Chapter 4 – The Next Day

Paul Mahoney, Staff Writer

With the strange nightmare out of the way, I check my commlink for a response from H and send off a message to the landlord about the broken lock. It probably won’t be fixed for at least a week. The job is some kind of prototype steal, what and from who will be answered at the meeting, at 3pm, at a club called Blue Fire. Real fancy place, will need my suit again. Checking the time, it’s 7am, July 8th, 2037. Panzer has left, and Midori is still asleep. There’s some breakfast ‘food’ product, the kind that is caffeinated and almost tastes like fast food. Doesn’t look like it, though. I pop two in the microwave in sequence and warm them up. Once they’re done, I carry both of them into the living room.

“Wake up,” I say while shaking Midori.

“Ugh, I’m still tired.” she slurs out, after opening her eyes she continues “Is this even food?”

“Probably, and besides, it’s not that much worse than last night’s,” I reply

“Okay, fine, I’ll eat.” She slurs bitingly, beginning to wake up more

“Meanwhile, you’re going to need a change of clothes, that jumpsuit makes you stand out and you’ll need to take what I have. I’ll leave something in the bathroom.” I state, walking for my bedroom before she can respond.

I leave in the bathroom one of my clean t-shirts and a pair of synth-jeans, both too big, and a synth-leather belt to deal with that.

“You know how to handle ordinary clothes, right?” I ask her.

“I was never allowed to speak to anyone outside. They didn’t put me in solitary.” She responds in an almost condescending tone.

“Then shut up. Shut up and get changed. It’s too early for this.” I tell her.

“Okay, dad,” she says in last night’s sassing tone.

After Midori gets changed, she comes back in.

“So, is there anything to do?” she asks?

“I have time, but normally I don’t get up this early, so …” I half answer.

“I want to see the city. They didn’t let me see anything on the way here and I barely saw anything last night,” She tells me. 

“Uuuurgh” I gargle

“So you’re so hard up you can’t even take a walk around town?” She asks, and I know how I have to answer.

“Ehhhhhrg-fine, fine, we’ll go,” I say. Has she already figured me out that much?

I head out, Midori in tow toward a few of the landmarks of San Francisco. Upon stepping outside, I notice that is very hot and very overcast. Meanwhile, Midori complains the whole way. 

“The subway is dirty”, “The AC is broken”, and “These people look dangerous,” she whines. 

After the fourth or fifth complaint, I’ve had enough

“Do you want to see the Golden Gate Bridge or not!” I snap out at her, finally shutting her up.

When we finally get there, Midori looks a bit disappointed.

“What is it?” I ask

“I knew it isn’t actually gold, but, still,” she answers.

“It was better maintained when I was a kid.” I glumly state.

With that, we head to the nearby Golden Gate Park.

“Well, I suppose it’s better than the bridge.”

“There was a rumor a few years back that there was going to be some kind of massive renovation to the garden, usually something about installing a shrine at the expense of the existing segments. That was a fun three weeks.” I mention.

“Wait, that doesn’t make sense. The tea gardens are a thing, and that’s way more heavy-handed than the delegation’s usual method.” She says 

“Well, that’s life now for ya.” I idly state. We find the time for a few other landmarks, not much interesting happens, a crazy homeless man screams at us about aliens or fishmen on multiple occasions, nothing unusual, although something about fishman guy’s rant bites home pretty hard.

 “Well, looking at the time, we better get back so I can get to my next job,” I say around half-past one.

“What am I supposed to do while you’re out?” she asks.

“I do have a television,” I answer.

“Come on, the homeless guy is more interesting,” she whines out.

“Well, that sounds like a you problem,” I tell her while dragging her off home.

This time it’s Midori’s turn to moan as “Uuuuuuuuuurgh” escapes her mouth.

Back at the apartment, I go and take a shower after the hot few hours out, and change into my suit once again.

“Fancy.” Midori says upon seeing me, “Where are you going?”

“Meeting a guy at Blue Fire.” I tell her “And there is no way they’ll let you in.”

With that, I head out the door.

“Stay here and out of trouble,” I say to her as I leave.

Out on the street, I take a look at the money I brought and decide to take the risk and wave down a cab.

“Where to?” The driver asks.

“Blue Fire,” I answer.

The ride proceeds quietly, and I arrive at Blue Fire at 2:30 exact. Not long after, Crashed arrives, looking quite uncomfortable in grey dress pants and white dress shirt. After that is Rubber, not looking particularly comfortable or uncomfortable in his own navy blue suit. Last to come is Panzer, wearing what appears to be a shiny chrome-colored dress, looking even more reflective compared to the dull chrome of her cybernetics. Everyone nearby gives her a wide berth, and most of them look mildly intimidated. She just looks used to it.

We silently acknowledge each other’s preferences and with the passes sent as part of employment, we enter the air-conditioned building to wait for our time.