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Liverpool Corporate Strata

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Off the Grid / at ground level

The many faces of Estelle Fischer

 

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Technology / Dysfunctional Technology

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Memory and  Memory loss

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Shortages and unrest

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Trees and green spaces

Epidemics

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 User: Jules Stewart

 D.O.B 05:09:2060

 Occupation: Pattern Surveillance Officer

 Resides: Liverpool Corporate Strata 19

 Verification rating: 89%

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Uncategorised

 

Investigation Number: 167

Entry 6.

The coordinates Loretta supplied for Justin turn out to be a unit in the Lime Street Exchange emporium, C8H10N4O2, which occupies a narrow stretch along the side of the concourse.

   Three teenage girls are sat on high-stools leaning in towards a young man behind the bar, elbows on the counter their bottoms barely touching their seats. He is spinning a tale, his gaze shifting to each one of them in turn.

   I sit down at the far end of the bar, the girls don’t notice at all, until Justin turns and says,       ‘Hi, what can I get you?’ Then each head turns momentarily to see what the interruption is before returning to fix on his face.

   I show my credentials over the network and say, ‘I just need to ask you a few questions.’

   ‘I work here legitimately. I have a network chip. It’s no crime to work in the Strata and live at street level. I have a relative to care for there. And, as you can see, I have customers to see to here.’ Justin says turning away.

   ‘I’ve just been talking to Loretta, she thinks you might know the whereabouts of Estelle Fischer. I assume you know she’s missing?’

   He immediately turns back, ‘Was she cross?’ He asks.

   ‘Loretta?’

   He nods, ‘I’ve not seen her for weeks.’

   'Since the party on the 8th June?' I suggest.

   The girls at the end of the bar are staring like they might at a netfiction, watching the conversation play in front of them. Justin transacts their bill on the network and waits for them to leave. Reluctantly they climb off the stools and go.

   ‘Listen I saw in Newspulse that Estelle had disappeared and if I had anything to tell you I would have come forward. I hardly know her. I met her at the party with Loretta and I’ve seen her twice since then. She wanted to know about Aigburth. She was supposed to come and meet at the site of the old Palm House, under Fort Sefton, a week or so ago but she didn’t show up. I’d invited her to a couple of things and she never came so I wasn’t surprised.’

   ‘Things? Meetings? Protests?’

   ‘Learning about the truth. Nothing illegal, not yet anyway, or at least not supposed to be. People need to know what’s going on. You’re all complacent.’

   A slap on the counter startles us both.

   ‘Give me a treble shot of your strongest, damned if I can stay awake,’ shouts a tall man taking a perch on a stool. He’s wearing an old-fashioned white business shirt, a smart version of the kind Fat Peter wears. He struggles to undo the top button, too tight.

   At the same moment the three of us turn to the main concourse. The crowd milling around this central area surrounded by bars and cafes has parted, leaving space around a woman wearing what could be sleepwear and oversized men’s shoes, black leather. It was perhaps the sound of the shoes clomping heavily as they fell from her feet with each step, her toes slipping into them again to take them up and forward as she moved that caught our attention, or the gasps and mutterings of the crowd. She's moving in a circle, with no network to guide her, disoriented.

   Obviously wandered in from street level and as people have stepped away from her she’s carved a hole in the crowd. Justin walks over to her with a glass of water but as he approaches two Monanzo security officers arrive to steer her back down to street level. Keeping her at arms length they are herding her towards the shaft that leads back down to the ground. Justin steps in front of the procession and the woman flinches back away from him until she sees he’s offering her water. She hesitates, sniffs the glass and then drinks the water down in one gulp. An astonished murmur ripples across the network about wasting water.

   Justin head down, cheeks red, strides back to his counter. With shaking hands he grabs a cloth and wrings it in his hands, white knuckles. His eyes flick across his network stats, five minutes away from his counter will really affect his efficiency rating.

   ‘You people ignore what’s right under your noses. Far below maybe but life is hard for those at street level. What will you do about it?’ he asks me.

   I shrug, ‘I’m just looking for Estelle Fischer. I don’t have any answers. Only questions.’

   An elderly man, climbs with difficulty onto a stool and lays an old walking cane with a bone handle on the counter. Justin glances at him and then back to me,‘I don’t have anything to tell you. She was supposed to show up but she didn’t. And to be honest I don’t really care.’

   ‘Ok, I’ll need to do some checking of your movements on the afternoon of 16th July. I may need to ask you more questions.’

   ‘You know where to find me.’

   I leave Justin to tend to his latest customer.

 

 

 

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