Tuesday, 21 April 2015

For anyone who's interested, here's an extract from an in-progress anthology of mine, revolving around the consequences of the proliferation of a head-mounted camera-computer combo, and the impact it has on society as seen through the varying perspectives of a number of ordinary people. 

I hope you enjoy it!


13 Bradley Drive, Sylvia Heights.

“There’s the bastard.” Nate gestured to the lurid orange Lancer across the street, chewing up a flowerbed of former tulips with its back tyres. Muddy dirt splattered across the bay window of the cottage-style flat. “EMP’s a no-go, so I’m guessing we do this the old-fashioned way?”
Jarvi grunted acknowledgement and rummaged through the equipment locker at his feet, retrieving a tubular rifle and hefting it high.
“Can’t fault the classics,” he said, smirking ever so slightly.
He wound down his side window and propped the rifle’s barrel across the frame. Nate inched the patrol car forward, angling their approach to give Jarvi a clear shot at the Lancer’s wheels.
“Firing in three, two, one...”
A mechanical thunk sounded the ejection of hundreds of tiny balls, arcing through the air and carpeting the lawn beneath and around the Lancer’s wheels. Each ball would bristle when subjected to heavy pressure, shooting out needle-thin spikes with enough force to puncture metal. The Hedgehog, they called it. Great for disabling vehicles when electromagnetic countermeasures were unavailable.
Jarvi thumped the siren back on and Nate gunned the engine. The squad car leaped forward into clear view of the Lancer’s driver. Nate stabbed at the dashboard controls and routed the car’s radio to the loudspeakers atop its roof.
“This is the police.” His amplified voice carried across the street, drowning out even the thunderous roar of the Lancer’s archaic combustion engine. “Turn off the car and step out with your hands on your head.”
The perp’s response was just as expected.
The Lancer catapulted forward, ploughing straight across the bed of Hedgehog balls and bouncing off the gutter onto the road. Without pause, it skidded sideways and rocketed off in the opposite direction from Nate and Jarvi. Nate slammed the accelerator and they took off in pursuit. Almost immediately, a shrill alarm blared insistently from the dashboard. Nate took one look at the main screen and snarled.

Dangerous velocity detected. Reduce speed to match acceptable operating parameters.

Punching the steering wheel, Nate lifted his foot off the accelerator until the beeping stopped. The on-screen message changed:

Regulation velocity re-established.

Jarvi shared his partner’s frustration. All the ‘criminal rights’ they had to honour these days were just roadblocks to justice. Because hey, you wouldn’t want a criminal killing himself trying to escape, right?
“Thirty seconds and this guy’ll be riding his rims,” said Nate, pumping the accelerator and pushing the squad car to the very limit of regulation speed. The Lancer was gaining ground, but Nate refused to go a single notch above the prescribed maximum.
“Thirty seconds and we’ll have lost him,” seethed Jarvi. This guy could be the key. The crack that blew the whole thing wide open. They couldn’t let him get away.
“I ain’t breaking the rules again, Jarv. Not for some measly snot-nosed dirtbag.”
Jarvi ground his teeth and watched the Lancer pull further away, flecks of rubber already flying off its tyres. Lurching right, it swerved around a white van and into the oncoming lane, missing by millimetres an unsuspecting hatchback coming the other way. The hatchback screeched to a halt, blocking both lanes and forcing Nate to slam on the brakes and skid to a stop too. He punched the steering wheel again, this time with both hands.
“Bastard,” he hissed. He hammered the radio button on the inside of the steering wheel. “This is patrol car D13, we’ve lost visual on the vehicle. Requesting additional units in vicinity of Sylvia Heights to—“
“No.” Jarvi grabbed Nate’s hand and wrenched it off the radio switch. “We’ve got this.”
He shifted focus to his eyeD display. The automatic image recognition software had picked up the Lancer’s plates and pulled down the owner’s file. Dismissing it, Jarvi forwarded the image profile to the crowd-sourced eyeD tracking system, ignoring the warning reminding him that the service was to be used for emergencies only; unwarranted privacy invasion was not a lawsuit the force wanted to face again.
Within seconds, the eyeDs of dozens of unsuspecting users reported back with sightings of the Lancer. Jarvi loaded up a map of the city and plotted the various sightings. An erratic course zigzagged out of Sylvia Heights towards the financial district.
Jarvi flicked the vehicle registration file back up.

Vehicle registered to Mr Wesley Jones, 58 years old, vice-president of marketing firm MassMedia. Vehicle insurance extended to cover Mr Avery Jones, his 23 year old son.

Jarvi grimaced and cursed mentally. Nate’s prediction had just picked up a point in its favour.

“Turn around,” he said, steeling his jaw. “I know where this guy’s going.”



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