Chapter 18: Happiness Is A Warm Gun

Author: Andrew Keaton
Date: 19th September 1997

B udda-budda-budda-budda.

Machine guns never sound like they do in the movies. Maybe it's the possibility of being shot by police, but there's something about the smell of cordite, the screams of terror from passers-by, and the way cement falls from ricochets like hi-speed ferrous snow that makes high-calibre arms addictive. At least that's the way that Erica was thinking as she took out the foyer of Consolidated Press in a BIG WAY.

When the smoke cleared she walked through the ex door, past the ex security guard counter with the ex security guards behind it and got in the lift that, despite its track record, was still working. She checked she had enough ammo, casually fingered the hunting knife strapped to her waist, and hit 4.

The doors closed with an apathetic thunk. "If I'm not committed now . . ." Her thoughts trailed off, the doors opening. Cosmopolitan. Turning left, she opened fire again, releasing a rain of supersonic, superheated lead blowing out the artsy etched glass entryway, taking out reception and whacking a big ragged hole in the cement wall behind. Erica offered up a small prayer of thanks to Messrs. Smith and Wesson, as well as the lovely Mr. Kasholnikov and the blokes at Ordnance R Us, who sold her the depleted uranium-tipped bullets.

Sirens wailed in the distance as she crunched through the safety glass and ducked into Trudee's office via the convenient hole in the wall.

No body count -- Erica might have been pissed off about being fired, but she was more pissed off about Nina's departure from security downstairs. Hence the lack of mercy on that front. There wasn't any time to waste (anything, for that matter) so she stepped back, took aim at the safe and fired, the heavy duty slugs making short work of the door.

And there it was. She knew Trudee was up to her neck in this, there was something too fishy about the whole thing, and here was the proof. A small block of resin with a clever catch that opened to reveal a sliver of silicon, gold and silver. Printed on the chip were the telltale letters: Nokia.

So Trudee was involved in industrial espionage. And something else, by the look of it, as a photo of Trudee and Flikka in a rather uncompromising clinch fluttered to the floor. Erica picked it up, dropped it on the remnants of Trudee's desk, and impaled Trudee, rather unsympathetically, with the hunting knife.

Revolving blue and red lights reflecting off the walls, she grabbed the chip, and bolted up the hallway, the lift bell dinging behind her. Down the stairs to the basement, a short drop through a manhole and down into the cable tunnels under the city. Erica knew a whole lot more about gold than she'd ever admit.

She got her bearings, and began a slow jog towards St James station, never noticing a small click that sounded as she passed an alcove in the dark.