Stav’s got a job to do. He’s just a typical type of hero rescuing your typical type of damsel. Only she’s a week old and Stav’s carrying a pink gun.
Synthetic Cyberpunk Flash Fiction
By John D. Pallot
For The Gibson Bigend Cyberpunk Flash Fiction Contest
The console beeps recognition of my card, mag-lock thunks open and the door cycles open. Echoes of bulky combat boots on wet concrete reverberate as I walk down the humid, strip-lit hallway. Condensation on the dark glass walls glisten as vague shapes move within the many rooms lining the passageway. Numbers glow above each doorway, red or blue. I hear a muffled cry and a thud behind one door and press my ear against the cool, wet glass. Nothing. I convince myself I imagined the sound before moving on, almost. Coming to a turn, I stop before the corner, reach into my worn leather bomber jacket and pull out a plastic handgun. A previous owner had painted the stubby weapon hot pink, but black nylon shows through from wear on the grip and a hundred scratches. Cocks like a toy gun, spring ticking worryingly but a round slides into the chamber.
Adrenaline hits as I consider what I’m about to do. Hands shake while releasing the safety and blood throbs in my ears. Sucking a few slow, ragged breaths I talk myself through the plan and convince myself to not walk away.
Alright, Stav, stop shaking; think slow, notice the details. Just like last time, some rich prick getting his rocks off with an illegal Synth-girl. She’s been cooked up by a backyard chemist to cater to this perv’s tastes, probably only a week old, mind jammed with stolen, miss-matched images – a fabricated persona. Yet by now reality will be sneaking in the cracks, fracturing the facade.
‘Why am I here? Who is this man? Why am I hurting?’ until she unravels into psychosis and they melt her back down to the amino and start again. Her life created to last just long enough to satiate tastes ‘Inappropriate for use on humans’ as it is described, sterilised for the flesh menu.
Rage boils inside, I want to scream; tear the bastards to shreds with my teeth, feel their soft throats give-way and taste blood. My heart bleeds fire, torn by the exploitation of this girl, a human-equivalent life conjured only to be a sex-toy.
Details… Cubicle 209: black out, gun out, get inside. Mag-bolt lock, use the tool, slow and quiet. Stealth entry by 03:15, Synth should be conscience. Disable perv. Hog-tie. Leave hanging from smashed ankles, alive – conditionally… Lock up and leave with Synth, take her to contact from the equal-minds activists. From there they patch up her shoddy sequence, stop her unravelling on the cellular level. After that she picks who she wants to be from a catalogue of dead memories and wakes up in a hospital recovering from an ‘accident.’ You’re not ‘technically’ resurrecting some dead person by slotting their mind into a new body, man. Enough chemical variation in each brain, forks in the road disseminate wildly after the personality download. You’re giving this girl the gift of innocence, freedom and the chance for a new life. Expedient, sure, but also humane. As for the offender; reduced demand = reduced supply.
I turn the corner, reading numbers above doors; 188, 193, 201, 209, keep walking past and check the time, 02:58 – perfect. Turning around I start blacking out numbers with spray paint and pull fluorescent tubes out of their contacts. At door 209 I crouch and listen, deep breaths steaming the glass. I hear nothing but see shapes moving around inside. I take out the tool and attach the e-pick module over the lock. Faint humming noises as I turn the dial, tools electro-magnets battling the door bolts trying to fly open. Eventually steel comes to rest against rubber stops with a small knock. Rising slowly, I take out my gun, hold my breath and glide silently into the room.