Sundown

by 

Author : Andy Bolt

The dripping residue of some poor bastard’s elbow explodes against my shoulder.

“Goo fight!” Jayav shouts, handfuls of dead man oozing through his fingers. My synthskin registers the contact with unstable biomaterial and sterilizes my left arm.

“You have serious problems,” I say. “Now, what do you think?”

“That you’re no fun, Meggie.” Jay is chuckling as he builds a grotesque little snowman out of human flesh and liquefied innards.

“About the body.”

“Oh.” He draws a little smile with his index finger. “Normal. Churn it and burn it.”

“Agreed.”

We stand. While Jay nudges his snowman’s head off with the toe of his boot, I drop a gene blender into the puddle. There is a momentary whirlpool effect, followed by a bubbling human stew, and finally, the scooper shoots clear with a sample and the afterburners reduce the whole mess to a few dried out protein strands.

“Your villainous disrespect for the dead has earned you the position of bad news barer,” I say as we turn and exit the bedroom.

“Your mother villainously disrespects the dead,” Jay replies, clicking over to symp-auto.

We meet the family in the hallway, and I try my best to look contrite as Jay’s pre-recorded condolences speech starts emanating from the microdigitizer in the back of his throat. My mind wanders as the MD starts to explain how decades of genetic modification and enhancement have completely destabilized the average person’s genome. The droning but natural-sounding voice then assures that the boost in the general quality of life has been worth the sacrifice. The wife asks about toxicity. It’s one of the more common questions, and one the MD is programmed to answer. It calmly tells her that the WHO is still looking into the details, but the protein remains have never been shown to be harmful. They’ve never been shown to be harmless, either, but the MD leaves that part out. The fact is no one knows what triggers a genetic meltdown. But every extant human has some altered DNA at this point, so we’re all potential victims of a seemingly random killer that strikes without warning. The MD leaves that part out, too. I nod sympathetically as Jay’s arms execute a series of pre-programmed shoulder pats.

“We’re all going to die,” Jay tells me, back in our bullet and zipping towards our next case in Osaka.

“You should add that to your condolences speech. That sets the right mood, I think.” I push my seat back and let my eyelids droop. It’ll take the bullet about ninety minutes to get to Japan from Winnipeg, and I could use some sleep.

“You laugh,” Jay continues, lighting up a pipe full of the new strain of combat marijuana. “But my buddy Jukks is on the research team. We’re all going to get this. Faster and faster, as it starts to spread. You can’t fix what’s broken if broken is what you are.” He stares at me, self-satisfied, his eyes the same reddish color as the artificially prolonged sunset we’re speeding into.

“We’re all going to die!” he giggles.

“Yeah,” I agree, drifting off.

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