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  1. #1
    Althanian

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    Gum do Mugu's Avatar

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    Late Night Bumps & Subway Jumps

    The city’s amber glow warmed the grey blanket of rain clouds overhead; beyond them were the stars, and like the miserable souls beneath, their ambition had been suffocated at birth. A news report crackled over the bus station’s TV screen: apparently it was the dullest, rainiest, cloudiest, miserablest day on record. Again. The aging of Ayenee Capital City was set to the music of drizzle: dreary decade after dreary decade.

    Time just kept on.

    The town was always damp, but never awash. The citizenry suffered a kind of uncomfortable moistness that seeped into the bones and left the door open for the flu to come sneaking in after it.

    The rain just wouldn’t quit.
    ( i like water ) O o . ζ°)))彡

  2. #2
    Althanian

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    Gum do Mugu's Avatar

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    Beneath the stars, and the clouds, and the rain, and even beneath the city itself, there was a little man consumed by his own littleness. He was a ZCorp employee, and a bit of a peon at that. And while he embraced his unassuming self, he was still dressed neatly.

    His name? Noon Reylson.

    Littleness, it was quite the affliction set against the looming arches of a magnificent subway station. Ornate tilework ran across the walls and around the curved ceiling like a love letter to foolhardy decadence. Reylson clutched the handle of his briefcase, as though to anchor himself against the structure's suffocating swell.

    The site’s significance was not lost on him. Noon knew the subway station’s construction bloomed from the whims of the city’s vicious oligarchs: Guy Karde, Sledge Rivers, and Reese Jarrek. Ostensibly, the stop had been added to the blue line so that ZCorp employees could commute. But, truthfully, its addition was a psychological broadside aimed at Ayenee’s citizens—ZCorp’s “big three” were in control, and diverting the city's mass transit was no big deal.
    ( i like water ) O o . ζ°)))彡

  3. #3
    Althanian

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    Gum do Mugu's Avatar

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    Noon looked over his shoulder, a blinking exit sign had caught his attention. He allowed it to guide his gaze and corral his thoughts. So he peered, without thinking, up the stairway and out onto the noisy streets. The steps became fascinating to him; they were incrementally wetter, and towards the surface the rain water was beginning to pool.

    “Hmm,” he said to himself. His worry was that somebody, maybe a misfortunate type, might slip on the slick steps. But, his thoughts came back under his control as he beat back the flickering neon’s influence. It was then that he remembered: nobody uses this damn station anymore anyway! ZCorp had seen its day, and the Jarrek/Rivers/Karde axis had long since completed its forgotten migration to the ether. In fact, ZCorp Towers were virtually empty, and Noon was waiting for the night train home after receiving his blunt redundancy notice.

    “Oof, what a day.”
    ( i like water ) O o . ζ°)))彡

  4. #4
    Althanian

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    Gum do Mugu's Avatar

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    Reylson rubbed each temple with his corresponding index and middle fingers. He pushed vigorously, wishing he could erase the lines from his worried brow. As much as his concern at the time should have been entirely selfish, he also spared a thought for his colleagues and even pitied his former employers. Where did it all go wrong? That’s always the question when giants fall.

    The railway line below began to wail as the graffitied SR1308 electrical multiple unit commuter train, once the height of technology, curved the bend and laboured its sorry way to the platform. Reylson, allowing his redundancy to diffuse into every fibre, boarded the rickety old thing without enthusiasm. When the sliding doors finally decided to close, Noon had already reached an obtuse slouch in the nearest empty seat. News of the mediocre severance package had winded him, he was still feeling it.
    ( i like water ) O o . ζ°)))彡

  5. #5
    Althanian

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    Gum do Mugu's Avatar

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    Noon straightened up to hand his pass to the inspector. After scanning the QC code, the railway official handed the document back and smiled sheepishly. Reylson wondered, and assumed, that the ticket inspector he’d been exchanging pleasantries with for the last four years had seen the news report that morning.

    From the inspector, Noon’s attention switched to the cab. There were two drivers in there, and both looked back at the well-dressed young man with a sombre sort of nod. “I guess everybody knows,” Reylson mouthed to himself; his whisper-quiet words were masked by the clickity clack of the rails. He felt like the train, glued to the tracks no matter what. That’s when his empathy kicked in and he realised their attention was a salute to solidarity rather than raw pity—the Ayenee Capital City Rail Link had also announced impending cuts.

