Mismatched Ideals

@beta

I pretend that I haven’t just been caught off guard.

“Oh, Simon,” Mimi-Siku says. “They needed a guinea pig. You were young, single, fading fast. You had nothing to lose. You were a proof-of-concept.”

“How do you know that?” I ask quietly.

“You didn’t?”

“I knew,” I say, covering quite shittily for the fact that I didn’t know. If it’s even true. To quote the Dude in The Big Lebowski, “Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.”

Mimi-Siku sighs. “Whatever.”

El Cassetto is still a problem.”

“Huh?”

“The Mexican banda cassette tape making the rounds. You know, my opener a little while ago.”

“Oh, that. I’ll look into it.” Mimi gets up, brushes past me, steps into the kitchen nook. He fills a kettle with water. “Tea?”

“No thanks.”

He sets the kettle on the hotplate. “It’s probably some script kiddie marking their territory. The pregnancies? Hoaxes. Or a living meme, or mass hysteria. And it’s ‘El Cassette,’ by the way.”

“No, it’s ‘El Cassetto.’ That’s how the Internet is spelling things these days.”

Mimi-Siku laughs. I still want to call him Valentina. It’s weird seeing him like this. We’d almost-dated during our entire tenure at Taurus Labs. He’d never seemed quite comfortable in his default skin back then. He does now. I get the feeling he’d be confident enough to finally go steady with me. But he’d have to be Mimi-Siku to do it. Gay muscle porn star my skin may be, I’m not into dudes, underage or otherwise, and as hard as it had been when we’d both been default, it would be infinitely more difficult now macking with a thirty-something woman deepfaking as a teenage jungle boy.

That’s the trouble with skinning: sometimes another person’s ideal isn’t your own.

“So, what’s the plan?” I ask, swiveling in the driver’s seat and watching Mimi-Siku make tea.

“I’ll poke around the interwebs,” he replies, “see if I can’t turn over a few stones, sniff a few packets.”

“I meant the code-liberating thing.”

“The longer we wait, the more security updates get installed, and the harder it is to get our plans off the ground.”

“So we hack our way back in.”

“Yeah, but why make it harder than it has to be?”

“Just…hold off.”

“Is that another little-while-longer I hear?”

“Just wait.” I swipe out.

Not before Mimi-Siku whispers, “Clock’s ticking, Simon.”

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El Cassetto: a SuperMegaNet novel by Jesse Gordon

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Jesse Gordon

Geek. Writer. Supreme overlord of the SUPERMEGANET pseudoverse. Author of THE OATMEAL MAN, DOOKIE, and other such wasteful nonsense.