Infernal, a cli-fi story part 2

in #fiction2 years ago

Hi! I've been scratching out some short stories about the climate disaster that we're all going to have to deal with. Some of the stories are multi-parters, some very brief, some uplifting and some a real grind into a horrible possible life. There's often a little swearing and sometimes a little sexuality but nothing I think is too outside of the norm.

I hope you enjoy this second installment of my story, 'Infernal'.
You can find part 1 here.

artwork by @iodacasamia
artwork by @iodacasamia

A kid was sitting on a cargo trike, waving to me frantically with a small jar in one hand and a cap in the other.

'We got lotion!' He shouted. 'Real SPF 500'!

I can never resist at least checking out what a trader had to swap or sell. They usually have a range of bits and pieces, scavenged, stolen or traded by desperate individuals.

True to his word, the kid end up a tub of SPF 500 sunscreen. It was probably way out of date but I checked anyway. 2028. Only two years out of date.

'Do you want it?' she asked. Hurry up, Mum will be back in a minute, she's just taking a piss over the road. 'Please buy it, I've got to get out of here in a hurry'!

'Where you going to go'? Isn't it better to stay with your family'?

'I'm scared. We haven't eaten for days and she's been bringing people to our shed to 'meet' me'. I get some bad vibes from some of these new 'friends'.

Ten years ago, I might have been shocked by such a statement but now…

What do you want for it? I asked as sympathetically as I could. Whatever happened, this kids fate wouldn't be good. None of theirs would.

What you got? I'll take whatever you got. I'll be gone by the time Mum's back. Just need some coin for the caravan north.

I still had the 10 from the hooker on the train so I pulled that out.

The kid looked at me in that disappointed, sad way that kids mastered back in the depths of time and brought out when they felt that they weren't getting their share. I cringed a little inside and drew out two 100's of water and offered those.

With a look of resignation, the girl held aloft the tub of sunscreen with one hand and held out the other for my money and water. We made the exchange and she grabbed a small, scuffed, bag and ran off toward the busy terminal as fast as her skinny legs could carry her.

None of us can be too proud nowadays, so I took advantage of the unattended cart to pocket a couple of trinkets and walked on. I could maybe swap them for something more useful in the future.

As a little game, I told myself that I wouldn't look in the sunscreen tub until I got home. If it was real, I was onto a small fortune. People sold that stuff by the spoonful for twice what I paid. The kid's Mum would be pissed. From the heft of the tub I had a couple of hundred bucks here. Maybe.

If it wasn't what the label said it was, we'll, that wasn't the end if the world. There's lots of folks who would take the same deal on the off chance that the stuff was kosher.

It was the first time I'd seen that graffiti - the simple line drawing of a stylised green leaf. I wandered over to have a look. Graffiti is nothing new, every flat surface at ground level is layered with it. Profanity, hope, declarations of love, they are all there somewhere, mixed with the tags of the gangs whose territory they marked as well as seaweed marked the edge of the ocean. Well maybe in the old days - now the edge of the ocean was marked by pollution and death - the flotsam and jetsam of an earlier age.

I ran my hand over the outline of the leaf, blurring it a little. It was freshly painted. I noticed that the tip of the leaf was pointing unnaturally downward and my eyes followed it's line to a damp, disturbed patch of soil. Maybe someone had buried something of value and this was their marker.

Kneeling, I scraped some of the soil away with my fingers, hoping for money or medications but and two centimetres down found a treasure indeed. A sprouting seed. That's something you don't see around here every day!

Should I take it home and nurture it? Should I just leave it to its fate in the rubble? Normally,my philosophy was 'every man for themselves' but this time, that little seed struck a chord in me and I emptied my last 100 ml of water onto it.

'Good luck seed' I said as I turned and wandered through the evening's dust toward home.

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