The Ones Who Look

By Katharine Duckett

Ethical Empire built the gate to heaven, and their employees hold the keys. By offering custom-built afterlives through full-brain uploads, they answered the needs of a society pushed to the brink by climate change and cascading antibiotic failure. But for Zoe, who works daily to assess the sins of users and decide who’s worthy of salvation, heaven is not so simple. Despite the urging of the angels on her shoulder, she is determined to uncover heaven’s secrets, no matter the cost.

Zoe had met Henri at the office. Of course she had. It wasn’t like she went anywhere else. She’d thought Paris would be different than Arlington, Virginia, that she’d get out more, eat fabulous meals and meet fabulous people. But it was the same life against a different backdrop. She still spent most of her time hunched before a screen, combing through the sordid details of other people’s lives and tallying points to enter into the endless Ethical Empire database. When she got out of work, half the places in her neighborhood were already closed. She usually ended up swiping snacks from the office for dinner because she didn’t want to cook, and then going home to watch American shows alone in her frigid flat.

Her office offered all kinds of opportunities to meet people: bowling leagues at the indoor lanes, gaming marathons in the immersive virtual environments, biweekly ice cream socials at the trucks on the fifth and twenty-third floors. Zoe, however, had always been an introvert—“a mope,” as her mother spun it—and her position at EE hadn’t bolstered her enthusiasm for interacting with humanity during her off-hours. The system was supposed to prevent her from receiving a case from anyone in her network, but it had happened once, when she met the husband of a high school friend and realized she’d watched him slip pills into the pocket of his pharmacy lab coat a few weeks before on the monitoring feeds. It had soured her on meeting new people. So she poured all her effort into work, which was why she’d been able to apply for a transfer to the Paris headquarters from the dysfunctional Arlington branch after only three years, securing the work visa only once her extensive medical tests came back clear.

Somewhat against her will, she had made one friend: Silvia, who sat next to her in the cubicle pod and was the one who warned her about Henri when she caught him flirting with Zoe in the snack kitchen. “He’s bad news,” Silvia said. “Goes through girls like fppp, fppp, fppp—” She mimed riffling through a stack of cards.

Zoe wasn’t sure she’d mind that. She needed something to distract her from how sepulchral Paris looked in the early springtime. So she said yes when Henri asked her out, even though she’d heard by then from others in their pod that Silvia and Henri had dated and it ended badly. Silvia herself hadn’t told Zoe anything, so she couldn’t expect Zoe to know, could she?

“That logic would never hold up in arbitration, and you know it,” said Rocky, the more severe of her two Recording Angels, as Zoe slipped into a silver dress before meeting Henri. “You know it’s wrong, and it is wrong, and you’re going to lose points.”

Atlan was more sympathetic. “It’s harmless. A little fun. If Silvia really had a problem with it, she would have said something.”

“But this isn’t how one should treat one’s friends!” Rocky always became especially strident at their most indignant. “Don’t you want to keep her as a friend, Zoe? Don’t you want to make friends here?”

Rocky sounded uncannily like her mother, whom Zoe had been dodging calls from ever since relocating to France. “I just want to know that you’re okay,” her mother said in her voicemail messages. “And, well—if you could find time to sign the papers, I’d appreciate that too. I’m not getting any younger, Zoe. I’d like to know my family was going to be together in Heaven before I go to my grave. Is that really so much to ask?”

“What about Dad, Mom?” Zoe would sometimes shoot back. “And how do you even know I’m getting into Heaven? How do you know you are?”

Her mother’s voicemails never had anything to say to that. After one listen, Zoe always deleted them.

The angels kept quiet during most of her date, but Rocky piped up once Henri and Zoe left the restaurant and started stumbling down the empty cobblestone streets, cleared of bustle by fear of disease, toward Henri’s Montmartre apartment, which turned out to be a classic mansard rooftop flat accessed by a perilously tiny elevator. They became more insistent once Henri and Zoe were side by side on his leather couch, once Zoe was close enough to see the outer ring of amber around Henri’s brown eyes and confirm that his skin was as probably just as soft as it had seemed when he first started chatting her up over the free protein bars.

“Kiss him,” Rocky cautioned, “and it’ll cost you points.”

Atlan scoffed. “What are we, Puritans? Why would making out cost her points?”

“Because you know Silvia likes him.” Rocky’s voice was shrill in Zoe’s ear. “She’s not over him. It wouldn’t be fair.”

