Illustration by Abby Brown
"Quincy," Levi's voice rumbled. Quincy catapulted upright. He wrapped his arms around May, an impenetrable shield in his first waking seconds. She squealed until, "Quincy," came through the hidden speakers in the wall again. He loosened up.
"Today is your physical evaluation," the disembodied Levi announced.
"My physical evaluation. I want you Fitted and training before the next Summit. D-Block, building 75 on Detaunt Avenue."
"What should I..." the speakers clicked off. Quincy sighed, grabbed his coat, and knelt on the bed beside May. Her chirping beak popped open, straight up, when he scooped her. Quincy did a quick sweep for her pellet, but came up empty-handed. "No way, girl. You've got to spit out your nonsense first," He wrapped her tight inside his jacket, and grabbed her a bug-wafer to go. "Time to go see Uncle Levi."
A trolley ride, which Quincy was getting the hang of, brought him to Detaunt Avenue. By the time he got inside building 75, May had cooed herself asleep. He stepped inside a half-frozen, macabre maze. Corridors twisted through doorways of slit, plastic screens. Quincy glanced what he knew by smell were hanging hunks of meat. They dangled from grotesque hooks in steel rails across the ceiling. Rows upon columns of skinless carcasses crisscrossed the endless steel and concrete chambers.
"Quincy," Levi's dry voice was his guide through the cold, grey labyrinth. Quincy was surprised to not only find Crichton, but Corman with him in a square room outlined by flesh. Levi handed a few paper credits to Crichton when they saw the fluff poking through Quincy's jacket.
"I told you. Everywhere," Crichton pocketed his winnings.
"Well, I can't just leave her in the room," Quincy shivered, scratching the little one's head. Corman took the front.
"Yer a smashin keeper, Quinn. Now hand the gal over. She'll freeze." Quincy reluctantly passed May and her bug-wafer to his most trusted pirate-babysitter.
"Don't give her that till she coughs up her pellet," Quincy said.
"Pops' got a stick jammed sideways, eh?" Corman laughed to May. She blinked her huge eyes at her young pops while he floated away from her, then promptly fell back to sleep. So used to her warmth on his chest and in his hood, Quincy wrestled with the urge to reach for her.
"Crichton tells me you're familiar with a telescope blade," Levi called him back, "That's good, you'll need an edged weapon to contend with Bragg. You still have the one you stole from our armory? Show me how you use it. Two exchanges- one with Crichton, one with me." Crichton came forward, slicing his own blade open. It gleamed about four inches longer than Quincy's.
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Strand: the Silver RadioScience Fiction
A shape against the night, in the light of a highway construction sign, is a young man in trouble. An artist in an artless place, he must fit into Strand's machine, or be thrown away like garbage. From the best laid plans to hapless coincidence, Qui...