This is going to be easy.
Give me the escape routes again, I think to my SmartGlasses. The minimap expands to show lines traced across the district. Here’s the Beggar’s Alley. Then, the market, where I’ll disappear into the crowd. Finally, the metro. Too easy.
I kill the map and double check my handbag. It has everything a practical woman needs: a pack of condoms, my personal computer, wet wipes, and a silenced Walther PPK.
The rusted door to Sex Hustler Productions studio blends into the slums; it looks like it belongs. I take a deep breath and knock. A hatch slides open. The man on the other side stares at me with cybernetic eyes. Whoever graved those implants into his face did a class-A shit job. You poor fucker. The door opens.
Inside, everything is ready for action. Three cameras are arranged in a circle around the props in the middle of the room. Another man (judging by his sunglasses, smirk, and baseball cap, the Director) is sitting on a table, surrounded by whips, canes, and other implements of the trade, and then, next to him, there’s her: my partner. The Michaellam MK-2, the most elegant, human-like android ever designed.
It’s wearing a summer dress the color overripe strawberries. Its eyes are dark blue, not the sophisticated camera eyes of an android. She’s wearing contacts. If I didn’t know better, I’d think she was a real girl, no longer innocent, but not yet crushed by reality, still ready to do anything it took to fight through the day. Like star in a BDSM porn flick with hope for a brighter tomorrow. . . .
There are no windows and no exits but the front door, now shut. I hope this is going to be as easy as I thought.
“You must be Julia,” says the Director.
“Yes, yes, that’s me. Thanks for having me.”
“You sent the best pics. Your body’s really something, you know. I mean, we get a lot of girls through here, but, wow, you blow them out of the water. So, erm, I guess you’ve done this before?”
Check for weapons, I think to my SmartGlasses. I need to stall for time. “I . . . well . . . no, not really, actually.”
It’s hard to tell for sure under his shades, but I imagine the Director raising an eyebrow.
“You mean you haven’t done BDSM? What about regular hardcore? Gangbang? Anal?”
I look at the floor, blushing. I’m real good at that, blushing. The SmartGlasses give me a read out: they’re unarmed. But then again, a Michaellam MK-2 is the best personal security anybody could ask for.
“Don’t tell me you’ve never done anal before, Julia!”
“I . . . I can’t say that I have.”
He sighs, pulling out a clipped stack of money from his leather jacket. “Here’s a thousand Euromarks, like agreed. But you’ve got to do everything we tell you. I promise you, we won’t bruise you too much. A couple of days rest, and you’ll be as good as new. All you have to do is just do what I say. Are you cool with that?”
“Yes. Yes, I’m cool with that,” I say. The android smiles. How many women has it killed? How many snuff films ended with it pulling women apart, piece by piece? My employer knew only of one: his daughter. I saw that video. Once was enough.
“Well, then. This is Monica, and she’ll be your partner for this session. If you could please take off your clothes, we can start.”
He jumps off the table and turns his back to me, examining the handcuffs chained to the table’s corners. “Monica” comes closer and takes me by the hand.
She leads me to the table.
“Ah, yeah, right,” says the Director, handing the bills over. I take the stack, put it into my purse and wrap my fingers around the handgun. Here comes the tricky part.
“Monica,” I say, “Before we start, can I ask you for a favor please? I . . . well, I haven’t done this before, but I’ve always had the hots for girls in glasses. Would you, would you mind trying my SmartGlasses on for me? I think it’ll put me at ease a bit.”
The android smiles again and gives the Director a questioning look.
“Go ahead,” he says.
She tries them on. I have to admit, they do look good on her. Run SexualHardware.exe. Nothing happens.
“I think they’re broken. They just keep snowcrashing all the time,” she says in the sweetest voice, handing back my glasses.
Sex Hustler Productions apparently had invested more than a handful of Euromarks in their new toy; the contact lenses made it immune to visual hacks. Fuck. I put my handbag on the floor and take off my shirt. Slowly.
Think, think, think. What to do.
I can’t let them bind me, then I’m fucked, but I can still stall for time. I undo my bra. Think. An android’s brain is a crude emulation of the organic original; a neural net of fractally simulated emotions, interwined with hard-stored memories. A scientific clusterfuck. Think. My bra falls to the floor. I pull down my jeans. The shoes get in the way. I crouch to take them off. There is nothing else to do. What the fuck. My bag is next to me.
I go for the gun.
The android is slower than I thought it would be. I pull out the pistol, aim at its face, and squeeze the trigger. The cartridge flies out of the slide ejector; the back of Monica’s head explodes into sparks. The machine falls to the floor, its electronic brain dead.
The man with the cyber eyes shouts and goes for the door, but I send a bullet into the back of his knee. He collapses, his shouts turn to screams. I aim the gun at the Director.
“You,” I say. “Get on that table.”
“What are you doing? What the fuck? What the fuck are you doing?”
His buddy’s screaming, hands clenching his shattered knee, drawing bloody skid marks across the floor.
I shoot him in the head. He stops screaming.
“Get on the table.”
The Director’s face goes white. He gulps, obeying. I secure his wrists and ankles with the handcuffs. How convenient.
“What do you want? Money? I have more money, but not here! Lots of money! I’m a rich man, you know, please! Listen to me!”
I put my bra back on and check the door. Locked. Good. I sit the destroyed android up against the wall, put my computer into its lap, and turn on the screen. No audio. I’m not going to watch it; once was enough. I know what it’s playing: the Michaellam MK-2 fucking my client’s daughter in every hole she has, making new holes as it goes. Once was enough.
“No,” I say quietly, “You listen to me. I spent three nights coding to have your pet Monica do the same to you.” I nod at the screen. “Didn’t work. All for nothing. Fucking Secure-X contact lenses. I should’ve known. But a contract’s a contract.”
This is not going to be easy.