18 - HANDSHAKE
The lights of the parking lot turned on. The motor of the garage door began humming as the doors lifted. Two red headlights illuminated the parking spot, as a red Ferrari began its reverse approach.
"Understood, sir. Parking routine activated."
After the car autoparked in its appropriate spot, the driver door opened and the driver finally stepped out.
He inspired and sighed. "Eight years and not much has changed in here."
It felt good being home again. The same guy attending visitors, the particular screeching of the gears in the elevator, the scent coming from the first floor apartments... and having to get all the clothes and bedsheets washed after a decade of non-use.
He was lucky to have purchased those plastic vacuumable bags and anti-moisture beads; that vacuum bot turned out to be a terrible investment.
"Shit, I didn't buy a vacuum bot replacement."
But first things first. Pearson opened the closet and entered the manual code for his safe. From there, under a vacuumed seal, a cardboard box. He took it and placed it in the study room desk. With his hands shaking, he opened it and revealed a hand-drawn pencil portrait of Kimiko. "Burn them. Get rid of them, they'll only give you more trouble." That was the last words he received from the doc. He never dared; those portraits were the last thing that could prove to him that Kimiko might, after all, be real. He decided to keep them in the safe instead of burning them before going to the states, just in case.
In case of what? Did he really suspect the doc to be feeding him a bunch of lies? Did he really think this was some sort of secret government conspiracy to keep him in the dark? But more importantly, did he take Kimiko to a honeymoon in Atlantis, after all? Or eat dinner at those fancy restaurants? Nothing seemed to make sense; he had even bribed the manager to get the record of the previous visitors in the dates of their anniversary, but neither Kimiko nor Richard Pearson were present in the guests list.
It didn't make sense; he did remember going to that particular french restaurant, several times. He even remembered the decorations and flowers there. But the records were nonexistent. It didn't make sense.
"Nothing makes sense in my life, does it?"
Pearson put Kimiko's portraits back in the box and opened his drawer. "Great... more dust." He opened the bottom compartment, and there it was, the portable vaccum!
"Heh. Could have saved an hour vacuuming the apartment with this."
A few minutes of vacuuming and the desk was completely clean now. He wondered... would it be better if he took the investigation just a little slower, to enjoy his time here? He shook his head. That would be unethical, and an insult to the victim's family. He had to be thorough. Maybe he'd get a bonus if he solved the case quickly.
He grabbed the case envelope and took out the portrait of the girl from the sex club. "So... what are you, young lady? Just a relative of the victim? A suspect? Or even the murderer?"
He imagined her, smoking a cigarette, with a despective voice, while some jazz music played in the background. "It was for the money. Do you really think I like being a stripper? I had to try; by killing my aunt, I'd automatically become the heir, and I could finally say goodbye to this life full of shit."
He had to know her. Investigate her past; then meet her and see what made her tick. But he'd need to be careful, or she'd suspect him. But how... and when?
He kept admiring the beauty of her face. It was completely aesthetic; it was perfect. It was so perfect that he could swear it was AI-created for ads for magazines and buildings. She can't be real, or can she? Or were her features just exaggerated?
And her breasts, they had the ideal shape. Archetypical. Symmetrical; not athletic, not bell-shaped, not conical, not too round, not too flabby. Just perfect for a model or a VIP prostitute. And they were so enticing... the combination of young skin, naked shoulders, perfect breasts, and nubile face made this girl a perfect magnet for rich men. But what exactly was that she incited? Was it lust? Admiration? Worship? Sympathy? Tenderness? Care? All of them?
For a second he imagined himself having sex with this bat-winged goddess, and he felt both disgusted and guilty. She was too young for him; in fact, she could've been his daughter already. And yet, she was so attractive.
"Hmm. Venus, huh?"
He decided to take a look at one of the Venus' promo stimvids on the internet, featuring anon'ed strippers. He felt one of the girls' thighs rubbing against him, her breasts pressing agains his naked chest, the caresses... the physiological reaction was logical, and yet... unexpected. He hadn't felt like this in years. Surprised, he pulled his pants open; suddenly, the numerous warnings about blood cholesterol and male impotence made sense. It was the cholesterol in his blood. He had his blood vessels clogged, and the doctors power-washed them clean during the heart surgery.
