Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A cyberpunk fragment

[edited for readability - the Blogger Android app is hopeless]

This is a fragment that intruded as I was working on another project and then kept me up last night. It's the beginning of a story that has been simmering at the back of my mind for a while but hasn't really gelled - suddenly the plot seems to be spooling out, so maybe I'll take a stab at outlining it and fleshing out the scenes that I already have in mind once I'm done with what's on my plate. It seems to want to be a cyberpunk story, or at least noir SF, which is a bit of a divergence for me. Should be an interesting project if it doesn't die on the vine like so many other ideas.

For now, I hope you enjoy what there is:

I could tell you to the minute when I fell in love with her.

Her face was painted in flickering green from the monitor, eyes flashing like the LED telltales all around us. She pounced in a sudden flurry of activty, fingers flying across the interface. Then just as suddenly she slumped back, relaxed.

"We're in." She was whispering as though they could hear us - echoes of primal hunting instincts.
I hunched forward to peer at the code as though I knew what I was looking at. I felt more than saw her knowing smirk. She shook her head almost imperceptibly and I found myself intensely aware of how close she was. Suddenly awkward, I straightened.

"Good," I said, trying to sound official, trying to retain a bit of professional dignity.

She grinned at me, teeth and the ports on the side of her head gleaming in the half dark. "Thanks," she replied brightly, running one hand over her scalp in a self-mocking parody of preening.  I turned away to hide my flush in the half shadows.

"How long before we can activate?"

She shrugged, white shoulders twitching up and pulling the matte black vest tight in ways I found myself uncomfortably aware of. "Could go any time - we're plugged right in. Depends on how you want to play it."

I nodded, shrugged on my jacket, straightened my tie.

"There are other parts to this - I'll be in touch when we're ready to make our move."

She shrugged again. "I'll be waiting."

I turned back at the door, meaning to offer some trite bit of advice or a stuffy admonition just out of reflex, but the words died on my tongue. I'd caught her stretching. The way she lounged there among the boxes and lights, like a tiger in a cable jungle, dangerous but captivating.

We'd been working together for weeks on this strike - me sneering at her street tough pretensions, while she poked at my stuffy suit demeanor searching for the sore point that would make me blow my cool. We'd been this close before - closer when I'd squeezed into the cable conduit to help her braid in a tap - but it had always been just business, just another contract. But in that moment it washed over me all at once and I knew I wanted to end with more than just a phone call to say "go."

"You drink coffee?"

The question hung there out of place while she blinked at me over one of those smooth, white shoulders. She was frozen in the act of reaching for something, as startled by the invitation as I was. She cocked an eyebrow:


I scowled, sure this was another set up, that she was going to slap me down like a hundred times before. "On what?"

Her teeth flashed in a grin that for a fraction of a second seemed shy. "You buying?"

I relaxed. "Yeah. You coming?"

The grin grew: "Yeah." She winked at me, then pushed her chair out from the console, plugged herself in, and rolled to join me at the door.

Watching her cross the room, I somehow knew it was the start of something. But if I'd known what, maybe I would have had coffee alone.

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