Monday, December 15, 2008

Heartbreaker: Speculation

Wait, how is Singer supposed to contact this shadowy figure if she can't e-mail him back? Maybe she's just that crafty....


I must have told someone, she thought to herself. At one of the office parties. For a cover story. Something.

Singer zipped up her thick leather flight jacket and stepped onto the patio. She looked down at the park, where the risers were already up and ready. She sighed and pulled on her helmet.

It had taken her a couple extra weeks to find an apartment on the right floor, but it was worth it. From her balcony, she could get into traffic easily. She tapped in the password for the gate and stepped through, off the edge. Mind buzzing though it was with the mystery at hand, she still have more than enough focus to fly. Singer slipped easily from a walk to a drift, floating out from her apartment until she heard the gate click.

Maybe it was Farmer.

She lowered her head and streaked forward, cutting through the faintly flickering yellow field into the stream of fliers. Other telekinetics made up the bulk of the traffic flow, but there was the occasional winged dragon-breed flapping along, clearing his or herself a wide berth with their high profile. One person, she saw, was standing on the safety net, the force screen coalescing around their feet and glowing bright. They straightened their helmet, strapped it tight, and took off again, regaining the fifteen foot gap back into traffic.

It had to be Farmer, now that she thought of it. He'd cornered her at the last holiday party, the previous winter. She knew he'd had a crush on her for as long as they'd worked together, and she thought he knew she wasn't interested. Something, apparently, was unclear. Farmer was an all right guy, but too eager. He'd poured out to her more awkward detail about his life than was fair, and she must have told him the story out of some misguided sense of justice.

Singer floated to a stop, the field ahead lit red. As the cross-traffic unspooled from its cluster and began to flow again, she remembered that Farmer had just gotten back to the office yesterday, from his assignment in Red Bridge. She'd actually heard him griping about the long trip back north in the hall.

The red field dissipated, and Singer rounded the corner, coming into view of her office. The Psionic Solutions, Inc. tower was an elegant steel-fiber and polyglass affair, mostly black, with the impression of a highly polished onyx shard. Human forms darted in and out at skylane level as couriers delivered packages and consultants made their way to and from their assignments.

In essence, the Corporation was a psychic guild, providing consulting services to individuals and organizations, or so Public Relations said. At some point, everyone had a use for a telepath or a telekinetic. Collective bargaining had just quieted down for the season, and they now had to rely on other contracts for their income. This was usually Singer's favorite time of year. Last year she had worked one private investigation – the executive was cheating and embezzling, it turned out – and two big projects, both of which she had loved.

She alighted on the entrance nearest her office, unstrapping her helmet and turning her focus to the small box embedded in the wall. With a thought, the door opened. Singer shook her head, thinking of what price that little box would fetch on the open market. Just a little vial of psychoreactive fluid in a vial, hooked up to a computer with some very proprietary security software. The first step towards a psionic computer interface. As yet, all they could get the system to do was recognize people and open doors.

As usual, the office inside was nearly silent. The occasional drift of music or talk show hovered around someone's console, but no conversation filled the air. Singer stepped through the sliding glass door, which slid shut with a hiss.

-Morning, Singer, came the telepathic voice of Derek Baker, one of the trainees she supervised. He was nowhere in sight. Must have been waiting for her.

-Hey, Derek. Lemme guess. Fletcher's waiting.

-Good guess.

Singer walked straight past the kitchen and its inviting coffee-and-spiced-tea smell, on toward her boss's office.

-Morning, Elaine. How's your morning going?

That was Terrence Farmer. Singer stopped in front of his cubicle. He had turned around, hoping to get a glance at her, and now he was smiling as she actually stopped. His skin was a few shades darker than hers, more the average human brown than her pale pink. His eyes were a light brown, almost tan, and betrayed his eagerness to please people. Not un-handsome, and not a bad guy. Just tended toward desperate more often than not.

She narrowed her focus, quieting her telepathy to avoid eavesdroppers.

-Terry, hey. Got a question for you. She was annoyed, and trying not to let it show. Maybe he hadn't just let it slip. Maybe.

[By the way, Farmer is based loosely on me. More to come.]

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