There is something else about having a smoke all the way up here, amid the stars. A special kind of enjoyment. A treat for the senses right at the edge of words properly making it justice. I watch the nebula we’re sailing by eyes wide open. You’ve maybe seen a thousand different nebulae of unimaginable colors and shapes, but the thousand-and-first is no less jaw-dropping. With my butt comfortably seated in my commander’s chair and legs kicked out in front of me, a tumbler of scotch lodged in the other hand, this is my own personal theatre. Living the life. Inhaling death one short, slow lungful at a time to the backdrop of Guns n’ Roses’ Sweet Child of Mine braying in the loudspeakers, while watching a big-ass asteroid sail within a hairbreadth of the cruiser.
We’ve lost so much.
I’m not sure what’s worse. Whether us not remembering what good was in the world. Or choosing to forget there actually was some good in it. Mankind retreated to some preternatural state, where violence is the one universally accepted currency. I feel ashamed to admit I have dealt in it too.
The target is acquired, the objective within sight now. All senses engaged and in overload, despite his mask of calm. The polyrhythmic drumbeat in his ears is the blood boiling under the surface. The woman in the red dress approaches with a slow, measured gait, as if she was walking a tightrope over the chasm still separating what he wants and why she came here. Her stiletto heels produce a sharp click with each step. He will compartmentalize the sights and sounds for future remembrance. The sequence has been initiated.
At night, the world shines at you differently. Leaning against the balcony of my apartment terrace, I can pick out the ingredients of the spell it throws at me with my eyes blindfold. I inhale the mixture of light and sounds. It’s intoxicating, in its own neon way. In the artificially lit dark, what you choose not to see during the day takes on a whole new, sharper form. Perhaps I see it precisely because I’ve always been a nocturnal person.
It was the first morning of a new era. The sun shone a shade brighter, it appeared so. A lungful of fresh air never tasted so sweetly before. Senses multiplied overnight as if by magic. Suddenly, people saw their world in an entirely different light. And they were right to do so, of course. There was an effervescence in the air, hope in people’s hearts, the notes of revolution still fresh on everyone’s lips. Yesterday evening, the world changed to the tune of thundering cannon-fire and sorcery. Today was a matinee deserving of new music.
“That’ll do for one sitting, Bree,” Jaqo said. He reclined in the plush, high-backed armchair, then went about routinely cleaning his inkjector.
Breezelocks, or Bree, as her friends called her, skipped over to the mirror. One of the few vanity items she owned, it was a cracked and smudged thing. Mattered little to her now, of course. She twisted this way and that, brushing away her black, unruly dreads, to admire the latest bit of Jaqo’s precise needlework. Was excited about the addition to the collection.
Dallas lit a cigarette. Slowly. Deliberate. Hated the damn things, he just couldn’t help himself. He did enjoy the build-up, though. Like busting out his Zippo lighter. Hefted it in his palm. Set it against the base of his thumb, the cold metal pressing into his skin. Thing was more ancient than ancient, really. Only a few spots of red and blue paint remained on the case.
Lieutenant Commander Dallas Drake, formerly of UNT Directory, leaned against his leg, his boot firmly planted on a lump of sandstone. Squinted at the clouds of dust and sand sweeping the violet-tinted horizon. Unconsciously, his hand fished for the pack of cigarettes he’d tucked in a side-pocket of his trench coat. Plenty of time for a smoke, he reckoned.