The Roll

Kenzo woke up when the cigarette burned its way down to his fingers. Must have dozed off. He wasn’t sure the last time he really slept. Or ate something, for that matter. He checked the little baggy in the pocket of his red leather jacket. Two white rectangular pills with red dots in the center: Samurais. No flat golden apples; no tanz, those heavenly blue and purple lozenges. Kenzo was getting dangerously close to coming down. He briefly examined the cigarette butt, wondering what it might have been laced with before flicking it into the alley below.

He was on a fire escape, legs in black denim dangling off grated metal. He looked inside the cracked apartment window, didn’t see anyone he knew, or anyone he wanted to know. No fire here. Nothing but coals. Time to boogie.

He slithered over the edge and hung off, dropping down five stories in the half-grav near the cylinder’s center. Weird physics made for cheap housing. Everyone on the Roll knew they were on the Roll, but it took a real deviant to want to know it. To be reminded of it every time they took a piss or tripped taking off their underwear. Kenzo’s red and white checked low-tops with black skull-printed laces came to a rest on wet asphalt. He rubbed his messy spiky hair. Fuck, what day was it?

Another funny thing about life up the curve of the Roll—the vexes. Irregular days. You want a sunrise every morning you’d better be rich and connected, though the two were rarely independent. Up this end of the vex it was dark season, and honestly it was the easier half of the year. Hard to hustle on a spotlit stage. Kenzo thought about life as a sunrunner, flip-flopping between opposite vexes, keepin’ pale as a snail, but he didn’t figure he could make enough muling to pay his way across. The Roll was a kiloklick from end to end. Takes more than a joyride to see all that countryside.

Hands in his pockets, Kenzo shouldered out of the alley through the back door of some dingy basement club. The electric red-orange light was the only dawn he was interested in. He took the flight of stairs in a single hop and let the door creak shut high above him. He followed the music and downed a Samurai, taking no notice of the chrome-eyed shadow who’d slipped in behind him, eager for a rendezvous.

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