Short fiction contest winner: Apollo

Credit: 
Illustration by Vincent Lin

The music was deafening and the lights were blinding, but the overstimulation was something Haru had grown quite used to. She couldn’t understand the words in the song playing in the club (she believed it was in Korean), but she danced along with the crowd anyway, entranced by the press of bodies around her and the flashing lights reflecting off of luminescent bodies and iridescent clothes.

The flashing lights dimmed just as the song changed, and for a moment, Haru’s world was plunged into thrilling darkness. When the room lit up once again, she found herself looking into a captivating pair of turquoise eyes, the colour enthralling and inhuman. She knew it had to be an augment, but the colour was stunning, nevertheless. The girl who the bewitching eyes belonged to smiled brilliantly, a dark but inviting smile, and Haru was hypnotised.

The sound of bass and synth surrounded her as the crowd began to dance once again, and the girl with the turquoise eyes stayed near, dipping in and out of Haru’s field of vision as the crowd undulated. She had only drank enough to be mildly intoxicated, but she grew more disoriented as more people wove themselves into the crowd, and faster and louder the music began to play.

Suddenly feeling nauseated, Haru carefully extracted herself from the depths of the crowd, stumbling to the bar counter and leaning against the cool linoleum. Her head was spinning from the atmosphere, but that was also something she was used to when she visited beyond Earth’s limits.

She glanced up as someone settled next to her at the bar, grinning as she realised it was the girl with the bright eyes that she had seen in the crowd of dancers.

“Hey, stranger,” the girl purred, and Haru let out a giddy bubble of laughter.

“Hi,” she replied, looking the girl up and down. She was wearing a navy blue dress that glimmered as she shifted – it immediately reminded Haru of fish scales.

“What’s your name?” the girl asked, tapping her nails on the bar as a waiter brought her over a neon purple-coloured drink without her having to ask.

“Haru,” she answered obligingly, earning a smile as the girl sipped her drink.

“I’m Sixx,” the girl told Haru in turn, brushing her dark hair out of her eyes. “Do you want anything to drink?”

Haru happily accepted, and another neon-purple cocktail was made and given to her. It tasted strangely of lemons.

“So, Haru,” Sixx started, her glass resting just below her lips. “I presume you’re not from Apollo?”

“Do I make it that obvious?” Haru teased, coughing slightly as the alcohol stung on the way down her throat.

“No, you seem to fit right in here,” Sixx laughed easily. “You just look very earthly.” Haru decided to take that as a compliment and smiled in response. “Do you often venture this far outside of the Milky Way?”

“I’ve been on Apollo for about a week or so,” Haru replied nonchalantly, tracing her finger around the rim of her glass.

“Is it your first time here?” Sixx asked, and Haru had to laugh at that.

“No,” she chuckled, revelling in the sound of Sixx’s own laughter.

Haru’s senses were shocked by a sudden change in her surroundings; the lights cut out and the music stopped abruptly, plunging the room into a confused darkness. Haru’s heart rate picked up as she heard a distant scream, and she could hear the crowd within the bar beginning to panic.

Emergency lights slowly flickered to life, illuminating the room in a harsh, blue glow, and Haru looked around frantically to gage what was going on.

“It’s the police,” Sixx called over the noise of the crowd, twisting her body to the side to avoid being run into by a couple retreating to the exit.

Haru jumped as another shout rang throughout the room, seeing a flash of light followed by the crowd scattering away faster from the source of the strife. She turned back to Sixx, only to see her being dragged away by a police droid. Cursing under her breath, Haru reached into the bag on her hip and drew out a small pistol, cocking it before plunging back into the crowd after the girl with pretty turquoise eyes.

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