Killing Time OST – 2c – Payment

<< 12b – Payment

I drove to my dad’s house in the southern part of the neighborhood. He still lived where I grew up and the place was certainly big enough for me to have my apartments in there but my activities demanded otherwise. When I expressed the need to have my own place, my dad offered me the huge house I now lived in. Only the upstairs part of it, obviously.
As far as anyone knew, I was a rich only child who never had to work a day in her life. My expenses fitted well within my astronomical monthly allowance. I also had my mother’s inheritance as a safety net, just in case.
I felt ridiculous sitting on that much money but my father and I didn’t see eye to eye on charity. He believed too few of what we gave reached the people in need. He gave a reasonable amount once a year. Everyone printed how generous he was, he got a tax break and that was it. He didn’t see how that could bug me but then, I didn’t see how it sat well with him. Since his money was in my official pocket, I refrained from spending it in a way that would frustrate him.
Truth be told, he would probably let me do it but I didn’t want to risk having to find a day job; my biggest donations came from my illegal pockets. Any other way and I would end up spreading myself too thin or drawing the media’s attention.
“Rich heiress desperately seeking a job.”
The journalists would have a blast following the hard process some people didn’t even bother to go through. With a growing population and most jobs taken over by machines, even working at the drugstore was considered cut-throat business.
I arrived at my father’s home and parked my car. Dad insisted on us taking his car with his driver every time we went out. He insisted I should buy more domestics and offered one to me every other Christmas; I couldn’t stand to live around so many machines.
“Honey bee!” He called out when he saw me. I was soon trapped in a bear hug. I breathed in the sharp and fresh scent of his aftershave and smiled; he has worn the same product since I could remember. In fact, smelling it on another man gave me the creeps.
“Hi Pa!”
While we dived into some small talk, his cook rolled in and out of the house to pack the car with our food. We sat in the back and departed for our picnic spot. Every Sunday, we brunched on top of the mountain nearby, one of the last remaining pieces of actual greenery. My father bought it a long time ago and restricted the area to family and the odd party. He called it “our safe place”, away from the media gossips, from the frenzy of work, from the demanding reality of the city. Here, we dominated the world and we could simply be with each other.
We set up the picnic on a blanket and sat beside the abundance of food. There was a little bit of everything, right there for the picking. A cup of coffee in one hand, I filled the other with a handful of blueberries to start off the meal.
“I really like this dress.” My father commented after swallowing a bite of deviled egg. “Have you ordered one for the Merrilyn Technology’s Grand Ball?”
“Thanks Pa but isn’t this zone under the ‘no obligations talk’ law?”
“We’re talking clothes.” He objected with a crooked smile. I mimicked him.
“Clothes for official appearances.”
Despite its rather inoffensive name, the Grand Ball was basically an obligation for everyone with half the standing my father had. We could decide not to go but it might turn into a scandal. Since actors had been replaced by animated pixels that cost less and acted better, the techno biz became the new gossip source. And technocrats loved to be surrounded by rich people. If you showed up at one company’s event and not the other’s, they noticed and they had the means to make whatever your business was very difficult. So any ball had this political dance floor to learn steps from and I wouldn’t voluntarily trouble my dad by crushing someone’s toe.
“I’ll have something splendid,” I replied to my father’s frown.
“Any chance you’ll have a splendid ‘plus one’ to go along with it. I’m getting old, you know.”
In his simple jeans and t-shirt, my father hardly looked his fifty-six years. I knew for a fact he never had a rejuvenating nano-surgery done but I suspected he might have gotten a hormone regulating chip installed when I was too young to notice. That would explain the skin flexibility and muscle tone.
“How about Henry?”
“Oh, please Pa! I can find a date on my own, thank you!” I forcefully bit a pear which sent some juice spurting about. “Worst case scenario, I’ll borrow one of Naomi’s Pretties to outshine everyone.”
We laughed and – thankfully – switched subject. I had yet to find anyone who could kindle a romantic interest in me. Not that I was actively looking, anyway. My job made it hard to welcome someone into my life and my nightmares made it impossible to share a bed for the night. Besides, use-and-move-along was so much simpler.
We wrapped up our picnic around noon. Half the food turned into leftovers; Dad always ordered way too much. On my drive home after kissing my dad goodbye, I stopped by the grocery store to buy some ice cream. Coffee woke me up but sugar would keep me going for the rest of the day. Either that or I messed up my sleep pattern. I downloaded a newspaper onto my reader and flashed my ID to the scanner. All my purchases were charged to my account and the green light signaled me out.
I rubbed the back of my right hand where my ID laid, a few layers of skin below. Even that gage me the heebie-jeebies though I had worn it all my life. I had to obscure it when I went on assassinations or any hallway scanner could identify me.
“Read headlines.” After a few seconds to analyze the order, the reader wired up to execute it.
“Front page,” the mechanical voice intoned, “Another Nightshade Signed Assassination Hits a Presumed Techno-Mob Boss.”
I smiled at my ease to get on the front page. I was particularly proud of completing that contract; it satisfied the client by eradicating his competition and satisfied me by thinning the herd of abusive techno-dealers. My client knew I had no allegiance but he thought he could outsmart me. But I would take them all down, one mobster at a time.
“Business News,” the reader continued, “Subcutaneous Wonders Announces Record Sales This Trimester.”
I sighed. People never changed. Subcut-W put new nanobots on the market last month. The machine’s sole purpose was to manage hair growth; it ensured smooth, bouncy and abundant hair to anyone with the five thousand dollars to buy the gadget. Plastic enhancements were always a hit. And since the technology messed with the addicts’ system, they often sported dull and messy hair; their addiction plus the machine’s benefit were more than enough reasons for them to steal money and get the operation.
Seriously, what a world!

3a – Death Row >>

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About Aheïla

Somewhere in Quebec City, Aheïla works as a Game Design Director by day and writes by night. Known for her blue hair, unyielding dynamism and tasty cooking (quails, anyone?), she’s convinced “prose is the new crack”. She satisfies her addiction daily on The Writeaholic’s Blog and weekly on Games' Bustles View all posts by Aheïla

5 responses to “Killing Time OST – 2c – Payment

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