Author : Desmond Hussey, Staff Writer

I needed to disappear. Fast.

I never wanted a criminal life. It’s not like I killed anybody, or stole the nation’s pension plans, unlike some governments which shall go unmentioned.

No. It was much more banal than that. I reneged on my student loans. Now I’m a wanted man.

Like many students hoping to get ahead in the world, I jumped into a full Master’s Program at a decent, but far from ivy league university, with visions of future grandeur making the stress inducing course load marginally bearable. Like every student, I was promised a well paid job upon graduation.

I did my time, studied hard. After graduating with honors and flinging my square, black cap into the air along with thousands of other students, all determined to make their dreams realities, I learned some hard truths we weren’t taught in school. There simply weren’t any jobs for us. Never had been. Maybe ten of every hundred graduates found employment in their chosen field, most through their parent’s corporate enterprise; the Golden Boys and Girls, whose futures were paved in gold the day they were born.

As for me, well…

I was unemployed and the proud owner of a 250,000 credit Criminology Degree.

Six months later the phone calls and e-mails started. It was the Bank. They wanted their money back.

I used up my two deferrals, buying myself some time, but time, like my meager savings, inevitably ran out. The phone calls resumed. The e-mails spawned. It was time to pay up.

After five years of searching within my field, the best work I could dredge up was as a Baker’s assistant; waking at 5 am, making thick dough for minimum wage. The Bank garnished 30% of every credit I earned.

At this rate, with added interest, it would take two lifetimes to pay off my loan.

Arthur Hanover needed to disappear.

I decided to put my Criminology Degree to work. Disappearing people wasn’t easy in the 2030’s, but I’d learned how. Everyone was numbered, coded and tagged at birth. If you weren’t in the system, you couldn’t do squat. Couldn’t even purchase a toothbrush without an I-phone, except on the black market. Mark if the Beast if ever I saw one.

My phone was the first to go. Not that I had any credit anyway, plus phones were traceable.

I pitched my ID, changed my name, dyed my hair and managed to barter some ancient LP’s – classics, mint condition – for a pair of retinal coded contacts.

A doctor friend from University was in the same boat I was; ran an underground clinic for the disenfranchised. I called in some favors and had him remove the IRF chip implanted in my thigh.

Debt between friends is so much easier to pay back than a bank loan. “Honor amongst thieves”, I s’pose.

I’d hoped to find a quiet place to live out the rest of my days as Devon Walsh. A nobody. A non-entity. Maybe meet a girl and eke out some humble existence. If being a Baker’s assistant was all there was for me, I conceded to settle for it. It could be worse.

It is.

They caught up with me in a hover station outside Whitehorse. Cyborg sniffer-dogs tracked my DNA all the way from Toronto. Betrayed by my own DNA. You really can’t change who you are.

My crime?

Criminal Loan Default.

My sentence?

I’ve been drafted. My loan was bought and I’m bound for the front lines. NorAmer is at war with the Asian Federation for property interests on Mars and I’m cheap cannon fodder.

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