after hours. A bad part of town. The street-corner booth stinks of urine,
vomit, every kind of excreted substance, even with the door jammed open.
The mouth of the Data Dandy coughs and spits as I slip my card on its
stuck-out tongue, but the credit pops up smiling. Miguel has kept his
--Hi there, Mister Webb. This service is brought to you courtesy of the
Most Distinguished Company of Unlicensed Recreational Drug Purveyors.
I feed it the blood sample taken from the leopard, ask it to isolate any
foreign bodies. The dandy goes all coy on me. I try a little decoder juice,
get myself in just one level deeper. A Zeno Corp security wall, a message
telling me all about the strict intellectual property rights of the Morpheus
I ask it if there's a way through.
Over the way, a pack of bone-thin teenage phantazeens are watching me.
The refugees are getting everywhere these days. Turning away from their
stares, I hit the search button. The machine frowns at me. I have to keep
feeding it more and more credit, until finally, the screen comes to life.
CORE CITY EXPOSURE: 50 mm Nikon jewel-precision image of Lujo Townhall,
surrounded by a majestic ruin of stone walls, towers and churches
the lens creating a halo effect
a young, pimply
Elvis, sitting on the Townhall steps, picking at his acoustic guitar
GATEHOUSE GRAB: Slow CCTV scans of the crooked little streets which connect
the old Townhall to its suburban docking stations
at five-second intervals
another Elvis, this time
Las Vegas period
dabbing at his sweaty face with a scarf as he wanders
amongst the tourists
PARKLAND PROBE: Starting from within the suburbs, the speedcams transmit
a succession of images which persist into the outlying strips of parkland
columns of neatly attired people carrying placards
city be kept clean of refugees
Zeenies go home! Zeenies go home!
Hawaiian Elvis, his mouth full of slogans
HIGHWAY ZOOM: An ecstatic compressed camera ride down one of the busy
two-tiered highways which arc over the desert surrounding the parkland
calibration of the tangled graffiti on bridges and flyovers
by, a crude effigy of the Princess
a cloud of flies
Dead Elvis, lying in a ditch by the roadside
SHANTYTOWN CRAWL: Wheelchair dollies through the tents and shacks which
grip the support structures of the highway
bodycon clubs, sex shows, gay bars
Roll Elvis, hiding in an alleyway
MARKETPLACE SHOT: Extreme CCTV close-up of the singer's clean-cut face,
flashes of static
--Happy now, Mister Webb?
The screen freezes on this last, iconic image. I take out the single strand
of green silk, place it on the dandy's tongue. Again, I get the Zeno wall.
--Really now, you are keen.
And when I run the search this time, just one shot comes back at me.
BORDELLO SCAN: Revolving mirrorballcam sweeping the tables at the edge
of a dance floor
buckets of ice and champagne, coats and jackets
draped over chairs, the orchestra on the bandstand
and then people
in a circle, standing around some terrible event
lights, the barrel of a gun
What is it?
--Veiling device activated.
Shit. I work the zoom control, hard.