    “Jeez,” he mumbled, “I guess the whole city is in decline.”
    ( i like water ) O o . ζ°)))彡

  6. #6
    Althanian

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    Gum do Mugu's Avatar

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    The electric engine sucked power from the third rail, clicked into action and whirred inoffensively into the dripping blackness of the city’s subway tunnels. In that moment, triggered by the sound, Noon reminisced, longing for the industrial roar of a diesel electric train.

    He was aboard the last one, the last train to stop at the ZCorp Towers station.

    Everything was changing, and he’d been stupid to think he was somehow immune.

    As the weak lead unit adequately pulled the carriages along on their journey, Reyslon began to wonder about his first step into his apartment. She’d ask, of course, HOW WAS WORK? with a super, duper big smile. He wondered and wondered: what the fuck is the answer to that awful fucking question. Work was work on the best of days—but on that day, work was a deluxe giga-charged shit fest.

    "How am I going to tell her?" he whimpered, pressing his tie over his mouth.
    ( i like water ) O o . ζ°)))彡

  7. #7
    Althanian

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    Gum do Mugu's Avatar

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    Noon bailed off the train just before midnight. His railway ride ended, abruptly, in the city centre; a punk kid had dragged a bedbug-ridden couch onto the line. And so, a shit day got ten times shittier. The termination of his train left him stranded downtown, surrounded by late night shoppers and bar hoppers.

    He knew it was narcissistic, but he was somehow offended that they could go on with their lives while his life was under attack.

    “I guess I’ll walk the rest of the distance.”

    Capitalism’s neon success faded into the distance.

    It was still raining.
    ( i like water ) O o . ζ°)))彡

  8. #8
    Althanian

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    Gum do Mugu's Avatar

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    Fucking finally, he was back in his neighbourhood. His clothes were soaked through. The ailing ZCorp cast off tapped in the door code for his building and waited to hear the lock click open. Then he pushed back the metal door and stepped in. He was face-to-face with tilework again, but this decoration was dull, grey, damaged, and overall, very utilitarian. Whereas, the ZCorp subway stop, still fresh in his mind, had been the complete opposite.

    Reylson did not check his mail.

    Walking past his mailbox without checking it was the most empowering experience of the day.

    A rickety elevator ride later and he was home—he kicked off his shoes before the door had closed behind him. Suit jacket? That went directly onto a “chairdrobe” because wardrobes were for fancy people. His belt hit the deck next, and he flipped his slacks up with the tip of his toe. His pants got the “chairdrobe” treatment as well.

    “Are you still awake?” he asked carefully. After all, it was 1am.

    No answer was his answer.
    ( i like water ) O o . ζ°)))彡

  9. #9
    Althanian

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    Gum do Mugu's Avatar

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    Back at the corp, he’d been part of the propaganda department. Noon whipped up the blinds to take in the late night vibes of his middle class contemporaries. Most of them, he thought, were probably asleep. Real people, just like him—he considered their guilt and their innocence, and drew parallels with his own guilt and innocence.

    His conclusion? He came to it with a sigh and a slouch, he’d taken another of those obtuse angles. Prone and alone, he admitted to himself, “I guess I deserve this.”

    In his mind, he played the role of prosecution, while the defence was totally out to lunch. He remembered, glassy-eyed, how he’d been responsible for an ad campaign painting Reese Jarrek as a philanthropic hero! Noon knew, though, that he most heinous crime was silencing the media after Sledge Rivers (intentionally) released his lab-created super virus. Guy Karde, of course, he was a maniac of equal measure—Noon Reylson blamed Section: One for destroying a residential block, when Karde’s urban warfare was really to blame.

    “But, did I have any other choice?”

    That lie was getting kinda difficult to swallow.
    ( i like water ) O o . ζ°)))彡

  10. #10
    Althanian

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    Gum do Mugu's Avatar

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    Noon peered into the establishment. Face pressed against the glass, he looked child-like and shameless.

    The breakfast place, positioned at the root of the seaside pier, was prepped to serve and waiting to fill hungry stomachs. A waiter propped his elbow on the counter and smiled—life on the beach had weathered his grateful and weary face. Every employee was smiling, Noon noticed. He was jealous of them and their bold decision to make ends at the beach.

    Ayenee Capital City was gone. Fuck it.

    Worst of all though: the food was "good as fuck" and he didn’t have a penny left to get something. Without monthly ZCorp cheques, he’d fallen behind. The last of his savings had gone into his hotel room.

    Noon pulled his mug from the windowpane and squinted along the length of the pier.

    “That’s a longer walk than I remember.”
    ( i like water ) O o . ζ°)))彡

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