Title: What's A California?
Beta By: Starway Man«»0«»CHAPTER THREE«»0«»:It is now five a.m.:
my alarm clock taunted me awake, to another day of the daily grind that was my life during May 2001.
I tried to ignore that incredibly annoying voice, but I knew that in another minute it would announce the time once again. It wouldn't stop either, until I got up and pushed the button. I'd set it up that way, so that I wouldn't fall asleep again after the damn alarm clock woke me up.
I stared straight up to the dog head-shaped water stain on the ceiling of my 'apartment'. Well, that was just bullshit actually; it was nothing more than a walk-in closet with a window, with just enough room for the bed and a couple of chairs.
While I made pretty good money as a Protector, this place was still the best I could afford; I still had a few debts incurred from my first year of life here, and the price of living in LA definitely ain’t cheap.
Seriously, there was no such thing as 'middle-class' here. You were either rich or you were considered 'poor', that's just the way this world worked. I betcha my Cordy would have loved it; hell, if she exists somewhere in this dimensional neck of the woods, the Cordy of this world probably loves it too.:It is now five-oh-one a.m.:
Cursing, I finally dragged myself out of bed and walked the three steps it took to hit the alarm clock's button by the front door. Quickly pulling on a pair of sweatpants and flip-flops, I grabbed a towel and locked up the apartment, before heading down the hallway to the communal showers and toilet area for my floor.
That had been another big shock for me; there was no such thing as separate men’s and women’s toilets here. Don’t ask me why; everyone just accepts it as normal, and questioning it just draws unwelcome attention to yourself. Hell, unless you were rich, there was no such thing as a private bathroom either.
Whether it was a public or an apartment bathroom, and whether you were taking a crap or a shower, you did it in front of other people; male or female. It had been something I’d had a hard time getting used to; but like the old saying goes, you either adapt or die. And me, I wanted to live.
The shower thing didn't bother me as much in front of other guys, since I always did it after gym class at Sunnydale High, but the fact that there were women there was just too weird. Also, there were no partitions between toilets; you could be standing there taking a leak, while a woman was in plain-view, right next to you, doing the same thing.
Maybe the women’s liberation movement had been a much greater influence on public attitudes here all those decades ago, who knew?
Ninety-nine percent of the time, though, it wasn't a big deal to me anymore. Almost everyone did their business, and they were respectful of each other. Every once in a while, though, you'd have some asshole mucking things up for everyone.
Whether it was just staring, or anything all the way up to groping, it was very frowned upon. At least twice a month, I'd see a person get beat down due to their behavior. On several occasions I'd even joined in, if the guy had done something particularly heinous to one of my female neighbors.
It was funny, though; if I somehow ever made it back to Sunnydale, I could drop my pants in front of everyone in the girls’ bathroom, and not an ounce of red would cross my face. Not that I'd ever actually do that, of course, but the thought of mooning all of the Cordettes honestly brought a grin to my face.«»0«»
I came back to my place with a smile on my face, Janette had been there this morning. She lived in the apartment down the hall from me, and we'd been making eyes at each other for a few weeks; because in all honesty, the girl was absolutely gorgeous.
Her mocha-colored skin, and long, dark hair were amazing. We didn't see each other all that often, maybe twice a week, but when we did - wow
. She hadn't approached me, though, seeming content to just play our little game.
I’d thought of approaching her several times, but Janette was one of the few highlights in an otherwise incredibly drab and boring existence. And I know what you’re thinking - what about Cordelia?
Come on, it’s been three years since I last saw my girlfriend! Even if what we’d had together really had been something more than just tawdry teen lust, I’m sure she would have moved on by now - and that’s assuming she lived long enough to graduate high school, which is certainly nothing to be taken for granted in Sunnydale.
If she was still alive back home, I didn’t want Cordelia to spend the rest of her life in mourning for me, and if there was a Cordelia Chase in this world - well, she wouldn’t know me if we ever met, and since I wasn’t rich, if she was anything like my Cordy then she wouldn’t want to know me, either.
Still, I didn't want to ruin what little fun I had where Janette was concerned, so I simply went back to my apartment to get dressed.
I pulled on my pants and a long-sleeved shirt, getting ready for work once again. Since it was Saturday, I only had a half day of work today. Four and a half hours of work, and the day off on Sunday. The Company had all the lower rung people come in for that day, something I'd had to do for six months because of the high turn-over rate for the job.
Anyone who had experience and that wanted to keep an eye on the grunts got time-and-a-half. I did it, but only if I had no other plans. Unsurprisingly, in this world - with no friends or relatives - that happened quite often.«»0«»
Finally dressed, and ready to go, I picked up my X41A. Believe it or not, it was a laser rifle that had a strong resemblance to the old Thompson machine-guns that all the gangsters used in my world, back in the Twenties.
Sad fact is with all the Starchies and Zoomers out there, you never knew when something wanting to kill you was going to pop up. You needed a permit to carry one in public these days, but with some help from my boss, I'd been able to get one. And maybe it was just a leftover from Soldier Guy three years ago, but I didn’t feel properly dressed without it walking on the streets these days.
Finally, I left the apartment and locked up behind myself, ready for another day of waiting to be attacked by the goddamn Starchies. And to think my career week aptitude test had come back saying I was best suited to be a prison guard, during junior year.
Huh. Maybe that stupid-ass test hadn’t been all that far wrong, because there are days when this whole freaking world feels like a prison to me.«»0«»END