Wolf in Time, pg 56; Adolar; 2432
Time is a poison; insidious, it is the sediment that settles in the heart. The wordless wolf finds solace in the body – but does it touch its heart?
The Supremacy Wars, Wolf-Man (extract, poem); Bolano; 2056
Fingers grasp (a hand, a throat?),
The heart carries an extra vote;
Rekindle your warmth by fire’s light,
Slips of day linger in the night;
A shadow never trips or flakes,
It is cast whenever the sun breaks;
I have seen man in the wolf and the wolf in man,
What one can do the other does plan.
On New Earth, 2942, Hudson King, ace mag-cycle rider, has a target on his back after gambling himself into a hole and delves into the deepest pits of the Hive to clear his debts – only to face the gravest decision of his life when his brother tries to help him.
Even the gutter swill glowed pale red, entrenched as it was at the feet of the city, in the hive, where the star couldn’t see. When he looked up between the city’s legs, the vertiginous black slabs hid millions of lives behind twinkling lights. Cuts of sky bled between the towers, concourses and storeyed streets.
Walking, stumbling, crawling, the hivers flustered the streets, seemingly aware of the weight of others’ expectations that pressed from above. The air was busy with a manmade weather: detritus descended from the sky, discarded by the residents of the upper levels. The things that fell – shoes, books, bags, food – were recycled by the hivers, who were forever vigilant of what was falling from above.
Harried by the sky, Hudson weaved down the street and gladly accepted the open doorway’s invitation. After kicking the sludge off his boots, he climbed up the stairs to his friend’s apartment. He knocked and after a few moments she slid back the peep hole. The slender metal door scrapped open and he side-stepped through.
‘You’re not meant to be here,’ she said.
Hudson stomped to the light slit in the wall, which ran vertically, and scrutinised the murky street that writhed with hivers.
‘My pad’s been scanned again,’ he replied and took off his breathing mask.
‘You expect me to take your word for it?’
Hudson grimaced at the woman who walked across the room to a beaten chair in the corner and sat in it. A lamp nudged her with light.
Debris thudded off the side of the apartment building.
‘It activated itself,’ he said, ‘that’s how I know.’
The woman hoisted a machete from the side of the chair and placed it across her lap. The light melted into a buttery glow along one side of it.
‘And your first thought was to bring your shit here?’ she asked.
‘Not exactly,’ he said and walked the few paces to the other side of the room, where he picked up a bottle of water and took a gulp. ‘I’m being flushed out. It’s not worth it. I’ve just come to say bye.’
The woman’s brows dived and she threw the machete on the small table in front of her.
‘No you fucking don’t.’
‘Beat wait,’ he said as she stood up and marched over to him.
‘Where are you going?’ she asked. She’d stopped in front of him and was holding his gaze. He turned away and held up his hands.
‘Up top,’ he said, ‘I need to make a call.’
‘Let’s go then,’ she replied and hurried to a set of drawers, ‘I’ll protect you.’ She held up a handgun and smiled.
‘You don’t have to,’ he said.
‘We share water and life.’
Hudson rubbed his forehead and sighed. ‘Seriously?’ he asked.
‘Aren’t we sharing life?’ The gun hung from her hand.
‘Sure,’ he replied and edged closer to the door, while she picked up a rucksack and put a few supplies in it, including the water.