In his apartment, John Anderton sat in front of a transparent image of his son. It was as if his child never disappeared as he talked to him. His skin tingled as his boy ran down the beach, ranting about his running technique and how fast he was going to be.
“Will I be able to beat you one day,” his son asked.
“Yeah, you’ll be able to beat me.”
He asked his son for a kiss.
“Not on the lips! Only mommy kisses me on the lips.”
John could feel a warm flow of joy run to his chest, a smile break across his face, and suddenly his limbs felt lighter than ever.
As the recording came to an end, he told his son goodnight and pulled out the disc and placed it in the file. He grabbed an inhaler supplied with dope from the table. Placing it in his mouth, he sucked in a deep breath. The black clouds cleared in him, and his stomach began to relax, but this wasn’t enough to take the pain away.It was a temporary fix.
His wife was all he had, and he was too distracted to care for her; too busy feeling sorry for himself. Yeah, he deserved to feel his heart ache every time he watched or thought of his family. He reached in the file of discs and pressed one. A hologram of his wife appeared, glowing in his forlorn living room. His fix started to fade as he was reminded of not only the day he lost their child, but the day she left him.
Six years ago
It had been a long day at work.
At least that was going to be John’s excuse. Sweating under a hooded sweater that masked his appearance, he ran between tall buildings, wide holographic monitors on the walls that boasted on about pre-crime at his unit, and other products. The day he lost his and his wife’s child dwindled away with each breath, but guilt stuck in him like a tumor, gradually growing larger. He needed something strong, something to fix his mind, to defend him from the remorse he felt every day. And John was going to meet a man who said to have the remedy for his troubled mind, a man who’d take away the dark clouds.
But he wouldn’t find my son no matter what kind of fix he gave me.
John halted as he ran upon a large garage, the place this mysterious man said he’d be waiting. And sure enough, there he was, his pale face peeking out of the blackness like some ghoul. He stepped into the light, soaring an easy six foot five or taller with a burly frame. His long tar-colored hair slicked down to the middle of his back, while dark glasses and a goatee disguised his face.
“I’m glad you made it,” the man said. “You will not be disappointed my man, no sir.”
I’ll get my fix and then go home. Keeping the hood over his head, John stepped closer to the strange man.
“Afraid someone is going to notice you. Here? You must be important.”
“Do you have it,” John asked. “Let’s get this done.”
“A man that gets right to business. I think I like how our relationship his starting out.”
John had no plans on returning. He had no plans, however, of ever setting up such a meeting, yet here he was. I’m a hypocrite.
The man reached into his coat pocket and handed a packet of dope to John. John handed him cash and bobbed his head before hurrying away.
“Nice doing business with you, friend,” the man said. “Come again.”
John—heart hammering—ran back to his car. Getting in, he didn’t waste time taking a deep inhale of his very first fix. What the run didn’t clear from his dim mind, the dope did. He accelerated the car into the air, faster than normal; as he worried his wife was growing more suspicious of his behavior. What will be his excuse this time? He was running out of lies. I was working late on an investigation… again?
His mind was tormented. What could he have done differently that day at the pool? He should’ve stayed above water, he should’ve never taken his eyes off his son…Out of all the crimes he could predict, he never seen the abduction of his child coming. Now, his boy only lived in his heart and memories. His wife hated him for it. He could tell by the way she looked at him.
The hydraulics released a sigh as the vehicle glided up in front of his and Laura’s apartment. John shambled into his living room to find her slouched on the couch, watching a hologram of their son, who smiled and ran about on a terrain carpeted with tall, sunburned grass with blue and pink flowers. John sat next to her and watched his boy as if he was there with the two of them, as a family.
She turned to him—tears clinging to her eyelids and her face pink and puffy from crying.
“I’m sorry,” he said as he gently placed his hand on her cheek to swipe away a tear.
“You don’t have anything to be sorry for, John.”
She placed her fingers over his lips, shaking her head. “No, it’s not your fault. I know why you come home late. I know why you fired that gun at the ceiling. It’s because you loved our son.”
She looked at him, an inner glow hiding in her teary eyes.
“I don’t blame you John,” she said, taking his hands in hers and squeezing them. “You blame yourself.”
“If I was paying attention. If I wasn’t under the water being stupid—”
“Stop it! Just stop it!”
He could feel tears forming in his eyes as their son’s voice sounded over the room.
“I can’t do this anymore.” She rose to her feet. “I can’t be here anymore…because every time I look at you, smell you, I see and smell our son. But he’s only here in memory, in a damn hologram.”
His throat tightening, he stood and walked to her as she shuffled away to their bedroom.
She returned with a light suitcase as a car glided up outside their apartment. It was a taxi. He was afraid this was going to happen. The only person remaining in his life that cared about him was leaving.
John stood their, nodding like some zombie, speechless, his heart tapering.
He placed his hand on her luggage, stopping her in her steps. “Let me help.”
She let him carry the suitcase to the cab, where she entered, glancing back at him—the corners of her mouth and brows downturned. “I’m sorry,” she said. The door closed and the cab sped away into the night’s cold air.
John raked his hands across his face, awakening from his deep thought, the recorded hologram of Laura still talking to him on the screen.
She was gone, his son was gone and he didn’t know where. All he could do was hope; hope to one day find out what happened to him, and to give his wife and himself a peace of mind. That would be the only permanent cure for him.