Movie Review Catch-Up

So, it’s been a while since I wrote a review. On the one hand, I wanted to devote most of my time to polishing the first volume of Neon Oldie so I could put it up all at once. And between Deadpool 2 and the time of this posting, I have seen half a dozen movies. It has been four months and there were only six films that caught my interest. Call me a snob, but 2018 has not been great to say the least.

Anyway, here is a list of short summaries for the movies I neglected to review on time:

 

Soldado

A lot was lost with Villeneuve’s absence, but director Stefano Sollima did a good job creating an air of tension in what is ostensibly an action film. The nihilism of Sicario in regards to the Drug War is brought back and applied in small doses to the War on Terror, making a note to shed light on the people who pull the strings.

The only issue was the marketing team that decided to scrap the original name Soldado for Sicario: Day of the Soldado. It is about as retarded as Rise of the Tomb Raider or Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, which is why I am using the original title in this section. Lose your job forever, guys.

 

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

If you liked the first one, might want to skip this. I am fully aware that the Jurassic movies have become schlock and I am fine with that. The problem with World 2 is there is not an original bone in its body. Other than the first half, the second is Lost World with a fraction of the budget. It is a regurgitation of what we have already seen, but more outrageous, and less interesting. The moment the villains took the dinosaurs off the island, I checked out. Why bother making a sequel and not try anything original?

 

Ant-Man and the Wasp

It is no Winter Soldier, but pretty good overall. Unfocused as a comedy, but somehow works as an unorganized mess. A shame Edgar Wright was not there to make it work properly. If you want more Ant-Man with the addition of a sidekick and more size-shifting action, look no further.

 

Unfriended: Dark Web

Never saw the first one, but watched a long-form review online, and it looked dumber than hell. I saw Dark Web with some friends and it was surprisingly fine. I find the idea of hacking very interesting, especially in terms of hardware, and the movie got me hooked in a lot of ways. Of course, I am biased in that regard and there are elements people will find as dumb as the first. Still, I thought it was harmless and pretty fun if you want to see Internet autists kill idiots.

 

Mission Impossible: Fallout

While I am not a fan of spy movies, Mission Impossible is the exception in many ways. For one thing, it is not boring with an emphasis on action where the characters actually do cool stuff, rather than meander around acting cool. Fallout is definitely one of the better action films I have seen in recent memory.

 

Operation Finale

Many are not aware that after World War 2, Israel scoured the globe for Nazis that escaped justice at Nuremburg. Finale is about their most infamous capture, Adolf Eichmann, the architect of the Holocaust. Rather than focus on the operation, the movie highlights the motivation behind people like Eichmann. From his point of view, he was following orders and upholding the values of the Third Reich. He knew what he did was evil, but to him it was for a good cause.

This makes the character a tad sympathetic and drains momentum from the subject. The man who organized the deportation of Jews to death camps was a glorified bureaucrat that did most of his work behind a desk. Compared to Dirlewanger, Mengele, and Heydrich, Eichmann comes off rather plane. Ben Kingsley played him well, but I found it very hard to hate his character or find him compelling. It would have been better if we could see the results of his actions to give him weight as a villain, but it was not there in any substantial way.

 

From here onward I am getting back into regular posts. Neon Oldie Vol. 2 will premiere in six months on March 17, 2019, I have something big for my international readers in the pipeline, and there are a handful of small projects I want to get off the ground.

See you soon.

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Neon Oldie #13

Cover13

By
C.T. McMillan
+++

Cover: C.T. McMillan
Model: Megan Crawford (ING: @mleighmoon)

Copyright 2018 by C.T. McMillan
All Rights Reserved
In accordance with the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, the scanning, uploading, and electronic sharing of any part of this book without the permission of the publisher constitute unlawful piracy and theft of the author’s intellectual property. Thank you for your support of the author’s rights.

Also By CT McMillan
Back to Valhalla: A Military Fantasy

Acknowledgments
I could not have come this far without my family encouraging me to pursue my ambition to be a writer.

Dedication
To Razor’ and ’19 for providing inspiration.

***

The couch was pushed closer to the TV, making space for the carpet underneath. The corner was pulled over and held down by a portion of the floorboards nailed together. In the shadow of the crawl space sat a narrow strong box caked in layer of dust. Beside it was a square of dust where something had laid previously. Along the edge of the opening sat a plastic bag of money held in wads and a snub-nose revolver.

Kiddo stared at the ticker of the money counter at the workbench. As the machine counted a stack of 100s in the slot, her hand hovered over a pad of paper, pen ready. The paper was scrolled in numbers from top to bottom, the upper most sum increasing with irregular additions. Kiddo’s pen hung under the latest sum before the counter stopped. She scrolled the new total, added the values, and was nearly in tears.

 

The little tools and bits of circuitry hit the floor when Kiddo brushed them off the bench. In their place she lay on her back and pulled Enzo to her lips. It wasn’t much of a kiss because she couldn’t stop giggling. The other gear-heads around the body shop cheered.

“Get some, Enzo!”

“How much to lose the jacket, girl?”

They had to whisper close to hear each other over the noise.

“We did it,” she said.

“What?”

Enzo got his answer when she grabbed his crotch.

“’Ey,” called Junior from the lobby door. “This ain’t a friggin’ cathouse! We got customers!”

“Why not give ‘em a show, Boss?” asked a gear-head.

Kiddo laughed aloud and stared at Enzo, nothing but joy between them.

“We’re having a baby,” she said.

“We’re having a baby,” he chuckled.

They kissed slowly, savoring every second.

 

Two duffle bags sat by the bed with Kiddo’s arms in their case. Enzo had on boxers as he dug through one of the bags, phone to his ear.

“San Francisco,” he said. “…I told you, just a week. That’s a fraction of the vacation time I have saved up. I deserve a little…” Enzo stood with a can of shaving cream. “Then put ‘Resa on it. She’s good. If not, then tell them I’ll be back in a week…” He walked to Kiddo soaking in soapy water and kneeled behind. “Junior, my clients know I’m going out of town, okay? This is pointless. You’re getting in the way of me packing… Okay, Junior. Good night.”

Enzo sighed before tossing his phone onto the bed.

“Geez.”

“Every time we go on vacation, he gets like that,” said Kiddo.

“Thinks he’s going to lose me,” he said spreading a lump of cream on her temples. “Did Sally get back to you?”

“I gave her the key after I got home. She’ll check in after school.”

“Great,” he said putting a straight razor to her temples. “Let’s hope she doesn’t throw any parties while we’re gone.”

Kiddo smiled.

“So what if she has some fun, babe? It’s just an apartment.”

Enzo paused, pulling the razor away from his lover’s skin.

“What?”

“…We should get a real house.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. Why not? Human kids need room and fresh air when they’re growing up. If they’re nose to nose in tight quarters for most of their lives, they’ll come out all wrong, like people born in zero gravity.”

Kiddo knew he didn’t mean anything by it, but the last few words hit a place that came through in her voice.

“How do you mean wrong?”

“Well, if you…” He realized what he’d done. “I’m sorry, I meant, uh–“

“–No. I get it… If we want to raise our son right, he needs the right environment. Out here its all concrete and glass under gloomy skies, packed in like cheap caviar. Pyongyang was worse. There was nowhere you could go buried in a city under a city. You had to fight for space or climb your way out. Seattle’s not bad,” she turned to him, “but it’s not good enough for our boy. We’re moving out and going somewhere he can grow as soon as possible. After Cici, there’s no point sticking around. All I care about is us.”

He touched her face.

“Where did you have in mind?”

She managed a shrug and smiled.

“Montana? You could be a tractor mechanic.”

“And you a sheriff’s deputy.”

She chuckled.

“I could start my own gang. That’d be fun.”

