Con City

Con City

A young programmer student discovers a conspiracy surrounding online software distribution in Con City. Can the city's most violent police officer save her from the best and most psychotic hitman in the world?

The CEO of one of the world's largest computer game developers is assassinated in Con City. Sergeant Jack Westwood is assigned to the case and he will stop at nothing to find and arrest the culprits... or shoot them should they resist arrest, which would be his preference. He quickly learns that his best lead is Joanna Bennett, a master's student in computer sciences who suddenly finds herself in the crosshair of a professional hitman. As she and Sergeant Westwood do their best to uncover the truth behind the assassination, the culprits decide to get some reinforcements by hiring the best hitman in the world to take them down. The only problem is that this particular hitman hates Con City with a passion, and he intends to make that perfectly clear to everyone he encounters.

Con City is a dark comedy/parody set in a fictional city in the early 21st century. Featuring a cast of over the top characters, sleazy shootouts, piles of dead bodies, insane chase scenes, and a ridiculous finale, Con City is sure to appeal to fans of dark humor and fans of the sleaziest decade in history (i.e., the 80s, obviously). For best results read while enjoying some coffee with lemon cake.

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A beaten down old blue Cutler Firebird convertible was rolling down the road in the center of Downtown Con City. The driver was a dark haired man with sideburns, wearing a cheap suit and smoking a cigar. The stare with which he eyed the road screamed of irritation, which was caused by the fact that the Firebird was forced to move at the speed of a crippled turtle.

`Move it, idiots...' he said to the cars in front of the Firebird. `Faster, before I arrest you all for slow driving...'

His hatred of the morning traffic dated all the way back to his childhood. For years he entertained the thought of buying a motorcycle to get around easier, but for all the irritation he suffered from the city traffic, he could not bring himself to make the switch for one very simple reason: he loved his car too much. And so he did what he always had done: he swallowed his pride and waited, hoping that one day he could equip the Firebird with wings.

Though he felt the stress mounting with each passing second, he managed to keep his cool just long enough until the traffic cleared up and the Firebird reached the northern edge of Downtown.

`That's better,' the driver said to himself, knowing fully well just how close he had come to ramming the Firebird into a pickup truck.

After a few minutes the Firebird arrived at its destination, in front of the headquarters of Pipe Software. The driver parked the car and got out. He looked up at the tall skyscraper before him. He didn't dare to guess how high the building was. He shook his head.

`Goddamn executives...' he said, and he stepped into the building.

He entered the lobby and walked past a woman sitting by a table. She was the receptionist.

`Sir, excuse me, you must put out your cigar,' the woman said when she saw him. `Smoking is illegal except in designated areas.'

The man flashed his police badge to her.

`I'll be sure to arrest myself,' he said, and he walked to the elevator while the receptionist shook her head in disapproval.

He called the elevator and took it all the way up to the top floor. When he stepped out of the elevator he headed straight for the CEO's office. Outside the door a policeman in uniform greeted him.

`This is a crime scene sir,' he said. The man with the cigar flashed his badge.

`Sergeant Westwood. I've been assigned to the case.'

The policeman saluted him.

`Go on in Sergeant. Detective Hastings is already inside.'

Sergeant Westwood nodded and entered the office.

Several people were in the office already. A forensics team was examining the body by the desk as well as the bloodstains on the floor. A slim man was standing on the far side of the desk, watching the scene with scrutiny. That was Detective Hastings.

Westwood nodded to him and looked at the corpse. As he examined it, Hastings stepped beside him.

`Big mess, eh, Westwood? Even by your standards. A CEO getting shot like this? Doesn't happen every day,' he said. Westwood resisted the urge to spit on the floor. It could have compromised the work of the forensics team.

`Fuck do I care what he is,' he said. `CEO or bum, it's a victim all the same. His killer is a killer all the same. Don't you come telling me how this is unusual! The shit I've seen in this city...'

`I know, Westwood. You get most of the dirty jobs. I guess that's why the Captain picked you for this case.'

