The next day we found that the Algos had generated the contact details of anyone that had ventured within dealing distance of the figure in the club, and that the figure had a face – revealed in the reflection of a glass held by someone nearby – and therefore a name and an address.

‘Fredrik Connolly,’ Lara read from the display.

‘No prior convictions or citations,’ I said. ‘Lives on the tenth floor of a complex on East Side.’ It was an up and coming area slowly being repopulated and cleared of vermin.

I gave the list of girls over to Van Dorn and Thompson to do the necessary while Lara and I flew over to East Side to pay the dealer a visit.

I banged on Connolly’s door but got no answer. The Algos had him down as working nights at a broadcast station. I gave it a minute and then banged again.

‘No hear him today,’ a voice said from a crack in the door of the neighbouring apartment. The deeply wrinkled face of a small Chinese woman stared out sheepishly. The chain on the door pressed against her forehead like some kind of tiara.

‘Did you hear him come in this morning?’ Lara asked after showing the woman her badge.

‘Always hear him. He so noisy,’ the woman said with a nod.

‘Okay thank you,’ Lara said and gave me a shrug. The woman watched attentively to see what we would do next.

‘Thank you, please go about your business,’ I said.

The woman remained staring at us like we were some kind of fly on the wall cop show there for her viewing pleasure. I turned from Connolly’s door and took a step towards the old prune with my hand suggestively planted on my holster. Her door banged shut and I heard several bolts being drawn across inside.

‘You’re so mean,’ Lara said.

‘Nosey old bird,’ I said. I knocked on the suspect’s door again.

Still no answer.

My hand vibrated and I took the call from Van Dorn.

‘Bad news Mike,’ he said.

‘How so?’

‘Two more stiffs and the others aren’t responding to calls. I’ve sent some drones to take a look.’

‘Shit!’ I said and hung up.

‘What is it?’ Lara asked.

‘We need to get in here,’ I said and took out my breach device.

‘Is that really necessary?’ Lara asked. ‘We can call the attendant and get a master key.’

I unpacked the square shaped charge and realised my hands were shaking badly.

‘Calm down Mike,’ Lara said.

‘Okay call the fucking attendant,’ I said and stuffed the charge back in my pocket; it was perfectly safe unless the blast cap was inserted.

Lara did a slow-mo wink and a slim yellow robot quickly appeared.

‘What seems to be the problem officers? How may I assist you this good day?’ it asked.

‘Open the door,’ I said.

‘Please,’ Lara added.

‘Certainly,’ the robot said. It inserted a finger into the data slot under the print reader and the door clicked open.

‘Thank you,’ Lara said and took the opportunity to give me one of her looks. ‘After you,’ she said.

‘My pleasure. Will you be needing me for anything else?’ the robot asked.

‘No tin man, you go back to eating cobwebs or whatever it is you do when you’re not opening doors for people,’ I said and stepped into the room.

The window was blanked and the light was broken. I picked my way across the room and touched the control on the window. It cleared to reveal an uninspiring view of a brick wall of the opposite tenement.

‘Not exactly a room with a view,’ Lara said at my shoulder.

I replied with a grunt.

‘What’s with you?’ she asked.

‘I get the feeling everyone on that list is dead,’ I said. The air in the room made me feel dizzy and I pressed my hand against the cold window to steady myself.

‘You look like shit,’ Lara said.

‘Thanks,’ I said.

I turned and looked past her, ignoring the mess in the room which told its own story of single male habitation, towards the bedroom door. We were both mentally prepared to see another dead body and the only thing that surprised us was where it was at.

The bedroom window was open. The sun was hidden behind gathering rain clouds and I had to use the torch mode on my hand to pick out the crooked shape that lay ten floors down between the buildings. A stray dog was snacking on something that had burst from Connolly’s body when he had hit the ground. The mutt looked up at us when it noticed the circle of light and growled.

‘Fuck,’ Lara said.

‘Call a machine in to do a full sweep,’ I said.

‘Reckon he got high on his own supply and thought he could fly?’ she asked.

I could see no evidence of any drug use in the apartment and a brief survey of the bathroom came up with nothing stronger than paracetamol. There were no baggies, no scales, no suspect residues on any of the surfaces. A machine scan might say contrary but to me it looked like we had been barking up the wrong tree.

‘Whatever he had, he sold it all,’ I said.

‘Yeah, but what was it?’ Lara asked.

‘Forget that for a minute. Think of another question,’ I said.

‘Like what?’ she asked.

‘Where did he get it, whatever it was, from?’ I said.

Dealers were middlemen. For every monkey there was another in the chain, and another, and another until finally you climbed far enough up the monkey tree to find a nearly untouchable grey back gorilla – the alpha male. These days the alpha male usually took the form of a suit working for a corporation with its own legal department and a queue of eager defence lawyers at their door. You only had to look at the IKB fiasco to see that big business pulled everyone’s strings these days.

‘Algos profiled him as a loner, no regular friends and no girl,’ Lara said.

‘So forget social circles,’ I said. ‘Let’s pay his employers a visit.’

(C) 2015 Matthew Haynes extract from The Sun & The Rainfall.

Photo by manu schwendener on Unsplash