P.S.O Jules Stewart
Case 167: Memory transcript 1.
Monorail from Breeze Hill to Aigburth
Pulling in to Pierhead Towers the monorail passes the single lonely Liverbird, caged in by the city, its twin boxed up in some museum somewhere. Its view of the river blocked by buildings of glass and chrome, extending endlessly above and straddling the old streets way down below. At night the tiers of the corporate strata stand out, clearly illuminated against the night sky. Rectangles of light, windows and walkways glow, framed in the towering grey blocks and the monorail's electric blue tracks connect all the transport hubs on the 110 levels like lines in a diagram.
As the doors of the carriage hiss open the network voice cuts through my personal soundtrack, reciting the stations all the way from Breeze Hill Pinnacle to Dingle Rise and I’m swept, along with the crowd, onto the monorail platform.
Two in the morning and the walkways are flooded with light and streaming with people. Before I can reset, netads, like ghosts, hover in my field of vision,
jabbering:*Memoriam, enshrine a message on this eternal database, guaranteed storage for one thousand years*Strata ten the Hen House, chicken substitute protein products like you never tasted before, and that’s a fact*The Arboretum, experience ten forest environments in Liverpool Twelve, features real trees*New natural, Feel the softness of this synthetic cashmere, you won’t want anything else next to your skin ever.
I shudder at the tactile effect of something pulled down over my torso, the sensation channeled through my network implant. I shake it off. Wish I could lock down my security settings, no chance with strata 19 privileges.
A short man in a red vest, face glistening with sweat, his focus on his network, pushes past me through the crowd, paddling his arms like a swimmer. Momentarily his net-ident flashes in my field of vision. I blink it closed. He’s going to hurt someone going against the flow like that, but I’m off duty, someone else can deal with him.
A notification calls my attention. I’m topping the strata 19 board. One more solved case is all I need to move up to level 20 now that the Lime St Stalker is in custody. Case 166 closed.
Of course I couldn’t have caught him without you. All of your memories held in this store led me step by step to see the true pattern of events. The more we share the safer we are. Our collective memory reveals exactly what’s going on in this city.
And so, here I am, out celebrating. I’d rather head straight to my cube, no sleep for the last forty-eight, and in this heat. But I'd better at least be tagged in a bar. The news is all over the network and I need to finish with a victory drink, need to keep my ratings up if Dorace and I are ever going to move up.
The walkway over to Lime St Interchange is impassable, the crowd at a standstill. I lean against the window, yawn. Beyond the glass, yellow lights from piers and watercraft project shimmering paths on the dark choppy surface of the river in between the tankers that are lined up to enter the super port. The waterfront at street level far below is lost in darkness. Who knows what’s going on down there on the ground, it’s out of my jurisdiction – so who cares.
Folk begin to shuffle forward again and Berry-Berry is beckoning me, last year's place to be but at least you're guaranteed to get a seat there and Fat Peter's concoctions always hit the spot. Just one. Then we’ll see what the night brings...