`Captain Fuckface doesn't give two shits about which case I get. He just wants to find another excuse to get me suspended.'

Hastings nodded in agreement.

`Yeah, I suppose that's true. Then again, you're the one who gives him the opportunities. You approach every case with excessive violence. Like opening a cardboard box with a sledgehammer.'

`Shut up before I open your skull with a sledgehammer...' Westwood said, gritting his teeth. Hastings sighed.

`See what I mean?' he said. Westwood ignored the comment.

`What do we have so far?' Westwood asked.

Hastings took a small notebook from his pocket and flipped it open.

`The victim's name is John Gabriel. He is, well, he was the CEO of Pipe Software. He was shot sometime around midnight according to the rough estimate. However, there were several messages left on the answerphone by someone named Joanna. First message was left at half past 11 PM so the shooting might have been before that time.'

`I saw several security cameras on my way up here. Anything suspicious?'

`In a way. All the footage from after 8 PM last night is gone.'

Westwood didn't like that.

`What do you mean, gone?!' he asked. `Find it!'

`The local tech guys said it's unrecoverable. Seems like someone hacked into the system to provide cover for the killer.'

`Sounds like a professional.'

Hastings nodded, and then shook his head.

`Yes it does, except he was shot six times. It could be a personal issue between the killer and the victim. A hitman would be more efficient than this.'

`True. Or it could be a deliberate attempt to mislead us.'

Westwood looked around in the office looking for the possible spot where the killer might have stood when shooting the victim.

`There are no shell casings on the floor,' he said after a while. `Have they been gathered already?'

`No. There were no shell casings at all. The killer must have taken them.'

`He might have used a revolver.'

`Come on, Westwood! It's the 21st century. Nobody uses revolvers any more. Well, nobody except you, you dinosaur...' Hastings said, quite nearly laughing. Westwood ignored that; he preferred to take his anger out on criminals.

`So you're saying he gathered the shell casings? If so, do you still think this was personal and not a hitman?'

`It doesn't take a hitman to have the brains to gather the shell casings before leaving the scene of the crime.'

`Forget it, you'll never get this through your thick skull,' Westwood said, shaking his head. `Your skull's so thick I could try bashing it in with a sledgehammer and the sledgehammer would break.'

`What is it with you and sledgehammers?'

`Nothing! You brought them up, remember?'

`Apparently I shouldn't have,' Hastings said with another sigh.

`What else have we got?'

`Nothing, really. We need to wait for the forensics report.'

The phone on the desk rang. Westwood immediately stepped up to the desk.

`Is the phone hooked up to the tracing equipment?' he asked. Hastings nodded and called the technician over to the desk. The technician got to work and Westwood picked up the phone.


There was a long pause at the other end of the line. Finally, Westwood heard a female voice.

`Can I speak to Mister Gabriel, please?' the caller asked.

`Who is this?'

`Who am I? Who the fuck are you?'

This took Westwood by surprise. He composed himself quickly though.

`This is Sergeant Jack Westwood from the Con City Police Department,' he said strictly. `Who am I speaking to?'

Joanna was sitting in the kitchen of Annie's Downtown apartment, feeling surprisingly good. Annie's abode had the look and feel of a modern apartment, furnished to meet the needs of a single woman in the 21st century. The kitchen was easily the most modern part of it all, filled with top-of-the-line appliances and boasting a futuristic dining set with tubular silver legs and milk-white tops. Joanna felt like Annie could rent out the apartment to a science fiction film crew if she wanted to. The idea made her smile.

By the time she finished the breakfast Annie had prepared for her, her mood significantly worsened. She was not particularly optimistic about the hackers she was about to visit, but she had no other choice.

`Are you sure you don't want a sandwich to take with you?' Annie asked before Joanna could have disappeared.

`No, I'll be fine. Thank you for everything, Annie. I owe you one.'

`Don't mention it, it's the least I could do.'

`Still...' she insisted, trying hard not to let her fearful emotions show on her face.

