Sam hurried after Dillard. "He was a bit dodgy, wasn't he? What was that all about? We can't afford a monkey."
"We can if we sell weed futures." Dill paused and turned, sending a small stone flying into the road. Sam heard it ping off a passing car. "In the stock market they trade in pork futures, see, the probability that pork will be available in the future."
Sam shook his head, slowly in case it came off. "I never could understand the stock market."
"It's just an algorithm." Dillard resumed walking into town. "Imagine a spreadsheet that has cells pertaining to everything going on in the world. All the wars, trade embargoes, government weapons contracts, environmental pressure groups... each cell affecting the probability that a commodity will rise or drop in demand or be taken over by a competitor. You just buy shares that have the highest probability of increasing and get rid of them when the price is about to fall."
"So it's just betting then?"
"Respectable betting but essentially, yes."
"And weed futures?"
"We ask people to give us money now for weed we'll have in the future, meaning they pay today's prices for weed that will be worth more when they receive it."
"Begging on a promise then?"
Dillard grinned, kicking another stone along the pavement. "Pretty much, but what a promise!
"Susan Pritchard made me a promise."
"That bird in HR? What sort of promise?"
"She said if I sorted out her software glitches, I'd see something to my advantage."
"And did you?"
"Yeah. It was just a paging conflict between her word processor and her movie viewer."
"No... did you see something to your advantage?"
"Yeah. She showed me the test paper for the Economics exam."
"You don't take economics, though."