A Writing Prompt Response: Future Retro

View the io9 writing prompt here.

“You two don’t look like cops,” the Junkie with the star tattoo said. She eyed Halyn’s sheer top and cutoffs. She raised her eyebrows at my tube top and loin cloth, and the tattoos snaking up my arms. “You don’t have cop hair.”

“That’s ’cause we’re detectives,” Halyn said, but her attention was elsewhere. The turquoise holoscreen of the police blotter glowed in the dim light of the alley. The matching retina interface glittered as she selected more information.

“Is all of this junk yours?” I asked. I knelt down and picked up an ancient specimen, a pair of lime green and flamingo pink headphones.

“Bought and paid for,” said star face, her voice turned defensive. “You interested in Collecting?” Metal clinked, and what I had taken for more junk moved as her arm extended. The metal plates and well oiled joints composed fingers and a wrist, an elbow. The shield on her forearm probably came in handy.

The pace of my heart quickened. “Who is your mechanic?” I asked, forcing nochalance into my voice.

“Old Barton. He works full time as an articulator engineer,” she said. “Helps me because I help him. There’s lots of folks got the itch for Collecting, you know.”

I sighed, not bothering to hide my disappointment. “You know he was murdered, right?”

“Yeah.” The Junkie smiled sadly and pressed a button on the box the headphones were attached to. The beat of music pulsed in my hand and I placed them over my ears.

It was one of those songs that was so old, people didn’t remember who wrote it or sang it originally anymore. But you could still pass people on the street humming it. Like Happy Birthday or Yellow Submarine.

The tune made me think of warm sunny days. Carefree love. It transported me away from the refuse filled alley and the deaths that were slowly creeping up on this city like a plague of locusts.

The words and music came through the headphones accompanied by a misty crackle of static and age, and I could barely make out the actual words. It was as if they were crossing a gap of time just to play in my ears. I had to focus to hear them.

“Felicia!” Halyn shook my shoulder. I removed the headphones and looked up at her. “There’s been another one,” she said. She tilted the holoscreen of the police blotter.

“Where?” I said with a sigh, putting the headphones down.

“Just north of the Carnival. Let’s head out; we can’t get anymore information here.”

“You go ahead,” I said.

Halyn stared at me hard for a moment. “Just remember you have to share the flat with me,” she said. “Any junk gets in my way, I’ll toss it.”

I nodded distractedly, and turned back to the Junkie. I didn’t even notice Halyn leave. The Junkie smiled.

“How much?” I asked, touching a finger to the neon headphones.


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