Lord of the Interest Rates
There was a brief period of time, when I was in the 5th grade, when I simultaneously became the world's cheapest mercenary and the world's most predatory loan shark.
It all began during recess. I was playing around in a field with some friends, when we all decided to gang up and beat up this one kid. It might be hard to believe, but I swear we weren't bullying him - it was play-fighting, and everybody was "in on the joke". As part of the joke, I offered to sell kicks. Pay me a penny, and I'll kick the kid once. If you don't have the penny on you, no problem, we'll talk about it later...
I had one client who purchased six kicks from me, so by the end of recess he owed me a total of six cents. He promised to pay me back the next day and I agreed, under one stipulation: every day he failed to pay me back, the amount he owed me would double. That, I figured, would incentivize him to pay me my dues in a timely manner. I wasn't old enough to understand what usury was, and besides, it didn't even matter, because he was just going to pay me back tomorrow.
Then, all of a sudden, it was tomorrow, and the unthinkable had happened: a 5th grader forgot to bring some random thing to school. But it was no big deal, I reassured him, just bring 12 cents tomorrow and we'll be square. And wouldn't you know it... he forgot yet again. Alright, I told him with a shrug, guess it's 24 cent's tomorrow - and if you don't mind, let's round it up to a quarter, just to make it easier to keep track of. He nodded his head and said that made sense. 11 years old, and I was already a menace to society.
Over the next week, I kept reminding him what he owed me every day, but he just kept forgetting. I was especially insistent that he get me the money on Friday, because the money would double on saturday and sunday as well, and he wouldn't even have a chance to pay me back! I had absolutely no concept of "business days", no morals, and no mercy. When the amount he owed me broke five bucks, I started seeing green - it was a lot of money for a kit. But alas, it all had to come to an end. He finally brought in fifteen bucks to school one day that he's swiped from his dad's desk. I'd started feeling kinda bad for him, so I didn't mention that he actually owed me sixteen bucks that day, and that the remaining dollar he owed would also start doubling... after all, I wasn't a complete monster.
I was proud of that fifteen bucks, though. So proud, that I waved it in my parents' faces when I got home, and enthusiastically explained to them how I'd earned it. They listened to the entire story with horrified looks on their faces, and promptly made me return the money. Several years later, when I was old enough to take algebra, I understood why:
If you're buying a house, you'll end up paying 5 to 10 percent interest on a mortgage payment. That's considered fair.
Credit card debt can be over 20 percent interest. That's considered borderline predatory.
But what I'd attempted to do was astronomically worse.
If the amount that somebody owes you doubles once per year, that's 100 percent interest - absolutely ridiculous. That's the kind of interest rate you charge somebody when you have their family locked up in a cellar.
But my loans were set to double once per day. If my math is right, the annual interest rate I was charging my classmate would be 100 * (1 + 2^364).
Two to the 364th power is... big. It's not millions, or billions, or octillions... It's a number so big that the english language does not have a word for it. In conclusion, it's a good thing that banks aren't run by 5th graders.
Hogs Get Slaughtered potential chapter 2
The corner of my mouth curls up into a grin. Looks like they aren't going to make this easy for me.
I firm up my grip on the fireman's axe and checked my corners. Nobody - but there should be. In a better world, I should have at least two men here to help with my assignment. In a sane world, I'd have three. But enough bitching. I swung the heavy axe in a slow, deliberate arc, cracking it against the door. The thing was a cheap hollow-core - I only needed a few more swings to bust it down completely.
The scene beyond was a horror beyond comprehension - just another day at the office. Piles of laminated plastic tubing covered the floor, climbing the walls like vines, hanging from the ceiling in places. The stench was familiar, yet unmistakable: vomit mixed with feces mixed with bile. Death. A naked, bloated corpse hung in the middle of the room, suspended by an elaborate beaver dam of rubber bands, bungee cables, and miscellaneous elastic odds and ends. The plastic tubes attached to its mouth, stomach, and privates... A network of skinnier tubes fed fed into injection points in the subject's arms and legs. Adrenaline, Blood, Monster NRG, all readily available at a thought.
