In honor of the release of the 7th Jimmy Delaney story, Fractured Fragment Friday continues to be “Hacked Off.”
So where did Jimmy come from?
It started with an off-hand comment, someone wishing they could just plug a flash drive into their head and get the knowledge and skills they needed without all that work. I’d also seen a lot of articles on what’s coming in brain research, especially reading, memory, and control, and my thoughts tend to gravitate and revolve around mind control. And the idea of an implant to transfer skills into a person’s mind also led to the possibility of being hacked or controlled.
I didn’t intend to write a detective story, let alone a series. Sure, I like to have a little mystery, misdirection and reveal in my fiction, but I write speculative fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, and horror), not police and detective who-dun-its. But that’s where the story wanted to go.
In “In a Flash”, Jimmy Delaney was a police detective, a decent one, but changing times, attitudes, and his own aging put him in a position where he felt he needed extra help to keep up with the needed skills for his job. He makes the mistake of getting an implant to help him keep his job, and things go wrong from there.
I identify with Jimmy more strongly than most of the characters I’ve written (No, I did not get my own implant), and after that first story Jimmy just wouldn’t go away. And so here he is in his seventh story, and those implants are causing problems again.
Here’s the Blurb
Jimmy’s relationship with the police seems to have taken a turn for the worse, but it’s not just him. Some of his associates have had strange confrontations with law enforcement. Could someone be manipulating their AugMonitor feeds?
“Hacked Off” is a soft-boiled detective novella with some sci-fi elements, sort of a The Rockford Files meets The Avengers (the old BBC series, not the superheroes.)
And Here’s This Week’s Excerpt
A light drizzle was falling as Jimmy drove the Cuda out to the Lewis Estate, where Diana lived as Misty Devereaux and administered the Working Sisters Foundation. He stayed under the speed limit to avoid an unforced encounter with the police, and made it to the main gate without incident.
Getting in was another matter.
The gate was closed, which wasn’t unusual at night. Ever since the problems with Sharon Lewis sneaking onto the estate and trying to kill her, Diana had opted for keeping the grounds secured at night. Jimmy had suggested this, and felt better knowing that Diana had taken his advice. Sometimes she could be overly confident of her own security measures. She had some of Stefan’s drones watching the grounds, but a locked gate reduced the number of problems they had to deal with.
Jimmy pushed the call button and waited, but when there was no reply, he called Diana.
“Hey, could you buzz me in through the front gate?”
“Are you there? I don’t see you.”
Jimmy looked up at the camera above the gate, flashed his high beams, and waved.
“Now do you see me?”
“No. There must be something wrong with the system. I’ll open it,” she said.
Jimmy waited, but the gate remained closed.
“Sorry, Jimmy. Nothing seems to be working out there.”
“That’s alright. I’ll see you in a bit.”
“I always am.”
Jimmy parked the Cuda to the side of the drive, then exited the passenger door. He had hoped that whatever the snafu was would be corrected by then, but the gate remained closed. He was going to be making the trip on foot in the rain. He scaled the ten-foot flagstone-faced wall to the left of the gate without much trouble at all. He couldn’t have done that a year ago, and was glad he had been working out with Pete.
He dropped in among the trees on the other side, and pulled his overcoat’s collar up against the chilled rain. When he stepped onto the driveway he could see the mansion in the distance, the lights from its windows reflected off the damp asphalt. At any one time the estate housed up to a couple of dozen of the foundation’s reformed women; he was glad that Diana wasn’t alone out here.
He was a couple of hundred feet from the gate when he heard a mosquito-like buzzing from the direction of the house. The moonlight glinted off of a pair of small quad copters as they each floated above its side of the driveway. He stopped walking and studied them; they looked like Stefan’s standard surveillance drones. He wondered if they were running on autopilot, or if it was being controlled manually, so he called Diana.
“Can you see me?” he asked when she picked up.
“Not yet. I’m waiting at the front door. Where are you?”
“On the driveway, about halfway between the gate and the house. I guess that means you’re not controlling the drones,” he said.
“Oh, you don’t need to worry about the drones – I parked all of them when you called from the gate,” she said.
“Oh. Well, you missed a couple.”
“That can’t be,” she said. “No, you’re right. And they’re not responding to my phone app. I’m going to deactivate them from the main console.”
“Okay – I’ll meet you there.”
He had resumed walking, but she brought him up short.
“No! Don’t move!”
“Why not? I don’t care if they see me.”
“You will if they tag you.”
The pitch of the buzzing increased, and Jimmy saw that the pair was moving toward him.
“They’re armed? I thought they were just for surveillance.”
“They were, but after Sharon kept sneaking in, I had Stefan mount them with dart guns, but you’ll be fine if you don’t move.”
“That’s good to know. They’re coming for a closer look, by the way.”
“They shouldn’t be doing that.”
“Maybe you could tell them?”
“I would, but I’m not at the console yet.”
He heard a “zzvit!”, and something clattered past him on the asphalt.
“I don’t think I can wait anymore,” Jimmy said.
He ran off the driveway and in among the trees. As he did he heard another “zzvit!”, and a dart kicked up some dirt behind him. He tried to stay inside a tight cluster of fir trees, but the pair of drones kept angling for better shots, and they were getting too close for him to think being stationary was the answer. He juked this way and that through the woods, while the darts came uncomfortably close.
He was finally behind a spruce, looking at the hundred yard expanse of lawn and driveway between him and the mansion. There were now three drones taking pot shots at him, and there might be more coming, so he launched himself pell-mell for the door. He hadn’t run this well since he’d been a rookie, maybe even not since high school football.
Jimmy was most of the way across the lawn – thinking how his college football son Josh might even be impressed by his old dad – when he felt a sharp sting just above his right knee. He fell to the ground, yanked the dart from his thigh. He launched himself up and across the drive toward the front door, but his right leg wasn’t cooperating, and then another dart hit his left shoulder and he tumbled onto the asphalt.
That’s got to hurt, he thought.
He realized with some surprise that it didn’t. He couldn’t feel anything. He remembered how he had been hurting from the stings before, and decided this was better – easier. He was laying on his side in an awkward jumble, but when he tried to right himself his position didn’t change in the slightest. He could see the front stairs of the mansion only ten yards away, but he might as well have been trying to reach the moon.
Unlike last week, Jimmy isn’t unconscious this time – at least not yet.
“Hacked Off” will continue to be available at a reduced promotional price throughout its release weekend at several omline retailers, including, but not limited to:
Honest ratings and reviews are, as always, appreciated. Hope you enjoy it!
Current Book Promotions
For information on my current promotions (including the FREE Presale and reduced price preorders for Cats of War III, my participating books in the 14th Annual Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale, as well as FREE starter eBooks for my Herc Tom, Champion of the Empire series and my Detective Jimmy Delaney series), look HERE on my CURRENT BOOK PROMOTIONS page.
William Mangieri’s writing has been published on Daily Science Fiction and The Arcanist. His ninety or so short stories and related collections can be found at several online retailers, including, but not limited to:
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