“So that’s it then?” Janet said as she signed the documents.
“That’s it,” the barrister said. There was static in his holo as he explained, “They didn’t have much, but what they did have was sold to clear their debts.”
“Which it didn’t really,” Janet replied.
“No. Few people do these days.”
Janet just nodded. Her own debts would go to her children, of course, just like her parents were coming to her. If only her brother hadn’t disappeared, at least then the debt would be split between them.
“You’re a good daughter,” he said. “Most people wouldn’t have come. If the state buries the bodies, the estate goes away.”
“And then their ashes are mulch,” she said. “That’s not what we believe in.”
“I understand,” he said. “That’s why I said you were a good daughter. If you don’t mind my asking, Ms. Miller, what is your position right now?”
The answer, she knew, was dire. She’d taken a week unscheduled leave for work to come out here and deal with her parents’ deaths, funeral and probate. Just to get here required a five year extension on her debts, and with her parents debt? Given her average pay, and assuming she still had a job, it would take just shy of 100 years to pay it. “It’s not good, Mr. Henry,” she said. “Not good at all.”
He nodded. “Well, forgive me if this is insensitive, but I’m also an authorized agent of the Treasury, and they’re known to take good care of their… Currency.”
“I don’t think I’m quite that desperate, yet,” she said.
“Well, take my card,” he replied. “You seemed like you might find it fulfilling, and certainly have the good and honest temperament they demand.”
She blushed at that, tapped the card and it uploaded to her headgear. Everyone had one of those, of course, it was a human right, and part of the first debt you ever accrued. If she could have afforded the holo-code Mr. Henry had, she could have come out here virtually and still worked. But she didn’t have that, so it cost her more.
That’s just the way it was, of course. Selling herself was not the answer; of course, and if she hadn’t bought round trip tickets, she’d have been stuck here with no way to get home or back to work.
Janet shouldered her pack and took the documents. The lawyers’ office was close to the cemetery where her parents were buried. She had wanted to bring flowers, but they were just too expensive, so she just knelt down beside their little plaque in the ground and touched it before she got up and walked away.
The tube was running late, but it didn’t matter. It’d run all night, and she’d gotten a sleeping berth. It was actually cheaper than the high-speed tube, but that was for people whose time was worth more than hers, and who could work off that debt. Plus, it was kind of good, the time-debt the tube accrued lowered the cost of her ticket, which meant she had a little bit of breathing space. It wasn’t a lot, but it was nice to have something go her way.
As she boarded the underground train, the conductor nodded. “Sorry for the delay, ma’am, as part of an apology, the Department of the Treasury is offering a discount for any use of Currency on this trip. It’s ten percent! I might use it myself, if I were travelling.”
“There’s an armored car on this train?” she said.
“Yep, Currency transfer from Knoxville to LA.”
Janet nodded, and worked her way back to her berth. The sleepers were bunk beds, eight to a car. A couple of lovers were already in one, sharing the berth and the sounds of their lovemaking. She stowed what little she’d brought with her under her bunk, and decided to go check out the rest of the tube.
The armored car was just behind hers, and two guards were standing in front of it. Each had a tattoo of the pyramid and all-seeing-eye tattooed in bank-note green beneath their right eye. Janet started to approach them, but she stopped and turned around. The dining car was the other way, and that felt much safer.
She slipped forward through a few more bunk cars, and then into the dining car. It was mostly deserted. There were a couple of mid-class workers in the front, all sitting at the same table but ignoring each other. They had the glazed look of people working via their implants. Janet was mildly jealous — her job wouldn’t allow that, and they could at least counter the debt of the trip with some work — and maybe even profit slightly from it.
At the buffet table was a tall, shirtless man with brown hair. On his back was tattoed the words “In God We Trust” in bank-note green. As she approached the table he turned to her, and she saw the other words on his chest. “You’re Currency,” she said.
He nodded, and she felt a ping against her implant. “Yes, Janet,” he said. “These rolls are quite good, you should have some. And perhaps afterwards, I can help unburden you for a moment from your weight of debt?”
