Timmy Anderson packed the last of his Blood Hacker comics and took a last look around the room. He’d planned to leave Denny’s Creek last night, but Didi had been really upset about it and then one thing had led to another…
But now he needed to get out of town. Between that elf and his troll friend and the creepy corporate suits, there were too many unhappy and dangerous people interested in him. But his lease was paid until the end of the month and Mr. Carver had bought the story about his grandmother being sick and gave him the time off. If he was out of town for the month, maybe everyone would forget about him and he could go back to the nice boring life of serving rude corporate wage-slaves on vacation.
He hefted the backpack and trudged down the stairs of the tenement building. The elevator hadn’t worked for years and security was a joke. Which was why he was taking his valuables with him. If someone wanted to steal the roach-infested furniture, they were welcome to it. Between the money he’d gotten from the suits and the troll’s bribe, maybe he could afford a better place. With actual hot running water and wireless that didn’t cut out every ten minutes.
Outside, the clouds and rain made it feel as if the day was struggling to get started too. The street was quiet, very little happened in the tourist town during the week. Timmy was halfway around to the parking lot when he heard the footsteps. His stomach almost rebelled right then and there, the fear rising like toxic bile. Should have left last night, dammit, he thought hopelessly.
“Good morning, Mister Anderson.”, intoned the corp suit, his tone far less pleasant than the words themselves. “You had a very late start this morning. You shall be late for work.”
Fighting to keep his voice from cracking with fear, Timmy replied, “I’ve had an illness in the family. I’m just getting ready to leave.”
“Yes. Most unfortunate that your grandmother has taken a turn for the worse. Mister Smith and I would offer condolences, but seeing as she passed away three years ago, I feel that might ring rather hollow.”
The teen could feel the panic rising into his throat, almost choking off his words. “Ahh…Look…Mr. Jones…The thing is…I…He was with this troll…and…I tried to call you, but they knew I was lying and they threatened to pull my legs off and the troll was really big and I panicked when they talked about eating me and…”.
Timmy’s rambling answer tailed off and Mr. Jones raised his hand. “We have reviewed the recordings of the incident, Mister Anderson. We are well aware of the difficult situation in which you were placed.”
Timmy allowed himself to feel a bit of hope.
“However, we are also aware that you provided the gentleman and his friend with information in exchange for nuyen”. The young man’s hope evaporated. “And after we had so generously remunerated you for agreeing to provide us with information? We are very disappointed, Mister Anderson.”
Overcome with terror, the teen dropped his bag and bolted for the parking pad. His breath was so loud in his ears that he couldn’t even hear the Honda’s engine turn over as he approached. Thanking his lucky stars that the bike had started quickly for once, Timmy leaped on and roared up the street, the dark-clad figure shrinking in the mirror.
Mr. Jones stood on the sidewalk watching the motorcycle race away. A black sedan slid silently to a stop beside him. The high-pitched whine of the Honda’s engine gave way to the distant sound of screeching brakes and crumpling metal as the car door swung open. Settling into the passenger seat, Jones turned to the black-suited driver.
Swinging the vehicle around to head away from the crash scene, the second man replied, “Matrix team reports no additional hits. Confirms forged identification for the others. Tracking any possible biometric matches. The border asset also failed.”
Jones nodded grimly. “Corporal Twofeathers is a liability then. He will be watching tonight’s Urban Brawl tridcast. A shame that he finally let his drinking get out of control.”
With a nod, the driver turned up the ramp onto I-90, joining the light traffic heading toward the Metroplex border station.