“It’s a family business.” The shopkeeper trembled, his telltale American face-lights blinking. “My daughter and my wife make the simulations themselves. Very good, high resolution, but they don’t do any touching, they’re good girls, they don’t touch.

“He didn’t want the Sims, did he?” said the thin man, running his fingers over the crystal display, inside which two women winked at him suggestively. The tiny store was filled with animated images of the same two women wearing different costumes and teasing the viewer with repeating loops from their Sims.

The shopkeeper put his palms against the sides of the simulation pods and blinked, drops catching in his eyelashes. “He made them do it real-time here. They were laughing and moaning and then he left and took the feeling with him. My daughter won’t leave her room and my wife is so ashamed she can’t speak. Neither of them have the heart to produce the Sims over the Network. Sims are the family business and without them working, we will be taken to the Steam camps by our creditors.”

“Psychics are brutes.” The thin man shoved his hands into his thick wool coat, oblivious to the Martian heat.

“Beasts.” said the shopkeeper.

The thin man winced and his brow wrinkled. “He’s coming here now, isn’t he?”

“Compadre, please, I need your help. He is coming here to rape my wife and daughter. Altec said that you could help, that when the zift was on the road you were the man to call.”

“You didn’t tell me he was coming here now. You knew, and you didn’t tell me.” The thin man shivered and pulled his coat tighter. “I don’t help liars.”

‘Papa?” A small voice drifted from upstairs. Little feet padded down the narrow broken staircase and a tiny woman came into view. She held herself against the wall and looked at the thin man as she spoke. “Are you okay Papa?”

“Yes baby. Papa is fine. This man is the one I told you about, he is going to help us.” The shopkeeper looked up, his face lights oscillating on the grey cheek of the thin man.

“Fuck you, yes. I’ll deal with him.” The thin man pulled out an illegal cigarette and lit it. “Psychics are brutes, but we take care of our own.”