Walkabout, 1

[Estimated reading time: 2 minutes]

Over lunch I shelled into Mexico City and went walking around the capitol building, the roads that converged on it and the series of food- and souvenir-carts that lined them. The shell was a basic Sherry model, a smiling mid-westerner, complete with blonde curls and a flannel top.

When I connected to the model, she was walking, so went with it and sauntered past a museum, still mostly on autopilot. The bot detected my presence and allowed control slowly, waiting for me to get familiar with my new body before handing it over entirely.

The shells walked around a lot. Half of their job was time spent without an operator, and that time the City deemed to be equally important, so the shell spent it walking around town, playing the part of the tourist that it normally would under tourist control. She walked through town, stopped at the crossings, dashed through busy streets, gawked at the everyday miracles of Mexico City in the same sappy way that a remote might direct her to. This created an image of a modern city that rich armchair-travelers would flock to. The image of an occupied shell visiting a neighborhood bar was a line-item for many small businesses, an extra monthly expense that they were all too happy to pay. Suddenly small mom-and-pop shops had shells stopping by at all hours of the day, whether it was to ask for directions or inquire about the history of the establishment. Some were obvious ads, while others almost resembled live operators.

My shell was walking through a crowd of humans in the capitol when I remoted into her. I watched for a bit, but took over quickly. I remembered this part of the city, and willed the shell to look to the east, across the city to a high-rise.

The building I searched for had most of a castle topping it, a high-rise of thirty stories that was visible from most of the city. I expected certain lights to be on, but they weren’t.

Oh well, cultural trip it is, I decided. I spun the bot around and took in the crowd. Too many here, so I remoted to the museum of anthropology, into a shell that was strolling through the park outside the museum. A team of acrobats was setting up a performance on the grass. I transmitted them a few pesos and went into the museum.

A call from Helene came through and I answered it immediately.

“Miku, welcome back to Mexico City!”

“Hi Helene! Are you here at the museum?” I asked and turned around, scanning the crowd for my friend.

“Nope, I’m at the market. Want to share?”

“I’ve only got forty minutes, lunch break,” I replied and waved a sandwich to myself. Helene wouldn’t see the motion, obviously, but I felt it good to still go through the motions, to assume that my friend was sitting in front of me instead of across the planet.

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