Nex was able to jimmy the door open with her reprogrammable card–the place was so old that it didn’t have networked biometrics installed. It opened quietly, even as she had to struggle with the last few inches, and closed with a nearly inaudible click. Peeking through the peephole, Nex was able to see the Redmen continue down the corridor without so much as glancing at the row of “bedsit brick” doors.

With the pursuit shaken, at least for now, Nex crept into the tiny one-room apartment looking for the occupant. There was the taser in her left sleeve if they were asleep and the knife in her right if they were awake. But the pile of unopened and moldering mail by the door–which had made it so hard to open– and the burned-in channel guide on the cheap TV quickly made the situation clear. A cursory search revealed the dessicated remains of the tenant on the futon facing the screen, remote still in hand.

“Karoshi,” Nex muttered.

There had been a time, years ago, when the idea of someone dying by themselves with no one noticing was a big enough social trauma to merit an extensive search for answers and documentary filmmaking. Nex had, during a morbid phase in her teens, seen one such film about a pretty young Londoner who died wrapping Xmas presents and lain undiscovered for three years. Nowadays, with automatic rent debiting and the proliferation of tiny, cheap “bedsit brick” one-room apartments (with little more than a couch-bed, toilet, and high-speed network connection)…”karoshis” were common. The word meant “death by work” according to the cold Japanese instruction vids that Nex used to watch. In the modern sense it was more likely death by heart attack or stroke, but sitting on a couch was probably the closest thing to work the late people ever did.

Nex gave the remains an abbreviated reading of the last rites and flicked a coin onto their chest for the boatman, as was her custom.