I was running late, damn it, squeezing me into a travel-dilemma box.

Walking to my destination was out because I’d already used my baseline oxygen, and was into tier two pricing. Tier two pushed up the O2 price to one hundred twenty-five percent of my baseline use cost. If you think that’s not bad, you must be Free. As worried as tier two pricing makes me, tier three jumps up to two hundred percent. Say, “Ow,” brother, and kiss the budget good-bye. If you think this is more about punishing me for using too much oxygen instead of profit-taking, you’re wrong.

I was going too far to walk, anyway. Realistically, my choices were surface vehicle, hover-car, or teleporting. I’d normally be porting to this function, because I’m going to be drinking. Salud! Embedded in the Pleasure Taxes that just went live, though, is language about being drunk in public. Surface cars and hover cars are included in that, even if you’re not driving them.

Porting, though, was out, because I’d exceeded my baseline on that, too, and was firmly advanced into tier two pricing. This sucks on a major level. Of course, it’s my cats’ fault.

As others have found, cats love teleporters. No one knows why. Premier Teleporting, the company I lease my teleporter from at home, says it’s not possible, but the net is rich with tales of cats porting into places.

I’ve had it happen, so I know it’s not just alternate news. No, it doesn’t make sense. The porters have security and fail-safes. They’re synced to your neck chip, right? Without that chip, the porter is supposed to remain inactive. Yet, cat after cat manages to enter teleporters and pop up elsewhere. My own cats, Hizzhonor and Herheinie, have followed me into bars, stores, restaurants, and work. Each time, I’m charged for their use, but then I need to port them home. It’s happened three times this month alone. It sucks.

Which doesn’t solve this problem, except, remembering the issue, I took the two kitties into the bedroom, refreshed their food and water, and bribed them with catnip and treats before locking them in there.

Then I checked my porting app. I was already close to tier three pricing. Projections based on the distance, my size, and the time of day, indicated my return trip would tip me into tier three pricing. Drinking a beer, I mourned the situation, and decided on impulse, fuck it.

This was no way for someone to live. Announcing, “Fuck it,” to the teleporting unit as a surrogate for the company, I continued with bravado, “Baseline this,” and held up two index fingers at the machine.

And then, checking the time right before stepping into the teleporter, I realized that I’d eaten up most of my baseline leisure time for that night. Going out now would push me into tier two pricing for the evening. I did the maths. Party multipliers would kick in because of the crowd size and congregation tax. Then there was the alcohol surcharge….

Forget about sex. I couldn’t afford sex that night.

The maths didn’t work. As much as I craved society, and relaxing with a drink and friends, it was too pricey for tonight. Releasing the cats from their captivity, I checked my alcohol consumption baseline and confirmed I had some breathing room there. 

Just fourteen days left in the month, and all my baselines would be reset. Until then…I settled in to surf the net and shop online.

At least that remained free.


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