Enzo just smiled before she turned back.

“We have time to decide,” he said. “Maybe we go farther than–“

He just finished the back of her head when the phone cut in.

“Leave me alone.”

“Maybe he wants to bribe you.”

“Wouldn’t surprise me.”

They let it ring to the end, but it didn’t last long.

“What’s this guy’s malfunction?” asked Kiddo.

“I’ll threaten to quit.” He stood. “One sec.”

“No, babe. Just let it ring. I’ll break his collar bone before we leave in morning.”

Enzo put the phone to his ear.

“Junior, I told you–“

The sudden silence didn’t catch her attention; it was Enzo’s stutter that followed.

“Uh-uh-uh-uh-“

She turned.

“You okay? Enzo?”

He faced her, the phone falling away. His movement was sluggish and eyes peeled wide, mouth half open. It was like he was learning to walk for the first time, each foot reaching random distances toward the tub.

“Uh-uh-uh-uh-“

Kiddo couldn’t move, watching him walk faster.

“…Babe?”

She got to one knee before Enzo put a hand around her neck. He pushed down, but Kiddo braced her self enough to force him to slide her to the other end of the tub. The faucet and nobs dug into her back while Kiddo jerked her neck slightly loose to scream.

“Stop! You’re hurting me!”

“Uh-uh-uh-suh-“ he said bringing the razor in a shaking hand toward her throat.

Fighting the cold metal pressing to her spine Kiddo pushed her foot into his bicep. The more she applied pressure, the harder he squeezed, and the closer the blade came.

“Please!” she gagged. “Why!”

One of Enzo’s eyes twitched and his grip gave way, not enough to let go.

“Suh-suh-top! Muh-me-ee!” Enzo’s face scrunched as his head twisted to the sides. “Stop me!”

His hand with the razor shook harder as he brought the edge to his other wrist. His blue-black skin broke with a gush of white blood, turning the tub water white.

“Don’t! You’ll bleed out!”

Enzo jerked himself backward, dropping Kiddo’s head on the faucet. She landed on her side, the little cut below her pink hair spilling crimson. Enzo was staggering away, sawing his wrist with a growl interrupted by the stutter. His legs didn’t let him go far, forcing him to kneel before dropping the razor.

“Stah-uh-uh-mee!”

Kiddo watched Enzo punch himself. After a couple licks his arms convulsed and swung away.

“Geh-geh-get the gun! Get the gun, babe!”

The word escaped her lips before she thought of saying it.

“No!”

“You have to stuh-uh-”

He craned his head to the bags by the bed. Enzo staggered over, tiring to ground himself.

“Huh-hurry!”

Kiddo ignored the hot blood crawling down her back when she leapt into him. Enzo hit the floor, but was already shambling upright.

“Sorry,” she said before bolting to her arms.

With her foot she flipped the case over and spilled them out. Only the left arm was positioned with the clamps facing up. Kiddo went to the floor and put her anchor into the connector. The clamps twitched as she attempted alignment. The way she was laying she could see Enzo getting closer.

“Stah-ah-ah-ah!”

Kiddo bit her lip when the clamps came down and squeezed her eyes shut, giving out a loud groan. When the pain stopped she shot up to a knee and grabbed the snub-nose just as Enzo brought it to her face. It was pointed past her right eye, fractions of an inch away from brain matter. His other hand, the one he’d sliced to ribbons, was pushing her in front of the muzzle by the shoulder. Tears streamed from his bugged eyes.

“I-I-can’t suh-suh–“

“–Let go of the gun, babe. Fight it.”

Enzo pulled Kiddo harder while her arm trembled with a whine.

“If I can get my other arm–“

“–You let go, yuh-uh-uh-die–“

“–Shut-up and fight!”

She was bright red, teeth clenched, eyes on the verge of leaking. Somehow, through the crazy mask over his face, Enzo looked content. He knew there wasn’t any other way except one; the one he didn’t want to take. She could see it and it scared her to death. And then Kiddo realized the gun was turning on himself.

“No. No! Let go! Let go right now!”

Her arm was too worn out to put up much effort, whining louder. Kiddo sobbed.

“Don’t do this to us! I need you! Wait!”

His hand on her shoulder kept her from pushing the sub-nose out of the way with her head.

“Stay with me! Enzo!”

“I-uh-uh-love you.“

The pistol was close enough that the gunshot came out as a piercing ring. Kiddo’s equilibrium was thrown out of whack, but didn’t move a muscle as Enzo fell with a hole above his left eye. Her whining arm still held the sub-nose by the barrel before she dropped it. Kiddo looked at him slummed on the floor, the guts of his brain splatter behind.

It didn’t seem real. This was a nightmare. This was a horror movie and Kiddo was seated center-row with the full picture before her eyes. It didn’t seem real until she felt the white blood go cold on her face.

The ringing persisted as Kiddo struggled to cry, choking on her own breath. She reached for Enzo and fell on top of him, his open eyes staring up. Kiddo stroked his hair and pulled his cheek to hers. She heaved on the floor, chin quivering, but nothing came out. Behind her Sally stood in the doorway with a phone to her ear and hand on her mouth.

 

Kiddo Volk will return…

***

Recommended Reading/Viewing/Playing
Blade Runner, Directed by Ridley Scott
Deus Ex: Human Revolution/Mankind Divided, Created by Eidos Montreal
Blade Runner 2049, Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Altered Carbon, Created by Laeta Kalogridis
Ghost in the Shell, Directed by Mamoru Oshii
Neuromancer, By William Gibson
Metropolis, Directed by Rintaro
R.U.R., By Karel Capek
Yojimbo, Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Westworld, Created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy
A Touch of Evil, Directed by Orson Welles
Battle Angel Alita, By Yukito Kishiro
On the Waterfront, Directed by Elia Kazan

About the Author
C.T. is a Florida native and proud gun owner. He is a fan of all things military, comic books, and a self-proclaimed movie buff. In his off-time C.T. reviews movies on a blog no one reads and writes screenplays that will never get made, but enjoys it nonetheless. He hopes this book thing will actually pay off so he can do it forever.

Neon Oldie #12

Cover12

By
C.T. McMillan
+++

Cover: C.T. McMillan
Model: Megan Crawford (ING: @mleighmoon)

Copyright 2018 by C.T. McMillan
All Rights Reserved
In accordance with the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, the scanning, uploading, and electronic sharing of any part of this book without the permission of the publisher constitute unlawful piracy and theft of the author’s intellectual property. Thank you for your support of the author’s rights.

Also By CT McMillan
Back to Valhalla: A Military Fantasy

Acknowledgments
I could not have come this far without my family encouraging me to pursue my ambition to be a writer.

Dedication
To Razor’ and ’19 for providing inspiration.

***

With a ding the elevator opened to the conference room. Monty stood closest to the door, followed by his Bots, and Takashi and Kiddo leaning against the window looking out to the Puget Sound. The elevator was positioned at the far end of the room. It was wide open with a vaulted ceiling that set it apart from your average office space. Instead of plain walls and doors there were sliding rice paper walls. The floor was polished wood where stood a table that was so short you had to sit on your ass with cushions.

If you ignored our tepid trio in the elevator, there were only five people present in the room. Seated at the head was the Shogun, an old man on the edge of 80. He wore a business suit minus the jacket, hugging his skinny frame. Where his spine met his cranium an external drive hid under the curtain of grey hair. It had a slight curve, flush with his skull. To the Shogun’s left sat two box-standard Yaks, waiting for orders.

Opposite them was a suit and a not-your-average cop. The suit was about as basic as you could get when it comes to a salaryman; clean cut, young face, and a fresh two piece suit that put the Yak getup to shame. A portion of his hair on the left side was shaved and dotted with neural ports, one fitted with a translator chip by his ear. Next to him the cop wore a fancy double-breasted tunic of blue and silver. His stiff shoulder straps bore three stars with a badge and colored tabs over his heart. He looked old with a white flattop and goatee, but he was built like an athlete.

