I’ve killed a man. Or a woman. Or, God forbid, a child.
I don’t know who.
Just start at the beginning, John.
I am. This is the beginning. All that’s happened began here.
Exactly. See, it doesn’t matter if the brain-plant erases the memory of what you’ve done. It can’t erase the guilt, man. It follows you, haunts you, tears you up like a blender, man. Chopping and mincing. Only you can’t remember.
And you can’t forget, all at the same time.
Is that why you brought me here? Is that why you want me?
I’ll be asking the questions, John.
Just start with the computer.
Right. So there I was, sitting in my apartment. Eighty-second story. The moon was stabbing my eyes, my brain. I couldn’t sleep. I entered the computer room. Bare walls, bare oak floors that creaked as I walked. Police sirens wailing outside. Taxis buzzed outside the window.
I enter the room. “Pippy, on.”
You name your voicecomp Pippy?
Listen, you want the story?
So I says, “Pippy, show me the scene.”
And she does. Holograms of newspapers filled the room. A corpse of a man, neck slit. Another dude with his brain shot out. And a kid decomposing in a trash can. All these people killed by a black dude, five-foot-eight, hundred eighty pounds or so.
You’re looking for you?
I’m looking for me. Thousands of unsolved crimes committed by a black dude like me. Thousands of crimes where the perp was never found.
I assume I wasn’t found neither.
“Pippy, turn on the scents.”
Synthetic aromas fill the room—that coppery blood smell, the stench of rotting flesh, gun powder, and people. I’m hoping, praying that something in one of these scenes will bring me back. They say that scent has strong ties to memory, or something—that you can forget something completely, then remember it with just a scent.
There’s gotta be something in there that triggers it. Something.
“Sort by date,” I said. The newspaper images shuffle, flying across the room like dandelions in the wind, man. They freeze.
“Show the lines,” I said. Pippy connects the newspapers with red lines, green lines, black lines showing which are connected. Or, which she thinks are connected—same location, same time of day, same modus operandi.
We’re both guessing at this, see.
“Sort by location,” I said.
They shuffle again.
Nothing. Can’t figure out a connection. Can’t find…me.
“Sort by modus operandi.”
Clusters of blood here, strangulations there—knifes, guns, poison, beatings.
Death, murder, death, murder.
Where am I?
The newspapers disappear. The room’s dark. I freeze. Something’s wrong.
Eerie silence man. Creepy messed up.
Words appear, floating in the air—I know what you did.
My heart starts beating faster. My fingers began a-trembling.
“Who are you?”
The room goes dark again. A flash of light—pop. Letters multiply like Mickey’s words of Fantasia—Murderer, murderer, murderer, murderer.
“Who are you?”
Who are you?
I pull my gun and aim. Bad idea. I’m about to shoot light, man. Holograms. Am I crazy?
That’s what murder will do to you.
The words come faster. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.
“What do you want?”
“So do I.”
You’ll find it.
Centennial Theatre on Wall.
Show starts in ten.
I shove the gun in my jacket. “See you then.”
“Really?” I shake my head. “Whom I gonna call? Huh? ‘Oh yeah, um, police. I killed a man and I don’t remember who. You mind coming with me to figure it out?’”
The words disappeared. Not even an lol? A ‘ha!’ I thought it was funny. Whatever.
So I left.
Yeah, it was stupid. My system was hacked. You get it? My system was hacked. My system was unhackable. But it’d been hacked.
You get the point, right? Whoever this was had reeeeeesources. Deep digital pockets, man.
I had to find out who they was. And I had to find out who I was.
After all, I killed a man. And someone knew who.