[Steve Taylor] The blovel “68” takes the form of a series of ‘first hand reports’, people from the future talking in their own voices about their work, their lives and their relationship with communications. We continue with Episode 3, Mabel’s Story.

We’ve just been out to Pizza Pod to celebrate, Mum, Dad, my older (only by eighteen months) brother Wilfred, me and my best friend Gertrude. It was just a bit embarrassing as Dad insisted we did it in the restaurant. Silly, really. All it really is, if you think about, is him sending a clip to the administrators asking them to unhook my Companion’s account from his. They just check WorldData to make sure I really have turned twelve – just – and then all they have to do is authorise the Separation. Still, it was lovely, really, of my parents to mark the occasion with a real celebration. A lot of people have stopped bothering these days. It’s important. A rite of passage, Dad called it. I asked the WikiP about it and it’s this really old-world, pre-digi thing that used to involve religion and special food and sometimes kids getting their faces painted and all sorts of weird stuff. Only they weren’t really kids, a lot of the time. Eighteen, twenty-one. Mature adults having to go through their own freaky Separations. You can still see some of these things going on in those biomes where they’ve preserved endangered habitats – like that one Pixney run in Africa. My head spins when I think about the Points you’d need for a holiday like that.

I’m totally excited that I have a real grown-up Companion now. I can do anything I want, wherever I am. I don’t have to watch my brother, walking down the street, swiping at some invisible enemy on another continent, racking up real Points against whoever, and wishing I could do that. Not that I’ll be doing that neeky stuff with mine. I have better things to do, like swapping clothes with my cousin in Sydney. She showed me this really cool app on the PriMarks site where we can try on each others’ PriMarks outfits (which is pretty much everything in our wardrobes, of course) onscreen and orderclick them if they fit and look good. I blew half this month’s Points in a coupla hours last night, fifty per cent of my allowance gone and it’s only the twelfth of the month. That’s the only thing about being newly Separated, I could easily lose it with the Points. ‘Learning from experience’, my Dad calls it.

So I’m focussing instead on all the cool things I can do now. I can do my own legals – contracts, litigation, indemnity – everything I learned in Basic Law. I can get a day rate signed off, post it on my site and start generating some Points of my own, rather than just relying on an intercred from Dad every month. The sooner I start earning, the less I’ll have to pay back to my parents later.

I’ll still do all the things I could do before, though. I don’t intend to stop collecting and spreading stories about my favourite Clip stars or bands or friends anytime soon, not unless one of my girlfriends puts a blocker on a story because it’s just tooooo personal, though it’s hard to imagine what that would actually be. Mostly they trade off the stats at school – how many hits, how many interacts on their sites – not just because of the social currency ratings they’re chasing, but because ratings mean Points.

I’ve always been able to find pretty much anything I needed and pay for it with my Little Companion, but Dad always had a veto option and access to my real-time Points scores. Now I have the right to block him if I want and the only people who can stop me doing that I want with my stash are the Intercred authorities, BarcEx, who obviously make sure you can’t spend Points you don’t have. I can still go into a store and find out where anything was made, who made it (their names, urls), what it’s made out of, where that came from, just about everything – just by pointing my Companion at it. Only now I can go to the next level. I can start a WOM if they’re sweatshoppers, right there in the store, close them down just like that. I know my rights.

I can eepeegee and watch anything I want now: Bad News, the really extreme reality shows, live porn…though most of that stuff sounds so completely gross it’s hardly a privilege.

A big thing for me is getting closer to the bands I’m into: I can get access to the deeper levels on their sites now, get nearer to who they really are, what they’re really like. One of the first things I’m going to do is get into Iggy II’s house (I’m not convinced it’s the real one, but I don’t really care). I’ve done all that hanging out in the front drive on Primary Life with all the other losers: now I can get in through the front door, see him getting breakfast, watching TV, showering – though Ig2 apparently has one of those fuzzy screens, either in his actual bathroom or in PL, doesn’t matter which. There will be masses of clips of him in the buff, anyway, in the Reality News archives or on the fan socnets, if that’s really what I want and I’m prepared to pay for it. I’m really not sure how I feel about that, though. I guess I respect his privacy too much to go there, even if I can now..

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