Enfys? Eirian? They both seemed a little too obscure – they were bound to attract the wrong sort of attention. Meredith was perfect though – the subroutine was doing good work, although it was clear that care was needed if it wasn’t to develop a personality…more information was needed though and time was of the essence. The sub-routine was given a metaphorical pat on the head and set back to work. Yes, there – an electronic wagging tail. Meredith sighed.
Meredith sighed, but immediately decided that this was out of character: a Meredith should be happy, optimistic, light-hearted. In a word: merry. Of course this wasn’t the proper translation of the name, but that didn’t really matter. How many Meredith’s these days had anything to do with sea or were lords? But a nickame – all this information had been supplied with the sub-routine’s analysis – such as Merry was very much in keeping, and when translated into grzzt, it wasn’t million miles from the alien’s own nickname – although that was very much meant in a pejorative sense where it came from. So it goes.
It was a little after 8 am when Meredith found itself on the outskirts of Llangynidr. First order of business, find some local currency. Meredith gave a slight start of surprise when it realised that there was only one cashpoint local to where he was. This was located at Walnut Tree Stores, which was described as a corner shop. Clearly this must be some local idiom however, because when it had been located, Meredith found it halfway along the positively rural Coed-yr-Ynys Road. Thankfully they opened early, and there were even a few cars in the car park, suggesting that there were a few people in there. Meredith drifted in. The helpful sub-routine provided a reference picture of the cashpoint terminal and Meredith spotted it tucked in a corner next to the rack of magazines.
Casually, an arm slipped through one strap and the backpack was pulled round to the front for a quick rummage, which brought forth a wallet. If anybody had been close enough, they would have just seen a credit card, which was slipped into the machine. Thirty seconds later and Meredith had complete control of the cashpoint. It would have been easy just to eviscerate the machine, taking every note that it contained, but the easy course of action would lead to problems sooner or later. Pursuit problems. Being remembered problems. The card was spat back out, and £300 pounds popped out of the machine in a mix of tens and twenties seconds later. What was left behind was an active programme that was covering Meredith’s tracks – it wouldn’t do for a discrepancy to be noted, so the programme would work its way back into a bank’s database and create a brand new account. Good enough for the time being.
The card and the money went back into the wallet, save for one £10 note. The alien navigated the shelves carefully, picking up a fizzy drink, some chocolate bars and something that the wrapper said was a pasty, whatever that was. On the way to the till, the sub-routine popped its virtual head up again and pointed out something called a ‘pack of cards’, apparently it had noted something useful, for which a pack of cards might come in handy.
“Bore da! Will that be everything then?”
“Bore da.” The speech synthesiser managed to match the accent exactly. “Er, yes, I think so…Oh I’ll just have this as well, diolch.” A packet of chewing gum, from a rack by the till, was added.
“Very good then. Do you need a bag with that? Only I’ll have to charge 5p for that you know.”
“No, don’t fuss yourself, it’ll all go in here.” The tenner was handed over and whilst it was rung up and change made, the backpack was once again swung round and the goods went into the bag. A few coins were handed back and Meredith made a pretence of casually checking the change, without overdoing it so much that it caused offence, he selected a small coin and dropped it into the collecting box for the air ambulance that sat on the counter.
“Bore da!” Meredith said over one shoulder whilst walking to the exit.
Meredith stopped for a moment outside as if checking the bag was closed properly. In reality the AI was providing an update. Llangynidr was small and there was no cafe. A 6 km or so walk was required to get to the nearest one. The bus timings were irregular and unhelpful. Meredith sighed and set out for Crickhowell. Coffee seemed to be important on Earth, and it would seem to be a good place for a base for a least a couple of hours…and free wi-fi! Sold!
As Meredith walked along the streets, it didn’t notice that CCTV cameras were turning to follow it…
© David Jesson, 2019
During 2019, I’m going to be undertaking a writing experiment, as described here.
The shape of story was formed through a four-part prologue: the first part of the prologue is here, if you want to start right at the beginning. All through, I’m hoping that you’ll help me shape the story. At various points, I’ll be asking questions with a choice of answers. I’ll be polling on Twitter, or you can add a comment below. So for example, you’ve helped me to decide that the story is science fiction, our protagonist, who is a rogue with a dash of ranger, is an alien, but the story is set on Earth. Right…what next?
Option 1: Coffee!
Option 2: Random encounter on the road.
Option 3: Coffee rudely interrupted!
Also, the sub-routine seems to be developing its own personality. Any suggestions for a name?
I‘ll leave the Twitter poll open for one week, and will add in any votes on here that come in during that time. Feel free to expand on the options in the comments! I’m not promising to incorporate anything but always good to hear where you think this is heading!
See you next month!