Jaz (Part 1 of Surfers)

[Estimated reading time: 27 minutes]

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30 years after the mysterious disappearance of the ANN Hermosa

It's my last day at work, for a while at least, and it's as hectic as usual. My lead, Magda, is running around as if her head was on fire, but this is her MO. She just enjoys being overwhelmed, double-booked, and pushed up against a hard deadline.

From Jaz To @WorkSocialGroup Congrats on the great job! I'll miss you all. Lukewarm Spiders Meme See you at the club!

I hand off the last touch-ups of my set of holos, the last updates we'd discussed just an hour earlier, send them on to my lead. Magda notices and shouts, from the other side of the large space we occupy, a thanks and a "have fun", and she's gone again, diving back into some work-fire.

From Minear to @WorkSocialGroup: Dragoons! Dragoons #19 meme

The rest of the group echoes back, memes start flying through my vision, great big hulking sumo wrestlers are toppling buildings over and over again.

Through the carnage I notice that Gabe is walking with determination to some point in front of me, between myself and the exit. There's a holo in his hand, but it looks strange, its colors have gone neon. Gabe is creating a Vatican art exhibit, so this is probably a "Gabe problem" that he's making a "Jaz problem". Gotta love the interns, their moves are so predictable.

I side-step just in time to avoid colliding with Gabe, then watch with mild amusement as he gets tangled in the furniture. "Looks like your colors are all off. Talk to Minear, he had a similar issue when...", I pause and dredge up the memory from a few months back, "he worked on the Caravaggio sets."

The team is all ragged smiles. We've delivered on the promised courses, even with the last-minute changes, and everyone's feeling nice and accomplished, but dead tired. We pushed ourselves for this one. I continue making my way out through the blizzard of farewells and memes and wave my goodbyes. Gabe beams and waves from the floor, then gets back to his struggle.

From Pearl to Jaz: Break a leg!

From Jaz To Pearl: Policeman flipping the crux at the photographer

I run for the closest outer shuttle, slump into an open seat by the window and wonder if I forgot to do anything. I'm sure I did, but it's not like I'm going into hibernation. I queue up something from my high-tempo collection and techno floods my head, the subdermal speakers thrum my skull. My heart-rate increases and I smile.

Playing: "Call me Ishmael" by Lukewarm Spiders

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[Estimated reading time: 7 minutes]

[Author's note: this story is set in December 2020.]

I hop the train before texting, sure of the outcome already. Kevin will see the text, will debate himself, will lose, and we'll have a fun night in. It's that simple. I know the exact train, so this is a photo finish as I'm the last one aboard.

In the train, I find a seat behind a yuppie couple. They are heading back from their "First Time in the Big City", it's written on their faces. They smile those idiot grins, but only for the first couple of days, then they pick up the "local look", and panhandlers know to avoid them.

I set the sting on them, leave it running in my backpack. On my phone I watch their internet traffic and wonder who these two are.

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