When I was fifteen, my friends and I snuck out of the arcology to see Locke in concert at the Octane Club. It was all Katy’s idea. Her parents had given her a new Eurocar Westwind Turbo on her sixteenth birthday. She’d known about it at least a month in advance. Of course, we were all waiting for her to get the car so that we could conquer the world with our newfound mobility.
The Locke concert fell the day after Katy’s birthday. We took it as a sign from the heavens. Off into the Seattle night we went, the top of the Westwind down, soaking up the sights and smells of the downtown nightlife. There were four of us, partners in crime. Katy was the rich kid, the girl who could do anything she wanted. Her parents knew where she was going and they didn’t care. Heck, they’d even paid for her ticket.
Precisely because her parents never seemed to react to anything she did, Katy started dating Luther. Trolls made up fewer than 1 percent of the arcology’s population, but that hadn’t stopped Katy from finding a trog of her own. At seventeen, Luther was in flat-out rebellion against the strict morals and conservative lifestyle of the older generation of arcology inhabitants. And he had the look down, I’ll give him that. The ripped-up designer Lasalles, the faded leather jacket, the gleaming chrome caps that called attention to his styled horns … oh yeah, Luther had the look.
Maddy was the third member of our teenage cabal and the most timid. Chubby and awkward, she’d never been comfortable going out or partying. For her, dancing the night away in an honest-to-drek club was the worst kind of treason. She’d been against it from the start.
And there I was, Perri Matthews, somewhere in between. I was the one who rode the line between reason and utter idiocy. More often than not, in those days, idiocy had the upper hand. I was caught between pleasing my parents through good grades, hard work, blah blah blah, and Experiencing Life. Most of all, I think we just wanted to get out of the arcology. The older folks didn’t really understand that. They’d only lived there for ten years, maybe a little longer, and they’d forgotten how long ten years really was. Many of them had spent their first thirty or forty years in the open, outside. They didn’t realize what it was like to grow up looking through windows at the sun, to play in carefully planned “parks” in which Luther was taller than the trees. For us, it was dull, stale and fake. We went to that concert and had the time of our lives. Even Maddy enjoyed herself. I remember returning that evening. My parents were sitting on the couch in the den. My father looked stern and angry. I bit my lip through his entire tirade and said nothing. I just watched him gesticulating wildly, parroting the corp line he’d been fed. “The arcology is our home. The arcology is the safest place on Earth. The arcology doesn’t suffer from crime, pollution, rebellion, terrorism. The arcology is a place to raise your kids in a safe and sheltered environment.” My dad was full of drek.
Two years later, I remembered what my dad said as I watched a Medusa rip Katy in half. It tore at her soft skin until nothing was left but an unrecognizable pile of red and white. She died in her parents’ apartment on the 243rd floor. Her parents died with her.
Maddy was killed after prolonged exposure to one of Deus’ mass hallucinations. She was jacked into the Matrix for seven days, and her body couldn’t handle the strain. We found her face down near the bottom of one of the corpse piles on the 201st floor. We cremated her and gave her a proper funeral. I couldn’t let the Spiders have her.
We recovered Luther in a raid on the 231st floor hospital. Deus had bored into his skull and left the wound open. A leather strap had been stapled to his head where the skin and bone used to be. The Greens in the Pens had taken his brain and mashed it up like so much Mold-a-Clay. They couldn’t be bothered to put him back together again. Luther doesn’t talk any more. He just stares off into space.
My name is Peregrine Alice Matthews. I am a member of the arcology Resistance. Today is my seventeenth birthday.