning and indicated as much to Aisling with body language.

             
“What are you having tonight sir?” the Gorgo suited man asked.

             
“I’ll have two shots of the Rodan slam and a small vial of Mothra milk,” Jon answered.

             
“And could I get a refill of Reptilicus rum?” Aisling inquired.

After the man had taken Jon’s menu and left, the two customers leaned closer. Jon could smell Lanvin Eclat d’Arpege, Aisling’s favored perfume, in the air. His unfortunate body odor was all he brought to the conversation in the olfactory sense.

              “Don’t get me wrong Jon,” Aisling began, “I would love to help you out, but loans loom over me too.”

             
“Will you get out of it all right?” Jon felt stupid for asking.

             
“Yes, but I will be working around the clock for the next two months. Charlie Lù will kill me if I don’t deliver this time. Sorry, but every bit of information I have is going towards saving my own skin. I wish you the best…I really do.”

             
“Right back at ya,” Jon slid out of the booth and headed towards the door.

             
“Hey aren’t you going to pay!” Aisling yelled.

             
Jon pulled a 180 and collided with a waiter, knocking a glass of Anguirus ale to the floor. He looked up to see the Gorgo dressed waiter staring at him with crossed arms.

             
“I’ll pay for that too,” Jon pulled his ECU (electronic currency unit) card from his wallet, “and I will even leave a tip.” He slid the ersatz plastic rectangle through the waiter’s currency scanner.
That’s what I get for asking the ex for help
.

             
Exiting the stimulant bar, Jon spotted a couple of pilferers, one of whom seized on the ground. He must have tried to cut off the bike’s imped cord. Unfortunately, his partner was of the female variety, and she would rather risk attacking the bicycle’s owner than run for it. The poor girl probably had a reason for desperate action.

BOOK: SF in The City Anthology
6.69Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Nailed by Jennifer Laurens
A Killer is Loose by Brewer, Gil
Something Fierce by Carmen Aguirre
The Rebel’s Daughter by Anita Seymour