02/14/2020 Snippet, THE LAST RAYGUN IN THE WORLD.

I didn’t exactly want to work on this, but I had the title pop into my head when I was dropping off my youngest and then I figured it’d be a good idea to at least get the opening stuff out. It may end up going into the short story collection, at that. Or not. It’s all up in the air!


AD 2450, Kentucky Free State

I was sitting in my usual table when the woman walked in. She was dressed for no nonsense, from the tips of her caravan trader boots to the brim of her top-hat. Everything in between was sturdy tweed and leather, but not the exciting kind.

Her briefcase was exciting, though: it looked like the kind that you keep money in. A lot of money. In my line of work, you gotta keep your eyes focused on the essentials.

I knew that she was coming to my table the moment she walked into the joint. I drink at Gentlemen Jack’s because it’s the best dive in the Kentucky Free State, let alone Old Louisville. It’s dark, loud enough that you can’t hear yourself think, they don’t shortchange you and the skull of the last guy to water the drinks here is mounted just above the bar. What it’s not is a place to get work; but then, I don’t ‘get’ work. Work comes to me. And here it was coming now.

She didn’t waste time, I have to say: the woman came right up to the table, sat in one of the chairs, and flickered a smile in my general direction. I let it go because of the briefcase — and because she wasn’t too hard on the eyes, either. She had it under control, though. Like her looks were a holdout weapon, for emergencies.

“Good evening. I am Miss Serenity Mehrotra; I am a duly appointed representative of the Steering Committee for the Hershey Consortium,” the woman said. “You are Mildred Deckard. I have a job for you.”

I noted that neither of those last two statements were questions. “I’m sure you do,” I replied. “Whether I’ll take it or not is still up in the air.”

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