GENRE: YA SciFi
Tayel hurried through the undercity smog, her gas mask rattling with every breath. She clamped down on the filter cartridge, but the centimeter-wide hole in the tubing still hissed as she inhaled. Stupid thing. Pollution burned the back of her throat. She coughed, and Jace – huffing and puffing - sped up to reach her side. He grabbed the loose fabric of her jacket and pulled her forward. Together, they rounded the corner where the neon sign over the grocer’s mart flickered, dispersing light through the haze. One more block to Otto’s.
Pick up the pace.
Bustling city denizens fresh off the after-work tram slowed them on the main street. The cacophony of rasping gas masks drowned out Tayel’s pounding pulse. Nothing mattered more than the hope of fresh air. Fresh air, and safety. Jace lost hold of her jacket as they squeezed through the dense crowd toward their destination. Two more stores down – and there it was. Neon tubing spelled out “OTTO’s” in crooked letters above the shop, washing Tayel’s arm in green light as she reached for the door. She pushed inside, holding it open only long enough for Jace to rush in after her.
Tayel steadied herself while the airlock triggered. She tore off the mask, freeing her dull red hair to fall in sticky waves around her face. Against the opposite wall, Jace removed his own mask and smoothed his ruffled head feathers down with his talons. She eyed him for injuries.