Author : Kile Marshall

As soon as the package popped down into the gravity sink I pulled out a saber and slashed through the heavy framing. For the most part it came away and dissolved into the recycle chutes quickly, so I slowed and steadied my hand. There were only a few remaining chunks and I didn’t want to disturb the contents. I’m not sure what risk there was, but I’ve always been overcautious when it comes to precious things.

“Vlad, I don’t see purpose here.” Musaf was staring at me with the usual distrust in his eyes—distrust not of my intentions but of my ideas.

“That’s because you’ve all silicon ’ware for brains,” I mumbled. “No soul or such, just fat lines and margins of black and red.”

“Red now,” he grumbled. “Money wasted!”

“My money,” I replied. “You only helped, just held the threads. I had to input and pathogenize the memes, I claim the gainings.”

“You are obsessed with archaic foolishness! Anachronite!” He swiveled his face from a pissed-off avi to mild irritation and turned to absorb some data stream surging past.

“Here, come,” I said. “You see it too.”

I reached the final box, old plastics textured to look like real uso wood. A little glimmering hook with a digilock based around an exponentially-vertexed manifold.

“You still won’t tell me costs,” said Musaf, weaving his way into the gravity sink.

“Pascal’s gambit,” I said, beginning to stream the framing code to the lock. “The reward is infinite.”

“Why?” asked Musaf. “You already know what cheese tastes like.”

“Do you believe the synthes?” I asked. “Really? They refuse to acknowledge umami or ottslich. Who knows what else they’ve lost.”

“Of all writ, this sensophilia of yours costs us more than market flux.” He glared.

I unlocked the box and flipped it back. Musaf peered over my shoulder at the pale, damp slab concealed within. Some white powdery stuff drifted up into the air; the slab was covered with it.

“This?” asked Musaf incredulously. “I’ve seen five-unit synth that looked more appetizing. Sensors say it’s rotten, too.”

“Yes,” I said. “It’s verdad, supposed to be. That’s how it’s fabricated, how they’ve been doing it for… ever.”

“Like vint-malt?” asked Musaf “Live germs?”

“I suppose,” I said. I dissolved a wrapper and produced a couple of carb wafers. Using a knife, scavenged from an antique dealer a few moons back, I carefully carved into the waxy bulk and spread it out onto two of the wafers. I gave one to Musaf, the other for myself. He stared at it angrily and then engulfed it whole. I let the taste hang in my mouth for a moment.

Musaf stared at me, and his face crossfaded into disgust. “Of all things! Vlad, what of! It tastes atrocious!”

I grinned. “Exactly! It’s even better than I imagined.”


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