Dude. I just wrote a short story. An actual short story. I haven't done that in forever. It only took me an hour and a half. 1300 words in an hour and a half. A nice deep swig from my creative juice bottle. Peeps of the interwebs, read my midnight mircale short story. Brought to you by Chuck Wendigo's random story element challenge, whereupon I, by chance, was given the elements of Cyberpunk, the Hollow Earth and adultery to work with, I give you, The Bruised Sky.
The world hadn’t always been like this, or so Endie had been told. She hadn’t paid that much attention in school anyway. The city glittered all around her as she lay on the hood of her Camaro. It had been made in 2020. The thing had leather seats, blackout windows – it even had a CD player. She liked to tell people it was vintage, but truth be told - it was a shit-box. A mustard coloured shit-box at that. She’d got it for two cases of sim-beer and then seduced a spanner to help fix it up for her.Other cars flew by overhead, the drivers practically leaning on their horns. There must have been a red light at the nearest junction because they all began piling up and the incessant horn blaring was met with an undertone of violent swearing. Endie saw some guy hanging out the window of his air-drag, gesturing with one proth arm and going an absolutely stunning colour of scarlet as he cussed at those in front of him. She laughed. God she loved this city. She’d heard about the old city. The greatest city in the world, they used to call it. The Big Apple. Endie snorted. What a stupid name for a city. They said it used to sparkle in the sunlight. The tallest buildings rose out of the mass of steel and glass, pointing like giant crystals to the sky. A blue sky. Endie shook her head. No matter how many times she’d heard people talk about the blue sky, or seen pictures of it, she could never really imagine it. Her sky had always been black – apart from the glare of neon and headlights, and the golden arches that could be seen from every point in the city. New York had moved underground about sixty years ago, along with the rest of the world. It had been something to do with nuclear fallout. It was gritty and grimy. Most things were grey or black, or were in the process of turning a shade there-of. Endie knew that in DC, the president employed about a hundred people to keep the new White House white. But whatever. Endie didn’t care about school anymore. She was sixteen and free of all that shit. She fingered her vest and called up her view screen. She’d had the latest model installed two weeks ago. It was the in thing right now. She scratched at her arm and began searching the tubes for prices on proths. She could do with some iron adjustments. They were pretty cool too. And maybe some ink…Endie found herself staring through the translucent screen, frowning, a bad taste in her mouth. No matter how hard she tried to distract herself, her thoughts always meandered back to this. It was why she waited on her Camaro, idly watching the traffic and wasting credits on surf-time. It seemed like she was always waiting for him to call. As if on cue, a green icon on her screen began to pulse. She felt a sickening thrill run through her.“Dane?”“Hey babe, how you doin?”“Fine, I - ”“Hey you free now?”“Yeah, I haven’t got work for a few hours…”“Come over. We can have some fun…”Dane chuckled.Endie swallowed.“I – I’ll be right there.”Dane hung up.Endie slid off the nose of the Camaro and got in. Her hands shook as she stuck the starter chip in and the engine growled. Mind, it growled like a fifty year old tiger with arthritis and a cold. And then of course it coughed, farted and died.“Fuck,” she said and got back out. She popped the hood and looked in at the mess of wires and junk, swore some more and kicked the anti-grav pod. She checked the oil pot, noted that it was okay, then replaced the lid, staring at the rest of the engine with frustration. She checked the oil again, not knowing what else to do. She swore a little more.“Er, can I help you?” Endie looked up suddenly and hit her head on the bonnet. She swore some more.“Woah, hey, you okay?”Endie rubbed her head and looked up again, her eyes watering. A skinny dude stepped towards her. The first thing she noticed was that he was remarkably un-modded.“Need a hand?”“I’m fine,” Endie growled. She didn’t need this young meat-pole sticking his nose in. He put his hands up in defense and turned around.“Okay, but I was watching you from over there. You sure know how to check that oil good.”“What do you want?” she snapped. He turned back around, looking offended.“Hey, I just heard you swearing and thought, ‘What the hell. I’m good with cars and she’s a human being, why don’t I offer to help her out?'”Endie glared at the ground near his feet. She felt her frustration deflate, instead replaced by guilt and bile.“Sorry,” she mumbled. She looked back up to see the widest grin now pasted on the boy’s face. He came forward and leant into the engine. She moved out of the way, a little dumbstruck.“Let’s see here… Your cage is a little loose. The caps are all fine. Rods and pins too. Hrm…” He fiddled with something that rattled. “Ah, there’s a problem. Engine’s been coughing a lot lately, right?”Endie nodded.“Well, there’s not much I can do about that, but it did knock some connections loose.” He fiddled a bit more for a moment.“There, try it now.” Endie got back in the car and turned the chip. The arthritic tiger coughed back into life. The young man came up to her window.“Er, well, thanks,” she said.“Anytime,” he replied and bowed. Endie resisted giggling. The bow along with that maniac grin and the smudge of grease now on his face was just too weird. She pulled away. She watched him wave in the rear view cam.She pulled up a block away from Dane’s house, excuses already on her tongue for her lateness. She locked the Camaro, skirted the cybegger crouched amongst the trash in the lane and hurried down the street. Dane buzzed her in and she took the creaky elevator to his floor. Dane opened the door.“What took you so long?” he grunted and let her in.“I, uh, the car. It died. Just after you called. I - ”“Well, just make sure it doesn’t happen next time. You know we only got a few precious hours, babe,” he smiled at her as he shut the door.Endie walked into the living room, Dane following her. He came up behind her and put his arms around her waist, fingering the tops of her studded, sim-leather pants. She shivered at his touch. His breath was hot on her neck as he kissed her bare shoulders, rough stubble on her skin. His hands moved upwards, one clasping her boob, the other stroking the nipple. She felt her head loll back, more trills running through her. She turned around and laced her fingers in his hair. She tasted the cheap cigarettes on his tongue as she pressed her body against his. She opened her eyes as he buried his face in her chest, and found herself looking directly at the portrait of Dane and his wife. Bile mixed with the fake tobacco. She pulled him towards the bedroom.The taste was still there as Dane lay drowsily beside her. The sheets were tough on her naked, slick skin. She got up as Dane began to snore and walked to the window. She rested her head on the cool, but grimy pane. She felt so dirty. Dirty like that stupid cybeggar in the allyway. Dirty like this stupid window. Dirty like that stupid mark on that stupid boy’s face. She remembered his stupid grin and that stupid little bow. She felt the corners of her mouth curl up in a smile, but a hot tear also run down her cheek.