To re-whet your appetite for the A.I. P.I. and cyborg commando sleuthing team, Guy has posted a free short story, set a month or two before the events of Reality 36, entitled ‘Ghost’.
2nd July, 2129
“Ohmygod, are you like, wholly certain?” The microphone at Jeanette’s throat hurled her squeals across the grid at Molly. Molly, her face pasted over the world as part of Jeanette’s enhanced reality set up, stuck out her tongue and pulled a face.
“Yeah, yeah, he did, I mean, he really did.”
Jeanette’s shrieks of laughter battered the ears of the other tube passengers. They ignored her, a custom bedded into London psyches two centuries gone. They had ceased to be people by choice, becoming objects to be shifted from one place to another. Although as pressed together as tightly as lovers, they hid in their inner spaces as best they could – in the bone cage of their skulls or out on the boundless Grid – seeking release from the proximity of other warm animal bodies.
Jeanette was less self-conscious. Firstly, she was sixteen, only beginning to outgrow the brash confidence of adolescence. Secondly, wherever Jeanette went it was in a cloud of private information. She was oblivious to the others, their faces crowded out by Grid windows packed laminate-tight.
Her vision hemmed, the Real was confined to a letterbox directly in front of her, dull and drab and wholly not worth paying attention to.
“That’s just grunky vile,” said Jeanette. Molly was using real-time feed of her own face. Jeanette was represented to her friend by a near-I avatar. It caught her mood and expressions well enough. Both girls squealed.
“Vile!” shrieked Molly into Jeanette’s ears. “Oh, but, listen. But you mustn’t tell anyone, okay? He’d be, like, massively mortified, okay?”
“Too late for that!” giggled Jeannette. “I got people listenin’ sis!”
“Where are you?” said Molly.
“I’m on the train!” bellowed Jeannette. “Off shopping, in like shops, I’m massively getting into that. Sooo much better than looking on the Grid. But yeah, no, I surely can’t afford it, but you know, I image it,” she clucked her tongue, “like get it fabbed up at home. Done and sorted.”
“Oh I madly hate you,” Molly’s nose wrinkled as she pouted. “You always look so great and you always get your proj done on time. Why can’t I so? I’ve a ton due Monday, like the day after tomorrow.”
“I’ve not done my proj yet,” said Jeanette. Her avatar copied the grin on her face.
“How are you…”
“A girl’s got to keep some secrets,” Jeannette said. Her avatar held a finger to cartoon lips and gave a wink a teenager might judge mysterious.
The train spoke. “The next stop will be Oxford Street. Change here for Bakerloo, Victoria, and King Charles III lines.”
“And… Oh, hang on so, this is like, surely my stop. Gotta go!”
“Catch you Jeannette.”
“Catch you Molly.”
The last thing Molly saw of her friend was her avatar fading away. Not really Jeanette, just graphics and guesswork, but in her mind she’d never be able to tease them apart. After Jeanette had been gone a while, she wasn’t sure if she ever could.