Everyone but the Shogun bothered to acknowledge the new arrivals, looking happy to see them.

“A moment, Montgomery,” he said from the other end of the room.

Monty and the Bots stepped out before they bowed.

“Yes, sir.”

The Shogun returned to the table.

“I trust we have an understanding, gentlemen?”

The cop nodded with a grimace.

“We do, but this isn’t over, Kyrii,” said the suit. “Plenty of variables left to consider.”

“Damn straight,” said the cop under his breath.

“Of course; battle’s over, but the war, and all that cliché nonsense. Think of this as an extended hiatus. We’ll lick our wounds and come back to the ring ready to start again. Agreed?”

The two nodded at the same time. The Shogun smiled and started to stand, the Yaks helping him.

“Have a good rest of your day, gentlemen,” he said with a bow.

The men bowed back and made for the elevator.

“Gimme 12 hours, access to R-‘n’-D, and I–“ said the cop with a conspicuous whisper.

“–Save it for the car ride, Ira,” said the suit. “We have plenty of time.”

Kiddo, Takashi, and Monty were taking off their shoes when they passed. Kiddo caught the eye of the suit when she hung her hat on a hook above. It wasn’t much of stare, but enough she unconsciously logged his face in the back of her mind. The two broke it off when she had to move on into the conference room proper.

“A pleasure to finally meet you both,” said the Shogun. “Names and reputations can only get you so far.”

The Yaks helped him bow and everyone but Kiddo returned it. Takashi looked back at her standing with her hands in her pockets.

“Bow, you idiot,” he said under his breath.

One of the Yaks reached for a wakizashi on his belt before the Shogun waved him back.

“No need, Takashi-chan. Emotions are high enough thanks to your poor planning last evening.” The Shogun moved back to the head of the table. “Come sit. Let us talk business.”

The Yaks switched places and sat to the Shogun’s right. Monty was closest by the corner on the other side while Kiddo and Takashi stacked beside him.

The Shogun cleared his throat and clapped twice. The rice paper walls at the back of the Yaks slid to the side and out came a small troupe to join them. Five of the new arrivals carried something in their hands: a small ream of paper, a fancy raised cutting board, and three platters of nigiri. The platters were placed in the middle of the table while the cutting board and paper were set down by the edge.

“Feel free to indulge,” said the Shogun gesturing the platters. “Rest assured, none of it is poisoned.”

“I already ate.”

“Fair enough, Kiddo-chan.”

A short silence came to the table when the raw fish and rice was picked up and chewed whole.

“…So,” said Takashi, “shall we start?”

The Shogun smiled before he turned his back to the Yak by the corner. She pushed the old man’s hair out of the way and pulled the drive off, leaving behind a pair of old fashion neural ports, the kind that looked like headphone jacks glued to his skin. She replaced the drive with another that was more angular. The Shogun sat up straight, his eyelids quivering for a moment.

“Now we may start,” he said opening his eyes. “Firstly, what do they call you on the street, Kiddo-chan?”

She took what she could get.

“Kiddo.”

The Shogun chuckled.

“I mean your nickname. I am afraid it is not in my backup, but I recall it is something consistent with the flapper terminology?”

Even if she wanted to kill the old man and his boys, Kiddo couldn’t help but feel a little humility in the presence of an elder.

“It’s Pinkerton.”

“Aw! That’s it! Can you explain the meaning or is it in reference to your hair?”

“…Cici explained that a hundred years ago, when companies had problems with workers going on strike, they called the Pinkertons. They were mercs that cracked skulls, pulled security, and hunted people for the right price. I do all of that and with my hair he thought it fit.”

“Given your persona and reputation, I could not agree more. Thank you for the in-depth explanation. Do you speak Japanese?”

“Not a word.”

“I cannot say I am surprised. Your heritage is Russian-Korean, two peoples Japan had treated rather unfairly.”

“Past is past.”

“True, but it is important to consider the faults of our ancestors when the need arises.”

“If that’s case, would you call the Rape of Nanking rather unfair?”

Everyone stopped eating and looked at her with calm shock. Takashi rubbed his eyes while Monty bit his lower lip and looked down. The Shogun pursed his lips and made a shallow grin.

“…Then I beg your pardon as I talk to Takashi-chan in Japanese. We may be American, but we mustn’t lose our language.”

“Don’t let me stop you,” she said grabbing a salmon nigiri, the table still looking at her.

The Shogun looked to Takashi straightening himself out.

“You did well,” he said in Japanese. “Your simple gambit saved lives that would have been lost had our conflict progressed.”

He inclined his head, digging through his memory for how to reply.

“Thank you, Kyrii-sama.”

“Instead, you sacrificed only two, one more than you were ordered to take.”

Suddenly Takashi knew he was in a bad spot.

“I-I didn’t see any other way.”

“That Android was my secretary before she was soul’d. And yet, after gaining her individuality, she decided to stay by my side. She made her own life and you took it for a ploy that was unnecessary.”

“I couldn’t get to Cicero if Kiddo was in the way–“

“–So you devised a distraction to get her arrested in order to kill him afterward? The Trotskys and Deng Chi are morons, but they do not lack finesse in their various schemes. Not only that, but you defied our one condition; no one but Cicero Gorinni dies. Was Montgomery not clear in his instruction?”

Takashi was alone, the whole table looking at him as he searched for an answer that wouldn’t come to mind. He just sat there, red-faced with a sinking feeling in his gut. The Shogun nodded to the Yak with the cutting board before he pushed it toward Takashi.

“You are a proxy, but will pay for your mistake like Yakuza.”

Kiddo didn’t have to know Japanese to understand what was going on. For the first time that morning she was smiling. Then it felt like Christmas when Monty put a knife on the board.

“The small finger on the left,” continued the Shogun. “We will wait.”

With trembling hands he took his time to reach for the knife. Takashi shook even more when he saw his sweaty, scarlet face reflected in the perfect blade. He took longer to place his left hand flat on the board and angle the edge against the second knuckle of his pinky. He winced when the blade broke the skin, not enough to bleed much. Takashi’s shaking made it worse, widening the cut, and creating other scratches.

The whole table waited for him to do it. Kiddo looked like a maniac in a straight jacket, her teeth visible in a grin. Takashi breathed hard when he leaned into the blade. He growled to himself, but all he got for his effort was a deeper cut. Finally he worked up the courage for an old fashion chop, placing just his pinky on the board and raising the knife.

The pinky went spinning upward before rolling onto the polished wood of the table. Takashi did his best to hold in his cry, grabbing the remaining stump with a scrunched face. Kiddo watched him groan before taking another piece of nigiri, trying not to laugh. A few Yaks cleaned up the mess, picking up the finger and wiping the blood with white rags. Two stood and came around behind Takashi to pick up the blade and board, leaving him a cloth.

When the table was clear, the Yak with the ream of paper pushed the stack over.

“Your blood on the line will be sufficient,” said the Shogun.

Kiddo pulled the papers to her side and flipped through them, the text printed in English and Japanese on both halves of each page.

“Profit shares?” she asked.

“Only a 10% percent stake,” he said in English. “No more, no less.”

She put the ream back in front of Takashi. He pulled away the cloth and held his bloody hand over the bottom edge of the paper, a trio of neat crimson droplets hitting right on the line. Monty brought the ream before the Shogun.

“It seems our primary business is concluded. Is their anything more on the agenda?” No one said a word and the Shogun moved to stand. “Then I will bid you two farewell.”

