by Caitlyn Konze -
The scrap of paper trembled in Anjelika's hand as she compared the scribble to the mag door identification. This was it. She flicked roaming hair off her shoulders. Auburn briefly haloed her face. Glass had insisted on repairing the shorts in her optic filaments before relinquishing the location of Mia Meerstein, wife of the dock engineer who investigated her mother’s accident.
A man with a briefcase clang-clipped past Anjelika, cloudy mustache perched on his lip. Most of his features were hidden below the brim of a cap.
“Can I help you?” Anjelika hadn't hailed the room yet, but a garbled voice came from the door's peep screen. Just a voice, no visual.
A clatter made Anjelika twitch with fear. Data sticks slid across the floor from the open briefcase of Mr. Mustache. Coincidence? Was she being tailed? Or was she slowly sinking into paranoia?
“Hello?” the voice in the door buzzed. “Who’s there?”
Anjelika pointed in the man's direction with her eyes. “It’s me, Mia. Did you forget about the recital?”
In a moment long enough for sweat to form on Anjelika’s brow, the only sound was Mr. Mustache plopping his data sticks into his briefcase one. At. A. Time.
“Is that you, Deedee? Sorry dear, vid screen's on the fritz. Be right out.”
Anjelika pinched her bottom lip between her teeth.
The mag door hissed open., and Anjelika was caught in a current of tangled, fading black hair.
“Your face is too honest to be one of them. What do you want?” the woman asked in barely a whisper. Then louder, “Sorry for the delay. You have the tickets, yes?”
Anjelika mimicked Mrs. Meerstein's whisper. “I need to know what your husband knew.”
Mia's pace slowed. “Somewhere public. Loud. I know a vapor bar in – ”
They stopped. Anjelika’s ankle was well taped, the pain reliever amazing, and she walked with barely a limp. Thanks to Daddy’s demand for defense lessons, her attacker was in far worse shape. Still, the thought of being near that place chilled her from the inside out.
“No tickets?” Right. They were still pretending to be old friends on an outing. Bootsteps crescendoed behind them. Mrs. Meerstein drove Anjelika into a jog. “You know, I remember ordering them on my credit last week. Silly me!”
They snaked around to a transport tube just as Mr. Mustache shouted “Door, hold!”
Mia waved. “Sorry dear, full tube. Door, close. X-Unit.” The widow turned to Anjelika, voice absent of warmth. “I’ll tell you everything if you get me off this floating prison.”