Author: Daniel Tenner

Kristofer notices his next victim across the buzz of the entrance to the Christmas market, or maybe she notices him. She’s short, slim, tanned, draped in a sleek, long coat with a shimmering grey techwool exterior. Short hair, sharp features, and those eyes, grey with something fiery about them. She’s smiling.

He steps forward, smiling in return, “Would you like one of our fliers?” He waves one in her direction. She takes it with two black-gloved fingers, drops it on the ground, then her eyes lock onto his. They feel like tractor beams pulling him in.

He begins, “I’m here to bring more awareness to this consumerist obscenity. The planet is dying, we need to do something, and buying each other more useless junk for Christmas just isn’t the right thing to do given the way things are.”

She comes closer to him, puts her hand on his, and instructs, “Walk with me.”

“I’ve just started my shift…” he replies, but follows her anyway.

Through the whirlwind of the Christmas market they glide. This innocent stroll feels like some sort of dream to Kristofer, or maybe a nightmare. All the stalls everywhere with their products shouting at him, “buy, buy, buy!” They pass a stall selling home depolluters as well as discreet, red and green nose-bud pollution filters. Another one sells anti-plastic vials for priming a plastics compost heap. Another, cheap VR trip cartridges to travel back to the 21st century.

“This isn’t right, we need to stop and fix it, urgently,” he mutters, assailed by the loudness of their surroundings.

“Yes, I’ve heard this before,” she replies, with a note of boredom, holding his arm, guiding him through the crowd that parts effortlessly.

“So young and already so blasé?”

She guides him to a food stand and buys him some mulled wine. She orders nothing.

“I’m not as young as I look,” she articulates delicately as she shepherds him in a new direction, towards the edge of the market.

“Then you should know we need to solve this problem right now! It’s all linked. The consumerism, the weather, the pollution, inequality… we must do something. Anything!”

They are near the edge of the maelstrom of shoppers.

“It’s been like that for thousands of years, Kristoffer, it will always be like that. Life is ever teetering on the edge, one heartbeat away from death,” she announces coolly.

He wonders how she knows his name, but she’s very close to him and looking in his eyes and he can’t do anything but look back into hers.

“Would you believe me if I told you that four thousand years ago I was having this exact same conversation with another young man by the Nile?”

His mouth moves but no sound comes out. Those eyes. His body feels relaxed, warm, tingling.

She ushers him into a handicapped toilet nearby, locks the door. It’s wide and garishly lit. His body obeys her as she sits him on the toilet, fully clothed, and straddles him. His belly, chest, legs, and arms all feel like they’re swirling with a gentle, soothing heat. Her face, her eyes are all he can see.

“You humans, you always need some reason to fight, to sacrifice everything. As soon as one cause is fixed, you find another to give your life to. You don’t value your life force.” Her hand finds its way under his jumper and presses on his heart. “But I do,” she purrs.

Her face brushes past his. He feels her breath on his throat. When her teeth sink into him his mind dissolves into oceanic bliss.