BHS- Where you want to go, if you love to write!
It never fails to amaze me that every time I walk into a saloon all eyes end up on me, I guess to size me up. This dive was no different. It didn’t help that I was dressed head to toe in black with a trench coat and brimmed hat soaking wet from the rain. As I start walking towards the bar I’m stopped by an 8 foot gorilla of a man, who was obviously heavy into body enhancements, probably some cybernetics too. Without saying a word he points to the basket that says “WEAPONS”. Angering the local muscle is never a good idea, especially when they were 2 feet taller than me. I walk over and drop my new and improved Colt M1911 Pulse pistol inside. The saloon looked no different than any of the other 4 that I had visited in the other ghost towns, shop upstairs, gambling area somewhere in the back and of course drunks everywhere. This place did stand out more than the other places, though it did have more high tech equipment and more hired help like my gorilla friend at the entrance. Could be the right ghost town I’m looking for, sure hope it is. I make my way to the bar and ask the trash can looking robot bartender for a shot of whiskey, the good stuff and I flash it a silver token for payment. I Show a little coin and hopefully it will draw the right attention. After 2-3 shots I get a visit from a lady who seems to be the main mistress of the saloon. She was wearing a fine dress that was a bit revealing but not too much. She introduces herself.
“Name’s Cali, - what’s yours cowboy?”
I don’t say anything. She continues anyway, “Strong silent type eh? - I’ll call you Bob, you look like a Bob,” she says with a smile ,“so Bob, what’s your pleasure, .. gambling…”
I finally respond, “Information.”
She responds with a disappointed voice, “Well that’s boring! But I might be able to help. What are you looking for?”
I say, “Tech, black market tech for a client that would rather not go through regular channels.”
“Avoid the red tape huh?” She says with a smile.
“Exactly” I say “Avoid the red tape.”
“And this item is?” she asks.
“A clone synetheziser,” I respond.
“Oh I can see how that would be something that would require a lot of channels and questions. A very expensive request,” she says.
Without saying anything I pull out a gold token, basically a small fortune. She snaches it out of my hand, walks away and talks to someone in the back of the saloon. After a couple of minutes of heated discussion between them she comes back to me.
“Get a room at the hotel across the street and come back tomorrow night - someone will be here you can talk with but don’t waste his time or you might find yourself in trouble”.
She doesn’t wait for my response, she just walks away. I finish my drink, retrieve my gun and leave.
Still raining... I see the hotel she told me about but I’m smart enough to know that me going there is a trap so instead, I head to the hotel at the edge of town. Bit of a walk but good way to see if I have a clue. Even in the rain, the town is alive. People using buckets to collect the rainwater to drink and live. Kids running around splashing each other and mothers screaming for them to come in or they would catch a cold. A cold here could be a death sentence with no medication but they don’t care. Ghost towns are joyless cities, any fun is worth the risk. The buildings are stacked together and house dozens of families, the poor and the unwanted. All this because the government collapsed and the corporations took over. They built gated cities, those who could afford to live there stayed. Those that couldn’t were forced out to these ghost towns, controlled by the ruthless, a perfect place for crime and black market tech. The criminals would go into the cities and steal the tech to sell or use and come back to the ghost towns to live. Police would not go after them so they would hire people like me, TekHunters, to retrieve the stolen goods for money and a chance to live in the city. Not a great life but better than living in this hell. I get to the hotel with no incidence and get a room. I setup my usual traps incase I get unexpected visitors at night, strip my jacket and boots off and fall asleep in my damp cloths.
The next morning I am woken up by a knock on the door. The first thing I do is reach for my gun that's on the nightstand next to me. I make my way to the door and crack it open a bit. I see no one at eye level but I look down and see a kid standing there. I hide the gun behind my back and open the door fully. The kid turns out to be a boy but I couldn't tell with his long hair and dirty face. Without saying anything he hands me a note. I take the note and the boy remains there waiting for something. I reach into my trench coat pocket hanging next to the door and hand him a bronze coin. He looks really surprised to get something this valuable. He starts to leave my doorway but I feel bad for the little guy so I say, “wait,” and he turns around clutching the coin thinking I was going to take it back, instead I toss him a snack bar that I had in my jacket pocket. He looked like he needed it more than I did. He mouths the word thank you then runs off.
I close the door and look at the note. The front had the name Bob on it. It took me a few seconds to figure out who Bob was. With a smile I open it up.
“I guess you’re not good at listening to simple instructions, hopefully you can follow these ones. Let’s meet at the church at high noon to discuss the information you're looking for.” It was signed Cali.
