Gideon's Chip, Part Seven
Some element of the dream was still slithering through my mind as I sat up
and rubbed my face. Two days growth of beard scratched my palm. Then I
realized I was bare-chested, nearly naked under the single blanket.
My other bodyguard had been there when I stripped down to sleep. I pulled
the blanket over my nakedness, but didn't think Lily would find me
attractive. Or even interesting. When I had opened the door two days ago to
admit the pair of solos into my apartment, she had greeted me with, "Hey
there, old man."
I wrapped the blanket about my shoulders - realizing how thin I had become
- and went into the bathroom to dress. I didn't have anything that was clean
or even marginally dirty. To tell the truth, I didn't care.
When I came back into the living room, Lily had both legs over her head.
I went into what the landlord called a kitchenette and made something to
eat. My breakfast was Chinese food, a congealed mass of noodles and other
unidentifiable pieces of something, and nearly tasteless cold. I had hot
I watched Lily abuse her body as I ate. How her kind of people had come to
call themselves solos, I did not know. What they were was mercenaries, angry
prostitutes with guns. I didn't like people with easy morals, especially ones
with lethal, high tech toys.
But Lily was okay. Maybe. While she wasn't about to be snatched up fashion
magazines as a cover model, but she was attractive. In her own sort of way. I
had trouble understand why she had chosen this profession, then, when so many
others were available to her.
The solo practiced breathing. She did impossible things with her legs and
Yoga. It had been a shock the first night when I turned around from
fiddling with my deck to find Lily...bent. My first thought was
contortionist, that maybe she was a circus run away. Hey, it could happen.
Then she explained.
"It helps calm my mind," she had said. I remember snorting. It was
interesting because I had thought of practitioners of martials arts and the
asian philosophies as serene, tranquil, and wise. Lily wanted to shatter that
stereotype for me. I wouldn't let her; I finally decided she was just a pent
"See anything you like?" Lily asked me as I looked at her.
I looked away, gulping down my coffee with my eyes on the wall. "Where's
that address?" I said.
She unfolded herself and tossed me a chip. "Right here, old man. You gonna
I nodded. Setting the coffee cup on the counter, I moved to the floor. I
examined the chip while I pulled the dust cover of the deck and the rest of
my equipment. Lily was not far from me. I could feel how hot she was after
exercising. I ignored it.
Convinced the chip was not a booby trap and my deck blinking ready, I
jacked in. Far away, separate hands plugged the chip into the socket made for
it and I could feel the address load. Blackness parted, exposing the winking
Net. I hung above it for half a moment -
Then it rushed up to engulf me.