Blue Collar

You woke up to the news that the company running your gut microbiota had been acquired by a private equity consortium with plans to close the company and sell its data and IP. Panic rising faster than your wakefulness, you rushed to get a replacement subscription, but all the other companies had jacked up prices within minutes of the announcement. You knew they would go down later, but you needed a way to digest the drought-resistant wheat cakes that were the only reasonably priced food in your job's company-run vending machines. Cleaning up manufacturing robots had to be done in seconds, least the company lose precious line uptime and you your job, and that wasn't possible with stomach cramps. So you took the third loan of the month and bought your maintenance bacterial pill, to be picked up at the usual place, and ignored with the ease of practice the spike in your stomach ache that had nothing to do with your digestive system, and everything to do with the weekly unspoken question of whether you'd manage to stay above the event horizon of poverty.

There were neuromodulators that dealt with that safely end effectively, devices you couldn't afford, and the daily drug gests made untenable any of the cheaper drugs. You'd have to make do with games and the company's cheap nootropics, which speed up your work but did nothing for the fear — both things by design. None of these decisions you made consciously; they were clear and obvious with the inevitability of a forced move in a puzzle game, settled while you rushed through the co-living's very limited shower allowance.

Later that day, the company's input management system fired you (you didn't know this, but Congress had just approved another law lowering the minimum labor age, and this had triggered the updated cost optimization models McKinsey had already sold to most of its clients). Your credit score adjusted within minutes, and when you came back to the co-living your things had already been left on the sidewalk and stolen, thieves evaluating with the desperate algorithmicity of petty crime that cameras knew your name and told the police, but the latter had more profitable crimes to pursue, not being an election year. With nothing but debts in your portfolio, you knew you'd have to walk to one of the homeless camps you had deliberately ignored as you shuttled to work (and nightmares about every night) ever since your brother's pneumonia bankruptcy. You also knew gun corner shops always worked on credit against organ donation priority slots, at least for the ultra-cheap printed guns nobody asked the purpose of.