Sophia's breath came in clouds. Her hands, shoved deep in her pockets against the cold, were numb. Her feet hurt and she feared she was getting frostbite. She wished momentarily that she still had her male boots. She shuddered at the thought of male boots, a gift from her father over a year and a half ago.
She headed roughly westward, into the mountains. It was a few degrees over freezing tonight. It was late October and the weather would be even colder up in the mountains. The days would get colder still, but that didn't matter to Sophia. She wouldn't be around. She shifted her backpack. She could almost hear the pill bottles inside. Soon they would end her pain for good.
Why not just take them here?
She looked back at the city of Denver. She could see the skyline of downtown, a frozen haze hanging over it. She remembered when she had arrived here, just a year ago. She had been so full of hope, a new life promised on her horizon. It hadn't taken long for that dream to turn sour.
She was seventeen when she ran away from home, escaped from the hell that was Wyoming. Being seventeen, the shelter was happy to help "Zach" who had escaped a veritable cult. But when they discovered the purpose of Zach's escape had been to transition to being Sophia, they were less happy. They were funded by a church that might be liberal by Sophia's standards, but was far from accepting. She was faced with another painful choice, stay at the shelter as Zach or move on as Sophia.
A local LGBT center ran a support group for transgender people. She'd met several people her age who lived on the street. They had taught her the ropes and for the next several months it seemed like an okay life. They camped when the weather was good. She couch surfed when it wasn't. There always seemed to be someone that had an apartment, hotel room or something. Often three or four of them would share a room, sleeping on whatever space was available.
Then she took up with an older man she met at a bar, Carl. Some of her friends warned her against him. He was a user, they said. He had his own place and he wanted Sophia to stay with him, no strings attached. She was happy to give those strings and they'd been together for three months.
It hadn't been perfect. A eighteen year old transgender high school drop out with no skills wasn't going to find a job, even with an address. It was bad enough that she was likely going to hell when she died. Did life have to suck, too?
Then she found out that Carl was cheating. Sophia tested positive for HIV. Carl didn't even have the good grace to be ashamed. Instead, he blamed her for exposing him to the disease, as though she was the unfaithful one. When she denied it, he told her to get out of his house. It was an unfair kick in the teeth.
She turned and started walking again. It was late at night, or possibly early in the morning. Morning, it was definitely morning. Any decent person was in bed, asleep. But she'd freeze if she slept outside tonight. Best to keep moving to stay warm. In the morning the other homeless people could find someplace open and warm and doze for a few hours.
Sophia's next sleep would be her last. But there was something she wanted to do first.
She could just barely see her destination, in the hills on the west end of town. The dome shown in the dark night. The cable, leading to the heavens, was lost in the darkness. Up there, thousands of miles in the air, was Shoshone Station.
There had been a huge party up there last night, the christening of the station. Sophia had seen part of it on a TV at a coffee shop around nine pm. The Princess Sarasvat looked splendid in a loose flowing blue gown. The President had been there, along with dozens of dignitaries, bright happy people.
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Shoshone Station: The Galactic Consortium season 2Science Fiction
Less than a year ago, they arrived over earth's sky. They call themselves the Galactic Consortium and they are human, or at least, simian - from the same genetic line as humans. They claim to have terraformed this planet centuries ago to serve as a...