"The ultra-statins," he whispered. "They worked! I got my boner back!" Excited, joyful like a kid with a new toy on Christmas, he ran to the bathroom and pulled off his pants completely, standing sideways in front of the mirror. He sucked his belly inwards and stared at his dick's reflection. He was hard. He had a rock hard cock ready to use, like a new combustion engine in a racing car, the pistons perfectly lubricated, ready to move up and down at 10,000 RPM as the fuel exploded inside the chambers, the tires screeching at the start line.
"I'm back. Hell yeah, I got my mojo back!!! Hell yeah!!!!" He jumped to the shower and began to wash himself at the tune of "The Impossible Dream". Before he knew it he was singing it out loud.
"This is my quest, to follow that star... no matter how hopeless, No matter how far...
To fight for the right, without question or pause, to be willing to march, march into hell for that heavenly cause!"
And then he realized he had just wet his entire set of chest bandages.
"... oh, fuck."
Well, what's done's done. After he finished showering he removed his bandages and looked in the mirror. They had zipped him up. It was a really tiny zipper surrounded by a larger patch of synthetic skin that had been glued to his real skin. He'd seen this type of surgery a few times during his police training. In a few weeks the zipper would fall off and the synthetic skin would remain; in a year the normal skin would grow back beneath, and finally the synthetic skin would fall off. He'd never really thought about it, but modern medicine was really something to admire.
He called the nearest pharmacy for an urgent delivery that arrived in ten minutes via drone; he patched himself up; the new bandages made him look like a badass hero who had just survived a gunshot wound or something. Satisfied with how his patched chest looked in the mirror (not so much his belly), he put on his suit.
> Hey, Harris.
>> Yo, man, what's up? They're playing a netball match in the hotel bar tonight. Wanna come? Drinks on me!
> I'm on meds, remember?
>> Oh shit, right. Sorry, man.
> Nevermind, I got a better idea. Golden pass. Tonight.
>> You mean the sex club? Like, right now?
> Already dressed and ready. I'll pick you up.
>> Neato! Give me a few minutes, I'll be at the lobby.
> Bring condoms, just in case.
>> Sure thang. What size?
> Extra fit, and a regular for me. [smirk]
>> Fuck you, man! LOL
> See ya in 20 mins?
>> 20 mins.
(Best heard with some jazz music in the background)
That place, the sex club, where men lose their houses, spouses... and trousers in search for an ephemeral dream, where the house always wins and an asshole keeps counting the money from his domed penthouse on the top of a neon-lit skyscraper.
That's right. I was going to a sex club to investigate. Armed with the VIP card that for some reason my client gave me, I decided to go to the VIP floor...
...and enjoy a sweet-ass tit rub.
Harris laughed. "Sorry, man, couldn't help it. You were getting too in-character."
"Fuck you, Harris, you ruined my perfect narration. You know how that felt? Imagine you're having a nice stretch and an asshole decides to pick you on the ribs."
"Aw come on, Pearson! At least admit it was funny."
Pearson began to chuckle. "Okay, I'll grant you that."
"And you shuda bought that bogart."
"It's called a fedora, Harris."
The car arrived to the parking entrance. Pearson scanned the QR and both he and Harris got out of the car.
"'Tis your dream, isn't it, Pearson? A detective investigating a murder suspect... in a sex club."
"Incognito. If you start spilling the beans I'll fucking kick you in the nuts."
"So what are we gonna say?"
"We don't have to say shit. We came here to have fun."
Pearson sighed. "If it only were as romantic as the movies portrayed it."
"I've had my share of experience in these places. I mean, when I didn't have this load of cash available for spending."
"Ouch. Lemme guess. You ran out of money and they kicked you out."
"Yeah, basically. You know what hurts the most? When the girls notice you're going dry and they start treating you like shit. Even my ex started treating me like that."
"No, not the Lieutenant! I mean... never mind." Pearson sighed. I wonder where it's harder to find love, Harris. A brothel, or a sexbot factory."
"Well, if the sexbot factory happens to have fem employees, you might get a chance."
"But we got money this time! At least for a decent girl to treat us like kings for a night."
"Not the full night, Harris. It's my first night with the credit card and I don't want to blow it. I'm setting a budget limit for tonight."
"Hmm.... let me see... 1K each?"
"1K each. Just in case."
"2 thousand creds."
"Wait wait wait wait. What if the bill gets to two thousand and one? Are we getting the transaction rejected? You want us to get kicked in the ass by a bouncer?"
"Okay, 2K but if you exceed the budget you pay back every cent."
"No problem, man."
The two men entered the building and walked through the velvet stairs where two bouncers were scanning them for weapons. They came clean.
