Yesterday, while engrossed in polishing the welding spanners during some downtime at the shop, I was jolted upright by a tap on my shoulder. I turned and found my boss hovering over me. He cleared his throat of an unhealthy wetness.
"That's a sharp lookin' spanner, kid." His voice was gray and gravel; the hum of his hover legs was clinical and soulless. "I need you to run this down to the IP zip. Think you can handle that?"
I took the silver package: "Sure, boss."
The sunlight on a hot day in any modern city bubble causes water to vapor faster than the osmosis regulators can distribute; and most days in any regular, sun-facing part of the earth ends up as humid as the flesh-decaying breath of a martian zarlon. (The thought of a zarlon caused a reflex search in my eye unit and I found myself staring down the grim maw of an olive green rhinocerous with two jagged nose horns.) This particular day had the texture of a warm sponge and it slapped me clear across the face as soon as the front door slid open with a digital jingle.
"Don't forget ter tell'em I sent ya'!" The boss could make gravel in a vac-unit sound like a melody.
My eye-unit was telling my wrist monitor to cool off but the thing had been bugging out for weeks and I didn't have the creds to fix or upgrade the damn thing. Warm sponges and humid zarlon breath was a regular fixture that summer. Ping: Function Cool, Feed Dat Failure. I dismissed the message permanently: maybe if I just didn't think about it...
I made the corner of the block when I felt something tugging on my pants. I shielded the silver package with my armpit and turned to find a harmless waitbot. It's name was Chub and he was the boss' all-purpose trashcan and directional companion. He sat there hovering above the pavement, his idling light glowing red.
"I don't need directions or company," I said.
"Nearest directions company...3.2 kilometers northeast." It's idling light flashed green and Chub hovered away in a southwesterly direction. He could be a challenging trashcan. And so I chased after him.
"Halt Chub! Cease! Desist! Die you tin can!" I caught up with Chub waiting at a crossing light. His idling light shimmered orange. I bent over the little tin can and switched his mode from autonomous to manual. I stood up and brushed sweat from my brow, breathing in big gulps of thick, hot air. Across the street, a giant manufacturing building sat, decaying.