Author : Roi R. Czechvala

It was raining, it was always raining. It fell thick and oily. I sought refuge in a Food-a-Mat. I dropped a couple of bucks into the slot beside the little plastic door. It had once been clear, but now was clouded with age. I pulled out what was purported to be an egg salad sandwich, sloppily wrapped in cellophane.

I took a bite, considered swallowing, thought better of it, and spat it out. I got a cup of coffee. Well, it was brown anyway, and decided I could swallow that. Neon signs flashed outside the window, failing to impart a festive air to the wet, filthy, garbage strewn streets.

“Honey, time to get up.” My wife shook me awake, “I already showered. I thought you might want a few extra minutes sleep. You tossed and turned all night.”

“I’ve been having those dreams again. They’re so depressing.”

“Maybe I can cheer you up.” She dropped the towel, her long golden hair spilled down her shoulders. She laid down beside me. I ran my hand up her stomach. “Enough of that,” she teased, “you have to get ready. Check in with the med techs at work, you probably just need to have your serotonin levels altered.”

“Yes Dear,” I said, in mock exasperation. I gave her a gentle slap on that cute little ass of hers, and made my way to the bathroom.

“What setting Sir?”

“My settings, number three. Thank you Alfred.” I said to the shower. Lean always chided me about my politeness when it came to dealing with the household machinery, especially naming them. I guess I’m too sentimental, but hey, they’re polite to me, what does it hurt if I reply in kind. Hell, maybe the Animystics who scrounge money at the docking port are right, maybe machines do have feelings. I’m no theologian.

The scalding shower pounded on my back. Leaan said it hurt, but I found it soothing. Wakes you up in a hurry that’s for certain.

“Off please Alfred.”

“Scent, Sir?”

“Synmusk, thank you,” I read somewhere that this scent was actually procured from slaughtered animals centuries ago. Revolting.

I stepped out, and folded the bathroom back into the wall. Leaan was just pulling out the kitchen.

“Kof, “she asked holding up a mug.

“No Sweetheart, tea for me.” I always preferred tea. It had a natural flavour, and the plants were far more efficient at producing oxygen. The older folk said the synkof tasted just like the real thing, but how would they know? The oldest among them was maybe three hundred, and the plague hit more than four hundred years ago.

She placed a cup of tea and a plate of macrobiotic eggs and toast in front of me, and kissed me on the cheek. “I have to run. Doris is being transferred to the Ionian settlement, and we’re having a going away party before the work period begins. Bye love.” She hopped in the tube and was gone. She liked tubing to work, but I’m old fashioned. I like to drive in the sunshine.

I shoved the dishes in the `cycler, and headed to my car. I put my baby in drive and gently lifted into the morning sky. The sun felt good on my face.

“Sir, sir,” a hand shook me roughly. “If you’re not eating, you have to leave.”

I pulled the lead from behind my ear, and pocketed my Sony Dream Man. Reality congealed around me. I walked out into the oily rain.

It was raining. It was always raining.


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