November 23, 2012

Final Encryption - Part 1

Good morning everyone,

Today we're starting publication of a serial.  I've always enjoyed reading and writing those.  As a reader, there's the feeling of being taken on a long journey, and looking forward to the next leg of the trip every week.  As a writer, there's the pressure of producing something regular and coherent over a long period.  I always found the pressure kind of liberating (when you have to post a story in two hours, you have less time to worry about whether you have properly developed your main characters profound motives and all that).
In any case, here's the first installment.  Enjoy!

   Custom cars lined the parking lot.  Ricky leaned on the hood of his ’74 Mustang convertible and smoked.  He’d found the piece, and paid a high price.  Now so would his buyer. 
    On the nearby sunken highway, cars screamed by.  Strings of multicoloured lights hung between lampposts and the giant, orange, spherical restaurant that overlooked the parking lot where classic car enthusiasts gathered every week.  Ricky distractedly appreciated a ’68 Citroën DS idling by the fast-food counters as its owner, a redhead in expensive jeans and ridiculous red and gold high heels, ordered an amount of fries that no one with that figure should have been able to eat.  He liked the car, and he liked the girl, but his mind was elsewhere.  Trying to figure stuff out.
   Like, for example, what the hell had happened to Hans last night?
   He lit another cigarette and squinted in the blur of headlights as an ugly, grey, recent, fucking japanese car turned into the lot and headed towards him.  It looked like a Tercel but it was hard to tell with all the rust.
   From it emerged a woman with straight, blond hair cut at the shoulders.  She wore perfectly creased jeans and a white blouse that looked too big on her.
   “Are you Ricky?” she said.
   Ricky nodded, blowing smoke through the side of his mouth.  Manners in front of a lady and all that.
   “Do you have what I asked for?” she went on.
    Ricky nodded again.  “Do you have the money?”
    She gave a strange smile.  Ricky had never seen that kind of smile.  It contained an equal mix of contempt, pity, sadness and some sort of vindictive glee.  It made him wary.  And curious.
    “Of course,” she said, and produced a large reusable shopping bag that read Magog Army Surplus
    Ricky checked it and counted. “All there,” he said, and went to the trunk of his Mustang.  “I’ve got your thing right here.  Genuine, original 1956 Ford radio antenna with vintage copper coil and couplings.  Took me forever to find it.”
   “Thank you, mister Ricky, well done,” she said, putting the antenna in the trunk of her own, well, car.
   “I hope you’re not planning to waste it on this shitty box on wheels you’re driving,” he said.
   Her smile grew enigmatic.  “I’m not,” she said.
   “Can I ask what you’re working on then?” he said.  “I’m the best mechanic around.  Maybe I could, you know, give you a hand.”  Get her talking.  Find stuff out.
   The smile disappeared, and she suddenly looked twice her age.  “There are things that you’re better off not knowing.”
   Ricky lost what little patience he had.  He took a step forward and loomed tall over the woman.    
   “Alright, let’s cut the crap,” he said, “What happened to Hans?  You know, don’t you?”
   She didn’t flinch, didn’t take a step back, just looked at him calmly, and again with that hint of pity.   
   “Hans is your partner, isn’t he?  You seemed to have a lot of affection for him when we first met.  Is he alright?” she added, with what seemed like genuine concern.
   Ricky lost it.  He often did.  “No, he’s not alright!  Last night, when we tested your goddamn antenna, he just… I don’t know… he disappeared!”
   She frowned.  “Disappeared?” she said.  “How?”
   “I don’t know, lady!  It’s just like he was a pile of sand and some invisible wind blew him away or something.”  Yeah, and he was ready for the nut house.
   The woman’s frown turned into a look of intense concern.  “Get it the car,” she said in an anxious voice.
   “You’ve been compromised.  Give me your phone.”  With surprising speed, she reached into his jacket, grabbed his phone and threw it in a storm drain.  “Now get in,” she said again, shoving him towards the Tercel. 
   “Hey, my phone!  You…”  he stopped when he saw her pull a revolver from inside her baggy blouse and point it at him.
   “I’m sorry,” she said, “Get in the car.  Please.”
   “But…  my Mustang…”
   “We don’t have time.  Get in now.”
   He got in.

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