Sterility and stale leaves. September always tasted the damn same.
Bastian pulled the cuff of his glove tight and turned away from the door, slipping low under the first of the windows. The humiliated drone would be searching for him, calculating which side street, which building he’d ducked into, how fast, how far he could have gone. The old library sliced a piece of history through heat recognition easy enough, but any visual movement, any contrast, and he was screwed.
As he reached the next window, Bastian flicked a deliberate glance towards the faded colours at the far end of the building. This time of year the rising sun and dawn collided. A double light that went scattering in embers across the pale, marble floor. Despite everything, the uncomfortable ache of belonging always clutched at his chest when he was here. Looking back, it was hard to figure how the complexities of love had kept him chained for so long.
He slid down against the wall and divided the shuttered space by 5.3. It would be easy enough for the world to judge his parents as responsible, they’d continued to push books on him long after the psychological damage they caused had been discovered. And for sure, his parents had taught him more about contrition and cruelty than any book ever could. But to give either of them credit? He smiled softly, that was like crediting a lamb for the meal you’d just cooked with its flesh.
As HIVE sounded out 6.30am, the first of the information drones arrived in the street outside, it was already streaming his cut-out image into 4 million waking minds, including his own. This was the bit that the breakers always forgot, and the bit that interested him most of all. He closed his eyes and rode back with the surf. It was like looking through the window of a sweet shop.
He felt the sigh before he heard it, ‘Seriously, Bastian?’
‘Hey, you can take the kid from the fun, but you can’t take the fun from the kid.’
‘The kid?’ Filligan Platt shot a sarcastic glance at his business partner, ‘From what I heard, that face came with the stone you were skulking under when your parents found you.’
‘I was born and I will die,’ Bastian tilted his head to catch the fragrance of amber rays, ‘just like every other bastard thing on this planet.’
‘Spare me the mission statement. Did you kick the drone again?’
Bastian shrugged, ‘It’s about time they upgraded their defence net. Any fool knows rubber and electricity never did get on.’ He turned to Filligan, ‘Did the shipment come in okay?’
‘Not as much as we’d hoped, we lost most of the A grade to distraction deals.’
‘Is there enough left?’
‘Maybe,’ Filligan flicked his thumb over his fingers, ‘it’s hard to tell until we unpack the rest.’
‘And my, personal order?’
‘Safe inside the C grade, it’s the first thing I checked.’
Bastian rumbled through a sigh, patting Filligan’s knee, ‘You’re the closest thing I have ever had to a friend.’
‘Does that mean you’ll stop fantasising about how you’re going to kill me?’
Bastian patted his knee again, ‘I told you, you’re the closest thing I have to a friend, I’m saving something really special for you.’
©2017 Jac Forsyth
Part 1 – I’ll slip into something more comfortable
Part 2 – Just depends what sort of mood I’m in.
Part 3 – It’s not like we stood in line for this
Part 4 – That first cut is always so damn sweet
Part 5 – After 9 days I let my mind run free