Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer
We smash through the door barely a minute after Abernacke entered. It’s an empty corridor. The air is about twenty degrees below ambient and the floor is gloss black.
“Goo?” Felps is wary.
I nanoscan the floor, finally a chance to use the expensive add-on to my left cyber-eye: “It’s cold stone. Seamlessly fused, but only polished rock.”
“Monofil?” Tashta is more practical.
A zoom-pan reveals no molecular wire waiting for us. I shake my head, then fight the wave of nausea induced by not normalising my left vision-field first.
“So where the frack is Abernacke?”
A very good question. The door at the opposite end of the corridor opens. The suit standing in it looks unremarkable. Which means nothing these days. He could be a cybered-up slice and dice man, but he’s outside our scanner range.
“Mister Abernacke is no longer your problem. Kindly depart.”
“Frackoff.” Felps is always confrontational. And greedy.
The suit folds his arms in a way that tells me that he’s done this and watched the results before.
“This hall has some, – ahem – effects you cannot defeat. But you are welcome to take what you like from the installation above.”
Tashta flicks me a wide-eyed glance; we’d both seen the Levitt-MacLachlan cyber-integration and calibration rig. It’s the stellar peak of cyberpsychosis treatment. Anywhere we unpack it we could set ourselves up for life.
“We came for Abernacke, Mister Suit. We’ll take him before we go, and take you apart if you try and stop us.” Felps gestures to include us in his threat.
Tashta and I exchange glances again. There are some scary rumours spreading about execs in deep shelters and what they could have waiting for unwanted guests.
“Felps, that’s a good offer. Let’s take it.” Tashta is speaking but I wholly agree.
“Frack that, frack him and frack you. Stay here while I go and get Abernacke, but you’re only getting ten percent if you do.”
Tashta looks at me and I nod: “Ten percent is good for both of us, Felps.”
With a muttered curse, Felps sprints down the corridor.
She looks at me: “Bad mojo, Rex.”
I’m about to say something when Felps screams: a full-on, girl-in-a-slasher-flick wail of terror. We look. Tashta screams as well. I can’t get my body out of terrified paralysis long enough to manage anything that useful.
There are creatures coming out of the walls, floor and ceiling! Well, out of the places where one meets another. The nearest one of them has its jagged fangs in a no-skin-just-muscles grip on Felps’ calf. I watch ropes of muscle bunch in the creature’s neck and jaw, then I hear Felps’ titanium-laced tibia snap.
Three skinless horrors with patches of ragged bluish fur, burning yellow eyes and black talons on all four feet emerge into the corridor, one of them standing on the ceiling! They move like Dobermans and are the size of Great Danes.
“Are we done?” The tone of the voice from the end of the corridor is conversational.
Tashta punches my arm, hard. Bodily control returns.
I have to shout over Felps’ screams: “Definitely. Sorry to bother you.”
The suit nods and shuts his door. Seeing that the two horrors not involved in dragging Felps into the floor are ambling our way, I slam ours as well.
“Rex. We retired to open a cyber-treatment salon. We did not quit because skinless hellhounds dragged our team’s enforcer into the ground like solid is an optional thing for them.”
I nod to Tashta and we scarper.
Shades of TIndalos? Not so much quit while you are head, more like quit whilst you have one 😉
Good tale. You could have called this The Retirement Plan but that would have given away the fracking ending. Nice job.