Ghosts Within



Chapter 3: Beach Dreaming


  Judge did agree with Remy. Or more accurately, he agreed with Kathy. You couldn’t really know what went on in your own trial but Tyreese and come let him out of his cell, and returned his stuff. Remy noticed his Vasculator was missing its cartridge and pointed it out to Tyreese. He shrugged.

  “You offered a Vasc, I took a Vasc. Seemed fair to me.”

  Pretty expensive pair of cigarettes.

  “You take care there, Remy. I’d hate to see you back in here too soon.”

  “Give Alice my best, Tyreese. The kids too.”

  Remy tried to lay low for the week after getting out. He replaced the Vasc Tyreese had taken with another from his cache. They were all unregistered but Redcap policy was to let the first one slide. He registered the rarer ones, under an alias, of course, but simple Forces, Volts, or Flamers, were a dime a dozen. Remy still couldn’t believe he almost went to jail for that.

  Each day while laying low, he had breakfast at his usual greasy spoon serving old style omelets with a few slivers of real cheese mixed with the replicated shit, and drank coffee from a chipped mug that could have been his grandmother’s. After that, sometimes he went to the School to think over some gin, and other times, he simply went home to a pile of printed pictures and scribbled case notes. Today, he was going to Colin’s office, checking it again for anything he may have missed on the third or fourth time he checked it out. Seemed as good a way to spend the day as any.

  Colin Adelaide had disappeared on his birthday, October 3rd, and Remy had been on the case by the next weekend. Redcaps chalked up his disappearance as a bad trip to the undercity and offered to find Stefanie a place to stay while she sorted out their affairs. Apparently, she had found that offer unsatisfying and had come to find him. He couldn’t blame her. He knew all about Redcap hospitality, particularly toward a pretty woman. Redcaps were ugly as sin, inside and out. Who wanted to spend a life keeping others down? Remy just sometimes stole from others, but only what they could afford to lose. Mostly.

  Stefanie had come to him then, all tears, tussled hair, and wild magnetism. It took Remy a few minutes to really hear her words, but once he did, the knew he had to take the job. The promised pay was the least of his reasons.
Colin was also an attorney, which made sense. They always seemed to have the best-looking wives and Stefanie was a smoker. His office was at the far western edge of New Madison, near the Ghost Fence, but towering hundreds of feet above the surface. On the top floor, some enterprising fella operated a drone game for kids where they could jump into a virtual reality suit and fly their drone out over the outlands looking for “bad guys.” Remy had a suspicion the same fella also operated the scrap collector’s place down the road that specialized in outlander relics. Getting your employees to pay you was a pretty good racket. Colin’s office wasn’t far from that top floor. They probably had taken lunch together.

  The old movies showed lawyer offices as a facade of modernity over an inherently stodgy office. Colin’s was straight out of Old Hollywood. A woman with coiffed hair wearing a name tag of Beverly greeted him right out of the elevator. He flashed his smile and asked for Colin’s keys. She went to go ask her supervisor and promptly returned with a coin no bigger than his thumbnail. They’d done this dance each of the five times he’d shown up but if anyone was going to follow bullshit internal rules, it would be a lawyer’s hive.

  Colin’s old office was nothing special. It had a window looking toward the downtown which was better than the alternative but otherwise contained just a desk and a few solid book cases. Not even a potted plant or a stained coffee mug. The only sign that it wasn’t simply another vacant office was a small picture frame on the desk with a shot of him and Stefanie on vacation someplace far away.

  Remy tossed his hat on the desk and went to work. He pulled each book from its place and flipped through, replacing it only after ensuring it didn’t hide some receipt, or picture that would crack the case open. He checked each book case, tapped for hollow panels, and even disassembled part of the desk before collapsing into the deceptively comfortable chair. He spun around aimlessly. He had done all of these things before, of course, but it was all he could think of.

  “Where are you, Colin?” It was unusual for a man to disappear without any clues. Typically, they left messages, tracking coordinates, receipts, a blood-stained carpet, anything really. Colin had simply vanished. Remy turned back to the desk and picked up the vacation picture. Colin and Stefanie stood next to each other on a sandy beach with absurd drinks in hand. Colin was handsome enough, but not impressively so. He wouldn’t be the last guy at the edge of the ballroom but he hadn’t spent any money reworking thin lips or patching in a faintly receding hairline.

  “What did Stefanie see in him?” Must be funny, Remy thought. He stared at the picture. He’d never seen a beach like that before in person. Not one that wouldn’t eat your skin off anyway. White sand, no mutated crabs biting at your ankles. Colin must make some real coin to afford a trip like that. No school teacher was pulling their weight when it came to luxury living, that was for sure.

  He tossed the picture back to the desk as he stood and it shattered. He winced, glancing out to the reception area.

  “Ah, shit.”

  He scrambled over before someone came running. Remy pulled his hat from under the glass shards and shook it free before placing it back on his head. Of course this guy would have real glass for a fucking picture frame. Nothing announced “disposable income” like a beach-vacation picture encased in real glass. Remy was nearly to the door when he noticed the picture itself curl in its newfound freedom.

  He pulled the picture carefully from the glass and looked at it more closely. Stefanie looked like a pinup doll, and Colin’s gut cast a small shadow. He smiled, thinking about her perfume as they had briefly embraced.

  “Lucky bastard.”

  Remy tossed it back to the desk and noticed something on the back. There were scribbles. *Sapphire Lounge, Box 3122, YankeeD00dle*. Finally, a clue. He folded it in half, making sure to crease over Colin’s face and avoiding Stefanie’s body, and stuffed it into his pocket. He knew the Sapphire Lounge, alright. If Colin was involved in something there, he might’ve just vanished without another trace and it would be in Remy’s best interest to stop looking. Either he cracked his case or he knew Colin was dead. Regardless of any other evidence he might find, Stefanie looked pretty good in a bikini, and that evidence was secured.


About the author


  • Purveyor of Fine Schlock

Bio: Purveyor of fine schlock. Cheese is love; cheese is life.

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