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Lucius | Operations | Virus
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2021-09-12 | Lucius | Bus Ride

I squinted, my eyes watering. When will this heat stop? I held out my hand to measure the sun, my arm outstretched. Four fingers is an hour from the horizon. One... two... Two hours left until sunset. The sweat on my forehead was salty. My eyes stung. The street was strangely quiet for after work. Most everybody had the vaccine, now, but nobody was working, I guess.

"Finally, the bus", I muttered, as the 29 pulled up to my stop at 3rd and Jefferson. I swiped my CitiTransit card, and pushed into the cool interior of the bus. Only half of the buses have AC these days, and when they broke they weren't fixed again. I scanned around for a seat. Nothing but the back - fuck.

"Come on back! We won't bite ya!", shouted a large man, over six foot, with a reddish-tan face, and long, wiry black hair with a few streaks of gray. He laughed faintly, with a big grin showing his surprisingly white teeth. His cheeks stuck out above his beard, kind of like Santa, but that was where the resemblance stopped. His clothes looked like a fantasy mash-up of Jim Morrison and Dennis Hopper: dirty, greasy leather, and conchos.

The girl near the center seat pulled herself up closer to the man with her hand high up his inner thigh. She scowled as I squeezed past her to sit down, as though if I touched her just once, or even tried to talk to her, she would cut me. The man flashed his eyes at her with mild amusement. "She likes me, but that's it. She hates everybody else." The girl squeezed his leg tighter and put her head down on his chest, closing her eyes.

The girl on the other side of him had bright red hair, a black beret, and looked out the window, appearing to be oblivious of everything, but her neck and back were straight like she was listening to every word. Her neck was clean and white, almost translucent. "She tolerates me. She don't like you either, but I bet she'd take your money." He laughed again. The girl elbowed him in his belly.

Both girls seemed to be in their early twenties. You could see the stress in their face, the lines starting from too much smoking, partying, and not enough sleep.

"I'm Lucius", the man boomed, and held his hand out in a biker shake. I looked at his hand and paused. "What, you one of those? You got your vaccine yet?" I nodded and grabbed his hand, returning the shake. The girl dug in deeper into his side as we shook. I recognized his name. Everybody heard of Lucius, but I had never seen his face.
"Ah good. Right on.", he laughed again, his chest bouncing the girl's head. "Where's your stop? I haven't seen you on this route before?"
"I get off near Fourth and Western, I have a van parked out in the woods."
"No kidding? West camp? That's where I met Skreet.", said Lucius, as he squeezed the girl tucked under his arm. "You aren't a cop are you, or a narc? You have to say."
"I think that is an urban myth, about cops not lying, but, no, I'm not a cop or a narc."
"K, K, just wondering, because I'm at the camp on the other side of yours, over the ridge, and we've been getting harassed every day by the cops. You need anything, though, I mean anything, I got it for you. That girl there," he nodded to the girl with the beret, "she's my little mule, you know what I mean? Nobody messes with her. They figure she just u-district art girl with the Camus book and beret and all. I shouldn't be telling you all this on the bus. Hey! What you doing tonight? Why don't you come on over? You bring the beer, and I'll provide the condiments, you know what I mean? Come on over!"
"I heard about you on neighborly.com."
"Fuck that site. I hate those Karens. Used to be you could shoot up in peace. Not now. They just jealous. I know that. They just jealous in their tight facehugger life, you know what I mean? That Alien shit. They fell for the whole fantasy, and it ain't there."
I laughed. "Yeah... they get that way, but not all of them are so uptight. I get my power for free, but I keep my eye out for my host. Facehugger, heh."
The bus sign showed 2nd and Western. "I'm next stop. Gotta get off. I might take you up on that and come over tonight. I don't work tomorrow."
"Right on. Don't forget the beer, and bring it cold, our power got cut off yesterday in the raid."
"Sure thing. Later"
I pulled the cord after we passed 2nd and Western, and the bus pulled over. I walked into a blast of hot air as I stepped off the bus.


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