Copyright (C) 2007 David C. Such
First published in AntipodeanSF (http://www.antisf.com/index.html), Issue 109, June 2007.
"Matt, it's your mother."
Matt shook his head. What now? 2011 was obviously the year of interruptions. He was trying to code a particular complex software routine for Rolex that would play time-sensitive and individual biometric-ITag tailored commercials to timepiece owners. But he wasn't getting anywhere with it.
Damn phone. "Matt, it's your mother," it said. But the actual words didn't register. Matt kept working till the phone grew annoying. Eventually, he picked up the receiver. "Matt Fischer," he said, absently.
"Mum! You haven't called in ages. How are you?"
"I have a problem. They're going to sell the house. I don't know what to do."
Matt snapped awake. "Stay there, Mum. I'll be right over."
"I don't know, Matt. Sorry. It started small. Every time I went shopping I'd buy something extra. I coped at first, but then I started using credit cards. Eventually I had to arrange a reverse mortgage. It cleared my debts, but now that money is gone too. I've got nothing."
Matt hugged his mother.
She sobbed, "Nothing left, Matt. What am I going to do?"
Matt frowned. The irony of the situation hadn't escaped him. "Don't worry Mum," he said, "I'll fix this."
The financial problem was trivial. He could sort that out easily enough. Matt knew, however, that he had to stop his mother's ITag-targeted marketing or the same situation could just reoccur. And that wasn’t even close to trivial.
How to do it? Destroying an ITag was easy enough. Matt had friends who worked at a power station. Walking too close to a generator would destroy an ITag. Intense magnetic fields, then. But the nub of the problem remained. If an ITag wasn't read within 24 hours then the master database would alert the police. As a market tagger, Matt had access to the master database. He would need to deactivate her tag and then delete his mother's data in the space of 24 hours...
Two Homeland Security officers watched the old lady in the observation room. The junior officer said, "They picked her up yesterday, no ITag and she doesn't exist in the database."The senior officer replied, "Doesn't exist in the database, eh? Then I guess she doesn't exist. Schedule her for termination. Tomorrow."