Year of Ideas: February, Ghost in the Machine

There was something to be said about having a recognizable style. A flair that let everyone know it was you and only you. The sort of thing that made you distinguishable from everyone else.

At least, there was something to be said for it in any context other than a murder investigation. Not when there was no other evidence. Nothing left at the scene, no pings off the communications towers, not even a vibration left for the psi-ops to recover, but it didn’t matter. But it didn’t matter to them, because there were witnesses and Germaine had a signature style.

“It wasn’t me.”

“You’re telling us someone went through all the trouble, getting the right modifications, learning the foundations, all that, just to frame you for the murder of a circuit board clerk?”

“I’m just telling you, it wasn’t me.”

“And can you prove it?”

And well, that was the problem, wasn’t it? Because as much as Germaine was modified to the nines for reasons of physicality, they were also notoriously anti-tracking tech. Unless they were in the middle of a show, which they had not been, they didn’t ping the communications towers, because they’d exercised their right to opt out.

That was the sort of thing that got you on all the wrong kinds of lists, but until that moment, sitting in the small and comically old-fashioned police interrogation room, Germaine hadn’t thought it would get them on a list of people to frame. All things considered, though, they were a perfect target. No tech alibi, completely unique, and out-spoken against the continued existence of the institution of policing.

“That’s what I thought. Now, we have ten eyewitnesses who put you at the scene. Would you like to offer an alibi?”

Germaine wasn’t certain they had as many eyewitnesses as they said. There might not be any witnesses at all, given they were still allowed to lie about the evidence they had, but it was likely they had one or two. Still, it didn’t matter. 

“I was at practice.”

“Alone.”

“Yes.”

“Did anyone at least scan you into the building?”

“It doesn’t have scanners.”

“Of course it doesn’t.”

As far as the tracking world was concerned, Germaine was a ghost, but it looked like they were the one about to be haunted by it.

“You see the problem we’re having.”

“I see that you’re focused in one direction and one direction only.”

“That’s where the evidence is leading.”

“Your nine eye witnesses.”

“Exactly. All saying the same thing.”

Germaine shook their head. “I would like to speak with my attorney now.”

“If you’re as innocent as you say, why would you want to do that?”

“I would like to speak to my attorney.”

“It doesn’t look good for you.”

“I would like to speak to my attorney.”

“Fine, but you really should have had a friendly chat with us when it was offered.”

They all knew, of course, that this had never been a friendly chat, but the cops had their own show to put on, and they were going to apply whatever pressure they could. Even something as little as Germaine’s own desire to help. But that could only get them into trouble once they really started working on them. Things wouldn’t get to that. At least, Germaine hoped it wouldn’t. After all, there wasn’t much they could do here. If they couldn’t prove otherwise, and there really were witnesses who had seen them, then it was likely they’d go to prison for a crime they hadn’t committed.

And when they did, a murderer would go free, without anyone knowing they were still out there.

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by | Feb 3, 2022