Author : Julian Miles, Staff Writer
The pastel decorated walls were hung with tasteful art that changed as needed to offset any negative morale the system garnered from the gestalt of everyone’s mindnets. Since the advent of the cranial implant, society had changed beyond all recognition and this had forced policing to evolve as well.
Two figures leant against the wall of the hushed office, engaged in silent conversation like everyone else. Some predicted the death of all but the most rudimentary spoken language skills before the end of the century. Detective Reid paused to put a datapad on the desk before resuming his conversation with Detective Constable Moore.
*So we caught him at last?*
*Her. She’s a basket case.*
*Given her hobby of vivisecting prostitutes, I’m not surprised.*
*No, not in that way. You know the transcriber purchase that originally flagged her?*
*Yes. Uniforms spotted it and we were following her for the regulation twenty-four hours before arrest. She went out killing that evening.*
*Seems she did it deliberately so we would catch her.*
*You need to listen to the transcriber. It’s been verified.*
The pair of them headed for the audience room and in the presence of an evidence unit the transcriber, and illegal device for undetectably recording mindnet chats, was set in playback mode.
*We’ll skip the early stuff, which includes the murder in full sensory pickup. It’s the end you need to hear.*
Moore gestured to the evidence unit. It cued and started the playback.
Her hysterical voice was shrill with emotive bias. She had bought a top of the line unit: “Oh god, oh god, oh god. No. No. I can’t take this.”
A second voice made Reid start. It was male. An exquisite old English accent reproduced with emotional tones of smug satiation.
“That’s fine, Penelope. This was the last one for you. The police are on their way, they seem to have gotten wind of us. You can have your body back and remember, if you say anything about me they’ll lock you up as a lunatic, because bodyjacking doesn’t officially exist.”
“But it wasn’t me!”
“Of course it wasn’t, Penelope. It was me. It has always been me. Now you lie down and they will be here to collect you soon. Sleep, dear Penelope.”
“But I don’t want to-”
Her voice became unintelligible as her consciousness was overridden. Reid turned to Moore, who raised a hand for him to wait and pointed at the transcriber.
“This is for the detectives listening on the transcriber this clever filly bought to get your attention.”
Moore gestured for the evidence unit to pause the playback. He looked at Reid, who resorted to speaking, a stress related habit of older people.
“Good god. We’ve got a slasher that hijacks normal people using their mindnets? ABM stock will tank if this gets out.”
Moore shook his head before replying verbally out of politeness, his voice scratchy from underuse: “You’re right. This one’s going to be a huge mess. I thought you should hear the whole thing before an edited version becomes the official one.”
Reid raised an eyebrow in query. Moore paused his gesture to the evidence unit to ask a question: “What was District Seven before the Rezoning?”
Reid scratched his head then hunched as an ominous suspicion came with the answer: “Whitechapel.”
Moore’s shoulders slumped as he gestured to the evidence unit.
The smug voice seemed to fill the room: “Let this be the start once again. My name is Jack. Catch me if you can.”
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