Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

“Hit him again,” said Milly, “Let it go for six seconds this time.”

That smile played into her lips again, making me glad that it was this blubbering, fat loser in front of us that owed money and not me.

“Please!” he begged between ragged gasps, sweat pouring down the rolls of his face. “Just another two days! I swear I’ll get it to you!”

I flipped the switch.

He fished back onto the couch, arching. The wires from the Senz-Deck that I had brought for this torture tracked into the ‘trode-net headband we had forced him to wear. His hands were tied. They twitched against the duct tape on his wrists.

I watched the readouts of his heart and pulse rate as they slammed into the ceiling of the acceptable limits.

I was playing an ancient tape of a sprinter from the 2022 Olympics. The recording was of an athlete at the peak of physical health, a winner of hundreds of trophies before clinching the gold medal in Madrid. His name was Michael Shandal.

The man in front of us was so fat that he couldn’t leave his apartment. Something wrong with his thyroid, the medical report said.

In other words, not an athlete. If we let this tape of the sprinter spool for the full ten seconds with the physical safeguards off, this guy’s heart would explode with the effort of trying to match the strength on the tape.

He was in deep with us. Owed us thousands off the books. If we didn’t get the money from him soon, we’d have to make an example of him.

Six seconds. I studded the off switch.

His body sagged forward, wheezing and crying.

“So” said Milly, “What do you have say to that?” she said, stifling a chuckle. She scared me when she got like this. Like she had no leash and was happy about it.

“It’s in my bedroom,” said our victim, voice raspy with the effort of ravaged lungs, “under the mattress.”

Milly walked into the room. A minute later, she came back with a handful of credits. She nodded to me.

“What do we do with him?” I asked, nodding to the huge bastard on the couch.

She appeared to consider him, then me, and then the money in her hand.

“Go for the gold.” She said.

Fatboy screamed and I set the timer for a three minute loop before pressing play.

He didn’t last fifteen seconds.

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