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Chapter 2 Bad day at Red Rock

Ben quickly sized up his pallid frowning customer. Balding, cheap clothes that didn't quite fit, and likely wanting a bargain. He knew the type well. A just looking kind of guy but he badly needed a sale. Awkwardly twisting his tall, lanky frame towards the driver he used his best number six smile. “Drives like a dream doesn't she?” Ben said over the smooth hum of the electric motors. 

The pinched faced older driver glanced back as he turned back into the lot, Well I have to admit it seemed the price was a little too good to be...”

Ben suddenly lurched forward ribs squashed by the seatbelt and his sandy hair flopped over his eyes for a moment as the hum abruptly stopped. The wheels locked up with a metallic screeching, and the vehicle skidded to a stop.

The driver contemplated the wispy black smoke now curling up from underneath and sneered, “I should have known better. You guys are all thieves.” The door slammed shut, and he stormed off the lot.

“Get your sorry ass over here now, Ben” yelled old Mr. Griswold, from across the lot. This is going to be a no-win conversation,” he thought as he reluctantly trudged across the dusty lot.

"Thompson this is the third sale you have lost this week, you just can't seem to close a deal,” sputtered Mr. Griswold becoming more florid by the second. 

Ben clenched his fists and stood his ground. “You told me this drive unit was completely rebuilt by your worthless brother-in-law. I think he just threw in some old coils that were at the end of their life. How can I sell this junk if it won't even make it around the block?”

Griswold swelled up, then glanced sideways at his napping brother-in-law slumped in his chair. A steady stream of drool wended its way down sagging chins and pooled on the floor. Turning back to Ben he deflated, “You're fired, just get out of here,” He rasped. Ben gathered his meager desk contents and walked away fuming.

Clutching a six pouch of Buzzed beer and a pseudo meat sandwich Ben waited in line. The store's garish vid displays scrolled headlines. “Starlet gets the third breast transplanted, says two aren't enough for her.” “Deadly Spiny Polymorph captured inside city limits, two wardens injured.” 

The clerk snapped him out of his reverie. “Is this it buddy?” and deducted eleven credits from his sparse balance. The few remaining credits in his account heightened his impending sense of desperation as he headed home to his micro unit.

Halfway through his sandwich while scanning help wanted ads, it started. Repeated banging shook his micro unit door. A tinny metallic voice called out, “Mr. Ben Thompson, you were seen entering this unit. I am here to collect your debt of 1136 credits owed to Galactic Charge-All. My programming requires me to stay until you pay your debt. Present your card for payment soonest,” droned the credit bot. The message and incessant banging on the door repeated, this time with more volume.

Ben eyed the frying pan still coated with the remnants of breakfast sitting on the cooker and vision materialized. Grabbing it, he snatched open the door and hurled it with all his might at what he realized was now a frantically retreating and badly dented credit bot. Time slowed as events unfolded. Having just missed the credit bot by mere fractions of an inch the rotating pan continued on its high-speed trajectoryWith an impressive thud, it dented the hallway wall in front of ancient Mrs. Gold. She paled, gasped and fainted. Her lap mutt started furiously yipping at the pan. The retreating credit bot made garbled noises as it whizzed away disappearing around the corner. Staring at the mess and the prostrate old woman on the floor Ben panicked and ran into his unit. 

Spinning into overdrive, he gathered up cleaning supplies, and a water pouch. Reviving Mrs. Gold, he helped her back on her feet and shoved the water into her hands. Frantically sopping up the mess Ben hoped the only remaining evidence of the unfortunate incident would be Mrs. Gold's addled memory and the dent in the wall.

The building super came up the stairs to see what was going on. Glaring at the still-wobbling Mrs. Gold, the pan in Ben's hand, and the dent in the wall he hollered over the shrill yipping, “Ben you're two months late on the rent already, and now this! Get out of here by the end of the month.” 

Finishing the cleanup, Ben collapsed onto his worn couch fuming. “Whoever named this stinking dust bowl of a planet Bliss had a weird sense of irony. A fat lot of good that engineering degree did for me. What a crappy day. I had no idea those credit bots could move so damn fast.” He returned to the help wanted ads. “Nope, not selling vid advertising. Repair credit bots? Nah, you mostly need experience in a body shop.” He scrolled through dozens of others then a small ad caught his eye. “Sales position available. Some experience desired. High pay. Travel required. Apply in person. 26 Blossom Street.” He ripped open another Buzzed beer pouch and reread it.