This story is work in progress. I’ve re-written chapters 1 and 2 ( I know, I should leave rewriting to the end, but I got tempted). You can find them here
The silent, windowless room is illuminated only by the screen that makes up most of one of the walls. Halek’s smiling face, looking into the lens of the hovercam she was about to destroy, is in the top right hand corner of the screen.
“Zoom in on the face.”
The NJinn complies but doesn’t respond. He has deleted the NJinn’s ability to speak.
He studies the image as if he is surveying a landscape, mapping salient points that will aid future exploration. He classifies her as striking rather than pretty: the pale skin, high cheekbones, widely spaced eyes and broad forehead are memorable. Her features are pleasingly symmetrical but lack the slightly child-like, unthreatening aspect that most men are conditioned to find sexually attractive. Her hair is aggressively short, prioritising practicality over sensuality. Then there is her over-large mouth. In repose it might look sinful but spread into a smile that shows her teeth, it makes her look predatory.
Staring, unblinking, at the image, he lets himself imagine that mouth stretched wide as it pushes out a scream of agony. Her screams would be loud and strong and she would hate herself for making them.
“Zoom in on the eyes.”
The pale blue eyes scale until they fill almost half the wall. The quality of the hovercam lens means there is almost no distortion. He can see that these are not eyes people find easy to trust. The colour suggests coldness and calculation. He stares into her pupils but finds nothing but darkness. It is what he expected. The spark that lives behind the eyes seems to be able to hide from cameras. It is a prey that has to be hunted in the flesh.
“Play the bio”
It is an MPCCU bio, giving only the basic details: Eliska Halek, Detective Sergeant with MPCCU, born Czech Republic 24th January 2055, graduated Univerzita Karlova v Praze in 2076 with a degree in psychology, moved to England the same year. Joined the Metropolitan Police in 2079.
He pauses, still staring into Halek’s cold blue eyes, analysing the things the bio didn’t say.
“Research Halek: all data in the Police and Security databases in Europe and the USA plus financial records, web presence analysis and her university transcripts. Set up monitoring of her communications. Track her NJinn. Tag data as ‘Possible Further Interest’. Ping me when the data is ready.”
He is pleased that his voice does not betray the curiosity and excitement that Halek has provoked. He does not permit people to know where his curiosity lies.
He walks to the door, says “Terminate display”, places a civilized smile on his face and steps back into the world.