HUMAN/SUPER First Contact 29

Angela stared at her screen. Her chest heaved.

“You can’t do that,” she said. “I need this job. Please.”

“I’m sorry,” Phillips said. “My decision’s final. I’ll deposit your final paycheque by the end of the week.”


“Goodbye, Miss Osbourne,” Phillips said. “Good luck.”

The call terminated and the software booted Angela out of her account. She just sat there for the longest time, staring straight ahead. Not really thinking or feeling anything. Just stunned.

And then it all came crashing down on top of her.

Phone. Internet. Power. Rent. Student loan. Groceries.

She couldn’t breathe. She inhaled short, ragged gasps that failed to fill her lungs. She jumped to her feet, knocking the chair over again, and ran to the bathroom. Her breakfast of bacon and eggs spilled into the toilet.

She balled up a towel and screamed into it. The cloth fell to tatters in her hands. She closed her eyes, leaned back against the bathtub.

She wasn’t sure how long she stayed like this, but when she opened her eyes again the sky outside was dark. She stood on shaky legs and staggered out of the bathroom.

Her stomach growled.

She stepped into the kitchen and threw open her fridge. Nothing in there seemed particularly appetizing at the moment. She shut the door. Delivery menus fluttered against letter-shaped magnets.

“Shengli’s Fine Chinese Cuisine.”

“Nico’s Pizza.”

“Jaya’s Curry House.”

Some weeks, the brief exchange with a delivery driver in the doorway would be her only human contact. Tonight, though, she didn’t dare risk it. She needed to be more careful her money until she found a new job.

She poured herself some cereal and returned to her computer. Poking around on her hard drive, she dug up her old resume, half empty and padded with vague words like “passionate” and “driven”.