Chapter 3

I awoke with the sun still up. The heat tore through my blacked out windows and into my office, making it feel like a furnace.

I reached around and unplugged my head from the modem, reluctantly.

The night's dreams had made it possible for me to move forward. Knowing that there was something better than the life that I was living was all I needed to tell James about the indiscretions of his wife.

I got myself out of bed and dressed myself in the usual; gray button-down shirt, black jeans, black hat with two white stripes that had been worn to the point of donation, and I left out my usual coat.

I pulled myself over to my desk and started a dialog with Paige.

Pull up the pictures of Monica. I said.

I waited for just a moment, knowing that the night before would cause Paige to lag a bit.

She finally pulled up the photos of the junkie wife and I sorted through them. I picked out the pictures that I knew would drive the point home for James and got my thoughts together on how I was going to break the (should already be obvious) news to him.

As I made my way down the stairs, I felt the very real urge to go back and get some boost.

The funny thing about boost was that no matter what, it could make things seem easier.

There was this one time that I'd found a little girl that had been seriously injured by a moving car. I didn't see the accident, but it was quite obvious that it had been a moving vehicle that had struck her.

She couldn't have been more than ten years old, and she was lying in the street. Both of her legs had been broken, and there was blood pooling underneath her.

I had no idea what I was supposed to do. The idea seemed obvious enough. I should yell for help, call the authorities, or do anything other than stand over her and do nothing.

But, unfortunately for her, that is exactly what I did.

See, I was high on boost.

It was my first month with the purple, and I didn't know how to handle myself.

I still have flashes of the back of her head, face down in the grit and dirt of the gutter, just before I do a line. I think about her every time I do some boost, but it is too late to do anything about it.

I'd synced up some days later and found out that she'd died in the arms of a non-transhuman.

I didn't cry.

Boost makes everything easier.

After dealing with the urge, I got to the street outside my office without looking back and hailed a taxi.

The taxi was nastier than the very slums that it was from. Someone had vomited in the floor, but I could see purple powder mixed in with the mess.

I looked up at the cabbie, an android, and told him my destination.


We sped past the junkies, the boosters, the riff raff, and the degenerates. We went up Apple Street, took a left onto Commerce, and a right onto Ashford.

We were there before I knew it.

The boost was still heavy on my back and, sadly, knew that it would help me with my conversation with Mr. Helsiner.

I got out of the cab, gave the machine his fare, and looked up at what was sure to be the tallest skyscraper I'd ever set foot in.

The sun was setting, but it was still too hot for me to stay outside. I could feel my pale skin starting to blister.

I walked quickly to the doors, was greeted by another android that was overly polite, and made my way inside.

Past the revolving, energy saving door was a beautiful lobby, but I had no time to sit and admire. I made my way to an elevator, put my hand out to stop two uppers also going up, and hopped on.

The uppers looked terrified to be on the same elevator as me, and I'm pretty sure that they must have pictured me a lower American terrorist.

I got a good laugh out of their faces and backs pressed against the far mirror.

I finally made it to the fifty-fifth floor, and departed.

I made sure to look back at the uppers and mouth the word "boom" as the door closed.

I worked my way to James' room, and gave the old fashioned 'shave and a haircut' knock. The knock, although mostly forgotten, was my signature way of letting people know it was me.

James opened the door, grabbed the shoulder of my shirt, pulled me in (with a little more force that I really cared for), and closed the door.

His face was white and covered in sweat. Even in his top-end, upper, hoi polloi life, he was just a tiny scared man that was terrified to find that his existence might not have gone as planned.

"Hello, Mr. Helsiner", I said. "It's nice to see you too."

"Cut the shit, Erik. Did you find anything or not?"

He was pushy, but I let it go. Just knowing that there was a big payout for the information that I could give him made things a lot easier on my end. He wanted to be a tough guy, and that was fine by me. There wasn't a punch I could throw or a word I could say that was going to hit him as hard as the news that I was ready to give him, so I cut him a lot of slack. It was my way of giving to the needy.

"Mr. Helsiner, the funds are in order?"

"Yes! Did you find anything?" His voice got the point of shrill. I truly wanted to feel sad for him, but the boost was doing its job.

I held my hand out and looked him dead in the eye. Of course his eyes bounced from my hand to my stare a few times, but eventually he put the old money in my palm.

I didn't care what anyone said about the new Republic and its money, I liked old cash.

"Very good, Mr. Helsiner. If you have a hard-line, I will gladly sync with you to show you some pictures of Ms. Helsiner."