Author : Jennifer C. Brown aka Laieanna

Getting off the shuttle, Teddy shoved his way through the crowded corridor, eyes focused on the nearest destination locator. When he was in range of the sensors, the map of Los Angeles lit up in various colors. The locator welcomed him and started to rattle off hotels and restaurants including their average prices and ratings.

“Bar,” Teddy barked.

All lights on the map dimmed down save for six green ones scattered across the surface. The machine began describing the destinations, each light flashing in synch. The first two were sky bars high in the clouds. Next was a club-bar in the city center. Teddy chose a blinking green on the opposite side of the station and left the locator, missing out on the details.

The carrier ride to the bar was a quiet and soothing one, which Teddy hated. He watched the city go by with it’s empty streets and glistening buildings. A speck of dirt would probably set off the alarms, and a seedy person would put the whole place in a panic. It was no surprise he avoided Earth. Once other planets were colonized, Earth was turned in to a paradise. They slowly shot the scum into space and left the beautiful people on their home planet. If it weren’t necessary, Teddy would have never left his side of the universe.

In twenty minutes, he was standing outside the Haze Bar which sounded like an alright place to smoke, drink, and fight. Three things Teddy was dying to do. Inside, the air was hazy, but with no smoky smell. The place was half full with people chatting at tables and around the bar. Everything was automated.

Teddy sat at a corner booth that instantly asked what to serve him. “A camel pack and bourbon,” he ordered. A wall panel opened and out slid a tray with a caramel colored drink and a pack of cigarettes. He laid eighteen credits down on the tray and it retracted when the merchandise was taken away.

Taking a sip, Teddy nearly gagged at the flavor. It wasn’t bourbon. He wasn’t even sure it was liquor. He inspected the cigarettes, afraid to slip one into his mouth and get the taste of disappointment. There was a camel, but a disclosure underneath stated they had clean lung filters. He put the pack back down.

With no smokes, no liquor, he had only one pleasure left. It was time to make trouble. He walked over to a center table and tapped on the empty chair next to a gorgeous blonde who was deep in conversation with her big boyfriend. “I’ve got fifty credits to spend and no hotel. What will you give me if we just take it outside?”

The woman couldn’t even respond, but her boyfriend stood up. “What,” he asked, more shocked than angry.

“Your woman looks like a Reenar stuffing machine, but not as durable. Promise I’ll be gentle.”

“Please leave, sir,” the man growled, but took no swing.

Teddy was tired of waiting. “Screw it,” he said under his breath and went for a punch in the other man’s gut. His hand slipped right through and he stumbled from the unexpected inertia. Another man was standing near where Teddy fell. Teddy got up and tried a jab at that man’s jaw. Again, he only hit air. Five more tries at anyone in the bar, including a dumpy, old lady, and he gave up. “Goddamn holograms! You’re all hiding in your houses, but pretending to be with a crowd. Stupid planet. I’m going back to where people actually know how to live.”

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