I apprehensively pat Boofle, waiting for curfew to kick out. No, he's not my pet.
Technically, he's not even a living organism. He's a group of photons, a core that fuses hydrogen into helium. All surrounded by some semi-polymer casing which I can never remember the chemical formula for.
It's to keep me alive, after the sun stopped.
I have gotten pretty attached to it, though, enough to give it a name. At least the casing makes it safe to touch.
That's enough about Boofle, back to what I was doing.
I'm waiting for curfew to end, so I can go out again. It's a pretty weird dictatorship, the kind of 'It's for your safety' that you read about in every post-apocalyptic young adult's book.
I've never really believed in the message, but hey. Are you really going to singlehandedly challenge the government?
Suddenly, Boofle makes a whirring noise, before an artificial, non-specific voice announces, 'The time is, -600-. Good morning, -AARON-.'
I sigh, uncurling from the corner of my bed. Time for another day in this disciplinary loophole of hell. "Didn't I tell you to call me Ronnie?"
Boofle bleeps. I love it, but sometimes it gets on my nerves. Anyway. Back to my depressing speech.
Somehow, a dictatorship is okay, now that the sun broke. Imagine that.
Immediately, my phone buzzes with a text. We're lucky that we still have signal, I guess. I'm also reminded, how lucky I am to be able to change my name on messenger. It would probably drive me mad, if I ever got banned.
Francis: Morning. Forest?
Ronnie: Sure x
The forest, as we so accurately named it, is a concrete dome, partly in ruin. There are enough alcoves as not to be seen or heard, and many conversations between anyone from friends to lovers are usually held there. I guess it makes people feel safe.
We called it the forest to throw people off, after we realised the whole 'FBI reading your texts' thing might not be such an outlandish theory.
I pick up my bag, ready packed, and I hear the whirring of Boofle hovering behind me. There's an electromagnetic grid under the city, powering any hover-vehicles. I suppose, if they turned it off, we'd all be tethered to our 'cores.'
I head out, spotting a few other kids doing the same. I don't recognise a lot of them, and they soon disappear, taking different routes to The Forest.
I soon see the top of the dome peeking out from over the other buildings. This is the most unused part of town, and the way to tell is by how clean everything looks. And the absence of bots. They don't come that often, and nobody dares attract them by breaking something for them to clean up, so everything is pristine and almost silent.
I shuffle my way through one of the entrances on my hands and knees. The dust hurts my eyes, and tickles my throat, but I finally push through.
Once I'm inside, I manage to partially climb up the rubble to our usual spot, higher off the ground and mostly hidden from view.
Starting to feel the strain of being away from Boofle, I reach down and pull him up, away from the electromagnetic field. The bots have trouble getting any higher than about three meters, as their magnets get weaker. He hovers close to the ground on the ledge, just enough to keep moving.
Finally, I turn to Francis, who I know has been sitting in the shadows, watching me as usual, and smile.
"Ta da! I'm here."
He shuffles, getting up, and I see a smile on his face. "Truly, magnificent."
His core whirrs behind him, which he so aptly named Fawkes, something to do with British History. They used to celebrate their parliament nearly being blown up by some undercover team. I guess they didn't like their government either.
I walk over to Francis, and grabs my arm and makes me sit with him. "So, what's the sitch?" He got the saying off of some weird tv show from years ago, not many people know about things like that now.
"Not much." I sit, criss-cross, and I put my arm around him. "You?"
He returns the gesture with his arm, and I smile.
"Not much, either. Though I did get you something."
I immediately look at him, to see if he's joking. "What?!"
He blushes. "It's really not much.. Fawkes, go get my bag."
The robot trundles off to Francis' 'vintage' 2015-made bag, still in my corner, and the handle is automatically magnetised to its casing. It somehow manages to drag the bag back to us, even with the weak magnets. He pulls the strap off of the bot, opening the bag.
I see him bring out a bunch of something colourful. I squeak in delight. "Flowers?!"
"They're fake. I still thought you'd like them, though."
I jump into his arms with a hug. "I love them!" He returns the hug, before I finally release him. "..Thank you."
"No problem, mon coeur." He grins, as I roll my eyes.
"Quit with the French, you know I don't understand you." I pick up a flower, one with pink petals, suddenly having an idea. "Will you put them in my hair?"
He pauses, then holds out his hand. I gently press the flower into his open palm, and he shuffles onto his knees.
"Sit still."
I comply, and feel his fingers in my hair, every so often poking in a flower, and tightly braiding it in. After a few minutes, he removes his hands.
"Are you done?" I turn, as he nods his head.
We stare at each other for a second, before he gently cups my face with both hands. "You look cute."
The blush creeps up on my face. "Thank you."
He laughs quietly, and his hand slides back down.
I lean against his chest, the flowers rustling in my hair slightly. His arms are heavy around my shoulders, and I close my eyes. All I hear is the combined whirring of Boofle and Fawkes, and the rising and falling of Francis' chest calms me enough to forget, just for a second, that the world is an unchangeable place of death and destruction.
Everything is fine.
Writing original stuff is pretty refreshing, after months of fan fiction.
Thanks for reading, 💫 -Xeno



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