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Beyond Shame

Beyond Shame

Description : Beyond Shame
She'd been cast out of Eden and straight into Hell.

Noelle had never seen anything as menacing as the Sector Four slums at twilight. Back in the city, the buildings were elegant, each carefully planned to fit the aesthetic of those around it, each maintained by silent crews of landscapers and cleaners tasked with making every inch of the city sparkle. Shining towers with crystal windows reflected the endless blue sky, and straight roads intersected at perfect angles.

Here, in the slums outside Eden, squat, ugly buildings seemed dropped with careless imprecision. The roads followed no logic she could discern. Brick and wood alike were dark with soot from generators spitting smoke into the air. Graffiti covered the walls, lewd curses and symbols she couldn't begin to decipher. Garbage littered the cracked asphalt and dirt paths, broken glass and suspicious liquids. Noelle swallowed the pain of her ridiculous high heels and picked a careful path toward the end of the street.

Walking grew more difficult with every step. The military police had thrown her out the gate at the west checkpoint with nothing but the clothes on her back. No money or credits, just a pair of earrings and a colorful party dress she'd bought on the black market, a flashy bit of fabric meant to catch a boy's eyes.

It was still catching boys' eyes. She felt the weight of their gazes as she stumbled, barely catching her balance against the frame of a vendor's stall. Bright lights strung on wires twinkled above her head. Danced. She blinked and rubbed her eyes. The lights only swam worse, each flaring like a tiny sun trapped in glass.

Her mouth tasted odd. She touched her earlobe, felt the empty hole. She'd wasted the entire morning and most of the afternoon looking for someone who would trade cash for the glitzy baubles....