Ramblings

Slumming It: When a Short Story is the Bane of Your Existence

Not every story comes easy...

[Clowning Around | Monday, 3 September 2266]

“Rise and Shine, Jonny.”

Another day, another morning. Upon returning to his apartment the previous day, Bakker agreed to let Mittens hide out in his apartment. He was already regretting that decision.

“Isn’t it a little early?”

Mittens shrugged her shoulders. “Hey, don’t look at me. I’m not responsible for the time the Jokezterz decide to roll into town.”

“Think they’re here for the Slumlord?”

“Well, according to Her Eminence, they are funding them.”

“Thanks.” Bakker leapt from his bed and stripped out of his pyjamas, forgetting all about Mittens standing in the room with him, in his haste. After giving his ally a quick wave, the detective rushed from his apartment.


The trail wasn’t difficult for Bakker to follow. Upon exiting his apartment, a caravan of motorbikes drove through the street, heading south-west. Six in total. Bakker chased them down on foot, locating the warehouse they had congregated in, courtesy of the bikes being left out front.

Bakker approached the front. At night, the warehouse acts as a club of sorts, Club 42. Club 42 was where the slums’ denizens would meet, dance, consume synthetics, and occasionally fuck—when the synthetics have lowered people’s inhibitions enough, that is.

“We’re closed, Bobo.” The bouncer blocked the door, preventing the detective from entering.

“But you have customers,” Bakker said, gesturing to the bikes.

“Private meeting.”

The neon glow from the buildings towering above the slums began to shift tones as the sound of sirens filled the area. Twelve armoured cars, each carrying two officers, arrive on the scene. An officer—the Chief—steps out of the car.

“Arms where I can see them,” the Chief demands.

Bakker contemplated running. He considered drawing a weapon. He thought about unleashing a sonic blast. After running the options through his head, Bakker decided to do as he was told and slowly raised his arms.

“Detective Jon Bakker,” the Chief says, after checking his image against the Conscience database. “You didn’t report for duty after your run-in with the Jokezterz. What is this, a personal vendetta? There’s no record of you having any connection to Counsellor Adrit prior to that incident.”

“Feed it up the line, this is above your pay grade, ‘Chief.’”

“I’ve never met a turncoat who didn’t try that one on me,” the Chief responded, before looking at the twenty-three officers under his command. “Eliminate him.”

Not breaking eye contact with the detective, the officers drew their pulse rifles and aimed them directly at Bakker. He felt a sudden jerk around his collar as the bouncer grabbed him and threw him inside. Bakker could hear gunfire exploding against the wall, as the bouncer stumbled inside, having taken a bolt to the shoulder. Ever the trouper, the bouncer sealed the door shut behind him.

“How long will this hold?” Bakker asked the bouncer.

“Who knows? Depends on how long it takes them to use a bazooka.”

Bakker and the bouncer gave each other an awkward glance before sprinting away from the door, accompanied by the echo of the flurry of bolts hitting it.

“Who’s this fucker?” one of the Jokezterz demanded to know.

“Bobo,” the bouncer answered. “He’s cool.”

“He most definitely is not ‘cool’,” another Jokezter added. “I just scanned ‘Bobo.’ He’s Detective Jon Bakker, the cop from the Adrit bust.”

The Jokezterz drew their weapons and took aim at Bakker.

“Talk fast, or the floor will be covered in detective jam.”

“Send a transmission to anybody who was at the warehouse that night, and they’ll tell you I was the one who killed Adrit, and gave them the head start before destroying the warehouse.”

“Verified,” another Jokezter added.

“Well then, detective, it looks like you’ve made some new friends,” the first Jokezter said.

“Are you the only ones here?” Bakker asked the gang.

“Why wouldn’t we be?”

“I don’t know, generally if you’re venturing into a club before hours, you’re meeting someone. Like, say, the Slumlord. It’s only a matter of time until they get in, and I’m assuming you’d like to keep them safe.”

“He already left,” the head Jokezter said.

“How?”

“He just went out the back, and…that’s all we saw.”

“He went into his underground tunnel network. It’s reserved for him and other powerbrokers here,” the bouncer advised.

“Well, right now, all that stands between you and death is that flimsy little wall. Or you can take the Jokezterz through and get them to safety.”

“What about you?”

“I’ll slow them down. Now, go!”

As the bouncer led the Jokezterz to the back of the warehouse, the warehouse door exploded inwards. Seconds later, the officers flooded into the warehouse.

“Tell me where they are, and you’ll get to live long enough to see them die,” the Chief said to Bakker. “Hell, if I’m feeling generous, I might simply arrest you.”

“I’ve been with the Force for a while now, Chief. And I know every piece of gear they give you is electronic, right down to your uniforms.”

The lights suddenly went dim, black filled the warehouse. The lights stopped working, the officers’ weapons were useless, as were the mech uniforms they wore. Bakker smiled. His EMP field worked.


Shortly afterwards, Bakker caught up with the Jokezterz. Catching his breath after sprinting from the officers, he slumped against the tunnel wall, cradling a stitch. Fighting for breath, he realised that at his age, running is dangerous  — especially for those who have just created an EMP field, taking themselves offline.

“Do we have far to go?”

The bouncer shook his head.

Suddenly, the entire tunnel rattled as the dull sound of an explosion could be heard from above.

“What the fuck was that?” the bouncer asked.

“Protocol,” Bakker answered. “I took them offline, and the Force determined that the Slumlord, or our Jokezter friends, maybe both, are worth the lives of two dozen officers.”

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