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 You live in a spinning tube of metal.
Ash-mixed whips of air rise to Center Sky. Looking up, you think you see the soft green fields through the filth. The white lattice of wealth sprawled along the verdant curve of Bright Side. Families and love live there. The seats of power. But for you that place is a dream—you live in Cupid. Sector 6 slum to be exact. Your education in sex work and drug usage finishes this semester. And at eighteen, it’s time to enter the working world at last. Still, it’s a better life than sectors 7 and 8.

Things might change though. Douglas Triumph has just been elected President of Lutalica (the 5th Earth-launched tube colony). He’s won on the promise that he will make the tube great again. Make things as good as they are back on Earth. But you and everyone else in Sector 6 know he’s talking about one side of the tube—the Bright Side.

He’s on TV again tonight. Announcing that at last he’s implementing his first promise—to bring capitalism back onto its proper course—encouragement of competition at the genetic level. The world was proud of its eugenics programs back in the early 1900s, he says through the screen. Great names—the Rockefellers, Roosevelt, Churchill—they were thwarted before the full fruit of capitalism came to bear. Prevented by a historical overreaction to one man—Hitler. Hitler went about it all wrong, but we can’t let his mistake taint our progress any longer, he says. And as Triumph begins a sermon, explaining how the roundup will occur, how the gutters will be cleared, how he will put a stop to all unlawful movement between Sectors—send the illegals back to 6, 7, and 8—you turn off the TV. Because Dad wants to have a cake for Mom’s birthday. She’s been dead for 3 years, but he doesn’t care. You still celebrate.

She died on the job. HTR. The Helen Trigger Retrovirus.

They taught you the statistics in school. Sex workers can mitigate their risks by following the rules. Obeying the law. Doing the right mix of drugs. You do your best to listen. You know she didn’t, but you still loved her. And so did Dad.

But something is hanging in the air. A gloom over the candles. The palpable reek of Triumph’s words. Dad says that the roundup will be nothing like what he’s broadcasting on TV. That he’s out to cull the population and overload us here. That they’re not just going to dump the trash from their side into the high sectors. That they’ll be deselecting in Sector 6 too.
There are a lot of stories about how the rain started.

The thing that always comes to mind first isn’t the how though, it’s the how much. Russell still does the math too: 15, 5,400, and 8,550. 15 inches a day, 5,400 a year, and 8,550 feet since the start.

We have no idea if it’s accurate. But it’s important to think about it, he says, because it reminds us to keep moving. I’m Tanner. Russell plucked me from the rain when I was two.

Fourteen years ago we left Philadelphia. As the water rose, we moved west, hoping the elevation would keep us warm and dry. Pittsburg, Indianapolis, Sioux Falls, Rapid City. Now we’re stranded on the islands in Wyoming. Russell thinks they used to be the Bighorn mountains. But we can’t go back now. There’s no warm and there’s no dry anymore. Just a rumor about a place where it isn't raining. So we’re going to try to make it—520 miles south to Leadville. But we can’t drift east, the Great Plains have become waterspout alley, a raging tomb of moving water.

Together we push on, surviving, heading to Leadville. But something is wrong with him now. He says it’s nothing. But his breathing doesn’t sound that way.

Exposure, pruned hands, and infection. But since, Rapid City, it’s the face eaters too. And the crack in the canoe that’s growing. And the ice I think I see on the water. Russell thinks it’s my imagination.

We cling to the last strips of the veneer. And each other.

Tags: Free, freebie, post-apocalyptic, suspense, thriller, turkot, survival

Imagine a distant future where technology’s inexorable advance has
halted for all but the richest .1% of humanity. Indigents who still have
it fly spaceships that are hundreds of years old, and entreat the help
of robots that are relics of the past.



The wealthy, having achieved immortality through science, and
secured total power through purchase of all government seats, spread and
consume the last resources of the cosmos. The unlucky majority pursue
one goal: The generational commitment to buying a ticket into Utopia—the
virtual reality program that simulates what in antiquity was known as
heaven. Little do they question the mysterious origin and purpose of
their gloried destination.



For those who can’t afford to upload their consciousnesses into
Utopia, and leave their physical bodies forever behind, there are few
options but to live the life of an outlaw.



Eight hundred years in the past, Mick Compton is ripped away through
a wormhole into the dystopian future of the Messier 82 galaxy. In a
place where the only thing that matters is getting into paradise, he
wants only to get back home to his proper place and time, to his wife
and family, so that he can right the wrongs of his past. But Sera, a
battle-hardened smuggler with plans of her own for him, won’t make it so
easy.



And a darker agenda is at play in M82—the terrorist known as The
Force of Darkness has reached a terrifying conclusion: Humanity is a
virus, whose chance at equilibrium with its environment long ago failed.
The only solution is complete extermination of mankind. After decades
of surreptitious construction, FOD is nearly ready to detonate a quantum
black hole with the power to consume the entire spread of the human
race.



Will Mick succumb to the draw of Utopia and forsake his desire to
return to a real family? Will FOD pull off the ultimate terrorist act
and destroy humanity once and for all? Find out in Black Hull.
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