Good News, Bad News

“It’s personal,” I say.

“Ah,” he winks. “Pretty one, ya? Well mon, this info’s gonna cost ya.”

“How much?”

“Twenty G’s, mon.”

“Twenty grand? Jesus Christ, what happened to that discount.”

“That’s with the discount, mon.” He winks again.

“Fine. Charge me.”

“Okay, mon. Dunno if you gon’ like it, though.” His fingers touch a few holographic commands on his console. The Jugg still uses that can because he likes being in the real world when talking business. Like I said, old fashioned as hell.

“You listenin’ good, Jack mon?”

“Hit me. CyberCorp.”

“Ya, those bastards. I remember when they were good at what they did, ya. Good business. Buncha bastards now, mon.”

“What happened?”

“Change in authority, mon. Old bastards die, new bastards come in. ‘Cept they be pickin’ some real wacks last five years or so, ya? I used to deal with them in tech parts, but now they all strange, goin’ on all the time about the Meat, ya?”

“You mean like that Scapehead bullshit about a CyberGod living in the MetaScape, some kind of AI powerful enough to control the world? ‘Bout how we need to abandon our meat selves and send our spirits into the verse?”

“You know it, mon. Maybe not all bullshit though, like you say—not only junkies seein’ God.”

“Don’t tell me you’ve seen him.”

He looks distant for a moment—just long enough for me to read exactly that from his features. Well damn—old Jugg’s a believer. There’s a shock..

He gathers himself and narrows his brows. “You hear for info, mon.”

“Right. More on CyberCorp. What’s their game plan.”

“Price went up,” he says. “Thirty Gs.”

“Jesus. All right, but quit wasting my time.”

He leans in real close. “People be tellin’ me, mon, world’s endin’. CyberCorp’s got these Scapehead prophets, right? Sayin’ we gotta get out o’ the Meat. Sayin’ we want salvation, we need spirit.”

“Well damn, Jugg. Don’t tell me they’re convincing a hardcase like you.”

He’s quiet another moment, almost wistful. Then he lets out a long laugh. “Nah, mon, I be too old for salvation. You want somethin’ real to worry about, worry about what CyberCorp’s gon’ do to bring about they precious apocalypse. They got the power, mon. They want to kill the world, maybe they do it.”

“Well, shit.” I say. I’d pass it off as crap if I hadn’t just paid thirty grand for it. When Jugg gave out info, it wasn’t just techie street rumors. His info checked out, every time. At least, it had so far.

“What about this thing,” I tap the side of my skull, where the protrusion reveals my TRUchip. “Can they track me with it?”

He grins and taps his own head.

“Mon, you make a safe bet they know what kind of soap you use and how long you dick is, you got one o’ these. They got backup encryption so thick on this thing not even I can crack it, so I know they hiding something.”

I frown. “Thanks, Jugg. That’s it for now. But I want good on my thirty grand—I have more questions, I’m calling.”

“You wan' some advice from an’ old friend, mon?” He asks.

“Fine,” I say.

“Don’t fuck with ‘em, mon. They bad news. Gon’ fuck you up, you do anything stupid, ya?”

“Yeah thanks, Jugg.” Like I’m gonna listen to that.

“That’ll be fifty for the advice,” and he winks.

I’m still grumbling when I walk out the door. My head starting to swim—I could really use some sleep. But who knows what’ll happen if I go home—they probably know where I live by now. Maybe I should go straight for the CyberCorp headquarters, get some answers the old fashioned way—my way. As I think about my head my hand travels to the itching mound against my skull. Hell, maybe I better get that thing checked out before I do anything else. Having it in is starting to make me paranoid.

      I’m not going to be able to keep this up without rest. Better head home, pick up the chase tomorrow.

      It’s time to cut the bullshit and head straight for CyberCorp for answers.

      Better play it safe and get this chip checked out by an expert.

I couldn't take it anymore. I called it off.