Provider

She was half-heartedly poking at the keyboard when the car started to move. Oh. “I guess I’m rolling. Coverage is sketch here so I might cut out.”

“Oh my God. You’re still shielding her? I thought we paid you better than that.” His voice lifted when he disapproved. She rolled her eyes. “Her husband gives me six bucks a mile. She probably just wants ice cream or fries or something.”

She didn’t mention the time when it wasn’t just ice cream or fries, but shopping down in the Long Beach Autonomous Zone. That had covered her rent for two months. There aren’t good drugs in Little Utah, though, and she had been bored out of her mind, barely leaving the car. He was still pissy that she’d left without telling him first. She didn’t care. They chose her more often because she was willing to roll on a moment’s notice.

“I worry, you know.” His tone softened. He probably did worry. “I know. You shouldn’t. Nothing ever happens. As long as a rock doesn’t fall on the highway or something, it’s free money.” If it did, well, that would be different. As coordinated with the AIs steering the cars around them, her own would wedge its way between the road hazard and the cargo she was protecting, absorbing the damage so that her employer’s car didn’t have to. US West law didn’t allow hiring unoccupied vehicles, so she hung out and napped her way through riding shotgun. Lots of shields walked away from events. Sometimes they didn’t. For six bucks a mile, she was ready to take that chance.

“Look, I’ve gotta go. I need more insulin and they pay up hourly. I wanna top off my playlist while I still have data. I’ll hit you up when I get back.”

“If. If you get back.”

“When,” her voice shaking. She didn’t have time for this.