Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer
I’m all for elegant combinations of form and function, but I’ll never agree that bioreactors sat every hundred metres is an improvement over having trees and streetlights.
These ‘greenboxes’ even have benches on their pavement sides, charge points, and community notice boards: which look suspiciously like digital advertising hoardings. Anyone in the communities these things serve can’t afford to place an e-notice, so the space is ‘regretfully’ leased to marketing companies.
When fresh water went past £25 a litre for the first time, some bright spark started adding filter taps to the bioreactors, until they changed the liquid to be only nearly water. It’s still great for the air-purifying algae inside, but it turns humans green and sometimes kills them. The filtration necessary to stop that is too expensive to make theft worthwhile.
So here I am, leaning up against a greenbox, pondering while I wait for tonight’s reason to have a foray. I really should go uptown, but the competition there would mean a more effort for less money, and a much higher chance of getting murdered by rivals instead of criminals.
As if summoned by my mere thought, Tasty rocks on up like he’s parading through Neo-somewhere-classy instead of Burton Street, number one destination for those with nowhere else to go: those with a desperate need to get out of their mouldering tenements and pretend things are okay for a few hours.
“Tasty. Looking average again, I see.”
“Screw you. I work for a living. You hunt people.”
“Looking average, and with a line of something like courage up each nostril too. Come on, Tasty. You called me, so either get off your marching horse or I’m gone.”
He blinks as reality crowds his illusion.
“Yeah, well, It’s not about me. Lilah’s been scooped by Bernadino again.”
I’m being played. His eyes go wide as my hand closes about his neck.
“You could have said that when you called. Instead you got me to waste four hours. You’re out of favours, Tasty.”
I throw him behind me. He bounces off the greenbox. I run for a tram. Much as I hate public transport, being recorded leaving the area is essential.
Forty minutes later I’m in the shadows of the alley on the opposite side of the road to the greenbox where Tasty now sits, smoking a fat cigar… A cigar with a blue-gold band. Bernadino’s favourite brand. All I have to do is wait.
Mum’s third husband arrived with a daughter he treated as a servant. While Lilah took no shit from anyone else, she put up with everything from him – until the day he took my mum for a ride and they both ended up under the 14:22 from Piccadilly to who cares.
Which brings me back to now, and the fact Bernadino’s had a thing for Lilah for too long. We’ve often clashed – after Lilah actually asked for my help – but I always knew the outline for the finale. If he wants to keep her, I can’t be alive. So he sent Tasty to trigger me: the delay meaning I’d charge into an ambush at Bernadino’s. Instead, after making sure Lilah’s safe, I’m here waiting.
A grey town car pulls up. I level the rifle I stole from one of Bernadino’s goons years ago.
Bernadino lunges from the car, yelling at Tasty. I’ve not turned up to be killed and he’s not happy about it.
Now! Tasty dies second, falling across Bernadino. Green liquid arcs from two holes, splashing down on both bodies.
Better go give Lilah the good news.