I feel like the King of the World.
Sitting here in our usual booth at “Decadent Dark”, watching the show on the main stage and sipping a refreshing tonic water and lime, my girl Emmy cuddled into my side and a fat sheaf of cred-chips in my wallet. Life is seriously good.
No urges to create, either. Abigail was a fine work of Art. The memory will keep me warm inside for quite sometime, months if everything goes as normal. Musingly, I sip my drink and allow myself to drift into replayed implant-memory of that recent glory once again…
It was surely fate that brought us together in that Amon Zero temple almost three months ago now. Her presence hit me between the eyes like a sledgehammer and I got over-zealous, careless, tried to talk my way inside. Then she slammed my face into a temple pew and I knew she was the one, the very next Art that had entered my life. I had managed to get a bug into her robe’s fabric and that was the beginning, gave me where she lived and her route to the Amon Zero repository where she was some kind of acolyte. Once the job with the team was over I could devote serious time to her, and I did.
I spent two weeks just casing her life, building her dossier, taking pictures and vid-feed by the megabyte. She lived in a fourteenth floor condo in a last-century hi-rise for top-level Proles in Richmond. I thought it was a bit expensive for someone who was only an Amon Zero acolyte to live there, until I spent three days living in alleyways and doorways around her block – soaking up the ambience, noting which of the neighbors and shopkeepers she spoke to, rifling through her trash for private correspondence. Slowly the picture came together: her father killed in a militia attack on his factory when she was still just a kid, her mother slowly sinking into depression and drug-abuse while still managing to hold down a post as plant manager at Feng’s place down on the bay. The final catastrophic disaster last year when Mom made a mistake that almost poisoned half the city and then died in the ensuing riots – or maybe committed suicide. Being on her own at age 24, just out of college with a grad degree in software engineering, having the life insurance as a nice nest-egg and the mortgage on her family’s condo paid off – but deathly afraid of death itself. I followed her to the temple and home again, listened in on the bug in her robe as she made confession to the local Librarian. She joined Amon Zero in desperation, figuring her inheritance, if she sold the condo at the right time, would pay to make her immortal. Poor girl, so tragic, so flawed. So perfect.
The security on the condo block was pretty damn good. Not quite Whirlwind but close enough, from one of the megacorps’ many smaller clones. It took another week of living inside the vents and electrical ducts of the building, voiding my waste in plastic bags and eating those mushy and tasteless emergency rations they put in lifeboats, to circumvent the alarms and computer monitors – sometimes only moving a few yards in an hour and twice getting stuck for a panicked few minutes. When I got to her condo I planted bugs behind vents in every other room and settled in behind the ventilator high up on her bedroom wall to watch for a couple of days. By now I knew from Joe at the Kibblemart that she suffered from nightmares and insomnia, and from her whispered conversation with another female acolyte that she always kept the air-con running warm so she could sleep in the nude as she had when she was a kid at the Feng arcology in Bali. Her naughty little secret. I watched, I waited, I put the final touches to the rest of the Artwork when she was out.
At three in the morning the following day I began to let myself out of the vent, slowly and quietly. Maybe she had a nightmare, maybe she heard the tiniest whirr from my pocket tool, because she woke and sat up in bed, her hair tousled and the silk sheet slipping down her nudity like – well – silk. I touched my mask to make sure it was in place and popped the gas grenade I’d liberated from Candyman’s warehouse weeks ago just in case – a fast acting soporific. Within less than half a minute she was asleep again, spilled half in and half out of her bed as she reached for a neural baton under it. What a prize to make Art from!
Quickly, I arranged my tableau. Abigail on her bed, nude, tied firmly and gagged with strip-tape. Choice stills from my preparation work arranged tastefully around her, showing her in moments of unguarded vulnerability. An old-fashioned data player I’d salvaged from the Gomi Emporium played the story of her life, her frailties and fears, in an electronically generated voice adapted from footage I found online of some old, dead English dude who did natural history infovision last century. I popped the wideawake ampoule under her nose and stepped back as she started to struggle, panicked, then slowly realized the futility of her squirming and settled into hesitant fear, awaiting the worst. I let the English voice talk to her as I recorded my greatest Art to date onto my implant, gave her a black-lipsticked kiss on the left cheek, then quietly let myself out – her wide blue eyes following my masked and black-clad form all the way.
Of course, I stopped by a couple of other condos on my way to the roof and relieved them of their jewelry and some small artworks. Art is expensive to produce, after all – and as a side benefit the general hue and cry raised by the burglaries would ensure my Art was discovered in sort order, by those most likely to have cameras and recorders of their own. I left via a spidersilk zipline from the fifteenth floor landing, where I’d previously arranged a camera to loop on an empty hallway and window. Perfect.
…I snuggled Emily in closer as the floorshow ended. she looked up at me adoringly, her eyes soft and her cheeks flushed. Soon we’d go home and continue the club’s theme in our own private way. It’s not Art but it helps to stave off the need to make Art, and I’m very fond of Em in my own way. She’s even found me a job, perfect for a little low-lying for a couple of weeks. The Emir is having one of his auctions and is dragging personnel over to the Ottoman Casino from his other businesses – so I’ll be covering for her uncle Cavendish as temprary under-manager at the Dangerous Seasons club for that time, working beside my Emily.
I feel like the King of the World.