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“What am I doing here?” she asked, loudly, causing the hips to look up.

She should be at a bar, drinking to keep her mind scrambled, chasing leads, checking on Lou, hunting down the bastards that had hacked her—pornographers, maybe, trying to rip out her sex life and sell it? Ha, bad luck buddies. This was a waste of time.From No Dogs in Philly: A Lovecraftian Cyberpunk Noir. Rated R. FREE forever on Amazon, iBooks, Smashwords, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and Google Play. (Amazon users: If the book does not show as free, please log in!)

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He led her inside, through the carved wooden doors into the warmth and light.

There were pews, and hips, heads bowed, lips moving in quiet prayer. The floor was marble. Yes, this had been a chapel, McChristian maybe, but so old? Where had it come from? She tried to scan the Net but found a signal error. She was cut off, in a dead zone. At the far end where she guessed an altar would normally be was a large white statue. What was that girl the McChristians worshipped? Mara? Susan? Whatever, at some point it might have been her, but the face had been carved out, roughly, leaving an empty scoop in the head. Saru didn't like the statue. She could tell that it was the source of the bullshit, that it was the thing making her hair go all staticky and running the thrill-sex touch up and down her skin.From No Dogs in Philly: A Lovecraftian Cyberpunk Noir. Rated R. FREE forever on Amazon, iBooks, Smashwords, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and Google Play. (Amazon users: If the book does not show as free, please log in!)

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The hip was on the ground, moaning.

For a second she thought of dashing, but it was hard to ignore her role in this tragedy. Plus, the hips looked after one another—community and all that bullhickey. Word got around and she didn't want to alienate half the population of Philadelphia over a freak-out. She'd fix him up and then figure out the asshole trying to claw his way into her brain. Lou, maybe? Twenty grand was a lot to toss around, maybe too much. Maybe he sniffed more and was trying to drill into her accounts. Hah, fat chance, Eugene had all her cash, but of course Lou didn't know that—or maybe he did now. Had they taken anything, any important thoughts? The sick feeling came back—the feasters, they were hacking her, trying to beat her to the prey, but no, that didn't make any sense, they couldn't know about her. Or care, even.

From No Dogs in Philly: A Lovecraftian Cyberpunk Noir. Rated R. FREE forever on Amazon, iBooks, Smashwords, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and Google Play. (Amazon users: If t…

She turned around but she couldn’t tell where she’d come from.

Her vision kept spinning even as her legs stopped. The fear had taken hold now, her breathing panicked, sweat staining her lucky heart tank. A flat, logical part of her wondered how much was natural and how much was induced by the hackers—because she had been hacked. Her worst fear—everyone's worst fear—to have your implants hacked, controlled by another person. They could do all kinds of nasty things—jack up your heart rate till you blew or just straight poison you on your own bile. Fuck up your vision so you saw your mom as a werewolf and stabbed her in the eye. Or make you think you could fly and leap off a building. Those were some of the better things you could hope for.

From No Dogs in Philly: A Lovecraftian Cyberpunk Noir. Rated R. FREE forever on Amazon, iBooks, Smashwords, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and Google Play. (Amazon users: If the book does not show as free, please log in!)

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Sure, people could hop into your vision from time to time; it was a simple circuit.

Maybe they’d get in your ears or catch a stray feed. But to take control—theoretically the implants were coded on the individual’s brain signature. To take control you’d pretty much have to carve out the brain and scan it. Theoretically. Her vision flickered and she heard a laugh, a hyena laugh. Out of the corner of her eye she caught a shadow, then it was gone. Then she saw him. Friar, standing a few feet away, looking to the right of her. It was Friar, perfectly, had to be him, but he was faint, not quite part of the surroundings.

From No Dogs in Philly: A Lovecraftian Cyberpunk Noir. Rated R. FREE forever on Amazon, iBooks, Smashwords, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and Google Play. (Amazon users: If the book does not show as free, please log in!)

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Condoms on the ground, needles, elzi lying in heaps of trash...

...and a dead elzi just lying there, guts all pulled out, run over and left. Another crawling his way over, easy meal, easy calories, easy way to keep going. She walked faster for no reason, moving closer to the Fish, away from the screech of cars and the angry honks. Not so much going on now. Getting into the hiplands, with their own rules. It was a safe place, safer than most, at least, with its rules and customs. Not quick to judge, the hips; she liked that much about them. Everyone was down for a reason and more often than not you were born to it. It was quieter here too; she saw gardens, passed a hip with a shotgun, took his nod and hustled by.

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She found her nicest clothes in a pile and saw they were covered in blood.

She’d broken the heels of her stilettos and tossed them in a dumpster on her flight back to the apartment, then when she’d gotten back she’d torn off her clothes, downed a bottle of gin, and cried herself to sleep. Sure she’d seen people dead, seen people killed, maybe even killed one or two herself in the end (it’s not like she went around checking). But to see a man, even if he was an elzi, rip himself apart like that, and then her friend, well, colleague at least—she’d seen him around—strap himself in like that and then make her snuff him. That wasn’t fair, Friar. You knew what you were doing. You brought me in because you didn’t have the guts to do it yourself. You were a brave sonofabitch, braver than me for sure, but there’s different kinds of brave and you tripped on that last step.

From No Dogs in Philly: A Lovecraftian Cyberpunk Noir. Rated R. FREE forever on Amazon, iBooks, Smashwords, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and Google Play. (Amazon users: If the book does not show as fr…