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Old September 10th, 2010, 09:17 PM
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The tension of the day seemed to drain out of Victor’s body as the car left the expressway for the dark road that would soon wind up in his neighborhood.

The Tube ride from Baltimore to the Maswick junction was uneventful. It seemed like he’d barely had time to turn his book on and start reading before the overhead speaker informed him of his stop. Called him by name, in fact.

He left the train through a set of softly hissing doors, only to be assaulted by an ad as he stepped out onto the platform.
“Victor Chung! Feeling tired after that long ride from Baltimore? Try Perka Cola! New from AmeriCo!”

The kiosk projecting the ad was three meters away, alongside a couple of vending machines. The PerkaCola machine was new. He was pretty sure that the space next to the Food-Extruder’s machine had been vacant that morning.

Other ads vied for his attention as he walked to the stairs, but he was familiar with them, and was able to tune them out easily. He grinned to himself as he took the steps, two at a time. Not only were the stairs good exercise, but the 3-story stairwell only had two ad projectors, compared to the escalator’s 27. He emerged into the chill fall air just as a soft rain started to drift down out of the sky.

His car was waiting for him, the heater already blowing warm, soothing air as he climbed in. As the motors hummed to life, the rain started to come down hard.

“Home.” He told the car, as he buckled himself in.

Before the car was out of the parking lot he was already reading his book, content to leave the driving to the TrafCon system.
The car gave a little beep when he was 5 kilometers from home. Soon he would have to take over the driving. TrafCon didn’t work inside the slow, narrow streets of the village he lived in.

He sighed, and was putting down the book when the car radio blared to life. He had turned it off before leaving the train station, preferring the silence of the little fuel-cell-powered vehicle for his reading. So it had to be something important.
“This is a Local Authorities Bulletin. Please be advised that Malcolm Teas is thought to be at large near your community. He is a diagnosed with possible stress psychosis, and considered very dangerous. Do not attempt to approach him.”

At this the car’s HUD display lit up, displaying a rotating picture of an older man, maybe in his fifties, dressed in a light blue shirt, orange pants, and light brown shoes. He looked harmless enough, but it seemed to Victor that there was something about his eyes, something distant and not quite right.

“Of course he doesn’t look right,” said Victor to himself, as the manual control warning beeped again. “He’s a friggin’ Snap.”
The display faded as Victor took the controls of his car, and guided it down the narrow, though brightly lit, streets of his village. The cameras on the lamp-posts watched impassively as he slid past, recording the time, make and model of the car, while computers along the way queried the car’s computer and the small implant in Victor’s right bicep. More cameras floated silently overhead, miniature blimps cruising the streets, looking for trouble. A group of them had converged several blocks from his house, where a small, bloodied glass-cased chip sent out it signature from a tall branches of an ancient oak.

Parking his car in front of his house, he walked up to the front door, not bothering with keys. The house computer recognized both his implant and his biometric signature, and smoothly opened the front door for him as he approached.

Once inside, he laid his coat down on the sofa, only to have the cleaning ‘bot whisk it away to the front closet. He grinned as he imagined the spindly machine scolding him. Just like his Mom.

He hummed softly to himself as he prepared his supper: A small steak, several baby potatoes, and a side of steamed vegetables. And for dessert, he helped himself to a dollop of real ice cream. As he closed the freezer door, the fridge beeped at him, and the display on the door informed him that he was over his ideal caloric intake for the day. A brief frown wrinkled his brow as he thumbed the pad for an override. Those three stories of stairs should give him at least a little leeway.

He carried the meal from the kitchen to the living room, as the slender cleaning 'bot scurried after him, picking up small crumbs as they dropped off his plate. As he set the meal down on the table in front of the sofa, the 3V flared to life, already tuned to his favorite channel. After his first bite, he set the remote to scan, and idly watched the stations flip past as he ate. Every so often the scan would slow down, as the monitor on the 3V noted his interest, but eventually it cycled through all 1200 channels. By then, though, he was finished his ice cream, and ready to get to work.

His hobby chewed almost as much time out of his day as his job, but last year he had been so close to winning the cup. This year, it was going to be his. He left the table and the load of dishes for the ‘bot, and crossed the room to his workbench, where the 1.1 meter radio-controlled sailboat waited.

He never noticed the strobing noise of the police helicopters getting nearer, nor the scuffed brown shoes under the curtain.
Any security system can be bypassed, if you have the skills.
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