A Post-Cyberpunk serial.
A routine Saturday night turns deadly for one Detective Malone. Meanwhile a Paladin struggles to bring justice to Realm. Their destinies are intertwined in ways they could scarcely imagine as they make their way to The Gate:
Another 3:00 a.m. call on a Saturday night. I liked the night shift. It helped with my insomnia. As in, “I didn’t have to sleep during the night and when morning came I was so tired I hardly remembered my dream,” type of insomnia. Going on six years, just as long as I’ve been a detective in Precinct 5, inside Ascendant Industries Arcology. A small city of gleaming glass and metal within the larger expanse of Chicago, overlooking Soldier Field.
At least it was.
Before the Collapse.
Corporations ruled back then. They remade the world to fit their corporate image. But no one can do everything. It turned out that the bulk of human endeavor did not fit within the confines of the market. The more they did, the less profitable they became. Then the people assaulted the great bastions of corporate wealth, the arcolgies. The glass broke, the profits margins tumbled, the rich left the Earth leaving their drones to survive in gigantic mausoleums.
People still lived here, at the tune of one-hundred thousand or so in one hundred and nine floors. The street at this level was empty, few people lived up here, except the desperate. A rat the size of a wild hare skittered underneath a moldy cardboard box. Water seeped everywhere. Another reason why folks avoided the upper levels, too exposed to the elements.
Is O’Malley on Block C or Block D?
Entire floors that served as VIP housing, one VIP per floor, now housed hundreds in tiny closet apartments. A dozen shared bathrooms, water dispensers and whatever food local merchants managed to get up here. Whatever the rats didn’t get first that is.
A few frayed holograms illuminated the streets. Most ran without audio, showing snippets of how better your life would be if you owned the latest sonic washer or personal comm. Smiling faces flickered above me.
I tapped on my personal comm, “Hey, O’Malley where are you again?”
“Block C, number thirty-three,” said the voice in my ear.
A dark, narrow stairwell to my left led up to the third floor. I knocked on the door. “Come in.”
The placed had been ransacked, a robbery gone bad. “So what’s the ETA on the forensics team?”
O’Malley raked his blond hair to the left in a futile attempt at a comb over. “They said fifteen, but on a Saturday….”
“It will be more like thirty,” I finished for him. “How about the uniforms?”
He stepped around the bed, “On their way, or so the sergeant told me, but….”
I got a look at the body lying face down. “It’s a Saturday.”
“Yep. Besides this one is special.”
We switched places. He stood on the door while I took a closer look. Latino, late twenties, well dressed. A familiar feeling crept up the back of my neck. A sensation honed over eight years of street work. The one that screamed: Danger!
“That’s Rodriguez. What the hell is going on here?”
I turned around just in time to see O’Malley gun in hand.
Boom ringing in my ears.
Nothing hurts like a gunshot.
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