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Title: The Rat Who Wore Glass Author: Jigsaw Forte

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  • Title: The Rat Who Wore Glass Author: Jigsaw Forte

    “Damn, that’s beautiful.”

    The older woman sat back, admiring the still-glittery Vegas skyline through the sheen of the cocktail glass she held in her hand. The cocktail glass was custom-made with a stem made out of the phrase ‘DEFCON42’ on each of its six sides. It didn’t cost the restaurant much extra to do it this way -- 3D printing sugar stopped being impressive at least five years ago, at least in the “This must cost a fortune” sense — but it still took a certain level of effort to make sugar glass look GOOD.

    That it made the cocktail last longer because you now bought a drink AND a dessert was a happy bonus.

    The lady tapped her head where the controls for her glasses were hidden by her salt-and-pepper hair, careful not to wake up her blonde companion sleeping on her shoulder. After all, they were both up late as it was, and waiting for people to show up made the lady all the more antsy; she may as well record some of this for posterity.

    “Ma’am?”

    The lady turned to glance at the waitress. “Yes?”

    “We’ve received a few complaints about your... friend.” The bottle blonde cringed, pointing at the woman’s shoulder. “You need to either put it away or leave the restaurant.”

    The lady gave the waitress a skeptical look. “She’s a service animal. I can produce the documentation if you’d like, both in hardcopy and PDF format.” She tilted her head towards her blonde companion. “Or just scan her chip yourself; it’s on there, too.”

    “Yes, but it makes the restaurant look bad if people realize-!”

    “The last time I checked, VooDoo Steakhouse has had a perfectly good reputation for the past several years -- well, minus that little incident in ‘22, which I’m sure if I started discussing THAT loudly enough would ding your reputation worse than a little blonde rat.”

    As though trained to wake up whenever her ears burned, the blonde hooded rat perked her head up, blinking and walking across the lady’s shoulders to look at the waitress. Her eyes glinted bluish-green under the low lighting of the restaurant, and almost seemed to glow.

    “What is-?!”

    “That’s why she’s a service animal.” The lady smirked. “Her name’s SpecWork, and she’s streaming from those lenses. She’s still in training and I’m still working out some of the details, but I’m sure you can imagine why a set of contact lens cameras would be useful.”

    “What do you want me to tell my manager about why you won’t put your pooping disease vector in your purse?”

    The lady rolled her eyes. “I’ll put her in my purse, which is staying in my lap where I can keep an eye on her. If your manager has a problem with that, feel free to remind him that this ‘pooping disease vector’ is cleaner than he is and probably worth more, too.”

    The waitress pouted. “Fine. Just clean up after her.”

    With that, the waitress turned to leave. The older lady picked up a small mesh tote, slipped SpecWork inside...

    …and promptly found the bag disappear as the waitress snagged the strap and proceeded to run.

    “THIEF!”

    The lady bolted up, running through the restaurant after the waitress, who knew the layout far better than the lady did. She bolted, she weaved, and yet for all of her efforts, the lady was only a few steps behind.

    The waitress turned for the kitchen doors, only to change her mind and duck behind a pair of plants to try and shake the woman off, but the lady kept coming.

    The good news for the lady was that there were only a limited number of exits from the top of the rooftop restaurant, and the resulting ruckus was loud enough that a pair of hands reached out to grab the waitress and keep her from darting past the crowd at the entrance.

    “You just started your shift! What’s the matter with you?”

    “She stole my purse!” the lady snarled, reaching out for her bag.

    The waiter at the front of the restaurant, on the other hand, wasn’t impressed. “Okay, it’s not that I don’t believe you, but I still need proof that this is your bag. How do I know you didn’t take it from someone else?”

    “I have a camera in there that’s recording everything going on right now. I can see everything going on from inside that bag as we speak.”

    “What?” the waitress gasped, shocked.

    “What part of ‘streaming’ did you not get?” The lady glared at her. “Did you really think you were going to get away from me when I could see exactly where you were going?”

    “How?”

    She tapped the side of her head, pointing at her lenses. “The usual glass. I’d show you, but I’m in no mood to have anything ELSE on my person stolen tonight.”

    “Well if you’re wearing those, what kind of camera is in the bag, then?”

    “It’s a pair of experimental lenses. I’m here for the ‘DEFCON’ conference, and-. Wait a minute, why am I explaining this to you?” The lady turned to the waiter holding her quarry still. “Look, do you need me to actually give you a name and check the ID inside that bag, or will you take my word for it when I tell you your fly’s unzipped and you should REALLY get that mole checked?”

    The waiter blinked, and then yanked the tote bag off the waitress, handing the bag back without a word. If the light wasn’t so dim, She would’ve sworn she saw him blush as he fumbled to fix his error one-handed behind the podium, as he still kept a grip on the waitress’s arm. “And what do I do with her?”

    “What do you usually do with people who try to steal from your patrons?” The lady snapped. “Just keep her the hell away from my table.”

    She glanced down to check on SpecWork -- who was still clinging to the mesh, a little rattled but otherwise no worse for wear. The lady turned to head back for her drink, then stopped in her tracks.

    That was applause she was hearing, wasn’t it?

    She turned, and saw the crowd at the door decked out in geeky shirts and glass. Some of them were wearing jewelry that blinked and pulsed with indicator lights, one of them looked like an android that could almost pass for human, and there was an older couple in the back that appeared to be a pair of telepresence avatars. All of them, somehow, were clapping.

    The lady smirked, giving the crowd a half-bow. “Good evening, folks. I’ve been expecting you, and if the last thirty seconds made any sense, you can sleep in and skip my panel tomorrow.”
    "They-Who-Were-Google are no longer alone. Now we are all Google."

  • #2
    Re: Title: The Rat Who Wore Glass Author: Jigsaw Forte

    Even years in the future service animals will be misunderstood. Lovely detail to add in to your story. Good Luck!
    "They-Who-Were-Google are no longer alone. Now we are all Google."

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