I chuckled to myself thinking, “so much for no one tailing me”. I check the time and it’s 10:30 giving me enough time for breakfast and to prepare. A church isn’t a likely place for a trap but you can never be too sure.
The church was in the middle of the town. I looked around for Cali but instead found my gorilla looking buddy and a bunch of his friends. I walk over to them starting to feel a little nervous but still keeping my composure. Before I could say a word gorilla man points to the confession stand. I’m starting to think that the gorilla is a mute. I open the door and go in. I jokingly say, “Forgive me father for I have sinned”. The slot in front of me opens and someone starts talking.
“I hear you’re seeking some information,” a mysterious male voice says.
“I am looking for some information but if you have the merchandise here then we can deal right now and I can be out of your hair,” I say with a smirk.
He responds by asking, “You have the money now?”
I tell him that it’s somewhere safe. We agree to have some of his men come with me to go get it, then they would bring me to his warehouse. Once we exit the church I think to myself that this is really easy, a bit too easy, that’s when I see my gorilla friend smile for once, then I feel a powerful hit to the back of my head and everything goes black. I wake up from a splash of water to the face. At first I don’t know where I am. I start looking around and notice that I’m in the warehouse that the mysterious man was talking about. In front of me are two really big guys that don’t have any weapons but I guess they didn’t need any considering how big they were and I was tied up. They step aside and out comes Cali, no longer dressed in her dress but instead in army clothes.
She starts, “Sorry I had to do this to you.”
I didn’t say anything, I just give her a pissed off look.
She continues anyways, “I have what you’re really came looking for.”
From behind her back she pulls out one of the most expensive, most valuable tech known to man. God’s Hand - capable of recreating dead cells, torn muscle tissue and even bone marrow. Only the beta version was whispered to exist.
She guessed right, this was indeed my actual target.
“How did you managed to steal it from the Corporations?” I say with a little awe in my voice. Stealing this sort of tech must have been an impossible mission.
“You people are so dumb sometimes. We didn’t steal this, we made it. These silly Corporations are the ones doing the stealing, not us,” she says
“So all this time the Corporations have been the thieves, not you guys?” I respond
“Exactly! We are the ones making all the tech so we can survive but somehow the Corporations find out, lie to people like you then send you over here to take our tech,” she says in an annoyed voice.
“For all I know you could be lying to me,” I say
“You’ve seen the security the Corporations have, do you actually think we can simply walk in and take anything? We are left here to die! This tech is the only thing keeping us alive, keeping my boy alive,” she says.
Out from the dark the same boy that I gave the token and food to this morning runs to Cali and holds her hand.
“WE SHOULD BE THE ONES RULING THIS WORLD, NOT THEM,” she screams. “I RULE THIS TOWN BUT I COULD BE SO MUCH MORE, WE COULD BE SO MUCH MORE!”
She motions her hand and someone appears behind me, cutting my bonds. The big guys move closer to Cali but don’t stop her. Cali reaches her hand out and says -
“Join me, join us and help us take over these damn Corporations, help us take back the world.” She looks back at her son and then back at me. “There is kindness in you.”
I hesitate for a minute and then reach out and grip her hand. I bring her closer and whisper -
“I’m sorry but it’s too late.”
I quickly let go of her hand and duck down. A concussion grenade comes crashing in through the window blinding everyone. Dozens of Corp military troops break in guns blazing but thankfully I got to cover behind a shipping container. It doesn’t take long, these guys are merciless. I come out from my cover and see a bunch of dead bodies on the ground including that of a little boy. Merciless. I look around and find Cali. She was dying from a shot to the chest but her eyes were on her dead son. Then she looks at me with pure hatred.
I walk up to her and say, “This was over before it began,” I continued. “The moment I got a knock on the door I figured I was followed so I activated my tracking device to call in the cavalry. I knew all along that it was a trap and I would end up in a situation like this so I played along by going to the church and talking to the man in the confessional stand. I even took a hit to the back of the head to end up here,” I said this while rubbing the back of my head.
Cali didn’t care - her eyes were open but she was gone. I close her eyes and move her next to her son. I pick up God’s Hand and rejoin the team as they head back to the helicopter. I look back one last time at Cali and her son, feeling my eyes watering up. The soldiers don’t say a word. For them this is routine, the poor are lesser beings so not worth caring about much less shedding a tear. I sold my soul a long time ago for money and a nice bed in the city but sometimes I realize how bad a person I really am but it never lasts too long. As we sit in the helicopter and it starts taking off, I hand the prize to the lead sergeant who hands me a bag full of coin and a folder. My next mission, where I have to do this all over again.