Excerpt: Save the Girl

By Marie Robinson

Vika looked at the bloody phlegm on her appropriated desk, probably to remind Hollis that the tables had flipped, and that it was his turn to try and win favor.

“I could give you away for a few guns and spun sugar,” Vika said, “or I could take a chance at losing a sure thing and see what you're really worth.” She paused just long enough to let Hollis pre-guess her next move, then beat him to it. “I hear Thomas Davies may be bidding at the next Exchange.”

“Wait,” Hollis said. “Maybe you and I can make a deal.”

“Maybe.” Then: “Where's this case he wants so badly?”

“Never mind the case.”

“What are you worth without it?”

Hollis thought fast. Then he said, “You don't like Brendan, right? Well, I have pictures of his entire operation. I can show you exactly what equipment he's got, how many recruits he has to run it, what he's got for security …”

“Schematics of his wiring? Specifically, his security system?”

“You bet.”

“Most of it's wireless,” Vika said.

“No problem. I spent days at his house. He thought we were making a deal for the case. I spent it gathering insurance. I know where all his routers are. All his wireless hubs.”

“Show me.”

“Nuh-uh. You gotta let me go first.”

“Give me a sample. Show me one of these photos.”

“They were on my old phone. I ain't got it no more. But they uploaded to the cloud, and I know someone as smart as you seem has a guy who can get at one of the servers.” Now Hollis was talking out of his ass. Completely out of his ass, like his ass needed its own microphone. Of course he had no such photos and he had no idea if accessible backups were a thing. But Vika was rubbing her chin. She knew Hollis was a con, but this seemed to be a lie worth considering.

She stood. Then she motioned behind Hollis, to someone he hadn't realized was there. He turned to see Assbags #1 and 2 standing there, possibly behind him the entire time.

“Give him a collar,” she said.

The men grabbed him. Then the bigger one produced something narrow, black, and mechanical. It looked like an opened circle, with an hinge in the middle.

One held him down. The other put the thing on his neck, then secured it in the back. Hollis fought, but he had no strength left. After the night and day he'd had, he was lucky to be standing. Seconds later, the henchmen retreated and Hollis was left to stare at Vika with the clunky thing now on him.

“What the hell, lady?”

“You've been to Olive Garden?” she asked.

“What?”

“Sometimes you have to wait. So they give you a little thing that buzzes when your table is ready. It's got a limited range, and if you go outside that range, the buzzer will play annoying music until you come back.” She pointed to the collar. “This is like that. Except instead of telling you when your table is ready, it lets me track you even without GPS, because it's plain old radio. Not as accurate, but accurate enough. And instead of playing annoying music if you go too far away …”

“It gives me a hug?”Hollis said.

“… explosives on opposite sides blow your head off your neck,” Vika finished.

She nodded to the assbags. One opened the rear door, standing beside it.

“You're free to go,” Vika said. “But I'll be watching.”

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