â€œItâ€™s a family business.â€ The shopkeeper trembled, his telltale American face-lights blinking. â€œMy daughter and my wife make the simulations themselves. Very good, high resolution, but they donâ€™t do any touching, theyâ€™re good girls, they donâ€™t touch.
â€œHe didnâ€™t want the Sims, did he?â€ 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. â€œHe made them do it real-time here. They were laughing and moaning and then he left and took the feeling with him. My daughter wonâ€™t leave her room and my wife is so ashamed she canâ€™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.â€
â€œPsychics are brutes.â€ The thin man shoved his hands into his thick wool coat, oblivious to the Martian heat.
â€œBeasts.â€ said the shopkeeper.
The thin man winced and his brow wrinkled. â€œHeâ€™s coming here now, isnâ€™t he?â€
â€œCompadre, 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.â€
â€œYou didnâ€™t tell me he was coming here now. You knew, and you didnâ€™t tell me.â€ The thin man shivered and pulled his coat tighter. â€œI donâ€™t help liars.â€
â€˜Papa?â€ 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. â€œAre you okay Papa?â€
â€œYes baby. Papa is fine. This man is the one I told you about, he is going to help us.â€ The shopkeeper looked up, his face lights oscillating on the grey cheek of the thin man.
â€œFuck you, yes. Iâ€™ll deal with him.â€ The thin man pulled out an illegal cigarette and lit it. â€œPsychics are brutes, but we take care of our own.â€