> Damn it, Harris. I feel like naked without my gun.
>> Same here, but knowing the other guests don't have guns either makes me feel better about it.
> You're right.
"Okay, ready, Pearson?"
Last time he was in a place like this, it wasn't so well decorated. A five star establishment, no doubt. It even had holographic cabins and VR pods with access to exclusive Paradise(TM) stimvids.
After having his can of coke, Pearson opened it and slowly poured it in his glass.
"Ahhh.... I missed Hong Kong. You don't find this stuff in the States, Harris."
The music stops.
"And now," says the announcer, "the girl you were all waiting for! The huntress of the night. With thirst for fluids and not necessarily blood. She puts the 'F' in Femme, the 'L' in Fatale, our lesbian succubus... Elizabetha!"
A huge QR code appeared in the stage's wall, surrounded by animated hearts and female silhouettes in sexy poses.
"Whoa. Pearson!" whispered Harris. "It's her!"
"I know, Harris," replied Pearson without stopping admiring the winged beauty.
"A real succubus... I'd only seen 'em in movies!"
"Do you think the wings are real?"
"I'm not looking at the wings man... Jesus fucking Christ, look at her moves."
The young beautiful girl was dancing on the pole, seducing them with her forbidden arts, giving them a caress with her tail and finger-calling them - also using her tail.
The girl slowly kelt and began walking on all fours.
"Don't beleive they're real, hon? Come on, you can touch." She gave her back to Pearson and flapped the wings a little. He touched them; They felt real - too real. Out of curiosity, or maybe a bit of malice, he decided to pinch one of them.
"Ow!" Immediately she retracts her wings. "You nasty! You did that on purpose, didn't you?" she smiled, seductively.
Her stare made Pearson blush and smile. "Sorry."
She proceeded to slap him in the face with her tail.
She giggled. "Now we're even, big boy." She stood up and continued to dance before removing her bra and massaging her breasts for the audience.
"See, Pearson? They're real! She a real succubus! I'm betting there are other biomodded babes around!"
Harris quickly scanned the bar and noticed a catgirl, some tiger guy showing off his golden fur, and a puppygirl seducing her client in a nearby table.
They continued to stare at the succubus, but Pearson's decency finally kicked in and he decided not to stare at the girl's bottom when she undid her undies. She was too young for him. Heck, she could be his daughter.
"Harris," he muttered, "I'm feeling so conflicted right now."
"The only conflict I'm feeling is inside my pants."
"And that was Elizabetha, ladies and gentlemen! A big applause!"
After the applause, the succubus girl left, not before Pearson tipped her a hundred credits. She turned around to look at the man who had just given her the big tip. She used the ID embedded with the tip and sent a chat request.
Elizabetha> Did you just...
Pearson nodded and smiled at her. She smiled back and winked at him.
"Wo ho hoh, Pearson! Did you see that? She likes you!"
"It's not me that she likes, Harris. She liked my money."
"But I guess that'll give me a chance to get to know her better."
"Wait, you think it's a good idea to..."
"Harris, I'm not having sex with her! ...I hope."
Harris tried to contain his laugh.
"Well, good luck, Sir Galahad. You're gonna need it!"
Some jazz music began to play, and Pearson started remembering a particular night.
"Wait, I know that song..."
The announcer speaks. "And for a more calm moment, let's hear the beautiful voice of our Japanese muse. Get ready for..."
Pearson's blood left his face. "Harris, let's go."
"Turn around and don't look back. Cover me!"
"Okay, okay, what's going on?"
"Let's go to the men's room, quick."
A minute later, they were safe from view. Suddenly, one of the floor stalls opened, revealing a gay couple doing it right there.
"Aw, Jesus Christ," shouted Pearson, "get a fucking room, you morons!"
One of the guys flipped the finger on Pearson.
"At least wear a condom, you don't know if he's got the cronen!" Pearson washed his head. "Fucking bastards."
"Anyway, Pearson, what was that about?"
"Guess I never told you about my ex. I met her right here. I never expected her to work in this club again."
"Huh... look, I don't want to ask, but..."
"We.... didn't exactly part in the best terms."
"So, what do we do? Leave just like that?"
"Fuck no. I'm not letting anyone interfere with my first night of freedom in here. I'll go downstairs and get to the VIP section from the other corridor."
"Okay, but she doesn't know me, so I'll just come back to the table."
"Guess this is where we part ways, huh?"
"Enjoy your night, champ." Harris snapped his fingers and aimed at Pearson with a fingergun.