The two Yaks helped him stand while the rest of the table got up. When everyone bowed Kiddo hesitated, her body working against what she actually wanted. Didn’t want to make a deal with the enemy, but she got to see Takashi in pain.

That alone made the Shogun worthy of courtesy.

Our trio returned to the elevator while most of the Yaks filed out of the conference room, Takashi wrapping the cloth around his hand. The Bots were still standing by the door like mechanical art statues. Kiddo slipped into one of her boots before she looked to the Shogun standing by the end of the table.

“I appreciate behaving your self, Kiddo-chan,” he said. “The Nanking remark was unwarranted, but when we are angry, people do what they can to relieve the tension, especially when we are compelled to stay our hand.”

He put his hand out to the Yak at his side before he received a thick envelope. Kiddo caught it after the old man tossed it over.

“A gang is not unlike a real family. There are fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters working together to run a business. Keep in mind, when you feel the urge, that Takashi-chan is my employee, my new adopted son. Should he be parted with his head in the near future, then the Gorinni Family and it’s children will become the Kyrii Family. Understand?”

A bit dramatic for a threat, but Kiddo got the picture and nodded. The Shogun smiled and walked back to the other end of the table, helped along by his people. Before she put on her last boot, Kiddo peaked into the envelope and turned red.

***

Recommended Reading/Viewing/Playing
Blade Runner, Directed by Ridley Scott
Deus Ex: Human Revolution/Mankind Divided, Created by Eidos Montreal
Blade Runner 2049, Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Altered Carbon, Created by Laeta Kalogridis
Ghost in the Shell, Directed by Mamoru Oshii
Neuromancer, By William Gibson
Metropolis, Directed by Rintaro
R.U.R., By Karel Capek
Yojimbo, Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Westworld, Created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy
A Touch of Evil, Directed by Orson Welles
Battle Angel Alita, By Yukito Kishiro
On the Waterfront, Directed by Elia Kazan

About the Author
C.T. is a Florida native and proud gun owner. He is a fan of all things military, comic books, and a self-proclaimed movie buff. In his off-time C.T. reviews movies on a blog no one reads and writes screenplays that will never get made, but enjoys it nonetheless. He hopes this book thing will actually pay off so he can do it forever.

Neon Oldie #11

Cover11

By
C.T. McMillan
+++

Cover: C.T. McMillan
Model: Megan Crawford (ING: @mleighmoon)

Copyright 2018 by C.T. McMillan
All Rights Reserved
In accordance with the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, the scanning, uploading, and electronic sharing of any part of this book without the permission of the publisher constitute unlawful piracy and theft of the author’s intellectual property. Thank you for your support of the author’s rights.

Also By CT McMillan
Back to Valhalla: A Military Fantasy

Acknowledgments
I could not have come this far without my family encouraging me to pursue my ambition to be a writer.

Dedication
To Razor’ and ’19 for providing inspiration.

***

Packed in like sardines you could cut the tension with a knife and sell the slices for a quarter an ounce. Takashi wore a headset as he drove the hov-car through a cloud. On the windshield vector graphics outlined his flight path and marked passing vehicles in the distance. Farther out it highlighted an oncoming rainstorm and buildings, the proximity scale counting down as he flew closer.

It’s stressful enough flying in Seattle weather, but Takashi had a whole lot more on his mind than safe driving. He couldn’t focus while sat next to an experienced enforcer itching to take his head. Kiddo didn’t look it with her cap and glasses, but he knew; he’d be stupid to think she was just swell after last night. He knew he had to say something.

“I didn’t wanna do it, okay? They didn’t give me an out. It was him or me.”

“If you gave a damn,” she said without turning from the windshield, “you’d given it up.”

“I’m not a friggin’ samurai, Volk. This is real life. Real odds. Real consequences. They would’ve wiped us out if I didn’t cooperate. It’s like you said, you don’t play nice with savages; you be more savage.”

“I didn’t mean to your own people… your own boss. Makes you less than a savage. You’re garbage.”

Takashi sneered.

“Then why don’t you take out the trash? Huh? I lost enough face to earn me a spot beside Judas, Brutus, and all the other famous traitors. Yeah, I’m going straight to Hell, but I’m still breathing. I’m still kicking it like nothing happened. If you’re so much more loyal, more honorable than me, go ahead and do it. I dare you, Volk… You won’t lay another hand on me because you agree. This is real life with real odds and real consequences. Take my head and you lose that precious income. Raising a kid comes with a whole lot of expenditures. Most people are too scared of how much it costs to make babies. Only reason you’re doing it is ‘cause you can afford it…. But by all means; wanna kill me, now’s your chance.”

Takashi took his eyes off the road to see if she’d make a move. Nearly a whole minute she didn’t twitch, not one inch before he turned back.

“Yeah. That’s what I thought.”

What he didn’t see was her fist closed around her sword on the other side of the seat. Her hand shook, but not enough that the servos whined in reply.

 

When China started eating it’s guts after 70 years of peace, a lot of Japs set up shop on the West Coast. The fighting was separated by miles of saltwater, but it scared a good handful of expats and local businesses out of the home islands. America got a massive taste of the Nippon soon after, bringing over their customs, food, and gangs. For corporations that made the move, they had enough money to change the skyline of cities like Seattle.

The Kyrii Engineering tower was a perfect combination of glass and concrete. Sharp ridges and steep angles ran up the sides like spines, bending the late morning light onto itself. The broad sides of the tower faced the Puget Sound to the west and Okanogan-Wenatchee Forest in the east. The bottom third was a parking structure of dull concrete. Just below the tower proper were conveyer platforms extended outward, wide enough for a midsize hov-car.

Takashi followed the blinking lights to one platform as he came in slow. He lined himself according to the lines below and landed with a lurch, the thrusters kicking up dust before they went cold. The conveyer hummed to life and pulled the hov-car into the parking structure.

The interior was round and sectioned off into floors. It took up half the total structure, the bottom made for ground cars. In the center was a rotating arm with a wide wedge between two hydraulic clamps. Once Takashi and Kiddo got out the arm turned to their car. They moved to the right side before the wedge slid under and the clamps closed in snuggly around the vehicle. The arm retracted and lowered into the depths of the structure for an open parking space.

Between two empty platforms sat an elevator encased in concrete where stood Monty with a pair of Bots, your average humanoid automatons. They were naked without plating, showing off black myomer cells and servos attached to polished steel armature. All they had in the way of coverage was a yellow mempo mask and a basic red polymer head chassis. On their hips were telescopic batons where a steady hand rested, ready to be drawn on command.

The Bots’ movements were in synch and totally uniform, keeping the same distance and in step with each as they followed Monty at his rear flanks. They stopped when he met Kiddo and Takashi, his eyes fixed on the latter.

“I knew it.”

“What?” asked Takashi.

Monty dug into his suit jacket and tossed Takashi a black clip-on tie.

“Think this is a videogame? I expect flappers to dress like idiots, but you’re beyond the pale, Sterling. Put it on and try to look professional for once in your life.”

As Takashi turned down his collar, Monty looked to Kiddo.

“I said no weapons.”

“I was just about to say–“

“–Waited the whole flight over, eh Sterling?”

“C’mon, man–”

“–Shut-up.” Monty snapped his fingers and pointed at Takashi. “Sachi.”

The Bots turned their glossy camera eyes to Takashi before he spread his arms and legs. As they patted him down with their skeletal hands, Monty came face to face with Kiddo. He held a hand out and received her sword, his long fingers rotating and turning it over.

“Not a bad conversion,” he said.

“Any idiot can turn an Allen wrench,” she said.

“True, but nothing beats the real thing.”

“It’s just metal with an edge. What matters is how you use it.”

Monty smiled.

“That’s what they all say. What use is talk if you can’t back it up?”

