Nuts and Bolts

(It’s been a long day; there’s good music streaming in the background; to be honest my brain is not up for reflective writing, so here’s a snippet of a little story I’m working on).


She hadn’t meant to stop until she reached the deadzone, but the sign caught her eye and the sun was dying. She was tired.

Riley’s Hostel. Low Rates, High Quality Services. Robots welcome.

Her knapsack thumped a gentle rhythm against her stiff spine as she shuffled toward the building. Her chest was swelling with heat, and the evening air felt painfully thin against her rusty lungs.

A bell tinkled as she thudded into the lobby, feet jangling and clanking. The receptionist looked up with a dull expression. He rubbed his eyes, coughed, and cleared his throat.

“Looking for a room?”

“Yes.”

“One night?”

“Yes.”

“You fine with a standing room? It’s the only one we got left.”

“Yes.”

“Alright. Name?”

“Alex.”

The receptionist raised a straggly eyebrow. She blinked, confused, and then realized.

“Apologies,” she said quickly. “A109.”

“Twenty chip drives, or a diskette if you got one.”

She slapped a fistful of copper chip drives on the counter and nodded. The receptionist then asked her to plug her signature into the mainframe, and once that was done he handed her a silver key and jerked a thumb toward the dim hallway.

“Fifth door on the left. Have a nice stay.”

The room was a tight fit. Stray wires drooping overhead, miscellaneous nuts and bolts strewn over the floor, a warped screwdriver in the corner. The floral wallpaper felt cheap and forced.

She sighed. Alex. Alexandria. Two days out and already she’d made too many mistakes.

She plugged herself into the grimy wall socket and closed her eyes. She toyed with the idea of running the dream override function, but went against it. Not yet, not until she was out of town. Humming, she found herself in the midst of her memory disk, perusing the weekly files. The thunderstorm, the damp curl of acid steam, the back alleys swarming with metallic commotion. The day she met the pyrographer.

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