“They’re broken up, he’s a free agent—”

“This isn’t football—”

Bleep. With a subtle tap of her finger against her wrist, Zoe turned off the Recording Angels’ advisory function. She could still picture Rocky and Atlan bickering in her head, still imagine the threads of their various ethical arguments, but that was to be expected after thirteen years.

Henri was only inches away from her face, close enough that she could feel his breath on her cheek. “Problem?” he asked, his voice low.

“No. No problem.” She leaned forward, grabbing his arm and pulling him in for a kiss. He made a surprised noise, which seemed a little affected considering the dinner he’d bought and the glasses of wine he’d poured them both when they’d gotten upstairs. She pushed him back, slinging her leg over his lap in an easy straddle. If this was wrong, she’d lose fewer points if it was over fast.

Henri moaned, and she wondered what his angels were telling him. Then he licked her neck, his hand slipping beneath the hem of her dress, and Zoe stopped thinking about angels at all.

Henri, as it turned out, was exceptionally good in bed and exceptionally diligent about running out for pastries the morning after. So Zoe kept seeing him, first a couple times a week, and then almost every night, leaking a small percentage of points each time. Silvia stopped talking to her about anything that wasn’t project related, but Zoe couldn’t bring herself to care. Besides, she had Henri to talk to now, who, in addition to his other talents, was smart and funny and genuinely interested in what she did all day. Usually her job description was the death of cocktail parties, the killer of casual conversation: It made everyone sad and uncomfortable, and usually ended up with people revealing their recent sins to her like she could give them a point total on the spot.

Henri, though, wanted to know everything about arbitration. He was an engineer who had been with the Ethical Empire since nearly the beginning. “Back when it was only a game,” he said. A programming wunderkind, he’d dropped out of school to take a job with Leon Boltzmann, the multibillionaire Swiss founder of EE, an old family friend whom Henri said was less of a father figure to him than an eccentric uncle. Boltzmann didn’t go out in public anymore, holed up as he’d been in his bunker in the Alps since the global antibiotics failure, but Henri’s apartment was filled with pictures of him on waterskiing vacations and skydiving adventures with Boltzmann and the core EE team. They were nestled in between photos of Henri’s parents, who lived in Strasbourg and worked in government, and his younger sister Mariève, who had passed away from tuberculosis a year or so before. She used to live with Henri, sharing the spare bedroom that Zoe always tiptoed past as she made her way down the narrow hallway to the bathroom, even though she knew there was no one behind the closed door.

In the photos, Mariève looked hale and happy, a feminine copy of Henri, with the same olive skin and sandy brown hair, though hers was shot through with streaks of artificial red. Zoe wondered if Henri ever visited her in Heaven, and decided that he must. How could he resist? Security risks prevented the living from having contact with the dead, but Henri would have all the keys, all the codes, all the know-how to speak safely with the sibling he had clearly adored.

Rocky and Atlan advised against discussing painful topics early in any relationship, so Zoe didn’t ask Henri about it. Mostly when they got together they talked about work, since neither of them had much of a life outside the company anyway. Henri’s favorite topic was the minutiae of Zoe’s arbitration cases, which she’d first opened up about over a round of poker with the game-playing android Henri had brought home from EE’s robotics division. They’d rigged up the robot to be their dealer for five-card stud one night during a bout of post-coital insomnia, when they were both too wound up to sleep but not quite ready for another go. Zoe had spared a moment to wonder if she should worry about the fact that Henri had offered her a menu of quick games for the refractory period, like he was running a well-trafficked waiting room, before remembering she didn’t care. This wasn’t meant to last, even if things did seem to be going better for her than they had gone for Silvia. If she and Henri had never talked about the ins and outs of Silvia’s job, Zoe figured, they couldn’t have been that serious.

“So I know all of Heaven and Hell, but I never really understood what happens in arbitration,” Henri said as he picked up one of the tidy stacks of Tarot Nouveau cards the robot dealt out onto the coffee table between them. “You watch their feeds and make a judgment, or something like that?”

“Sometimes it’s something like that. Usually we don’t even need to watch the feeds, though.” She still did on occasion, though less than she used to. When she first started, the access to people’s private actions was alluring. But it soon became dull (in the best cases) and gross (in the worst). There was a reason almost everyone working below the exec level in arbitration was a woman or nonbinary person. You couldn’t pay men in tech to put up with other people’s shit the way Zoe did.

