Akuba needs to get rid of her client’s face if she plans on living past the week.
She sees herself from above, the image floating in front of her eyes. She’s in a gondola, high above the canal. Isaac is with her.
He tweaks something on his phone. “Getting it?”
She nods. Her new airhud keeps the video in the same spot, in the upper left of her field of vision. She slides down the bench to get a look at the city’s dark skyline, making the gondola sway. They’re too far away from downtown to see any people, but the haze of drones is just visible in the fading light. The airhud puts bubbles above the buildings, recommending places she can spend her daily.
“Can’t believe you bought that thing,” Isaac says with a petty grin. He told Akuba once that his teeth are so very white from sucking on sugar cane as a boy back in Gulu. He tells her lots of things. “What’s wrong with your phone?”
“I got a bunch of kiz from the last job. And it’ll be useful.” It won’t really be all that useful, but that’s the kind of thing people say about money. Responsible people. And airhuds are getting so popular now. They’re not as expensive as they used to be.
Isaac sniffs. “Tell that to Shaky. He’d rather you paid him than bought yourself pretty toys.”
Alex Livingston writes:
Glitch Rain is cyberpunk gone mobile. Phones, drones, self-driving cars, shipping container homes. It’s about privacy as a commodity, the nodes on the consumption chain, and the psychological effects of being broke and alone.
I love it when a first sentence doesn’t make any sense. This can be done with words invented for the story (e.g. “droogs”), but when the writer depends on unexpected word usage or an odd sentence structure, it makes a puzzle out of that initial line. And I do love to solve a puzzle.
In the first line of Glitch Rain, I wanted to accomplish two things: make the reader wonder what I was talking about and present the stakes Akuba is living with. The story starts with two people playing with some tech in a near-future city, all familiarity and easy friendship. But Akuba has to keep her cash flowing or the guy she owes is going to kill her. She and Isaac are talking like they’re planning dinner with friends, not going on a hacking mission and hoping to make enough money to keep Shaky from sending his assassins. Weird, right?
The dissonance between a dangerous situation which would be completely crippling to many people (myself very much included) and Akuba’s casual demeanor is a big part of what makes her who she is. How can someone just shrug off that kind of pressure? What kind of person lives like that? The intent is to make the reader want to find out.
About the Author:
Alex Livingston grew up in various quiet New England towns before moving to Buffalo, NY to study English at Canisius College. His fiction has appeared in Apex Magazine, Daily Science Fiction, and Bastion Magazine among others, and his interactive fiction can be found at Choice of Games and Storynexus. He self-published the novel Rhymer, an Irish wonder myth told as an exciting sci-fi space opera. He lives in an old house with his brilliant wife and a pile of aged videogame systems. Visit him online at galaxyalex.com.
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