Skin vs. Tin

“What kind of question is that? Hey, you new around here or something? Yeah? Well, let me make it real simple for you then - being a Skin is good and being a Tin is bad. Why? That’s just the way it is, kid. There are lots of reasons. Probably how it will always be, too, unless the revolution takes off. Pretty small right now, but don’t all revolutions start that way? Don’t worry, I could tell you were a Skin a mile away, so you don’t have to sweat anything around here. That is, unless the Tins really do take over the show one day...

My job? I try to keep the peace between the two classes. That’s not easy in a big city like this. Oh, you come from the Farmlands? No wonder you’re so clueless! They even have Tins where you live? I didn’t think so. Here, read this. I have better things to do with my time than answer all your questions. Good luck,’ll need it.”



Skin: Slang term referring to a fully organic human. Through certain means (proper upbringing, healthy lifestyle, wealth, power, etc.), a Skin has managed to properly protect and care for his/her natural body, thus eliminating the need for a synthetic replacement (see Tin). Today’s environment is a harsh one, and this is no small feat. You will usually find Skins in positions of leadership within government agencies, private corporations, social clubs, and anywhere else requiring a high level of discipline, motivation, and intelligence.

Tin: Slang term referring to a human possessing his/her organic brain, with said brain being housed within a synthetic body, normally in the cranial chamber*. The vast majority of Tins are those who either abused their natural bodies (drinking, smoking, poor diet, improper environmental precautions, etc.) and/or did not have the money required to protect themselves from the ravages of time and disease. You will usually find Tins in positions considered undesirable (hazardous waste, environmental sterilization, high risk labor, etc.).

* It has recently been discovered that rebel Tins are relocating their brains into heavily reinforced torsos, using the cranial chamber to hold less essential hardware.

Dent: Slang term referring to an Indentured Servant. Dents are almost always Tins, as the financial hardship that precipitated the indenture also facilitated the failure of the natural body and subsequent need for a synthetic replacement. You will rarely find a Skin in servitude; they are generally Masters of at least one Dent. Synthetic bodies are costly and often purchased by a Master on behalf of a newly created Tin. In return, the Tin becomes an Indentured Servant until the debt (plus interest) is paid. This practice is seen as unfair by some Tins, and has led to the formation of rebel groups across a multitude of Urban Zones. The fact that they made a conscious choice (servitude over death) does not seem to matter to these rebels.


The young man reads through the definitions a second time, then a third, struggling to fully grasp their meaning. How can this be? Back home, no one ever spoke of Skins and Tins and Dents. Of course, the government is notorious for withholding information about the Urban Zones. Food produced by the Farmlands is essential for the well being of the entire Commonwealth, and they can’t risk any backlash from its residents. Technically, all regions are under the same harsh rule, but most necessary goods produced in the Urban Zones are done by robotic facilities and rely less on manual labor. Farming requires a human touch that no robot has ever been able to reproduce.

Tired of the endless work in the fields and quiet rural atmosphere, the young man jumped at the chance to be a Farmlands Liaison and live in an Urban Zone. Several friends had accepted the same sort of job, never returning to the dull agricultural life they left behind. He assumed it was because they were having such a great time in the big city but now he was not so sure. Where -or what- are they now?

A wave of panic hits him hard as he answers his own question. They are Tins...and Dents. Like him, his friends were born and raised in the Farmlands and left there eager for adventure but flat broke. Too broke by far to afford a synthetic body after the acrid air of the Urban Zone destroyed lungs used to breathing fresh country air. A lifetime of being kept in the dark about how things really were in the Urban Zones, and now the young man will learn the truth, whether he wants to or not.

Shadow Casters

A girl lies down in a sunny spot to study. Leaning on her elbows in the deep grass, she reads from a thick textbook. Fully engaged, it takes a minute to notice the shadow across the well-used pages. She turns her head expectantly, a half smile ready to greet the friend who is standing beside her. The girl finds herself alone. Puzzled, she brings her attention back to the book and recoils at the sight of the shadow remaining there. Huh...that's odd. The girl hastily gathers her things and leaves.

Unable to shake an increasing feeling of unease, she heads to the campus library and learns the following from a dictionary:

Shadow - the dark figure cast upon a surface by an interposed opaque body intercepting the rays from a source of light.

Opaque - blocking the passage of radiant energy and especially light.

Body - the organized physical substance of an animal or plant either living or dead.

Of course, the “dead” in the last definition refers to a corpse, but the anxious girl thinks only of “ghost”. More likely a person walking by or a passing cloud...

She tries to rationalize what just occurred but can’t; the sky was clear and she was lying by herself in the middle of an expanse of grass. Returning the dictionary to the shelf, the girl decides to dig a little more. She moves to an empty section of the library to research paranormal phenomena. In an old book entitled “The Ones Among Us”, she finds a passage within a chapter about reincarnation. It reads:

“Neither alive nor dead, Shadow Casters roam the earth unseen in search of their lost souls, feeding on the light they absorb. To fall under their shadow is to be marked for death, for they will not rest until they reclaim what was once theirs. When found by a Shadow Caster, a mortal man can do nothing but wait for his inevitable demise.”

A shiver runs through the girl’s body as she slams the book shut. This is crazy…just relax! I’m sure if I search the web I will find plenty of sites that say this is just urban legend. As she pushes her chair from the table and starts to rise, her foot becomes tangled in her backpack strap. The girl turns and steps away, only to trip into the next row of tables. Broken by the edge of the hard oak top, her nasal bones drive into her brain as her face slams down on the seat of a chair. She is dead before she hits the floor. If she were still alive, the girl would surely see the shadow darkening the worn carpet beside her.