His uncle had suffered from Terminal since it was released into the borg community ten years back. They called the symptoms stutter and flare – the borg’s attention hooking into a feedback loop that might deliver a period of clarity.

Blue eyes of death. Parker looked emaciated, and had been smoking Lupe for weeks, purely because it was supposed to trigger stutters. Uncle Parker had been a casualty in the Interface Wars, when those who ascended into one of the many Singularity clouds realised that the people who hadn’t been sucked up into the clouds were planning on cutting the cords, and downloaded themselves into some handy war-mechs that had been stashed under the Russian permafrost.

Parker came home fucked up, and nobody would argue otherwise. Some had sympathy and some didn’t. It depended if they had the slightest idea of what it meant to do what he had done. Most of them didn’t. So most of them didn’t care for him or his problem.

Terry Candle loved his Uncle, but he hated the fact that he had to deal with the kind of people you had to speak to for Lupe. Penskey Rollo was a sketchy mofo at the best of times, but since the police had become super-interested in Lupe deals, he was even more on edge than usual. Most rounds that people had were non-lethal now, because there wasn’t enough resources to make the ammunition, or so the story went.

The Melt Bullet whacked him hard just above the left hip, and its soft-where unloaded into him on a rapid viral spiral that started to strip away first his sensorium, and then the logic of his body. When he made it to his uncle’s house he did not look how he had the last time he paid his uncle a visit.

It was lucky that Parker was lucid,because if not, he might have attacked the thing that stumbled in through his doorway.

‘Wow, Terry, you are messed up. Look, I appreciate what you’ve been doing, and we can fix this. We discovered something about Lupe – it’s actually called Lucid, and it was being produced for trials until someone who wanted to bury it bought it up and sunk the project. You’ve been fixing me. This Melt Bullet shit will pass. That little package you have on there is the last dose I need. A stablisation dose.
‘I’ve been rebuilding my mind, and weirdly, some of what you’re experiencing now with your body, is what the Lupe has been doing to my brain. Increased neural connections.’

Terry was in a lot of pain.

‘So, if they’re closing the dealers down, does that mean that there is a legitimate source on it’s way?’

‘If only. What’s happening to you is a result of a physical medication that when it is programmed correctly can rebuild a body. They don’t want the technology out there.’

‘How did they find out about Lupe?’

‘Some of us started turning up lucid, and they had been tracking out deterioration.’


‘Look, they’ll know you were buying, because if they had enough on Rollo to panic him, they were probably watching. They’ll track you and then find me. We’re off on the road from here on out.’

‘They won’t track us from here?’

‘No, they have compartmentalised departments. A cell for every city. They’re weirdly territorial, and the fact they don’t communicate means that we can dance between their communication gaps.’

‘It seems like you’ve been expecting all this.’

‘Of course. Project Re-Mind.’

‘You may have to carry me wherever we’re going.’

‘Well, you’ve been doing the same for me for a long time, Terry.’

Terminal was seemingly no longer terminal. Lupe was a good drug. And the roles of carer and cared for had just reverse. Parker slung Terry over his shoulder, and they left his home, making for some undisclosed rendezvous point.

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