“My weight of debt?” she said, taking two of the rolls. She hadn’t eaten since her tube trip out.
“At your rate of accrual, and the probable future rate, you will need two children, and they will each need two children before you are free from the debt. And that assumes nothing untoward happens.”
“How do you know that? That’s private!”
“It’s part of my implant,” he said. “We always know.”
“So you know I can’t afford your time,” she said.
“Some small measure of it won’t set you back any more than you were,” he said. “Plus you are a beautiful woman, and — I’m sorry if this is too forward — I would enjoy the company as well.”
Her eyes glanced over his tattooed abs, which were tight and well-muscled. He was attractive, and it had been too long. Yet, she had to save as much as she could — or she’d be in his position. Nameless, nothing but a banknote, her time just interest on an ancient debt.
“No, no thank you,” she said. She bit into her roll, and it was delicious. It was warm and fresh.
“It’s even better with butter,” he said.
“Real butter?” she asked.
“There are some advantages to travelling with money,” he said.
He took the roll from her, and dipped his knife in butter. He then slavered the butter on the warm roll until it dripped. Then he held it out to her, not to take from him, but to bite into. She obliged him, and he fed her the buttered roll. Then he fed her his butter covered fingers, and she licked them off.
The roll would have been worth a couple hours pay, the butter would have set her back a day. Having someone willing to feed it to her was more debt than she could accrue. Yet, here he was, offering himself at a discount. He wouldn’t do this if he wasn’t willing, surely?
She called up her calculator program, and did the calculation that she was certain he had already done. “Okay,” she said. “I can spare a half hour if you’d like.”
He grinned. She buttered her other roll, and took his hand in her free one, and led him back to her bunk. Her berth wasn’t huge, but there was just enough room to lie side by side, or perhaps one atop the other. She turned on the light, and slipped out of her clothing. He did the same, pushing his shorts down and off.
She traced the tattoos on him. Lines matching the etchings of long-gone paper money were permanently stained into his skin. She traced the lines of the nose of a dead president with her fingers, then traced the words, “Legal tender for all debts private and public.” She spoke them aloud. “What is it like?”
“What is what like?” he asked.
“Being Currency,” he said.
“It’s the most free I’ve ever been,” he said.
“That’s not what I expected you to say.”
“I no longer suffer under my debt,” he said. “Now I am my debt, and I pay it back to society. Money used to be based on something real like gold, and then it was just your trust in the government. When that was gone, we went back to what really matters.”
“Human lives,” she said.
“And each of us, all of us who are Currency, we represent money owed to someone, and that’s what money always was. Gold someone was owed, or some other debt. Now it’s just us.”
She wanted to say that it was like slavery. But that was rude, and he was there in her bed. Was she the slaver or was he there willingly or — no, down that road lay madness.
“Now do you want to be pensive, or do you want to enjoy your time with me?”
She smiled and kissed him.
His hands ran over her breasts, teasing her hard nipples. His tongue invaded her and she let him. When his hands slid down to her thighs, she opened them up and he teased her open with his fingers. He slid two fingers between her folds, one on each side of her clit. She gasped when he touched her there, and he broke the kiss. “There’s not a lot of room in here,” he said.
“Nor a lot of time,” she said. “It’s been so long it doesn’t have to be complicated.”
He nodded, and lowered his lips to her breast. He sucked and licked in time with his movements between her legs. She bit on her knuckle to keep from making too much noise, and tried not to think that everyone outside would know what she was doing anyway. He stroked faster and faster, moving his hand in the perfect rhythm. She felt her orgasm wash over her, heat rising from her clit up her body, over her breasts, and down to her toes. Her hands tingled, and then it washed over her head, and that was it, she came.
He kept the motion up until she came down from the orgasm. “Wow,” she said. “Thank you.”
“I’m not done yet,” he said.
He shifted over her, and she felt his cock bounce against her leg. She moved so her legs were around him, and he slid over her. His head was brushing against the top of the berth, and her head was jammed against one of the walls, but it didn’t matter. Once his cock slid inside her, and she was full again, nothing mattered.
“Oh, God, yes, fuck me!”
