Bastian Celeste detested heroes. All that perverted selfishness and hidden agenda, where was the honesty in that? Sure, moral corruptions followed him around like a pack of rabid dogs, but lying had never been one of them.
He picked up a coffee at the station and ducked past the security checks, stone-skimming his phone ID across the surface of a dozen underground relays.
The woman had asked about his life too many times, her ill concealed hopes locked into the rhythm of his breathing. He’d given her Arthur, a media architect from Chichester. She wanted someone with an exciting credibility, but he’d slung in a subliminal Once and Future King for good measure. It was all about fantasy, even when they pretended it wasn’t.
Her phone had failed to load his QRID, so she’d printed off an inkjet copy and put it on her bedside table. He’d placed a strategic ring of tea over it as he left. Hell, it was fake anyway, but somehow tragedy always tasted of a sweeter and more permanent kind of cruel. He could have killed her a thousand times over, instead he made her cry out without even touching her. The mood for anything else hadn’t been on him. Sometimes it was like that. He’d never taken the time to figure out why.
The billboards flickered through another cascade of neon cubes. HIVE had bundled the IOT into a centralised unit and chopped everything else up into a target driven resource. It had been months since anything more than a punchy little strapline had made it past the public broadcast system. Freedom of choice was a dead sales pitch. And no one seemed to miss it very much.
He flicked a glance at a public safety drone that had circled down the alley ahead of him. He’d overshot his social permit by two hours, but what the hell, even he was in love with Arthur.
He was close enough to his street office to see that the ad-graphics on the door needed changing again, it didn’t pay to let any signs of business inertia creep in. They’d talked about replacing the cluttered panel with a clear, face recognition glass. It would have given them a much higher PS rating and an air tight way to conceal their more covert activities. But even with the incentive of government subsidies, it was still expensive shit to buy. Plus, ditching the ads would mean factoring the loss of tax-deductible revenue into an already sketchy looking end of year return. The business took virtually nothing through the legitimate checkouts now, discrepancies like that flagged up pretty damn quick on the HIVE, and the last thing they needed was another alarm generated inspection.
He could hear the drone buzzing, it must have picked him up as he crossed the street, this wasn’t gonna be easy. Bastian smiled, he hated it when things were easy.
©2017 Jac Forsyth
A return in your honour : drainbrainx