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Fiction Sprint #1

31 January 2018 - Wednesday - 6:15 PM Sprint

The meter was running on the cab outside the Martian station. Unlike your ordinary cab, this one had a human inside taking orders on where to transport. It was a retro novelty ploy by an old coot name Wyzod. Why Wyzod decided to waste time and effort on having a human at the wheel, no one could tell, but it seemed to work for him. Customers appreciated the novel charm of having to communicate with a real person, with real feelings and problems, just like them. It seemed a throwback to an earlier age, though it mostly appealed to the younger set. The older passengers twinged with horror at the sight. Bad flashbacks to the pre-Uber days on Earth, with stinky who-knows-what you might find in the backseat mixed with who-knows-what the driver just ate, bathed in, or smoked. It wasn’t a fond memory for most, along with actually needing to pull out cash for the driver. Like advertised it was a throwback to every which way it could be.

The next stop for the driver was the wastelands of Aura, not the most opportune spot. If it were a real 20th-century cab, the driver would have pitched a bitch fit and stopped the fare to get out and argue with the supervisor making him take the fare. Then the supervisor would verify the fare and make him take a short trip penalty and be on his way. The customer was waiting.

The Wastelands of Aura were not the best neighborhood at that time of the day. Broad daylight was the worst time to go there. You actually saw what the place really looked like, and all the panhandlers were out, too. It was a Mardi Gras for them every day, beads strung up like rosaries everywhere, making the time go by for them and the few who dared tread in that vicinity.

Manga didn’t mind. She received a comm text that morning that an old friend would be in the sole apartment dwelling on the skyward side of the street. She didn’t realize that her friend was even still in this neck of the galaxy or even this par sec of the planet. Not having anything else to do and up for a bit of excitement for the day, she took her up on the offer for coffee.

Not that she dared go unarmed. Despite her slender frame, she wore enough oversized layers to hide a small militia inside. One of her pockets, in fact, held a tiny militia, small green army men she found at a resale shop back in the Danvers sector. She thought they were cute, even more so when she found out they came to life when you threw them on the ground. With the artillery fire they could conjure up, it was one of those special tricks that a would-be attacker or vagrant bumming up against her would be the one to take to heart, in the heart.

She fell over the curb getting out, slipping on remnants of ice from the morning street cleaning. The cabbie passed the 20th-century test by ignoring her time of need. She threw him a double Benny and told him to keep the change. It was the least she could do for having him come out here in broad daylight. He’d barely made it to the end of the block before being surrounded by a mob of vagrants. He floored it and made his own path through them, body parts flying to and fro as he raced to get the hell out of there.

“What a strange place for a coffee,” she whispered to herself. She tried to appear as undead as the rest of the populace until she could pull up to the ladderwalk to the apartment building.

She could see her friend wave from the window upstairs. All she had to do then was pull on the cord and wait for the hologram Jeeves to come get her.

15:00 Sprint – 681 words

Copyright © 2018 Chad V. Holtkamp.

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