She was walking towards me through a crowd of nameless bodies, with her step precisely measured as if she had a tiny microchip for a brain, perfectly accurately calculating the trajectory of each following step. Mechanically precise. And yet, she seemed so elegant, feminine in the full sense of the word, while she was, as if absolutely accidentally, striding in my direction.
I, on the other hand, a complete opposite to her refined purity and elegance, was lying curled up among the cardboard boxes that once contained some old cyber-chroma-monitors, still strongly reeking of a nasty spirit consumed the previous night. The dangling tooth that was only yesterday still firmly planted in my upper jaw, was reminding me not only that I forgot how much I had to drink but also of whom I had a fight with. So, I was lying there while passers-by were avoiding me in wide circles. No one sympathizes with smelly bums any more. Except for her,it seemed. She was still, as if with no intention at all, walking straight towards me.
In the very same way, very casually, she drew her hand out of her trench coat, which was fitting her body so perfectly, outlining her ass and breast curves in the manner of a Renaissance master.
Only for a moment a laser glare flashed in her hand.
The sign of weapon being drawn.
Long, deadly nano-beam silently darted toward my head, while shewas standing exactly above me. She let the beam make several serpentine trajectories passing through my pathetic body as if through butter, dividing it into an unknown sum of pieces like in a bad calculus.
Or at least it seemed so to her or to any other passer-by witnessing my sudden execution.
Because I, in what seemed to her like a perfect equation by that moment, all of a sudden became an unknown. Trust me, that is exactly how many others so far had seen and remembered me – as their final memory. An unknown in an equation.
In the moment of her own mesmerised realization of the fact – she let an emotion of surprise and disbelief flutter in her eye – it was already too late.
While my holographic shield of phase-shifted atoms was still sliding slowly down my body, I was watching life sliding out of her. Life I had just taken away from her, that way solving each unknown in her equation. She who would never again count her dead was lying now stretched out in a puddle of blood. In the very same spot I myself had been a moment ago. The only difference being the passers-by who were now avoiding herinstead of me.
My mask and protective holographic shield were completely detached from me now, taking away from me the stench of a lost bum. I pulled the zipper of my leather jacket all the way to the end of the throat, turned back towards her one more time, and, spitting down, moved onwards. People started avoiding me again. They were keeping away from my path, but only the ones who had managed to see the end of the bloody little performance in which a bitch had lost a battle.
Soon I merged with the mass of human bodies of a megalopolis, while the air was echoing the more and more deafening sounds of police aircrafts’ sirens.
I decided to go someplace else, where it is more peaceful and the air is cleaner.
I entered the vertical public transport cabin together with a small group of people. I checked whether any of them had witnessed my previous acrobatics. All the faces were blank, deep in their faraway thoughts and dreams. I sighed with relief. I could finally relax.
When I was sure that I moved far enough, I left the cabin. I breathed in the fresh air at the top of the megalopolis, went to the edge of the panorama platform and leaned against the safety railing. I looked down at the endless abyss and tried to imagine how far it is to the bottom. That made me feel dizzy for a moment, so I quickly lifted my eyes towards the see-through dome rising above the city, with the black, sparkly star-spangled sky contoured beyond it.
I used to love coming to this sector, at the top of the megalopolis, after finishing a job that would make me feel sick in my stomach. The last equationwas very good-looking. That could be the reason why the fresh air of those heights felt so delicious. I wasn’t ready yet to go down, into the noisy, stifling reality which was now lazily sliding far below.
I was thinking about myself, my life, about my vocation of a professional killer, about my age and abilities. My thoughts ran away with me… I am philosophising. Me? Oh, I’m getting old..
No, no. I’m still perfectly fit, in my early thirties and with a series of solved equations behind me. That is what we, the professional killers, used to call them. We, the corporate hirelings, who lead our little wars on the streets of megalopolis, while the corporations waged their much bigger, but more refined war there, much further up. And all that with the aim of stealing or keeping the corporate secret patents, blueprints or data… I had been satisfied for a time, but now all the money they were paying me affluently wasn’t enough for me to get rid of the negative burden of the work I was doing. Well, it must be that I am getting old after all – I suddenly thought, crest fallen.
I glanced down into the abyss once again. I felt less dizzy now. Far down I saw a multitude of blinking yellow-red lights. It means that the coppers are still digging in the trash hoping to find a trace of me. But I wasn’t too worried. The police are using all the technological advantages of the day, but we are already handling the technology of tomorrow. We, the hirelings, were always better equipped than the coppers. It is always the matter of the budget and ours is much, much bigger.
Yet, just in case, I pressed the combination on my transmitter. The holographic shield oscillated and changed the settings in the micro-time. Now I was an intellectual, with a briefcase in my hand, wearing an ordinary business suit, with a tie gripping at my neck a bit too tightly. I typed the data into the transmitter and that was it. I puffed out a sigh of relief.
I turned around. Nobody noticed my metamorphosis. I patted the briefcase holding an invaluable document belonging to a corporation which had me on its’ pay role. I was on my way to deliver the package, to finish the job. At that moment, a boy bumped into me with full force and covered me with balls of fresh ice cream.
“Hey, kid. Where are you running to?!” I shouted distractedly glancing around, feeling almost no anger.
“Mummyyyy…!” The kid started crying, looking up at me somewhere from my knee hight, with tears in his eyes. It seemed that he was crying over his damned ice cream more than because of the fact that he had ruined my trousers. As if he himself knew that the trousers were just a holographic shield, so that no damage had actually been done. Nevertheless, I thought it would be a good idea to give him a little spanking, just to teach him a lesson.
I raised my eyes looking for his parents just in time to see a woman running nervously towards us. It must be his mother – I was hoping. I didn’t like the feeling of being in the centre of attention, even if it was just because of an banal accident with a little boy. Not now, while my last job was still so “warm”.
“Sorry, Sir, I’m really sorry…,” she gasped at me.
So, it really was his mother, I sighed with relief.
“No problem, Ma’am. Forget about my suit. It is just not okay for your little boy to run around all by himself. Not because of my suit, but… it is not safe. He could lean over the railing, you know?” I tried to get out of the awkward situation just in the same way an ordinary business man would do, while a number of curious passers-by were giving us a look. At the same time I was checking if there were any hidden security cameras which my electronic equipment had not disabled yet.
“Oh, all right then. Thank you and… sorry.” She apologized awkwardly and took the kid by his hand.
“Let’s go now, son. I’ll get you another ice cream, don’t cry. Vanilla, of course, your favorite…”
I was watching her while she was walking away with her kid to get him another ice cream, and then I turned around heading towards the corporate sector. The delivery was already delayed enough, and I loved delivering on time.
Before I started typing the combination into the transmitter, commanding it to turn on a new holographic shield, it occurred to me that I hadn’t tried ice cream for quite some time. And it was still draining opulently down my trouser leg.
I stood at the side, put my finger into the sticky liquid and then into my mouth, typing in the holographic shield command with the other hand at the same time.
“Mmmm..??” I mumbled with disgust. “This is not vanilla.. This is not even.. not even the bloody ice cream!”
At the moment while my holographic shield was changing the phase frequency, in the only micro-second when I was vulnerable, my last thought went through my mind together with the deadly nano-beam: “The kids too?”