Purity in Death
Eve Dallas must face the impossible: someone has unleashed a computer virus that may be able to spread from machine to man...
The heat was murder. July flexed her sweaty muscles, eyed the goal, and drop-kicked New York into the sweltering steambath of summer. Some managed to escape, fleeing to their shore homes where they could sip cold drinks and bask in ocean breezes while they did their business via telelink. Some loaded up on supplies and hunkered down inside their air-cooled homes like tribes under siege.
But most just had to live through it.
With humatures into the triple digits, and no end in sight, moods turned surly, deodorants failed, and petty annoyances elbowed even the mildest of souls toward violence.
Emergency medical centers were jammed with the wounded soldiers of summer, 2059. Many who, under normal conditions, wouldn’t so much as jaywalk saw the inside of police stations and holding tanks, forced to call lawyers to explain why they had attempted to throttle a co-worker, or shove a complete stranger under the wheels of a Rapid Cab.
Usually, once cooled off, they didn’t know why but sat or stood, blank-faced and baffled, like someone coming out of a trance.
But Louie K. Cogburn knew just what he was doing, why he did it, and how he intended to keep right on doing it. He was a small-time illegals dealer who primarily hawked Zoner and Jazz. To increase his profit margin, Louie cut the Zoner with dried grass scored from city parks, and the jazz with baking powder he bought in warehouse-sized bins. His target clientele were middle-class kids between the ages of ten and twelve in the three school districts closest to his Lower East Side apartment.
This cut down on travel time and expense.
He preferred straight middle-class as the poor generally had their own suppliers within the family ranks, and the rich copped to the grass and baking powder too quickly. The target age group fit Louie’s brand of logic. He liked to say if you hooked ‘em young, you had a client for life.
So far this credo hadn’t proved out for him as Louie had yet to maintain a business relationship with a client through high school graduation.
Still, Louie took his business seriously. Every evening when his potential clients were doing their homework, he did his. He was proud of his bookkeeping, and would certainly have earned more per annum as a number cruncher for any mid-level firm then he did dealing. But he was a man who felt real men worked for themselves.
Just lately if there’s been a wash of dissatisfaction, a touch of irritability, a jagged edge of despair after he spent an hour running his business programs on his third-hand desktop, he put it off to the heat.
And the headache. The vicious bastard of a headache no does of his own products could ease.
He lost three days of work because the pain had become the focus of his world. He holed up in his studio flop, stewing in the heat, blasting his music to cover up the raging storm in his head.
Somebody was going to pay for it, that’s all he knew. Somebody.
Goddamn lazy-assed super hadn’t fixed the climate control. He thought this, with growing anger while his beady, reddened eyes scanned numbers. He sat in his underwear, by the single open window of his one-room apartment. No breeze came through it, but the street noise was horrendous. Shouts, horns, squealing tires on pavement.
He turned up the trash rock he played out of his ancient entertainment unit to drown out the noise. To beat at the pain.
Blood trickled out of his nose, but he didn’t notice.
Louie K. rubbed a luke-warm bottle of home-brew over his forehead. He wished he had a blaster. If he had a goddamn blaster he’d lean out the goddamn window and take out a goddamn city block.
His most violent act to date had been to kick a delinquent client off his airboard, but the image of death and destruction fueled him now as he sweated ver his books and madness bloomed in his brain like black roses.
His face was pale as wax, rivulets of sweat pouring down from his matter brown hair, streaming down his narrow cheeks. His ears rang and what felt like an ocean of grease swayed in his belly. Heat was making him sick, he thought. He got sick, he lost money. Ought to take it out of the super’s hide. Ought to.
His hands trembled as he stared at the screen. Stared at the screen. Couldn’t take his eyes from the screen.
He had an image of himself going to the window, climbing out on the ledge, beating his fists at that hot wall of air, at the noise, at the people below. A blaster in his hands, doling out death and destruction as he screamed a t them. Screamed and screamed as he leaped.
He’d land on his feet, and then…;
The pounding on his door had him spinning around. With his teeth bared he climbed back in the window.
“Louie K., you asshole! Turn that fucking music down in there!”
“Go to hell,” he muttered as he hefted the ball bat he
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