Afterlife by Night: PrologueThe boy gasped for air at every step. His T-shirt had a big wet spot, his feet were cold, yet he didn't dare look down as he made his way through the deserted maze of back alleys among apartment buildings. Countless times he wanted to stop, to just sit down, but his pursuer was always there, implacably keeping up no matter how fast the boy tried to run. So he pressed on in the dead silence, while light poured from above.
The sun was disappearing behind rooftops when he emerged into the square. It was... vast, and not the way he remembered it, but somehow that didn't seem strange. People were gray shapes in the distance, walking listlessly past each other. Even the few cars were quiet.
It seemed he had outpaced his pursuer as he left the shadow of a grand corner building to cross the square towards the vast park on the opposite side. Electrical lights started to come on, filtered through the foliage of trees, while the sky grew dark. Among the impromptu camouflage patterns, he was late
Parole PlanetThe teenager stood in the middle of the road, shaking with both fear
and cold, his clothes barely adequate for a night in the mountains
even in late summer. Straight ahead, shiny eyes stared at him from the
pre-dawn gloom; a long, low building blocked his way to the right, and
the forest to the left was darker than his darkest dreams. But it was
what lay behind him that scared him the most: the castle wall with its
open gate, a patch of light in which floated robed and hooded
silhouettes. He was trapped, and it was his own damned fault too.
He had jumped at the chance, of course. What teenager would pass up
the opportunity to visit another planet? Especially now that the magic
of hyperdrive had cut down the trip to no more than a few weeks. And
his father had money; it wasn't like they were going to travel packed
like sardines in economy class.
There were plenty of reasons for people to travel between Earth and
its extra-solar colonies: tourism, science, cultural exchanges,
I've got to type this in 'cause my roommate is sleeping. He says we don't have the bandwidth for video here anyway. They're really low-tech, you know? They make their own power and capture rainwater. It's never enough to go around, but that suits me just fine. It tastes awful. They even warned me not to drink straight from the tap. Wish I could send someone to our favorite store for a bottle of soda, but they'd be arrested. And I can't go because I'm supposed to be hiding.
As if! A white face around here stands out like Slender Man at a gay parade. I was afraid to go out by myself at first. Did you know the police never come to this neighborhood? How can anyone feel safe like that? Then again, the first cop who saw me would probably ship me right back to dad, and we'd be back to square one.
When did the world become so complicated?
Did I tell you about my roommate? His name is Marius, and he's the landlord's son or nephew or something. Everybody's somebody's relative around he