"You too, buddy."
A slight detour later, and Pearson found himself in a private room in the top floor. A cute girl with a bellboy uniform bowed before him.
"Good evening, sir. Enjoying your night?"
"Yes, thank you."
"Would you like to get a look at the menu?"
Nice, Pearson thought. They even prepare food for you.
The girl gave him a nicely printed menu with several pages. "Let's see... something not too heavy - oh, it's that kind of menu."
The bell girl giggled. "Please ring the bell for service."
All the girls in the menu were animated. "Let's see... Rosaline... not bad, Esmeralda... Candy... Azul... Sugei... Clar - nope.
He rubbed his chin. This might be the last chance to see her nake - er, get some information from her.
"Ah, who am I kidding? I want her. Argh!" He grabbed his hair, still undecided. A part of him felt guilty while the other part felt horny.
Come on, Pearson, make up your damn mind.
If by any chance he was introduced to her tomorrow, going back here would feel so taboo. And if she was indeed the murderer, she would raise her defences while not in the club.
He needed to meet her. Now. But would he have sex with her? Was it even correct to have sex with her, knowing she might be his enemy? And if he were introduced later to the family, what would he say? "Oh hi, I'm here to investigate the murder. This suspect has a great ass, by the way."
Shit. Why did she have to be so attractive?
Wait. What if another customer asked for her? He'd lose his chance! Fuck!
He rang the bell.
"Please bring Elizabetha here, if you don't mind?" He showed the girl his golden pass, meaning he'd get priority over other customers.
"Right away, sir. Just a reminder, penetrative sex is off the table."
"Well, officially, it's available for five thousand credits. That's her price."
"Five thousand credits for a single night of sex?"
"Just vaginal and anal. All other forms of sex have standard prices, including oral."
"Huh. Interesting... may I inquire why?"
"According to the country's sex work laws, all sex workers are free to set the base prices for their services."
"Yes, yes, I know. I mean, why did she set a price so high?"
"Because she's naive. She wants to keep her virginity for the," she air quoted, "'right person'."
"Wait - she's a virgin? And she's working here?"
"Well, not technically a virgin. With Liz, being a girl has its bonuses. If she likes you, she gives you a 90% discount. But since I already work here, she gave me a 99% discount."
"So you had sex with her for five hundred credits?"
The girl approached Pearson and whispered. "And we did everything imaginable."
Pearson trembled. "Oh boy... I would have loved to see that."
The girl smiled and blushed. "But you'd have to be a girl in the first place."
"So guys get the limited edition, then."
"Too bad. But I say it's still worth it. Should I still call her?"
"So we won't do it after all..." he muttered. And just like that, all the conflict in his mind was washed away. "Yes, please," he replied with a polite smile.
A few minutes later, he heard some female whispering. Curious about it, he decided to turn on his captioning. Instantly, the words appeared in his field of view.
"A golden pass? Just how rich is this guy?"
"He has a Rhodium card. Rhodium."
"You're shitting me?"
"Be careful with the prices you set, he might pay the five thousand after all."
"Holy fuck... Does that mean I'll finally have to do it?"
"Uh... good luck?"
"But I've never had sex with a guy! It's a huge step! And... and..."
"Five thousand! Who's willing to pay that for a night? I say go for it."
"Look, just take my advice. If you don't do this, you'll end up hating yourself tomorrow! It's the opportunity of a lifetime!"
Silence. The bellgirl spoke again. "But it's your call."
"I know! Ugh... I honestly hoped this day never came."
"Maybe he won't be paying for that after all?"
"He's probably a millionaire. Of course he'll pay! Ugh... I should have increased the price."
"Hurry up... he's waiting!"
"Ignite... give me an ignite."
"Okay, let me get it."
Pearson decided to stop eavestropping. He began feeling a bit guilty. even if it was only mental, he didn't want to take that poor girl's virginity; at least, not like that. It had to be her decision, and it had to be with someone else. Then, maybe... when she had finally made up her mind, he could do it... but it was too high a price, and he knew Lord Wakefield would kill him if he spent five thousand on a prostitute.
Which led to the question, why put her in the poster in the first place? Oh, right. She was one of the murder suspects. He needed to be careful.
A couple minutes later, someone knocked at the door.
Pearson straightened his necktie. "Come in..."
The beautiful seductress approached. She was wearing the same lingerie that she used on stage.
"Hello, handsome. Ready to have some fun time?"
Pearson swallowed. "Oh boy."