Level forty-five, ward six, room ten. I rolled out of the elevator. There were flashing lights all over the place, but no guards. They must have figured that since the V-net connection had been cut, they were safe and the intruder was no longer here.
So why was I still here, anyway? I mean, how is it that I was still in the facility when they shut off the link?
No, no, don’t concern yourself with it. I noticed there were a lot of Gerties sliding around. They were simple AI machines, that hung from tracks in the ceiling. They rolled around from room to room, giving individualized attention to the patients, checking vitals, and so forth. They were somewhat modular, and could slide in manipulator arms or other equipment if it was needed, on the very same tracks. They were fascinating to watch. I’d thought so when I’d first seen them in a movie when I was about twenty. Their sensory heads were about the size and shape of a toaster, with cameras and a whole bunch of other receptors on the front end.
I found what I was looking for: Tank sixteen. Heh, might as well have been tank six sixty six. I reached up and…
Damn. It was higher than I could reach. It was only head-level for a person, but my janitor-bot was only about garbage-can height.
Ok, ok, everything is a puzzle. I can solve this. What have we got around here? Desk, chair? Not bad. I pushed the desk over to the bank of liquid-filled tanks mounted in the wall. Then I rolled the chair around, and tried to climb up on it, no easy feat given that I didn’t have any. Feet, that is, I was on four rubbery wheels.
That didn’t work, but the arms were pretty strong. Maybe I could haul myself up onto the desk with them? No, I tried that, but evidently my bot-body was pretty heavy. The table up-ended. I let go in fright, and the raised end fell to the floor with a very loud boom.
Well, somebody had to have noticed that. I needed a watchdog. The external V-net connections were gone, but the internal ones were still working. The Gerties were a little hard to get into - I couldn’t access their hands or other equipment, but I could drive their sensory heads. I grabbed a couple of those, and positioned them near the elevators and fire escapes, watching. Meanwhile, my robot body yanked the door out of the frame, and positioned it like a ramp up on to the desk.
My Gertie heads saw the elevator doors fly open, and lots of Asian security guys spilled out, guns drawn.
I rolled up on to the table, reached out for the tank in question, prepared to smash it and…shit shit shit shit shit! It was still too far to reach. I strained for it, just as the guards poured in an pumped me full of bullets.
Time for Plan C.
Suzie wouldn’t talk to me. She wasn’t undead like me, she was a real live girl. She lived out in the meat world, and visited me through avatars. If she didn’t jack in to Heaven, there was no way I could visit her. She stopped visiting me after that night. Maybe she was right to do it. I mean I hadn’t even realized she was getting in to all this culty crap, had I? I’d just assumed she was too smart.
Meanwhile, Longford’s followers kept killing themselves by the tens of thousands. Downtown had already been full of gangbangers, but now it was full of sad-eyed, largely illiterate refugees who’d found the afterlife they’d longed for, but didn’t know what to do with it. The gangs were displaced out of the center, taking over new areas. It was a mess. In the year after Longford had whacked himself, a million people had followed suit and ended up here. That many again had become undead by the time of my Halloween party.
It was a hell of a financial strain. How much does life support cost at any hospital near you? A hundred thousand dollars a week, maybe? For us undead - given that we’re only brains in tanks that require minimal care, it’s a bit cheaper - say ten grand a week - but that’s still a lot of money. Even if you’re not paying for it, all that money has to come from somewhere, right?
The poor people