This entire room was just one big digestive system. Incoming delivery fast food would be placed on a tray, dropped into a concentrator, and fed to the subject as a nutritious paste. Waste products would be sent directly to the sewer line, without the subject having to de-harness.
As I crossed the room, I tripped over a tube, and the cheap thing just split open, spewing an acrid, dark brown sludge. Probably the "output" tubing, but the kind of food these things run on is so terrible that I couldn't be sure. The effluent fit right in with the thin pool of mucus that seemed to coat every surface in the apartment.
Technically, my job here was done. Whenever a user goes flat, a call gets automatically sent to the fire department to check on the individual. So I go. If there's a fire, I put it out. If there isn't... I call the undertakers. There is no protocol for what to do if the user is alive and well and just decided to stop playing video games for a day. Would that even be possible?
As if on cue, a searing bolt ripped through my skull, almost knocking me down. Withdrawl symptoms, unusually severe. I'd been offline for too long -
I had to get back home. Back to the warm embrace of my tender, loving headset.
But before I could go... I owed this former human being a final farewell. I walked up to the body, and gently pulled the visor from it's face. From the hard facial features and alopecia, I was 70 percent sure that it had been a man. What always struck me about these kinds of corpses was the eyes. The eyeballs had long since shriveled up into blood-red prunes, each tipped with a chocolate chip that used to be a pupil. I reached out with one hand and pushed the eyelids down. Unfortunately, they hadn't been used in so long that they sprang back open immediately. I tried a couple more times, but eventually gave up.
Based on the user activitiy logs, this individual had been deceased for about two hours.
The people who come up with time-of-death have never looked a dead man in the eyes. But I had. A terrible feeling crawled up my spine, like a foot-long spider on my back. It whispered to me. It told me that the corpse in front of me had died far earlier than any brain-scan, vital sign, or activity log would suggest.
The Purgatory 2.0 system had dropped three weeks ago, and it was already claiming its first victims.
I was driving home from work recently and a commercial came on for the California state lottery. Apparently, lotto scratchers are the perfect Christmas gift to show all your loved ones how much you care about them. They're festive fun for the whole family - mom, dad... and especially all the little children.
I'm assuming the whole thing was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek; as gifts go, lotto scratchers are about as tacky as it comes. Surely no one would actually give that as a Christmas present...
Well, except for my brother, one year. But he didn't just give me lotto scratchers - no, that wouldn't be good enough.
The gift that I actually received was a handwritten URL that directed me to a stock image of lotto scratchers that had already been scratched.
"It's so bad, it's good, right?" my brother asked, beaming at me with pride.
I'm not going to write about just any five things - I'm going to write about the five best things in my life. If it seems like a flex, that's because it is intended as such.
1. I am in America - generally meritocratic, resource-rich, and perfectly protected from invasion by a foreign power.
2. My Childhood - I was born into a functional, stable nuclear family and grew up in a peaceful, low-stress environment.
3. I was born without any crippling genetic defects, and did not experience any life-altering injuries growing up.
4. Health - I have no chronic pain, take no medications, have no addictions, have experienced no deterioration of function to my mind or my senses, and enjoy going to the gym regularly.
5. Wealth - I am debt-free, slowly accumulating money to afford a house, and make a comfortable salary.
[TRIGGER WARNING] - Don’t Read This Unless Ur Cool
"If you want to truly destroy a man, give him everything he ever wished for" - Boulet
When they posted the winning lottery numbers online, I thought someone was pranking me - somebody I knew spit in the ball machine or something, and... I don't know how but... they made it so that all the balls that fell matched the ones on my two-dollar square of chemically-treated paper. I gazed blankly around my dingy apartment like a soldier moments after losing a limb, too shocked to even register the pain.
