Musings Index

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Happy Magic Qwiz Land

The Realm

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Slade Calormorn
Seldric Winterblade

The Cyber Edge

Adrenaline. Blood pumping through veins at a rapid rate, increasing muscle strength and endurance. Small-time computer data thief and big-time dreamer Jake Williams is glad that he’s got that magical meta-human quality working for him now. Even with his half block advantage, he can still hear the frantic shouts of policemen as they chase him down city streets, weaving in and out of pedestrian traffic.
He side-steps to avoid colliding with an old man, consequently
knocking over a garbage can, sending food wrappers, cigarette butts, napkins and other waste spilling onto the sidewalk. He looks back to
see one of the officers hurdle the can, while the other goes around it, nearly bumping into a person coming out of a Greek deli.

Jake’s hard boots slam down upon the pavement, then rise up again, ever so often stepping into a puddle of water, causing the water to splash onto his pant leg. He throws his chin over his shoulder again. They are gaining on him, he has got to ditch them somehow, soon. He runs down the street a few blocks more. On a Monday evening, the supermarket would be packed with people doing their week’s shopping. He does a quick right turn on Adler, still running. With any luck he’s already lost the officers at the corner. He doesn’t bother to look back, in case they catch his look as they continue down the previous street.

He walks inside, as the automatic door parts for him, a gaudy,
florescent sign that reads
MCGINTY’S FINE FOODS greets him. He walked quickly to the third aisle of the store. He hid behind a blue
light special display of baked beans and chili. He could see the
entrance from his position without anyone coming into the store
seeing him. After waiting behind his aluminum fortress for a good
fifteen minutes, he feels satisfied that he has once again evaded the arm of the law.

He walks up to the cashier, taking a 20 ounce Coca-Cola out of the cooler. He throws a folded dollar onto the conveyor belt, having the brown haired, blue eyed girl run the bottle over the scanner. Jake
waves off the change from the dollar, and continues on his way. As
he walks out of the store, rejoining the rest of Cleveland’s populace on
the streets, he reaches into his coat pocket and withdraws a blue 3.5 inch diskette, twirling it around in his fingers as he waits on the curb.
Finally, a yellow taxi arrives, and pulls up to the curb, answering Jake’s frantic flailing of his arm. As Jake climbs into the back seat, he pockets the disk, hiding it from view. The cabby turns his neck, revealing a heavy face, and a head virtually devoid of hair. His face seems to be afflicted by the strange cabby skin disorder, one that comes from spending all day driving around a city, with the only light coming in sparingly from the side windows and front windshield, and the air you breath coming from only the defroster and air conditioner. "Where you goin’?" he demands, not a moment after Jake buckles himself into the seat.

"8th and Harper," Jake says, not in the mood for pleasantries.

"Yeah, sure," answers the cabby, as if interpreting Jake’s response as
a question. He shifts the car back into drive, and continues on down
the road, making a turn at the next block to head the other way. Jake goes into an exhausted daze, breathing slightly faster than normal.
Just as he begins to drift to sleep, the cab comes to a jerky halt. "$12.50." says the cabby, as Jake climbs out of the back seat. Jake hastily reaches into his coat pocket, producing a wad of bills, selecting
a five and a ten. He tosses them through the passenger window,
sending them fluttering onto the seat. Without a second look, or word, Jake turns on his heel and walks into the alley, as the tires of the beat up cab squeal, and the cab disappears behind a cloud of thick gray smoke.

Jake comes to the first door on his left, stepping up on the concrete step, and reaches out with his hand, hitting the door with the back of
his clenched fist. Moments later, an eye hole slides open, and a black man, squints through the slot. He slides the hole closed again, and removes the chain, pulling the door back, inside the room as he does

The smell of cigar smoke, cheap wine and cheaper perfume hit Jake’s senses like a wrecking ball. No matter how many times he goes into
that same rundown flophouse, the smells always hit him like that. He coughs twice. Then takes a drink of his coke, warming rapidly in the humid surroundings. The black man disappears behind a curtain, without so much as a greeting. Moments later, two men, one, a white-haired, overweight man in a pair of black pleated slacks and a white turtle neck covered by a black blazer and a thin man, with long almond colored hair, pulled into a pony tail and glasses, dressed in a pair of blue jeans and a t-shirt appear from the same curtain.

"You got the disk, Williams?" says the old man.

"Yeah, I got it. You got my cut?" replies Jake, reaching into his coat pocket for the disk.

"Don’t I always?" says the man, reaching in to his pocket, producing a wad of bills. "You know, Williams, you aren’t invincible, and you are replaceable, in spite of what you may think of yourself. There are a dozen other guys out there, just like you."

"Yeah, but you don’t have a dozen other guys working for you. You got me, John," says Jake, unmoved and not really wanting to be dragged into the same conversation he has on virtually every run he makes for them.

"That’s Mr. Travestad to you," Travestad corrects. "Now give me the damn disk, take your money, and get the hell out of my building!"

"No problem there, Mister Travestad," Jake snaps, as he flips out the diskette, thrusting into the hands of his employer in exchange for the roll of bills, which he puts in the same pocket that previously housed
the disk. "Pleasure doing business with you," he says flippantly,
turning on his heel and walking out of the miserable excuse for a meeting place. As soon as he’s outside, the cool night breeze hits his face, washing it of the smells which seem permeated into his pores.
As he continues up the alley, he takes the rolled cash out of his
pocket, and thumbs through it. 50, 100, 150, 200, 250, 300, 350,
400, 500, 600. Jeezus, whatever was on that disk must be pretty damned important,
he thinks to himself.

Jake Williams has gone through most of his adult life doing what he
did tonight; steal some seemingly invaluable technological resource from one party, and give it to another. Sometimes, he’d be hired by
the very same group that he stole the item from to retrieve it.
He plays both sides that way, and has for nearly half a decade. He’s made more money that way than a lot of men his age make with their ‘legal’ jobs. That’s the way he likes it. He walks the Cyber-Edge.

The CyberEdge is a story copyright 1999-2001 Jordan Stalker. Last updated Friday February 22, 2001.