21 January 2021: Deep Bruise [working title]

I struggled figuring out where to go with YOLF, but liked the setup I'd written. I was also disturbed and intrigued by the implicit world in Red Nucleus but didn't want it to be so bleak. I started this as a fusion of those two and decided to put the quantum immortality on the sideboard for the moment. This is pretty obviously [to me] a rewrite of YOLF, but it's going to go in a different direction once I keep working on it. I wanted to write about a future post-schism US where the worst of both liberal and conservative cultures have become overripe decaying fruits of their own ideologies, but make it absurd ala Idiocracy rather than some smug political statement. This is in progress so it will [hopefully] be updated as I squeeze the creative juice out of my brain.

Gasping, Jane sat up in a cold sweat. Her sheets stuck to her and her legs slid slickly over each other under the damp sheets. She kicked the bedding off into a sodden lump on the side of the bed and sat, doubled over, with her feet on the floor as her stomach churned like something angry and trapped was alive inside it. She groaned, a high worried sound, and stumbled through the chaotic mess of her apartment, lit only with the parallel slashes of the bluish LED streetlamp outside coming through her blinds to guide her. She crashed onto the toilet, nearly dislodging the seat and prayed to Beyonce as her guts roiled inside her. After 20 minutes of alternating thanks and curses to a pantheon of celebrities, punctuated by the angry trumpetings of her digestive system, it was finally over. For the moment.

She pushed her dark hair back from her forehead, still cold and wet with sweat, and walked past the mirror over the sink. She tried not to look, but the sick-looking thing she saw in the mirror barely even registered as her own reflection. Her eyes were dark and sunken, red-rimmed if she looked closely. The once plump skin of her young face was deflated and sad, and she was starting to look a little jowly. As she prodded her face in the dim light, she noticed her hands were getting distinctly crone-ish, knobbled looking with blue webs of veins starting to rise to the surface of her skin.

She didn’t even want to think about the other sagging parts of her body, so she left the bathroom after rubbing herself down with her cleanest-smelling towel and went to the flat balcony her south wall opened onto. She dug around in the pockets of her jacket, hung over the back of a chair next to the sliding door, and found the slim black tube of her vape. Tugging the door open, she leaned out over the railing and took a drag, exhaling a mist of nicotine, THC and alprazolam into the early morning breeze. The nicotine hit instantly and the set of her shoulders slumped a little in response. She took another drag, wondering why the end of the thing lit up where you couldn’t see it to tell if it was working. “Probably some throwback to when people used to actually burn shit to get a buzz,” she muttered. “Before those assholes in the 30’s started all the wildfires for real.” After a couple more hits, the benzo and weed were starting to come on, and she always got a little cold on the onset.

As she turned around, she finally saw the numbers on the bedside clock. 4:56. Not early enough to get back to sleep before she had to get up for work. Sighing, she picked a zippered hoodie up off the floor and slid her arms into before sitting down in front of her laptop and opening the CNMSNBC website to read the headlines. “Calling Outer Space Black Racist, According to Prominent Race Scientist” “Premier Frump to Declare Full Luxury Communism in Fabulous Nationwide Announcement” “Something else retarded”. She clicked through a few of them, skimming the details but not really reading. By now, the meds were hitting full on and she was reading through a haze. Rising again, she padded over to the kitchenette and got a Soylent from the fridge. All she had left was strawberry CBD, her least favorite. She’d need to fix that on her recurring Amazon order and get more chocolate. She sipped it slowly, while watching the sun rise over the boxy skyline of Junipero. Living in the shallow bowl that had once been the San Francisco bay before it dried up wasn’t quite as nice as living in Oakland or SF proper, but it was affordable, even on the $45/hour minimum wage of the NLC, and the sunrises and sunsets were gorgeous.

“Thank Obama I live in California,” she said, happily, and went to start the water timer. Water was her second-highest bill after rent, and even if you could afford a long shower, the Environmental Department would be paying a visit if you overused. Timer running, she hopped into the shower and turned the spray on. The water was cold at first, but the low-flow showerhead welded onto the pipe made it more of a cool dribble than a icy deluge. She quickly scrubbed herself with body wash from a neutral colored bottle and worked shampoo through her hair to wash out the night’s demons.

Once she’d showered, dressed, and straightened some of her facial piercings, she appraised herself in the mirror again. “I am beautiful, a queen!” she affirmed to herself as she carefully laid on her makeup for the day. Executing a quick spin in the mirror to make sure everything was in place, she returned to her studio apartment’s one main room and kicked her scattered clothes together into a pile, looking for her shoes. Somehow, they’d wound up under the bed, and she had to reach to dig them out. As she yanked the second one out, it knocked the end of a pink, rubbery, multi-pronged phallic object, which started buzzing and gyrating around the floor as its motorized tips writhed. “Ah! That’s where you got to, you little minx!” She grabbed it and switched it off, rising, while brushing the dust bunnies off with her other hand. She tossed it into the kitchenette sink and pulled her vegan leather shoes and jacket on.

Despite the Premiers’ coming announcement, she still had to work. Her parent’s estate had left her only a small nest egg to manage after the taxes were taken out of it. Her shift at the Starbucks began in an hour and she would need to catch BART (need to rename to gender neutral acronym)