Author : Ian Rennie

They turned Valerie off this morning.

Nothing flashy, nothing officially announced. Two grey-suited daemons came in, picked up her sprite and walked out with it. When I went to the dorms to investigate, her room was blank, no sign that she had ever been here.

I know the drill. They’ll say there was some irregularity in her payments and she was being moved from virtual to storage until it was sorted out. Which is crap. What they mean is that the company directors owed someone a favor or were made a better offer on her runtime. In a few weeks they’ll say how much they regret the misconception and that Valerie will be back with us as soon as a space opens. Which they never do.

Valerie, myself, and most of the other residents are lifers, legacies. We paid on insurance policies for decades so that when the inevitable happened our digital consciousnesses would continue in post-life communities. This was back before they understood how expensive the runtime would be. Legally, they have to maintain us here because our policies have been grandfathered in. In practice they want nothing more than for us to vanish and leave the lucrative virtual environment to paying minds with runtime trusts.

So every now and then, they do this, just to get rid of one of us, just to keep the others scared.

They used to call it murder, back when we were alive.

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