"Ow! ow! ow ow ow ow ow owowowowowowowowOWOWOWOWOW!"

"Would you sit still? It'll only be another moment."

"Well, the payoff better be good," Marianne mumbled.

Marianne McGruthers was conversing with her doctor. Well, it wasn't *her* doctor... and the man probably didn't even have a doctorate, but he was the guy that the corporation ordered to check her out. You know, run a scan for infectious diseases, (avoid those ones), for freethoughts (REALLY avoid the freethinkers -- they can shut down an operation...)


Marianne did this for one reason, and one reason alone: cash. Dollars. Moolah. Uncle Sam's Personal Guarantee to You. She needed it badly. Her ride, a 2431 Pallow, had broken down on the way to the building. She didn't care, though... after the man ascertained her sanity and loyalty, he'd give her the injection, and then They would observe her through the glass, would make sure that she's still alive. And if she dies, oh well. It's a risk that you agree to take when you sign on the dotted line. Marianne can't remember how long it's been since she signed on the dotted line; she's been testing Meds for longer than she's been driving.

Driving. She might have backed out of this one, a medicine that turns your blood to a river of plasma, putting other cells to the side as it purges your body of tainted ones. It's kind of risky -- if she hurts herself, she'll simply burst like a microwaved banana.

The money she's getting is more than enough: three hundred fifty kilobucks; more than enough to get a car with Holodisc reader, a quality HUD that doesn't make her carsick... REAL new car smell (instead of the one made from pectin and pig intestines that they use on the imports), and real leather. Not real imitation leather, but quality, fun, wonderful leather. She wanted to get a car with EVERYTHING.

The experiment ended successfully -- the medicine ran its course, and Marianne McGruthers didn't burst like a microwaved banana. So Marianne left the Corporation building on foot, thumbing through her paper-money (she didn't trust the banks since the 2417 Free Trade Market Crash.) She headed left down Sycamore Lane, noting with irony that not a single tree had been sighted in Suburbia since before she was born.

She walked straight towards the car dealership on Sycamore. The man in charge was a perky oriental type that probably would have been fun to be with if not for the constant stream of drugs that was piped into his body after his birth, during the government's Superman-obsession phase.

"Yes? You want car? I got lots of nice cars. Got lovely 2452 Randomi that looks right in your price range. Come, we negotiate price."

"No. I want a FlipShephard Stinslair Deluxe."

The salesman was very much startled to realize that this woman could afford a car with everything, but tried to hide it (rule number 5 in the Car Salesman Manual: Never show any surprise.) "Come this way, I think I have a car for you." He was too startled even to talk in his phony pidgin-English. "I think you'll see that this car comes with everything."

"Everything? I want more than everything."

"Okay... this one here has not just everything, but INFINITE TURBO EVERYTHING HAPPY FISH!"

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