User: Jules Stewart
Occupation: Pattern Surveillance Officer
Date of Birth:05.09.2060
Assigned to Strata: 19
Verification Rating: 87%
Everton Heights lives up to its reputation. Parties are obviously still in full flow on two of the middle floors, lights flashing and figures dancing, even now at dawn.
I take the elevator to Strata twenty-five. Up here all is quiet. The walkway curves languidly, cool concrete and warm wood. Ahead a door opens up. A man of about thirty is thrown out, sprawling in front of me, followed by his shoes and a jacket. The kind of jacket it's worth taking care of. He snatches it up and the shoes, stumbles and pushes past me. As I approach a light flashes over the door of cube 1,357 and the door slides open, waiting for me.
The space has that abandoned atmosphere, still air that nobody’s disturbed, silent, full of secrets to be deciphered. Secrets scattered all over the place. Shoes kicked off at the entrance, bags dropped in front of the doorway and jackets slumped on the floor never having made it to the empty set of pegs on the wall. It could have been ransacked but I’m guessing that this is fairly typical for Estelle.
Light is breaking through a window in the back wall. I pick my way, stepping over the debris. Down far below flows the Mersey, the choppy surface, like crumpled foil. Tankers, smudges of colour from this distance, Crimean red, Shanghai yellow, Stockholm blue, sit on the water, waiting to dock in the Super Port. I could watch out of a window like this all day and the light it lets in, even now when the sun is just up.
I step through to the shower room, 45 gallons a day.
a space large enough for a chair as well as the shower, WC and basin. An old wicker chair arm is just visible under a heap of clothes. Upcycled from street level I guess. A shelf on the wall is crammed with Perfume injections, the slow release type, synthetic scents, musk, sandalwood, jasmine. Skin dyes, hair extensions in shades of lilac, incisor gems, eye jewellery, a beaded collar with neck sensor, shade changing.
In the main room a frame on the wall is scrolling a cycle of images. Estelle Fischer, dark shoulder length hair, blue eyes, pale complexion, a large mouth with scarlet lips, smiling on a terrace, glass in hand. Somewhere green sat on a rug, smiling, glass in hand, in a crowded room everyone dancing, Estelle smiling, waving her arms in the air. Estelle with another young woman with purple hair, toasting each other here in this cube, and another together on the Mersey barrage, faces squashed cheek-to-cheek, hair windswept. The network tags her, Loretta Parkes, also resident of Everton Heights, Strata 5. That's a lot of levels between two friends.
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On a fold up table, made of a compressed recycled wood product, is a mound of junk: a pink pleather sack open at the neck spilling out a tangle of belts, all shades, a basket woven from ancient electrical cables, the kind of thing sold by ground level hawkers. Under the table boots and shoes, all with high stalks, like the ones strewn around the floor, spill out from a basket. Estelle was not a girl for flatties.
The images of Estelle have cycled through the frame and now it’s a selection of odd pictures, the door of a house at ground level, a dirty street sign, weatherworn, an overgrown garden, a glasshouse with jagged broken windows, a plastic bag blowing, snagged on barbed wire. Where did she get these images from and why put them in the frame?
Suddenly hit by a wave of fatigue I sit on the only chair, a novelty item, red plastic, shaped like lips. Perched at this level I notice the corner of something that looks like paper poking out from under the basket of footwear. I go forward onto my knees and pull out a bundle of scraps of torn map, an old paper map, Aigburth, Sefton, Dingle. What would Estelle be doing with these? Would she even understand a map?
These don’t tally at all with the Estelle I’ve seen so far.
I have more questions than answers and so many directions to pursue. I need your help. You might have a clue, your memory could be the key to solve this mystery. It’s your duty to tell me what you can remember, use the links to the right.
Maybe Loretta Parkes can help, lets pay here a visit.