Sundowned Heart

Sterling said that he’d be at her room at three o’clock, but Lucy knew that he’d be late. Sterling is always late. You could almost set your watch by him, but then of course you’d be late, too.

Flapjacking Sterling.

Lucy Chen pulls at the edge of the drape and peeks out through the window, down at the street outside, looking for Sterling, but also not really looking, because he’ll be here when he gets here. Punctuality is for corp drones. Lucy hasn’t been a drone for years, but she’s got a schedule, flapjack it. A schedule and a case full of emote drops that she’s got to move while the price is good.

The clock is ticking.

She releases the drape and walks across the room to the mini fridge, opens it, looks inside, closes it again. She walks back to the window, touches the drape, lets it go without opening it, and finally stomps to the futon couch and forces herself to sit down.

Flapjacking Sterling.

The emote drops are in the scuffed black case on the coffee table in front of her. Her nervous energy doesn’t extend to opening the case and checking the packets of drops, because she’s just antsy, not obsessed. Nobody has been in her room since she put the case together, so nothing in it has been messed with or reorganized or flapjacked up in the past hour, right?


She taps the case’s code into the pad on its handle lock and pops it open. She sets it flat on the table and reexamines the drops for the nth time. Twelve packets of First Love’s Kisses, fifteen of Father’s Approval. Two dozen Highest Grade In Class (least expensive drop in the case, really. Highest Grades are a credit a dozen, honestly). Ten Undercharged for Groceries (oddly popular with the cyborg customers, which Lucy doesn’t really understand). Assorted Christmas Mornings, Beating a Red Light, Bank Error in Your Favor, even a couple Satisfying Bowel Movements.

All the best feelings that credits can buy, convenient, tasty, completely patent-infringing, highly illegal. She told Sterling he could have them all for five thousand. He should be able to get twice that much for them on his end, with his connections. Sterling’s always been the guy who knows a guy who knows a guy.

If this sale goes down, that’ll put her kitty at ninety-five thousand creds. Not enough, not by far, but closer. Inching towards the half a million she needs before her cardiac support runs out.

She touches her fingertips against her chest, just above the faint scar that traces a line down its middle, feels the low and steady rhythm of her SymHeart pumping away, moving her blood, keeping her alive. Problem is, SymOrg got bought up by BoomBoom six months ago, and now her heart is obsolete. No more firmware updates, no more bug fixes, no parts or services. She’s halfway through the guaranteed service continuance from BoomBoom, and then that’s it. Any problems with her SymHeart, and she’s dead in the water, “dead” being the operative word.

Dream big, and for a million credits she can get a cloned heart of her own, 3D printed from tissue grown from her own DNA in the FabLab. Nice as that sounds, she won’t get there if she can’t make it past the sundown of her SymHeart, so she’s just aiming for the half million that it’ll cost to get herself a new BoomBoom Heart.

She shuts the case and gets off the futon, goes back to the curtain and looks outside again. Traffic hums by on Irving Street. A CentiBurger drone zips past with a meal delivery in its bin. A cybe on a chop board hovers along the sidewalk.

But no Sterling.

Flapjacking Sterling.

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