Author : James Smith

The girl out of the tank before lunch is Lila. Trip around the network shows the last of her bloodline petered out twenty years ago. Cryos are all from before the Patent Wars, so their sequences are in the public domain. The company turns a nice side profit selling the royalty-free DNA of such orphans through its GeneStock site.

I clean up the cancer that put her into storage, and dump the standard Mandarin package down her language stack, which I had to re-build because the cancer had slowly eaten through it over the centuries. I’m supposed to sequence her now, and she is absolutely beautiful, so I turn to our department’s unofficial protocol. I put her sequence in the system, but also pipe it to my phone. To the phone we give her, I beam a map to the job bank, my contact info, plus a bot that deletes any co-workers’ info. She’ll likely call me. We’ll make a date, and with her sequence I can key my pheromones, the food, the shade of my eyes, to her tastes. You can’t get too specific, but ballpark’s enough to get some ass once or twice, which is all anyone has time for anyway.

With one eye on the tank, I eat a sandwich and surf the city’s cam-net on my phone, tracking Lila’s progress. I watch her get buzzed by a flying cop. It blinds her with a quick retinal scan, reads our logo there, and shouts at her to get along to where she was already headed. The sound’s off, but I’m sure she’s got glossolalia by now.

Fuck. Skaters. I see them before she does. I speed-dial her phone, but she can’t hear it over the traffic and billboards. They come from her 10 o’clock, and all I can do is watch as the first one circles her, drawing her attention, while a second passes a scanner over her hand, yanking the ID out of her chip. He’ll probably have the start-up credit emptied out of her account before her onboard can lock it down. There’s a third. They travel in threes. She comes in low, spins behind Lila’s legs and pops up to slap a patch on the back of her neck. All the wiring we grew there before sending her out has now been hijacked for some American gangster wanting tariff free real-time number-crunching.

By the time the patch dissolves Lila won’t even be able to use her phone, much less remember to call me. She won’t get enough time to acclimate to the zeitgeist– which will change in a month or so anyway– and she’ll come up out of it crazy and useless. She’ll be on the street, begging me for credit, inside of six months.

I sigh, close my phone and reach for my coffee. The tank beeps, and the next idiot tumbles out onto the tile. He’s kind of cute.

Discuss the Future: The 365 Tomorrows Forums
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows