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I. Earth

Updated: May 2, 2022

He awoke the same way he did every morning.

A sudden jolt sent him from the numb black void that was his unconscious life to the sputtering choked anxiety of his conscious one. Sitting up in bed, he spat out a trail of the mostly liquid phlegm that greeted him this way every morning. His head hurt and his heart rate was already on the edge of maxed. Another great day to be alive, he thought, as his bare feet hit the floor.

Scrounging through the pile of trash that was also his only worldly possessions, he found the cleanest of his filth covered clothes and hurriedly put them on.

He then walked out of his door-less apartment to the trash and crackhead strewn hallway of his complex. Echoes of the same liquid coughs rang up and down the building as he passed mostly open doors to the street below. A cold rain greeted him and he looked up to see the billowing greenish cloud that produced it.

This world was fucked, and so was he.

“The world is fucked! And so am I!” He chuckled to the acidic rain, and a manic laugh escaped his cracked and blood stained lips. The world was a dying enterprise and without access to the proper meds and clean air, he was going to die before it did. He often wondered about the pompous arrogance of his parents. Well not his parents specifically, but their generation and the ones before them. A whole world built on borrowed time… just not theirs. It was their kids and grandkids that had to foot this bill, and he just happened to swim into the wrong egg to be here and see it first hand.

The rich and lucky had decided it was all too much. Fortunately for them that wack billionaire was creating an enclave for the chosen called Neo-Miami before whisking them all away to live on a new planet.

He hoped their spaceship fucking explodes.

Spaceships, other worlds, billionaires. These aren't things he spent a lot of time worrying on. His job… Well, he, like most everyone else, didn't have a job per se, but the thing he spent a lot of his time doing was digging through random abandoned buildings for scraps. Either to sell for food, or to keep for himself and add to his... projects.

Today he would make his way to the old arts district. It was a place in town where guys named Steve in their little button downs, rolled up blue jeans, and electric scooters used to code the games that rotted the brains of his parents generation. They spent so much time in the virtual world they missed the boat to save the real one.

Games now, well... they were life. You could literally live in any simulation you wanted if you had the cash. But hell who did? Probably those Neo-Miami twerps.

He crossed a run down street that was blocked on both ends by abandoned cars, fairly typical for this part of town. No one drove. He was looking for a particular building, one with a big X on it.

His dad had called it the box and it was one of the few good memories he had of his father. He and his dad would play games and enjoy a few good hours together before his pop had to sit down and do the treatments. The whole short life he had witnessed of his pop was plugged into that machine or the other. At least one had made him happy.

Up the street he saw the cracked black paint that marked the building he was looking for. Like everywhere else it had been picked through 100 times, but not everyone was looking for the same thing. The front door had a burned out van blocking the entrance but the top of it looked like it was nestled right up to the bottom of the second story window. That would have to do, he told himself as he scurried on top of the old wreck, hacking and wheezing his way through all of it.

Lifting himself through an old window, he landed in what appeared to be an old corner office. There was no nostalgic feeling here, he had never seen a nice room in his life, and if this one had been anything impressive that was many moons ago. He scraped the cracked glass and general waste he had picked up from his climb and followed his feet out into the large open hall. Posters advertising the triumphs and failures of one company's attempt at success rolled down the hall in both directions as far as his eyes could see. Some he recognized, others he didn't. All were from a time that was no longer present.

A time of waste, and hope.

Dreams and destruction.

So far his search had been rather fruitless until he rounded a bend and came into what he guessed was an old reception area. Somewhere employees were welcomed, could hang out, and get something to eat. His stomach groaned at the thought of food.

But what really caught his eye was the smearing of blood on the floor. It was fresh and in the pattern of a star.

“What the fuck?” he said to what he hoped was an empty room.

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