A-Z April: Noir

 Let it never be said I don’t give my readers WHAT THEY WANT!

After my Cliffhanger, there was a veritable uproar (what? three people *totally* counts as ‘uproar’) that I’d left them hanging, desperate to know what happens to our intrepid heroine. I tried telling them that the point of a cliffhanger is to be left hanging. But they beat me up, so I wrote THE SIDEWAYS SEQUEL – enjoy.

“Is the system operational or not, Dr. Jessen?”

Kris’ jaw tightened, a faint twitch below his left eye the only other clue to how incredibly stressful he was finding the meeting.

“All but”, he said, curtly. “Initial tests have proven successful, but effective only with subjects who were aware of the need to remain immobile. We’ve not had the opportunity to experiment with an unsuspecting subject yet.”

His lip curled, remembering the grisly fall-out when any of their subjects had changed their mind at the last moment, and moved away from the searching beams of scientific wonder. The scream-infused thuds as they (or whatever part of them they’d managed to get beyond the field of effect) and the mess. Unpleasant, but rapidly dealt with, thanks to the new technology.

BodySnatcher (as they called it behind the scenes) was the latest development in ultrasound technology. From its use in medicine, where the sound-waves were used to undo and dissipate the molecular structures of cancerous tumours, the new, amped-up version was capable of undoing and dissipating the molecular structures of entire, large organisms.

Having collaborated with engineers and discovered lackeys whose ethics were suitably assuaged with money, Kris had pitched his idea discreetly, via whispers into well-connected ears.

The man across the desk, with his top-floor windows and his finely-crafted suit, was one of the main financial backers for the endeavour. There were four investors, all of whom had fingers in international pies, and a vested interest in the ability to remove certain threats. This gentleman was the only one Kris had met in person, and he had proven to be a demanding customer so far. But they all were, he reflected; no-one who dealt in death had ever proven to be particularly indulgent when it came to timescales – they had too many people on their ever-growing ‘Remove’ lists to let the technicians operate without harassment.

The man leaned forwards, crinkling his crisp shirt. “Dr Jessen, I need you to make an opportunity. We must find out if this is possible as a movable kit. It is absolutely your top priority to make this happen and report back to me.”

Kris’ nostrils flared. His spirit rankled at being told what to do, and he replied that he would ensure a test was made as soon as possible, and that the reports would be forthcoming.

Technicians had already been learning the spatial patterning required to wield the hand-held emitters to create a narrow and invisible field of perfect destruction, but they had only operated within a closed environment thus far, working with paralysed animals and clandestinely sourced terminal patients, who preferred the option of new euthanasia to a malingering death.

They’d still had to pick and choose – there were no bodies to bury, and within seconds, a human being could be effectively scattered to the winds by the power of those incredible waves, if focussed from several directions at once – their subjects were required to have no mourners who might ask awkward questions about the lack of corpse.

On returning to his team, Jessen posed the question to them – how would they find a suitable (and immediate) subject in the middle of a bustling city? There was no time to research as much as they’d like, so how about a random hit? Nothing would be left, and there would be no trace of the Technicians. They agreed (bar one) for a price.

The one was dealt with as per standard protocol for dissenters. At least they knew that BodySnatcher was still fully functional.

They decided their spot and decamped, the misty weather assisting their bid to remain an unseen ‘strike’ team. Dressed in masked hoods, which hid their identities and their kit, they assembled around a main path through a nearby woodland. They knew there was a likelihood of a lone traveller, and the well-lit, yet secluded spot was a perfect ambush point.

Two hours and three (alright, three and a half) ‘test’ squirrels after their arrival, they heard the purring of bicycle tyres on tarmac. The cyclist was sparkling with lights and pink high-vis clothes. She halted, as though aware of the danger lurking in the thick mist, then continued forwards, slowly.

Jessen looked around in satisfaction as his team surrounded the cyclist in perfect formation, and held out their emitters.

Now you know what happened next. Or do you?

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