He stared down at himself in the obsidian tint of her glasses. Kiddo took them off so they could have a proper conversation. Not long after the Bots stepped away from Takashi and faced Monty.

“Search complete,” said one in a metallic voice. “Subject clear.”

Neither broke eye contact when Monty returned Kiddo’s sword and did an about-face to the elevator.

“’Ey, that’s not a good idea, Monty,” said Takashi as the Bots followed. “I’m serious–“

“–And I’m serious when I say if you two screw up this meeting, I’ll need an armed opponent.” He tapped the call button while Takashi and Kiddo caught up. “No hats or shoes in the conference room.”

***

Recommended Reading/Viewing/Playing
Blade Runner, Directed by Ridley Scott
Deus Ex: Human Revolution/Mankind Divided, Created by Eidos Montreal
Blade Runner 2049, Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Altered Carbon, Created by Laeta Kalogridis
Ghost in the Shell, Directed by Mamoru Oshii
Neuromancer, By William Gibson
Metropolis, Directed by Rintaro
R.U.R., By Karel Capek
Yojimbo, Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Westworld, Created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy
A Touch of Evil, Directed by Orson Welles
Battle Angel Alita, By Yukito Kishiro
On the Waterfront, Directed by Elia Kazan

About the Author
C.T. is a Florida native and proud gun owner. He is a fan of all things military, comic books, and a self-proclaimed movie buff. In his off-time C.T. reviews movies on a blog no one reads and writes screenplays that will never get made, but enjoys it nonetheless. He hopes this book thing will actually pay off so he can do it forever.

Neon Oldie #10

Cover10

By
C.T. McMillan
+++

Cover: C.T. McMillan
Model: Megan Crawford (ING: @mleighmoon)

Copyright 2018 by C.T. McMillan
All Rights Reserved
In accordance with the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, the scanning, uploading, and electronic sharing of any part of this book without the permission of the publisher constitute unlawful piracy and theft of the author’s intellectual property. Thank you for your support of the author’s rights.

Also By CT McMillan
Back to Valhalla: A Military Fantasy

Acknowledgments
I could not have come this far without my family encouraging me to pursue my ambition to be a writer.

Dedication
To Razor’ and ’19 for providing inspiration.

***

The echo in the alley made her labored breath sound mechanical, like the noise was fed through a mixer, and looped in a song. Kiddo supported herself on her knees, eyes to the ground. What remained of her gloves held on to her cracked fingers in tatters. When she reached to wipe sweat hanging on her brow, her hand was locked in a claw still holding her knee. The joints whined and the broken plastic plating scratched her skin.

Kiddo pulled her hand away and saw the exposed pulleys that allowed her fingers to move. The hand itself wasn’t overly damage, but the cosmetics were ruined. On the ground she saw bits of ivory plastic scattered by the wall she’d boxed seconds ago. Kiddo’s face scrunched into a grimace before giving her self a hard slap. The next strike to her left was harder and louder, leaving behind a pink handprint. Her lip quivered.

Suka.” She sniveled. “Suka!

She gave herself a few more, trading up to punches with weak fists. It was all her hands could manage.

Suka! Suka! Suka!

The last one nearly knocked Kiddo off her feet. She grabbed a dumpster on the side to stay up, her face red with crimson scratches on her cheeks.

“You coward,” she whispered before standing straight. Kiddo pulled the edge of her coat and wiped down her front side, trying to look as together as possible. “You coward.”

After picking up her cap she left the alley, taking it slow.

 

Enzo turned in bed to the door when Kiddo entered. She quickly closed and locked it so he wouldn’t see her face.

“Sorry I’m late.”

He crawled to the left edge of the bed to meet her, coming to his knees. He didn’t say a word and gave her a long kiss.

“You hungry?”

“No,” she said letting her coat fall to the floor. “I wanna go to bed.”

“Not before you have a bath,” he said kissing her neck and slipping a hand up under her shirt.

She was too distracted to stop Enzo from turning on the light atop the nightstand.

“Oh my god, babe!”

Kiddo tried to cover her face.

“I’m okay–“

He grabbed her hands and looked at them closely.

“Were you in a fight? The plating’s destroyed and the joints are seized up.”

“I- yeah. I got into a scrape. I can still move ‘em.”

The whine of servos said otherwise and Enzo gave her a puppy-dog look. Kiddo turned her guilty face away before he got out of bed and picked her up like a baby. He was naked, his Android body traced with skin-deep lines around the shoulders, chest, hips, and neck.

“No. Please.”

He just smiled and carried her to the tub.

 

Kiddo didn’t have her arms as Enzo dabbed a cotton ball to her cuts. She winced as the disinfectant did its job before he applied a thin white bandage. Half her face was mended while he finished the other. He knelt on the outside of the tub with a first aid kit at his knee as she lay in soapy water.

“Did this guy have glass shards glued to his fists or something?” he asked.

“…No.”

“Probably just your sensitive skin. It’s not as awful as it looks. Swelling won’t be too bad. What’d this guy do?”

“Piss me off.”

Enzo chuckled.

“Not hard to imagine what he looks like, given what happened to your fingers. Should take me an hour to fix.”

“No, babe. You have work in the morning.”

“It’s nothing. I can take care of it after I put you to bed.”

“Please don’t. I’ll manage. I can wear the Cs instead.”

He just smiled and added another bandage.

“If you had a permit, then you could wear the Model Cs.”

After mending the last cut Enzo approached his workbench where his bag sat.

“Wanna take a look the top three?”

Kiddo grimaced to fight the urge to cry.

“Sure.”

He returned with the tablet and knelt behind her, holding it in front. She was thankful he couldn’t see her face.

“See? All blonde and blue-eyed like we want, but only the last guy is willing to sit down and meet. You’re a better judge of character than me. What do you think?”

It felt like they were staring at her. Of course, they kind of were given the way their pictures were shot, but Kiddo could feel those static eyes judging her. They didn’t have to say a word to tell her the same thing she’d been thinking since leaving Le Speak with that wad of cash in her pocket. Tears slipped down her cheeks.

“They’re perfect,” she said before burying her face in his arm.

She didn’t bother to hide anymore, her sob muffled when Enzo put his arms around her.

“Aw, sweetheart–”

“–Cici’s gone.”

Suddenly he realized she wasn’t crying out of joy, pulling her to his shoulder. He let her get it most of it out before opening his mouth.

“Is that why you were all beat up?”

“A hitman plugged him in the club,” she said between snivels. “I chased him down before he got far and… And–“

“–It’s okay. I’m not going anywhere.” He stroked her hair. “What can I do?”

She got a hold of herself.

“…Take me to bed.”

 

After putting on her arms Kiddo lay in bed while Enzo stepped into his coveralls. The lamp at his workbench was still on, his tools and broken parts from her hands scattered about.

“I’m going to leave early,” he said zipping up, “and come by the club. We’ll go home together.”

She was too tired to refuse.

“Okay.”

After slipping into his sneakers Enzo sat on the side of the bed and took her hand, the broken polymer removed from certain sections of her fingers.

“Do you know when the funeral is?”

She shook her head.

“Might be working that out today. I don’t know.”

Enzo nodded and leaned in to kiss her. Kiddo made it last as long as she could, holding him close. He paused and rested his forehead on hers.

“Will you be okay?”

“…Yeah.” She gave him one for the road and let go. “I love you.”

Enzo half smiled.

“Love you too.”

Kiddo didn’t stay in bed once he left. With nothing on she went to her jeans and brought her knife to the workbench. Grabbing an Allen wrench from a set of small drawers she loosened one screw positioned on the narrow sides in the middle of the knife. The bottom half slipped away, revealing a cartridge holding a stack of thin, edged metal sheets inside. Kiddo set the cartridge to the side and reached into the bench’s main drawer.

