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The Automatic Detective by Martinez A. Lee

The Automatic Detective by Martinez A. Lee

Author:Martinez, A. Lee [Martinez, A. Lee]
Format: epub
Publisher: Tor Books
Published: 2010-02-15T11:21:23+00:00


12

You know the scene. Seen it in a dozen crime pictures. Some dumb mug finds himself sitting in a tiny room with a cop standing over him, reading him the riot act. That's pretty much what happened to me.

Except I wasn't sitting. I don't sit much. Most furniture isn't made for my weight, and my feet don't get sore. Also, it wasn't a tiny room. It was a big basement cell, thickly enshrouded in shadows excluding a few a bright spotlights. I assumed they blew the lighting budget on the three giant cannons pointed my way. And Sanchez, who was barely tall enough to stand over my knee, wasn't reading me the riot act. He was sitting at the table, puffing on a cigarette, letting the ash dangle. Otherwise, it was exactly the same.

I stood in a small red circle painted on the floor. There was nothing keeping me from stepping out of it except the three heavy blast cannons trained around me. Unlike Sanchez, the cannons did tower over me. I was thick-alloyed, but the Think Tank had my specs, so it was a fair bet these weapons could pose a danger. My threat assessor suggested it'd be a good idea to play it safe and not step out of the circle.

Now that I was here, I wondered if it might've been smarter to make a break for it while I had still been above ground. I might not have been able to bust out of the Tank. The security was tight, and the weaponry dangerous enough to give me reason to think twice, but at least I'd stood a chance. Now, I was stuck.

Sanchez hadn't said a word in the last six minutes. He was content to let me sweat. It was a tactic that had worked a thousand times before. But I don't sweat, and I could wait just as long as he could.

I won the stare-off.

He leaned back in his chair. "The Council approved this room's construction. As a precaution, you understand. Each of these cannons cost more than I make in twenty years. If they go off even once, the Council will have to approve a tax hike to pay the power bill. And from what I understand, they're each only good for about a dozen shots before the unit burns out and has to be replaced.

"I can't get the budget approval for a new automimeograph, but I guess somebody very important thought there might be a need for a special room like this. To hold guys like you."

"Guys like me?" I asked. "Or just me."

"Right now, you're the only guy like you." He stabbed out his cigarette and lit up a new one. It was a miracle those little lungs of his still worked.

"I told the suits upstairs that it was a waste of time and money." Sanchez smiled mirthlessly. "Tell me I was wrong, Mack."

The air sizzled as electricity crackled along the cannons' barrels.

He slid some crime scene photos across the stainless steel desk between us.



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