Yay~ Glad to see people are enjoying the new thread 3nodding. Well, the Visual Prompt images are all set up, so feel free to go ahead and use those if you want to. One of the images I acidentally repeated so I'll have to go fix that up tomorrow. I'm off to bed now.
Also, whee! All three of my ideas were suggested. heart That's so cool.
From the perspective of Set Romanji.
* * *
"How much of my ******** life is spent in alleys?" he asked.
I didn't answer. A very small part of me was terrified of him to the point of paralysis, and sometimes, on these nights, that part would overflow. This wasn't one of them. He had degenerated, but not violently, and as far as I could tell the only substance he'd been taking was alcohol.
"Nobody's even looking at us," he rasped. I nodded. It was true, with a few exceptions, and those who did stare were mostly kids. I waved at them shyly and held Aerarchos' head against my chest, stroking his hair. "They just keep moving, and we just stay here. Not moving. Not getting older. And we're just going to stay here, forever. Untill I fall asleep."
"Untill you fall asleep," I repeated.
"Not long," he said, and it was as if he was waiting for death. I wanted to scream, Why? What are you afraid of? Why won't you sleep? But he wouldn't have answered. I didn't want to know anyway, I probably wouldn't understand.
"How long since you last slept?" I asked quietly.
"Three days," he replied. After that, we were both silent, watching the people move past. In the dark, they all blurred together like flotsam rushing in a river. The night sounds did not blur, though, they remained as a jarring reminder of the world outside the alley. But as the night went on the sounds faded and eventually it was only an occasional far off murmur and the sound of his breathing, steady like the incoming tides. By the end his breathing had grown faster in his panic, and he dug his fingernails harshly into the skin of my arm. He did not cry out, and he didn't shed any tears, either. It seemed he stayed like that forever, caught in a feverish panic, before exhaustion finally won out and his tight grip relaxed. As I stood up and prepared to drag him to the street and called a cab, the sunlight, made pale by the city haze, fell upon us.
I sat on the couch in the livingdome of my Dad's place on Mars, watching the cVideo. I was thinking about summer. Martian summers were shy and cold by Earth standards and seemed to be over before they had even really begun.
This summer, this Mars-summer, my mother would be taking me to Earth. The battle had come to an end, the great interplanetary legal war between Sean Coprivec and Claudia Hile formerly known as Claudia Coprivec, fought over the great disputed territory that was their daughter, had been won in Claudia's favour.
This summer, she would come for me. This summer, she would cross space to claim me, to take me from this place. To uproot me like a plant from the red ground where I had grown.
I found I did not want to go. I turned my attention to the cVideo instead. The screen took up most of the north wall and, thank god and Sony, had a decent metapsyche. Did they even have those on Earth? Why would they? The place was a steampunk fortress, a planet of smoke chimneys and junkyards. Extraterrestrial life was not the question anymore, terrestrial life was.
Change the channel, I told the cVid. Show me something meaningful.
My vision was filled with dogtags.
It was a wall. I recognized it immediately - and who wouldn't? It was one of the great cultural and political icons of our time, or so I'd been told, an image equal in emotional charge to the breaking of that other wall in Berlin back in the 20th century. There had been another wall as well, this one in a city that had been called Jerusalem, and this wall had been compared to that one as well. Jerusalem was dust now of course, dust and vapor and slowly decaying radioactive rock, but the fabeled Wall of Luna remained.
The Wall of Luna was covered in dogtags. They were just for show, really, even the Earthers used implants to identify their soldiers these days, but they were a handy visual prop, and an effective one. The view zoomed out, revealing the Wall in its entirety. It was a collosal structure and the individual tags merged together into a single shiny pelt of metal, as if the Wall were some great landbound fish who dreamt of swimming in the sea between the stars, its scales gleaming in the sun.
I wanted to hear the audio, and the cVid turned up the volume for me. As it did, the scene cut to a dark cave illuminated only by the camera's nightvision. Several marines stood side by side, wearing encounter-gear, covered by a dark liquid that could only be blood. The view shifted, revealing two other men and three women, this time in civilian jumpsuits. They were kneeling on the ground, their hands bound behind their backs with forcecuffs.
"...threat is very real," the cVid said in the voice I vaguely recognized as that of the general that kept appearing on the cVideo these days. I thought his name started with a N, but that was about as much as I could summon at the moment. "They are an omnipresent threat to our society. This is the test of humanity, the great trial our Lord has declared that we must pass," the general was saying. Norton, i realized. His name was Norton. General Norton. "In the name of God, we will pass this test. To those out there who still do not believe, I can only say that you will become the laighing stock of history. The vampire threat is real, my fellow Martians, and we must trust in our military to win our War on the Undead."
The hips of the marines' encounter-gear popped open, revealing an interior body holster for a sidearm. They grasped the hilts, and I suddenly found my own arm itching, longing for something long and hard and cold. The marines raised their weapons and aimed at their prisoners with a slow and solemn move, so graceful it almost made me cry out at the beauty of the thing. My own arm climbed upwards, outstreched, holding a gun that wasn't there.
Mom's taking me to Earth, I thought. I don't want to go. But the worry was gone out of that sentiment, the dread of the future drained and thinned. My mind was focused on the screen. The marines began to apply pressure on the triggers, and I understood why; even through the filter of the cVid, I could feel the longing to fire mingled with the excuisite pleasure of dragging it out, of withholding the climax.
An involuntary moan escaped my lips. I bit my lower lip to steady myself, every muscle in my body trembling with tension, begging to uncoil...
The marines fired, their fingers tightening in a single powerful pull, and I imitated them in perfect sync. I screamed as the vampire's heads were blown apart in a high-resolution spray of blood and bone, not with hate or triumph but from the pure heat of the moment, a cry of pleasure that did not cheer for death but rather honored the continuation of life, enframed so perfectly by the coreographed execution of the undead creatures on the cVid.
"We are fighting for you," General Norton said, and didn't he look young and handsome? He didn't look more than thirty, even though he must have been at leat fourty or over, what General wasn't? "We are figting for you, but we would must rather be fighting with you, my brothers and sisters. Join us. You could be a part of this."
It sounded good. It seemed like the solution to all my problems. Earth? There was no way a Martian citizen could be forced to go to Earth, even if she was underaged, if she was also a member of the Martian Marine Corps. Instead of Earth, I could have that, I thought about the look in Norton's eyes as he invited us to join him on his merry crusade.
This was, of course, before we knew about his dietary habits.
Lillian Ashe generated a random number between
1 and 100 ...