“Well, even if they’re using a cover, Security will be able to match it back to their Identity and they’ll be up on murder charges.”
He bit back an acerbic comment, though some fragments of irritation surfaced in his voice. “That’s what I’m telling you, mum, they don’t have Identity the way we do. They buy and sell it. They burn through covers until they get tagged, then they burn the Identity, log out and start over.”
“Well I don’t know how they could do that. I’m sure it’s criminals who do those awful things. Identity is permanent, Security wouldn’t give you a new one, especially if you were wanted for murder.” Her voice was matter-of-fact. Really she was only half-listening, focused on pruning back the rosemary bush which was threatening to occlude the path completely.
“They own Security, mum. They own everything. That’s why they do it. They change their shells for fun and they don’t care what happens to them.”
She clucked her tongue. “Terribly wasteful. I wouldn’t want to put my mind into one of those creepy shells anyway. They don’t look like real people. Too…” -she reached for a better word, fell short- “real.” He sighed. She’s forgotten I’m in a shell. Just because it looks the way I used to look.
“I have to go to work, mum. Don’t watch too much news.”
“Oh, honey” She rose slowly, began to pare back the top of the bush. “Don’t you like it there anymore? If they’re really like that, why do you work at the School?”
He looked down at his fingers, turned his hand palm down, flexed the joints. Silent, perfect. He thought of the cost to replace them, imagined trying to find enough money just to cover the maintenance if he wasn’t employed by a Corp. “I dunno, mum. Guess it’s not so bad.” He clenched and unclenched the fist. For a moment he felt like he was a thousand feet away from it. He gave his head a small shake, looked up. His mum was diligently clipping away. “Gotta go.”
“Hmm?” she looked up. “Oh, love you, dear”
“Love you, mum”