The librarian

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Steve closes the feed. Break-time for TLR29134. Thank fuck. Poor bitch. He sets up TLR11892. Better. This puppy is sick but happy to give.

Do the crime, do the time. Steve has no truck with that. Lock 'em up by all means, but this?

Every library has a population of forty thousand tellers, each housed in a pod the size of a large coffin. One librarian manages two thousand pods. All that keeps costs down and security up. Tax payers love 'em. So do politicians.

Take TLR29134. She's serving eighteen months for burglary. When the feed's closed, she's offline. She can think or she can sleep. What she can't do is get out of that pod.

Most choose sleep.

Synthetic veins relay nutrients in and waste out. Regular rotation of the pods reduces the incidence of pressure injuries. Neuro-catheters are the bridge between mind and server.

Tellers are catalogued not by what they've done but by what they share. Like TLR29134. She was orphaned when she was seven. Survived a car crash that destroyed her parents. Now she gets to relive it via the feed because, somewhere, there's an authitect creating a masterpiece in which her experience will feature.

Living Fiction they call it.

Steve thinks the system is broken. It can't be right that TLR29134 will spend eighteen months sharing a nightmare while TLR11892 gets to mentally masturbate for the sake of a realistic transgressor narrative.

He doesn't care how cheap it is. That's not punishment. It's not doing the time.

Fortunately for TLR29134, there's not much demand for seven-year-old kids in car crashes. The same can't be said for serial killers and torturers. Christ, TLR11892 even has a wait-list, if you can believe that – authitects itching to hire him.

Back in the old days, before authitects and tellers, writers had to make their shit up. Libraries housed books, not crooks. And forget the feed; the only system a librarian had to worry about was the Dewey Decimal.

He doesn't touch the stuff. Give him word-only any day of the week. Or a violin concerto. No one gets tortured for that. He hopes.

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