The Store

I race down the highway in my old jalopy at a speed that would make most men lose control of their bowels. On the way, I pass billboards, billboards everywhere, and probably 3/4 of ‘em say something like

CyberCorp is really pushing their chip in the couple days leading up to TRUscape. Guess that’s to be expected, though, them being the biggest company on earth. Regardless, I don’t have long to ponder it because I make it to the shop in less than three minutes, possibly a record, and I’m out of my car and inside in no time flat.

The shop’s nice, but something’s a little off. It’s a little too shiny, too clean, too soulless. Sterilized. But what can you expect in this age of sealed and prepackaged everything. Par for the course.

It takes me a second, but after my first glance, I realize there’s something else wrong here. There are two customers milling around, both hacking and coughing – probably infected with the nanovirus – but that’s it. Drake Collins is simply not here. Has Albert been dicking me around? No, no, he had to have been here. Albert wouldn’t just flat out lie to me, would he?

“May I help you find something sir?” says the fat, balding clerk. You’d think they could clean up the help like they cleaned up the store. At least he doesn’t seem to be infected, that’s a plus.

“Yeah, did a man come just come in here a few minutes ago? Blond, muscular, about this tall?”

The clerk thinks about it for a few minutes. Obviously, speed is not his forte. Then he says, “Yeah, I suppose so, he was only in here for about five minutes though. I think he sat down at that machine,” and he points at a brand new model with a state of the art holographic display shining like a wall of tacky neon.

“Thanks,” I reply and start towards that machine. Almost simultaneously, the machine’s holoscreen displays a blinking window reading “New Message.”

My heart jumps into my throat. I can’t be this lucky, I never get lucky. I reach my hand out to touch the hologram and open the message, but then the thought hits me like a ton of bricks. It’s just too easy. Too convenient. He’s on to me. It has to be a trap. And yet, it’s so tempting, a holographic apple waiting for me to reach out and pick it off the tree.

      Open the message

      Check the store for traps

I couldn't take it anymore. I called it off.