The phone rings for a long time. The ring sound changes a bunch while I wait. Like the call is changing which phone it’s calling. Finally it goes through. The video is only half clear. I can see someone’s hands on an empty desk. But the top half of the picture is fuzzy scenes from a river front.
The voice is just like I remember.
“Look, I’d like to ask a favor.”
“For the favor you said I could ask.”
“My kid sister got herself into a deck gig. It’s not a spook run. Something simple. But I feel… off about it. I tried to warn her off but she’d already taken the money. So I figured I’d try and boost her hand you know?”
“A favor it is then. You sure it’s not a set up?”
“Yeah, look here is the setup. See? It’s not anything bad at all.”
I laid the documents out on the screen. I saw his hands move a bit as he shuffled them in his view screen.
“But you still want a favor.”
“It just feels, off, right? Just something skrervy.”
“I’m pretty sure skrervy isn’t a word.”
“Yeah but it sounds like the feeling. Just, a bit.. off.”
“And she’s taken the money.”
“All right. She running the gig?”
“Nah some drek named Greigo.”
“Who do I contact?”
“Just be here.” I pointed at the map. “By dark. I’ll let her know yer commin’ and she can tell Greigo.”
“K. I’ll see them there.”
“I appreciate it.”
“No problem. I’m still quite grateful for that morning.”
“heh. Yeah. See you then.”
I should explain a bit.
A long time ago last year I was driving back from a job on a dirty dusty kind of day. And I see this guy jump out of a window or get thrown out. Either way he falls like three stories, bounces off a street light, and into this trailer.
Two goons stick guns out the window and spray the trailer. Then the window behind them lights up and I see something made of fire grab them and throw them to the ground. They miss the trailer. The entire thing happens in the time it takes the light to change to red. As the light turns red more shots erupt and the fire thing just wasn’t.
Normally, who the hell stops for a red light when people are shooting nearby? But like I said I had just done a job. And I didn’t want any flags putting me anywhere close to it. So I waited. And while I waited I thought about the guy and I watch four to five black armored vehicles pull up to the front of the building. Lots of guys pour out and spread around the building.
But they don’t check the trailer. I tap my hands on the wheel and stare at the light. It’s still red. I’m starting to wonder if maybe just –seeing- this is a bad thing. I eye the trailer and suddenly realize it’s the same type that I’m hauling. Mine is empty.
And just like that I have an idea. A stupid brilliant one. And I know that it’s a smooth one. A right one. I make my living with feelings like that. Saved me a lot once-upon-a-time.
So as the light changes I just ease across the street and park near the trailer. The goons on the ground go kind of crazy. All yelling and shouting at me. I turn up my earphones and just get out and dance towards the trailer I’m carrying unlatching it. Someone shoots at them I guess, they duck and dive and scatter and spray bullets at the building. And something else. They must have a mage somewhere. Lightning scraps across windows and walls.
The lightning booms. Even with the earphones up I hear that. I stop and stare. It’s only partly an act. Then in a hurry I latch the magnets to the full trailer. A goon stopped me just barely but my cert was still valid from the job. He was also in a hurry and didn’t check too hard. I climb in and haul ass away. Two blocks later I slowdown and uneasily merge with other cars leaving the area.
I parked everything somewhere, grabbed my gear and looked around spook like. No one, no thing. So I crawl up into the trailer and stare at the guy. He’s in all kinds of rough shape. And lying in a trailer full of trash. I start to call someone. Then I think better of it. I look for his phone but it’s shot to all hell and soaked in blood. But there next to his head? Some corps phone with a slightly scratched screen. I shake my head at the waste.
But it gives me an option I didn’t have. I dial up a doc making sure the camera only sees the wall. A quick description of him and then I’m gone. I didn’t think I left any traces of anything.
But he finds me. That scared me. I’m minding my own business a few weeks later working in the shop and someone taps me on the shoulder. I freeze and turn. No one should-oh crap it’s him. That’s how my thoughts went. I was cold. Frozen cold. I didn’t even know what to do. I just kinda stammered silently at him.
“One favor. Anything. Anytime I’m free.”
He had a gravely grave kind of voice. Like asphalt on a tombstone.
He handed me a simple paper card with a 20 digit number letter combination on it. He bowed and walked out. The combination was a phone number of sorts.
I never saw him again.
I guess I still haven’t.