Thursday, 9 December 2010

Project Rain 7

Chapter 7

Warm.
Dark.
Weightless.
Also someone has filled my lungs with broken glass and now an angry giant is squeezing them with all his force. I open my eyes. I try screaming but now sound comes out of my mouth. Just bubbles.
   
I'm under water. Above me I see my voice floating towards the surface.
Panic pays me a visit but I tell it to fuck off. I focus and start ascending towards the surface. The desire to breath start to become overwhelming. I grit my teeth. Trying to exhale what little air I have left trying to trick my lungs into patience. The more I exhale now the more I can inhale once my head is out of the water again. It almost works but not quite. I start sucking in water through my teeth while panic kicks in the door demanding to be heard. My strokes turn into wild flaying as I start to breath in water. Not yet. Just one more second. A few centimetres. Liquid reaches my windpipe. I try to cough violently. Not easy with empty lungs. As I start to breathing a large mouthful of water I finally break the surface. Air. Sweet delicious air. And water droplets. I breath and cough and flail. It is all very undignified but also very alive. I start to calm down getting my movements under control and my coughs turn into gasps and then into normal breathing.
    I'm alive.

Above me looms the open sky dominating by the impossibly large Jupiter staring at me with its one furious eye. Behind me the bridge extends seemingly into infinity vanishing in to the distant mist. High above the Triad wagon burns in silence. Down here I can only here the gentle patter of the rain on the water dyed in a warm flickering orange. I feel like shit. I grab into one of my pockets and extract a small plastic bag containing a choice collection of pills. As I open it most of the contents fall into the water. I don't care. The only important thing is that I get a couple of uppers. I know that its stupid to take even more drugs but with out them to keep me going the light less depths below me well get to have me to dinner after all. I'm not done yet. It only takes a minute before I feel wide awake and energized. I also hear my organs starting to write lengthy invoices. I will have to worry about them later. Now I have to get to the Russian sector. I start swimming with al the elegance of an otter, inside a sack of potatoes. I was never a great swimmer and time had not done my technique any favours. But it slowly got me where I had to go.
   
After an hour or so with only my guns awkward bobbing to keep me company I reach what goes for the waters edge here. A small platform built wearing the latest in algae fashion built around one of the Cyclopean pillars that holds the city securely in place. I spend some time slipping and falling on the slimy ground until I reach the ladder built into the side of the column. I grab hold of a metal rung and pull me up. Standing on the ladder I listen to my body. I tells me to go on. All is well.
    The crash following this will be horrible. I have to hurry. I work my way up. It takes forever. And ends a man-hole cover. It's locked. This can't be happening. Now even the City is trying to kill me too? I force my self to stay calm climb a few more rungs and press my back against the cover. Nothing happens. I only feel the large steel ridges pressing harder into my back. This doesn't work. I reposition myself and look down. Cold terror grabs hold of my heart and begins to eat a few chunks. Bellow me is only endless darkeners shimmering very faintly as the water below reflects the light of Jupiter. I look up again. There close to my face I only see the light coming through the holes in the metal plate above me. This can't be. These ladders are mostly here for idiots like me who may fall off the city into the water below and survive. It should, no it must open from below. I pull out my gun and turn on its electric torch.
    Ah.
A spring bolt. That does make sense. I slide it back and lo and behold the stupid man-hole cover opens. The lock is there to prevent idiots, drunk or otherwise mentally impaired just to open these things and plummet into their deaths. I crawl out of the floor feeling a wave of relieve now that I finally have solid ground under my feet again. I look around and find my self in a dark side alley but apart from me and my scary gun there is no one.
    I move towards the brighter lit end of the alley finding myself on one of the main streets leading directly to the local terraformer. I am actually genuinely lucky for a change as I find my self not three blocks from Kiev station. While I would have preferred the ferry instead of being Shanghaied by the Chinese followed by a refreshing swim in the planet light I was actually faster this way. I walked down the main street concentrating on my goal hardly noticing the local architecture. While the United Empires of Europe had been busy building enormous sky scrapers as if they could not wait to get off their freshly colonized moon again the Russians had first settled on the ground and then carefully built their high rise cathedrals around the existing colonial houses.
This looked actually like a real city. While the ground level was as dilapidated as the rest of Europa it had maintained its dignity. Much like an old lady who may be all frail and wrinkly now but would at the slightest provocation uses her bag filled with broken bricks and powered by indignation to beat some manners into you.
    After a bit of searching made more interesting by street signs written in Cyrillic I finally found the house of Katja Petrova. A nice cosy place. With two floors the first slightly elevated with a large faux wooden door holding court in the middle of the fa├žade with eight stone steps as its throne surrounded by a halo of large windows, the ones in the first floor dark mirrors while the ones in the second floor were spilling warm light all over the street.
    I walked up the steps feeling a light quivering in my legs. The uppers were finally wearing off. I rang the bell. Nothing. I rang it again more insistently this time. Still nothing. I knocked on the door. First with my fist then for a more dramatic effect by kicking the door and ringing the bell again for good measure. This was answered by a female voice cursing loudly inside the house followed by heavy steps on stairs.
    The door swung open but there was no one standing behind it. There was a large rifle barrel resting on a counter that was behind the door at the side of stairs leading up, and behind that really very large barrel where a pair of furious eyes.
    'Who the fuck are you and what do you want?' demanded angry little eyes.
'Katja Petrova?' I asked.
'Yes?'
'My name is Hamilton Kane and I am pleased to meet you.' now that etiquette had been satisfied I fell unconscious. Like a wet sack of potatoes. Without the otter.

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