I arrived on the scene an hour before the end of my shift, another day another body.
The vast pyramid of Tyrell Towers glistened in the wet night. The rain puddled in oily patches on the elevated roadway, reflecting the neon billboard as it passed overhead.
The call had better not be another Bot-rage, I was sick of arriving at a scene and finding the Bot already de-commissioned, instantly punished for the murder by central. Ruled an industrial accident, it would never be reported as a murder, to save face, and investor’s money.
The entrance lobby to the building was filled with the usual debris of human society, shuffling through their miserable existence, looking for a fix, or a John to help pay for a new upgrade.
2 Months, 3 days and about 10 hours, that was all I had left before I could retire, and enjoy my lawn. It had taken almost a year’s salary to buy the Polymorphic grass, with built in air filtration, soon it would be time to enjoy it.
The walls of the long grey concrete corridor where painted in excrement, the thick smell of wasted humanity all around me.
Rows of solid steel doors lined the hallway, protecting the tenants from the crazies, and whatever else lived in the hallways and shafts of the dank building.
At the end of the long poorly lit passage, stuck in between a dripping shaft that stank of crap, and the medical waste handling area of an Illegal Surgical Unit, sat the neat little pink door for Unit 65781.
This was the cleanest, prettiest door out of all 800 apartments on this floor. A rookie cadet no older than my shoes was getting a bit too excited at the yellow tape cordon.
“Back up, old man,” he said, his feet apart.
“Fuck you princess,” I said, pushing past him.
“Don’t mess with the law,” his hand reached down for his Electro-baton.
I flip open my wallet and show him my badge, his expression changed.
“Sorry Detective Inspector,” he turned out of the way, “looks like it’s another one.”
The apartment was big by New Detroit standards, I could touch all four walls within three steps of the front door. But it was neat, the Kaizan couch was folded away into the wall, the Vid display on the ceiling was running a Hello Kitty Soap Opera, rather than Abattoir Porn for a change. The long shaggy haired carpet flowed with ripples and waves as I stood on it. Picking up on my mood it changed colors from white to dark maroon and navy.
The Death Taxes Inspector was kneeling down, looking at the little white high heel shoes she had left behind on the balcony. They always did that, leave their shoes neatly together before they jumped, it was a sign, a message, who could blame them for wanting to check out.
The Tax inspector looked puzzled, “she was paying a fortune for this place, twice my salary, for what? So she could get a balcony and jump out of it.”
Smoke twirled up from a still burning incense stick. The sickly sweet incenses did little to mask the burnt Sulphur smell of the refinery stacks. Next to the balcony was a stool, on it a small Bonsai tree, covered in a glass dome, she liked plants.
The glass dome was cracked and a piece of broken glass was missing. The little air purifier in its base still humming away, it would die a slow death now, suffocating on the thick polluted air we had all become accustomed to.
“We are taxing everything including that.” He said pointing at it with the back of his stylus, and making notes.
The Coroner walked in to the apartment after loading the body at the bottom of the huge tower. He wiped the blood stained gloves on the filthy apron, peeled them off, one by one, and dropped them carelessly on to the white shaggy carpet.
The carpet sensed its owner’s blood, and began squirming around underfoot, the color changing to blood red, and finally to black as it lay still, in mourning.
The Coroner’s greasy pug face was indifferent, “You shouldn’t have bothered. Her shoes are on the balcony, I found a red scarf in her hands, so it’s obviously another suicide.”
“I’m here now, let me be the judge of that.”
The Coroner shrugged, “she bounced off a few balconies on the way down, and hit the Pollution Treatment Plant. The owners of the treatment plant want to sue someone.”
I walked over to where the shoes lay, picked them up, and a small piece of glass from the glass dome of the Bonsai tree fell off the sole of a shoe.
The Coroner opened her closet door, and was scratching around in her clothes. “It must be the 5th woman from this block in the past week. I’m getting tired of filling bags.”
The balcony was soaked, but the shoes where dry, it had been raining for hours, “maybe there is something to it.”
“I don’t care, I just wish they wouldn’t make such a mess, rather pull your Neuroplug, or old fashioned gassing, less bits to clean up, know what I mean.”
Why would she do it? This place is a little piece of heaven compared to the crap out there, she paid a fortune to live here, a slice of paradise floating in a sea of filth. Why then end it?
I stood at the edge of the balcony, feeling the dirty wind comb its fingers through my hair, trying to feel what she would have before she jumped.
The gapping maw between the buildings fell off into the darkness, like a canyon between the two monoliths. The building opposite was a black silhouette on an orange grey sky, hundreds of tiny windows like a looking glass into the individual lives being existed.
A movement caught my eye, a flash of light from a balcony across from me. There stood a figure in the shadows, it moved. It stepped out into a shaft of light, it was a woman, in a clear plastic trench coat, and she was wearing a red scarf, she stepped up onto the edge of her balcony, held onto the side for support, and looked down at her fate.
I pushed past the Inspector as he was gleefully counting the victims Hello Kitty Jewelry, I tripped over the Coroner sniffing her underwear from the bottom drawer. I launched out the door, racing down the passage, leaving the rookie cop behind me.
Down two flight of slippery stairs, I sprinted across the sky bridge, as fast as my hip replacements could carry me, I puffed up two flights of stairs, and hustled down passage, I got to the door of the apartment of the woman in the red scarf.
The door was open, and I slid it aside slowly, she was still standing on the balcony edge, her back to me, her shoes on the floor, and her red scarf loose in her hand, ready to fall.
“You know it’s not as much fun as it might seem.” I said.
She didn’t move fixated on the black gulf below, wordless. I inched my way forward.
“Maybe you should try and stop me.”
I approached slowly, careful not to make any sudden movements.
“Maybe you should jump, and save us both the trouble.”
“That’s not in the hand book.”
“Yeah but this is no suicide, is it?” I said.
I had moved up right behind her, my hand slowly reaching out to grab the back of her clear plastic trench coat.
“Well it is a Suicide… Just not mine,” she said.
She spun around impossibly balanced on the balcony’s knife edge, my worst suspicions came true. The Bot’s arms where stronger than a humans, the movement smooth and instant as a machine.
It grabbed me by my collar and pushing me over the edge of the balcony. Iron claws crushed my ankles as it held me from falling into the abyss. I could feel needle sharp fingers fiddling with my shoes, taking one off at a time.
The red scarf drifted past my face, billowing slowly down into the black void far below. Her robot arms like shackles, ready to release my suffering.
Blood rushed to my head, a buzzing sound filled my ears. I could see the green grass on my little lawn, smooth and shiny, slipping away into the dark night.
I felt a sharp jolt and heard the sizzle of the Electro-baton as the electricity passed from the baton, through the wiring of the Bot, into my ankles and down my calves. I hung there at the mercy of the little mechanical actuators as they convulsed and finally seized.
A hand reached down and pulled me back over the balcony by my belt. The rookie smiled and said, “We don’t need another one.”
All Rights Reserved. Copyright A.Q Meyer.