Copyright 2012 Leah Cutter
This version published by Knotted Road Press
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"You want me to do what?"
Long Yen stood and drew himself up to his full height, staring down at the still seated, court-appointed white lawyer in his fancy gray suit.
The rocking hum of the air regulator sounded loud in the small space. Beyond the blond lawyer, who sat placidly with his hands folded on the scarred and rusted metal table, was the single door out of the windowless room.
It didn't matter if the door was locked, if the lawyer or the guards had been careless. Long Yen still couldn't take three steps before the emergency bells would ring, sending the miners scurrying out of the miles of corridors in the station and to their rooms. All the containment doors would slam shut, and when they figured out which corridor Long Yen ran through, they'd lock him in, suck all the air out, and that would that.
Even if Long Yen managed, somehow, to get outside, to the surface, it wouldn't be better. Being a fugitive wasn't the problem: being topside was. It was possible to live there, just like it was possible to eat the recycling plant's sludge directly, before it had been given flavor and color and shape. He could find a stronghold, join them sifting through the rough red dirt, hoping against hope that he'd find a trace of the precious minerals The Company hollowed out the planet for.