Monday, November 20, 2006

Growing Hope - Installment 5

“You guys,” Carol drowsily said, “should stay one more night. You can pack up in the morning.” She and Telson were curled up on the bed together. I was still waiting for Shelly while I busily typed out the notes I'd accumulated over the last two years. They were simple things, ways to take out mites without having to resort to nanobot protection or pesticides, which could be both expensive and counterproductive. People paid a premium for organically grown produce, and sometimes the “defense mechanisms” man added to his crops counteracted the effects of the drugs. Or even how to tell if there was root rot in a given plant. Etcetera, as we say. Essentially just the small stuff that really mattered in the long run.

“Why should we stay?” I asked.

“Well, we could throw a party, you know?” Carol replied.

“Yeah. You could. Hey,” I pulled out a cigarette, “where's Shelly?”

“She went into town, had to go shopping, I think.”

“Shopping?” Dear reader, things never change. Kidding.

“Yeah. Groceries, you know. There's a wholesaler we go to, this guy in Uptown that hooks it up. So, like I said, you two should stay one more night. A bash or something.”

“Right,” I looked at Telson. He was snuggled up with her and looked more content than I'd seen him in days. Whether it was because her pot was good, or her shit was good, I wasn't going anywhere. Not to the Freelands, and probably not home to pack. Besides, if he was that whacked, I wouldn't be able to sneak out of the city past the guards. Bastard would've started walking toward the checkpoint instead of going around like a sensible person. Well, not really around. It's a little bit more “tricky”. It's a lot easier to make it into the city, than it is to make it out.

“Hey, Carol, don't let anyone know that we're leaving. This just a bash, ok?”

“What,” she drawled out, “worried my friends are narcs?”

“No. Friends of the friends of your friends. Besides, someone may be tagged.” Tagging, as we referred to it, was bugging someone's person without them realizing it. It was more common than you'd think. Not an awful lot of employers did it, but some did. And so did their security. Let's just say it takes more than a hot shower to get these off. You needed to have active antinanobodies to hunt them down, items that were increasingly difficult to find, or an EMP field around your apartment. That, and some of the tags were being outfitted with their own hunter codes, and EMP generators were expensive and/or illegal (depending on how much you paid the cops to forget about you... of course, if you were paying the cops off, you really didn't need the EMP fields).

“Cool,” was all Carol said. She knew everything I just told you, so I'm not going to recreate her mental process.

So, yeah, we were having a party. And Shelly still hadn't made it back. Hillfen was wrong, I probably cared more about her than Carol. Leaving was going to be difficult... but, to be honest, it was an easy sacrifice. Freedom and liberty on one hand... or a half-crazy girl who summoned demons into pictures with her friends to try and break and rebuild her ego? I know. Tough choice.

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