`Where are you going? Do you know where to find them?'

`I think I do. I've traced them to a derelict building. It's not certain but such a place is a good hideout for a group of hackers. It's a good place to start.'

`Okay then. Good luck!'

They hugged and said goodbye, then Joanna left the apartment. She took the elevator down, waved to the security guard by the elevator, then left the building. She took a cab and told the driver to head to New East Side Con City.

She tried to relax in the back seat but she couldn't. She just watched as the skyscrapers swept by one after the other. She barely even noticed when they left the Downtown and entered the New East Side. The two districts looked pretty much the same. The only difference was that the New East Side was less crowded and less noisy.

She told the driver to stop two blocks from her true destination. She paid the driver, got out, and waited for the cab to leave. Then she walked the rest of the way. She felt silly for being so paranoid, but she didn't want to take chances. Just a day ago she had assumed that the hitman could not find her, and now her uncle was dead because of it.

She shook these thoughts from her head and hastened her footsteps. Not much later she arrived in front of the ruins of the Leonard Building, a tall skyscraper that burned down a few years ago.

The Leonard Building looked like the set of a post-apocalyptic movie. While most of it had crumbled to dust, the majority of the metal frame held, rising all the way to what used to be the penthouse floor. A couple of the lower levels still had actual floors and walls intact, but they looked so unsafe that not even homeless people dared to use them for shelter.

Joanna was amazed that the metal frame was still standing, but she did not ponder over the efficiency of modern architecture. She entered the building and looked for the cellar.

She found a set of narrow stairs and quickly descended them. At the bottom of the stairs she found a locked metal door. She knocked. There was no response. She knocked again. She waited. Long minutes passed but no one came. She sat down by the door and turned on her laptop. She was looking for a wireless signal. She found a very strong encrypted signal. She smiled. Now she was certain she had come to the right place.

She got to work on cracking the encryption and in one minute she was on the wireless network. She started looking for other computers on the network. She found four terminals and a mainframe. She looked for the presence of any users on the network. Eventually she found a user called brothersamantha. The user was working on a console. Joanna hacked into the console and started typing messages to the user. She typed the following.

[guest@cmnet]$ Hello? Is anyone there? This is Joanna Bennett. I'm looking for the group known as the Cybermonks. I have information for you that you will be most interested in.

She waited for several minutes. She got no response, but she was disconnected. She tried reconnecting but found that the encryption protocol had been changed. It took her a minute but she hacked in again. She found the console and started sending messages to the local user again.

[guest@cmnet]$ I'm back. Don't bother trying to kick me out, I'll just hack in again. I mean you no harm. I just want to talk.

This time she received a response. She smiled. She had managed to strike up a conversation with the Cybermonks.

[brothersamantha@cmnet]$ Who are you? How did you get into our network?

[guest@cmnet]$ My name is Joanna Bennett. I have information for you about the recent hacking attacks on Pipe Software. I was an outside security consultant for them.

[brothersamantha@cmnet]$ I don't know what you've heard but we had nothing to do with that.

[guest@cmnet]$ I know. That's why I'm here. I know that you've been framed.

[brothersamantha@cmnet]$ Then what do you want?

[guest@cmnet]$ I know who framed you. I also know how you could get even with them. With my help, you could fuck them over real good.

[brothersamantha@cmnet]$ I'm listening.

[guest@cmnet]$ No. Not over the network. I want a personal meeting.

[brothersamantha@cmnet]$ Out of the question.

[guest@cmnet]$ I'm right outside your front door. I won't trouble you long.

[brothersamantha@cmnet]$ Impossible. Nobody knows where we are.

[guest@cmnet]$ How do you think I hacked into your system so easily? It's not a remote connection. I'm on your local wireless network.

[brothersamantha@cmnet]$ Fine. I'll send someone out. Go offline, and don't move!

[guest@cmnet]$ Okay.

