Thought I might throw a few chapters of fiction out here. Let me know if you like them. Writing them on the fly, so forgive any poor grammar.
It was raining when I pulled into the lot. It’s always raining on Horizon. The building was one of the old office style that had been put up on the outskirts of the Venture City back when Horizon was the gateway to a new frontier. Now it stood like a reminder of the failure that the dark planet represented. Four stories of glass and steel, designed for another world. I put on my hat and stepped from my car out into the night.
As I walked through the lobby doors I took a second to adjust to the light as I shook the rain from my hat and overcoat. The lobby was far from what I had expected. Most of the old outskirt buildings were either owned by the gangs or were hovels overrun with addicts and squatters these days. This one still looked like a legitimate business. The tiled floor and wooden front desk threw me for a minute. Something made me feel out of place, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. As my eyes adjusted to the light I spotted Ugly Benny at the desk. For once I was glad to see him. Whatever it was that was putting me off, he brought me back to reality. Benny ignored me as I walked across the lobby. He had his boots on the desk, dripping water on some stranger’s work space, and he was watching what sounded like the fights on his hand held.
“Where?” I asked him. Benny didn’t do chit chat, so I wasn’t going to bother. He might not have acknowledged me as I came in, but he was here for a reason and he damn sure knew that I was here and why. Benny was a type of person that has likely been around since man first climbed down from the trees. He was nothing much to look at, a squat five foot nine with shoulder length, lank black hair a scraggly beard. His pudgy belly drew the attention away from his broad shoulders. His long arms and big hands looked almost apish. He was the kind of person that most people would dismiss as a thug at first glance. But as I said, his kind had been around for a long time, and there was a reason for that. Benny was the right hand of Jackson Smith, which said something in and of itself. He wouldn’t be in that position if he didn’t have a good head on his shoulders. And I’d seen him in a fight. He was brutal and efficient. People like Benny were artists of destruction. They weren’t leaders, but they were smart and capable. People like my old friend Jackson cultivated them for their loyalty and trust. Benny would kill or die for his master and the only thing that would change that was if he was thrown to the wolves. In a place like this, that’s worth more than gold.
“Three” was Benny’s response. I decided to try for a little more info. “How’d you know I was coming?” Benny gave a half snort. He saw right threw it. “I smelled pussy.” I wasn’t getting anything from him. I found the elevator on my own.
The third floor was a continuation of the first. Carpet had replaced the tile, and the desks were metal, but the feeling was the same. Warm, but professional. Bright lights in the ceilings banishing the shadows that one grew so used to on Horizon so quickly. Dark windows covered the outside wall directly across from the elevator door. I could see my reason for being there halfway across the room. I would have said hello, but he was busy being dead.
I’ve seen my share of dead bodies. In fact I’ve seen my share and two or three others shares. For some reason this one bothered me. Not the strangeness of it, though it was strange. It wasn’t the fact that the man was young. I’d seen much younger. Something was pulling at the side of my mind.
He was sitting at a desk almost directly in front of the elevator. The desks were lined up in an almost classroom order, all facing the same direction, away from the windows. The only concession I’d noticed so far to the perpetual twilight of Horizon. People got depressed staring out into the darkness every day. Danny was laying face down on his computer, dried blood congealed on his face and the desktop. He seemed to have been shot through the eye. A gun was in his hand.
“It reminds you of Earth.” That was Jackson. He’d hit the nail on the head. I looked over just to see him walk out of an office to the right. Jackson had been here longer than I had. He was the only one. He’d also named exactly what had been bothering me since I walked in the building. It must have occurred to him as well. After all we were both from Earth. On Horizon nobody built open, window filled buildings. They did everything they could to create light filled little caves that made you forget you were on a world that never saw its tiny sun. This house of glass had reminded us both of the buildings we’d known in our youth, so long ago. Jackson and I weren’t’ enemies, but due to our interests we couldn’t be called friends either. We did however have a dance that went back for a long time. I owed him the acknowledgement of having seen through me so well. “Hmph” That’ll do.