I was taking the subway home. Like I do every day after work.
I work for an organization that uses technology in ways. Well, let’s just say what I do isn’t considered legal or ethical. In a world where 100 multi-billionaires control 62% of the earth’s wealth, I could give a fuck about what’s considered legal or ethical.
I have a family to take care of, and bills to pay. I use my talents to get what I can, keep my family fed, and keep our quality of life as high as I can. No one’s getting hurt. I just skim money out of the system using my technical and social abilities. Backdoors, phishing expeditions, social engineering. These are my domains. I have a good crew. The operation that employs me pays good bonuses when I do a good job. My kids don’t wear shoes with holes in the soles. They aren’t malnourished. We’ve got mad bandwidth and they can learn whatever they want about the world.
Meanwhile, I’m taking a little here, and a little there. Rich people don’t need that much. So I shave a little bit off, carve a slice out, make a piece of the pie mine.
This world is crazy. It’s people cutting each other’s throats, just like it always has been, except now we do it in a vast ocean of zeros and ones. People don’t have to get dead in the streets and alleys like they did back in the olden days. You know what? That’s alright with me. People get paid, bank accounts get switched around here and there.
Oh shit. Mother fucker just stabbed me. I was taking the subway home.
Minding my own business. Bam. Dude comes up on me. It doesn’t hurt. Just cold. Spreading cold. That mother fucker. My monitor flashes a red warning and I hear a voice in my head. “Biological damage detected. Emergency protocol active. Hibernation mode priority one.”
I can’t see right. Can’t hear right. It’s like I’m in a tunnel going down into the dark and that mother fucker is getting smaller and smaller. Did he just kill me? What the fuck for? I wasn’t doing nothing to him. Oh shit. I’m not going to get to say goodbye to Brianne and Jonas and little baby Paco. This really sucks. What the fuck?
“Tomas. Tomas, can you hear me?”
I realize that yes, I can hear someone talking to me.
“That you Jonesy?”
“No shit it’s me. How you feelin?” I feel someone touching me. Holy shit. Either I’m not dead, or Jonesy and I are both dead and made it across to the after.
I think about it. Run a systems check without realizing that I’ve engaged it. The voice says, “Systems no longer critical. Running full diagnostic. Please stand-by.”
“Brianne called us when you were late.” Jonesy. “She was upset. ‘He’s never late. Never.’ That’s what she said when I took the call. ‘Something’s wrong Jonesy. I know you got him chipped. Go get him! If you don’t I’m gonna kill you.’” They really like each other. She’d never threaten him if she didn’t think something was seriously fucked.
“You know I like her Tomas. You got a good woman. Man, if you wasn’t with her, I’d get with her. You know that shit is true.”
I do know that shit is true. I seen those two looking at each other. If she didn’t love me so much, and we didn’t have them two kids, she’d get with him. I might even be alright with it. If I wasn’t around. Shit, life is short. Too short not to have some love.
I cough. Try to speak. My throat. It’s so dry. Feels like it’s full of sand.
“You found that motherfucker that stabbed me?” I welcome my voice, despite the discomfort it causes me.
“Relax Tomas. Just take it easy. He got you right in the liver. We had to call in a favor with OmegaCorp. They printed you a new liver while you was bleeding out. Hey man! Carlos came down and donated two liters of his blood to keep you from dying man. That Carlos. I know what I said about him last month, but that vato is alright. I take back all that shit I said. You owe him man.”
I think about what I’m hearing. Open my eyes. Look at him through the heads up display. He looks tired. “Jonesy, man. I’m glad it was you. Hey man. I got questions. Was this about the Princeps Corps job?” Jonesy shakes his head.
“No man. This shit is payback for that Russian thing we did last year.”
I close my eyes. Think back. Mother fucker. That guy on the subway looked like he was related to Pavel. I open my eyes. “You’re talking about the Lisin thing?” Jonesy nods. “I thought so.”
That mother fucker and all those Russian mother fuckers. I have a family to feed. They’re worth more than 15 billion nuEuros. It isn’t enough that we’re on the brink of an environment that won’t sustain human existence. It’s not enough that we fought a world war that extinguished 80% of the planetary population just two decades ago. No, we’re still stabbing each other with metal alloys over fractions of fractions.
“I’m calling in my favors Jonesy. I want all the processing cores I’ve saved. Upload me into the mesh network. There’s hell to pay.”
He hesitates. I can see it in his eyes and I know what’s coming.
“Jonesy. She’s waiting for me to call. She wants to bring them to see you.”
I harden my resolve. Some people just have a density propensity. I’m not one of those. Not me. From now on, I’m a ghost in the machine, and I’m going to ramp up the income redistribution to a whole new level.
Fuck my freshly printed replacement liver. I was just taking the subway home. Mother fucker should have minded his own damn business. Don’t care who he works for. He’s freshly slaughtered meat now.
Is it legal? I don’t care. Is it ethical? Couldn’t give a shit. I have a family to take care of. I’ve told you what that means to me a million times Jonesy. Now it’s your turn. Cause there’s hell to pay and I’m the devil.