Persona (Opening Chapters) by Martine Lillycrop

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SUMMARY: When disgraced detective and self-styled squirt consultant Ian Flint is called to assist in a murder investigation, the case looks cut-and-dried. Looks are often deceiving. Welcome to a new kind of squirt, this personality upload is far from recreationa


Always knew there was a chance I'd kill someone. It was bound to come down to it one day. Me killing someone. Someone killing me. When it finally happened, the penny came down in my favour. Can't say I'm sorry. Always hoped I'd feel something, taking my first life. As it happened, I did. I couldn't have been happier deleting the fucker's ass.

The night I first knew something was up was pretty much like any other night. Pretty messy. Pretty mean. And it was raining.

A bundle of rags lay across the northbound magway. Looked like a body, so I eased to a crawl--checked it out as I drove by. It was hard to tell in the dark--just the magway's running lights picking it out. Rain dribbling down the passenger window didn't help--threw fractured haloes round each glowing guidance seed. But it was a body all right and by the way it was twitching, I'd take a guess it wasn't dead yet.

Could be someone in trouble. More likely a Port Towner out looking for it.

Happened a lot these days. The latest ‘hobby' someone called it. It went like this... Driver sees a body, stops his car. Body's on the magway, so he leaves the keys, his bracer and anything else metallic in the vehicle. Leaves the car unlocked so he can get back in again. If he's lucky, the Port Towners just take his car. If he's not, they take his finger and then his life.

Crime like that was showing up a lot these days. Attach a severed finger to a bio-mech pulse, the artificial blood supply can keep it alive for days. Not that they needed that long. The vic's cred would be dry before his veins--they worked that fast.

Ancient faux leather creaked like it was genuine as my fingers slid inside my jacket, stroked the stippled handgrip waiting there. The barrel shifted against my hip, comforting--my Sandman 240. We'd been through a lot, Mr Sandman and me. But there was a good chance there was more going on here than we could handle.

I drove on. Could be someone was in trouble back there, but I didn't want it to be me. I called it in on the car's etherlink.

Two minutes later, I passed the response going in the opposite direction. Caught a glimpse of the blues inside, bulky with Kevlar and busy loading their lethal-class weapons. I couldn't blame them for being wary. Twelve people had died on the magways in the last month, not counting suicides. Two of them police.

The Clifton turning came up on my right. I swung out of the late traffic and aimed the car down it. The steering went erratic as I hit strips laid down to force drivers to keep it slow. Didn't bother braking--the hydro-fusion engine barely reached forty anyway. I loosened my grip on the wheel, knowing the car could drive straighter over these things than me.

Emptiness gaped to either side as the bridge arced across the gorge. Couldn't resist taking a look over the edge, caught sight of Port Town glimmering, way in the distance. The ebb tide made the lashed-together structure undulate, made it twinkle in the dark. Made it pretty for a change. But the floating shanty town wasn't on my list of problems tonight.

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