Everything was sore. Elenore wiped the grit from her eyes and stretched her long arms and legs like a modern take on the Vitruvian Man. The space she encompassed was her own, but only that and nothing more. She slid one of the empty ten-liter plastic cartons out from under her bed and squatted over the opening, trying to pee. Her head ached. She pinched the skin on the back of her hand and it stood up like it were made of Play-Doh. She was dehydrated. But more importantly, she was broke.
She checked the carton. It would be a stretch to say she’d made water, but every drop counted. She threw the carton under the bathroom faucet and watched the meter spin as she killed her daily ration: five liters. There was a little bit in the pan beneath the dehumidifier. She added it to the carton and screwed on the cap.
Aphelion was the capital city of Prima Lux. It was grown from the asteroid’s own rocky surface, transmuted into the shapes of a human world. They called it upstruction. The process left a cavern beneath Aphelion, an undercity inhabited by the ill, the poor, and the wretched. They weren’t unwanted, weren’t ignored. They were forgotten. Elenore took her water carton out of her makeshift apartment and walked through the winding corridors of the undercity toward Marco’s place. He was a cop. He paid good for the extra rations.
After a few blocks she passed that woman who called herself Revo. She was maybe ten years older than Elenore, early thirties, and she seemed hellbent on getting snuffed before her mid-thirties were upon her. She was on a loading dock, crowd gathered around her, giving her usual spiel.
“A Revolution is when a majority decides to govern itself. Are we not the majority?” The crowd cheered. “Only we can bind ourselves by serving the minority in power. Like that one, who gives our lifeblood to the oppressors.”
Elenore’s skin prickled as the crowd turned to her with their angry faces and awful words and obscene gestures. She froze and locked eyes with Revo who spoke to her across the crowd.
“Join the Revolution, sister. We are all so thirsty.”