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The Resurrected Man
By SEAN WILLIAMS
Copyright © 1998
All right reserved.
Chapter One TWINMAKER.1
JUNE 29, 2069
She was perfect, the best yet.
Her hair was golden-blonde with white streaks; probably not natural, although her eyebrows matched. Her skin was fair with no piercings or visible tattoos; her weight was in proportion to her height, which was slightly over average; her irises were green and, in accordance with the latest fashion, ringed with gold. When she bent to pick up a smart card she'd dropped, he saw freckles dusting the gentle valley between her breasts.
He had been watching her for two hours from the safety of his VR feed, patched into the Global Information & Traffic Correlation Hardware network via the backdoor he had installed for his own private use. Having spotted her by chance while browsing through a European branch of the GLITCH network, he had kept careful track of her since by jumping from camera to camera whenever she threatened to move out of range. His persistence had proven worthwhile: the more he studied her, the more certain he was of her suitability.
She had obviously come to Wien to shop for the day, probably from one of the more affluent nations like New Soviet Russia, Modernized China or the United Republics of Australasia, whose economies had had less ground to make up after the Slow War. She had already purchased several items of jewellery and two new outfits, all tailored on the spot rather than form-fit by nanos, even though nanos were cheaper. She had arranged for one of the garments to be delivered to her home the next day. A bodysuit swung in a recycled plastic bag alongside her legs. Maybe she planned to wear it later that night.
He imagined her undressing and slipping into the outfit, the smooth silk of the bodysuit gliding over naked skin, caressing taut stomach and thighs, tightening over firm but pleasantly rounded buttocks and breasts, followed by the active wrap, a rapidly changing rainbow of fluorescent blues, violets and greens that draped from one shoulder to the opposite knee. She had chosen well, he admitted to himself. The wrap would distract the eye from, but not truly conceal, the body beneath. A connoiseur would know what lay in store after a patient, or perhaps merely persistent, seduction.
He knew such a garment would be easy to remove, gripped in a clenched fist and ripped aside with a single, sudden pull.
Instead of pursuing the fantasy, however, he reassessed her current attire. Jeans would never go out of fashion, it seemed, despite being so damned inflexible. Her feet would be sweating in the canvas sneakers. The warm weather allowed a halter top, tie-dyed in purple and yellow-no bra. Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail, but loosely; a few strands hung free of the elastic, reflecting the natural highlights of the sun.
He smiled. She was fashionably shallow, then, caught in the current trend (known by fools who cared as "Century Retro") that harked back to the late 1960s. He didn't disapprove of such affectations, even though he was wary of the glamour they occasionally cast. Another time, he had been surprised by a woman who had seemed just as shallow as the one he was watching now. She had been volatile, and had retaliated unexpectedly. He had been left feeling unsatisfied and guilty-emotions he did not normally associate with his work while at work.
It had only happened the once. He had been even more careful since then to avoid such frustration.
The girl sidestepped a cloud of blurs that danced by an entrance to a covered mall, seemingly unperturbed by their asexual abandon. Once again, he admired the way her hair caught the light and congratulated himself on his skill at finding her. No program, no matter how sophisticated, could have captured that hue. The pattern matchers he sometimes employed could only compare features against his list of requirements, record the number of correlations and present him with a list of likely women. Where was the soul in that? Where was the art?
It was more personal this way, more like hunting, and therefore more rewarding at the end of the day.... When he found what he was looking for, that is, regardless of whether he acted upon the opportunity or not. Which he had not finally decided in this particular case. Yet.
But he would soon. He wanted only one more sign-proof that this was the woman he wanted.
He didn't have to wait long. Konigsplatz, as well as being a fashionable shopping district, was home to a disproportionate number of proselytes and would-be philosophers-including irreligious yists, radically progressive RAFTers, and LongLife wannabes-but most prominent among the arm-wavers and ranters competing for a slice of the passing market was, as always, WHOLE.
It went perfectly. She tried to avoid them as most people did-most people, that is, who opted for Full-Disclosure over high taxes ostensibly because they had nothing to hide but in fact because they were greedy like everyone else. But she was too striking to escape WHOLE's clutches so easily. One of its enviro-spiritual activists pursued her, thrust a pamphlet into her hand, then backed quickly away to avoid claims of harassment.
She glanced down at the pamphlet, wrinkled her nose in distaste, and threw it into the nearest bin.
He caught a glimpse of the pamphlet before the recycling unit at the bottom of the bin sucked it away. The message it proclaimed was brief, simple and, for a change, accurate. It and her reaction to it helped him decide, at that moment, to make her his next.
"The D In D-mat," said the pamphlet she had dismissed so readily, "Is For Death."
Yes, he thought. Yes.
She really was the perfect victim.
Excerpted from The Resurrected Man by SEAN WILLIAMS Copyright © 1998 by Sean Williams. Excerpted by permission.
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