The phone was ringing. It hadn’t rung in weeks. No one called Dom anymore. His head was groggy as he stumbled out of bed to his living room, where he quickly touched the giant mute icon on his wall display, stopping the obnoxious sound.
Dom rubbed his head as he squinted at the bright display. It was late morning but he had the curtains down and it felt more like sunrise. The call was from some woman named Jennifer Kane MD. He had no idea who it was, but if she’s a doctor it might be important. He cancelled the call and told the display to remind him to call her back in a couple hours, after he’d had some coffee.
Stumbling back up the stairs to his bed, Dom noticed his back was acting up again. He cursed himself under his breath as he made his way back to his bed for drinking so much last night. It didn’t matter much usually though, he hadn’t had a client in months, and he was doing just fine on his pension, at half pay. But that wasn’t the point. The point was that he was slipping again. If he wasn’t careful he might slip too far. Flashes of losing his house, winding up in a shelter and going to AA meetings with those losers crossed Dom’s mind, as he drifted back to sleep.
The clock display said it was 1:30. He’d slept another couple hours. He still had a severe headache, but now he was ready to get up. At least as ready as he could be. The coffee maker woke up as he walked into the kitchen and greeted him with an ETA on his coffee. The house started cycling through current events, nothing too exciting. Some big company was under investigation after a worker died a bloody death at home, the waters were still rising, the middle east had a new terrorist group that had been raising hell the last few months, and a major bank had lost millions of dollars’ worth of crypto coins to some kind of hackers’ exploit. Same shit world, but something was bugging Dom, he couldn’t quite place it, as the house kept going through the morning routine, at 1:30pm.
In sports, there was a new type of implant that was impossible to test for that increased the endurance of an athlete by more than 20%. Sipping his coffee, Dom considered this, as the house reminded him that he had a voice message from a Dr. Kane. Dom almost spat out his coffee as he shot up from the kitchen table and made his way to the living room, an unnecessary act, but Dom was old fashioned, whatever that meant these days.
The message had video. Dom instinctually adjusted his hair, what was left of it, and sat up straight. The fact that it was a recording didn’t faze his need to look at least halfway presentable. He wasn’t wearing pants, but it barely mattered since he’d covered up the camera sensor on the wall years ago. The woman, Jennifer, Dr. Kane, was slender and blond, pretty for her age. She looked nervous and tired, but sharp. Very sharp. He noted that as something to look into later. She was talking very quickly. She’d found him from a friend of a friend, he recognized the name. Some lab technician concerned that their siblings spouse was two timing them. They were. People were better off just acting on their instincts, Dom had decided long ago.
She said she worked for a company called BioSol. The name seemed familiar, but Dom couldn’t place where he’d heard it before. Apparently, her coworker had been murdered and there was some suspicion, on her part, that the police weren’t actually doing everything they could to solve the murder. She implied it was related to her work. BioSol. Dom paused the message, and stared into his almost empty coffee cup, still groggy from his whiskey induced hangover. BioSol. He asked the house about it, and there it was. BioSol was the company under investigation. They’d had a murder. Bad part of town for someone to live in that worked in a biotech lab. Guess the rumors about research jobs not paying well were true after all. If the company was being investigated already, why had this woman contacted him? He hadn’t investigated a murder since before he left the force.
That had been a lifetime ago. Before Vince had left him. Before Jill died. Dom rubbed his eyes as he sat on his couch. It was a nice off-white couch that Vince had picked out for him years ago. It was worn now, showing its age as much as he was. He realized he was staring at a blown-up picture of Jill, her black hair down, as she wore a pair of jeans he’d bought her, with a t-shirt printed to look like a tuxedo vest on. She was 8 in that photo. He didn’t remember telling the house to bring up the photo, and didn’t know how long he had been staring at the picture, but his eyes were starting to well up with tears.
It was next week. The anniversary of her death. Maybe that’s why he’d been hitting the bottle so much harder lately. His subconscious knew the day was coming before he had. Maybe he’d known too. It was the only day he allowed himself to visit her grave, otherwise he knew he’d never be able to leave. He was already dreading the trip. 12 years hadn’t been enough time. It never would be. Vince had left shortly after she died. Dom knew it was coming. He hadn’t taken her death well at all, neither man had.
They had gone to a clinic that could morph a regular cell into a viable egg. Him and Vince had given them a skin sample and a sperm sample each and asked the clinic to choose at random who would be the egg and who would fertilize the egg. They never knew who was who, but Dom always suspected he was the dad. She just looked too much like him. The surrogate was a nice lady, she had been a part of Jill’s life as well, though she had her own family. Dom hadn’t spoken to her since Vince left. Since he’d really become a piece of shit.
He shook off emotions he didn’t have time for, feelings he didn’t want to feel, and the memories of people that weren’t coming back, ordering the house to call back this doctor. He had work to do. Something felt wrong about this whole thing. But what did he know, he was still hungover, and thinking about his dead daughter hadn’t helped his disposition any either.