100 Themes 027 - Foreign
This was originally designed to be a taster piece for my NaNoWriMo 2011 work. Ultimately, I didn't like that and never completed it. It will definitely come here as a short piece, though; it deserves to be finished.
The setting is somewhat more sci-fi than most of my stuff, too; perhaps I tried too much change all at once. Anyway, here it is! This and the next few of the 100 Themes were for NaNo, but obviously with different focuses.
There was something, Richard decided, distinctly foreign about the person. It wasn’t the clothing; Dome 7 had enough of a mix of people that virtually anything went as long as it covered something. He took a look around the bar; three of the women on one table alone were baring their breasts. Never mind, he amended, then turned back to the foreigner. He was dressed in a sort of loose silvery shirt, the sort that the mid-level Domies wore. Middle-management. Dark trous, a pair of smart shoes and a short haircut. Pretty average. Not the way he dresses then.
Richard took a gulp from his bottle. The cider was tart and slightly fizzy in his mouth, and he swallowed with a grimace. He’d had enough, was beginning to feel pickled in his own juices. The foreigner, he couldn’t help but notice, was drinking something clear and fizzy; could have been anything, lemonade with a mixer or gin and tonic, but Richard had been watching. The barman hadn’t gone near the optics; it was sparkling water.
A sudden moment of realisation hit Richard, taking a while to find its way through the apple-tinted fog, hotly followed by another. First, he knew what was different about the man. It was the people around him. They avoided him; he represented a still, quiet island of calm in the middle of a broiling sea of sweaty bodies and sticky alcohol. The other was that Richard was paying far too much attention to the foreigner. It was time to do something about it.
He got up, gripping the table so as to appear completely sober and in control. Suddenly he realised just how many he’d had, the empty bottles whisked away before he could add them to any mental tally. He’d had too many. Charlotte was going to be cross with him.
He navigated his way through the press of flesh; body odour mixed with too much perfume, this year’s indentikit Lynx flavour, the general smell of all bars everywhere, and then out into the night. The weather controls had been set to cool this evening, it being autumn; above, the first few stars were twinkling, their light uninhibited by the ten-foot-thick dome over the city. Richard began to walk down the dimly-lit street, around piles of old clothes and newspapers.
The explosion from the bar threw him from his feet; suddenly he couldn’t hear anything and he was flying, landing not as hard as he thought, then rolling until he hit a wall. A dull pain crept from the back of his head into the centre of his brain and when he put his hand there it was sticky. Something black in the night light covered his hand. Suddenly he vomited, his cheek resting on the pavement, and lay still. The night went completely dark.