Mop

This is Part 4 of the longer story “Core“. Here are Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

I gritted my teeth, took a deep breath, and turned around. There were eight other people on the elevator with me. A black gentlemen in a light blue blazer, narrow brimmed had, and dark sunglasses stood relaxed nearby clutching a briefcase and umbrella. A plump woman in a black dress covered with tiny white flowers, a necklace of fat round pearls strung round her neck. A youngish west-coast professional looking man in chinos and a polo. An old Chinese lady with a huge canvas hand-bag. None of them looked out the window, or gave any indication of concern or really any inclination to do anything but stand and wait what might come. Most of them politely ignored the existence of everyone else.

Two teenaged Japanese girls glanced timidly around periodically, obviously texting each other while they stood shoulder to co-ordinated-to-complement-outfitted shoulder.

I had to get off. Why was everyone standing around so placidly while we zoomed down? Especially so far! We just fell below the surface!

I looked around frantically for the control console or, failing to find that, for the floor indicators. I gripped the core tightly and clutched it protectively to my chest. I stepped forward to approach the doors of the inner, micro, elevator for a closer look.

Suddenly they opened.

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Switch

This is Part 3 of the longer story “Core“. Here are Part 1, and Part 2.

I exploded out into the concourse, pounded across the grey tile and into the bazaar. Legs churning, I ran past and stumbled into tables placed seemingly at random and strewn with cheap junk.

I looked down at the core in my hand. It was like some sort of Bic pen with a fat red core and an eye-dropper for a tip. What the heck? I had no idea what this thing was, but whatever was in it came out of my head. Some part of me screamed with greed and defiance, demanding that I do everything I could to protect it.

I ran on. If I could find an elevator or an escalator or anything I might be able to get away.

“Stop! Come back!” Pocket Square called after me.

Continue reading “Switch”

Core

This is Part 2 of the longer story “Core“. See here for Part 1.

I was very much taken aback. Most of his fingers were normal looking, but several were extremely misshapen and stubby and small. I looked up at his face and saw no indication that he thought there was anything particularly strange or different about his hand. My shock was reflected on the maiden’s face, her eyes wide. She was suddenly sitting very straight, looking at his hand and trying not to gape.

I glanced at Pocket Square. He seemed to have leaned forward ever so slightly, his posture intensely expectant. A wolf about to pounce.

I swallowed, my mouth suddenly dry. Hesitantly I put my own elbow on the table and opened my hand. I looked up at Mo-hawk’s face again, a bit helplessly. There was no obvious way to clasp his hand and I wasn’t sure where to begin. He seemed completely unconcerned, and in fact wasn’t even looking at my hand.

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8

They tumbled. Great balls of fire slowly drifting, smoke trailing behind them, flames billowing at an angle. Orange deepening into black, hard to tell where flames ended and smoke began. Like big black balls of cotton that had been thrust into a stunning sunset to soak up the color and then placed in a leaning stack one upon the other. Watching them fall was cathartic. Relaxing. Other aircars managed the opposite, their thrusters an ice blue streak as they ascended. A ladder of divine ascent playing dramatically outside of the window. Most of them just floated along, neither falling nor rising. Passing each other in opposite directions. Would the ones going left eventually join those falling? Were the ones going right destined to rise?

I gazed out of the window through the city, through the world, watching. Contentedly thinking about what she’d said. She watched me consider her words. Her thumb gently stroked my forefinger, the rings covering her fingers reflecting light and clinking softly. Our food sat between us forgotten, unable to add anything meaningful to our satisfaction.

The city spread above and below us. I’d never yet seen the top. I hadn’t seen the surface in so long it might as well have been never. Neither were visible, just rows of buildings and windows stretching out of sight above and below us. The aircars drifting lazily between it all, like bumblebees, reflecting our peaceful mood.

Some part of my brain, buried deep, assured me that way down below, below the surface, were the deeps. Waiting hangrily in the darkness. I dismissed the thought as irrelevant to the wonderful night I was having. Or maybe it was morning? Noon? Irrelevant. The soft pink glow that pervaded everything never changed anyways, except to become lighter if higher you ascended.

“Quite the sight huh?” A voice invaded our contemplation.

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Crash

Nolani coughed. Sand? What? It tasted awful, oily salty brine-y… tangy… citrus-y? Like some disgusting margarita that sat out all night in the heat by the ocean and then all the next day and then all the years it took until it was nothing but rocks and chemical lemon dust in the bottom of the glass, which itself hadn’t actually ever been washed from the first day her mother had put it to use in their slum cantina. The day… Well, her father would never have bothered to wash it after that anyways.

As she coughed it out she quickly became aware of a smell layered over all the taste. Metal. Rust. Like she was sitting next to her father’s angle grinder back home as he ate away at the corrosion that grew over everything in that salty air. The determined attention which he threw himself into punishing the cars and lampposts and street signs and junk he valued so much.

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