Money me

Posted on 28/08/2012


 Money’s triumf as a substitute for love as souls linger in the phisical world.

Right at the moment I saw her jump off the first floor window I was thinking  ̶ This must be the filthiest alleyway in the ShmegaCx ̶ . She was dressed in red and had long black Asian hair. I noticed it bounced on her shoulders when she landed on the pavement like a cat. My hair didn’t look anything like hers; I hadn’t washed it for weeks and I hadn’t cut it for months. I didn’t even have any Asian blood, as far as I knew. A natural fact, the same as I didn’t have a hukou, otherwise I wouldn’t be living on the insects’ level, hiding amongst the garbage, would I? Well, at least I had managed to stay in for over two years without being kicked out the atmospheric regulation membrane.

I grew up out there, you know, outside the divine Amosbain, as we call it. It’s a nice sight from a few kilometres away, it looks like a massive fish-bowl. Life in the Outside is grim, though. You live with a constant sensation of asphyxia and nausea. The weather is rough, and sheltered places are scarce in the desert. There are constant fights over the use of caves and oasis; life in the genetically modified resistant Cassia tree colonies  ̶ where I grew up ̶ feels like a siege.

When she jumped down, I had been crouching beside the hazardous waste container for at least one hour. I could say I had been slacking for the last 30 minutes… but it wasn’t quite slacking. I was so dehydrated, starved and strained that I felt I deserved a little break. I felt strangely cosy in that small city cell beneath the Nanjing Road second level elevated road, between the exit of the underground car park of the Funky Fook Hotel and the unloading entrance at the back of  Plaza Royal.

She looked like the sort of woman who would stay in the Funky Fook: silicon pants, max-protection eye shades, expensive cling-on rubber bag… except for the fact she was behaving more like a dog. She was sniffing the floor with a funny look on her face, she even licked some disgusting piece of crap on the floor. At the sight of that, I completely lost the sense of cosiness, I even freaked out a bit. I had heard about the hybrids before; lots of funny genetic experiments with a great diversity of outcomes… But I had never met one. The genetic labs went a bit out of control in the 80’s when the ModiHuGe, or the Law Pro Modification of the Human Genome, was enforced. The news about the consequences of that scientific rampage are still quite common.

I didn’t move. I had a better excuse than deserved rest, now. I didn’t want to attract her attention. I had enough problems already… She kept sniffing the air, and after sniffing in my direction, she came towards me straight away. We found each other face to face: she was a pretty hybrid with no trace of her doggy genes in her looks; I was a deformed illegal migrant, half the size of a healthy man, from the toxic Outside. We looked at each other with a certain lack of surprise.

̶ Get the fuck out of here you Outsy trash! ̶̶ That voice was coming from the Funky Fook car park behind us. It was the garbage man inside his O-vehicle shouting at me. I didn’t make him insist. I knew the sort of hobbies those people have, I had been trapped in a garbage truck before. I rushed out the alleyway like a rat. The hybrid healthy female ran after me. I knew how to move in the SHmegaCx, avoiding the promenades, the parks and the open sky areas, from where the Floating Police would easily detect me. I struggled running for over 40 minutes. She followed me at a quick pace with no effort, you could tell her body had fully developed in a favourable environment. We finally reached the entrance of the Huangpu Side Sewage System, where I had my main residence. I turned around and I showed her my scariest face, before opening a small trap attached to a dirty mouldy wall and stepping in, hoping she wouldn’t fit in.

I crawled into the system sneaking in between tubes and water purification tanks, until I reached the abandoned sewage pipe that led to a small terrace above the Huangpu water. I crouched again by the opening. Then I heard her approaching.  ̶ How had she managed?! ̶  Now I could see her dirty little sniffing face in the dim light of the dusk. She spotted the magnificent views I had from my terrace and ran outside without even noticing me. The lights on the Pudong towers were lit.   ̶ Come in! ̶  I shouted,   ̶ you’ll  screw my hiding place, you bitch!! ̶  . I pulled her back inside the big pipe. She let me drag her while she kept pointing across the river. There was a huge screen shining against the sunset. A man’s close up appeared on it, you could discern beautiful leaf-like shapes in his green iris. He slowly moved his lips where you read: “We money you”.  Then she turned to me and said  ̶ Money me. ̶ I stared blankly at her.  ̶ Money me!! ̶ She shouted again, pointing at the big Aurora screen. Even dogs and bitches knew I didn’t have any money.

I saw the plead in her eyes. I had known what she meant straight away, no need to pretend I didn’t know anything about it. She wanted that feeling. So I pulled her slender arms down towards me, making her kneel. Then I pressed her head against my chest, gently, and I stroked down her long black hair, over and over. She was still, but I imagined a fluffy tail wiggling behind her, something that would have helped her express her joy.