P.S.O Jules Stewart
Loretta perches on her table again and I sit on the chair. She looks like she’s ready for work, her hair tied up, pulled away from her face. She’s dressed in a grey one piece that looks like a uniform.
‘I don’t have much time, my shift starts in fifteen down on strata 2.’
‘What do you do there, at the factory?’
‘I’m one of the hands – as in hand packed.’She waggles her fingers at me.
‘Ok – Last time I was here I noticed a magnetic pulsar reflector on your floor. Was that courtesy of Estelle?’ I ask.
‘Oh that, yeah I forgot about that. Estelle did get it. But I only used mine once. I’d never get in to the kind of place you could use it without Estelle.’ She says rummaging in a pile of junk under the table and pulling what looks like a small bracelet out of the heap.
‘And what kind of place is that?’ I ask.
‘I just tried it once at a party in a VR den.’ She picks up the bracelet from the floor and passes me it. ‘You can have it if you like.’ Rummaging around under a jacket she pulls out a pouch. ‘If you keep it in this it avoids detection apparently.’
‘Thanks.’ I say.
‘Watch out if you try it, it made me pass out.’
‘Who did Estelle get her tech from?’ I ask
Loretta pulls a face, ‘a real creep. I’ve no idea what his name is. He’d worked in competitive gaming - something to do with Prehistoric Death Ride III and that cheating scandal. Estelle loved all that. Anything mind altering. Said it helped her forget.’
‘I don’t know. Didn’t look like she needed to forget anything to me. Certainly not six mind numbing hours standing in this heat on a production line.’
‘Can you describe the tech guy, where did she meet him?’
‘All I know is he has no manners. He’s an old guy, your age. And he’d paw at me and at Estelle. She didn’t care just wanted to get the tech but he made me feel sick. Now sorry I really need to go. If I’m late, I’m out. Down and out,’ she says, kicking the door that has slid half open and then juddered to a halt.
I follow her out, the magnetic pulsar reflector in its pouch in my pocket. On the stair well I pause, so hot I'm dizzy. I lean on the railing, down below the heat shimmers.
An alert from Jet Wong demands to know where I am. Apparently I'm late.