I'd got lucky. She was one of the nice ones.

"Would you like a cup of tea,dear?". I nodded. The old woman walked into the kitchen, and began the ancient ritual involving luke-warm water, bovine nutrients intended for young animals and the leaves of a plant not even native to this island. I sighed. I was more of a coffee girl myself. Oh well, if it kept the old dear happy, then who am I to rain on her barbecue? "Five sugars and lots of milk, please" I sung out as the inevitable question was asked. I've always had a sweet tooth, and everyone keeps telling me I'll have to wear dentures by the time I'm thirty. But after this job, I'd be able to get those fancy genetic croc treatments, and grown my own indefinetly. I looked around at the old woman's house. It was one of those that was almost tasteful, if you like all that oldy-worldy junk. Carpeted floor, with some sort of static pattern. Static walls too. A dark, comfortable sofa, and a few chairs around a coffee table that was _so_ 2010. Hah! And she brings me tea!.A modern rented entertainment station stood anacronistically within the old fireplace. The old don't seem to have ever got their heads around the fact that you can have mobile, virtual and wearable displays. Perhaps they just don't like them. Personally, I never went out without some good anime showing on my jacket.

Here she is now, waddling back from the kitchen to the postition I have taken on the sofa. She smiles at me, but it's the grotesque smile of age. I smile back, and reach for the pink wafers piled high on the plate. That's at least a couple more cavities worth, but I don't care now. I'm going in for the kill.

"So, young woman, which organisation do you work for again?" I smile. "I'm a worker for the local arm of the Global Aged Alliance. I'm sure you've heard of us. We are a union of mature, responsible citizens, who wish to ensure that the growing majority of people who fall within our age range. We pride ourselves on fighting for the rights of the over eighties" She looks pleased as I say this, wriggling and shifting her bulk in the oversize chair, so that it squeaks. "Well, dear, I hope I qualify. I'll let you into a little secret. I'm over one-hundred and twenty years old!" This is almost too easy. "Really? I'd guess you weren't a day over one-hundred!". I'm a good liar. Especially to these oldies. She chuckles to herself. A grotesque sound. "And am I correct in thinking you want me to join the GAA? To contribute my opinions and experience did you say?"

"That's correct. We've had a computer running a pre-cognitive program for over a week, and it indicated that you would be the best candidate for the job, Mrs Williams". I look up into her glowing eyes, and keeping contact, make sure I hammer my point home. "And of course, that would mean that you would be working again......"

The eyes flash when I say that. The one thing oldies desire more than their youth, is a job. A chance to be useful again. ".........so if you'd just sign this document here, here and here. Oh, and write your national insurance number in the box.". She grabs for the contract, almost ripping it in the process. Heaven help that it should get away. She signs it without even reading it. I gently prise it from her claws and put it in my bag. As soon as it's safely stored, the doorbell rings.

"That's my associate, Mr Pinch". I start to slowly move away from the front door. "He's come to pick us up and take us to headquarters.". The old lady creaks to her feet, and moves towards the door. I'm still too close, but there's nothing much I can do about that now. As she turns the handle, I dive for cover.

The taser barbs punch throught the door, and embed themselves in the old woman's neck. Fourty thousand volts flow through the wires in a sudden flash of deadly current. She jerks like a fish on a line, out of control. Those horriffic eyes glow an even brighter red , and a scream of pure agony leaves her mouth. I'm hiding behind the chair and already I know that somethings gone wrong. The old lady doesn't drop like she's supposed to, and instead rips the door off the hinges with inhuman strength. Pinch is revealed, standing behind with a look that says his life has already flashed before his eyes, and he's just waiting for the credits. Shit! I fish the demo charge out of my smart businesswoman handbag, and pull the priming mechanism. Somehow Pinch manages to dodge the first swipe of Mrs Williams cyberarm, and then I'm within range. Just as I'm about to plant the explosive on her exposed back, she whirls around. She's probably got the latest sensory equipment in that grotesque plastic skull, but she's still not used to the sheer speed of the augmentations. Her metal hand misses my skull by at least a good centimeter, and as I slap the magnetic limpet onto her temple, the irises of her photoelectirc eyes grow wide with terror. She's clawing at the explosive now, pulling with both enchanced arms, but the in-built inductive electromagnet can suck as much energy from her system as it ever needs.

I turn and dive behind the steel-reinforced chair.

I hear Pinch's voice. "Carrie, are okay?!. Ohshitohshitohsit! I knew we shouldn't have done this. You're dead and it's all my fault!!!". Typical Pinch. Melodramatic and impractical. He hasn't even checked my pulse.

I sit up and groan, and make my own assesment. I've got a superfical cut on my forehead, and my torso feels like I've got bruises that'll take a month to heal, but I'm not dead yet. I stand up. "Pinch.......Pinch!.....PINCH!". He turns back around. Instantly I'm smothered in that warm-Pinch smell, and I yet out a yell as he squashed my already abused ribcage.

"I'm okay. Look at me.". Powder blue eyes look into mine, and we kiss. Twenty seconds of exchanged saliva later, Pinch's hands start wandering inside my expensive, ripped blouse. Action always makes Pinch horny. I pull away, and give him a quick peck on the cheek. "Darling Pinch, can we wait until we've finished the job please?".

I turn back to the late Mrs Williams. The explosion had destroyed most of her head, leaving only a metal and plastic stump poking out of a floral print dress. With the sensory augments gone, it looked like I wouldn't get those crocodile teeth anytime soon.. At least she was one of those oldies who got regularly upgraded. The limbs and organs should fetch a good price on the market. Pinch dissapears outside, to bring the van with the lifting crane on around the back. I pick a pink wafer from the floor, and munch thoughtfully. The contract gave us full disposal rights for the body, and if the worst came to the worse, we knew a few places where we could unload the odd artificial organ. Standing there, I looked down at the remains of something that had once been a human being, it's organs replaced one by one as they failed with age. Sometimes I think what we do is a service to humanity.

Story Copyright 2001 Dan Argent, reposted with permission