June Chapter 1 : June
Chapter One: Thursday.
Silicon dreams and memories etched in celluloid.
Longing for the the easier more reckless days when she was there.
Holding hands outside a bar in New Rigia.
Wich now I think about it nobody ever told me if there was an Old Rigia.
I guess there had to of been once, but I digress the holding hands with her was the important bit.
Seeing a multi-coloured flag blowing in the breeze at a bar on a beach, well back when we had beaches..back before all this crap.
So now all I got left is a jack in my head, constant headaches, terminal debt and not a damn thing to show for any of it.
Now she’s gone and all there is is neon in the night and diodes waking me the next day.
Nobody and i mean that, no-one wants to be down on their luck in post apocalypse Chiba.
Everything is grunge in this fucking gajin part of town, burnt out buildings which are towered over by the glowing green neon arcologies where those lucky few live. And above it all 3k’s up is the lattice work grid that is the dome which protects the degenerate wreckage of mankind from what became of the world.
We can’t breath out there, the eggheads say it’s something to do with a massive decline in the ozone layer and how the earths mag field just isn’t what it used to be, so those cosmic rays, sunstorms and shit just bombard the surface.
Means nobody lives out there unless they are either totally insane or just damn hardy.
Some animals managed to adapt, others just rolled over and gave up. All those herds of cows and sheep we saw as kids.
Gods if I knew they would be pretty much gone I wouldn’t have complained so much at the petting zoo.
So humanity shelters in the Domes, like the ones they wanted to build on Mars but you know huger.
Millions of humans in few dozen of what were supposed to be the most luxurious living innovations ever seen.
Over the course of 20 years they just turned into overcrowded technolust ridden hives.
The rich at the top poor at the fucking bottom. Who the hell saw that coming.
Oh wait. Everybody.
So thats where I am.
I used to live in one of those coffin motels, you know? eight by ten, maybe a metre across.
Filled with damned souls trying to get by.
Then I got that job and met her.
Made some cash, had some good times filled with love and laughter
Then one day my girl, she’s just gone in the night.
Now I live in a second story box above a sex-shop in a shitty part of town where nobody wants to ever be.
I’d call it sparse, those guys on the tv would call it ‘cosy’ .
Bullshit if you ask me, this place is a concrete box 10 metres across.
The bed hasn’t seen any legitimate ‘sleep’ in months.
Boxes of foam-board and old fibre litter around a desk. Wires dangle precariously from the ceiling.
On the desk is my console. White, silver keys red lights.
It’s jack trails limp off the side of the desk a metallic silver snake with a deadly hypodermic end.
Thats the bit that goes in my head.
The only other thing in here is me.
Name’s June. gangly tall maybe 5’10 and some people used to think I was pretty, particularly her.
A long time ago I did too at least for awhile.
Eyes filled with circuit lines the colour of old copper from before everything went fibre.
Pale skin, Ratty black hair cropped to my neck ‘cept for the shaved off bit above my left ear.
Thats where that hypodermic snake goes, where it darts and wriggles into my cerebellum and puts me to the only place where I mean anything. Hell its the only place where I even feel anything anymore.
I remember when the feeling came thick and fast…i don’t know when years maybe.
Before the net. Before i got into this business.
Every deal went so fast and smooth back then, I played the game tight some said too tight but I didn’t care.
Information Transfer Agent, thats what people like me are called.
Really we’re just drug dealers, same old addictions whole new flavour.
For centuries people have been chasing that high, used to be people did coke, smack, ice and before that?
hell they probably smoked or inhaled just about every substance around just to find it.
The rush, people want it.
In the end they will pay just about anything to get it.
With the world the way it is these days people they have needs and I have the answer to those.
For example, some down on her luck hacker slaving away behind her console.
Shes not flying those nodes quick enough, cant process and send commands to her neural input drones, so she keeps getting jigged on the fuckwalls (thats a firewall for those in the biz) which in turn fry her connection and she gets piked out and loses valuable data .
After this she’s falling behind on rents, on debts on all her goddamn payments to the oracles all that shit.
This is where I come in I give her a little something to speed up her processing and we’re not talking jack up her seratonin and flood her with endorphins.
But thats like only half the battle, what this stuff does it also juices her neural probes and her consoles response time.
She ends up being able to bypass those f-walls grab the data, pay me off, pay her debts off, and hell maybe even have some left over.
So it’s worth it. At least for some of them it is. Others…do this stuff for other reasons, some not so savvy gotcha?
Alright so in these days of jacking and console freaks we learnt that communication can go both ways, so drugs right? part software part hardware. All total mindfuck. The withdrawals from these things, they suck and some of them are worse than any lifetimes worth of heroin.
And they never come cheap.
6am a Thursday.
The smell of coffee, streams of dirty light flowing through barred windows.
