Charlie stalked through the crowd, and it slightly parted as he made his way through the busy marketplace. Maybe not as much of a part as the old prophet Moses made on Earth when he spread the Red Sea (was it actually red? Like the natural waste ponds on Aldranuich Seven? Who knew much about Earth now?), but the crowd parted enough that Charlie could feel that same feeling he always felt, like he was repelling people away from him, like an instinct.
Maybe it was a bad idea to leave the public hive building to go to the cinema.
Thing was, his neighbor and he had been talking the last weekend prior, a real treat for Charlie (alcohol was of course involved. It took ten Talbatian ales to make Charlie open up and half a dozen blue worm wine bottles to make Mr. Granfeild from frame 6-A to be able to stand to be within five feet of Charlie for an extended period) but he told him there was this great film from Earth that was playing at the Plateau Sixteen, called Catcher in the Rye, made in the late 21st century from an infamous novel from the twentieth century that Mr. Granfeild felt he might enjoy, maybe even identify with.
Problem was Charlie really liked the film, despite how true it stayed to the dialogue of the book, which he found quite dull and tacky, but he had to admit, as he passed all the people going to and fro in the twilight of this great city, the word ‘phony,’ however tacky, did seem to ring true.
A beautiful Altresian girl passed him on his right, the ends of her red curled locks drifting close to her cleavage, where her articulated scales reflected the light of the neon-colored streets, the design ending somewhere near her nipple husks, like a map where an arrow pointed towards priceless treasures.
She gave him a look of disgust at Charlie’s crooked little smile he tried to pass her way. Charlie could say it was something that happened a lot, but not something he ever really got used to. No matter how many times Charlie faced rejection, ridicule, bullying and being lied to, Charlie never did seem to get used to it.
Around him couples strolled, some pushed their offspring in grav-strollers and there was even an old couple walking with the slow walk of time finally catching up with you and walking you slowly to your grave. Charlie would probably make that sad trip alone, like every trip he had made since his father died on a mining colony and his mother ran off with his father’s former captain from the mining conglomerate.
Suddenly a man, who looked Human (or mostly Human at any rate. Who knew what a real genetically pure Human looked like today anyway?) bumped into him roughly from behind and knocked his wrist unit right off his arm and into a puddle of rainwater. In seconds, the unit was a smoldering and melting work of abstract art, a victim of the slightly toxic rain of Hoayxe Prime.
The man looked at the wrecked computer, his face locked into a grimace. “Sorry, was trying to catch the last ray platform out of town.” He looked up from the melting machinery and gave Charlie a more serious look.
“Should have paid for the toxicity insurance spray package.”
“I can’t afford it.”
“Anyway, I feel horrible about this, but it was kinda your fault for not protecting your property properly.” Amused at this accidental wordplay, he looked up facing the street and the other walking platform on the other side. Suddenly his face lit up like a solar flare and he was whistling and waving to a woman on the walking platform opposite, the Altresian girl with her red curls and tempting scale patterns.
“Look, I gotta go meet my wife, we gotta get to the islands for our third honeymoon. Look, here is my business card, I have an office in the city, I’ll buy you lunch or something, sorry again.”
Soon the man was across on the other platform, holding the girl and Charlie could see the look she gave him, so much different than the one she had given him just a short time ago, that was a look of hope, love and dreams. The look Charlie had gotten was the kind of look you display when you accidently step into animal feces.
Cahrlie could not bear it any longer, he raised his arms and screamed towards the moons and the sky.
“Can anyone see me at all?”
As expected, no one replied…no one ever did.