Too, umm, lazy* to do a ‘real’ post today, so I guess it’s snippet time. Please remember these snippets are (a) unplanned stream-of-consciousness writing and (b) basically unedited/unrevised.
*That excuse’ll do as well as any other…let’s just I’m struggling right now and leave it at that, shall we?
To add some depth, and an idea how music sets and affects the mood (and me), listen to “Halloween” by Gaslight Anthem as you read this:
Connor hated parties. Of all the trappings of ‘civilisation’ that he had had to learn on Redux, the concept of a simple, polite cocktail party was the hardest. All the false sincerity, all the banality, all the pure bullshit. Not for the first time he wished he had Oz’s ability to be the center of any room.
Once, in younger and better days, he had loved nights out. Had loved long bouts with booze and drugs and music. And with those he could trust. In his world, however, trust had really only ever meant two people: Oz and Nat. But Oz was dead, and Nat was…
Nat was across the room.
He almost hadn’t recognized her.
Oh shit was she beautiful. He could still see in that face the same girl who had hidden in dockside’s depths with him, who had held and comforted him as he recovered from the worst beating of his life. But that girl had grown. She had changed. Maybe more than Connor had, and that was something he would not have thought possible.
This wasn’t the first time he had seen her, of course, but it was the first time he had been this close. It was also the first time he had finally worked up enough courage to talk to her.
A sip of his drink turned into a gulp, offered a bit of warmth to take the tension from his muscles. Everyone around him was a ghost, in the worst sense of that word: they just weren’t real to him. He couldn’t see or hear a damn thing except the pretty, dark haired girl across the room. The girl with enough of a grip on him to push caution and care from his mind. The girl he had failed. The girl he had, in the end, abandoned.
He wasn’t in the city anymore, it was dockside around him again. The smells, the claustrophobia, the danger…and the lost. It was all crashing in. He wasn’t sure where he was: a small living room on Redux or The Beat. Hell, he wasn’t sure who he was: the corporate spy making a mockery of the planet’s best security or the ikiryo expecting death at any moment.
He stepped through the crowd – pushed his way through, really – and moved to stand behind her shoulder without drawing her attention. She was with friends, a small knot of people all about the same age. Connor’s own age, even if they did look impossibly young and naive. She laughed at something one of the boys said.
Boy, Connor snorted in silent disdain. These really were kids; of them, only Nat herself had had even the smallest exposure to reality. One step into the Hole and that boy would be nothing more than fresh meat for the pimps and thugs.
Her back was to him. Connor reached out a hand, hesitated. What the fuck was he going to say? He wasn’t ready for this.
He was about to shuffle quietly away when Nat turned her head, looked right at him. That she recognized him, in spite of the changes, was evident: she stopped and stared, her face momentarily blank with confusion.
It made her look younger, that expression. Made her look like she had a year ago. A lifetime ago.
Dockside’s accent was back, thick once again on Connor’s tongue as he lost control of his new, hard-won habits. “Hi, Nat. I’ve missed you.”
A moment of silence, of shock and emotion on her face, then everything closed down. Cold, that face became, and hostile. “Connor Spogelse, as I live and breathe. What are you doing here?”
Her look shifted to the boy next to her, the one she had been talking to, and her voice became commanding. “Call the cops, this piece of shit escaped from prison.”