Author : C. S. McClendon

I stepped out of the lobby just in time to watch the last metro transport of the day speed past and turn the corner without so much as slowing down. Great, that meant I had to walk home, and these heels were already killing me, wonderful. Still, no use complaining about it, and at least the trans-walks were clean, not like the way the streets had been ten years or so ago. I slipped the heels off and stepped onto the trans-walk. Technically you can just stand there and let the walk do all the work, as long as you keep an eye out for the intersections, but I didn’t get a butt you could bounce a federal credit off of by standing around, and besides, according to the flash message that had come in before I left work, there was a package waiting outside the apartment, and I didn’t want to risk one of my neighbors snatching it on their way up the shaft before I got home. So I ran.

By the time I made the last intersection and stepped through the entrance of my high-rise, the curfew chimes were sounding through the public address system. Guess it was a good thing I chose to run today. I was going to have to send my supervisor a flash about keeping me late though. If I get caught after curfew just coming home from work we’ll both be in for it.

Stepping into the air shaft I felt the heated gasses ease the tension from aching muscles as they surrounded me and sent me rocketing through the pressure tube toward my apartment. Stepping through the aperture, I snatched up the small, plain brown carton. It might have been anything. All mail comes in these plain unmarked cartons these days after all, since the privacy act of 2112, but I knew what it was, thanks to the flash from FedCom.

I stepped through the door to my place and kicked it shut behind me before slitting the carton open with the lacquered nail of my index finger. No invoice, that was all handled by flash. It was just a small, unmarked silver disc. Again, it could have been anything. I tore the RFID off the spine of the carton, that couldn’t go into the recycler, and tossed the carton itself down the chute. The small plasma readout above the recycler registered a two credit deposit into my account, not that I needed the reminder.

I slid the disc out of its packaging, and tossed it to my desk. Let the sensors start reading while I finished unwinding from work. I dialed up some soft Latin strings on the sound system and moved to the bar to pour a shot of rum, gods it would be good not to come home to an empty house every day. I tossed my heels into the closet in time to hear the beep from my terminal. The desk had finished reading the disc.

“Compile, and execute,” I called out to the empty room, while feeling the first tremble of nerves.

The holographic pickups around the room hummed, and an image coalesced just in front of my chair. The well toned man in front of me cleared his throat, and looked around for just a moment before saying softly, “Good evening, I’m Andrew, your purchase from EmalE: A new kind of companion for a new Generation of women.”

Yes indeed, it was definitely going to be nice not to come home to an empty house every day.

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