We had a survivor.

The sun broke through the clouds as we flew to the hills. Our destination was a large white house positioned among the trees in a prime location to enjoy the view of the city and the ocean beyond. The house owner was a Nukenfeld programmer who was out at work.

The survivor was the programmer’s companion. A nineteen year old Alexis Giovanni clone. She stood watching us land in the parking area. Her long jet black hair blew about her pale face like a dark corona. Behind her a police robot stood inert at the doorway with sunlight glaring off its polished surfaces.

The familiar face of Alexis Giovanni was studded with piercings and I noticed the edges of an elaborate tattoo creeping like something organic around the neckline of her purple and black blouse. Vintage leather leggings and chunky boots completed the Goth ensemble, so different from the original Giovanni’s attire.

‘I’ve had to cancel lunch,’ she said by way of greeting.

‘Lexi?’ Lara asked.

‘Obviously. You want to see my ID?’ she asked holding out a finger.

‘Won’t be necessary,’ I said.

‘What’s this about?’ Lexi asked.

‘You were at the Dominion club last Saturday night,’ I said.

‘Yeah so?’

‘Where you spoke briefly with Fredrik Connelly.’

‘Who? I spoke to a lot of guys. It’s my one night off from playing housemaid. Did Wiseman put you up to this?’

‘I ask the questions,’ I said. ‘Let’s go inside.’

Lexi made a huffing noise usually reserved for girls half her age and turned on the blocky metal edged heels of her boots and strutted back to the house.

‘She’s a madam,’ Lara said.

‘Must be the Italian genes,’ I said.

We dismissed the robot and then followed Lexi into her room. It wasn’t unusual for company companions to be given a separate room in their owner’s house.

Several high-end holo screens lined the walls and ceiling of the girl’s room. From her style I was expecting the usual pictures of black holes, moody vampires, and dead babies – that kind of fun stuff. Instead all the screens bar one provided views of exotic natural locations across the planet. The other screen displayed a short playlist of Scratch ‘til it Bleeds tracks.

‘So here we are. Now what? You two gonna double team me is that it?’ Lexi asked.

‘We can take you down to the station, if you’d rather?’ I said.

‘On what grounds?’ Lexi said.

‘Obstructing a police enquiry,’ Lara suggested.

‘Look, I don’t know no Fredrik Connelly okay?’ she said. Her body language and tone of voice had become more submissive. Progress.

‘This guy,’ I said and threw a mugshot of Connelly up on her wall. Strange the difference between this lifeless two-dimensional ID system render and the multi-layered smiling portrait I found in Jaycee’s apartment. Both produced by machines but poles apart in terms of their emotional impact.

‘Ah him,’ she said.

‘Maybe you know him as Freddy?’ Lara suggested.

‘Don’t know his name, only met him briefly on Saturday at the gig,’ Lexi said.

‘What did you buy from him?’ I asked.

Lexi picked up a crystal and threw it to me. The track list on the wall changed to a view of a waterfall in some tropical location.

‘Here. Have it, it’s not as good as the first album anyway,’ she said.

‘What is it?’

‘A bootleg of Scratch’s new album. Well some tracks anyway. Unfinished,’ Lexi said.

‘You’ve listened to it?’ I asked.

‘Well obviously, duh,’ Lexi said.

‘You’re lucky to be alive,’ Lara said.

‘It’s not that bad,’ Lexi said.

‘You feel okay?’ I asked.

‘Fine I guess, apart from that robot and you guys turning up, asking me lame questions.’

‘Do you turn emo feed off?’ I asked.

‘Emo? That augmentation stuff’s for saps. I like to listen to music with my lace off,’ the girl said. ‘If a band needs resonance to sell records then they might as well give up.’

I needed a drink.

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

Photo by manu schwendener on Unsplash