Cyberpunk Challenge – Detective Rickard Varriano, Protagonist

Many elements of this story were created from the notes found in my article Write This! Cyberpunk Challenge. Find out more about the Challenge by reading through my previous posts. Also, the CC Story Archive has been updated. You can download the free PDF on my author site at Raymond Towers Dot Com / Freebies. Note: The CC Story Archive is now rated at MEDIUM controversy.

Detective Rickard Varriano, Protagonist

His name was Varriano, Rickard Varriano. He’d been to holo-nudie men’s clubs before, but not quite like this one. The display signs on the front wall said a lot of strange things to him.

Payday advances!

All major cred cards accepted!

This year’s ass at last year’s prices!

Get your dick on!

That last slogan, especially… Varriano didn’t know what to make of it. He took a step back to take in the entire front of the club. There were no windows, only one-way poly screens that let in, at a guess, only fifty percent natural sunlight. All the signs were placed right on the screens, so he figured it would be pretty dark inside. The top of the club had a false crown, or a raised roofline, if you will, with the name of the establishment emblazoned on it: Eris & Rocket’s Joint. Next to the name was a hologram of a woman’s legs. Varriano watched the legs spread apart and close back up, spread apart and close back up, every three seconds. The details on the vagina were, in his opinion, very well articulated.

Varriano turned around to look at the street. The sidewalk had people on it and the street was full of cars. He even saw kids out there. And up above his head, the holo-muff spread its thighs and closed them back up again. People were looking at him, standing out there, next to the club’s screen-darkened door.

An old man walked out, giving him an odd glance before ambling in the opposite direction.

“Excuse me.” Varriano called out.

The man stopped to give him the once-over again.

“I have to ask. Did you get your dick on?”

For a second, Varriano thought the old man might try to come after him. He pulled out his pepper spray. “Don’t even think about it. I’m fully licensed to use this.”

The old man cursed him and left.

That brought Varriano back to his present dilemma. Should he enter the Joint or not? He went to the door, opened it, and set one leg inside to have a look. It was really dark inside. White vapor lifted off the floor, because of course nudie bars were much better when they doubled as swamps. His eyes tried to adjust to the dark interior. He heard synthwave music. That was a plus, because he liked synthwave. He saw maybe a handful of people sitting on dark, plush seating, mostly older men, with two holo-chicks dancing on the stage. The chicks were clearly adults, but they had pigtails and dressed like schoolgirls. Definitely, that was not a plus. It confused him.

Five minutes later, Varriano was still there, halfway inside and halfway outside. He had to scoot over to let an old woman in, wondering exactly what she was doing there. Looking for sex toys, maybe?

“Close the fucking door, you moron!” A voice from inside shouted at him. “Can’t you see we got vampires in here?”

There, Varriano thought. That’s what he needed. The tone had been set and now he could react to it, adapt to it so he wouldn’t feel so out of place. He walked in and let the door shut behind him. Fingers said he’d be there soon, so maybe he should sit close to the door to catch the guy coming in. Then again, if he sat too close to the door everybody and his uncle would see him right off the bat. Varriano did not want people to associate his face with Eris & Rocket’s Joint in any way, shape or form.

Sit toward the back, he decided, but in a spot where he could keep lookout on the door. He started toward adequate seating, when he stepped on something slippery and nearly fell on his ass. It was too dark and misty for him to see the floor.

“What the hell did I just step on?” He shouted, with a tone similar to the man who’d yelled at him. “I hope that’s not jizz down there! Somebody better clean that shit up!”

His outburst made him feel like he belonged there. With more confidence, Varriano walked past a few rows of chairs, past the edge of the stage, where one of the holo-girls shook her ass at him, and found a small round table to sit next to. He had a detection device, using it to find out how many people in the Joint had snoopers. Three, he counted, including one embedded into the wall that was undoubtedly set by the club owners. No problem, since he had a scrambler with the latest patch on it. Let’s see them try to snoop his phone or record his conversation now.