“Then what do you do?”

She traded in two of her cards to the robot, whose green visor, the only item of clothing it wore, cast a sickly hue over its expression. It was a prototype, meant to have the subtle tells and foibles of a genuine human player, since playing against perfect machines got boring at dinner parties. “We look at the facts. All that’s recorded: time of transgression, context, mood, effect, and intention. We may have to dig into their history a bit for the intention part, or they may include their version of facts in the report if it’s a client complaint. So we map their action on their particular ethical matrix and determine the deduction. There’s always a deduction, or a probationary period. They never would have ended up in arbitration if there weren’t. They did something wrong, it’s just . . . a matter of how much they’re going to lose because of that.”

“Hmm.” Henri stretched back in his chair, waving his cards at her. “Give me an example.”

“I’m not supposed to talk about my cases.”

“They’re anonymous, right? So how will I know who it is?”

She’d never violated her NDA during her three years with EE, but then again, no one else had asked. Rocky surely would have objected, but Zoe had turned off her angels earlier in the night. She knew better than anyone that all of her data was being streamed to EE and could be reviewed at any time, but it was easier to ignore if you didn’t have disembodied voices whispering in your ear while you had sex. She always switched them back on before falling asleep, though; she hated waking up without them.

They placed their bets, and Henri won the hand. The robot had been bluffing, which was obvious: Henri had been tinkering with its reactions, but it still wasn’t complex enough to genuinely fool anyone. Its playing style, veering between preternatural precision and random error, was too erratic to simulate authentic personality, but EE wanted to roll out the new models next year. Crowded rooms of humans were an acute bacterial liability, and robotic replacements helped fill out social gatherings without increasing the risk of transmission. “Okay, fine. I had a guy today who got dinged for jerking off to pictures of his best friend’s wife.”

“Jerking off?”

“Masturbating.” Zoe mimed the universal symbol for hand jobs, and Henri’s eyebrows went up.

“Ah.”

“Yeah. He keeps losing points, because he’s done this a lot, and so he sent a complaint to us for arbitration because he says he’s in love with her, and would be much better to her than her husband is, and it isn’t fair that we keep deducting points from him.”

Masturbation wasn’t generally a transgression, but the method or material employed could be. The clients dinged for obvious forays over the line didn’t tend to appeal. But on occasion you got a guy like this, who was sure he was in the right. So Zoe dutifully reviewed his record and found that he was in a book club with the best friend’s wife. They spent boozy evenings together discussing literature and he always drove her home afterward. Sometimes she’d tell him all about her problems with Gabe, the husband, who worked and golfed and drank too much, in her opinion. It was verging on emotional infidelity, for which the wife was probably losing points in some other arbiter’s books, but it was a gray area, because they’d never gotten physical.

The man had kept his angels on for all his private fantasy sessions, so Zoe listened in on a snippet of their advice. “She’d be so much better off with you,” his version of Atlan said during the most recent point-losing incident. “Remember that night you talked about symbolism in Moby-Dick?”

“You were the best man at his wedding,” whispered his Rocky. “You helped him pick out the engagement ring. He’d never forgive you. You’d ruin her life, too.”

She wondered why he kept their advice running. Users couldn’t log out of the Ethical Empire app without losing points, of course, but they could turn off the angels whenever they wanted. A surprising number of clients kept them going even when they were committing flagrant wrongs. Zoe had never worked out the pattern as to why some clients did and some didn’t.

“It makes sense to me,” Henri said when Zoe voiced her musings. “We found out what people wanted from the angels in the beta testing stage. They didn’t want an omnipotent being who can tell them exactly how to get into Heaven. Humans won’t just do what they’re told to, but they want guidance all the same. It’s why we developed two angels, offering variable input. Every action needs to seem like a conversation. A choice.”

“Isn’t it?”

Henri looked up from his new hand. “Sure. Of course it is.” He exchanged three cards with the android, which was biting its weirdly smooth lip. “I only mean—the angels can calculate probabilities almost perfectly. They could tell users exactly how to earn their way into Heaven. But no one wanted that, when we offered a single omniscient advisor. So we split them. Narrowed the scope of their learning and their, comment dire—speculation.”

“You dumbed them down.” Zoe traded in her three of diamonds for a stoic queen. The android was now blinking rapidly, probably preparing another bluff.

