CH. 03 «Additive-Free Lungs»



I stepped out of my unit into the belligerent wind. It was evening now and the clear, starry sky above looked more purple than black. Waiting a moment for the unruly breeze to die down, I caught the slight stench of the hundred cigis lying with the mulch around me. A moment to light another one was lost with a gust that brought that permanent burnt-blood smell of iron oxide to my nostrils, giving the distinct memory of bitten tongues. A feeling not unlike the sting on my exposed skin from the cold that accompanied the odor. I leaned back inside the hatchway to dodge the wind and soon only smelled the choke of the Martian Spirit I lit after another minute, instantly remembering why I didn’t like smoking them at all.

I had bought the pack at the filling station in desperation, not able to pick out any other familiar brands from all of the foreign labels in the nicotine bookcase behind the counter. I recognized these right away, they had been popular with hip kids back on Earth who were trying to be green or just trendy, the “healthy” cigis boasting liberation from pesticides and other additives–and from any discernible taste. I personally thought these pre-fab’d cigis were bland and took larger lungs to drag, and they take too long to burn in the blasted wind. I forgot about it until I heard a skittering to my right and leapt back to the airlock, reaching inside to flip the porch LEDs. I returned to the pale-blue illuminated patio alone; I saw no scaly tail nor heard the scratch of claws, so I felt safe to assume I was so. Wishing I had not lost my hat, I pulled up my collar and hugged myself with my smoke-free hand. I missed that herringbone dob, even if Leucosia gave it to me.

Another, larger wind-wrought clatter in the yard beside mine startled me from my lamentations and decided I ought to head in. It was too bitter out there to make the cigi worth the hassle. Stomping it out on the pavement before it ever had a chance to burn to the little printed ink graphic, I turned on my pressed toe and hurried back inside. The automatic hatch slid shut behind me. Its hermetic seal squealed as it cut off the atmosphere from outside… all except one tiny wisp of smoke that followed me back into my unit. circularcrop-itlom004-chapter-additivefreelungs copy

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NEXT: CH. 04 «My Minifeed»

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