Author : George R. Shirer

The girl is naked. Long limbed. Gorgeous. He can smell her from where he sits, in the back of the club, where the shadows are thickest.

She struts across the stage, hips shaking, breasts swinging as she works the crowd. Bottle-blonde hair flies around her face. Heart-shaped. Plump, pink lips. Dark eyes rimmed with mascara and glitter.

The eyes betray her for what she is. A soulless thing. When the light is just right, he can see the telltale glimmer of the bioluminescent markers.

She finishes her set and walks off stage. Her skin glistens with perspiration.

Drawing a breath, he stands and heads backstage. A bouncer blocks the way.

“No patrons backstage,” growls the mountain of steroid-enhanced muscle.

“Not a patron.”

He flips his coat aside, revealing his badge and the shooter strapped to his waist. The bouncer’s reaction is instant. He steps aside and heads for the manager’s office.

Backstage is tawdry. Young beauties of both genders are in various states of undress. The air smells of perspiration, cheap perfume and burning electrics.

He spots the girl. She’s sitting in a chair, pulling a comb through her hair.

The shooter is in his hand, coughing almost before he realizes he’s drawn it. He sees the girl fly back, the center of her chest exploding, reduced to wet meat.

Screams fill the air. The dancers cower.

“What the fuck?”

He turns, finds himself face to face with the manager of the club. The manager’s face goes white as he spots the shooter, recognizes the trefoil badge of a synerman.

“Oh crap.”

“Yes,” says the synerman. “Did you know she was a synthetic?”

The manager’s beady eyes dart to the dead girl.

“I had no idea.”

“Hope you lie better than that in court,” says the synerman. “We traced a class one bio-threat back to this dump. I’m betting it originated with the dead girl.”

The manager’s face goes white. “Oh Christ. I had no idea! Honest to God!”

“Tell it to the judge,” says the synerman. “If you live long enough to make it to court.”

From the main club, sudden pandemonium. Patrons shouting in alarm as quarantine troops pour into the place. The manager and dancers are frogmarched away to a prison-hospital.

Alone, the synerman stands over the dead girl.

He feels a flash of sorrow for it, but no remorse. Synthetics are incubators for disease. It’s why their production is a death-penalty offense. It’s why people like him are recruited and set on them, hounds after rabbits.

Drawing in a lungful of air, he turns away. Suddenly, a cough racks him. It’s like razor blades in his chest. He staggers, catches a glimpse of his reflection in a mirror. His gaunt face is pale, blood bubbling crimson from his lips.

Hell, thinks the synerman.

He falls to the floor, next to the dead girl.

She got me.


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