Keeping up with the ‘short story a week’ goal I have set for myself, I decided to revisit a piece of Flash Fiction I wrote a while ago called ‘Welcome to Solar City‘. To this day, it’s one of my favorite pieces and I wanted to expand it a little, delve deeper.
I’m calling this ‘Solar City’. Enjoy!
Solar City (Excerpt)
© 2010 Patrick Hester
I wiped sweat from my brow, staring up at the dome far above me. I couldn’t actually see it, not from here, but I knew it was there protecting the city from a sun too close to a planet most people just called Hell. Solar City, my city, a massive, roving, domed mining platform called home by ten thousand souls. After a hundred years of terraforming, we still needed her, still needed the protection the dome provided, the air it kept in and the radiation and heat it kept out.
Mostly, I thought, wiping the sweat from my hand onto a reclamation patch on my coat’s inner lining.
The Sniffer whined, reminding me why I was here. If I’m being honest, which I try to do, I’ve never gotten used to the things. They looked like a cross between three animals, arms and legs of an ape, ears and sawed-off trunk of an elephant, torso and body not unlike an alligators. Their whip-tails would sometimes wrap around your leg and squeeze if you got too close. I tried not to do that.
They kept low to the ground, knees bent awkwardly, trunks snuffling along the ground and leaving a trail of snot that clung to your shoes if you stepped in it. But it was always the milked over, sightless eyes that got me. If you’re going to mess around with a genetic mish-mash of bits and bobs, creating something with heightened olfactory powers that go well into the super-being range, why bother with eyes that don’t work? I mean, I hate the way they just stare at you…
Makes my skin crawl.
Mexican Blake (hand to god that is his name, not a racial slur – said his parents were patriots who wanted Mexican independence from America. Crazy, right?), gave the leash a little tug and the Sniffer whined again, avoiding the corpse lying spread eagle on the concrete. That was new. Normally, a Sniffer doesn’t care what you point it at. I’ve seem them happily jump into the refuse reclamation system without a second thought and the shit down there makes me barf. One whiff and I’ll introduce you to my breakfast.
Staring at the body, I wanted to whine a little myself. “What’s wrong?” I asked instead. Mex shook his head, curly hair barely registering the movement.
“Never seen one act this way before,” he replied. “Something’s spooked it.” He gave the Sniffer a gentle pat on the shoulder and it leaned into him like a puppy. Damned creepy things.
“Yeah,” I said out loud. I was spooked too. This body didn’t belong here. Oh, don’t get me wrong – we get our fair share of bodies, Diggers killing each other over water or sex, casino’s sending messages that debts need to be paid, that sort of thing. We sweep it under the rug, maybe run somebody in for a show of justice, Corporate orders – keep the Digger’s digging, nothing else mattered, not even human life. Occasionally we’ll see a legitimate accident, it happens, but not often. But this? I’ve never seen this before.
His clothes are fine, tailor cut. They shimmer, color-shifting depending on the angle and marking him as Corporate. Silver, black and purple hair, shaved close around the lower half of the head but kept extra long on top and stylized make it worse – he’s Board, or related. You can make out such details despite the mess of shattered bones, puddled blood and gore.
“You need cause of death?” asked Winky nervously. Winky was what we had for a doctor, a short, squat, nervous woman with a tick in one eye and one leg shorter than the other giving her a perpetual limp.
My comm was buzzing in my ear as I shook my head. We knew what killed him, a fall from high up. The words ‘CORPORATE PRIORITY’ flashed across my sunglasses and I turned, looking up and up and up at the Corporate Spire looming above me all shiny metal and glass, impossibly tall. There were only a few dozen of these in Solar City, each taller than the last but this one stretched taller than all the rest. It was filled with Corporate types, the hierarchy from the charts they plaster here and there. They were the ones who told everyone else what to do, told the Diggers where to dig, the city where to move.
Metaphorically speaking, falling from a Corporate Spire was something few people survived. Literally doing it like this poor sap?
“I’m being summoned.”
Mex stood beside me, that damned Sniffer wrapping its damned tail around my leg. He pounded me on the shoulder and laughed, “Better you than me, brother!”