NEW 📗Story: School Photo

30 Minutes to Midnight

Monday, Nov 1, 2021

Moise’s father worked for Cosme Car, and a big company like that throws a big party each year to celebrate the passing of the summer solstice. It was a good excuse to dress up and drink. This time of year, the sun never sets on the north of Vekllei. It gently touches the horizon and begins to rise again. Tzipora caught a train up the coast with Moise and his dad and they arrived before seven.

The big Cosme party was thrown at its headquarters and manufacturing plant in Bohs each year. At the centre of the facility was Auto Tower, which rose 50 floors above the ground and housed workers at the plant. General wisdom was the higher you climbed, the better the party.

Moise had dressed up as Zeus, but Tzipora didn’t know much about the Greek myths and thought he was Caesar. Moise, for his part, thought Tzipora had decided to accompany him as Helios, god of the sun. She didn’t know who or what a Helios was, but didn’t want to disappoint him so she pretended. She had actually been aiming for the indigenous warrior spirit Acovo.

Willy the spy was there, on the lawns away from the music. He wasn’t a good guy — he was an officer with AB/NI, and exemplified the fraying edge of Vekllei’s wide-cast intelligence net. He was creepy. Tzipora, in her upside-down view of things, liked him well enough and struck up a conversation with him. Willy liked that about her; he liked the comedy of this schoolgirl chatting with this monster about their old war stories. Moise had never met him before, and the guy put him on edge.

“You’ve gotten so tall,” Willy said. Same joke every time he saw her — Tzipora wasn’t getting any taller anytime soon. She shook her head.

“What are you doing here? Who invites a guy like you? Did you get reassigned as a bodyguard?” Tzipora asked. He snorted.

“I’m actually headed north for a couple days. Thought I’d stop in and have a beer. Feels like a long time since I seen you — hey, why don’t you tell your old man to give me a call? I’m rotating out in a few weeks and wouldn’t mind the work. He’s hard to reach now, Director Desmoisnes.”

“He doesn’t like you much, you know that.”

“Yeah, I know that.”

It was a good party. They lay about on the lawn drinking and talking like pantheon gods. The sun was low in the sky, and Auto Tower was glittering thirty minutes to midnight.