“You could say that, I suppose. But we think of it as preserving libre arbitre. Free will.” Henri scratched his taut stomach as he eyed his cards. “So what did you do? With the man who could not stop masturbating?’

“I put him on probation. He’ll stop losing points for his . . . behavior, but he’s on red alert for any interactions with the woman in question. Anything that seems like a move or any suspicious language loses him points. He can fantasize all he wants, but he can’t actually have any intimate contact with her without causing major damage.”

Henri’s brow wrinkled. “Doesn’t that seem cruel?”

“Cruel to who? The probation’s lifted if the woman and her husband break up.” She started the betting high, and the robot recorded her opening gamble. “Isn’t that the aim of the Ethical Empire, anyway? To make sure everyone honors their moral commitments?”

“I suppose.” Henri matched her bet, and the robot folded. “But what if they were—how do you say it—meant to be?”

She’d thought about that. She’d thought about it a lot. “Your father and I weren’t meant to be,” her mother had told her, when explaining why they were getting divorced, why Zoe’s father was taking his guitar and his books and the cats her mother had never liked to move into an apartment across town. “We weren’t good for each other. We didn’t make each other happy.”

People stayed married more now, in partnerships that were better, at least on paper. The app had reduced domestic violence and infidelity across the board. It had caused political leaders to sign peace accords and finally take some real steps on climate change and poverty and hunger and a thousand other crucial issues they’d been neglecting. The Ethical Empire had concretized paradise and inferno, available in customizable modules for nearly all wavelengths of belief, and everyone was a better person because of it. Or at least they were pretending to be.

Lying next to Henri later as he snored, she wondered. Divorce wasn’t a point-losing action unless you’d elected to play in a Religious Mode that detracted for it. But a lot of things that forced divorce—lying, cheating, throwing someone’s possessions out a window—could lose you your hard-earned credits. And Zoe knew few people capable of getting through something as messy as a marital split while maintaining perfect ethical poise. Better not to risk it. Better to smile and fake it, and earn your eternal reward.

On her father’s birthday, Zoe’s mother left her another voicemail. “I put in Grandma’s rose bushes. It’s a shame she can’t be with us, but what can you do? Oh, and your brother says he can program in that infinity pool I’ve been asking for. If the family hits the point total I sent you last week, we’ll get the sixth-level upgrade, so I hope you’ve been behaving yourself in Paris, Zoe.”

After deleting it, Zoe went to the nearest patisserie to buy herself the largest pastry she could find. She took it over to Henri’s to split it with him without telling him why.

She spent most nights at Henri’s now, sharing highlights of her cases from the day. There was the embezzler, and the plagiarist, and the woman who kept forgetting to pay parking tickets. That last case had been tricky, because the woman had recently received a dementia diagnosis. EE claimed they’d improved the way they handled disability when it came to assessing ethical actions, but Zoe’s instructions were simply to do whatever kept them relatively free of lawsuits. Not that the lawsuits mattered. The Empire’s wealth exceeded the GDP of a good percentage of the world’s countries.

There was still a lot she didn’t tell Henri. She didn’t tell him about her mother’s calls. She didn’t tell him about Michael, the man she’d been seeing back in Arlington. She didn’t tell him that she broke up with Michael because she couldn’t stop picturing the strange and terrible things he did when he was alone.

She didn’t picture Henri doing strange and terrible things, because she knew where he was almost every minute of the day. She could see the entrance to the engineering offices—“the lair,” as everybody called it—if she leaned back in her chair and glanced past the wall of her cubicle. She could see the spray-painted inscription in red on the faux-stone arch above the blacked-out double glass doors: Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch’entrate.

She didn’t see the other engineers much. They kept to themselves, and after spending time with Henri she understood why. If the legal agreements she had to sign to work at EE looked intimidating, the engineers more or less signed away their life’s rights for the chance to collaborate on Boltzmann’s grand design.

Henri worked late in the lair a lot, so Zoe started racking up the overtime as well, earning her pointed looks and even sharper silences from Silvia, who tried her damnedest to find fault with Zoe’s reports but never could. Henri worked at his apartment on nights and weekends too, always in the living room, where he’d set up a console shielded from Zoe’s gaze by creative angling and stacks of books on dreaming and the function of unconsciousness. He’d let it slip while drunk one night that all those texts had something to do with Hell, the most opaque but essential component of EE, before clamming up on the subject.

