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Authors: Jason Werbeloff

The Cryo Killer

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The Cryo Killer

 

Jason Werbeloff

The
Cryo Killer
Copyright: Jason Keith Werbeloff
Published: 26 March 2015

All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be
reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express
written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief
quotations in a book review.

 

 

Fiction by Jason
Werbeloff

 

Novels

Solace Inc

The Solace Pill

 

Hedon

 

Shorts

Your Averaged Joe

Visiting Grandpa’s Brain

Falling for Q46F

The Cryo Killer

Other fiction by Jason Werbeloff

In post-apocalyptic
Shangri, happiness is compulsory, strictly monitored by a hedometer
implanted in your brain. Become depressed, or feel too happy
without helping others feel the same, and The Tax Man will get
angry. Very angry.

The lovechild of
Brave New World
and
The Handmaid’s Tale
,
Hedon
is gritty satire on a dystopia drunk with bigotry and positive
thinking.

Click here to download
the book:

http://www.jasonwerbeloff.com/hedon/

Contents

The Cryo
Killer

Other
fiction by Jason
Werbeloff

Dear Reader

The Cryo Killer

Sales in the mornings.
Killings in the afternoons. We’re a small business, so I have to do
it all. I don’t like sales much. Most of the time I’m selling our
front – life insurance. But not today.

The couple who walks in is young. Younger
than my usual. They don’t look a day over thirty. Her face is
bright. She scans the small office like it’s a chocolate shop.
Whole universes reflect in those eyes.

“I’m here for the New Year Special,” she
says. Ten years ago I would’ve found that syrupy voice
irresistible. She takes the chair before I can offer it.

The man on her arm is gray. Also young, but
he hobbles after her geriatric-like. Perches on the edge of his
seat and glares at us. Anxious.

She’s used the pass phrase. The ‘New Year
Special’. I unlock the top drawer of my desk and confirm with her,
“Would that be the extended cover, or the starter package?”

“Extended.”

“Welcome,” I say, shaking their hands. His
is cold and rubbery. “… to Life Extensions Ltd. I’m Barker.”

She smiles at me in a way that makes the
world feel a whole lot smaller. Pushes every thought I own into
that warm, wet place between her lips. She looks familiar.
Almost.

“Have we met?”

Her smile doesn’t falter. “I don’t think
so,” she says.

I put on my kind face, as Janet calls
it.

I feel Janet watching from her desk. It’s
just the two of us here at Life Extensions Ltd. She’s been with me
pretty much since the beginning. She does the bookings and the
admin. And I … well, I do everything else.

It hadn’t taken long for Janet to work out
that I don’t really sell life insurance. Or at least, that’s not
the only service I offer. She hadn’t made a fuss of it, though. “I
don’t judge,” is all she’d say when pressed for her opinion. But
she’d clutched the cross hanging from her neck.

“Thank you,” says the girl with the smile.
“Inesa, and this is my husband, Paul.”

“Inesa and Paul, good to meet you. Who
referred you?”

“Mr. Camfrey’s wife.”

Paul’s hands are working. Picking at each
other. At the cuticles.

“Ah yes, I was sorry to hear about his
passing.”

“I think,” she lowers her voice, “that it
was professionally done. Heart attack, I hear.”

I lean forward. “You’d like a similar
package, ma’am?”

Paul speaks up for the first time. “Is it
quick?”

If I had a penny for every time a client
asked me that question. “Painless,” I say, “or your money
back.”

Paul harrumphs.

“Excellent,” says Inesa, beaming. “You’ve
been doing this a while?”

“Best in the business,” says Janet, striding
over to us. She places a hand on my shoulder. “You’re safe with
Barker.”

“So, you’re wanting the double package?”

Inesa squeezes her husband’s arm. Every
carat on her ring finger catches the sunlight. His nod is
miniscule.

“Yes,” she replies after a moment.

“Those are difficult.” I lean back in my
chair, weighing the ring out of the corner of my eye. “Coroner
looks closely at doubles. Need a plausible cause of death. Right
now all I have in stock are gas leaks and home invasions. Invasions
can get messy – brings down the property value. I suggest the gas
leak. Although …” I glance at Paul. “Home invasions are on the
rise.”

Paul scratches the skin over his knuckles.
His lips have taken on a bluish tinge. I’ve seen all manner of
manners displayed in the chairs on the other side of my desk.
Clients respond to their impending deaths in all sorts of ways.
Paul’s reaction isn’t unique.

“Gas leak,” says Inesa definitively.

Paul nods, a quick jerk up and down.
“When’ll it happen?” He can’t meet my gaze.

“I could probably fit you in next week. Any
preferences?”

“I’m writing an exam on Tuesday,” says
Inesa. She looks to Paul, “And I’m sure you’d like to finalize that
merger?”

He groans.

“Late next week?” she asks.

“Let’s see … Janet, check my availability,
please.”

“Could do Friday next.”

“Excellent,” says Inesa.

“But …” Paul is fading to a paler blue by
the minute. Droplets dot his forehead. “I just can’t live with the
thought of this hanging over me for the next ten days. I just …” He
swallows. “I just can’t.”

I reach out a hand and touch the man’s
shoulder. His golf shirt is saturated. “Not to worry, sir. A memory
wipe is included. You’ll never know you were here.” I offer him my
warmest smile. Janet calls it the Big Daddy. “In fact, you may’ve
been here before, and you wouldn’t know.”

