Author : Konstantinos Kalofonos

Sotiris glanced down at his sleeve and brought up his family’s bank statement on the Fabroscreen. The corners of the screen flickered as the frayed edges of the flannel were losing connectivity. The large negative number was clear enough to make him wince. Running his hand across the screen, he brought up his friend list and searched for someone that might have an inside track on a small score, just enough to get his family by for a few days. His mouth dried at the thought of giving into Alvaro and Dimitri’s offer to join them at the chop shop and run a hustle on their usual elderly marks.

He pulled up the email threatening eviction. On Mars, that usually meant mandatory deportation back to Earth. Reading his thoughts, the screen jumped to images of stretching deserts and burned out husks of cities. Pictures of emaciated children covered in rad sores put a knot in his stomach. He could still smell the decay which clung to Old York, like a tattered death shroud. Sotiris shuddered as Earth’s soulless gravity well reached out from its tomb and dragged him and his family back.

Sotiris jumped as the terraformer unleashed a new thunderstorm on the world. Outside the dome, rain pelted and lightning flashed against the glass. With each flash, he could trace the electricity shoot down the poles on the dome, and from there trickle down into the generators, which again powered the terraformer. He considered the cycle, his mind spinning. With the next flash, the dome’s BioStat lights flickered to a darker green and a seed of his salvation was planted in his mind.

Sitting up, he took a deep breath and smelled the sterile scent of the air scrubbers working to clean the constant mildew. He knew that he had to use the crash of the lightning, and the dimming of the lights to his advantage.

Ducking out of the BioStats, Sotiris sat in the shadows, watching the red neon lights flicker from Maury’s Pawn shop. A text from his mom flashed across his sleeve: ‘Will you be home for dinner?’ The thought of another night of boiled cabbage crystallized his resolve. He would wait till someone walked by the alley at the exact moment that the lightning struck again.

The shape of a hunched man, counting money of all things, walked by the alley having just left the pawn shop. A flash of light and a crash of thunder sprung Sotiris from his recess and he hit the man in the back of the head. As the figure crumpled to the ground, he grabbed the large wad of cash and sprinted home.

“Dad?” Sotiris called out from the door, greeted by the stench of thrice boiled cabbage. “I found some money on the street!”

“That’s great sweetie,” replied his mother from the kitchen.

“I think it might be enough to pay rent.”

“Your father went to the pawn shop to sell his antique books. If they took them, we should have enough for rent and synth-meat too.”

“Mom, which pawn shop did he go to?”

“Maury’s I think, why?”

“I’ll be right back mom.”

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