Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

Someone’s hacked my bank accounts and left me out in the cold.

My chip is being recognized as zero balance. None of the doors work. I don’t even have enough money left in my account for the surcharges that would let me into a public bathroom. I’m one of the Locked Out people.

I’m trying to think of a way to sneak into a place that’s warm while at the same time trying to figure out who has the power to do this to me. I’m not having much luck with either pursuit. Many of the Locked Out have tried to find a way past the shields and the doors while having a zero balance chip. They’ve failed and ended up in prison or dead.

Up until three hours ago, I wasn’t one of them. I’d joke about them at parties with my friends. They either had the bad luck or the lack of foresight to not have a positive balance. We were the humans that could take care of themselves financially and they were obviously the ones that could not.

Now here I am. It’s getting dark out and it’s December. Without a place to stay, I have no idea what to do. I’m very well-dressed. The other Locked Out people will ravage me if I go to them. I need to keep walking, figure it out.

Maybe digging my chip out? No. I’d heard that could trigger a fatal seizure. Maybe I could call a friend and get him to lend me money. I remembered the four friends that I’d turned down with an uncomfortable laugh in the last three months. Three of them had ended up being Locked Out. I had washed my hands of them at the time and gone on with my life.

I would call no one. Besides, my chip wouldn’t activate my phone and there were no free public terminals anymore.

The snow is falling. I’m looking at it hit the sidewalk. It’s a cold and quiet night.

All of my instincts are useless here. The fact that I could die and that my friends would joke about it is hitting me hard. I still can’t imagine who’d want to do this to me.

I stick out my tongue to catch a snowflake.


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