I'll have to amputate this place, won't I? I thought stupidly.
Taco bell wrappers splayed out around me on my sofa-ottoman throne.
I won't have to gorge myself on beef-flavored sand anymore, will I?
I double-checked the numbers on my ticket, confirming the reality of the situation... salivating.
I could eat this ticket right now... then my life wouldn't have to change.
The madness passed, and I staggered out of my apartment on atrophied legs, squinting at the sun. Though partially obscured by clouds, a few rays squinted back at me.
Time to hire three lawyers to... I don't know... fight to the death? How does this work again?
[Seven days later]
I held up the check triumphantly. A small crowd had congregated outside the unassuming 7/11 to watch me accept the largest bounty that had ever been claimed in the United States - 1.5 billion dollars - 750 million of which would shortly become mine, the other half would go to the state.
Uncle Sam always wins the lottery.
I looked back at the oversized, ceremonial slab of cardboard, like Moses admiring the word of God on the stone tablets.
Wait a minute... is that... surely not...
How many zeros are there in a million again?
[Ten years later]
I sipped my bubbly contentedly, the notes of apple a blending perfectly with the spectacle before me.
Three lawyers bumbled around like chickens within a chalk circle. Their arms were tied behind their backs, and they pecked at each other viciously with the knifes sticking out of their mouths, held in place with repurposed kinky ballgag straps.
I do enjoy a good cockfight.
My other hand trailed lazily across the strong back of my pet catgirl, who purred contentedly. She needed all of that tough, sinewy muscle to support the massive fucking GMO titties swinging in the front.
"Sinthia, I hear a knocking at the door. Why don't you greet our guests?"
She nodded, her hardwired near-perfect submissiveness kicking in, and sashayed over to the imposing iron-bar gates.
"Give us our money back!" They shouted petulantly.
No. I thought, unwilling to dignify the peasants with a movement of my mouth.
I won that lottery fair and square. It wasn't my fault that the government had given me 750 trillion instead of 750 million. I can't be held accountable for their mistakes, and if they aren't willing to put in the work to pay back what they owe me... they should just be... exterminated.
Sinthia bared her fangs, and shrieks rang out as the delicious scent of blood filled the air.
In the decade since my good fortune, as my bloated morphology can attest, I'd tried every edible substance and chemical known to man. Or so I'd thought...
With great difficulty, I descended on atrophied legs from my 50 foot obsidian sofa-ottoman throne and waddled over to the carnage.
Each step was a 400 lb burden, but I had long prided myself on my steadfast determination. I would make it to the gate, even if I had to crawl.
I had to crawl.
It's not my fault! One of my numb, greenish feet fell off, so I couldn't walk anymore, obviously. Dumbass.
I slurped at the puddle on the ground, the fresh (NOVEL) taste washing over me, through me. I rubbed my groin, moaning with pleasure, and died of ecstasy.
I instructed my trusted butler Sinthia to compose this story in the event of my untimely demise, so that future generations of catgirls can know of my greatness, and to promptly swallow several pills of cyanide, so that she can never live to contradict the official account.
She'd better do it, or I'll be very angry.
It pains me to say this, but I'd have to go with the chicken option. I wouldn't enjoy it. It would be like killing a good friend over and over. Dollar-for-dollar, chickens are the cheapest source of animal protein on the planet. They are delicious. They make eggs, which are used to make tons of delicious desserts. I love everything about them, their supple breasts, their tender thighs, their succulent drumsticks. I would never want to hurt the blessed bird of gainz.
But bro, google "orangutan strength". Those things are 5 to 7 times stronger than humans. A sword isn't going to make any difference in a fight against one of those things. While you're trying to figure out which end is pointy, that thing will slam you to the ground and unplug your balls with its teeth. It'll wear your face as a trophy after it tears you limb from limb. A kangaroo would probably be the better animal for this question. They're also way stronger than humans, but a bit less coordinated, so you could almost see yourself winning.
