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Johnny Bradford couldn’t suppress grinning. He’d spotted a new car, a 2015 SST Javelin, and it was directly in front of him in a parking garage he frequently hit. His eyes lit up like a kid’s on Christmas morning at the gleaming metallic blue paint of the vehicle. Being as short and skinny as he was, he did look like a kid even though he was over forty.
Bradford walked around the car as nonchalantly as he could, and grinned again in spite of himself, because there were no visible security devices on the vehicle. Using his mechanical right hand, he pulled out an illegal cigarette and lit it. He looked at the hand absently and remembered getting it five years prior in exchange for not doing jail time. Such was the new legal system. A person could sometimes swap body parts for jail time. It cut down on cloning limbs and organs, and from the governments stand-point, would teach offenders a lesson. Johnny didn’t mind the bargain, it was for theft, so a hand seemed a small price to pay. It wasn’t as if he’d raped anyone.
The thief focused his thoughts and leaned back against a steel post, exhaling a cloud of smoke. The garage was in a large shopping mall, and security was tight. There were camera overhead, and an hourly security-bot patrol.
Johnny produced a small holographic scrambler from his jacket pocket. He snapped a picture of the car and then adhered it to the driver’s side door. He was satisfied that it would mask his presence and enable him to work on the car. Unless the owner suddenly showed up, he could make a quick escape.
Checking under the car with his flesh hand, Johnny felt no sensors or other devices. His brow quirked at one side, he checked again and smiled to himself when he was certain there was nothing. He pulled another small device out of his jacket and connected it to the thumb-print locking mechanism on the vehicle. In seconds he heard a low clicking sound and sighed. His heart sped up with the anticipation of entering what looked to him as his dream-car gift. Javelins were currently one of the most expensive hi-tech sports cars on the market.
“Maybe I’ll keep this one.” He mumbled to himself, marveling at the plush interior. He sat down in the driver’s seat and felt the fabric of the seats caress his skin like a lover and immediately felt relaxed.
“This vehicle is under the full protection of the Bates Insurance Systems Company.” Said a soft female voice from a tiny speaker in the dash. “You are an unauthorized driver. Please exit the vehicle.”
Johnny jumped. He didn’t expect to hear any dash-brain speak until he at least had the car started. Ignoring the voice, he tossed away the remains of the cigarette and reached under the dash to begin his work.
“I repeat,” the female voice was deeper and louder. “This vehicle is fully insured. You are in direct violation of local laws regarding theft. You have ten seconds to exit the vehicle, or my functions will terminate.”
“Go ahead, terminate yourself.” Johnny said laughing. “It’ll be easier to work without hearing you yapping away.”
Before Johnny Bradford could take another breath, the car exploded.