If you haven’t been to www.w0rmh0le.net, you should! There are games streamed, summer interviews with artists and programmers, and a new story written by me. It’s a dystopian cyberpunk story, which is waaaaaay outside of my comfort zone, but both of which are genres/aesthetics that I enjoy.
Here is a snippet from the story. You can find the ongoing series at w0rmh0le Lore.
Pretending to be human always proved difficult for Wesley, no matter how often he had to do it.
Of course, nobody in the upper echelons was truly human anymore. Augmentation and redesign were the most lucrative markets, and everybody took advantage of summer sales on new limbs, sharper eyes and, of course, weaponized add-ons. To some extent, Wesley couldn’t blame them; the city was getting more dangerous as desperation rose in the face of the new mayor. He had given jobs to AI in order to save a dime for his important corporate backers, and the workers of Sodoria felt the strain.
Too bad it wasn’t the poorest of the city that could utilize new weapons to defend themselves. The imbalance between the two made it too easy for the richest of Sodoria to decide the fate of the poorest. Illicit markets were growing, and so was the population in the cellblocks.
As an AI, himself, Wesley was relegated to working and rebooting. If authorities knew what he was doing, they would disassemble and reprogram him before the morning. He couldn’t risk losing the empathy glitch in his most recent upgrade—having a purpose was almost addictive.
Wesley pulled the scarf and hat around his screen, covering everything but the space for his eyes, which he projected to look like any augmented eyes of the crowd. He moved slowly as to not draw attention to himself, avoiding making eye contact for too long. There was a jolt in his circuits as he made his way to the markets. The bright, neon screens advertising the newest models in augmentations or the newest smart device for the home lit up the nighttime pavilion, casting hues of pink or blue or green across the throngs of people. The hum of voices and movement echoed around him as the people, in their nicest clothes with their expensive jewelry and prosthetics, haggled for new parts or replacements, for fresh vegetables and fruits, for thick cuts of meat or for much-needed medicine. He placed his hand in his pocket, finding the parts he had taken from his shift in the AI hardware development sector.
He slid up to a usual customer; a thin man named Tess that never asked too many questions. Tess knew two things—that his clients needed their augmented limbs re-tightened and that they didn’t want the usual cheap materials that made up the commercial-grade quality. They desired government-quality parts, but these were scarce unless you paid exorbitant prices or, as in Tess’s case, knew somebody who could sell it at a discount.
“What you got today, Wes?” Tess asked, looking down at his tools as he readied them for the next client.
“Six titanium bolts, ready to go.”
“They aren’t categorized, eh?”
“Have I ever sold you categorized parts?” Wesley asked. “My contact and I would be in deep trouble if that happened.”
“Don’t know how you do it,” Tess said, not looking up at Wesley. “Don’t want to know how you do it, either. Your price is reasonable. Seven trendles still okay?”
“Still the going rate for this kind of haul, yes.”
“Great,” Tess said, wiping his brow and finally looking out of the side of his eye at Wesley. “You make a lot of clients happy, Wes. Lot of clients.”
“What can I say,” Wesley said, trying to keep the disdain he felt for Tess’s clients out of his voice, “I aim to please.”