Thriller Turned Cyberpunk Story
Medicinal Catachresis by KR Wilde
A gloved hand opens the car door as perfume ads mixed with campaign slogans flash across Jeffries’ face. He squints behind a pair of sunglasses before turning back towards Matt Drake, his boss and CEO of MedVax – USA’s third leading vaccine manufacturer.
“Sir, I still don’t understand why the transaction has to be done here,” Jeffries says, his hand still resting on the car’s handle. “We’re out in the open… I don’t like it.” He looks over his shoulder as a hovervan parks underneath moving traffic, continuing, “You do remember that list of threats you received just this morning, right?”
Drake snorts, using a hand to smooth back his heavily oiled hair. “Jeffries, I hope you’re not insinuating the ‘I’ll sick my toaster bot on you’ call comes remotely close to a threat.” He notices the same hovervan flashing its lights and motions for Jeffries to get out. “There’s the signal. Time to make some money.”
As they exit the car, skyscrapers from all sides loom high above, their highest levels disappearing into thick smog. One of them, wearing a brightly lit screen, is broadcasting an outdated news clip. It’s about an Army Major turned politician lackey who withheld logistics for a secret op.
“Big chicken dinner,” Jeffries mutters under his breath. Scratching a pierced lobe, he follows after Drake towards a man getting out of the hovervan. Its windows are blacked out, matching the body’s peeling paint.
Sweat breaks out across Jeffries bare upper lip.
This could be an assassination attempt and there was no way of knowing for certain. But before he can open his mouth to call after Drake, it’s already too late.
“Welcome, my friend! What do you think of my beautiful Times Square?” Drake says in a loud voice, his arms outstretched in a welcoming gesture.
The man glares at him under bushy eyebrows. He says something in return, but it’s lost as a car honks from above. As Drake moves closer with hand cupped around ear to hear better, the man waves him away and reaches for the hovervan’s sliding door.
In one quick movement, Jeffries reaches in a coat pocket, pulls out his blaster and shoulders himself in front of a protesting Drake. At that same moment, the door opens to reveal not a hit squad, but someone far more unpleasant.
Jeffries chokes on misplaced saliva, his grip tightening around the blaster. “Natalia?”
Resting an arm on knee, Natalia Anders – infamous drug trafficker of the Eastern coast – gives him a big grin. “Well, if it isn’t my most favorite lover boy on this side of the Brooklyn Bridge. I’m definitely digging the face tattoo.”
He grimaces, wrinkling the scorpion etched on the left side of his face. “A gift to myself after being discharged, thanks to you.”
“Eh, thank yourself. You’re the one who was head over heels with me.”
“This is hardly anything to fuss over,” a voice says from behind. Peering around Jeffries thick frame, Drake frowns while pointing an accusing finger at Natalia. “Don’t you know your sitting on grade A vaccinations there, Ms. Anders?”
She rolls brown eyes with a slight shake of her head. “Shut up, Matt. It was the only way to keep them from shifting around in traffic.” Natalia slides off the metal crate, and begins punching numbers in its electronic lock.
“Matt?” Jeffries asks and lowers the blaster, eyebrows scrunched together. He turns to face Drake as the sound of steady beeping fills the filthy air. “You know each other?”
Drake rubs his hands as Natalia finishes punching in the last number. “Sure, I do. Ms. Anders is providing goods that will help me win this year’s election, Jeffries.” He pats Jeffries on the shoulder, and walks past him as Natalia lift’s the crate’s lid open.
“But, how?” Jeffries asks.
“Through cyborg tech, of course,” Natalia says, flipping a long, black braid over her shoulder.
He spins around to find her holding a syringe filled with purple liquid. The flashing lights reflect off of it, showing off the tip’s sharpness. “Cyborg te—“ Jeffries sways a little and stops midsentence, heart pounding.
Drake raises an eyebrow and asks, “Jeffries, what’s wrong with you?”
Unable to talk, Jeffries looks to Natalia for help. She gives a husky laugh. “Lover boy here hates the sight of needles. Just freezes up every time, and won’t talk again for at least an hour.”
“Well this works out perfectly,” Drake says with a greedy expression. “Rather than take the vaccine back to headquarters for testing, I can do that right here.” He takes the syringe from Natalia, slides off the tip’s cover and advances towards Jeffries. “You see, this vaccine recently became mandatory for all children under fifteen years old, thanks to me. Its technology will change their DNA to a cyborg state, allowing me full control over their bodies remotely.” He cackles. “Their parents will have to give me the president’s seat once they realize I can kill at anytime.”
Licking lips, Jeffries shakes his head and backs away with hand raised, blaster trembling in the other. He doesn’t get far before falling backwards into a pool of motor oil. It stains his jeans, soaking into mismatched socks as well.
As Drake draws closer, a billboard off in the distance lights up with his face, a slogan to pair with it: “A Healthy America is a Happy One. Elect Senator Drake for president to keep your kids safe”.
Jeffries watches the words scroll across the screen for a moment, throat tightening with anger. Still unable to talk, he raises the blaster in front of him.
Drake stops as the weapon focuses on his chest. He raises his hands, the syringe open for the taking. “Don’t do it, Jeffries. I’m the only one who would employ you after your lovesick stunt as Major.” Drake swallows hard and continues, “You need me, remember?”
Jeffries shakes his head as sweat pours over the scorpion tattoo. His finger hovers over the trigger.
“Do it, lover boy!”
The blaster goes off, and the billboard explodes, sending it falling on to traffic below. Honking and shrill screams ensue as hovercars fall from the sky.
Drake ducks his head as one falls on to the hovervan, along with the man from earlier, with a loud crunch.
As Jeffries runs to his car, Natalia snatches the syringe from Drake. “Bye for now, Matt. Looks like your plan worked. He’ll be with me while you get his little sister,” she yells over the chaos.
Drake doesn’t have time to react before Natalia plunges the syringe deep into his neck, leaving him to gag on the vaccine alone.