“Shit! Did I put salt in my coffee again?” Detective Dumbass asked himself out loud, putting down the cup of coffee on the countertop, and revolving his tongue around in his mouth with an expression of disgust on his face. His taste buds were recovering from the dash of bitter they’d just got.
“Salty coffee got your tongue again, Dumbass?” Lieutenant Dickhead said, walking into the kitchenette, an octagon-shaped cabin consigned to a sticky corner of the dioctagon lobby, located in a di-octagon building with hexagon and heptagon rooms.
“Aye, Lt. Dick. I would think so,” Dumbass replied, looking from the white button labeled ‘Salt’ on the Robo-Bev, the beverage-making robot, to the red button labeled ‘Sugar’. It was the only robot in the building that was mute and deaf and ran only on its buttons being pushed.
Which button did I press? Every damn time. Of what use is a robotic coffee machine if it can’t even tell whether you’re putting sugar or salt in your drink? , he mused, scratching his head.
“There has been a murder at a seven-star hotel on 56th. You’re on it, Dumbass. I have already sent you the details on your MacTab. I need you there ASAP,” Dickhead spoke, pouring himself a cup of coffee from the machine.
“Will anyone be joining me, sir?” Dumbass asked, looking at his own abandoned cup of coffee. His fingers reached out to pick it up from the countertop, hovered over it for a few moments of indecision, then retracted.
I will have a latte from the Mars Café on the way. At least the Coffee-Maker-cum-Waitress asks after me and chats while she makes the drink according to my specifications. If she had been even half-human I would have married her, Dumbass mused.
It was a brave new dystopian new world…where cafes were slowly going high-tech. Waitresses were replaced by multi-purpose coffee- making –and- serving robots, which interacted with individual customers as they whipped up beverages the way they wanted them. All the humans had to do was input behavioral cues and conversational material into the machine every morning.
Even the human managers had a robot each for handling financial transactions.
Mars Café was one such enterprising café, and Dumbass was a known patron.
Sometimes, if a customer happened to fall in love with any of the ‘Waitresses’, they could meet the woman ‘behind’ the machines with their consent.
Many life-long relationships were forged in these cafes.
“Detective Kickass is on her way from home to the crime scene,” Dickhead replied, taking a sip from his cup.
“Right. I should get going then, Lt. Dick,” Dumbass said, and turned around to leave.
His attention on his MacTab, he didn’t notice the leather couch in front of him and walked right onto it.
The chocolate brown couch happened to have a chocolate brown Supercat lying on it. The cat meowed loudly as Dumbass walked on it, and, in retaliation, sprang from its seat, grabbed his legs from beneath, and, lifting him, hurled him towards the door of the kitchenette.
“Damn you Supercat!” Dumb mumbled, as he slumped against the door, still reading on his MacTab.
You should have thought of that before you walked right onto me, Dumbass, the cat telepathied him.
I’m sorry, Super. I owe you a Mutant Rat, Dumb tele-replied.
You sure do, buddy, tele-replied the cat.
As Dumbass walked towards the bank of elevators leading to the ground floor, the last thought on his mind was how to get hold of one of the Rats, plaguing the New Mars City’s radioactive sewers. The rats, mutants of a radioactive generation spawned by a world immersed in nuclear waste, could do stuff . Like flying, swimming, Kung-fu, making real mince-pies out of human beings they preyed on and serving them at F-Rat parties, and teaching human anatomy to rats at Rodent Medical Schools, also established in the sewers.
Dumbass walked out of the NMCPHQ building, his body automatically tilting as he reached the tilted front entrance of the building- and straightening itself as he stepped out on the sidewalk.
He put his hand up to shield his eyes from the rays glinting off the glass facades of the numerous buildings dotting the city landscape; some edifices tilting sideways like the NCMPHQ, architecturally inspired by the Leaning Tower of Pisa, others gnarled like roots, snaking like serpents or shaped like human body parts and other things. All these under a blood red sky, in which the clouds had chosen to be rose-shaped that day, the yellow sun standing out with its luminescence.
“What the hell!” Dumb shouted as his legs buckled beneath him and his butt collided with a clang on a smooth metal surface.
“SQUAR! Again!” he added, realizing he was lying spread-eagled on the bonnet of the robotic squad car, a fleet of which was owned by the police department.
“You summoned me here! What am I supposed to do if you’re in my way!” SQUAR boomed in reply.
Dumbass realized the hand holding his MacTab had a finger on the green button which, when pressed, made the car fly out of the garage and right in front of the cop. Without realizing it, he had summoned the car and it had flew into him from behind.
“Absent-minded as usual, Dumb,” the car chirped, as a pair of robotic hands emerged from the sides of the vehicle, grabbed him by the waist, and placed him snugly into the driver’s seat.
“Yeah yeah. Off to 66th, SQUAR,” Dumb ordered in reply.
The car sped away, flying five feet above the ground.
“Dumb! Where the hell where you? I’ve been calling you for ages!” Detective Kickass, a macho woman in her early twenties yelled at her partner as he stepped out of the car, which was resting on the ground.
“I’m sorry…I confused 56th Street for 66th, and had to drive all the way back. You called?” he asked, looking at his MacTab.
“Yeah…about 20 times!” Kickass replied.
