Killing Time OST – 9a – Pattern

<< 8c – Cleanse

I parked into Alice’s garage and rested my head against the wheel for a moment. Anger boiled inside of me.
My muscles wanted to punch the damned tech that almost cost a woman and her child their life.
Sure, the pregnancy wouldn’t have been possible without the tech in the first place but, was the poisoned gift worth it? Even though I managed to save their lives, the woman and her child might remain hooked on tech for life. That was the real trap of the oily compound leaking from the machine; it overloaded the production of certain hormones and emulated others. In small doses, it guaranteed the high of a lifetime, more addictive than the love child of heroine and chocolate.
I slammed the car door behind me and went down in the sewer. This day was supposed to be an uplifting celebration of the help that I provided to the city, not the birth of two grade one tech addicts. This whole thing sucker punched me with a truth I’d rather forget: I couldn’t save them all.
Hell, getting Vexx clean had been hellish enough.
I kicked an old soda can out of my track, mumbling to myself as I made my way back home. A button ricocheted on the sewer’s walls when I loosened my blouse with a tad too much determination. I controlled my anger long enough to pull off my face without tearing it. The faux skin joined the rest of the techie stuff in my oversized purse.
I should smash the damn content of that bag on the next corner.
Instead, I exhaled and rode the strap up my shoulder; Vexx needed the stuff to help me stop more techs from reaching the market so I kicked a pebble to divert my bad mood. I’d have to choose myself a new target soon or I might do something stupid.
Frogster welcomed me into my basement with a loud croak and wide blinking eyes.
“Don’t you dare!” Vexx barked, effectively stopping my foot’s ascension over the toy’s head.
I grunted and dropped the bag on the closest counter. My strides didn’t even slow down. Before Vexx commented on my rudeness, I disappeared around the corner on my way to death row.
“Welcome to death row. Who would you rather kill today?”
The familiar layout blinked to life. Waiting for it to load sufficed to try my patience. I picked a knife in the armory. It twirled around my fingers and limbs as I practiced my flourishes – the moves were utterly useless except when I needed to terrorize someone without hurting them. It rarely happened but it kept my dexterity up to par and passed the time. I was never the “tap your foot” or “drum on the desk with your fingers” kind of impatient, though the suit I currently wore might be deceiving.
“Aphrodite’s employees only.”
The voice-activated display quickly adjusted to my demand. The results added to my frustration; every single employee of Aphrodite – Improvements for Women lived here.
“Expand the list to suppliers and shareholders. Don’t include California.”
When the hologram showed a blank page my knife automatically flew to the far wall. My need to hurt the company that provided the faulty uterus almost raged enough for me to reconsider my rules.
But if I got caught because I performed more than two murders in the same area, I wouldn’t be able to help anyone anymore.
“Bad time?” Vexx shyly asked from the threshold.
“Bad century.” I sat on the ground. “I think I’ll go to Australia. Koala’s always amuse me.”
“I might have something else to make you smile.” Vexx revealed a box wrapped in non-descript brown paper. “I just got it in the PO box.”
What he called the PO Box was actually an elaborate hidden contraption in a post office I owned. For all intent and purposes, there was nothing fishy going on there. The one exception being that no one ever showed up to claim the content of box sixteen and yet it never overflowed. Since Vexx was the only one with access to the security tapes, that weird event didn’t raise any flags.
“Maybe it’s your gun!”
I appreciated his attempts to cheer me up but the auction house used much nicer paper. Nonetheless, I motioned for him to come closer. All animosity of the previous days forgotten, he sat by my side and watched me unwrap. The package bore no return address which could have worried me if I didn’t know Vexx scanned everything for potential threats. I recognized the logo on the underlying box instantaneously.
“This one’s not for me.” I said, transferring the package from my knees to his. “It came early.”
“Is it…” With a Cheshire grin and the excitement of a two year-old at Christmas, Vexx ripped the box open. It contained a dummy head covered with the hacker’s brand new face. “Oh my Lords of the Underworld!” He gingerly pulled the head out and brought it at eye level. “I suddenly don’t feel so good about my real face.”
I laughed.
Fake faces were always beyond perfect because the majority of people used them to hide their flaws, wearing a bettered version of their own. Even if your goal was to change your identity, you wanted people to believe you just made yourself prettier. This way no one would suspect your fake face went way over the allowed twenty percent of remodeling. The material registered as one cold mass on X-rays and thermo-cameras, hence the law to limit remodeling. Contrary to facial implants – which showed precisely on X-rays – you couldn’t reverse engineer the traits the person was born with.
Vexx spent a few silent minutes turning the chiseled jawed, smooth skinned head in his hands. No human being could have that perfectly carved cheekbones and neat natural eyebrows. The skin was imperfection-free and evenly toned, bearing none of the trace life left on everyone’s natural faces.
“It even has dimples,” Vexx smiled.
“Women are finally going to love you.” I punched his shoulder before he rose to try on his new identity. Truth be told, Vexx’s actual face wasn’t that far from the new one, structurally-speaking. Less artificial but still finely cut. The fleshy bits – eyelids, nose and lips – completely changed his looks though, making him unrecognizable. When he pushed his hair back, I could see the scars reminiscent when I extracted the tech enhancing his traits. The flaws made him human.
“Any chance I can take it out on a trial run?” His voice came from the dressing room. I joined him there.
“Your papers are ready but the history behind them isn’t solid yet. I suggest careful excursions to slowly incorporate your face in the real world but no more than that.”
“That’s fine.”
When Vexx turned to face me, I couldn’t recognize him at all. What I did recognize though was the glint in his eyes.
The glint of an idea.

9b – Pattern >>


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

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