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Contents Page: April 1, 2011, vol 7 no 1

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Shelly Bryant



She sighs, resigned to her fate — real world DUIs and public disorderliness have their consequences across all the boundaries she's neatly constructed in her life. There's no escaping the system, not since digital solutions replaced the prisons. The same implant, with the right programs, serves as an enforced rehab stay and a monitoring device to keep her under virtual house arrest. Goodbye prisons, hello mind-control.

"Guess it's time to embrace the Higher Power," she mutters.

rehab and retribution
holistic healing

She looks one last time at the name card and shakes her head. "Online mental health care. I really must be crazy."

Taking a deep breath, she plugs in — and finds herself in a bright, cheery room. She observes the other members of the online support group, trying to pick out which are real patients and which are programs sent in just to make up the numbers. She wonders whether even her sponsor will be anything more than a package of code.

digital constructs
with programmed psychoses
reboot thyself

"Hey, everybody. I'm Mike."

"Hi, Mike."

"I'm afraid I've got some bad news. We've been having a little trouble with the system this morning due to some glitches in the core code. We're going to have to reschedule today's session. If you look at the card the judge gave you, you'll find a phone number there."

"Phone number?"

"Yeah, I know. It's an old-school option, but it should work while we do maintenance on the server. If you don't have access to a phone, please go back to the judge who issued your rehab schedule, and arrangements will be made. Most importantly, don't forget that your non-digital appointments are as legally binding as those set for you here."

"How will they be enforced if the system's down?"

"The good old fashioned way — guns were reissued to police forces this morning."

with an irregular pulse
earth's light fades


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