A few blocks from his apartment, Gregory’s eye was drawn to a brightly coloured object in an otherwise drab, grey alleyway. Though he rarely found anything of value just sitting out in the open, there was something about the object’s appearance that intrigued him, and after a quick look around, he marched over to the alley to investigate.
What he found was a tiny scrap of plastic greenery, its smooth, glossy leaves gleaming in the ship’s artificial sun. Kneeling down, he considered the strange way it had settled itself into a crack in the pavement, as though it were actually growing out of the sterile concrete. Had some crazed Rim-Dweller with a well-developed sense of irony placed it that way? Chuckling quietly, Greg pinched the thing between his thumb and index finger, plucking it out in one quick motion and holding it up to his eyes for a better look. The tiny stem, crowned by a cluster of bright green leaves, was soft and pliable beneath his fingers, its base branching out into a network of fuzzy, golden roots …
Greg’s eyes went wide.
Requiring a healthy dose of precious nutrients to survive in the sterile environment of the ship, live plants were the ultimate sign of one’s wealth and social status, allowed only to the highest-ranking government officials and, of course, Flashers and their families. Plainly stated, one did not simply stumble upon a plant on the USS McAdam. And yet, here it was: a veritable live weed which, against all odds and probabilities, had managed to eke out an existence in one of the most barren and desolate areas of the city.
And with one careless act, Gregory had more than likely killed it.
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