The car comes to a sudden hault outside my building. I climb out and bend over to look at the display. Maybe I need to confirm that I got here. But the door shuts and the car zooms away. "Thanks!" I call out towards it. I can feel the hard plastic pushing against my heels as I stand in my skates. I move gently inside towards the elevator. When I reach my outter door, a few of my neighbors are standing there chatting. Maybe I can ask them what happened. There's no reason why they should know I got arrested.

"Hi!" I say with a wave.

They fall silent and stare at me for a moment before turning back to each other.

Do they know? Are they blaming me for the building getting raided?

Whatever I'm dying for something to drink. I push open my door and move inside. It's nearly empty.

My stereo's gone.

My file drives are gone.

The toys hanging from my ceiling are gone.

The stuffed animals on my bed are gone.

I'm just going to go to Lime's and get really clean and tell her about what happened.

I push off my skates and look through my dresser for 2 socks. I find an old sweater that I used to wear. It has snowflakes on it.

I shouldn't go to Lime's.

I smell terrible and it's not like she came running to me after she got arrested. It's not that big of a deal. I just need to relax and get over it.

I sit down into the empty bathtub. My hair dye and soap bottles are gone. I get up and start running the water. I turn back to my drawers, maybe I have an old soap packet in there.


Seems like the only things left are clothes. I open the fridge door.

The food is gone.

Behind the fridge, I find a small bottle of vinegar and a box of salt. That might be enough get this bullshit out of my hair. I stand up and look out the window at Mix's apartment. I can't see anything inside. The sun is shining too bright and it's reflecting off the window.

The window? There wasn't a window there before. I guess it was just always open. They must be really trying to cover up our communication.

The water is beating hard into the steel tub.

I should contact The Directory. I pick up my handheld and punch in the number. I guess I should apologize? I feel like my message is a little weak. Oh well. I wait for a confirmation but nothing comes. They haven't recieved the message. The number is off. The number is off? I tripple check that I entered it correctly.

Did they find out that I got arrested? Are they trying to protect themselves from me?

The police took everything from my apartnement but they left me my handheld. Are they monitoring my handheld? I'm still using my hacked system. They didn't wipe it. They must be watching me. And I just gave them the number to the directory. Great job, Sugar. The Directory must have some sort of self preservation software enabled.

I sit on the edge of the tub to think. They knew that I had a hacked handheld and contraband media. They must not be interesed in investigating the underground or they would have asked me more about it. Why didn't they ask me about my handheld? They must have looked at it. I used to have protection software that replaces my history and replaces my connection to the underground server with a decoy server but I haven't updated it in so long, there's no way that it is still up to date. Did they just take my things to scare me away from working any more? But they didn't take my handheld. I'm sure they expect me to keep using it like I used to. The cops are people too, maybe they stole from me for the same reason anyone else would. That stereo was pretty great. But how am I suposed to trust that? Everyone always says "Don't expect cops to act like people." I don't know what to think. I look back to the window. They even took my radio. It's not easy to find one of those. You have to get them from the directory or find someone that can make you one. Mix told me once that they take more than just your goods when you get arrested. I'm afraid to connect to the CASH server and check to see if I even got my last deposit from yesterday's work. And if I can't check it, then I might as well not have it. I guess I could still use it, but I won't be able to process any orders. I have to contact the directory. Maybe I could do it from someone else's handheld. But what if they are watching where I'm going? They could have easily put trackers in all my clothes. Or in my skates. Oh god. I'm going to have to get rid of my skates.

Slowly I move my eyes across the few things left in my apartment and realize I'm going to have to leave it. I reach over and turn off the faucet. I peel off my clothes and ease down into the water. I didn't realize how tense all my muscles were until I started relaxing them. I sit here for a while and zone out. How will I lose the police trace? Well they could have put something on my clothes. So the first thing I'll have to do is get rid of my clothes. I wish I could get a hoodie from Mix. I won't even be able to go to the Flea Market until I get something new. I can leave everything here. I might have enough CASH to buy a new handheld. That'll probably clear me out though. How am I gonna afford to buy the new clothes?

They gave me all those dollars.

Okay I'll buy the new clothes first at some regular registered shop and ditch my old clothes somewhere. Then I can try to get to Cables to buy a new hacked handheld that can connect to the underground server. How do I know they aren't following me now? And what about my skates? Someone at Cables might be able to debug them but I would be taking them there first. I never realized how much of my life relies on incriminating myself. I wish I still had the bucket. I bet Mix could debug them. But I would have to pass them over there first. The idea of moving a bugged item into their home would probably make them selfdistruct.

Okay maybe I'll have to leave my skates. At least for now. My rent's going to keep getting paid. Maybe if I stay somewhere else for a while, they'll stop watching my apartment and I can retireve them. Or get someone else to retrieve them. Or send someone to come in, debug them, and then leave with them. I can't afford to pay someone to do that. Not without having the skates to get some work done. I wish I knew more runners so maybe I could borrow someone else's skates. I don't want to ask Lime for help and besides her feet are way bigger than mine.

But I really need to get out of here. I grab the salt and rub it all over my skin and in my scalp. The dirt seems to be coming off just fine. I rinse my hair with the vinegar. It still feels so brittle. I step out of the tub and grab a bottle of corn oil that I used for cooking. I thinned some out in my hands and tried working it through my hair. The smell of the vinegar and the oil reminds me that I haven't eaten all day but I don't actually feel hungry. I dry myself off and put on a pink plastic rain dress that I've had for years but haven't worn. I pull on a pair of my new socks. I can't believe I'm going to have to get rid of these already. I set my skates on my empty bed and look at them for a moment. Am I really going to be able to get them back and get them debugged? Will I ever really feel like they are actually debugged? Is anyone actually going to want to walk into a potentially watched apartment to do it? I dig around and find one velcro platform sandal. I strap it on, and I find the other in my dresser drawer. I shake my hair out and look for a hair tie to pull it back, and then decide against it. Maybe it's time to quit torturing my hair. Besides, I won't be going that fast that need it back. I look for my goggles for a moment before I realize that they must have taken them. They took my fucking goggles. I spent weeks saving up for those. I feel my throast clog up. Why am I getting upset about this? Some runners never come back from getting arrested. I should consider myself lucky. Lucky to be bugged and watched and have a chance to escape.

I reopen my fridge. I can't believe they took my fucking chicken. I unplug the fridge and give the room one last look before leaving. It looks sad and lonely. I open my backpack and look at the small yellow spirit inside. It looks sad.

"[Let's got get a drink]"

©2019 by Zita