Friday, 9 December 2011

92) Curfew

    “Gotta get home, gotta get home, gotta get home.” you say, over and over again. You notice people in the train car are looking at you and you repeat your mantra silently in your head, hoping in vain that it will help somehow.
    It’s five minutes from curfew, and you’re ten minutes from home. No way are you going to make it even if you had the spring legs from your next stage.
    You squeeze out of the train car between late night adults with their proud wings out, taking up too much space and heading to the pubs to drink them selves silly. You’re the first out of the train’s sliding door, but it doesn’t matter. You’re first through the turn style and running up the escalator, but it doesn’t matter. You look down at your watch as if that would help to turn back the time. Your heart races and your thorax burns in embarrassment.
    Once you leave the train station you can see the town’s church, your home for the last few years, just beyond a copse of decorative trees in their familiar swirls. You run faster than you’ve ever ran before and you think maybe you can make it.
    You run red lights and you hop over parked cars. You barely avoid a epileptic larva from the Builder Caste. The main dorm approaches you with its blank and shining white facade which represents the pure heart of Light, or at least that’s what the brochure said. It’s far better than living on the streets, than staying with the parent, or earning a living in the aphid mines. You only have to hold on for a few months until you can molt then you can get a courier job and a tiny room share in the city where the real action is.
    You think you can hear the locks slamming shut from a hundred yards away and you wonder if the stories the other individuals in your instar told you were true. They can’t be true, you think. Rules are for children. You think you can sleep inside the covered doorway and apologize profusely in the morning.
    You finally get to the front door, huffing and puffing, the tender flesh between your plates pulse an angry red. You’re two seconds late.
    You try the door, but it’s obviously locked. You bang on it a bit, but give up when it starts to hurt your fists. Then there’s a slight hissing from above you. You wonder what it is.
    As tiny drops of bitter smelling mist hit your exposed carapace you remember a mumbling old nun telling you about the way they clean the building at night. It’s part surfactant and part hormone. Now you remember why the nuns said that if you’re out past curfew it’s better to find somewhere else to sleep.
    You look up in the sky at the still bright line of the McDonald Space Elevator. The last bit of sun shine glints off the top well after night has begun down at the surface. Then you hear the buzz of the cleaning beetles and run for your life.

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