Dicky Tickers

He ate the face in a light brine. There was something weirdly sexy about supermodel face soup. If you were selling this kind of thing you had to be OK with old guys like him getting the occassional boner in public. Wasn’t the everyday about desire satisfaction these days? Nobody made any bones about the fact you could buy anything. The Pervert Trading Block seemed to be as big as any country these days and they packed into the Super PAC as much weirdness as you could without completely breaking spacetime. Ankha was supposed to run all the pirates and bootleggers to ground, but what were you going to do? Shit was just too expensive if you knocked out the black market, and a man had to live.

He saw some old shit head with a Jiggler sat in his lap. Should he drop a Puritan Tab here and let some self-righteous religious prick swoop in and plug the sicko? Sure, he could do that, but the backsplash might coat him in a stink that would lead to paperwork. Rules 1 to 13 were all about reducing paperwork. No one wanted it.

You let a lot of shit slide if you were a cop here, and most of those judgments were based on the scale of the thing you were observing. Sometimes you found some horrendous architectural structure that funnelled the masses into horror and the money behind it was small change enough that you could shut it down without double-tapping your career in the head. Other times you’d find some factory dedicated to some niche peccadillo and tugging on the puppet master’s string woke a leviathan you knew to back the hell away from.

What to do today? He had been waiting for a connection, but that had fallen through, so he was going to sit outside the local mecca for fences and irritate the shit out the shit-tick that ran it. How long before his presence applied itself like a larghe suppository that clicked against his target’s back teeth? Twenty minutes as it turned out.

‘What are you looking for, Ankha?’

‘Always a who and not a what, Sprout.’

‘Who then?’

‘Someone moving counterfeit hearts. Someone important bought one and dropped dead.’

‘Sounds like Carson or maybe Sellis.’


‘Heelball or Tenks Street.’

‘Never takes much to make you fold does it?’

‘Depends who it is. I’d grass up any fucker that fucked me over, and those guys still have a tab here that’s unpaid.’

Ankha took Sellis who he knew haunted Tenks Street. He sent a Tulpa Echo out after Carson, who was a weak bottom-feeder that shouldn’t be able to outsmart anyone.

Sellis Was a dead-end though, He was selling spring-heeled love bananas to guys who thought that was what a woman might want. Just as he suspected — light on brains and heavy traffic in their pockets. Carson was still selling the hearts when his TE rocked up. The pullit-bullet stripped the flesh off his TE and left a smoky pillar hanging there to exclamation mark the spot for when Ankha arrived. If Carson had played it cool the whole thing could have slid by him. A nod and a wink from a grass aren’t like solid evidence, and even a hunch serves only to put you in the right ballpark. You run and you point the finger at yourself.

To be running with the amount of stock he had Carson had to be packing some heavy compression tech. Ankha had a Zone Drone retasked to swing over the area and look for a hefty heat signature. Hey presto — the bright spark had made beeline straight for his mum’s place. Ankha could stroll there — why break a sweat? He didn’t even need to be first on the scene. He punched in the address to his handheld and sent the blues in ahead of him.

‘Why hearts?’ he’d asked, later, in the inTerrorGate room.

‘Some geezer from the hospital sold them to me. Told me there was a lot of wastage and I’d be doing a good thing helping those who couldn’t afford to buy them normally.’

‘Did you recognise the person who died after implanting one?’

‘Yeah. Saw it on the news.’

‘Saw it on the new and kept selling them?’

‘Sure, why not?’

‘Not worried you might kill someone.’

‘Not really.’

And that was a wrap. Shooting fish in a barrel most days. One day a real challenge would land on his doorstep.

What was that on his desk?

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