I’m not sure what to call this. It’s a bit of random setting and character development that I did on a whim. Maybe you’ll like it? I think it has legs, though I quite probably don’t yet know where to focus for best effect.
Here are a few short scenes for your enjoyment.
Patrick lay on his back, staring up at the night sky through mosquito netting. He could feel sweat building, pooling on his skin, soaking into the sheets. He wished like hell that his fan wasn’t broken.
The stars overhead were bright and cool, little crystals that lit the darkness. Not for the first time, he wondered why he’d never left. His sister’s soft snores were a gentle reminder.
He could feel where she was by the heat from her skin, the way she felt like an engine’s radiator in the night air. He squirmed a little bit further away, hating the way the sheets clung to his skin. He focused on the stars again. There, passing by far above, was the bright track of a satellite. Or maybe one of the stations. Blink. Blink. Blink.
Patrick woke to being poked in the ribs.
“Hey, slug,” Patricia poked his ribs again and Patrick winced. “Time to get up.”
Patrick blinked groggily, working his tongue to get rid of the horrible taste in his mouth. His sister held a cup of breakfast smoothie by the side of his head. “Sit up and put this in you.”
The morning was already hot and hazy, though the sun hadn’t come out from behind morning clouds yet. He could hear the quiet slap slap of little waves against the side of their fan boat. Patrick sat up and slurped down a gulp of breakfast. It tasted tangy today.
Patricia pulled down the mosquito netting, balling it up carefully. Cup of breakfast in one hand, netting in the other, she disappeared into the boat’s tiny cabin. Patrick pissed over the side, drinking his smoothie.
“Hey Pat,” Patrick called out, “you got the shit for Latour?”
Latour’s spot was a little conglomeration of pods strapped together and moored near the northern edge of the mangroves, a few lights dimly visible at night through the twining tree limbs. They were pretty out of the way from New Miami, which was part of the appeal. Patricia and Patrick polled up alongside, their main fan silent for the last mile or so. The sounds of music and revelry were only really audible for the last few hundred feet. Latour didn’t like making a big deal of their place, and didn’t want to make it easy for people to find without an invitation.
Latour’s buddy, a big fellow by the name of Ren, tossed them a line to tie up.
“Pat and Pat, about time you showed up here.” Latour, dressed in an androgynously fitted dirty white suit, stepped across the gap and gave each of the siblings a hug and a kiss on both cheeks.
“Hey Latour.” Patrick returned the kiss. “You have anything we can drink?”
“Do I?” Latour looked over at Ren, who smiled. “You talk with Ren, he’ll set you up.” They turned back to the siblings. “But business first, right? You have my latest?”
Patricia tilted her head. “Yeah, we got it. You got our payment?”
Latour grinned. “‘Course I do!” They stepped back to the house-pod’s dock. “Come on in, we can settle in my back room.”
Pat and Pat looked at each other. Patrick nodded, heading back into the fan boat’s tiny cabin and coming out with a metal briefcase tied to a dangling bright yellow floatie. Patricia stepped across onto the dock, holding out a hand to help Patrick across. Ren nodded to them, leaning back up against the wall of the house pod and taking out his vapor pipe. He’d keep an eye on things outside for them. Theft wasn’t common at Latour’s, but it didn’t hurt to keep a weather eye.
Latour led them around the dock to their back room, actually their bedroom as well. It smelled like it hadn’t been aired out recently; they could still smell Ren’s vapor pipe, as well as the harsher fumes of some kind of smoke, the scents of bodies and old liquor, and maybe sex somewhere underneath all the rest. Latour tossed a rumpled sheet over the loveseat, covering what looked like it might have been dirty clothes, then bowed and waved Pat and Pat to take a seat. Latour reclined on a squishy chair on the other side of a little coffee table. Their futon was rolled up into an oblong sausage against the far wall.
“How’s this latest crop?” Latour propped their feet up on the coffee table, steepling their fingers.
Patricia leaned forward while Patrick set the briefcase on the table and unlocked it. “It’s good Latour. Real good.” She spun the briefcase around so that Latour could see inside, and pulled out a little glass canister and a baggie full of something dark and fibrous. “You have your better light?” Patricia nodded towards the bendy lamp that Latour usually used for examining produce.
Latour tsked. “Nah, the bulb’s out. More’s the shame.” They pulled a little LED out of their breast pocket. “But this should do, yeah?”
Patrick nodded, picking up where his sister had left off. “Check the color on that sample.” He picked up one of the full baggies while Latour shone their light through the canister.
“That’s what we’ve been able to process from this stuff, and you can see it’s got a really nice consistency there. A gorgeous amber, too, like the stronger stuff we had for you a few months back.” He shrugged. “You know we don’t do it ourselves, but if it’s anything like the last batch that looked like that you should have a real bomb of a product on your hands.”
Latour nodded, pursing their lips. They tilted their head and the canister, watching the liquid inside drip viscously from one end to the other. “Okay, okay,” they palmed the canister, “and what about the raw stuff you’ve got on hand?”
Patricia smiled. “This is high quality. Good texture, pungent, just a little chewy. I took a nibble and started tasting colors.” Patrick shot her a look.
“Hah!” Latour shook their head. “Don’t do it yourselves, whatever you say. This tasting colors bit though, that I like.”
“We’d recommend,” Patricia ignored her brother’s eyes, “that you water it down half and half or thereabouts, for standard dosing. And be stingy with the raw stuff too, though it’s not quite as potent.”
Latour sat forward in their chair. “Yeah yeah. I know my dosing. You two always bring me the best anyway.” They reached for a wallet that lay on the table. “You happy with the usual? If this is as good as you say, I’ll give you another quarter on top next time. Like with the last really good amber you brought me.”
The twins looked at each other. Patrick turned back to Latour. “Yeah, sure. And…” He paused, glancing at Patricia before looking back to Latour, “do you have any good chem textbooks you can get your hands on?”
Latour cocked an eyebrow. “Books? Pulped wood? Satellite feed isn’t good enough for you?”
“What he means,” Patricia said, “is that we want some chem textbooks that might be harder to get your hands on. Not subject to so many of the same controls, and without any location services.”
Latour blinked a few times. “Ooookay. My favorite chemists want to read up on their chemistry? Sure.” They fished a wad of bills out of their wallet. “Here’s the usual, go ahead and count to make sure. I’ll look for some textbooks or something for you.”
Patrick nodded. “Thanks.”