Dumb saw that his partner had actually called him 25 times; he hadn’t realized it because his tab, lying on the passenger seat, was in Silent mode. He had put it on Silent the previous night while going to bed, and forgotten to switch back to Loud that morning.
“I’m so sorry…you’re not gonna punch me, are you?” asked Dumb, to the woman who was a certified expert in 7 types of martial arts, five time World Champion in Physical Combat and one of the strongest women in the world. Her physical prowess was due to Peptide X, a supplement she took every day and owned in plenty- courtesy of being related, by marriage, to a Martian family whose multi-planetary pharmaceutical company made Peptide X. The formulation gave its human consumers super-human strength.
‘That’s why Detective Kickass doesn’t have any boyfriends’ a journalist had written unkindly once.
“No…I’m not gonna punch you. Let’s go inside,” she replied.
“There’s a lot of heat on the NMPD with this murder,” Kickass commented, as she and Dumbass looked at the mutilated body floating in mid-air in an ornate suite of the Hotel Saturn-Solaris.
“I know,” Dumb commented.
The body, whose flesh was slowly melting and dripping like candle wax on to the ground, was that of Mrs. Snob Elitist, wife of spaceship mogul Mr. Rich Bastard-Elitist. Red vapors emanated from her mouth and mixed with the air.
The city Mayor Good-for-nothing, a good friend of Mr. Elitist, was pressurizing Chief Kiss-Ass of the NMPD, who was in turn nagging Captain Corrupt-Parasite, who was, in turn, forcing Lt. Dickhead to catch the killer and solve the case quickly.
“Which is why we are going to have to act very fast, I suppose,” Dumbass commented, as the forensic pathologist, Dr. Chucklehead, came into view.
“Yes we do. How’d she die, Doc?” Kickass asked him.
“She has probably been lasered to death by a high-powered instrument, Detective. All her internal organs have probably already started powderizing and her blood has vaporized, as you can see. We will have to take her to the lab before she turns to biologic dust and we lose vital evidence,” Chucklehead replied. No one understood where Chucklehead got his name, because his facial muscles were always contorted in a grim expression, and his voice was deep and had a somber quality.
“Yes please, Doc,” Kickass said.
As the detectives examined the evidence being lifted by the Forensic Science Investigators in blue overalls, the coroner’s team, dressed in green baggy suits, arrived to take the body away.
“Dumb! Look over there! What’s happening?” Kickass commented, pointing to where the coroner’s team stood around the corpse.
Dumb looked to where she pointed, and his eyes widened in surprise.
None of the green-suited people were moving. They were also suspended in mid air like the corpse, their hands limp at their sides, their legs dangling precariously, and a number of red rays were coming in from a window, engulfing the team.
The FSIs on that side of the room were crouched on the ground, looking fearfully at the weird tableaux.
“What is that? We must go to help!” Dumb shouted, darting forward.
“Shhhhh! Shut up Dumb! Can’t you see these are laser rays? They’re coming from outside…we’ll be roasted if we as much as step anywhere them!” Kickass whispered, pulling Dumb back by the collar of his shirt and pulling them both to the ground.
“Who’s doing this, and why?” Dumb whispered.
“Didn’t you hear Chucklehead? Snob Elitist was murdered with a high-powered laser machine…by someone who doesn’t want us to investigate further and find out what happened…they probably want to kill us all and probably destroy all evidence by lasering this place and Snob’s body to bits. Let’s not alert them to our presence,” Kickass explained.
“Absolutely correct, Detective Kickass,” Chucklehead whispered from a little way off, huddled beneath a window.
Suddenly, a low rumbling sound came out of nowhere. This was followed by the suspended green-suited people being bombarded by more rays, and their suits started puncturing with numerous lacerations.
Cracks started to appear in the wall opposite to where Kickass and Dumbass lay, and the people crouching on the ground hurriedly scuttled over to where they were.
“They’re trying to kill all of us, Detective Kickass. What do we do?” Chucklehead said in a loud whisper.
“We need to get out of here. It has through be through that window, Doc. Come on, jump out and lead the way. Come on! Everybody, buckle up!” Kickass instructed, pointing to the window above Chucklehead
“This is the 115th floor, for God’s sake! We’ll all fall to our deaths!”
“We’ll summon our SQUARs…we have plenty of space to accommodate everyone. Now! Before we all liquefy to death!” Kickass shouted, running to the window and pressing the green button on her tab. Dumb did the same, as other walls started to develop cracks too and the rumbling grew louder.
As the two SQUARs arrived outside the window and opened their doors, Kickass pulled people and helped them get in the car, where a large secret cabin would open up in the rear section.
When they had taken everyone who wasn’t already caught by the laser, Kickass and Dumbass jumped into their cars.
“To the NMPD!” they both shouted together, and the cars, emitting a flash of fire from its tapered tail-end, sped away.
Moments later, the laser rays vanished, the rumbling stopped, and the room became silent again. All the humans, including the corpse, melted into a fluid state as another, larger green ray entered through a large hole in the wall.
And the room exploded with a BANG, vaporizing everything it contained, and the rooms within its immediate periphery.
A huge, egg-shaped vehicle, floating at a safe distance from the 115th floor of Saturn-Solaris, flew away into the sky.