FUTURE/PUNKS: Read “Russian Roulette” by Christopher Webster

Heavy drops of acid sludge sizzle on stone and exposed rebar. 

The old church, half buried long ago in the expanding badlands, is musty, but dry and Vera and Hanna run like children between rows of pews, squealing and hollering and playing as they wait out the storm. 

Vera removes the gun from her belt and stops to pose with it. 

“John Rambo,” she says, shit eating grin on her face. 

The smooth bust of some long forgotten deity captures her gaze and she fires a bullet into it. 

Hanna screams as the stone figure shatters, scattering shrapnel which pelts the pews. 

Vera laughs.

A siren wails and they drop to their knees behind a pew and stare out into the rain to see a white cyclops hovering just outside. Ozone puffs off the flying robot’s fuselage as acid rain batters it. 

“Drop the unregistered firearm and present your ident chips,” a voice booms from the drone, robot-crunchy, as it flies into the church bearing down on them.

Hanna complies, raising her right arm, wrist twisted towards the drone, presenting the spot where her ident chip is embedded just under the skin. 

“Do what it says.”

Vera considers, rises, aims the revolver at the viper drone.

Hanna screams, “Don’t!”

Vera pulls the trigger, sending a bullet through the drone’s single glass eye. The projectile’s force sends the drone sailing backwards five feet before it spirals downwards and crashes to the church’s tiled floor. It sparks and flails, rotors whining like a wounded animal. 

“Why did you do that? We’ll get listed!”      

Vera walks up to the drone and watches it die. She imagines it running a facial recognition scan and finding her logs, a laundry list of crimes, petty and otherwise. 

Who cares?

She picks the machine up and flips it onto its back.

Hanna asks, “What are you doing?”, watching Vera root inside the cyclops’ mechanical guts. 

Vera stops searching when her fingers touch its ident card. She rips it free, stands, kicks the cyclops once for good measure and holds the card up close to Hanna’s face. 

Grinning she says, “Like a key to the city. We can come and go as we please, take what we want.”

“What about Enforcers?”

“We’ll be invisible with this. First we’ll sell the piece to Dimitry then we’ll rob everyone. We’ll be out of Slime City so fast they won’t even have a chance.”

Hanna moves close to inspect the chip. 

Vera moves close for a kiss. 

Hanna obliges. 

“They say nothing lives outside the city,” Hanna says when they pull apart, half dazed, lust rising.

Vera pockets the ident card saying, “I said I’d get us out of the city. The rest is our adventure to take.” She removes the service cap off Hanna’s head and tucks a strand of golden hair over her left ear. “Now stop talking.” 

They fall to the floor and make love while the cyclops spits sparks and the sludge rains outside.  

// continue reading //

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