Yue’an scrolled through the tablet in the hall.

“Doctor, the patient’s bio-regulators were adjusted, but she’s fully conscious.”

“Thank you.” Yue’an looked up from the file. “Do me a favor, contact Detective Wyles and ask him to retrieve the Citi-Synth with the vin in this file.”

The assistant nodded and scuttled off, her rubber soled shoes scuffing the baseboard.

Yue’an entered the sterile room and took a seat. “Dr. Terique, could you describe your day leading up to your presentation at the convention?”

Yue’an forced herself to look at the woman. Dr. Terique, a highly respected researcher in her field, looked eroded; as though the ocean-blue inpatient gown had worn away her basalt features and white-sand hair.

“Frankly, I overslept. I’ve been working day and night for the conference, and I knew I was exhausted, but my building had a transformer blow, so I woke up to a call from my assistant. She had all the materials, but was in a panic when I didn’t arrive on time. I quickly booked a sim through Citi-Synth, uploaded from home and Net-Traveled to about three blocks from the convention center.

“When I arrived, I had a panic attack. I’ve devoted my entire life to studying the Mirror Spider, but just being in the same room with the specimens made me feel like my body was being crushed! Please Dr. Shi, you have to help me!”

Yue’an glanced at the file, then at the patient. “Have you ever had performance anxiety?”

“No, never.”

“And you’re sure it was the spiders that triggered the attack?”

The woman nodded, eyes closed tight, lips strained into thin lines.

Yue’an paused, just in time for a knock at the door. “Please excuse me. I believe this is about your treatment.”

She stepped out for a moment, leaving the arachnologist with a cup of water.

A moment later, she returned. “I have excellent news. After reviewing the sim you used to arrive at the conference, it appears it was improperly reset. What you’re experiencing is a residual personality trait from a prior sim user. It’s rare, but it’s very easy to treat, and you should be able to go back to work tomorrow.”

“I thought Net-Travel was safe!” Dr. Terique was shaking.

“Statistically it is. Download services like Sim2Sim, Citi-Synth, and Sim Hub have fewer accidents than trains, cars, and planes combined. All we need to do is compare your upload profile prior to the convention, and we’ll be able to find the trace behaviors from the other user and remove them.”

Yamileth St. Vincent Terique fell back, her perfect posture breaking against the seat in a draining mix of relief, concern, violation, and indignation.

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