Ladies and Gentlemen, I apologize for the lapse in posting these stories. It has indeed been too long, but real life has its ways of intruding on the things we’d rather do. So without ado or further delay, Chapter Four (Griffing / Newman collab.)
Continued from Chapter Three
Uptown. It always made him feel strange. He knew that he stood out like the proverbial sore thumb. The people of Uptown always looked at his kind as if they were things that kept the city running. Items of inconvenience that got in the way when they dragged themselves up from the street level to the pristine walkways and skyways of Uptown.
After the disturbingly quick ride in the utility room elevator, they had made their way to the garage. Kriever didn’t like public trans, and though he could barely afford to keep it running, he insisted on driving his old AF Motors Sting Ray everywhere he had to go. He glanced over to the passenger seat, where she sat with his coat still over her shoulders.
“Which way, doll?” he asked. He turned back to the front and the crowded skyway in front of him. The rain had eased up, for now at least.
“Head over to Garmin towers, Data” she purred.
He clenched his teeth and resisted the urge to slap her in the mouth. He hated that nickname, and she knew it. He pressed the accelerator harder than he should have and grinned to himself at her slight yelp as they sped off.
Even the garage at the Garmin Towers was different. Kriever didn’t even have to park the car himself…although, the valet did look as if he would be physically sick when he saw Kriever’s car.
“Don’t scratch it,” Kreiver muttered as the kid sat behind the driver’s seat.
“Who could tell?” the kid asked.
The detective ignored this remark and took the girl by the arm. She led him inside and toward another elevator. She pressed the call button and they waited in uncomfortable silence for several moments. Kriever looked over his shoulder as the concierge behind the front counter cleared his throat. They made eye contact, and the man with the phlegm problem quickly looked away.
Kreiver exhaled as he heard the elevator bell ding, and the doors hissed open. Once inside, he turned to her.
“Alright,” he said. She looked up at him. A tinge of pity crossed his eyes as he saw her. Shaking it off, he continued. “What’s this guy’s deal?”
“Maurice knows everything that happens in this sector of Uptown,” she cooed. “I gotta warn you though,” she smiled. “You may find him a bit…shocking.”
“If he knows as much as you say he does, I’ll take my chances.”
The elevator stopped and she led Kriever down the hall. The stark white halls were harsh on the old detective’s eyes. It took a moment for them to adjust. She stopped and pressed the button next to door number 37-317. A heartbeat later, the door slid open.
Kriever jumped back and reached for his pistol before he realized that the ear piercing squeal he had just heard was coming from the man in the doorway, who was now hugging the girl in the too short something. She turned and smiled at Kriever. Again, he resisted the urge to slap her in the mouth.
“So,” the guy said finally. “Who’s the raincoat?”
“Maurice,” she almost giggled. “This is Kriever. He needs some help.”
Inside the apartment, Kriever was finally able to get a good look at his new host. Maurice was a tall, thin man with long black hair. He had it pulled back from his eyes with a ribbon. Kriever couldn’t be sure, but he thought Maurice was wearing lip gloss. His white shirt was tied in a knot at the bottom, exposing his navel, and his low riding white pants flared out at the bottom just barely covering well pedicured toenails. Kriever shook his head and sat on a white couch covered in light green throw pillows. Maurice took a seat in a white orb chair with an orange cushion, and crossed his legs. He sat up very straight and placed his hands on his knee, then looked directly at Kriever.
“What can Maurice do for you today?” he asked in a baritone voice that belied the squeal Kriever was greeted with at the door.
“I got a feeling I have a toaster killing nut job on the loose, that may or may not be hiding out Uptown,” Kriever told him.
Maurice placed a hand over his heart and assumed a very melodramatic look of shock across his face. He turned to the girl.
“Did he just say what I think he said?” he asked her.
“If you know anything that could help,” Kriever tried to continue.
“Did he just call an Independent Artificial Intelligence a….a…toas…toast….I can’t even say it!” Maurice acted as if he was about to be physically sick.
“Don’t take it personal, Reecy,” she said. “He doesn’t know any better.”
Maurice kept his head turned toward her, but pointed a finger at Kriever.
“He better understand, girl,” Maurice said. “You better tell him.”
“You see, Kriever,” she began to explain. “Reecy feels that all intelligent life deserves to be treated the same. He doesn’t like it that the I.A.I’s are treated almost worse than machines. There are places in the city that Drone Troops are treated better than an I.A.I.”
“Yeah, well,” Kriever raised an eyebrow. “Sorry.”
Maurice took longer to ‘recover’ from the indignity of Kriever’s slur than he should have, but when he did, the detective continued.
“What do you think?” he asked. “Where do I need to start looking for a guy who hates toas…I.A.I.’s?”
Maurice thought for a moment. He stood and began to pace. Then, without warning, he stopped and turned on his heel to face Kriever.
Kriever waited for more. It never came. With that, Maurice turned and kissed the girl on her cheeks.
“Don’t be a stranger, Girl,” he said.
“I won’t, thanks for this,” she answered. “Promise.”
As the door hissed shut behind them Kriever turned to her.
“What the hell was that?” he asked. “What does Emanuel mean?”
“I don’t know, Data,” she grinned. “You’re the detective. Figure it out.”
Kriever turned and walked toward the elevator. She followed at a trot, as he was moving quickly. The ride back down in the elevator was silent. She could almost hear the gears turning in his head. As they reached the lobby he headed straight for the garage.
The attendant had his car waiting when he arrived. He opened the door and sat behind the wheel. She walked around to the passenger door and tried the latch. It was locked. Kriever stared straight ahead for a moment. She knocked on the window.
“Sorry, Doll,” he told her as she bent down and looked at him. “I gotta go. Thanks for the contact.”
He pulled off and opened his com link. The familiar sound of a POP greeted him.
“Bee,” he said. “I need you to cross reference the name Emanuel with sector A-42-7 Uptown. Get back to me when you get the results.”
“Captain says he wants to know what you’re up to,” Bee answered, not even acknowledging his request. “Says some uniforms saw you leaving Feng’s and then heading into town.”
“You know what to tell the Captain,” he growled. “Emanuel! I need it ASAP.”
He slapped the com link shut and turned away from the Garmin Towers. It was raining again. He hated the rain.
“What the hell is going on here?” he asked himself.
To Be Continued…
Keep watching this space, folks. There’s more to come.