Helix

A cyberpunk detective story.

25 min readNov 14, 2017

--

She looked at me in a soon-to-be-emotional way that meant I should get to the point as quickly as possible.

“Those are my fees,” I said. “I’m not flexible regarding them and I expect to be paid on time.”

She nodded and inhaled through her nose, a wet, stuffy sound made more pathetic by the tears. I didn’t have a Kleenex to give her.

I continued, “Mrs. Wynett, I’m aware this is difficult for you.”

“You don’t know anything,” she said.

I looked at her without speaking. She wore an outfit out of the latest fashion feed: ribbons of bioluminescent fabric hung from a plastic ring around her neck, covering nothing and pulsing colors in a caricature of chromed reflections. Her skirt was barely opaque and pale green, veined with darker shades. She looked like a flower gone to seed.

I nodded. “You might be right. But this is my job and I deal with situations like this every day. So while I may lack your subjective awareness, I certainly have a keen objective grasp of the in’s and out’s.”

“I’m beginning to not like you, Detective Pegg.”

“You don’t have to like me,” I said. “You’re hiring me to find your husband, not replace him.”

I think she would’ve slapped me if she’d been close enough. Instead, she sat up straighter and crossed her arms, grabbing her elbows. “You must find it difficult to keep clients if you say things like that to all of them.”

“I don’t,” I said. “I’m sorry.” I mean it. I added, “That was out of line.”

“It was.” She hugged herself tighter. “I’m willing to put it behind me, though. I need to find my husband, Detective.”

“I’ll do my best. It’s a big city. I can’t make any promises but — ”

“Is there some sort of refund if you don’t find him?”

Normally I’d say no, but I still felt bad and didn’t want to lose the client. “Fifteen percent. But that’s only if I decide to call it quits, not if you just think I’m taking too long.”

She reached for her purse. “I assume you don’t make a habit of dragging out investigations?”

--

--

Aaron Ross Powell

Host of the ReImagining Liberty podcast. Writer and political ethicist. Former think tank scholar.