Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Ten Dollars

Ramsay puffed his cigarette by the window. Smoke curled from his nostrils and mouth creating disfigured, ethereal faces in the gloom of the apartment. The tip of the white stick burned bright orange, and served as the only real source of light in the apartment. The rest of the light came from the occasional flash of lightning or the streetlights below trying to leak into the house.

He had not stopped smoking since Nellie told him what she was going to do. He was angry. In the middle of him yelling at her he ran out of wordcred and did not want to rack up a huge debt to The Factory, so he stopped. His credits would refresh at midnight. Nellie continued to scream at him. She had wordcred gold due to her job as a lawyer. She could use and waste as many words as she wanted.
(More after the Jump)

She rested now, on Ramsay’s cot, knees against her chest. She used to sit the same way when their parents fought. Then she would hold her knees against herself as Ramsay stomped around wishing he could do something.

For twenty minutes the only sounds in the apartment were that of the rain beating the window, the traffic outside and the sound of paper and fauxbacco burning when Ramsay took another lung full.

“It’s... I’m just so tired, Ramsay”($.89) Nellie places her feet on the floor, unfolding. She was done crying and fighting. Ramsay knew if she wanted it, she was going to get it. Lightning flashed.

“I know you can’t understand, but all I do, day after day...I stand against people. People, and tell them that they are wrong. Guilty of stealing from The Factory,  GovCore, or any other of the corps. Then they are moved to the debtor's prison and you’ve seen it on tv. Those places are disgusting. They’re meant to be a shitshow, a tumor on display. ‘Don’t take what isn’t yours’ what should be yours by right! I’m tired!”($15.50).

Thunder punctuates her point. Ramsay just stares back, face hard. The man worked as a bull at ‘Aces and Spades’. His body was built like a freight train, thanks to the chems that swam in his blood and bolstered his muscles. He was a man of violence, and was used to talking more with his fists than words.  

The knock was light. They both heard it, but didn’t move to get it. The knock came again, followed by a $.25 “Hello?”.

Nellie finally stands up and opens the door. Tanjiro flashes a quick, uncertain smile at Nellie. He is soaking wet. In his left hand he grips a black tube encased in plastic. The GovCore eagle glows blue on it. He holds it out to her

She reaches out and takes it, reverently. She moves aside and the small government man enters the apartment. Ramsay stares daggers and Tanjiro almost flinches.

“Would you like some coffee, Tanjiro?”($1.09 this would have been discounted if Nellie had mentioned the brand of the coffee) Nellie asks while still staring at the tube. She rotates it slowly, running fingers over the sleek surface.

Tanjiro nods, he looks at the kitchen, then back at Ramsay. Ramsay makes the barest of motions to indicate the location of the coffee machine. Tanjiro sets off and quickly returns with a chipped mug. The smell of the synth coffee tries its best to battle the cigarette’s acrid stench, and the two soon twine together.

“Those are getting harder and harder to procure. Almost as hard as Birth Licenses. I guess that makes sense, right? The big guys on top. They just want to keep things the same. My boss...she thought that was for me. Almost teared up.” ($11.22) Tanjiro sips the coffee.

Nellie makes a sound of understanding. She presses down the glowing symbol and with a slight hiss the tube opens. She shakes out the contents. A rolled up piece of paper and small bag with two white pills bounces into her hand.

“Are you...are you sure you want to do this?”($1.98) Tanjiro sets the mug down and crosses his arms. His drying suit crumples.

“Never been more sure of anything.”($.58) she reads the paper and lets out a little sigh.

“I’m sorry. Sorry it never worked out with us. I tried to be there, but-”($2.30) Tanjiro moves toward her and rests a hand on her shoulder. Ramsay puffs out a large billowing cloud of white smoke and briefly considers decking the other man.

“It’s ok. Couples aren’t meant to last eighty-seven years. We’re not wired for that.”($2.10) Nellie looks up at her ex-husband. The two of them did not look a day over twenty-five. Somewhere in the apartment a digital clock chirps midnight. Ramsay turns to look at his sister. She approaches him and wraps her arms around his bulk. He squeezes her back tightly.

“I love you”($10.00) His gravel voice was full of the sadness his face couldn’t show.
“I love you too.”($5.00) She lets go and turns to Tanjiro. They hug, and she gives him a small kiss on the cheek, before letting him go.

In a fluid movement she places the pills in her mouth and swallows them with a gulp of the now cooling coffee. Carefully, she eases herself into the cot and closes her eyes. Ramsay turns to the window and watches the stacks on the GovCore building pump black clouds of age suppressant into the air.

The small piece of paper, now laying by the empty tube and pill bag, reads:

Nellie Andrea Crane

The pills contained in this tube will become lethal to the body of
Nellie Andrea Crane at 12:00 EST July 7th, 2120

We are sorry for your loss

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