In space, love has boundaries.
Dirtying fingernails in sewers is fast approaching worthlessness for Zachary, a 16-year old Underworld scavenger. When footage of an Overworld girl, Rosa, is discovered, his intrigue heightens at why she expresses sadness with a lavish lifestyle.
In meeting Rosa, Zachary is scorned by her opinion of the deprived. She pities him and provides a means for them to communicate. With time, friendship and something he’s never felt grows; love for another human. Knowing Rosa calls him when it suits her isn’t enough; he wants to meet her, but how? Relationships in Underworld are few, let alone the impossibility with those above the ceiling.
Underworld will suffer when plans to conquer Jupiter’s moon, Europa move ahead. Worse is Rosa’s father, a disgraced Overworld ambassador,
Zachary must defeat the prejudice of the worlds, sneak within opposing forces, lose friends and challenge Rosa’s sadness. In doing so, a twisted secret is uncovered that may devour the reason he lives; Rosa.
The orange glow of internal lamps within Shantytown blurred above Zachary’s rush. The home he shared with his dad lay on the ground floor of a tower, a short distance from the entrance to the town.
He altered his grip of the supple package so as not to alert the attention of the beggars that lived along the gutter-trenches. Yanking keys attached by string from a pocket, he undid four door-locks on his front door. The inside offered a stove, table, and two chairs in the first section. Opposing corridors in the middle led off to the two bedrooms and at the far end was the bits-and-pieces zone. From behind ragged cloths attached to the corrugated iron-sheeted walls, he took a match from a box and lit the single lantern to illuminate the area above the table. Shadows formed like creeping creatures, moving deeper into the dark at the rear.
He peered down at the contents of the saucepan on the single electric plate of the stove. Minced rabbit meat. Spores of white fluff covered it. A putrid smell, worse than the sewers, invaded his nostrils. With his thoughts attached to the Intercom, he’d trusted the claim that it was fresh meat when he bought it. Zachary retched. Nothing came out.
Shekhar’s seven Leo-coins would have purchased an armful of potatoes instead, but it’d been months since he’d consumed something worth chewing. Almost all his dad earned disappeared to the slumlords of District Two and the Resourcers, who didn’t deserve payment for their volt-line stealing induction coils.
With one cup from a tub of water into the saucepan, then, nostrils squeezed, he slid the lid over it.
Zachary drew back the curtain next to the stove. Inside the alcove, a Haulage- 404 droid hung mid-way from bolts secured to the wall. The Haulages were ancient, labour-efficient droids used for construction purposes. Oblong headed with two circular eyes and a blocky plated jaw, the droid resembled a muscular human clad in copper armour. With one defunct eye, its left arm removed, and nothing below its waist this was a little more complete than the one on Biro’s table. Skin. Zachary wriggled the image from his mind as he stroked the droid’s torso. No – this was how droids were meant to be. Metal and screws.
To the rear section of his home sat the Bombay core-generator. He often wondered how his bulky-framed dad managed to step over the toilet-hole to reach it. Five LEDs along the Bombay’s top remained empty. Zachary swapped two crocodile clips over, and then rotated the generator’s wheel. The LEDs remained unchanged, even after a third rotation.
His dad had paid the Resourcers their twice-weekly charge – hadn’t he? Loosening his tense fingers, he banged the top of the generator. An internal component whirred as two of the LEDs lit up with a soft aqua tone.
“Next time you do that, I’ll shove my screwdriver in and dismantle you,” Zachary growled at it.
Back at the droid, Zachary took the coiled-tube that ran the length of his home from the stove’s socket. Clearing dust from an exposed chest-plate on the droid, he thrust the coiled-tube inward. A current sizzled along twisted circuitry. Tiny blue lights illuminated its functioning eye.
“Hello, Patch,” said Zachary pulling over a chair.
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