Among random tools and spare parts sat a long cartridge. It added about seven inches to the knife for a total of ten. The long cartridge was fashioned into the hilt of a katana with a tsukamaki wrap in hard textured rubber. Kiddo took the cartridge and screwed it in place, turning her knife into a sword.

By the time she hung it to her belt it was hours past dawn. Dressed in her usual attire she descended the stoop outside, fresh bandages on her face and gloves to cover her fractured hands. Under her sunglasses she stared at Takashi standing by his hov-car at the bottom in a casual sharkskin suit with a red shirt, collar popped. His blue eye mod was switched to red to match his getup.

Kiddo stopped a few steps from the sidewalk and watched him shake in his shoes.

“Start the car.”

***

Recommended Reading/Viewing/Playing
Blade Runner, Directed by Ridley Scott
Deus Ex: Human Revolution/Mankind Divided, Created by Eidos Montreal
Blade Runner 2049, Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Altered Carbon, Created by Laeta Kalogridis
Ghost in the Shell, Directed by Mamoru Oshii
Neuromancer, By William Gibson
Metropolis, Directed by Rintaro
R.U.R., By Karel Capek
Yojimbo, Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Westworld, Created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy
A Touch of Evil, Directed by Orson Welles
Battle Angel Alita, By Yukito Kishiro
On the Waterfront, Directed by Elia Kazan

About the Author
C.T. is a Florida native and proud gun owner. He is a fan of all things military, comic books, and a self-proclaimed movie buff. In his off-time C.T. reviews movies on a blog no one reads and writes screenplays that will never get made, but enjoys it nonetheless. He hopes this book thing will actually pay off so he can do it forever.

Neon Oldie #9

Cover9

By
C.T. McMillan
+++

Cover: C.T. McMillan
Model: Megan Crawford (ING: @mleighmoon)

Copyright 2018 by C.T. McMillan
All Rights Reserved
In accordance with the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, the scanning, uploading, and electronic sharing of any part of this book without the permission of the publisher constitute unlawful piracy and theft of the author’s intellectual property. Thank you for your support of the author’s rights.

Also By CT McMillan
Back to Valhalla: A Military Fantasy

Acknowledgments
I could not have come this far without my family encouraging me to pursue my ambition to be a writer.

Dedication
To Razor’ and ’19 for providing inspiration.

***

The girl was rendered in three frames. The first started with a stand and a slightly raised knee, followed by a higher knee with her spiked heel out, and ending with her leg pointed to sky. Her dance blinked with every frame change in orange and red. Beneath her the real merchandise was on display. Against red curtains behind windows the women looked out onto the street, showing off as much skin as legally possible. They were Andies, Flesh, and Modded; every kind to fit any taste.

The hash parlor next door was bleached in green. Perched on balconies, grasshoppers took long pulls from hookahs and hand wrapped joints. The smoke drifting from their lazy maws was colored green by the sign bolted just below the roof. The rest of the street was lined with a garden variety of clubs and bars. There were the usual places mixed in with Goth ballrooms, oldies houses, Steampunk pubs, and pirate themed dives. They flashed their colors toward the packed sidewalks, painting the crowd in shades of neon.

Like I said: you had to wait till dark to see all the color.

Kiddo pushed her way through the drunks and oblivious hipsters, her face locked forward. Le Speak was painted in blue and white, the sign so big it lit the whole face of the building. The line waiting underneath was dressed up like flappers. They weren’t too authentic with designer prints and saturated colors fit for the modern aesthetic.

Takashi stood to the far right of the awning as a large Modded bouncer carded prospective patrons to the left. He was staring at the curb with a cigarette in hand, the paper nearly burned to the filter. Out of his peripheral he spotted Kiddo making her way his direction, the look in her eye like a spotlight in blackness. Takashi flicked the cigarette into the street and put himself in front of her.

“Pink,” he said with his palms out, “think real hard about–“

She walked past him like he wasn’t there, pivoting down the steps to the club beneath the awning. Kiddo almost knocked over a couple moving too slow before she reached the doors.

The kind of crowd that waited in line for hours to buy overpriced cocktails didn’t come to Le Speak for the typical nightclub experience. They couldn’t stand synthesizers, ear-bleeding bass, and pockets of young adults rubbing against each other on the dance floor. No. They came to Le Speak to sit at tall round tables under dim lights for the chaotic sax, bellowing trombone, and drums bashing out an incoherent tune.

The place had plenty of space for Kiddo to work her way to the office. Takashi caught up with her before she was ten feet away from the door.

“You gotta stop and think about what you’re about to do.”

“Already did.”

When she tried to walk around, he moved to block her.

“You’re gonna get more trouble than you can imagine, Pinkerton. The last thing you should do is jump to conclusions that Cici–“

Kiddo shoved him into the packed bar, making a patron spill on herself. Takashi was late on the recovery when she opened the door. Cicero was at his desk crunching the numbers in a book while glancing at a tablet. He looked up to Kiddo with a smile.

“Hey ya, Kiddo! Job done?”

“I don’t know, Boss,” she said taking the chair. “You tell me.”

One of Cicero’s sharp eyebrows went crooked before he put down his pen and closed the book. Takashi busted into the office, looking like he was expecting a scene from a horror movie.

“Tak,” said Cicero, “would you mind shutting the door and standing by? I get the feeling Pink’s got something on her mind.”

Takashi swallowed hard and closed the door on his way to Cicero’s rear flank.

“Okay. We’re all ears. How’d it go with the stooly?”

Kiddo leaned forward, resting her elbow on one knee and holding herself up on the other, her eyes daggers pointed square at Cicero’s.

“Someone got to her before me and put a hole in her face.”

Cicero didn’t move a muscle.

“Huh.”

“Yeah. Couldn’t get a single line of code from what was left.”

“That puts us in quite a pickle. Now the Yaks have god-knows-what on us and we’re left with our trousers round our ankles. I take it you wanna know who pasted her, right?”

“I have an inkling.”

“Would love to hear it.”

“…Okay,” she said grabbing her knife. “While I was tracking down the stooly, you cut a deal with the Shogun. Maybe you got scared about what that Andie broad was going to leak and decided to bend the knee. Only problem is you knew I’d kill half our own boys before I bowed to friggin’ Japs. So, you staged a murder to peg me for the fall guy to get snatched by the cops. My guess is you told Tak to plug her and lie to me over the phone.”

Takashi’s face turned scarlet.

“I didn’t–“

Cicero put up his hand to shut him up.

“Once I was outta the way,” she went on, “you and your new friends could move forward unchallenged. But here I am, Cici.”

“…And here you are, Pink.”

Cicero had a smirk on his face since she started talking. It bent into a small smile when he took off his glasses and interlocked his fingers on the desktop.

“’Member when we first met?”

She gave him a slow nod.

“I was checking on an arrival of pills at the docks from Nampo. The boys cracked open the box and out you came, biting at ‘em like a rabid dog. Somehow ya got in with the merch and survived the whole trip across the pond and put two of my people in the hospital. My first thought was to turn you over to the state an’ let ‘em deal with it, but when you looked at me, I knew I found someone special. Those wild blue eyes of yours lookin’ at me were like an epiphany from the Almighty.”

As he talked, Kiddo realized she’d done wrong.

“I had a use for a crazy Russo-Nork bitch like you. All ya needed was a bit of elbow grease. People called me nuts for how much I was spending on ya. Even this guy,” he said gesturing Takashi, “barely a hair on his sack at the time, was telling me you were a bad investment. But I took the time and money to sharpen you up into a proper Gorinni. I got ya good an’ clean, citizenship with a new name, and fresh arms right from the factory floor. That’s lot of dough to spend on one person in short period of time, more than I spend on my own kids, for Christ’ sake.

