But first the sample:
The whirl of the outer lock unscrewing interrupted my unproductive thoughts. A panel opposite the one I entered released, cracking open a few inches. The sounds of voices beckoned. The hope of connecting with someone not powered by electricity or programed to interact proved tempting. I stepped out into the dining hall.Curious? If you aren't yet, here is the cherry for the top of our Saturday sweet, the trailer for Exchange!
Bland rows of brushed metal tables and benches filled the tile laminate floor. Halo lights cast an eerie blue tinge, and nothing in sight offered the slightest relief for the eyes. My head hummed with the illumination as I shuffled to the food dispensers. Wraithlike, twenty or so others did likewise, exiting their own cleansers lining the walls.
Upon claiming a tray loaded with cardboard mush and rehydrated apple slices, I surveyed the seating for a place.
Restive eyes glanced my way and then lowered. No one offered an opening and the few spaces between groups suddenly disappeared. Right, who dared to sit with the troublemaker? I headed toward the table in the far corner. I wouldn’t bother anyone and they could ignore my presence.
Selecting to test the mush first, I shoveled in a spoonful. Bile rose to meet the food. Three gags later I swallowed it, but not the acidic aftertaste. No more for me. I bit into a mealy apple slice, hoping to at least diffuse the burn. Not much luck.
I dropped the remaining apple. A voice in my head?
The clatter of metal on metal brought my attention to the rest of the room. For once they weren’t focused on me. A new prisoner stood immediately outside a cleanser along the wall adjacent my ward.
He loomed like a dark, brooding shadow against the shining surfaces around him, well over six feet, broad shoulders and a powerful build. Why was he here? He didn’t fit the general population, fair to medium skinned humanoids from earthward settlements scrawny and malnourished. His dark, almost black, skin and bald head isolated him even more than his size. The most disturbing part was the fact he was staring straight at me.
For more sweet morsels, please return here. Return next week for a sample from a new short story I am preparing for publication.
I am looking forward to seeing you then.
- Rachel Rossano