The Crane, pt.1: Delmar the dreamer

Part1-Delmar the Dreamer
Delmar was a rescourceful man. He squinted in the quiet, smoggy, urban haze and hoped his rescourcefulness would come through for him today. He had recieved notice over the nueralnet earlier that morning, that he owed over 20,000 credits in poortax. The dubious neighborhood he lived in was hit-and-miss for some areas of nueralnet, but somehow, even when his chip couldnt pic up the library or blackmarket signals, the government collector signal always seemed to come through. Soon, his debts would exceed 26k, at which point, he may not be able to trade much over the nueralnet. Even the blackmarket may frown on such numbers, and he would effectively become one of the Devoiced. Delmar had seen many devoiced in the cities. When you try to look up ID on someone, and they come up as “devoiced”, no other data is necessary. They are effectively cut off from any trade, can’t log on, can’t hold creds, can hardly use their own chip, even internally. They lived short lives of desperate scrounging and begging. It was almost illegal to talk to them, and once they’d gone a few years like that, info on what happened to them was hard to find. They may be dead, or worse. That was the likely outcome for Delmar if he didnt find some jobs very soon. He walked toward better coverage, and put his feelers out.
His feelers were a combination of infosearches, preset searchtags, scans, and an odder kind of hoodoo he never would have admitted to believing in. It was really just an aimed intent. He would imagine what he wanted, in a detailed way, and sometimes it would just show up. On the spectrum of high function and low function days, he was somewhere in the middle today, perfect for “search hoodoo”. He was feeling a decline though, due no doubt, to the fact he had been nearly 36hrs without a soda.
In a world where all thoughts were connected over the nueral net, stories,songs, and even pictures, were long forgotten antiquities. There was entertainment everywhere, but the kind of files traded were seldom over 32 seconds. Most people spent most their time logged on. Communication was rarely vocal, rarely meant for a single person, and almost never written down in anything as primitive as graphic letters. Since everything there was to see or communicate happened while logged on, the material environment of the city was regarded as an afterthought. Spaces seen with eyes were generally minimalist or completely forgotten into disrepair. Experiences had been recorded and traded with all other information. It was a time with two currencies: Government Credits, and Raw Data. The value of creds was subject to change, and mostly used by the Uberclass. Their job was to buy physical commodities. Their info and experiences carried almost twice the value of the poor, so they had no problems spending most their time buying and discarding Physicals (properties,people,food, or Softdrinks)  or Rawdata (which included not only knowledge and infocation, but any experience imaginable: feelings,porn,detertainment,”games that changed who you were”,and real experiences had by professionals for the mass market).  Eventually, everything they aquired and discarded made its way to the cities, where 98% of the people lived. Delmar had never seen an Uberclass in person, but like most people in his world, he had direct knowledge of many things he could never see with his eyes.
As he passed a livingblock, he saw some tents emerging from the haze. They hadnt been there before. There were some hardcore softdrink addicts inside, and he heard the unmistakeable sound of someone opening a pouch of the greatest softdrink known to man: “Titz”. This simple cue cemented the decline of his energy. The smell came from the tent and overpowered him. It was like paint, sacrilose, pentadrine, hot lithium, botcleaner, ‘nephrin, and everything that was joyous in life. His hands began to shake, and he felt tired and sore all over. He tried to put the pissyness and depression out of his mind and exit the area quickly. He needed to whip up some exp files that someone would pay for, before he got too sprung. No one would pay for something awful as a Titz jones.
He ducked into the train to Overlap. The old tube train crackled and hummed loudly.  He tried to relax in the hard plastic seat. Every place it touched him felt like a bruise.  His sinuses burned. He was so tired… the opposite of how one feels after downing a cool, shiny, metal pouch of Titz. He looked around the traincar to see if anyone noticed how sodasick he was. There were a lot of people, maybe half capacity, but most were logged on and noticed nothing. There was a woman trying to not be noticed, near the back of the car. She was the kind of middle aged woman who tried to look much younger. She was dressed like a data management official, which Del thought was a little sexy. Delmar set his chip to internal store and imagined she was much prettier. He began a filthy and ferile scenario, careful to fill in every detail of the environment and feel strongly, so it would feel real. She shifted uncomfortably and looked out the window, as if she knew. Del got what he needed without appearing to creepy, outwardly.
He got off the train trying to conceal an erection, and feeling a bit more awake. People from all walks of life were congregated at the Overlap almost silently. The confluence of so many signals had become a trading hub of sorts. Among the faceless silent crowds, there was some understanding. People from varied backgrounds all had a common goal: to reach out into the world, with a soft meandering grasp, to find connection, to find solace, to find connection outside themselves. Some even made brief eye contact.
As the blackmarket signal came online, he was able to trade his weird fantasy about the woman on the train for a bit of underpriced rawdata. Somewhere in the infodump was an expfile of a kid drinking a soda. It didnt really wake him up in the longterm, but it helped a little with the jones. It was well worth the slight embarassment of his admittedly stupid, yet erotic daydream going public.
Delmar was surprised as anyone to find that his daydreams were of the highest quality. The nearly constant scenarios going on in his head were apparently absent in some folks, or people were too lazy to come up with their own. Over time he had learned to value this mental background noise, learned what people really liked, and lacked the imagination to flesh out the details on. He hoped, one day, to create the experience of having a daydream that could pass for a recording of a real experience. If he could become that good, he could dream up customised experiences at half the regular rate, undercutting studios and professional thrillseekers. A daydream passing for an actual event was impossible, of course, but his greatest skill was thinking up impossible things.
His shakes had subsided somewhat, and he scrolled through the market boards in his head. There was lots of lowball bids for impossible things. Sometimes he could dream up something affordable for them. He needed a big score though; big and solid enough to borrow against, get some Titz and wake up enough that he could think better.
In short order, Delmars’ odd combination of search tag intentions had returned from a blackmarket board with an interesting prospect. There was a defensively sad fat man, uberclass, smoking in the dark. It was too weird to be a trick, too pathos ridden to be from a bot. He wanted to experience the enthusiasm of a young poor person making a big score. He felt like he knew too much, and he wanted someone with low intelligence and economic rating to record this experience for him. There had been many bids, and he felt they all lacked the “joyous goldfever” of a young entreprenuer. Delmar had no doubt that the guy would turn around and mass market said exp file to the studios for triple what he paid, but the initial pay could still be good. Blackmarket jobs never payed in credits, but as a very rescourceful man, he knew how to fence blackmarket data for creds. Question was: could Delmar record most the exp from real life, dream in the impossible parts, and still make the overall feeling convincing?
While linked in, he checked his account, hoping to catch something the collectors hadnt got to yet, but his balance was still in the red.  He still had some dreams, of course. Theyd never fetch the prices that real exp files would, but his dreams were far better than most available. A few had been reposted for free, and he’d sold some adspace on them. ‘Never could tell when those would pay. He shut out the endless justifications and imaginary creds his addiction had caused, and staggered to a bevbot. She was cold, and condensing water dripped from her steel chute. “You need a pickme up, friend.” The bot said, while broadcasting an exp file of thirsty fatigue. 4 silvery packets were soon clutched to his chest. He planned to keep a slow steady dose going for the next 2 days. In an hour they were all gone; but man, it felt great to be alive. He could feel that enthusiasm the uberman wanted in his exp recording. The future was exciting and bright. Del felt like a man capable of any feat, including odd luck. He recorded all these feelings into a file that only a masterdreamer could edit; now all he had to do was get rich.
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