I heard Liz get up the next morning, where I’d been tossing and turning in the bed, trying to adjust to the new bed in the new room. I could hear people walking back and forth on the floor above, and the blankets were stiff, and the pillowcase smelled flowery, like some girl’s shampoo. Finally, at 5 in the morning, I heard Liz get up across the apartment. Her door opened then closed, quietly, but not quietly enough to prevent waking me up from my doze.
‘No point trying to sleep any more,’ I thought, rolling out of bed, and hitting the floor without standing to do a rapid set of pushups. I heard a low clang, and a mild curse as Liz ran into the coffee table. Smiling, I turned onto my back to do a set of sit-ups, before rising to take a shower. I didn’t bother waiting for the water to get warm as I yanked my pajama shirt off over my head and fingered the bruises on my back and stomach with my fingers, grimacing as I found the tender spots. The one on my stomach was the worst, but it was starting to turn yellow around the edges, and I knew it would disappear by the time school started on Monday. A small part of my brain wondered what Liz would think if she saw the bruises, but she never would.
I got in the shower, and ten minutes and a quick shave later, I was out again, digging through my small supply of clothes that had survived the fire. I settled on a red button-down and recycled my jeans from yesterday. I needed new clothes. Grabbing a wad of fifties from where I had tossed the money on the dresser, I swept the rest into the drawer. I would redeposit the cash into the bank a few hundred at a time over the next few weeks, but today it would have to stay in the drawer. I rolled the sleeves up on my shirt to the elbows and grabbed my phone.
Leaving my room, I locked the door behind me, noticing the time on the clock. 5:30. Nothing would be open until at least 10. I heaved a sigh and scanned her kitchen for signs of breakfast. There was a box of some, sugary cereal on top of the fridge. I reached it easily, and put it on the table, yanking the fridge open for milk. There was a half-gallon carton in there, and I pulled that out too, practically tossing it onto the table as I pulled open cupboards for dishes. There wasn’t much in the way of that, but I did manage to find a bowl, mismatched and old, and a spoon, which looked like it came from the same hand-me-down set. I washed the dishes, not trusting Liz’s dishwashing skills, and set them on the table as well.
I chewed on the cereal as the sun began to rise over the city skyline, flipping through my phone for news. My bank robbery had made it onto the college newspaper, and I scanned the article.
“…Fortunately, there were no casualties, but the perpetrator made off with nearly fifty thousand dollars in cash. Though the identity of the bank robber is unknown, he is rumored to be in league with the villain Machinas. If anyone has any information please call…”
I closed the app and glanced at the clock. 6:15. I’d stretched breakfast out long enough. I left the apartment. Since it was still too early to hit the mall, I swung towards the school’s garage, not bothering to ride my motorcycle, which was parked on the street. The morning was cool, and fresh, and it cleared the last taste of the smoke from my lungs. No one was around when I reached the old airplane hangar that had been converted into a sort of metal shop by the university.
The door was locked, but I had found where the spare key was hidden at the start of my freshman year, and I just let myself in. Scrap metal lay in heaps along the walls of the hangar, while in the center were a number of work tables and old cars. I grabbed a toolkit and a panel of steel that looked like it had come off of an old car. Sketching on the metal in chalk, I used the laser cutter to shape what I wanted out of it.
I was just fitting the metal pieces into a mini torso shape when the door to the hangar opened and two boys came in. Leo Grieves and James Arnath. They waved at me in greeting as I looked up from my work.
“What are you working on, Jacobs?” Grieves came over to look. “Some kind of sculpture?”
“Something like that,” I replied coolly. “Are you still working on that old Peugeot? You know it will never run.”
“It will if I make it,” Grieves said, turning to the old car. I shrugged and turned to my work, marking out slots for a new weapons system. And perhaps, some sort of fire prevention equipment.
“Hey, that thing kind of looks like a mini version of that burnt up robot they found in that old warehouse down on 6th,” James said from the engine of an old Ford. He was pulling it apart, bit by bit, and he already had a pile of scrap building up on the table.
“It’s not,” I said, but put down my tools, tossing the robot torso, which was no larger than my head, into the scrap pile.
Checking my watch, it was nearing 9:30. I left without another word to the two of them, though I ran into Corin Falconi on my way out as he greeted Leo and James with a hearty hello.
“Corin,” I muttered.
“Kieran,” He said back. Since our names sounded similar, we’d always gotten mixed up by the shop teacher, Mr. Fredricks. Naturally, we hated each other for it.
I went back to the apartment for the bike but didn’t stop to say hello to Liz before riding off towards the Sky City Mall. I didn’t spend much time looking at the racks, but pulled out everything I wanted, and took it to the clerk. She smiled at me with a smile that was too bright for the opening shift on a Wednesday morning.
“Do you have a membership card with us?”
“Cash or credit?”
I left almost as quickly as I had come, laden down with new jeans, slacks, and shirts. It had taken nearly all the cash I had brought, leaving me with just a few fives left. I didn’t waste any time getting the shopping bags strapped onto my bike and getting back to the apartment. I was anxious about the cash I had left, unsecured, in my room, and I had to make sure Liz wasn’t snooping.