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Shredded: A Dystopian Novel
“Ha!” Raúl laughed, almost sneering. “It’s a little late in the process to start making your plans. Do you know what you’re in for?”
“I think so. The Eye told me about his Shade crew, and how they live. He provides.”
“Oh, then you’re a coder? A programmer? A data analyst, maybe?”
“I work at a state agency. I help people with live services.”
“Yeah, I know where you work. And I doubt very much that the Eye has a spot in his organization for someone with people skills.” Raúl went to where Chrysalis was sitting. He bent over her, resting his hands on the arms of Chrysalis’s chair. “When I said ‘pull the trigger,’ that was more than an expression. Do you know what a gun is? Not a taser, not a non-lethal device that gives you a little shock, but a Real Life, old school firearm? That shoots bullets? That kill? When I shred you, you’ll be dead, just as surely as if I’d pressed the barrel of a gun against your head and pulled the trigger. Except it’s worse. The dead have no pain. Their troubles are over. The Shade are not the Dear Departed. Their hell is real.”
“Please step away,” Chrysalis said. “You’re scaring me.”
“Tough love, Chrys. You need to know what lies ahead. In the Shade world, you are a nameless, faceless nothing. There are few goods and no credits to buy them with. What you get depends on what you give, or what you take. What do you have to bargain with? What do you have that’s worth anything?”
“Everything I have is in the account. There isn’t anything else. But I’ve had nothing before and I scrapped my way back. So, maybe I’m not a programmer. Maybe I don’t have any valuable skills. But I’m past the point of no return.”
Raúl stood up straight. He ran his hands through his hair, pulling it behind his head. “No skills? I’ve ridden your lifestream, and I can say for certain, you have skills. Think, Chrys. What industry has thrived through every age and every bust and boom? What’s the oldest commodity, the object of the first barter in human prehistory, of which the supply will always be limited, and for which the demand will always be insatiable?”
“Oh, Jah. If you think I’d prostitute myself…”
“You wouldn’t be the first. When your choice is survival or starvation, do you really think you won’t make that choice?”
“Step away!” Chrysalis shouted. Raúl stumbled backwards as Chrysalis stood up, too quickly for one sleep-deprived and unfed. Her vision went dark as she collapsed at Raúl’s feet.
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Hard boiled, scrambled, over easy, and sunny side up: eggs are the musings of Holly Bargo, the pseudonym for the author.
Looking for a place to swap blogs? Holly Bargo at Hen House Publishing is happy to reciprocate Blog Swaps in 2019.
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