Published February 13, 2014
A few days late but its ready at last.
Tricks and Traps – Part 4
Down and out, desperate and poor, however you wanted to describe the people who lived in the Hive it wasn’t a compliment. No one lived there if they could avoid it. It was a place you went when you had nowhere else to go. Where you vanished into the maze of destruction left over when the ground shifted and sank and the towers above came crumbling down. There had been some attempts initially at reconstruct and to rebuild but the cost quickly outweighed any benefits that would be realized for decades and so it was abandoned.
Some token efforts were made to seal it up but the area was such a warren of tunnels and paths that it would be impossible to close it off completely and so the people who came to call it home where left to fend for themselves. The lucky ones had four walls and even power and water, but most had to make do with less than that. Even the nearest sky train stop was several blocks away and the train went everywhere. If you lived in the Hive then all you wanted was to get out. Even a one bedroom rat’s nest would be an improvement and yet there were already second generation kids growing up there. Kids born and raised in the Hive, it was all they knew and for some all they ever would know. Heck there were stories of kids that had never even ventured out into the rest of the city if that can be believed.
It took me half an hour to make my way across town to the edge of the Hive. The sun was still out which meant Polly would be holed up in one of her usual haunts. If there was one thing I disliked it was leg work there were better and more enjoyable ways to spend time then traipsing through a maze of back alleys and searching through dank dens for a joy girl like Polly. Especially if I could get someone else to do the work for me.
Alibaba’s was the best falafel place within walking distance of the Hive. The food was always hot, hearty, and delicious even in the light of day when other stands relied on the added flavour enhancers that were alcohol and the cover of dark to shift their food. The falafels were deep fried and served in pita bread stuffed with shredded lettuce, onions, hummus, and copious amounts of hot sauce to the point that the whole thing oozed flavour and one bite was enough give a little flitter of excitement as I devoured it in record time. Funny how sometime you don’t even notice how hungry you are until you get a whiff of food.
I bought another three for the road not to eat but to trade. The smell of one of these bad boys would get any hungry person salivating and should be enough to entice a few people into fetching Polly from wherever she was sleeping away the day. Then I would have a nice long talk with Polly and find out everything she knew about the corpse. It wouldn’t hurt to ask a few of the other locals. Not that people going missing was noteworthy news for the people who lived in the Hive. But you never know and there was always the chance that someone had seen something.
If the corpse was the work of a flesh dancer then that meant it had jumped bodies and was slowly drinking its new victim dry. Wrapped in its skin suit it would look just like the walking corpse of its latest victim. It wouldn’t be them of course. No, flesh dancers were feral vicious animals. Talking was beyond the capability for most flesh dancers but it could mimic speech and parrot off words it had heard before with no real understanding of their meaning. A few were intelligent enough to manage short sentences and even the semblance of conversation. But then again I had met plenty of people who could only manage the semblance of conversation and it’s not like I could kill people for just being stupid in case they were a Kine, besides the world generally took care of the problem of stupid people anyway.
The road curved downwards and passed by the shattered remains of what had once been an underground shopping plaza before this area collapsed. There was a shop to the left that looked like it might have once been a convenience store and beside it a shoe store? Or maybe handbags? There were three guys standing not far off and they were my immediate concern. They had the desperate and dangerous look about them that comes from needing money in a hurry and carrying something long and sharp.
“You lost love?” The youngest of the trio asked. An array of piercing adorned his face which was healthier looking then most down here and the was a sense chip in his forehead that was still glowing brightly which meant he was new, very new to the Hive. There was a penny fused to the back of his right hand. The symbol for a gang of low life squatters that roamed the Hive called the Ninety Nines. I just smiled and giving him the same look a cat makes when a mouse decides to stand within distances of its claws and covers itself in hot sauce.
“I’m not lost and I don’t really have time to waste with you.” I said with my thin smile.
“A city girl like you ain’t got no business in the Hive, You looking for a fix? Or you just look for trouble? Either way you best be going back the way you came.” He replied back.
“I don’t think so little boy. I think you’re going to get out of my way. I don’t intend to ask again.”
“Lady, you must be dumber then you look. I was trying to be nice but now I think you need a lesson in respect.”
“I suggest you apologize quickly before things get messy.” One of the other men called out. He was the older and by far the smartest looking of the bunch.
“And you better make it a good apology.” The younger pierced gang member said grinning.
“I was talking to you blud not her.” There older one replied “Will you let him off easy V? The kid doesn’t know any better. Thinks he’s bigger then he is.”
“Well, I suppose Gavin provided you’re willing to do some work for me. I’ll even throw in a delicious falafel.” I replied with a smile of triumph starring down the confused looking thug.
“This isn’t going to be like last time is it?” Gavin replied.
“Good because you have a habit of tearing through a place like hurricane V.”
“Well you’re in luck because I’m here to bring joy, happiness, and safety to your citizens.”
“Right, pull the other one, it’s got bells on.”
“All I need to know is where the joy girl Polly is holed up at the moment. She sent me a message yesterday and phone reception here is hit or miss at best.” I said sweetly.
“Ya, I know Polly she’s probably somewhere she can get a fix. Romeo go see if she’s at the Crap Shack, or Tyrone’s.” Gavin yelled at the pierced younger man.
“Okay, blud.” Romeo said reluctantly and unsure why he was all of a sudden taking orders from me.
“Now, V. Why don’t you pass over that falafel and tell me what I needed tell my people to be on the alert for.”
“Oh Gavin, that’s what I always liked about you, your smart enough not to be a problem. It all depends on how many bodies have been shown up lately. There might just be a flesh dancer masquerading around down here. And if there is well it won’t be around much longer.” I replied with a grin that would make even the Cheshire cat uncomfortable.