Untitled Short Story

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: February 06, 2018

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Submitted: February 06, 2018

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“Decaf latte, please,” I told the barista. 

“That’s $4.00,” she said. I gave her the money and took a seat at my favorite table.

Once seated, I unpacked my schoolbooks and set them on the table. As I reached down to get my laptop out of my bag, I saw a pair of black dress shoes scurry past me. A scrap of paper floated down and landed beside my bag.

“Excuse me!” I yelled, “You dropped something!” But my call was met by the jingling of the bell on the door. The person had vanished. Curiously, I looked down at paper in my hand and unfolded it. I gasped. There in black and white, was my name. 

I gaped at the creased paper in my hand, a thousand thoughts flooding through my head at once. Why was my name on this piece of paper? Who had carelessly dropped it right next to me? I jumped up from my seat and ran for the door, throwing it open and looking down the sidewalk in both directions. All I could see was the crowd of well-dressed pedestrians that always filled the walkways. A never-ending stream of salary men and kids like me. Whoever had dropped the paper, they were gone. 
Inside the coffee shop I heard the barista call my name, "Decaf latte for Quincy." 
I took one more look around the bustling city sidewalk, and then walked to the bar to pick up my drink. 
The barista was preparing another drink, and eyed me when I took my drink. "Decaf, huh?" She said, not quite mockingly. 
"I want to be able to sleep tonight." I replied with a shrug. She nodded and went back to fixing drinks and I moved back over to my table to gather up my stuff. I slid my books back into my backpack and zipped it up, throwing it over my shoulder and taking a sip from my gloriously hot coffee. I pulled open the door, ignoring the annoying little bell, and stepped out onto the walkway. The sun was just beginning to set, turning the western skyline into a blaze of orange, and the heat of the day had relented a bit. But I was still sweating within five minutes. My pilot's school blazer was far too warm to be wearing in the middle of summer. 
The skyscrapers in the distance reflected the sun into my eyes and as I shielded my eyes I caught sight of the air tunnel far above my head, with hundreds of flying cars accelerating at ridiculous speeds through the sky. They were all going toward the center of civilization, which was commonly called the Wastrel Tower. The tower rose high above all of the skyscrapers and far into the sky. It was so huge that some said it went all the way into the upper atmosphere. It served as the center of commerce for practically the entire galaxy. 
I was squinting into the glare of the sun's reflected light when I ran head-first into someone walking in the opposite direction at a brisk pace. My coffee cup, which was only half empty, spilled all over my blazer and his suit. 
"I'm sorry," He said, "I wasn't looking..." and then he went stiff. 
"It's fine." I said, even though I was pretty upset about getting coffee all over my school clothes. "I've done it before." He nodded curtly and continued walking. I turned to watch him go and noticed that he was wearing a pair of carefully polished, black dress shoes. I immediately thought of the stranger who had dropped that piece of paper with my name on it. Why else would someone be in such a hurry? I asked myself. 

I started following him, walking against the flow of pedestrians going home after a hard day's work. I followed him all the way back to the coffee shop and watched him go inside. He come back out a few seconds later and ran his fingers through his slick black hair. He pulled out a phone and lifted it to his ear. I saw his lips move as he talked to whoever was on the other end. As he was talking, he scanned the crowd, and by the time I realized what he was looking for, he had spotted me. 
He started walking toward me with obvious intent, and I immediately turned to run. Before I got five feet, I felt his hand close over my shoulder and the unmistakable press of a gun barrel. 
He leaned down and whispered into my ear, "Make a scene and I put a hole in your shoulder." 
I stood still, terrified and angry at myself for being so stupid. 
"Good," He said, "Walk slowly. We'll talk as we walk." 
I didn't start walking until I felt the barrel of the gun dig into my shoulder. After we had walked for a couple of minutes, he started asking me questions. 
"You saw the piece of paper?" He asked quietly. I nodded slowly. 
"Do you know who I am?" I shook my head. 
"My name is West. Do you recognize that name?" My eyes widened, and I nodded in awe. 
"Good. Now that introductions are over, we can start." I felt the pressure of the gun disappear, but his hand remained on my shoulder. 
"Your name is Quincy Tarble. You're in your second year of pilot's school. You live with your parents and two brothers in a small apartment. And..." 
Just then a shot rang out and West collapsed. 

"Cut!" Yelled the director. "That was good. We're going to reshoot the first part in the coffee shop, but otherwise that was perfect." 
West slowly sat up and brushed his suit off. 
"This thing way too hot." He grumbled. 
The director laughed, "You're just a glass half empty kind of guy." 
I jumped in and gave my two cents, "It's not about whether the glass is half empty or half full, it's about filling it up."


© Copyright 2020 Jack Prochainezo. All rights reserved.

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