Ric stepped into Irving’s apartment and the lift doors slid quietly closed behind him. On the coffee table in front of the professor were piles of paperwork scattered all over the place, and a screen projection hovering a metre above the table with images flickering across it.
As he walked towards the living room, he glanced at the standing bar with a glass of whisky already poured and waiting. Irving had an identical one a hand’s stretch away from him on the table, but he was more concerned about the paperwork than the drink. Ric picked up the glass and swilled the dark liquid in the crystal glass and took a sip. He welcomed its rough heat. Ric took another sip before placing the glass down in a gap on the table and picking up the closest file to him. Each file seemed to be old police reports – all the pages had faded and yellowed with time. He could taste the dust in the air as he flicked through the papers.
NAME: SIMON TIMOTHY ST. JAMES
DOB: 21ST JUNE 2055
OFFICER MCNALLY: Can you describe the assailant?
ST. JAMES: She was wearing a bright red dress and purple heels. And she had really red hair – like orange-red. I only saw her quick – so I didn’t see her face or nothing.
OFFICER MCNALLY: What did you see happen?
ST. JAMES: She walked down the alley where I’d seen a bloke in a suit go ‘bout five minutes before. Then there were loads of noise and she came out and he didn’.
OFFICER MCNALLY: Did you witness the crime?
ST. JAMES: Love, I jus’ told you – they went in the alley an’ only the lass came back out.
OFFICER MCNALLY: So, if you didn’t see a crime being committed, why did you call the police?
ST. JAMES: Saw the body though, didn’ I? Big ol’ hole right in his chest. I tell you what – I recons it was them heels the devil ‘ad on. Stabbed him through the heart, she did.
OFFICER MCNALLY: Did you see any other evidence that the woman in question was the one to commit the murder?
ST. JAMES: Well, I didn’t need any did I? She’s that Jessica Rabbit killer, aint she?
END OF INTERVIEW
Ric looked over to Irving, who had is head in his hand and was watching him closely.
‘They’re all the same. No one ever saw her close up, they never witnessed her actually committing the murders. There’s no proof it’s even the same woman – just the same clothes. Not that they would have been easy to get hold of. Even back then – they weren’t making items like that anymore, the uniform structure was already in place unless you were an elite or a Ward.’ Irving looked defeatedly at the mess of paperwork on his table and started scraping it together to make what vaguely resembled a pile.
‘No, she’s not dressed like a Ward. She’s… different. People try not to look at Wards – but her, well you just sort of can’t help it. She doesn’t belong somehow.’
‘What exactly did she look like?’
‘Like this.’ Ric said, waving the witness interview around. ‘Red hair, red dress, purple heels.’
‘But did you see her face?’
‘She looked right at me, Professor. The face of an angel. Except-.’ Ric stopped halfway through his thought.
‘Eyes. Her eyes! Fuck sake – I knew she looked different!’ Ric touched his index finger gently to his left eye and as he pulled it away, an artificial lens came with it. ‘She’s not wearing lenses.’ He stared at the glint of the lens. If he looked close enough, he could see the coding scrawling across the top. They recorded everything, they showed you everything. You could even link them with ear pieces and use them as an entertainment system. But Ric could never afford that. He put the lens carefully back in his eye and blinked a few times.
‘But everyone wears them – even the Wards. Even the President of the World wears fucking lenses. It’s the law. If you’re caught not wearing them, you’re arrested.’ Irving searched through the papers and pulled out the only sketch of the woman. But there was no face depicted in the image, just her signature outfit.
‘I know, but I’m telling you she wasn’t wearing them.’
‘You can’t get anywhere without them. One of the murders was committed in a Public Library – they do retinal scans to check your Clearance.’
‘So how did she get in?’ Ric asked, picking up his drink and taking a swig.
‘Someone’s helping her.’
– End of Part Three –