The Retro Junkie's Hard Burn

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A retro drug dealer in a future Japan tries to ply his trade without getting busted.

Submitted: November 13, 2018

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Submitted: November 13, 2018

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They were the worst. A demolition crew on their lunch break. Flageuring Demos, the type of dirty, violent men that drove brutal hover lifts, loaded with broken machinery and chunks of the mountain, down narrow roads at dangerous speeds.

My persona-drone hovered just above my left shoulder. And I was sitting in this little mountain cafe, in the ass-end of the Japanese wilderness, trapped at a table right in the pissed-off-drunken-middle of them.

 

I don’t know why Korpa chose this spot. Usually we met in the Bukowski Cafe, a little retro place in the heart of Old Tokyo. We had been meeting there for three years now without a hangup.

I grew, produced, and sold retro-narcs, one hundred percent, all natural, old world drugs: opiates, psychedelics, and stimulants. Retro-junks were pretty rare this days, but they paid well, so a guy like me, a rarity myself, transferred some serious crypto-credit every month. Korpa was my biggest client. I preferred the implant synthesized stuff myself. A few electrical impulses here or there and I could tweak my brain chemistry to feel anyway I wanted. All with zero side effects.

A break in the rowdy crowd gave me a chance to go to the bathroom. I came back from the toilet and Korpa was sitting at the table. The demo crew were shouting and banging away loudly behind him at some old game with a huge table, sticks, and ceramic balls, but he was calm, like the tiny, real bamboo forest just behind this cafe. My persona-drone, a tiny fruit fly model, buzzed just above my shoulder. It fed visual and audio data to my optical implant while another implant analyzed and stored all the info.

He was a tough read. I was an old hand at the Duket tables in Vegas VR Land, but Korpa gave me nothing, even with my scans. Just a flat, boring heart rate, normal body temp, and minimum bio-electrical muscle twitch response. All normal bio-signs from this flageur.

“Gamma! You arrived,” Korpa’s scratchy voice croaked out as I sat down.

“Yeah, I made it. Had to take four Uber Hovers to get here. Most of those AI’s get lost north of Ueno Park. Why this rural adventure today? Thought you loved the Bukowski?”

“I took a train. Three lovely hours chugging along through what’s left of the countryside. You scrubs need to get out more often. Old Tokyo with all its gizmos and electronica is scrambling your brains. When’s the last time you smelled a real flower, Gamma?”

“Smelled your poppies after I extracted your package here, Korpa, ” I said, pointing to the battered briefcase at my feet.

Scrub was Old World Slang for amateur, I thought. I didn’t know for sure. I didn’t like Korpa’s archaic lingo, but I had to take it because I liked his crypto-credits. He had this weird, aloof slickness that matched his weird look — a long blue silk robe, long manicured fingernails, and an ass-length, pure white, braided pig tail that was a style even more ancient than his one hundred and twelve natural years. I was told he’d picked it up when he lived on the original surface levels of Hong Kong, over fifty years ago.

His face, though, was weathered and Nordic, an emaciated Viking. There weren’t many pure whites like him left. Ninety-five percent of the population were a mix like me. Africans, Nordic, Mongol and who-knew-whats, all souped together. And everybody DNA patched now, so ethnics didn’t mean anything to anybody except for throwback Retro-freaks like Korpa anyway.

 

“Flageuring barbarians,” Korpa muttered as a shout went up from the Demo’s game and a beer mug bounced off the wall behind us.

“These boys are pretty wound up today,” I said.

“Yes, bad timing for us. Their monthly crypo-credit transfer and the Real Beer they are swilling are a poor combo. Pity they have implants to prevent the worst of side-effects from punishing them later.”

Real Beer was the only legal intoxicant left and that was only because everyone had bio-filter implants to combat the damage. Not Korpo though. He was hardcore, only straight Retro-narcs with no filters for him.

“I don’t mind them much so long as your crpto-creds keep my syntha-high going. I still don’t get the countryside meeting, though.”

“I suppose now is as good as any time to do this. You have my product, I take it?”

“Yeah, right here in the bag, like I said.”

“Sad. I do like you, Gamma. This location was chosen because of the natural dampers, radium in the ground I believe.”

“Radium? What the flageuring does that have to do with anything?”

“Your persona-drone getting any readings outside the building?”

“No, not much. But I never get any readings from you anyway.”

“Yes, well, that’s something else. Song Industrial, fifth tentacle of the Triad Peninsula Cartel that you kick your part of your profits up to every month, is the main reason for everything we’ve done the past few years.”

I was only half listening to him now as I started to stand.

“Stay seated, Gamma, and keep your hands visible. All of these Demos have been temporarily deputized by New Interpol, though they only needed to arm about half of them. The New Interpol officers will be here shortly.”

“Why are you doing this, Korpa? You’re just a flageuring Retro-Junkie. Let me get out of here and you can have the bag. No charge.”

“I’m much more than you think. You, on the other hand, were supposed to be a simple pawn, a crypto-credit trace so we could start mapping Song’s financial web, but, with their recent near bankruptcy, we saw you as a bigger opportunity. You are the only source of revenue they have coming off the streets now. With you gone, the fifth tentacle dies. They’ve got no more funds to pay for an AI defense lawyer. Fifth tentacle dead, only three more to take down. We couldn’t pass that up.”

I flipped my optical news feed and there it was: Song crashing on the Global/Solar Exchange Index as if a murderous gravity well was sucking their value out through a galactic straw.

 

The New Intrepol officers were kind enough being slow and methodical with only surface scans. They knew I was on my way for a full mind wipe and ten years in a Neural Data Processing Farm in the Sakha Corrections District in Siberia. All the Demos had gone back to their game and Real Beers.

As the Interpol officers were leading me out of the cafe, my persona drone fed me a final view: an officer’s hand passing right through Korpa’s mid-section. A hologram. He was never even in the room with me.


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