“Now let me ask you this: knowing how much I poured into making you my best bruiser, why would I throw that away to submit to the Yaks? Do you think I would ever make a deal with those jerks while I have the biggest chunk of the town in my pocket? Doesn’t make whole lot of sense, does it?”

Like flipping a switch she went humble, dropping the knife with bright red cheeks. Kiddo sat back in the chair, her eyes on the verge of spilling over.

“I-I…I–“

“–I forgive you, Kiddo. You were just following your instinct. That’s why I keep ya around.”

She wiped her eyes on her sleeve.

“But I came here to kill you.”

Cicero chuckled.

“Who hasn’t? The only difference is you bothered to say your piece and hear my side. You may be vicious, but ya got enough sense to think twice.”

Kiddo sniffled and returned her knife to her belt.

“I’m sorry, Cici. I’m so sorry.”

“No more apologies,” he said sitting up straight. “We gotta get to the bottom of this ASAP.”

She made a quick nod.

“Right. Okay.”

“Now, the only people who knew about our stooly problem was us. Is that right?” he asked looking to Takashi.

He replied with a nod as he unbuttoned his jacket.

“Yep.”

“There was that footie I sent to take over after I was relieved,” said Kiddo, “but I never told him what was going on. And we don’t give the lower ranks firearms.”

“Was he keeping track of who was coming in an’ outta that place?” asked Cicero.

Kiddo touched her chin then dug through her pocket for her phone.

“Let me get him on horn. See if he remembers–“

The spray was near burning hot when it splashed across her forehead. To cooled instantly, creeping down her furrowed brow as it slowly coagulated. The thump made Kiddo jump in her seat, but it was Cicero hitting the desktop that made her go statue. All she could see was his head lying on the desk, blood pooling atop the leather desk pad. Soon the whole picture came into view with Takashi holding a suppressed pistol where Cicero’s head used to be.

He broke the silence with a sigh.

“Wow. I really screwed this one up.”

He holstered the pistol into his jacket before daintily picking Cicero’s upper body off the desk.

Everything but her eyes struggled to catch up with her brain. Kiddo’s lips started to quiver when she found the strength to speak.

“What did you do?”

Takashi looked only a tad guilty when he glanced from his cleanup.

“It was me. I cut a deal with the Yaks in exchange for Cici’s life. They agreed to let us keep our territory and run our operations for a 10% cut. I killed the stooly to get you snatched by the cops so I could keep you outta the way until I saw fit. Obviously, that didn’t happen.”

Kiddo kept her gaze on the bloodstain before a blue handkerchief wiped it up in long strokes. It gave her time to focus on him.

“When you escaped the guys Mitty sent over, I thought I could exploit that Pinkerton rage. Over the phone it sounded like you thought Cici put together the frame and were out for his blood. Seemed like I was on to something until he had you near bawling like a baby.”

The only sounds she made came from whining servos as she held a pair of tight fists and a squeak of her gloves reaching their breaking point.

“Usually some of the best outcomes come from botched jobs,” said Takashi taking Cicero’s seat. “I was gonna ask you when you were behind bars, but I don’t have much a choice. I need a good right-hand-gal to help deal with whatever comes up. Someone who knows their stuff; preferably someone I know can get the job done no matter what. How ‘bout it, Kiddo? Wanna help me run the Family?”

The servos made a pathetic revving sound when she relaxed her hands, struggling to make the simplest of motions. Kiddo looked at her faux leather gloves, the material crumbled with a split seams. Her phone was sitting on her thigh, the screen facing up. She saw her bloodstained forehead in the reflection and her cheeks wet with fresh tears.

“What do you say, Kiddo?”

The blood rushed to her face.

“…You should’ve kept your gun out.”

Takashi was too slow when her chair flipped backwards. Kiddo launched herself over the desk and pinned him to the bookcase, knocking over the chair. One hand on his neck she drew her knife.

“Okay! Okay! Go easy, man–“

“Long past the point of easy, Tak. I would’ve liked the sound of your offer without the gunshot.”

“I had no choice! They wanted him outta the picture for good. No other option.”

“In Pyongyang there were plenty of options; just had to learn ‘em. I didn’t have arms, so I had to learn a lot.” With a stiff jerk Kiddo slammed Takashi onto the desk, leaning hard with her knee to his chest so he wouldn’t move. “You had every opportunity to fight back and it looks to me like you didn’t even try. They must’ve scared you good.”

She made sure he saw the knife upside-down in her hand before resting the edge on his throat.

“The worst part is you didn’t think how this would destroy your honor.”

Takashi’s eyes darted back and forth, trying to find the right answer.

“Think about Enzo! Your trip to San Fran! How’re you gonna get your hefty bonus if you kill your boss?”

That last word was all it took. Kiddo’s eyes went wide as she bared her teeth in a hard grimace. Her other hand pressed to Takashi’s forehead, she twisted her body to raise the blade to the side, her aim fixed on his Adam’s apple. She would have sliced all they way through if her phone didn’t start to vibrate.

It’d landed on the corner of the desk when she dove. As it rang the screen was alight with the photo of Enzo smiling with Kiddo’s lips to his cheek. She couldn’t take her eyes off the image, still holding Takashi. You could see the fury slowly drain from her face, leaving a solid bleak mask. It felt like a hole was suddenly bored into her chest, like a piece of her spirit evaporated into nothing.

Kiddo’s body was stubborn, her knife hand shaking as it relaxed to her side. Takashi was bug-eyed when she pulled her other hand away to pick up the phone. With a tap of her thumb the vibration ended.

“Hey,” she managed with a low tone.

I just got home,” said Enzo. “Long day.

“…Yeah,” she said pulling her knee away from Takashi. “Me too.”

He dropped to his hands and knees, trying to catch his breath.

Are you almost done?

Kiddo looked down at her knife.

“Nearly, babe.” She retracted the blade.

Okay. So, I went through the list and brought it down to three. They fit our preferences, but only one is open to meeting in person.

As he spoke, Kiddo walked back to her seat, Takashi straightening himself out on his feet.

“That’s fine. I’ll take a look when I get home.”

Are you alright? You sound a little lethargic–”

“–Just worn out is all.”

Okay. I’ll be waiting when you get back. Love you.

Kiddo turned to Takashi putting a small ream of hundred dollar bills on the desk. She looked at Benjamin Franklin staring back and couldn’t say a word.

***

Recommended Reading/Viewing/Playing
Blade Runner, Directed by Ridley Scottt
Deus Ex: Human Revolution/Mankind Divided, Created by Eidos Montreal
Blade Runner 2049, Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Altered Carbon, Created by Laeta Kalogridis
Ghost in the Shell, Directed by Mamoru Oshii
Neuromancer, By William Gibson
Metropolis, Directed by Rintaro
R.U.R., By Karel Capek
Yojimbo, Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Westworld, Created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy
A Touch of Evil, Directed by Orson Welles
Battle Angel Alita, By Yukito Kishiro
On the Waterfront, Directed by Elia Kazan

About the Author
C.T. is a Florida native and proud gun owner. He is a fan of all things military, comic books, and a self-proclaimed movie buff. In his off-time C.T. reviews movies on a blog no one reads and writes screenplays that will never get made, but enjoys it nonetheless. He hopes this book thing will actually pay off so he can do it forever.

Neon Oldie #8

By
C.T. McMillan
+++

Cover: C.T. McMillan
Model: Megan Crawford (ING: @mleighmoon)

Copyright 2018 by C.T. McMillan
All Rights Reserved
In accordance with the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, the scanning, uploading, and electronic sharing of any part of this book without the permission of the publisher constitute unlawful piracy and theft of the author’s intellectual property. Thank you for your support of the author’s rights.

