Looking Forward

Digging into his pocket, Chasm pulled everything out, dropped it on the counter, and took in the lifetender. Her neck and arms were lean and bare. Alabaster skin and sculpted coal black hair accented her blue eyebrows, green eyes,  red pearl earrings, and brown lips.

Leaning forward, the lifetender watched Chasm’s discs take on green, gold, and silver. Her name holo said she was Kymeri and she was not available.

“You got something,” Kymeri said. Her long, flashing red fingernails raked the discs into order as their denominations came up. “Thousand dollar goldisc, a D, silver century, a wide array of greendiscs.” Her fingernails flashing gold, she tapped the individual discs. Each spoke its value. When she’d tapped the last greendisc, she clicked her fingernails together. Changing to green, her nail said, “Seventeen hundred sixty-seven dollars.”

Just short of a day’s pay, a reflection of the six hours Chasm had worked. “What can I get for that?”

“Night room, joy doll, two squares, dozen drinks, new clothes.”

“What would that leave me?”

“Depends on particulars.”

“Of course. There a budget package?”

Shaking her head, Kymeri said in a low voice, “You don’t want a budget. Get a deluxe, at least. You can afford it. Budget drinks are well liquor or piss beer with compiled food, and the clothes are plastic.”

“Can I budget and then upgrade the drinks to IPA? I don’t need many, maybe three bigs.”

Her fingernails flashing green, the lifetender said, “Okay, a budget room is a bed with a pop out commode, access to the ionizer, private sink, standing space and one chair.”

“Bedding?”

“Included. Joy doll?”

“No. Trade in for the clothes?”

The lifetender shrugged with a dispassionate scan over his black plastic-encased torso. “Your stuff isn’t much. Probably a ten.”

The negotiations were continued. When it was done, Chasm had spent eleven hundred. It scared him to spend so much.

He was ported into his pod. Soft white lights came on. No windows, one large monitor, doublewide bed, chair, sink, port token switch for the ionizer, and popout commode, as promised.

Squirming into the chair, Chasm guzzled his first IPA. Decent stuff, but most importantly, cold. Tension sloughed out of his shoulders. It’d been a good day. He’d found work and was promised more. He was off the street, had a clothing credit, two meals paid for, along with the IPA and water, and still had almost five hundred in discs.

Life was good. Kicking off his shoes, Chasm unfolded his laptop from his hip pocket and plugged it in to play some games.

For the first time in at least a year, he was looking forward to tomorrow.

 

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