Vanya the Terrib
Vanya the Terrib locked her front door behind herself. She sank the small electronic key into her lightweight white handbag and descended the stairwell. Down and down and down. Nine stories of stairwell, from the small apartment she occupied – lightly – to the minimalist, lamp-lit gardens and the road. Where the bus was waiting. She climbed the single step and listened for the barely audible “blib” with which the bus registered her identichip and connected to her account. She found herself a spot to stand and held onto the handrail as the bus slid into soundless motion on its bearing-chains. And she watched the city slide by, its lights swimming in the liquid gloss of the night.
Another workday. Or work night, depending how you wanted to see it. She checked the contents of her handbag mentally. It wasn’t a good idea to open it in public. In any case it didn’t contain much; her apartment key, her identichip, a bit of lip gloss. And her ideas booklet and stylus. It was the latter set that was the riskiest item.
The bus slowed and slid to a noiseless halt in front of the great building of black glass. Vanya stepped off and took note of the second tiny “blip” with which the bus fare was calculated completely and withdrawn from her account. And she headed towards the building of glass and moved through the sliding door as quietly as the bus that left behind her .
Her boss had called her in for a new assignment. She was working on two, currently; but you never resisted when more work was offered, as the Service could replace you at the drop of a hat. She stepped into the glass elevator, touched the correct image and waited. And stepped off it again as it arrived at its destination, three hundred stories above ground level. And walked through the deep plush carpet, and touch-opened the door to the office of her boss.
Brendan Connor rose from his spot behind his desk to greet Vanya. He was only one rank below the top; working for him was supposedly an honour. Despite his youth his achievements in the Service were remarkable. He had received the Lancer Medal twice in the last two years, and the Senning Prize once, at a time when he was seventeen. By now in his mid-twenties, it was practically certain that he’d be succeeding the General-in-Chief of the organization when the old man retired.
“Miss Terrib,” he greeted her. Vanya had to smile. Brendan Connor was a very formal person. And it also reminded her that he knew less about her than he thought; which was great. But she wasn’t even going to follow this train of thought, as the hypno-enhancers in this building were always running on full tilt, to facilitate reading of thoughts to this not-fully-talented young man.
The fact was, he was no mutant. He was just an ordinary human throwback, albeit with a brilliant mind. And to survive in the world of 2347, you had to be at least a mutant in two separate capacities. Ordinary humans had a very tough time.
He knew it, of course. It didn’t make him happy. She had read off his mind, on several occasions, the desire to father offspring that carried at least a number of mutations – but he was antisocial; while brilliant at his job, he’d never be able to persuade any lady – much less a mutant – to carry any offspring for him.
She glanced out of the window-walls of his luxurious office, at the untainted night sky.
“Miss Terrib,” said Connor. “You are currently working on two assignments. I have removed them both out of your portfolio.”
What! She stared at him, electrified. With what had she deserved that?
“Not due to any inefficiency on your part,” he assured her with a smile. The superior smile that came with being the Chosen One. “You can be at ease. I have delegated your two assignments to Janie Marioid and Nexus Beckham.”
She refrained from asking why; merely listened to him, her violet eyes intent.
“The nature of tonight’s assignment allows no distraction,” explained Connor. He handed her a chip.
Vanya connected the chip into her ideas booklet. The small screen lit up, and several warning screens and code slots popped up. Vanya patiently applied her signature with her stylus, adding a couple of extra security loops to prove that she was authorized. And the first instruction appeared on her booklet.
A name. Michayl Ran. That was all.
She raised her large eyes to Connor once more, not asking.
“It’s all we have on him,” he said. “His name.”
© Copyright by Lyz Russo, 2011
& an invitation to look at the lovely book review Douglas Pearce got, here http://pkaboonews.blogspot.com/2012/05/review-almost-dead-in-suburbia-douglas.html
His book “Almost Dead in Suburbia” can be found at www.pkaboo.net.