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Omnitrex Tech part 12

kelson.philo's picture

Link to part 1

The skylight was blue. A few errant clouds streamed by the perimeter horizon far, far away. Business suites towered behind him. He bent forward, hands on knees and breathed deeply, in and out. The perfectly humid regular air of the Expanse filled his lungs. This was Safe. This was Normal. This was Good.

Paul turned briefly back to look at the foggy portal to Taste! and shook his head. His office-mate’s description didn’t do it justice. “‘Smasers’, my ass,” he thought. There was something wickedly New about the place that gave the core of his being the creeps. He was about to turn and go when the clerk who accosted him jumped out of the fog. Out in the skylight, she was a few years older than how she had appeared inside the shop. Still very pretty, but not as…curvaceous.

“Hey,” she said.

“Hey, yourself.” Paul had to squint to read her lips, giving a crutch to his tender ears.

“Listen, um, is it true what you said? That you quit?”

Paul took a moment to consider this. “Yes,” he said, finding it easier than he had thought. “Yes. Quit. I’m done. Finished. Had it.” He was finished on so many levels today that suddenly the thought of not having to be at the beckon call of anyone seemed…marvelous.

“That’s a pretty gutsy move considering,” she replied. No job meant no cred and no inwykbwyk points. His banker would redline his mortgage and he’d never get a decent pad again. He’d lose feed access and his trex would be useful only for freebies that would come along every other day or so. Too many days accepting that sort of charity and he’d be shunted over to freeloader status, and be lucky to see the Expanse again, especially at his age*. Such was the concern of most Folk. And now this clerk had broken rank and was trying to talk to him about it.

“What about you, leaving your, um, post, I guess you’d call it.”

“Shight, working for Taste! is the easiest gig I’ve ever had. Peeps come in, they drool for awhile and then I load their trex with some scripts and off they go. Eventually. Rinse and repeat. Never heard of anybody say they were quitting something prestigious before. Don’t like being a cop?”

“No, too…rigid, I guess,” Paul lied. “I need something with a bit more, ah, style in it.”

She laughed. “You weren’t really a cop at all, were you,” she said and Paul’s eyes went wide, “My brother’s on the force and you definitely don’t fit the profile.” She paused and, seeing the look in Paul’s eyes said, “Don’t worry. I won’t rat you out. You were what, posing for some feed stunt or sumpthin’?”

Paul sighed in relief. “Yes, that’s it, ya caught me. I’m on the Triple M net for the next three months, mandatory. It’s brutal. I’m not that creative.”

She laughed again. “Oh, I don’t know. Impersonating a police officer is pretty damn creative. Maybe you just need an improv coach.”

“Hmm….and you don’t happen to know where I can find one of those, do you?”

“Nope!” she squealed and did the same little spin she had performed inside of Taste! on their first meeting. It was adorable. “But maybe if you link me your trex addy, I can find you one.” She said the last with a straight face, not looking at him, just taking in the skylight. I don’t care if you do or not, the body language said, but you’ll be happier if you do.

“Fine by me,” he said in as nonchalant a manner as he knew how, holding out his trex, readying it for signal capture.

She tapped a control and the social processing was complete. “Alright,” she said, “I gotsta get back in there, see you around—”she paused, looking at her trex’s screen, “Paul, huh. Hope you’re not a loser,” she finished and turned and skipped back into Taste!’s perpetually foggy portal.

“Yeah, well I hope you’re interesting, um” he yelled back, and then found he couldn’t finish yelling because of the girl’s name. “Amanda Adnama. What. The. Fark.” A compound name, amongst Folk? Subscriptions that could bliss you out on memory? What was the world coming to? And did I just flirt with someone half my age? I did. OK. Start walking. You need to bury your head into something sensible.

*yeah, I think we’ll have access to the Expanse on a turnstile basis as well. –kp.

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