With nothing to do but wait, he eyed the nearest holo-chick. She was Latin and spicy, short and curvy. To Varriano, she looked like a real woman, that is, until at the end of her dance set, when she peeled off her holo-skin. That’s right, the chick peeled off her flesh, from her head down to her toes, and underneath was a taller white chick with bigger boobs and longer legs.

Varriano was a simple, down to earth sort of guy. He would have liked it if the holo-chicks finished dancing, left the stage, and other holo-chicks appeared to take their place. This bizarre thing where the chicks took off their skin to become other chicks, that was… He had no words.

A holo-chick came to stand next to his table. She was nude from the waist up, with a butch haircut: one side completely shaved, the top colored neon blue, long and waved over to the other side. The chick’s eyes sparkled, or twinkled, and her lips did the same.

“What can I get you?” She asked.

Varriano peered at her, wondering how a holographic woman could bring drinks and make change and shit. He reached out and poked his finger at her B cup titty.

“I’m real, asshole!” The girl snapped. “Do you want a drink or not?”

“I did not know you were real, until now.” Varriano excused himself. “What would you recommend for a drink?”

“How about fresh piss on the rocks?” The girl steamed off. “Coming right up!”

“I’m not paying for that!” Varriano shouted at her back.

A couple of minutes later, a big guy walked over to glower at him. “You harassing the girls?”

“I am not.”

“The server said you did.”

“I thought she was a holo! I don’t know how to behave in a place like this! Listen, you send her back and I’ll apologize. I’m meeting a client here.”

“You want to meet a client here?”

“Client’s choice of locale, not mine.” Varriano shrugged.

“What kind of work you do?”

“Little of this, little of that. Mostly, I track people down who want to go off the grid for all the wrong reasons. I do some surveillance work too, like when somebody thinks their lover is cheating on them. You know anybody that has that kind of problem? I’ve got a high satisfaction rating and my rates are affordable. You want my sim-card?”

The man nodded. They open-linked phones to make the transfer, and Varriano, thankfully, was left alone.

Four Fingers was late. By the time he came in, Varriano had watched the same two holo-dancers change skins like ten times. The shedding of flesh wasn’t as bad by then.

“It’s five thirty.” Varriano grumbled, as Four Fingers took the seat next to him. “You said you’d be here at four, dickhead.”

“I said five.”

“No, you said four.”

“I said five.” Four Fingers shrugged.

“I’ve got you recorded on my fucking phone, saying four! That doesn’t even matter! Even if you said five, you’re still late!”

“I said five.” Four Fingers insisted.

“Let me tell you something.” Varriano pointed at the other man’s face. “There is a reason why we have so much police brutality in Stem City, and it starts with people like you! Do you have any idea how close you are to getting pepper sprayed? Don’t talk to me for five minutes. I’ve got to meditate this anger out of me.”

“Whatever you say.” Fingers told him.

Varriano leaned back in his chair, gazing at the stage and really feeling something this time. The holo-chick had the look of a silver android now, with no seams on her anywhere. She moved like fluid mercury in a woman’s form. It was breathtaking to watch her dance with all the reflections bouncing off her ass.

“That’s pretty hot.” Fingers nodded. “I’d fuck her.”

“She’s not even real.” Varriano muttered. “Why would you choose a nudie club where the dancers aren’t even real?”

“It’s a lot cheaper than a place with real girls. You still need your five minutes?”

“Yes, I do.”

It took Varriano a little longer than five minutes to get his head straight. When he started speaking, he spoke in prose.

Tits on display, shaking in unnatural ways. Reality is something that I can reach out and touch, But this, this is the land of illusions. A sunset here is a sunrise somewhere else, That’s called perspective, and yearning. But can you tell me this? When you live in the land of dreams, What does it matter, As long as the tits are still shaking?

(To be continued.)

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