Day 15

Prompt: Write a six-word story about what you think the future holds, and then expand on it.

 

Acrid air as robots hunt us.

My lungs burn as I run, breath gasping and desperate. The city around me is crumbling, chunks of concrete and shards of glass raining down on the road. I try to dodge them as best I can; I don’t know what’s more deadly, the path or the pursuers. A swift right turn and I’m almost there. I can see the heavy door still cracked and open. Glancing behind me, I don’t see any glints. Good. I might get out of this. I slide inside the door, slamming it shut and barring it with forged steel. Nothing gets through this door.

I wait, back pressed against the wall on the far side of the room, my breath slowing but my heart still racing. No sound comes through the door. My muscles are tense with anticipation, the fear turning my sweat cold as I wait for them, for the door to be peeled off its hinges and their metal claws to grab me and take me to one of the prison camps. I’d rather die fighting than end up in there.

After half an hour, I decide it’s safe. Hopefully, they kept going forward, missing my quick turn in the dust clouds created by the wreckage. Hopefully, this entrance is still safe.

I slip into the low tunnel, stowing my bag on the cart and flip it on. It’s a short ride to the base, maybe two minutes at top speed, and I arrive just as morning shift starts. The hub is alive with the bustle of people, worried faces running to jobs essential for this community to survive. Most of them are farmers, growing some type of mushroom that tastes like shit but gets the job done. A few have livestock, ragged animals that look dead already. Whenever a baby is born, they’ll slaughter one of the poor creatures and give the new parents half, selling the rest. I don’t remember the last time I had meat; runners don’t make much these days.

Jaq hasn’t opened his booth yet, the heavy metal gate locked in place. I check the clock in the square. Twenty minutes. I kill the time at a ramen stand nearby, choking down the stale noodles drowning in a mushroom soup. Jaq takes his sweet time opening the gate, smirking at me the whole time. I try and fail to not be pissed off.

I throw my haul onto the counter, fiddling with my nails as he inspects each item.

“50 for the lot,” he says.

“Bullshit. 150.”

“You must be high on surface fumes, darlin’. 75.”

“110 and I’ll throw in first dibs on the weekend haul.”

He mulls it over, fingers thrumming against the counter. I wait patiently. I’m good at waiting when money’s involved. He nods, counting out the appropriate stones and sliding them across the worn surface. I tuck them into my bag and give him a two-finger salute.

“Always a pleasure, Jaq,” I say, slipping into the crowd.

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