Author : James Smith

Nardo sat in his broker’s office, running his “impatience” script. He occupied himself with the U.N. Secretarial bout running on hologram in the corner. One American candidate had just tagged out and his partner climbed to the top rope, towering above the Nigerian, when the broker’s pupils flashed twice and his BRB tags faded.

“Hi, sorry, meltdown in China, had to move some accounts, hold some hands, how you doing?”

Nardo hated that fast-guy-Eddie bullshit. “Ed. Population futures. I wanna get in on that. The returns sound fucking massive.”

Ed’s avatar smiled.

“Bernardo, let me guess. Some thirteen year-old Malaysian kid goes poking around in the GASDAQ, you pull the case, and some helpful soul explains population futures to you, just well enough to make you think you’ve struck gold. Now you’re logged into my office, wasting my retainer, and my time.”

“So… you’re saying…”

“I’m saying what the regulation scripts need to hear me say. I’m saying what the secret society of backchannel movers and shakers want me to say. But, you and me go way back, Nardo. You did that thing with the guy that one time–“

–blood, lots of blood, fucking everywhere–

“–and I owe you. So I’m going to do something for you. Now: You want me watching out for you, or do you want me getting hot wire hangers jammed up my ass on a Spanish prison ship? If it’s the former, keep your mouth shut about it. All right?”

“Stop trying to scare me.”

“Fine. First, I’m replacing this conversation with script on mutual funds. Now: Tinker’s Dam. Up in Christchurch? There’s going to be a storm next week, and the river’s gonna top it. No, no, shut up, stop typing. Don’t ask. There’s going to be a surge of untouchables into Rebekka proper, and property values are going to fucking tank. Absolutely. Now, Rebekka can’t absorb all these fuckers without some pain. The long and short is that over the next two to five years, the city’s going to hemorrhage middle class white folks over the wall into Snowtown and Twitch City. And you, having bought up a sizeable share of population vouchers in one or both of those fine municipalities, will be swimming in easy credits.”

“That… that’s how it works?”

“That’s what’s going to happen. How it works is beyond the ken of mortal man. You in?”

“My mother lives in Christchurch.”

“Move her the fuck out of there, man! That place is a sewer. Besides, the dam’s gonna blow and kill a bunch of people.”

“Five years?”

“You’ve already got a job. This is how you build a pension. Shit or get off the pot.”

Nardo looked over at the U.N. match playing on the side table. A Nigerian had one American in a sleeper hold. Her partner was beating the other with a folding chair, blood dissolving as it flew past the angle of the holo-cams. He had money on the damn Americans.

“Yeah. Yeah. I’m in.”

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