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  • Mema's Story

    [[I'm posting this here because I can't seem to find any other place within the Saijo City framework to do it... Spin, do inform me if this story gets off in the wrong tone. It's mapped out as Gibson-style cyberpunk. I use Oxford-style commas. Live with it.]]

    Everyone was trying to be elsewhere in a hurry and with the storm dropping smog-flavored drops on everyone, hurried became almost frenetic. Saijo City sidewalks were a crowded, sweaty mix of commuters, street hawkers, whores, and homeless this time of day. In spite of the crowds on foot, little motorized traffic crabbed along on the road or above the tangle of powerlines. Fanjet cars were expensive enough to be out of reach of most of humanity and gas had peaked so long ago that plastics had been plant extract-based for decades. These days, most people just walked. Mema herself was a simple systems engineer for the life support backup section of her Company arco. With no way to afford something like a fanjet, she commuted on foot like everyone else, everywhere she went, every day.

    Of course, it seemed like everyone got off work at precisely the same moment, jostling each other and flooding the streets and sidewalks, locust-like, twice a day. So Mema Morigi thought nothing of it when the large-built, gray Corporate suit sideswiped her arm with his own as he angled past a greasy chorizo vendcart rusting its way to oblivion.

    Mema strode for the relative shelter of construction scaffolding erected against a burned-out bank. The first floor was being turned into some kind of synagogue or mosque in miniature. Impossible to tell which kind, Mema thought as she caught a glimpse of herself in the freshly installed window. All the religions had blended to indistinguishable Corporate-sponsored sludge long ago.

    The reflection in the window nodded. She looked plain soaked, she admitted to herself. The long walk from her zaibatsu’s arco toward Hollow’s Point had dragged her through the rain almost the entire way. Her straight, dark brown hair was caught up into a sopping ponytail that leaked water down the groove of her spine. She suppressed a shiver.

    She couldn’t see much of her face in the construction dust-covered window, but she knew her features, composed more of her mother’s full-blooded Chippewa than her father’s Russo-Anglo, must have been broadcasting forlorn dampness just like everyone else’s. At least, she thought, the zaibatsu’s mandatory exercise regimen (A Healthy Worker is a Productive Worker!) had her moving through the crowd at full speed, even after the several miles she’d just covered. She cut a slim, athletic figure and she knew it, but tried to school her features into detached concentration. The sex prowlers turned out earlier and earlier these days. Mema let herself attract as little attention as possible.

    The crowd pressed in on her like a wet, stinking stray dog as she wove her way through the unceasing maze of bodies. I’m making good time. I’ll reach Ginny’s by nine, latest. Virginia Durham was Mema’s dear friend and confidant. They’d met five years ago as members of the same cohort in their computer engineering degree program. Both lovers of long distance running and swimming, they’d become inseparable friends; even vacationing together and--

    The gray suited man was next to her, easily keeping pace with his long stride.
    “Mementa, go into the soba shop two buildings ahead. Do not say one word.” He spoke softly with a friendly and light tone—the sidewalk was still crowded-- but his glance at her was nothing but threat. She caught a glimpse of metal in his grip, almost completely concealed by his massive hand. He shook his head grimly, seeing her reflex to cry out. She complied wordlessly as her traitor legs carried her, unwilling, ahead.
    The soup joint was a smoky hole of a place. Dozens of empty 3LF beer bottles obscured the greasy patina covering the bar. Cigarettes had been outlawed a half-century ago, owing to the costs to public health, but places like this were festooned with hookahs and bowls of every kind. The owners made enough in illegal sales to keep the local Corp forces nicely paid off, thank you very much, and everyone kept the uneasy silence about it well enough that way. The air was cloyed thick with cannabis, tobacco, cloves. Nearly all the wobbly secondhand tables were full, but nobody seemed to want to look at anyone else.

    The man held her chair out for her to sit, saying something about ordering miso to the waiter passing by. Mema, her entire body buzzing with surprise and dread, forced herself to sit woodenly at the table.

    Then the man’s hand was on her shoulder in a bizarrely gentle way, almost fatherlike, as he stood behind her. A flash of pain radiating along her arm and up her neck, then nothing.

    Posted 9 years ago

    Waking up was like discovering piece by piece that each part of her body had been stuffed with broken glass. Then a series of impressions came all in a rush. A bare concrete floor, cinderblock walls. A single, torso-thick water standpipe to which she’d been…chained? She was slumped unceremoniously on her butt , head sagged forward onto arms chained high. And either the floor was made of half-set gelatin, or she’d been heavily drugged. Felt like when she'd had her appendix removed those years ago, but so much more muzzy and lurching this time.

    Heavy boot steps reverberated weirdly, echoing too many times to the tempo of Mema’s slowed pulse. She twisted awkwardly, pinioned by the cuffs slung around the pipe. The man, still in his suit, was filling the doorway. He looked down at her for what felt like an eternity, his expression unreadable. His was an anonymously perfect, symmetrical face; a careful surgical average of recent movie stars and athletes.
    “Yes. You’ll do nicely.” It sounded to her like the man’s voice was coming from underwater somewhere, muted and indistinct.

    Mema hadn’t realized she’d replied until his low chuckle cut through the blurriness filling her skull.

    “On the contrary, Mementa, I’m not going to rape you.” He breathed out slowly through his nose, as if talking with a petulant child. Then the appraising way he looked her over made a retch spasm threaten to overtake what bodily control she had mustered. “Although you’d do nicely for that too.”

    The words caught in her throat, thick and sticky. “Who—“

    “Be silent.” He was moving closer, squatting down. He grasped her jaw in one giant hand, turning her head one way and the other as if searching for something. His touch wasn’t rough as much as it was unconcerned. Mema still had a difficult time not slumping over. Her muscles seemed to respond three seconds too late for every intended movement.

    “Yes, I think you’ll do perfectly.” Then a glimpse of dull-glinting metal; electrodes grafted into his palms as he covered her eyes with one hand. Again the flaring pain.

    Posted 9 years ago
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