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Dealing with Complex things

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Just finished my second short story.  This one is based on an distant future and alternate time line in which New Orleans was flooded entirely.  The city was rebuilt in the image of Venice (waterways and footpaths), and has become a center of gambling, music, and excess that rivals Los Vegas. It was rechristened New Venice. I’m still playing with the history and events of the world that lead up to the point that the story takes place.  Right now I just plan to write several shorts, probably from different characters perspectives, so that I can get a good feel and idea of the city and how technology has advanced.  My initial feeling is to try and makes things fantastical and fun, but as believable as possible.  We’ll see how that goes.

Currently I submitted this short to be included in issue 12 for eFiction Magazine. So instead of posting the entire thing here, I’ll just drop an excerpt for you all to enjoy.

He was onto me. I could tell by the way he shifted his weight forward on his bar stool- with one foot on the ground, ready to run. My first time out and already I made a mistake.  It probably didn’t help that I was an over forty in a black and white suit amongst the hoppers in the club. Not to mention the scars from where they had inserted fibrous lines into my skin made me a real piece of work. Well too late now, Corbin. You’re just going to have to deal with it. I was sitting in a corner booth of some random gin mill. Like most clubs and bars in New Venice the noise of heavy Jazztronica pumped through the speakers. God, I hate that perversion. Guess that’s another reason I caught his attention.  Probably should have grabbed a dame to hop with.

My mark tried to play it cool and slip off his stool when a large group of Janes with their daddy’s passed between us. Good for me, this Hood didn’t know his history very well. The network of fibrous in my eyes shifted into a pattern which caused the light in the room to refract off the new angles and bend the light around the crowd. Anyone paying close attention would have seen my eyes become multifaceted. Everyone turned into this murky swirling cloud, causing him to stand out. Keep running kid, I need to get you out of here. I watched him make his way to the front of the club towards the entrance, look over his shoulder, and quickly make a cut to a side emergency exit.

The foot-chase began. I dropped my light refraction and made my way after him. Years ago I learned trying to tail someone with that vision cost me some serious migraines and a few days in bed. I burst out into the hot Louisiana night air just in time to see him turn the right corner. It would take him to the street along the back of the bar. I started pounding pavement, the heels of my dress shoes resounded against the walls of the tight corridor. As I cleared the corner, I looked right just in time to see a two by four come swinging at my head. As quick as thought, the fibrous attached to my nerves fired an electric pulse throughout my body. With my reflexes boosted into overdrive the lines shifted and to reinforce the bone and muscle along right arm. Using my momentum and new found speed, I brought my forearm up and drove it through the wood, sending it splintering across the ground; leaving just a mangled haft of wood in his hands.

If you’ve never seen someone tap into fibrous before, it can be a bit disturbing. You can hear their muscles stretch and pull while the visible cut lines on their skin heats up to produce a reddish glow. And believe me; it’s just as painful for the user as it may sound. I looked up to see the confusion plastered on his dumb goon face. Sure, he’s seen people use bioware to do some pretty superhuman stuff, but nothing is as visceral as fibrous.

Keeping the charge in my nerve lines going, I pushed off my right leg, pivoted on my left and tried to bring my right down on his clavicle like a forty pound sledgehammer; the glow of energy diffused through my pants leg grew bright. I had mistaken this guy for just another Hood. Seemed that he had gathered up some extra cash and bought himself an adrenal swell.

Fantastic.

From the time it took for my leg to go from where he should have been, to smashing six inches into concrete, he had cleared six feet running. I really hate the new tech. He was going to gain another twelve or thirteen by the time I could get my foot out of the hole and be long gone before I could get up to speed. I couldn’t make my first hit a failure. And who was going to hire a past his prime hit-man who was bested by a pushover Hood. I pushed back my suit jacket and withdrew my Eris-G22. It was an action my body had gone through hundreds of times. Like old friends, the fibrous in my palm reached out to handshake with the hundreds of leads set into the grip. My vision exploded in an array of readouts and tactical information that was overlaid on top of the ground and walls. I could tell you in an instant how fast the wind was blowing, where he would be in the next second on his present course, and how many rounds were left in my gun. As I swung the gun up a round was chambered and safety turned off.

And all of that is great. But for all that, I knew something those readouts didn’t. I lifted my pistol and lined up the iron sights to meet right between his neck and shoulder. With a gentle squeeze of the trigger the servos wound up. Oxygen surrounding the gun was drawn in and with a soft hiss and… Pop, the gas was expelled out the back of the gun as the massive charge was released propelling the bullet forward. This all took but a moment before the goon’s trapezius and adrenal swell exploded in a shower of red and green. You see, while the newer bioware is better it still needs a power source; a power source that can be shut off, or run out. And, like most street bio-docs, they don’t take the time to bury the swells very deep.

My mark hit the ground and slid another five feet, blood mixed with adrenaline fluid pumping out of the hole I blew in his back. Gritting my teeth and with a sharp tug I freed my shoeless foot from the pothole I helped create. I did that limp walk, the kind you can only get when wearing one shoe, over to the bleeder as the stiffness in my knees set in. He started trying to half get up and half crawl. Hiss… Pop, another round went through his knee. That’s when he started to scream and flail.

Futz.

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1 Comment

  1. […] out that I have two short stories in this month’s magazine. “The Black Wind” and “Jazz Night”. Some of you may have read “The Black Wind” here on the site. I only published a small […]

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