Also By CT McMillan
Back to Valhalla: A Military Fantasy

Acknowledgments
I could not have come this far without my family encouraging me to pursue my ambition to be a writer.

Dedication
To Razor’ and ’19 for providing inspiration.

***

The street lights weren’t much help. Only a few actually worked and most of them flickered. The best illumination came from a full moon hanging above the street. Kiddo stared at it as she walked. Cut across the ash-white surface where the dark lines and circles of the Luna Colony, dotted with lights from residences on the morning cycle and landing pads.

She moved carefully and at a smooth pace, bringing her whole foot to the pavement starting from the heel. Kiddo kept her head on a swivel, glancing over her shoulder at regular intervals. The street was deserted, but all it takes is one witness to get you pinched.

Most of the lights were on at the apartment, including one over the stoop. Kiddo stood just before the first step and looked around the front windows, scanning for silhouettes and even the slightest sign of movement. She turned to the street to her left and waved her arm. A Gori sitting in a car down a ways got out on to the sidewalk, leaving her with a wave back.

Kiddo ascended the stoop and stopped at the steel panel by the door. She gave her flanks a thorough glance before pulling a thick flat-head screwdriver from her coat pocket. She worked the gap between the metal and brick, prying the panel away. It came down on a hinge at the bottom edge, circuits and wires laid bare behind the metal. Kiddo pocketed the screwdriver and reached into her inside pocket for her deck.

To call it jerry-rigged would be an understatement. The deck was built from a police hand-scanner that you plug your phone into. From a hole on the front side where a lens should’ve been snaked a wrap of three individual wires tipped with micro clamps. Along the edge of the scanner’s box frame where Kiddo held on were ports for different plugs and a set of additional wire attachments for when they’re needed.

Kiddo put her phone in the slot to the right of the deck’s frame vertically. The screen blinked to a field of black before lines of white code scrolled down in rapid succession. As she unwrapped the wire, the code slowed to a stop, ending with the line ‘/ext?/’ in a font big enough for her to press with a thumb.

First she placed the clamps around the guts of the panel around the biometric scanner towards the bottom. Once they were set, Kiddo clicked the last line, and the code began to scroll. She watched it tick away, the lines getting smaller and smaller, checking her flanks again. When the door clicked, Kiddo quickly grabbed the handle, and held it open with her foot. She yanked the wires and pushed the panel back into place, making sure it was secure to the brick, and walked in.

The lobby was done up in an old fashion style. It had a thin carpet floor and a floral print covering the walls. Even the light fixtures appeared to be antiques, no doubt painted to look brass if you know your metals. The wooden stairs proved more inconvenience than aesthetically pleasing when Kiddo made her way up, creaking with every step. She took her time, moving up to the fifth floor on her tiptoes.

The door wasn’t far from the steps, situated on the left side of the hall. Kiddo peered round the corner before dashing to the other side, her gaze fixed on the door. She moved slow, keeping her back parallel to the wall. You could say she was being overdramatic, but better safe than sorry. As Kiddo drew closer, she reached into her coat for the lock picks in her e-cig case. When she looked up after picking out a pair of tools, Kiddo went statue.

The door was already cracked open.

She was twice as slow this time, putting the picks and case back in their place. Kiddo reached for her knife, but kept the blade retracted, and held it right side up. At the edge of the threshold she put her palm flat to the door and daintily pushed. As it swung open Kiddo started to get the simple layout of the apartment. It started with a pristine kitchen on the right side, as you’d expect from an occupant that doesn’t need one. Then there was a desk at the far right corner with a jacket hanging on the chair. Kiddo stopped when she saw the Mark sitting at a small table by the window, a giant hole where her face should’ve been.

“…Uh-oh.”

She opened the remainder of the door, making sure the apartment was empty before stepping in.

The Mark was seated with her arms hanging to the sides. The hole wiped out most of her features with the smaller entry wound behind her right ear. On the floor in front of the chair was a stain of white blood where laid a pile of biomechanical guts that used to be the Mark’s brain. Kiddo tilted the head back, peering into the near hollow chamber of silicon bone. On the table sat a half-eaten wafer cake and a cup of cold coffee. Kiddo smelled the mouth port on the cup before pulling out her phone. She closed and locked the door as it rang.

Moshi moshi?” asked Takashi.

“It’s me.”

Everything okay?

“Girl’s got a hole in her face,” she said touching the bloodstain.

Why’d you do that!

The stain was dry, leaving white dust on her gloved fingertips.

“I don’t carry a gun, Tak. I just showed up and found her like this.”

Oh, great. Just what I needed. Did you jump her brain?

“Skull’s empty.”

Try anyway. That’s an order.”

Kiddo tightened her lips and rolled her eyes before standing up. She pulled a cord from her back pocket, plugged one end into the phone, and the other into the neural port in the Mark’s neck. A white wheel spun in the center of the screen for a moment before a line of text blinked ‘Unable to Connect.’ Kiddo yanked the cord and put the phone to her ear.

“No joy.”

Damn it… Alright, we’ll do it your way. Cut her head off and–“

“–There’s no point anymore. Her short and long-term drives are mush. Even if I put all the little pieces in a baggie, we won’t get a thing.”

Just because you’re screwing an Android doesn’t mean you’re an expert, Pinkerton.”

“Yes. It kinda does. I’m more interested in who clipped this stooly’s wings than–“

Whoever was climbing the stairs wanted Kiddo to hear them coming, their steps echoing through the apartment. She knew there wasn’t time for delicacy, shoving the Mark and the table to side as she darted to the window. Kiddo’s arms whined as she lifted it open, letting in the hard stink of the alley below. She peaked out and sitting at the bottom was a pile of trash bags with her name on it.

Kiddo didn’t think twice and hopped out, keeping one hand on the windowsill while the other pulled her knife. Just as there came a banging at the door she popped the blade and dragged it through the masonry on her way down. Kiddo angled her face away from the sparks and watched the bottom getting closer. At ten feet up she kicked off the wall and landed on her back.

Luckily, none of the bags burst on impact. She rolled to the side until there was solid ground under her feet. Obviously the danger wasn’t over, Kiddo making sure to not step in any puddles or the usual noisemakers. She hugged the wall of the apartment and worked her way toward the front end. Around the corner a dormant hov-car with police colors sat in the street.

What’s going on?” asked Takashi, his voice a whisper from the phone’s speaker.

“Almost got jumped by some cops,” said Kiddo walking down the other end of the alley.

What? In the apartment?

“Somebody knew I was there.”

Y’think a neighbor or a–“

“–The blood was too dry to be recent. Someone set this up and sprung it the moment I stepped through the front door.”

I’ll send someone to–“

“–Cici in?”

Takashi stammered.

Uh, maybe you should take the night–“

“Be there soon,” she said before hanging up.

After coming out to a more friendly side of the block, Kiddo started to run.

***

Recommended Reading/Viewing/Playing
Blade Runner, Directed by Ridley Scottt
Deus Ex: Human Revolution/Mankind Divided, Created by Eidos Montreal
Blade Runner 2049, Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Altered Carbon, Created by Laeta Kalogridis
Ghost in the Shell, Directed by Mamoru Oshii
Neuromancer, By William Gibson
Metropolis, Directed by Rintaro
R.U.R., By Karel Capek
Yojimbo, Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Westworld, Created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy
A Touch of Evil, Directed by Orson Welles
Battle Angel Alita, By Yukito Kishiro
On the Waterfront, Directed by Elia Kazan

About the Author
C.T. is a Florida native and proud gun owner. He is a fan of all things military, comic books, and a self-proclaimed movie buff. In his off-time C.T. reviews movies on a blog no one reads and writes screenplays that will never get made, but enjoys it nonetheless. He hopes this book thing will actually pay off so he can do it forever.