I had originally planned to write and submit this for a short story collection titled Avatars Inc, back in 2020. Due to some things life threw at me, however, I missed the deadline, but I thought I'd hang onto the draft, change some things up to make it part of the Songbird universe, and see where I could take it. Hare's a snippet of my first attempt.
“Everything all right there, Carl?”
“Oh, just peachy, Cap. Visuals bugged out on me for a moment again there. Had to wait for the service to restart.”
“Jeez, again? Your replacement surrogate will have an improved optics system, so hopefully...”
“Hopefully I'll get it before I time out.”
“Management marked it to be expedited. Best we can do on our end. You know things slow to a crawl when there's a rush on...”
“There's always a rush.”
“Be grateful you've still got this opportunity. A lotta folks...”
Carl let out a deep breath and twisted his right hand. His surrogate mirrored the action, turning the key in the PCDS Delivery Vehicle's ignition.
“We all good?” Cap's voice popped in through the audio channel.
“All good,” Carl responded, moving the weathered chrome hand to the center console. “Everything's back in focus. Resuming route.”
He tapped his name on the console and opened a new log window.
“Solid. Okay. Pay attention to your meter. My dash is showing you've only got enough Hylo for a couple more runs today. Should be enough to finish the route, but don't dilly dally, yeah?”
Carl sighed into the audio pickup of his RMP rig, crammed into the corner of his small probationary continent apartment, as the surrogate stepped out of the delivery vehicle and into what must have been one of the Surface's hottest days on record.
“Okay, kiddo. Let's do this.”