Sam Townsend was woken by a loud knock and looked up groggily from his slouched position in the chair. Townsend was in his late forties with grey, balding hair and white flecked stubble. He reached for a half full mug of coffee on the desk in front of him and grimaced as he took a large gulp. It was stone cold. A second knock on the door forced him out of the chair, the desk wobbling slightly as his podgy gut bumped against it. He wore a crumpled yellowing shirt, creased dusty trousers and a purple tie lowered to half mast. At the door he paused and regarded the shadowy outline through the frosted glass. Townsend extended his hand out and placed his palm on the glass of the door. A blue outline pulsed around his fingers and a loading bar appeared above Townsend’s hand. When it reached 100 percent he removed his hand and straightened his tie. A holographic image appeared on the glass in front of him, projected onto the outline beyond the door. It displayed a woman in her mid twenties with blonde hair and blue eyes. Townsend swiped the display aside and another display popped up to replace its spot. This contained information on the woman from the previous slide such as name, age, place of birth. When Townsend was satisfied with the display he rolled up his left sleeve, revealing a silver panel strapped around his wrist. Using his right hand he swiped the two displays over on to the panel, saving them as a portable copy and pulled his sleeve back down. There was a third knock on the door, louder and quicker. Flattening down his shirt and clearing his throat, Townsend opened the door and put on his best smile.
‘Mrs Mayhew I presume?’
Townsend emerged from the taxi, his large overcoat trailing behind him. The driver nonchalantly thrust his arm out the window, revealing a silver panel of similar design to Townsend’s strapped to his wrist. Townsend produced his own panel and placed it face down above the driver’s. There was a whirring noise as a series of numbers decreased, turning red on Townsend’s panel and a series of numbers increased, turning green on the driver’s panel.
‘Later Sam.’ The driver said with a tip of his flatcap and pulled away from the curb.
Townsend watched the taxi disappear into the line of traffic crowding the solar paneled road. He glanced at his wrist panel and sighed at the negative number display. Private investigating didn’t pay well and as he stood there on the sidewalk Townsend was seriously considering changing his profession to cabbie. Tall buildings and skyscrapers towered above and around him. A large percentage of which which had whole floors dedicated to mini gardens of plants and bushes. This resulted in many of the tower blocks consisting of several levels of offices interspersed with these garden style balconies. Townsend swiped through a couple of displays on his panel until he found a miniature map. A red pin flashed in its center. He tapped it with a finger and a 3D projection of the map materialized around him, mapping itself onto the street. A small restaurant on the opposite side of the street, situated between a tall skyscraper and a block of offices turned a bright shade of red and began pulsing. Townsend’s lip curved into a smile and he tapped the panel again. The 3D projection vanished and the red aura covering the building along with it. Townsend pulled the brim of his trilby down and crossed the road.
The diner was busy with sounds and smells. The chink of cutlery on plates and wafts of sizzling bacon from the back kitchen causing Townsend’s eyes to water from the intensity. He scanned the populated tables and booths. A vacant booth at the rear of the diner, near the toilets caught Townsend’s attention and he moved over to it. He squeezed past a flustered waitress who smiled at him awkwardly. The red leather sagged beneath his weight as he settled into the booth. It was a hot day, not helped by the heavy cooking fumes from the kitchen. Townsend removed his hat and wiped his sweaty forehead with the back of his sleeve.
‘Morning hun. What can I get ya?’
Townsend looked up to see a young, blonde waitress hovering impatiently over his table, chewing gum noisily.
When the waitress had left, Townsend leafed through his panel displays until he found a screen with two small photographs, side by side. Glancing round to make sure no one was looking he positioned the panel over the table face down and a moment later two larger copies of the photographs appeared on the tabletop surface. The photograph on the left was of a short brunette with cat’s eyes and a mole. The one on the right showed a man in his mid thirties with dark hair and a goatee. Townsend studied the photos intensely and then glanced round at the surrounding booths and tables. It took him a while but eventually he spotted the pair sitting at a table near the window. The man was wearing a smart black suit and had a briefcase on the chair next to him. The woman wore a long green dress and red heels. She puffed from a thin cigarette holder between her fingers. The man sat with his back to Townsend, making it hard for him to see what he was doing. The waitress returned with his coke and ice and plonked it down hard on the table, making Townsend jump. Townsend took a sip from the glass and felt instantly cooled by the iced beverage. Reaching into his pocket he produced a pair of dark ray bans and put them on. He slid a finger down the left temple of the glasses and a small camera in the left lens zoomed in on the woman. Her face blurred for a second and then faded into focus. She was laughing at something the man had said. Townsend spotted a mirror on the wall above the woman’s head and repositioned the camera on it. Through the mirror he was able to see the man’s reflection. It wasn’t the clearest image as the mirror was a little dirty but it was enough to show the man’s expression. He was eyeing the woman hungrily, his left eyebrow arched in intrigue. Townsend moved his finger over to the right temple tip and he gave it a tight squeeze. A red button began to flash in the bottom left corner of the right lens, recording a video of the man. The woman reached out and placed her hand on top of the man’s, leaving it their to linger. Townsend shifted the camera to their hands, continuing the recording.
Townsend stood in the shade of a narrow alley, puffing on an electric cigarette. His attention was focused on a large, suburban house on the opposite side of the street. An electric Honda sat in the driveway and the lights in the house were on. Two shadows moved behind the curtains of one of the upstairs bedrooms. Townsend reached into his coat pocket and produced a small mechanical toy. It was designed to look and move like a wasp. He stroked a finger along the toy’s back and it powered into life, its wings beating the air rapidly. As it hovered in front of him Townsend brought up a live feed from the wasp’s internal camera on the panel. As well as providing him a live feed he was also able to control and direct the mechanical bug and this is exactly what he did. He made a beeline for the upstairs window, using the panel to steer the bug around a nearby telephone poll. At the window he slowed the bug, allowing it to hover in front of the house while he decided his next move. The window was open by a crack. Townsend took a deep breath and with extreme delicacy and skill maneuvered the small bug through the tiny gap and into the room.
Townsend placed his cold cup of coffee on a thin glass plate on the desk in front of him. The plate turned a shade of crimson and steam began to rise from the mug. There was a loud ping and the crimson from the plate faded. He scooped up the mug and blew on it a few times before taking a sip. Returning to his chair he searched the video library on his panel, his finger hovering over a video with a icon of two people entwined on a bed. He held down his finger on the video until a list of options popped up. He selected Send To and cycled through his contacts until he came across Mrs Mayhew. He selected Send To Mayhew’s Panel and a few seconds passed as the file was sent. There was a kerching sound on his panel as he took a sip of coffee and consulting the device he discovered a increase of funds in his account. There was a knock on the door and Townsend closed his eyes and sighed. On the second knock he climbed out of his chair, leaving the half finished mug of coffee on the table.
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