Paul eyeballs me. “Have we been here
before?”

“I couldn’t tell you.” I wink again.

Paul’s brow furrows.

“How much for the gas leak?” Inesa asks.

“Well, it’s a double. I charge three times
the single fee, with the complications and all. That’ll be …” I jab
on my ancient calculator for effect. “A hundred and sixteen
thousand.”

Paul bolts upright.

“But for you,” I add, “a ten percent
discount.”

“How do we know,” Paul says, watching me
sideways, “that we haven’t paid for this before? If you wiped our
memories, you could be double charging us.” He raises his voice.
“Hell, we may have been here multiple times.”

I sigh internally. “The memory wiper only
works once, sir. If I try to wipe your memory of this meeting, and
you’ve met with me before, it won’t work.”

Inesa nods. Satisfied. Paul slumps back into
his chair. She grips his arm. “It’s a small price to pay, darling.
Just think … when they thaw us in twenty years, imagine what your
savings will be worth.”

That seems to sway him. “You sure it won’t
hurt?”

I chuckle. “You’ll be dead before you know
it.”

Inesa’s cheeks bunch into a perfectly
dimpled smile. “Oh Paul, isn’t this exciting!”

 

An hour later, Paul’s cash locked away in the top
drawer, I walk the couple to the door. “Now remember to have an
early night. You’ll wake up in the morning with a hangover, but
you’ll recall nothing of this meeting. It’s important you tell
nobody about this before the memory wipe takes effect. The Cryo
Bureau have ears everywhere. If they get wind of this … you don’t
want that.”

“Of course,” says Inesa, “we won’t say a
thing. Will we darling?”

“Yes, yes.”

“Good. And thank you for using Life
Extensions Ltd.”

I close the door behind them with a
tinkle.

“Tough sell,” says Janet, not looking up
from her screen. “I thought the husband was gonna pull out.”

“You doubted me?”

She finds my gaze. “I don’t know how you do
it. How you convince them to … you know.”

“There’s nothing wrong with it.” It’s not
the first time I’ve said this. “Even if it’s illegal.”

“Yes, but …”

I give her a stern look.

“Alright.” Her tone returns to business, as
she hands me my moleskin folder. “You’ve got a stroke at two-thirty
– Mr. Oglevy. Dr. Hanfan called to say the butter’s ready.”

I swipe my coat and hat from the dumb
waiter. But I turn back to her before I leave. “One day, you’ll
want a New Year’s special too, Janet.”

Janet’s hand shoots to the chain around her
neck.

 

I thumb the moleskin as I step to the car. Strokes
are tricky, and Mr. Oglevy had requested one specially. “My dad had
one,” he’d said. “And his father.”

The man’s right. Genetic predispositions are
a good strategy for avoiding the coroner’s gaze. The Cryo Bureau
hardly investigates them. No, what their systems flag are unusual
deaths. Untimely demises.

I open the door to the old Buick, and flop
into the worn leather. The door closes with a comforting
clang
. They don’t make car doors like they used to. Nowadays
they shut with the
thwunk
of cheap rubber and plastic. But
not my Buick. The engine roars into life.

I place the open folder on the passenger
seat. Tod Oglevy’s myopic eyes regard me from behind thick-rimmed
glasses. Programmer. Thirty-six last month. Takes lunch every day
at the Delhi on Catherine Square. Predictable type of guy. They’re
the easiest clients.

I’d agreed with him that a stroke makes
sense. But it’s a risky business. Current medical tech is able to
reverse most non-fatal strokes, and Cryo Killers will tell you that
strokes will be entirely reversible in the near future. But still.
You don’t want to damage the memory center of the brain. No-sir.
You do that, and your client might wake up in twenty years with no
idea who he is, or why he’s there. Of course, if that were to
happen, I’d get away with it scot-free. But I have a reputation to
uphold. If word got out that I damaged his brain in the killing …
well then other clients wouldn’t look my way. No, I’m an ethical
killer. I do what I promise. And only what I promise.

The Buick’s engine rises to a dull roar as
it surges along the highway, toward Chinatown. Toward Dr. Hanfan.
Barring the rare unforeseeable complication, Dr. Hanfan has always
been spot on the money. He provides everything I need for clients
who require a medical solution.

 

“Barker!” Dr. Hanfan slaps me across the shoulder.
“I got package ready.”

He passes me a Styrofoam box. I lift the lid
and peer inside. “Dr. you’re a life saver.”

The needle-like projectile is thin as a
human hair, and about half an inch long. But this is no ordinary
needle. Dr. Hanfan calls it a butter bullet. Don’t ask me what a
butter bullet is made of. He calls it butter because whatever its
composition, the bullet dissolves on contact with a warm body,
delivers its medicinal contents, and that’s the end of it. Unless
they look for it, the Cryo Bureau would never know the client had
been shot.

“This one difficult,” says Dr. Hanfan.
“Special preparation.”

I hand him a bundle of cash. “I appreciate
your effort.”

“You good man, Barker. Good man.”

I shut the Styrofoam container, and Dr.
Hanfan seals it with packing tape.

“Medicine work best if you hit him in the
neck.” He cocks his head, and points to his carotid artery with an
arthritic finger.

“That won’t be a problem,” I say.

BOOK: The Cryo Killer
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