Whereas, if I fight a chicken every day, I'd get used to it, and figure out how to win the fight with minimal effort. And in exchange for that minor inconvenience, I'd get a lifetime of free chicken. It's just common sense.
I build satellites for a living, so I absolutely cannot sit by and take that comment on the chin. Try designing and manufacturing one of those things yourself before you go on the internet and call them puny :'(
It just so happens that the satellite I'm working on right now has a special significance to your prompt. Somewhere out in space, orbiting the sun in-between mars and Jupiter, is an unusual asteroid named "Psyche". Preliminary investigations of the asteroid have indicated that, unlike the other rocks in the asteroid belt, it may be composed of high-density, valuable metals. It stands out so much that scientists hypothesize that it could be the naked core of a former planet, stripped of its mantle by some cataclysmic event.
Enter NASA's "Psyche" mission. The puny runt of a satellite that I'm working on (about as large as the trailer you live in) will fly to the asteroid and take high-res photos and magnetic field measurements to confirm that it is indeed worth an estimated 10,000 quadrillion dollars in iron and nickel.
It's anybody's guess what happens after that, but America is full of eccentric billionaires who would love the opportunity to mine something worth that much money. The trick with mining an asteroid is that, to minimize travel costs, you should first guide the asteroid into a near-earth orbit, using nuclear explosions or some other extremely powerful method of propulsion. And there you have it: another moon.
What I'm trying to say here is, humanity will deserve another moon when we can acquire one for ourselves.
April 18 2022: I turned on the television.
"In other news, a 12-year-old girl was murdered last night by her estranged father Jeremy Jurpurson after being brutally -"
April 17 2022: I turned on the television.
"In other news, an elderly man was assaulted on the subway in what authorities are calling -"
April 16 2022: I turned on the television.
"In other news, a video has gone viral of a shoplifter walking out of a store with several hundred dollars worth of -"
What is the exact value of a human life?
April 15 2022: You get the idea.
April 18 2022: I turned on the television.
"Breaking news! The F.B.I has released new details in what many are calling the crime of the century... because of course no crime has been committed in a century."
The television showed helicopter footage of a massive sinkhole.
"At the bottom of this seemingly artificial geologic feature, an amateur spelunker made a shocking discovery: Hundreds of thousands of human corpses, miles across and in some places several hundred corpses deep. Yet, somehow, perfectly preserved, as if their flesh had turned to plastic."
The camera cut to a fidgety little man, whose eyes bulged slightly out of their sockets as he spoke.
"Yeah, so... when I found the bodies, I thought it was just a gigantic doll collection, like the terra cotta army or something. So I cut into one of them, to see if they were solid or hollow and..."
His eyes went wide. "It was alive! Like cutting into a steak for dinner, except the meat started jerking in pain! But the plastic shell never changed, their mouths frozen open in a silent, eternal scream!"
"You've amassed over ten million followers on TikTok after posting footage of the bodies. That's got to feel good, are there any causes you'd like to promote with your newfound celebrity?" the reporter burbled cheerfully.
"Yeah." said the man. He was composed, though he could hardly contain his fear. "I want to find the person who owns this collection, who froze these poor souls and burned their names into their own flesh. Jeremy Jurpurson - First Degree Murder. Adolf Shitler - Genocide. Rodney Lemon - Shoplifting. Your names will not be forgotten!"
"Well, the curtains have been pulled, and free will was an illusion all along! Back to you Tom."
April 19 2022: I only went back a century because honestly? Righting all the world's wrongs got boring after awhile. I get that I could have prevented so much more suffering, but, you know... once you've seen enough depravity, you start to become a bit desensitized to it.
Panning around, it looked like people were starting to realize that crime was allowed again. They dipped their toes hesitantly, then jumped in headfirst, using their firstborn children to cushion the impact. Riots in every major city. Nowhere was safe. Kind of a thrill to watch, actually, like a house of cards tumbling down.
April 20 2022: I blazed it, and the world burned