Reed Faster Speculates: Stephen King's Needful Things meets Cyberpunk

 In 1991, Stephen King published a 690-page novel about a little shop in Castle Rock that held wonders and nightmares in equal measure. Needful Things is one of those novels that you either love or you can't stand. I found a copy at a little used bookstore nearby and decided to reread it. At the same time, I picked up Cyberpunk 2077, and thus.... You get this post, wherein I take characters from Needful Things and recreate them as cyberpunk tropes. 

I just love the tagline on this cover: Buy now. Pay Later.

Welcome to Reed Faster Speculates. 

Let's start with a couple of minor characters. 

Brian Rusk

Concept art by Marek Brzezinski

Brian is the first person to encounter Leland Gaunt. He is a young boy without any real cybernetic augmentations, although his family used genetic mapping to reduce the likelihood of childhood sicknesses. His favorite possession is a set of VR glasses, where he watches competitive speed runs of video games. He wants, desperately, to be one himself, but he isn't quite there yet. 

His Needful Thing: A data shard containing a message from one of the most well known and elusive speed runners, seemingly personalized to him. 

His Price: Not much different from what the original book states, but instead of throwing mud on sheets, he has to hack into their laundry appliances and cause them to dye all the clothes an ugly brown color and to scorch anything it dries. He throws bricks through windows as well. 

Nettie Cob

Concept art by Marek Brzezinski

After living in a Luddite commune where she was forced to take part in random acts of terrorism, Nettie murders the man she was forced to marry who was incredibly abusive towards her. After Nettie is "rehabilitated", Polly takes her in to help at her shop and home. Nettie doesn't have any major modifications either, because the Luddite ideology runs deep. She does use external tech, including her little mechanical companion that she treats like her child. 

Her Needful Thing:  A delicate handblown glass piece that looks like something the artisans made in the commune. 

Her Price: She inserts a virus into the home productivity system of Buster Keeton, which causes all of the screens and any surface it controls to scroll mocking and accusatory police tickets. 

Ace Merrill

Art by Nelson Tai

Ace is a merc with a penchant for expensive designer drugs. Although he has been in and out of prison, he's always good at getting back into the game. He recently "lost" a huge shipment of illicit military technology and the people who paid for it want their money back. They've injected a virus into his neural augmentations that prevent him from enjoying his designer drugs, although he still craves them. They promise to remove it if he pays them back. 

His Needful Thing: The location of a potential cure and a completely new set of identification papers that are untraceable. He's provided a map that leads him on a wild goose chase tracking down "clues" to the loot, but he's thwarted by a certain goody two shoes who stays on his case. 

Norris Ridgewick

Adobe stock image, not sure of artist.

Alan Pangborn's trust do-gooder hacker sidekick. He's excellent with computers but limits his hacking to information that Pangborn needs to keep the area safe. He also makes sure that word doesn't get out about their idyllic little area, because that would bring down the gangs and the real "police", none of which anyone wants. He's goofy and sweet, and generally has a heart of gold. 

His Needful Thing: An antique video game system loaded with the games he grew up playing with his father. He dreams of playing them again, but finds himself unable to anything more than hold a controller and reminisce. 

His Price:  He sabotages Hugh Priest's souped up ride by implanting a virus that makes all of the systems implode as soon as it is started. 

Buster Keeton 

Art from Osiris Interactive

Buster Keeton is the epitome of the corrupt corpo, who hides not only his gambling addiction but his growing paranoia as well. Though he is small beans in comparison to the rest of the company hierarchy, Buster gets away with a lot of embezzlement and fraud because no one thinks to look his way for it. That gambling addiction? He bets on any number of major fights and other sporting events, and he can't step away from someone giving him a wager. He's recently begun receiving communications from the auditors where he works about discrepancies in his expense reports. 

His Needful Thing: A computer program that accurately predicts with 99.9% accuracy who will win in a given sporting event. He just has to plug in team/fighter/player names. 

Polly Chambers

Art work by z--ed

A former fashionista known for her eccentric handsewn and handmade clothing made from upcycled and recycled materials. After a near fatal incident with a local gang, she had to have her hands replaced with cybernetic replacements, which consistently cause her pain and make it difficult for her to continue sewing. Instead, she sketches out her designs as best she can or describes them to the people who work with her, and they try to make her vision come true. 

Her Needful Thing:  A necklaces that generates a soft pulse that makes the hardware in her hands function almost like her natural hands did. 

Her Price: Plant a data shard at a secret cache after removing the previous contents. 

Alan Pangborn

Art by Nelson Tai

Definitely a street mercenary or samurai. He patrols his little area, attempting to keep people safe, even fighting other people in authority (like the actual police and corporate thugs). His little section of habitation is generally avoided by gangs, corporate assassins, and people who generally just want to cause trouble. He's a vigilante, always on the move, and the tech/implants are all focused on non-lethal methods of protection, but he isn't afraid to pull a firearm or knife if he needs to get his point across. Other people in the area respect him, but some resent the growing power he has with the people. 

Leland Gaunt

Adobe stock image, not sure of artist.

Leland Gaunt is a ghost in the machine. He appears and disappears in various habitations, never with the same appearance or merchandise. He's always presented on a computer screen or hologram, never in person, but he projects a sense of ease and calm on his customers until they get too close. He always appears as a stylish corporate executive, his appearance tailored to be the most appealing to his current customer. He sells anything from data chips with live concert projections to technology that seems to do things that are impossible. He also sells collectibles from years gone by and is particularly "fond" of anyone who recognizes it. 

And that's it - some of the major and minor characters from Needful Things. I hope you enjoyed going down this rabbit hole with me. Remember, when the last chapter is read and the last page turned, I will be here with another suggestion, should you need it.