Cover: C.T. McMillan
Model: Megan Crawford (ING: @mleighmoon)
Copyright 2018 by C.T. McMillan
All Rights Reserved
In accordance with the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, the scanning, uploading, and electronic sharing of any part of this book without the permission of the publisher constitute unlawful piracy and theft of the author’s intellectual property. Thank you for your support of the author’s rights.
Also By CT McMillan
Back to Valhalla: A Military Fantasy
I could not have come this far without my family encouraging me to pursue my ambition to be a writer.
To Razor’ and ’19 for providing inspiration.
The body shop was a few blocks northeast in Cascade, hidden in the shadow of the glass spires downtown. A sign of a green cross in the circle of a white gear stood over automatic doors that creaked open as Kiddo ascended the stoop. The cool air smelled like an electronics store with hints of chlorine. Her jackboots clicked on the linoleum floor as she approached the reception desk under a long glass window in the waiting room.
Staring at an old fashion computer monitor sat a chunky Flesh stiff in a white button-down and khakis. He peered up for just a second when Kiddo rested her elbow on the counter top.
“Figured you’d show up sooner, Volk.”
“Work stuff. You know how it is, Junior.”
“Don’t I ever. Enzo’s got orders to fill and lunch ended 45 minutes ago.”
“Gimme 15,” she said flicking a folded 20-dollar bill onto his keyboard.
Without looking he slipped the bill into his breast pocket.
“Need a little more time? 15 don’t seem like much.”
“Maybe you need more than 15, pal,” she said walking past the desk.
Junior was too slow to give a retort when she stepped through the automatic doors to the shop.
Imagine a tattoo parlor, but instead of separate rooms for each artist, each gear-head had a cubical of nylon curtains on the wide-open floor. At each station they worked on mods in green coveralls, some with customers seated on adjustable chairs. At work benches the gear-heads repaired busted servos, replaced hydraulics, or mended faulty circuits with a variety of tools. In the back of the shop was the complicated work, where Flesh became Modded. That area was sanitized and exclusive to specialized personnel.
Kiddo walked between the cubicles at the center and stopped at the second to last station where Enzo van Gogh sat. He was an Andie, short for Android. They’re supposed to look human, but you could spot one in a crowd like a lit cigarette in a cornfield at midnight. Andies have skin that looks like wax with varying pigmentations, including those not found in humans if they choose to change it. Another dead giveaway is their hair of poly-fibers that shine like they’re saturated with gel. In Enzo’s case, he had skin in a shade of blue so dark it was almost black, and shaggy gold hair with matching eyes.
Enzo was immersed in his work, wearing a pair of magnifying goggles as he worked a pair of tweezers on an eye mod in a vice. He did not see Kiddo stop just short of entering his station, leaning towards him on one foot with a goofy smile.
“Got somethin’ that needs your attention, Mr. Repairman,” she said placing the jaw onto the desktop.
Enzo smiled without turning to her.
“You gonna fix me or what?”
The broom closet was standing room only. Their options were limited, Kiddo’s backside pressed to Enzo’s crotch. She gripped a tuft of his hair, making a high-pitch squeak of plastic-on-plastic. When she wasn’t biting her finger they kissed to keep quiet before he slowed to a gradual pause.
Enzo pulled up his coveralls.
“…Should’ve paid for more.”
Kiddo turned to face him, buttoning up her coat.
“I told Junior not to take your money.”
“Dough’s more convincing than your word, babe. I could’ve pulled his fingernails for free.”
“Please don’t do that,” he said zipping her pants and then himself.
Kiddo stood on her toes to kiss him.
“You’re worth it.”
With cap in hand the two stepped out into the shop. Kiddo walked past the view-window into one of the operating rooms at the back following Enzo. On a table laid a patient as a Bot attached to the ceiling slowly cut into their chest with its long arms.
“It’s like I said on the phone,” said Enzo. “The thing is glorified scrap, but somehow more worthless.”
“I said the same thing, but Cici insisted you appraise it.”
“That’s what I get for being in debt.”
“That was years ago, but you are dating a mobster.”
He chuckled before Kiddo took his arm to walk side-by-side. At the station Enzo sat at his bench and picked up the jaw as she held him from behind.
“See this?” he asked showing her the inside of the armature. On the ramus was a hawk’s claw in a circle engraved into the aluminum.
“I know,” she said. “It’s a TalSec mod from last decade. Same ones you put in me when we first met.”
“Mm-hm. We use them to train new customers and employees. The most I can do with this is keep it in a box. Sorry you wasted your time.”
“Wasted? Got my 15 minutes, didn’t I?” she asked kissing his cheek. “Wish you’d just quit so I can have you all to myself. I make money faster than you.”
“That sounds great, but we’d probably get sick of each other real fast.”
“Maybe… not if we have our plus one.”
He put down the jaw and turned his chair to face her. Kiddo sat on his lap, hands on his shoulders.
“A couple more weeks of extra work and that’ll be a reality,” he said.
“Feels like I don’t do enough.”
“I’d say you have the harder job. I sit here and fix people while you break them.”
“Not all the time, but I love it. And I love you.”
“Love you too.”
“I’ll get home a little late tonight,” said Enzo.
She made a sad frown then nodded.
“I’ll wait for you.”
They kissed one more time before Kiddo left him to his work. On the way to the front of the shop, she looked back at him. Once she entered the waiting room her phone vibrated until she answered it.
“Pink,” said Takashi, “big problem at the docks.”
“What kind?” she asked descending the stoop.
“The kind that needs your delicate touch. The kind that’s got Yaks snooping where they shouldn’t and making our guys nervous. Feel like doing some real work?”
Kiddo made a toothy smile.
“Just get ‘em outta our territory. No corpses.”
“You go it,” she said hanging up before bolting it down the sidewalk.
Blade Runner, Directed by Ridley Scott
Deus Ex: Human Revolution/Mankind Divided, Created by Eidos Montreal
Blade Runner 2049, Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Altered Carbon, Created by Laeta Kalogridis
Ghost in the Shell, Directed by Mamoru Oshii
Neuromancer, By William Gibson
Metropolis, Directed by Rintaro
R.U.R., By Karel Capek
Yojimbo, Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Westworld, Created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy
A Touch of Evil, Directed by Orson Welles
Battle Angel Alita, By Yukito Kishiro
On the Waterfront, Directed by Elia Kazan
About the Author
C.T. is a Florida native and proud gun owner. He is a fan of all things military, comic books, and a self-proclaimed movie buff. In his off-time C.T. reviews movies on a blog no one reads and writes screenplays that will never get made, but enjoys it nonetheless. He hopes this book thing will actually pay off so he can do it forever.