Drayton walked. He just walked. He couldn't go back to Nina's place, to her awful couch and her scared, pitying eyes; but he couldn't stand the thought of going home to his own place either. Not yet. Not until the sun rose, until it was light enough to burn away the demons and grant his a few hours of sleep.
It wasn't her fault. She reacted like anybody would.
He'd tried to do agirl once, who was even worse than him. What he'd seen in her eyes that night had poisoned him. He could never go there again. Maybe he'd poisoned Nina the same way. Maybe that was all that was left in the world now.
It was late enough to be early – as dark as it ever really got in the city, but with the darkness overlaid in greens and greys, viewed through water, weeds, algae. That was his world now. There was a red blush somewhere near the horizon, almost too faint to be seen – that was what passed for sunrise these days – a bleeding scratch on the surface of smog-clouds.
He fit in, he thought. Into this time of night. When the walking dead made up nearly all the population. The street was close to empty, but those who did inhabit it really could have been animated flesh – there was so little life in them, and they were so leached of colour. They walked with their heads down. Even the hookers did little toencourage their potential clients – they stood against corners,heads rested on brick, hair flowing; bright glitter painted over near-naked bodies, but absolutely no brightness in their eyes.They'd take him on, but he didn't think he could bring himself to gothrough such an empty and mechanical process – at least little Nina had stunk of humanity, even her disgust had been feelings. And she'd been sweet to begin with.
He had no destination. So he walked where the most noise drew him. They were standing around a fountain, and they were chanting with raised placards. All he could think was: what the hell is the point? How do you lay a complaint against the air you breath? But this lot were blaming the government, giant corporations, demanding accountability, wanting heads to roll. They'll fall off soon enough, all by themselves, if you're not already dead, you can watch them roll then.
A girl ran up to him, holding out a pamphlet.
“I don't want it.”
“Look what they've done to us!”
“They've brought this world to its knees.”
“Yeah, well, maybe we deserved it. I'm thinking we had this coming.”
They were mostly young, this lot, and their faces were earnest and mostly whole. Their anger had ignited a small, shared fire amongst them. Those hot links they'd forged were what kept them going. You gotta find something, don't you, after all?
Behind a dark girl in a red shirt, the fountain was going. That wasunusual in itself - so many such things had fallen into disrepair. He realised, to his surprise, that this one was beautiful, that the streetlights shining through it brought out its diamonds, that streams of water overlapped so that some of them were pearl, some snowy, some silver – at the top where the water peaked, the light
caught it, so that it winked like a new silver coin, the shine rippling over it and falling like tresses of long, silvery hair.