A NOTE ON PRONOUNS:
Since a couple of you asked: 'per' is a gender-neutral pronoun. Flid, who is intersex (an hermaphrodite), doesn't want to fit into binary definitions of 'girl' or 'boy'. And that's important for the story. I selected 'per', loaned from Margaret Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time, as it sounds and looks better than hir, shim, zhe and all the other made up gender-neutral pronouns out there. It also does what I wanted it to do: to stress that Flid is a person first and foremost.
Underground. Outside Sindar's Pharmacy. Light poured from the spindly iron lampposts but created more uncertainty than security. Shapes and nightmares flickered across the cave walls.
In the market district, surrounded by closed shops—buildings boarded up or with windows smashed. Griffiti-covered walls. Only a couple of places still in business. Their neon signs half-broken. Random letters lit up. The epileptic promises of commerce. Our shadows silhouetted against the door like crooked fangs, hungry for what was inside.
Flid was wearing a gasmask. Per features hidden in the sadomasochistic gesture of rubber and tubing, like some elephant god twisted in the forges. Made it impossible to see per carved jawline, per elevated cheeks. But look down a bit and per breasts would rook up the front of per shirt. Down more, and per cock bulged ridiculously within a piratical codpiece. A perfect yin-yang, alchemical lover. To fuck and be fucked. Here with an assault cannon. Per had my back.
I wiped condensation from my goggles and nodded at Flid. 'You ready?'
'Always.' Could hear per smile even though I couldn't see it. 'Let's kick arse, babe.'
I could smell the reek of bleach and medicinal alcohol before we even stepped inside. Needs do as needs must.
We burst through the door, taking the clerks by surprise. Shoved our crude-looking cannons in their nervous faces. Row after row of medication spanned the walls around us. I brought my gun right up to the nearest clerk, my bayonet touching the soft flesh beneath his chin. A thread of perspiration ran down the blade.
'You! Fill up the trolley. Tranqs, morphine, pit lily . . . Give us the best stuff you got and no one gets hurt!'
Suddenly animated, they began scurrying round each other, like battery hens on deformed ankles. Filling their arms with chems. Stumbling over to the trolley. I felt like a kid in a sweet shop. All those bright colours rattling together was enough to make a girl wet.
Within less than a minute the trolley was full. Packs of Narco-Sleep, Ibu-REM, Paradol, Crave-U-Want. Jars of brown herbs, silver leaves and purple grasses. Flid popped the door back open. I dashed out, trolley clutched firmly in front of me. Like I was holding the reigns of a golgol beast and charging into the amphitheatre. Spilling pills everywhere, we raced down the street. Coasting along on the trolley's wheels. Giggling like we were still kids, picking food from the trash. Sleeping in cracks under bridges or down fallen mine shafts. Flid wrapped an arm around my waist. Slid it down to the arch of my backside, warm against me.
When we reached the end of the street, we stopped the juggernaut with our heels. Smelled the gravel beneath burn the rubber of our soles. I swung the trolley parallel to the battered sports car waiting for us. A red convertible with the top down, it purred as Flid stroked the hood.
Nearby a homeless man looked up from the doorway he'd been sleeping in. One cybernetic eye half in shadow beneath his hat. Flicked him a grin full of shark teeth, turned and tipped the contents of the trolley into the backseat. Flid pulled off per mask, blond hair ruffled. Slung it into the passenger's seat, rubber loose like a used condom. We unloaded the cannons from our backs. Me bent over the trunk of the car, knees meeting in the middle. Striking the vulnerable schoolgirl pose. And I knew Flid's eyes were on my shoulders, my arse, my legs. Hair falling about my ears. Per knew I was teasing. I'm no bottom. So per spanked me, playfully, and I jumped up with a chuckle. Could felt my cheeks turning pink. Not blushing, because I never blush, but flushed for per.
'Get in,' said Flid, eyes fixed on the red alert bulb flashing above the pharmacy's entrance. 'Justicars will be here soon.'
As per stepped into the passenger's seat, I dived behind the steering wheel. Arm flicking up behind me, wrist bent back, as though I'd just swung from a kids' climbing frame right into the driver's seat.
|Naomie Harris||as The Flower Girls|
|Rooney Mara||as Flid|