Outside I hear the sound of the hustle and the bustle, crowds of the wretched just doing their thing
Time to get to work.
Tilting my head sideways I notice my auto-boiler coffee pot steaming in the corner of the room that passes for my kitchen.
I lift myself up off my stained floor-matress, the sheets fall off my body and collapse on my feet.
Turning to walk to my drawers I catch my naked body reflected off the mirror on the far wall.
Scars across my left shoulder, white skin blotchy with bruises and malnutrition I can see the veins dark blue against my arms and thighs.
‘Gods June..Chiba hasn’t been kind to you recently’.
I pull on a black tank top, some old blue jeans and battered work boots, while I cross to the kitchen to get my coffee.
It’s hot dark and stale it ain’t much of breakfast but it’s better than standing in line at the processing centre with all those other freaks.
My coffee finished I sit myself behind my console and wait for it to warm up, the concrete under the desk is covered in scuff marks from my boots. One by one I begin to count them while I wait. One, two, three, four, twelve and suddenly I jolt back as I hear a clattering from behind the desk, it’s my phone.
I must have left it on goddamn vibrate.
Swiping it from the floor, I see that it’s Malcolm.
Christ, I do not even need this right now.
‘What the fuck Mal, do you even know what time it is!’ I bark into the phone.
‘Hello June, nice to hear from you too thought you’d appreciate an old friend about now.’
‘We aren’t friends, you old english bastard.’
‘Now now June, don’t get your nickers in a twist I would never call unless it’s important, you know that.’
‘I’m sorry..you’ve just ..kinda caught me at a bad time..I’m dealing with a lot of stuff right now..’
‘…I know where she is June.’
It was like a punch in the face.
‘June…are you there?’
‘..i’m here Mal, sorry just. okay whats going on. from the top’
‘Not over this line I want you to meet me’
‘You mean jacking in right? you want to meet me online?’
‘..no June..I’m here, In Chiba.’
‘what do you mean you’re in Chiba, how the hell did you get here.’
‘That isn’t really very important.’
‘…the fuck it isn’t.’
‘you know my past June I have the resources. anyway listen, I want you to meet at Herring Arcade in downtown. Promise me you will be there.’
‘Fuck that Mal, I don’t care if you know where she is, I’m not going to downtown particularly not the ‘Cade, we’ll meet at Julie’s on 24th and 3rd.’
‘..June, thats a dyke joint, I can’t go in there you know that.’
‘Don’t worry I know the staff, plus you used to have a cunt before that fancy surgery.’
I can hear him adjusting his glasses and grinding his teeth even with the line static.
‘..okay..well.umm…you know what..Fine whatever. I’ll meet you at Julie’s, say? in time for the lunch rush.’
‘perfect, we’ll meet then’
The line clicked dead and I hit the off switch.
Had you really come all the way from the Inferno like you said…
If you had then things must be serious..I hadn’t dealt with serious in awhile, selling drugs to console jockeys was one thing but what he could want from me was entirely another.
I was getting serious tingles up my spine now, trepidation and a whole bunch of baggage along with it.
There was only one way I was going to be able to deal with this in the short term.
The hypodermic eyed me menacingly and as it did I felt that wave of excitement, like when she used to run her fingers down my back.
‘Fuck it, i’m outta here.’
I picked up the jack and slammed it into my head.
And everything went sideways.
It’s like being born I guess, white light, and static screaming in your ears.
After that the whole thing melts away and then all there is is the grid aligned perfectly with the yellow and blue data nodes floating in perpetual green space.
Somebody a long time ago said the net is a consensual hallucination, it’s changed now though since the shit went down and everyone moved into the domes. A lot of people just live here now on the net full time. Some never leave. To some anywhere is better than the reality of it all.
Local clusters of data nodes swam in my vision as ‘I’ dived along a path of shining yellow light towards the big blue sphere off in the distance that was the Interferon Global Exchange. Maybe I could get some answers there.
The IGE is a data clearing house, Data trading. Nothing illegal mind you, no software, just info packets, you needed a corporate license to buy from them. Luckily I picked one up in some deal I ran a few months back.
Since then, finding information I needed has become a whole lot easier.
The IGE representation unfolded around me as I approached.
It was like being in a giant library except the shelves just went off into the distance forever as far as the eye could see and then farther.
The nice thing about the net is you can visualise anything in anyway you want. Provided you got decent hardware to run the damn thing.
A small window popped into existence in my field of view it wanted a keyword query, reference ID or other data search parameters.
Instantly it knew what I wanted. thats the beauty of jacking. You and the net are together, linked so it knows what you need.
I was guided through the never ending library stacks until I was before a large book which popped open and scrolled its contents in front of me Until highlighted in front of me it showed me what I wanted to know.
