William’s work can be found in Daily Science Fiction, Little Blue Marble, The Arcanist, Kraxon, New Orbit, House of Zolo, The Centropic Oracle, New Myths, Write Ahead/The Future Looms, and many other fine publications.
Hawthorn had two minutes.
Once she triggered the static pulse and killed the electronic security measures, Lady Mella’s personal guards would be all over the ninety-eighth floor ASAP, not to mention the hotel’s private security.
Hawthorn had been provided with Mella’s itinerary by Agent Stewart after the deal they’d made, a necessary evil when Interpol caught her in Prague trying to sell the mythical Isabella Stewart Gardner Thirteen.
“We need a solar-class art thief with no nanos—one hundred percent human—for a job,” he’d said, smirking across the cheap plastic interrogation room table. “And you don’t want to spend the rest of your life in a penal colony on Europa. So, what do you say?”
Five days later, she was a maid at Boston’s Hotel Buckminster.
The gig had let her chat up one of Mella’s guards in the hotel bar, where she’d kept him distracted enough to rip a copy of his security code for the private lift.
Now she was riding that lift, alone, in her maid’s uniform, watching the seconds tick away on her silver Dent pocket watch.
We’re halfway through dinner when the implant malfunctions.
The dining room smells like roast chicken, garlic mash, and mushroom gravy as our father, drunk off one beer thanks to the cocktail of medications he’s on, tells us about the time he stabbed his brother with a fork over a potato.
“God, I miss Frank.” He wipes his eyes, and it doesn’t matter that we’ve heard the same sentimental tale a thousand times. “Your grandmother worked so hard, and there was never enough food in the early years after the oil crash. But we stuck together.”
That’s when my sister, Marie, takes a swallow from her third glass of wine and the colour drains from her face. “Mom?”
We all look. Mom’s expression is frozen, her breathing quick, her pupils dilated.
“Look at her hands,” Marie says. “How can this be happening? It’s been years!”
“Mom,” I say tentatively, “are you okay?” But we all recognize the typing motions of her left hand, the way her right curls around a non-existent control stick. We’ve all heard the story.