573 words (2 minute read)

June 13, 2769 (excerpt #1)

Private J-538 had always imagined his first and only trip to the Reclamation Centre would be several years from now, after a brief but stellar stint as Flasher Extraordinaire, followed by a very long period of heavy drinking and fucking.

He was wrong.

Jason stood facing what looked like an operating table, complete with lights, equipment trays, various machines and computer monitors. To the left and right were several rows of gurneys, each bearing what could only be dead bodies in bags (except, of course, for his gurney, whose bag was now empty.) The tiled walls were lined with counters, shelves and cabinets, home to more equipment and monitors. In the far corner stood a battered cart labelled: “Protein Conversion – Muscle Tissue Only – No Internal Organs”. Directly above it was a small security camera, pointed directly at him. Jason quickly flipped the light switch off, then stood silently for a moment as the gravity of his situation settled in.

Though he had never heard of any Flashers actually being caught in the Transitional Zone, the list of supposed punishments for such a transgression was very long, ranging from demotion to corporal punishment to dishonourable discharge (though the latter seemed unlikely given the fact that the laws were supposedly written to protect Flashers so they could keep killing Squelchers). Still, considering the fact that he was presently on probation, not to mention the general lack of respect shown him by Commanding Officer Captain Homo Halford, Jay thought it entirely possible that the cock gobblers at High Command might actually give him the boot.

Gritting his teeth, Jason swiped a hand across his eyes. His head throbbed relentlessly, and his stomach churned. For the first time in years, he felt on the verge of tears.

What the fuck was he doing in the Reclamation Centre? What the fuck was he doing in a meat bag? Was this some kind of a fucked-up joke? He squatted down and wrapped his arms around his chest as a wave of shivers took hold of him. Why weren’t his friends looking out for him? Or did they do this? Would they do this? Just beneath his headache there appeared a faint buzzing, setting his teeth on edge.

“Oh, shit …” he mumbled under his breath. The shivers, the buzzing, the empty, dreamless hole in his memory … these were all symptoms of snoozer withdrawal. Someone had dosed him and somehow gotten him onto a meat truck. But who could arrange that?

Jay leaned heavily against the wall as it all clicked into place.

Fucking Isaac.

Isaac’s cousin drove a meat truck, and Isaac’s cousin was a knuckle-dragging sack of shit—it wouldn’t take much to convince him to do something like this. And Isaac had bought him drinks last night, which at the time had struck Jay as odd, because Isaac was usually a cheap-ass son of a bitch. He must have dosed him at one of the last bars they went to.

“Fuck!” Jay hissed between his teeth. He had long ago accepted the fact that none of his “friends” really liked him, and as such expected little from them in the way of decency—but for Isaac to do something like this … And Claude? Where was Claude when all this was happening? Jay hugged himself tighter as a fresh wave of shivers took hold.

Next Chapter: June 13, 2769 (excerpt #2)