Beautiful Red – Sample

Chapter One

The figure stood beside Jack’s bed and looked down at her sleeping form. Maybe she sensed his presence because she turned ever so slightly.

He leaned toward her, his 5 o’clock shadow nearly scratching against her chin. “Good morning, Jack,” he said, his voice low and gravelly.

“What the fuck!” Jack woke up immediately, terrified and energized by the unexpected presence in her bedroom. She sprang toward the figure, jumping through his body and punching a button on the console sitting on the table at the side of her bed. The image of the intruder flickered once, twice, then disappeared.

Jack sat on the side of her bed, panting with exertion and adrenaline. “This alarm clock sucks,” she said aloud, even though she was alone in the room. “That was no ‘seductive stranger’,” she said, reading the currently selected setting on the holographic Personal Wake-Me-Up unit by her bed. She punched a few buttons and selected ‘chirping birds’ from the scrolling menu of options charmingly titled “Who do you want to wake you up?”.

“With my luck it’s a fucking swarm of vultures.” Jack hit save, blinked a few times and around her room.

The sun, such as it was, peeked through the window as the ’glass automatically turned from opaque to translucent. There hadn’t been a decently bright day in years; it had been so long that Jack wondered if it were one of those nostalgic false memories that old people were notorious for sharing with anyone who would listen. “Back in my day,” they would say, “the sky was blue and so was the ocean and everyone was happy and healthy and beautiful.”

Bullshit, Jack thought. The air was always full of crap, even when she was a kid. Sure, it might have been bright, but it still stank and made people sick. At least no one got sick anymore. The vaccines took care of that.

Jack stood up and walked the ten paces to her tiny bathroom. She did what she needed to do then stripped off her underpants and turned on the shower. After washing the night’s grime off both her body and the bathroom, she dried off under the blower and wandered over the eating area.

Calling it a kitchen would be an insult to the concept. She grabbed a breakfast bar out of the economy sized box near the fridge and slopped coffee into her cup. She pulled her uniform out of her autoclave and got dressed. Fucking blue daisy, she thought, distastefully, looking at the logo of her employer embossed on the back pocket of her regulation trousers. She wondered, not for the first time, if anyone at Bellis International had ever even seen a real daisy — blue, green or any other colour.

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