A Simple Scam

The metal container was the size of an old refrigerator and weighed a lot more. If it weren’t for her exo she would have had no chance of moving it, not all at once. And Alexa only wanted to do this once. One big payday.

It was a simple scam. It really started 150 years ago, back when they decided to make everything out of plastic. Things got so cheap they stopped repairing things; easier to junk it and get a new one, more plasticky than the last. Eventually everyone wised up, realized plastic was a poison that never really goes away. Of course, it was too little too late; the whole world was already buried in it. When the polar ice caps finally melted and scientists sent the first expedition to the Nansen Basin, guess what they found almost five kilometers down at the bottom of the Gakkel Ridge valley: fucking plastic. It beat us there. Shouldn’t have been a surprise though; must be a thousand kilos of plastic on Mars and we still haven’t been there yet.

Anyway.

They finally came up with a good clean way to break those old plastics down. They use some sort of genmod fungus. Eats it right up. The byproducts are drinking water and pure energy. Enough electricity for a billion people. So yeah, these fungus nerds got filthy rich in a hurry. Alexis didn’t want to be filthy rich. Just rich.

You see, the fungus nerds needed the plastic to keep the whole operation going. At first, people would actually pay them to take the plastic away. You believe that shit? World’s a crazy place. Plastic is a non-renewable resource, just like all its predecessors—coal, shale, oil, natural gas. We hit peak plastic a century ago. Nobody makes that shit anymore.

So now that the easy plastic’s all been picked, the fungus nerds have to buy it from scavengers. The work is hard and often dangerous, but the pay is insane. Alexis was only interested in the pay though, not the work, and certainly not the danger. So she set up a little cook lab in an abandoned building. Made ten times her own weight in new plastic—highly illegal—compacted it, and presently presented it to the collection agent and thought about what she’d do with all that money.

The agent waved a hand over Alexis’ plastic pile and she heard a buzzing through her ‘plant. It wasn’t a good sounding buzz. “This product is brand new. What the hell are you trying to pull?”

Alexis threw her hands over her heart—harder than she meant to because of the exo—and said, “You can tell that?”

“Get the hell out of here,” said the agent, and he started to pull the container into the loading area.

“Wait, that’s my personal property! You have to pay me for that!”

The agent didn’t even give her so much as a side glance. “This contraband could get you locked up for ten years. You try a stunt like this again and I promise you’ll have time to regret it.” And he disappeared inside.

Well, shit.

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