4Everyone In Silico5Jim Monroea giant man running through a forest with a six-pack of Pepsistrapped to his head. The buildings obscured some of the ad.The man stopped, pulled off a can, and opened it. “Ah, yes,” Paulsaid. He noticed movement to his left — a giant panda with afedora was parachuting to the ground. Paul recognized the pandaas the mascot for an insurance company. He turned the knob onhis watch and both waving panda and Pepsi ad disappeared. Theyoung man was looking at him.“So you guys still wear the scramblefaces, even here,” theyoung man said.Paul shrugged. “You get used to it. Same as the ties.”The young man looked at his own tie. “Yeah. I never thoughtI’d get used to it,” he said, twisting it around like a noose. “Butyou do.”Paul laughed, looked down the tracks. Far off in the distancethere was a trolley car almost too tiny to see.“If you don’t mind me asking,” the young man said.Paul looked back, his face a urry of faces, a cipher.“Uh, it’s none of my business,” said the young man. “But...”he pointed to Paul’s watch. “If you’re platinum, why are youtaking the trolley car?”“Oh,” Paul laughed. “I just enjoy it. Clears my head. Givesme time to think.”“I see,” the young man said, the blank look on his faceclearly communicating that he didn’t.Paul started to look back at the approaching trolley car.“I’m actually silver,” blurted the young man.Paul looked back at the young man, who was smoothing hishair back.“Lot of people assume I’m bronze, because I take the trolleycar. But it’s just that I can’t port. There’s a technical glitch.”“Really?” Paul said. “That’s too bad.” He got up. The youngman jumped up too.“Yeah, check this out. I’m going to try to port home,” theyoung man said. “Watch.”The young man turned into a black silhouette of himself.Around the edges of the silhouette, light and image bentinwards.“Wow,” said Paul, stepping away. “That looks bad.”The young man returned, his face agitated. “I know. It onlyhappens when I try to port, though. Otherwise, I’m ne. Theysay it should clear up soon.”Paul nodded.The trolley car stopped, and the doors opened.It was never good to work on an empty stomach, but Nicky had procrastinated to the point where there was no other choice.
At least I’m just hungry, not hungry and wet,
Nicky thoughtas she wandered down Commercial Drive, welcoming the sunon her face like a long-lost friend. The rainy season was over:Vancouver had nally shucked off winter’s grey cloak and thestrip of stores and restaurants seemed cleaner, newer, reecting Nicky’s small smile back at her.“Nicholas!” said someone coming out of the Safeway.“Hey, JK,” Nicky said, turning. “Little shopping?”JK lifted his bulging bags as he backed away. “Lottashopping. Gotta go. Like the new cut. Looks like an octopus issitting on your head.”Nicky smiled and shook her thin ponytails. “Why thanks,Joseph Kindertoy.” She tried not to stare at his bags as she wavedgoodbye.