by Matthew McLean
Jhel stared at the screen, the perfected resolution of Kansas staring right back at him. He looked at Lee, knowing he was the only person he could trust with this. Between the two of them they had enough dirt to cover a dozen graves.
“Give me a cigarette.”
Lee feigned confusion for a moment, putting up a puppet defense. “Sir, cigarettes have been illegal in California since ’29.”
Jhel stood at Lee’s left shoulder and looked down at him. “Don’t play stupid. Where’s your black market now?”
Lee gave Jhel a hurt look, while reaching into his pocket for a pack. He pulled out the box with Chinese characters on the label that Jhel wouldn’t have recognized without his Chinese language wetchip.
A cloud of greedy smoke lit the small room with a luminescent blue from the computer monitors. Jhel exhaled, billowing anxiety.
“Are you sure that’s him? He’s supposed to be in Leavenworth.”
Lee paused for a moment and Jhel sensed his fear. “No, I can’t be completely sure without some biometric data. But the composite has only a 5% margin for error.”
Inhaling deeply, Jhel tossed the half finished cigarette to the ground. It was making him sick.
“We have to be sure.” He looked at Lee and gave him his most winning smile. “I guess we’re going to Leavenworth.”
Combined chapters for this story may be found on the Works page under Serials (at the bottom).
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