“In God We Trust,” he said and pounded into her.
He filled her up and did something with his hips that rubbed her in the very best way. It didn’t take long before she was coming again, and throughout it all he never stopped. Her head bounced against the wall of the berth, but she didn’t care, he just kept thrusting in and out. She wrapped her legs around him and urged him on.
She came again.
“May I?” He asked.
“Yes, yes, fill me up, come inside me,” Janet said. There were no worries, he was Currency, after all.
He thrust forward and she heard him cry out, and felt his come burst against her inside. She came again as he filled her.
He rolled beside her, and she turned to face him. “Thank you.”
“Glad to be of service,” he said.
“Is that true?” she asked.
“It’s the whole thing,” he said. “That’s all I have to worry about, how I can be of service with what skills I have.”
“Why did you do it?” she asked.
“It was my wife,” he said. “She got ill, and spent a lot of time in the hospital. Eventually the insurance dried up and she still didn’t get better, but we kept trying. And then she died.”
“I’m sorry,” she said.
He shook his head. “I was there when she passed. She was finally free of it, and then all the debt hit me. My grandkids would have to pay for me trying to save her, and without her, there were no grandkids. So it would have been my sister’s children, and they didn’t deserve that.”
“I understand. I just buried my parents.”
“So now, I am my debt, and my sister gets a reprieve on some of the interest I earn. It helps her and I’m truly free for the first time in my life. Free from debt, free to serve.”
“Do you have time to serve me for a bit longer?”
“It’s your debt,” he said. “But it would be a pleasure.”
Janet slid down his body, curling up between his legs so she could take him in her mouth. He was salty and musky from their lovemaking and that just drove her own desire. She swallowed him, and he quickly grew again in her mouth. He made appreciative noises as she worked his cock until it was hard and teased his balls with her hands. She might not have his skills, but what she was doing was working.
When he was hard, she slipped up his body and settled down on his cock, filling herself up with him. Her hands rested on the tattoos on his chest, and his hands found her breasts and played with her nipples. She rocked back and forth, rubbing her clit against him and enjoying the feeling of being full.
It felt like so long since anything had gone well for her. She’d pay for this later, but for now here she was with some very loving Currency and it was nice to just be touched. To feel like someone somewhere might care about her. She bent down and kissed him. He wrapped his hands around and held her while she fucked him. Her orgasm came slow and steady. It wasn’t as powerful as the first two, but it left her warm and happy.
She lay on top of him afterwards, and he held her. “You’re crying,” he said.
“Sorry,” she said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve felt this way.”
He kissed her tears away. “You travelled to Knoxville to bury your parents?” She nodded. “So you came here and took on their debt.”
“It was the only way to bury them properly,” she said. “They deserve that.”
“You’re a good woman, Janet. If you ever need a place with the Treasury, come find me.” He pinged her implant then, passing along his serial number.
“That’s up to you,” he said.
“Hold me for a few more minutes,” she said. He curled up behind her and held her as she drifted off to sleep.
When she woke up, he was gone, and there was a message on her implant, from her boss. The tube still had two hours to go before it got to LA. She sighed, and opened it up, knowing what it was.
She pulled on a simple shift, and walked down to the armored car. Two guards stood outside of it, the all-seeing eye tattooed on their left cheeks. She felt them ping her implant, and the one on the left opened the door for her as she stepped in.
The car was nice, with comfortable seating and nice upholstery. Currency sat around in various states of undress. Some worked on their implants, two were having slow casual sex. Another three were playing a game. He sat near the front of the car, gazing off into space reading on his implant.
She walked over to him and he pinged her again. “How many generations, now?” she asked.
“Oh, Janet,” he said, and reached out for her. “He fired you?”
She nodded. “I don’t have many options now. Find a new job, have a bunch of kids, hope things work out.”
“So you are here.”
“If you’ll take me.”
He looked around at the cabin. “Everyone? We have here a potential new sister.”
Pings hit her implant, and there were mild gasps around the car. Everyone put down what they were doing, even the two having sex, and they came to her, and held her and welcomed her.