Everything But The Smell Of Lilies
She is wearing spandex pants decorated with the bold black and white icons of half a dozen Tokyo corporations. Her hair is in dreads, spiced with glittering watch parts. Her shoes are new and intelligent, contouring to her feet as she runs out of the crowd towards the place. Her poncho is tiger-striped, the newest Eurotrash fad, and the by- standers can see, as she pumps those strong legs in those black and white spandex pants, that she doesn’t have a top on, and that her nip- ples (flashing out from under the red and black of the poncho) are only covered by crosses of black electrical tape. She is a mix of black and something else. All can see—even in the midnight glare of Broad- way’s brilliance of neon, lasers, fluorescents, and headlights from blur- ring cars—is that her skin is a brown like stained wood. Her face is high-cheeked, her lips dark brown, her eyes hidden behind mirrored image-intensifying glasses.
She is running for her life: down the street, through the sidewalk crowd, panic in her strides, panting breaths.
It is drizzling, like static.The muscles at the door to the place don’t like it because it messes up their radar goggles. The clients don’t like it because it gets their furs and leathers all wet. The street drek don’t like it because it pisses off the money and the muscles and they usu- ally take it out on whoever is closest and can’t afford to fight back. The limos come and go, a high-class and costly river of black plastic and steel.The rich’s banter is light and sparkling above the rain, and it blends, as only it could in the 21st century, with the chatter from the muscle’s narrow-band radios.
She runs through the crowd, pushing streetdrek and citizens aside, glancing back over her shoulder at every opportunity. Panic lights her muscles, her stride, and she looks for someone to—
The words finally come out in an oscillating scream as she slams against the first ring of genetically-enhanced, neurochemically boosted, electronically hot-wired thugs. True to their purpose, mis- sion, and few remaining authentic brain cells, they smash back, sur- rounding her with dense muscle and squealing radios, and push her back into the crowd.
Her hands are grasping claws, her nails draw blood in a triad streak down the face of one of them (who doesn’t blink against his condi- tioning), and her legs hammer against his ballistic-nylon pants. Her scream sounds like some kind of a weapon, and the few cheap, off-the- shelf guards pull their own weapons and track the high windows around and up—unable to distinguish one crazed woman from an armed assault squad.
Then an arm snakes out of the crowd and, with a clean, sure swipe, slices her throat ear to ear.
The city is big, but not so big as to make the woman’s throat open- ing up and the resulting fine fanning spray of arterial blood com- monplace. A muscle reacts first, being now freckled with potentially dangerously infected blood, and draws and aims... at nothing but the already twitchy street. At the sight of the weapons being quickly drawn and dropped to street level, anyone who has any kind of survival skills instantly turns and runs.To a street of people used to sudden urban vi- olence, turning and running is called a riot. Luckily for the muscle and the few really innocent bystanders, the riot has a place to go: down the street like water down a cascade, away from the Men With Guns, away from the dangerous Blood, away from the Rich People being thrown into their cars by their overreacting bodyguards.
The street is nearly quiet very soon after, save for the wailing of an approaching ambulance, called in a moment of rare altruism by one of the suits, and the last foaming, crackling bubbles from the woman’s throat.