Flight Number: 5418263LTA London -Tokyo
This was followed by a series of receipts for a tube-rail train going Tokyo – Chiba City.
All charged to a Mr Malcolm Foster.
Mr..hah how had he managed to change that over on his records…
So..he really had come all this way….
I closed the query and copied the data to my console.
Then I jacked out. Which always hurts.
I cradled my head in my hands and moaned quietly.
Docs told me the headaches were because I keep irritating my neural pathways with the constant jacking and jacking out.
They told me I should stop using the net as much if I want the pain to go away.
Maybe they are right, maybe I should.
But it’s all I got and it’s the only thing I ever was good at that didn’t involve being naked.
‘Oh man, whats the time’ I pulled my phone out of my pocket and thumbed the on switch. 10:30am
I always forget how time passes so quick when you’re jacked.
Picking myself up out of my chair I moved myself onto the mattress on the floor.
I’m hungry, tired and my head is aching.
‘oh June, you’ve gotta find a better way to do this’ I thought to myself.
I closed my eyes and sleep came with an unexpected suddenness.
1pm the same Thursday.
I grab my leather jacket off the back of the door and hit the stairs with a thud.
I take them two at a time and enter into the store downstairs
‘Hi June’ she says dourly, smoke wafting from her ever-present cigarette.
Shifting my face in her direction, eyes catch and I nod ‘Morag’.
Ooooh Morag, the till bitch at ‘The Pleasure Wagon’ She says hi and I nod.
It’s almost a routine, she’s like my orange juice.
Except not sweet, and hardly wanted.
Morag has this look about her, like a goth kid who got caught up in the wrong crowd, all ripped pink stocking and battered corset.
She sits there behind her till working for Ivan the bastard who owns this place.
But this time..I stop something about whats going on makes me change my routine.
I shout over to her, ‘Hey Morag do me a favour, if anyone swings by looking for me, you’ll let me know right?’
‘yeah sure, whatever get outta here.’
‘kay, well later.’
The door clatters behind me.
The first thing that hits me is the smell, and the damp. Down here at the bottom of the dome, It’s filthy.
I push past two guys crowded around a burning drum ‘change darlin got any change darlin’
‘feck off, i’m not that stupid’ and I dash past the glowing pink light of the sex shop and out onto the drag.
People everywhere, crowding the sidewalks.
When the docks dried up and the domes were erected this is where all the refuse of society ended up.
I came here because somebody told me it used to be flown’ with biz, and chatter that anyone could make it.
Pfft that musta been a long time ago, because it certainly aint that way now.
Cab comes whizzing by, electric transmission squealing. My hand goes up.
The cab stops short and I dash to the window.
An indian man with deep set eyes and a sad empty look stares back at me.
‘can you take me the corner of 24th and 3rd’
‘pretty thing like you? wanting that area..’
‘listen man, just drive me there’
The rear door pops open and I slide myself in.
I really do mean slide, the entire interior of the cab is covered in translucent plastic.
Drunks must be that bad I guess.
The cab pushes out into the crowded street, driving clear of the throng.
Leaning over I take a crumpled stash of new yen out of my pocket and pass it through the steel cage around the driver.
‘keep it man, you look like you need it more than me’
‘..thank you miss’
And I’m gone, outta the cab and onto the street.
The light down here is all filtered and reflected off so many of the buildings above, so it’s nearly constant twilight
I feel rain on my arm, I try not to realise that it’s from god knows how many air-con units above me.
Then in front of me is the door, between a quiet ramen joint and brother is lodged a door.
The faded writing on it just barely reads ‘Julie’s’.
Nobody comes here, not without being in the know.
I push the steel door wide and step into the warm air and soft smokey bar.
Like some old pub crawled out of backstreet liverpool and ended up at the bottom of a dome in Japan.
Julie’s was that kinda place, dyke joint going way back.
Taking a look around the room, I see a bunch of the usual stereotypes butches (both old school and andro), a femme crying at a table over a glass of wine. It’s then I hear it.
‘Man Listen, you can’t BE IN HERE, it’s women only pal and you’ve gotta fuck off’
‘please, my friend June TOLD me about this place’
‘pfft June could be anybody so get outta here!’
it’s Julez the bar tender, with her scarred arms and masses of pseudo-muscle.
She’s leaning across the bar and screaming at this walking mass of tweed pants and jacket.
Hah, Malcolm when will you learn.
I walk slowly up to the bar next to them and cough.
They both stop short.
Julez looks over at me and winks.
‘relax Julez, he’s with me.’
‘..not WITH YOU I hope.’
‘huh,what. oh fuck no. look just give us two largers and a booth at the back, I’ll explain it all later’
‘Fine well I’ll let it slide because it’s you, but if he makes trouble he’s outta here pronto’
I put my hand on a shocked Malcolm’s shoulder and pull him over to a booth.