Joanna severed the connection and initiated the shutdown sequence on her laptop. A minute later the metal door opened and a young man showed up there. He was dressed in casual street clothes. He appeared to have a gun in his right jacket pocket. The gun was pointing at Joanna.

`That's not necessary,' she said. `I'm unarmed and I'm here to help you.'

`We'll see,' the young man said. `Put the laptop down, stand up, and face the wall!'

Mister Jake was slowly driving in the traffic in Downtown Con City. 80s music was blasting from his car stereo at maximum volume. He was trying hard to relax. He'd been stuck in the traffic for far too long. Once more he noted to himself how much he hated Con City.

As he drove on towards his destination, Jake paused the CD player of his car stereo and turned on the radio. He wanted to hear the weather report. It looked like it would rain soon.

`And now for the weather,' the newscaster on the radio said. Jake's timing was impeccable, as always. `The skies are sunny above Con City although some clouds have...'

The newscaster paused for a while, then made an announcement.

`Ladies and gentlemen, this news just came in. A violent explosion shook the suburbs of South Side Con City earlier today just before noon and claimed the life of an as yet unidentified young man. Interviewed locals described the explosion as a brilliant display of fireworks rarely seen in the area and took the opportunity to express their grievances towards the City Council for not organizing more fireworks in the suburbs. Police were unavailable for comment as to the cause of the explosion.'

Jake smiled and nodded to the radio.

`You're welcome, people, you're very welcome,' he said. He listened to the weather report, then he waited for the music to start playing. It was a shitty modern day song. He sighed, turned off the radio, and turned the CD player back on.

A few minutes later he finally arrived at his destination, a high-rise apartment complex near the edge of Downtown Con City. Jake parked the car, got out, and entered the building. Inside he was greeted by a security guard behind a desk beside the elevator.

`Can I help you, sir?' the security guard asked.

`No,' Jake said, and he drew his gun. The security guard reached for his own, but before he could have raised it, Jake shot him right between the eyes. As the security guard collapsed behind the desk, Jake holstered the Horizon and called the elevator. He rode the elevator up to the seventh floor. He walked over to door number 703 and rang the doorbell. A while later the door was opened. He was greeted by a young woman in a green dress.

`Can I help you?' she asked.

`Yes. My name is Mister Jake. I'm looking for Joanna Bennett. I was told that I might find her here. Could I see her please?'

The woman looked at her suspiciously.

`Why? What do you want from her?'

`I'm a friend of her boss. The poor man has been murdered, and I'd like to talk to her about it. I'm trying to find the killer.'

The woman looked him up and down, thinking. She thought Jake looked like the sort that would go vigilante if his friend was murdered. She shrugged.

`You missed her. She left in the morning,' she said.

`Did she say where she was going?'

The woman sighed and leaned out the door. She looked to the left, then to the right. Satisfied that she saw no one, she called Jake in.

`Come inside, it's a long story,' she said.

`Thank you,' Jake said as he entered the apartment.

`I'm Annie,' the woman said as she led him into the living room.

`Pleasure to make your acquaintance, Annie,' Jake replied, smiling.

`Would you like a coffee?'

`Yes, thank you.'

`Milk or sugar?'

`Lots of both,' Jake said.

`Lots of both,' Annie repeated, and she walked into the kitchen.

Jake drew his gun and started thinking. He had not anticipated that this friend of Joanna's would turn out to be a woman. Jake did not like killing women, especially not women who brought him coffee. Of course, contracts were an exception, as was any instance of self defense. But he didn't want to kill \textit{this} woman. Yet he knew that he should tie all loose ends.

He drew his knife as well and looked at the two weapons in his hand. He carefully contemplated which weapon to use, until eventually he came to a satisfactory conclusion and holstered his pistol. He took the knife in his right hand and hid it behind his back just before Annie came into the living room with his coffee. He smiled at her warmly.

`Here you go. Have a seat,' she said.

`Thank you,' Jake said. He took the coffee with his left hand and sat down on the sofa. He carefully put the knife down behind his back and started stirring the coffee with the spoon.