Kafka morning, Samsa Hook, with only slight feel of Josef K. He crawls across the floor. Looks in the Mere-Ur and speed dials Leftover Pizza who will swoop in and drop off someone’s second hand pizza for him. It tastes better that way. The thing that had been left on his desk was something they called an atomic potato. He wished it were a dead end, but instead it was plagued with the opposite kind of issue — endless leads.
Ankha plugged an analogue cigarette into his face, turned on the filter bubble around his head that his collar produced, and began to puff out what he shouldn’t be sucking in.
What the fuck was he supposed to do with a cosmic spud? Was it some kind of joke, or did this artefact dropped on his desk actually mean anything? Hard to tell yet. Better to stumble around until he tripped over a possible answer and then claimed it as a hunch, or genius.
It was a bioplant, a complex organic tech interface that they farmed off-world because the toxic run-off could only be managed in certain kinds of atmospheres. The potato itself was harmless, but whatever data might be stored on it could be dangerous — that was his current thinking. The fucking thing had end to end encryption though, keyed, most likely, to a specific genetic code. He was not in the mood to Cinderella slipper this shit, but maybe he could get a drone to do the dirty work for him. There had to be one of those buzzy little shits that was doing some menial task.
Fluxsmith didn’t want to go for it. Was the cost of the drone versus the potential remunerative value of solving the case in balance? How did Ankha know? He wasn’t a number cruncher. But number crunchers were a pox on the department. Solving things weighed against the cost of solving them seemed like a kind of triage only an idiot would think was OK. Not that he would tell Fluxsmith to his face.
Petty Cash was a slush fund pulled from what The Accountant referred to as grey sources, and referred to as Petty because he wanted to spite the Fluxsmiths of the world out of pettyness. It didn’t take much effort to scrape up enough moolah to hook some cheapskate tech bungler who could do what he wanted.
Would anyone bat an eyelid when they saw a drone carrying a spud and hovering outside their window — wouldn’t all just end up woven into the daze of everyday life? Not his problem. Or at least he could maintain that pretence for the moment.
‘What are you working on, Ankha? How many cases have you closed this month?’
‘What exactly do you mean by closed?’
‘I mean someone was locked away for the commission of a crime?’
‘Fluxsmith, do you look at the shit that comes across my desk?’
‘So, that’s a no. A fucking potato this week. Last week it was a cat that appeared and disappeared and was replaced by an old naked guy with fangs that fucked hookers and bit the heads off pimps.’
‘So you solved it then?’
‘Yeah, but did I catch him and bring him to justic? Not exactly.’
‘Then what did you do?’
‘I shot him and …’
‘And he turned back into a cat.’
‘And you wrote it up?’
‘And you filed it?’
‘I don’t want a psych eval for filing crazy shit.’
‘Is it true?’
‘The file it.’
Ankha sighed. He smiled and backed out of the room nodding, fingers crossed. Nope. Not going to happen. Deal with the cases? Sure. Write them up? Sure. File them? No fucking way.
Reports of a flying potato began to make the newsfeeds. His life was one long facepalm, head-desk.