Day 3: Short Fiction 2014- NNS Part 3

A soft buzz alerted Andrew that it was time to wake up. The alarm was yet another function of the visor. It was supposed to be a gentler way to wake than the traditional harsh tones, but he wasn’t sold on it just yet. The buzz vibrated the his teeth and made him need to sneeze. His fingers found the latch on the visor and he disengaged it from the three small circular nubs behind both of his ears that was the dock. His shift didn’t start for another two hours and he was ahead of the morning rush, but if he wasn’t early, then he’d be too late.

He had saved up enough to get the current generation of technology, which meant the connections were sub-dermal and didn’t have any real exposed mechanics. Previous versions had open ports similar to the old USB slots that needed to be covered when not in use. The raised bumps behind his ears were easily overlooked and didn’t need any special attention. Plus he didn’t want anyone else to know that he had the tech installed. Most people in the neighborhood wasn’t exactly the most fond of people who were trying to better themselves.

Andrew rolled off the bed and folded it into the wall. He placed his visor in the wall safe by the window, then set his own lock on top of the built in one. That put a solid steel door and four locks between the hallway and his little cache. His room was a seven by ten foot efficiency apartment. It had a monitor built into the wall that doubled as a TV and a pay-per-use computer that was a good ten years behind the times. The table, with attached chair, the bed, and even the toilet folded away to give the illusion of more space.  The sink and kitchenette didn’t lock into place, they were molded plastic that were covered in graffiti from countless prior lodgers. He didn’t understand how someone who had to live in a place like this could afford to toss out their security deposit. The place was a step-up from the racks of coffin hotels that were dotted along the industrial district, but not by much. He didn’t have to crawl to get into the apartment, that was a plus.

He unfolded the table, made sure it clicked into place, and opened up the mini-fridge. The container of purified water was nearly half empty was the only item on the top shelf since dehydrated eggs were cheaper than the real stuff. He took a swig from the bottle and took out the final breakfast burrito from the package. It was mostly soy and generated cheese arranged to resemble the classic ingredients, but if he ate it while it was still hot he could fool himself into thinking it was real sausage and cheese on a flour tortilla. Not that he’d actually knew what that tasted like.

Andrew slipped into his work uniform while the burrito cooked. He had the option of eating at work and having the bill taken out of his check, but that was a slippery slope. Supposedly they used fresh ingredients from one of their company run greenhouses, but it didn’t taste much better than what he could buy in the shops nearby and was more than twice the cost.

The microwave dinged as he finished the lacing up his work boots. He tossed it from hand to-hand before taking a bite of the molten mushiness. Each bite was followed by a deep breath in. He had learned the hard way that he needed to finish the food before leaving his apartment. People found their way into the halls even with the security in place. Not to mention the other lodgers weren’t above a bit of thievery.  This wasn’t corporate housing, no one kept the rules, and the security station only covered the front doors.

There were a couple other unwritten rules that he had picked up along the way. He stuck to the stairs, the elevator was impossible to escape once the doors closed. Andrew pulled a faded jacket he got at a surplus store on over his work clothes. The urban camouflage pattern wasn’t so effective against the various graffiti tags, but it was thicker than it looked and had a few hidden pockets where he could safely keep his personal items. The jacket was his favorite piece of the few articles of clothing he owned. He buttoned up his jacket, slipped on his thick work gloves, and headed out into the hallway.

The space was closed in with one window at the end of the hall. Even at the early hour there were people coming and going. There were a couple of people passed out near, but they he wasn’t sure they were actually out. Some of the lurkers didn’t move right, they weren’t going anywhere, just waiting for someone to ambush. Two weaselly men were patiently waiting for the elevator. Andrew squared his shoulders and stood up straighter to make himself a harder target.

They didn’t look twice at him as he headed for the stairs. It was four stories down to the ground level and then six blocks to the train station. Andrew looked around the station, at this time at morning the streets were lightly populated with plenty of other workers that had the same idea of beating the morning rush.

“Just another day in paradise.” He sighed.

 

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Filed under Adventures in the NNS, Science Fiction, Short Fiction, Writing

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