His turn, at last, just when he was about to explode from impatience. That woman ahead of him had taken, like, six minutes.

As soon as she walked away, he strode up. Spreading his fingers, he put his palm to the ATM’s cold, dark screen. A pulse rose through his fingers. Blue light limned his hand. Sharp tingling nibbled at his skin, and the hair everywhere on his body stood on end.

He tapped his foot, waiting for results. Like thirty seconds later, the ATM began printing sounds. More seconds passed. His hair flattened and then the pulsing faded, the light dimmed and disappeared, and the tingling ended. As he removed his hand, a slip of paper scrolled out. Finally.

Taking the paper with, he perused the print out. “You done?” the next person in line said.

Nodding with a grunt, he walked away, perusing his print out as he did. The bottom line was what he first went to read. It said, “Warning: your karma points have reached the minimum balance. Be careful what you do.”

A car horn blew. Looking up and around, he found the offending driver and gave them the finger. As soon as he realized what he’d done, he grimaced. Crumbling the paper up, he shoved it into his pocket and started walking fast. Of course his karma points were low. How the fuck were you supposed to get points in a world like this?

Getting into his car, he started it with a burst of smoky revs, shoved it into reverse, and punched the gas. His rear tires grabbed traction with a chirp. “Hey,” an old man shouted behind him. “Watch it.” Selecting drive, he scattered pedestrians as the car jumped forward. Cutting off another car, he started speeding down the street.

“Minimum balance,” he said, selecting another radio station and turning up the volume. “Fuck that noise.”

Lighting a cigarette, he went on down the road, speeding past a girl in the crosswalk. Minimum balance, right. How was he ever supposed to get karma points when the world was set against him?

As his father always said, there’s just no sense in trying.

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