By Scott Coon
After the system kids finished their celebration, DJ waited while Paul changed. Then they headed to DJ’s empty apartment for an unsupervised night of violent video games. As the elevator whooshed them toward residential level nine, Paul made an announcement. “I’ve decided not to wait. I have the money, and I don’t need their worthless diploma in the mining arts. After the championship, I’m bouncing out of this human habit trail.”
For the first time in their lives, Paul’s pipedream felt real. He could feel it already.
He tightened his jaw. “Have you even figured out how you’re going to get off the station? They bring our food in by drones, and the shuttles are locked down. Did you come up with something else?”
Paul grinned from ear to ear. “Oh, don’t you worry about that. Unlike school, I’ve been studying for this. There are more ways off this station than you think. It’s more a matter of choice at this point. I’ll be sending you a holo from New Greene.”
New Greene. DJ couldn’t imagine a place like New Greene, where you could go outside without a pressure suit and walk around under a sky. It would be strange. It would also be strange to be here without Paul. Paul was right. His dad was right. DJ needed to figure something out before Black Mountain figured it out for him. He didn’t want to be a miner, but he didn’t want to be a farmer, either. But how could he become anything else?
He didn’t know.
DJ managed a meager smile. “I hope I get that message, but I don’t want to see your body floating outside my window.”
Paul snorted. “You’ll never see my body floating outside your window. I’d aim my body at the corporate center and try to smash in an executive’s window, all big and flashy the way I like it. You should come with me.”
DJ jerked his head back. “What? Smashing through a window?”
Paul smacked DJ’s shoulder. “No, jack-knob, to New Greene! What do you have keeping you here? Not like you have any plans or a girlfriend or money or friends, besides me, really, or…”