Heaven meant nothing without the risk of Hell, even though the percentage of users who ended up there was negligible. It had recently become a formal part of the penal system for a few of the governments EE did business with: The move had drawn widespread protest, but the company was used to pushback by now. Only the worst of the worst ended up there, anyway. If you feared Hell, the logic went, you probably had reason to.

Perhaps it was Henri’s talk of the composition of nightmares, or the nocturnal hours she’d been putting in on the monitoring feeds, or the fact that she kept wondering why someone would keep a two-bedroom in Paris but use their living room as their office. Whatever the cause, late on the eve of La Fête du Travail, a day they planned to spend exploring Le Marais, Zoe found herself restless and fidgety as Henri snored beside her. It was warm enough now to keep the window above the bed cracked open, and she could hear the voices of Henri’s neighbors echoing across the balconies in the courtyard as they chattered and laughed. If she’d smoked, she would have perched out there now, lighting her cigarette in the dark and eavesdropping on conversations she could only half understand.

But she wasn’t a smoker, so for lack of anything better to do she got up and went to the bathroom, staring at her blurry reflection underneath the harsh yellow light. She kept a case for contact lenses and a small bottle of solution in her purse for when she slept over at Henri’s, since her visual implants couldn’t totally correct her vision, but glasses seemed presumptuously domestic in a way contacts were not, like showing up with a pair of pajamas. Her low vision made the nighttime landscape of Henri’s apartment even more alien, filled as it was with ominous shadows that didn’t resolve themselves into ordinary items like coatracks or robot parts until she was nearly on top of them.

On her way back from the bathroom, creeping past the door to Mariève’s bedroom, she was sure she heard a noise. A cough; a creak.

The building was old. It settled and sighed, its pipes groaning and wheezing like a rheumy old man all through the night. But Zoe pressed her ear against the wood of the door anyway, unable to shake the sense that somebody was on the other side.

Her hand crept down to the dulled crystal doorknob before Rocky’s voice streamed into her ear, startling her out of her semi-sleepwalk. “It’s a violation of his privacy to go in there, Zoe. You should go back to sleep.”

Atlan agreed. “Ask him about it in the morning if you’re curious. But you can’t go snooping in his space like this.”

Her fingers tightened around the knob, and, quietly as she could, she turned it an inch, confirming the door wasn’t locked. She eased it open, wide enough to slip inside, and let herself into the room that had been Mariève’s, leaving the door cracked behind her.

It took her eyes a moment to adjust to the scant ambient light spilling in from nearby rooftops through the dormer windows. Even when they did, though, she didn’t understand what she was seeing.

The space was nearly bare. There was a stripped mattress on the floor to her right, and a thin, rickety chest of drawers pushed up against the wall to her left. But most of the space in the room was dominated by the object pushed up against the windows. It was taller than Zoe and wider than her arms at full extension, stretching at least eight feet across, blocking out the illumination at its back.

Moving forward on tiptoe, Zoe strained to make sense of the pigments that were emerging on the broad wooden surface of the hinged structure. It was a triptych, she realized, remembering her single excursion to the Louvre that very first week in Paris. Upon its dark background someone had painted three figures, each inhabiting their own panel: one daubed in white, one in brown, and at the center a humanoid shape of indiscernible hue, with things hanging from its arms and legs.

The paint was layered on so thickly that the details didn’t yield themselves even when she got up close. All she could see were the glinting ridges of the oil paint.

She turned back to the door, ready to risk flipping on the light, and saw Henri standing there.

“Told you,” Rocky muttered.

Henri didn’t look mad. Only tired, blinking at Zoe as he leaned against the doorframe. “Couldn’t sleep?”

She nodded, wrapping her arms around her middle. “I’m sorry—I should have asked. But I was really out of it, and I didn’t think—”

“It’s okay.” He was gazing past her, toward the painting. Shielding his eyes, he reached out to the wall to flick on the light. “It’s called Les Femmes Qui Regardent. Or The Women Who Look.

Zoe turned back to the triptych, where the three mysterious shapes had been revealed as nearly life-sized women, their faces blank unfinished ovals.

The one on the left cradled an ocher jar in her hands, held out toward the viewer. The one on the right held out her hands as well, though they were empty, the fingers crumbling away into dust. And the one in the center, her limbs twined about with snakes and ivy, offered up a half-eaten fruit that might have been an apple, or a pomegranate. Where her lips should have been there was a kermes stain, a shade lighter than her skin.

“Pandora. Lot’s wife. Eve.” Henri walked forward, indicating each figure in turn. “The women who can’t help seeking, and bring destruction when they do. That’s what Mariève said it was about.”

Zoe glanced over at him. “She made this?”

Oui. One of her last works.”

“She was an artist? Professionally?”

“She did not know what she was. Not yet.” His eyes were on Eve. “When we were growing up my parents were afraid she might become a nun. She was always quite religious. Quite . . . serious.”

Zoe found his use of the past tense incongruous. Most people these days adopted the present tense to speak of the dead, especially if they worked for EE, where that language was core to the idea that life and death were an uninterrupted continuum. Old habits were hard to break, though, and some still talked about users who had passed over like they were gone forever.

She turned her attention back to the painting. “I’m not sure I get it.” The trifecta before Zoe reminded her of the images of saints, or the flat royal suite characters on Henri’s playing cards. There was skill in the strokes, but it almost looked as though Mariève had gone over the lines of the bodies again and again before ever completing the faces. “She—there’s a lot of talent here, though.”

“She was always a little complicated to understand. Her art, too.” Henri reached out to touch the wood, tracing his fingertips over a leaf on Eve’s shoulder. “It reminds me of this saying Boltzmann has. ‘Men have the vision, but it’s women who can always find the socks.’”

“Wow. Patronizing and binary.”

“Yeah, it doesn’t translate well. It’s something his father used to say, I think. Boltzmann’s a little—what did you say the other day? ‘Old school.’”

“I don’t care how far back you go, Henri. There have never been only two genders.”

His lips quirked into a smile. “Mariève would have said the same, I’m sure. She hated Boltzmann.”

“Wait, really? I thought your family loved him.”

“Everyone but her. He tried—you know he can be charming.” Zoe only knew as much from company-wide broadcasts from Boltzmann’s bunker and old news interviews, but Boltzmann’s cult of personality spoke for itself. He’d had a rabidly devoted fan base from the beginning, a growing tribe of true believers who thought EE was destined to save the world. “She never budged. She did not like my work, either. She wanted me to pursue medical research, or environmental protections. She kept telling me to do something else, up until—” He swallowed. “Until the end.”

Zoe lay her head on his shoulder and her hand over his, squeezing tight. “He’s exhausted,” Atlan whispered. “You both should sleep.”

And so Zoe set aside her questions, including the one she knew she couldn’t stop herself from blurting out if they stayed before the faceless women another moment. “Come on,” she said, drawing Henri toward the door. “Let’s go back to bed.”

Summer sauntered into Paris shortly thereafter, sultry and gay enough to melt even some of the ice between Silvia and Zoe, who went out for Aperol spritzes and bonded over their shared annoyance with their supervisor’s management style. Zoe started to walk more, making her way down to Le Jardin des Tuileries to bask in the sunshine. She went on shopping sprees, bringing home bags of clothes and shoes, purchasing expensive lingerie now that she knew someone would see it. She found a shop that looked like her grandmother’s attic and sold nothing but handcrafted candles, and bought herself one that smelled of honey and cedar, even purchasing a bell jar to keep it under at the shopgirl’s urging. She could afford it, and she wanted Henri to enjoy coming over to her place as much as she enjoyed staying at his.

When they’d been going out three months, Henri took her to dinner at a hip hole-in-the-wall in his arrondissement. He knew the owner there and ordered the second most expensive champagne on the menu. “It’s even better than the pricier stuff, trust me,” he told her.

“Are you in love with him?” Atlan asked her as Henri and Zoe toasted the quarter-year they’d spent in each other’s beds. “You seem like you could be.”

She couldn’t tell. If she’d ever been in love she hadn’t known it, and though her mild case of joie de vivre seemed as tied to Henri as to the             estival charms of the city, she still wasn’t sure she credited the concept. The chronic masturbator had popped up in her assigned cases again that day, this time because he’d kissed the best friend’s wife while the best friend was out of town. “But I love her,” he lamented in the vid complaint he’d sent. “And she wants to leave him. She’s just not sure she can yet because he built their Heaven, and she doesn’t know what it will do to her point total. But if you’ll let us be together, we’ll volunteer for a year. Leave everything to charity. Adopt a child in need. We promise.”

Read more https://www.tor.com/2020/07/01/the-ones-who-look-katharine-duckett/

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