He pulls the table closer to the couch until Eleanor can reach it with her hands as she violently dispenses the crisps into the unwashed bowl. She grabs a crisp and puts it in her mouth, chewing it audibly.

”So, bro-bro. What was that? ” She asks.

She grabs her bag from the floor and pulls out a book. Opening the Laboratory Manual up to the middle, she starts answering the manual. Herbert holds some crisps and eats some. Eleanors eyes twitch, but she shares the bowl of crisps.

”Just… Something. Hey… Can I ask you something? ”

”Ask away, bro. ”

Herbert sighs as he grabs another handful of crisps and downs it in his mouth. The weather is getting colder and colder, and the heating is shit right now. The energy crisis can go ** itself. He changes the channel on the TV to another channel.

”My mom wants to see me this weekend. Can you come with me? ”

Eleanor looks straight at him quizzically. She closes her Laboratory Manual and puts it away. She puts a hand on his left shoulder.

”But weve got stuff to do on the weekends, remember? We have to meet a person. ”

”My mother wants to meet me. We can finish up early and go. ” He says as he eats another handful of chips.

”Hey! Those are my chips! ” Eleanor grabs the bowl and puts it on the side arm of the couch.

”So, are you going with me? ” Herbert sighs.

e lucky you
e my friend. ” Eleanor rolls her eyes and grabs the bowl and her manual as she saunters to her room. Im lucky indeed. Herbert sighs. He turns off the television and stands up. He enters his room and goes straight to sleep.

The night feels long and cold, and his body shivers audibly and to the bone. The cold is being felt in this faraway city as the winter closes in. The windows fog up until you can no longer see the city outside. The city bellows smoke as nighttime begins, and a rhythmic humming permeates.

As if its a beating heart, it chugs through the night, giving the city life it desperately needs. A dystopia that has no more remedy as the city churns with the help of the night workers. It is the same for almost 90,000 souls living in the city and the nearly 7 million in the burgeoning nation.

The mornings are not better off since the cold is just terrible. It seeps into your skin until your shoulders ache, and your nipples stay erect until they resemble icicles on the edge of the branches of trees. At six in the morning sharp, the occupants in the building sit up on their beds.

The warplanes flying above wake the city, the hums that lulled them to sleep the night before ceasing to exist as if it is merely a figment of imagination—no longer noticed as its happened oh so often.

The mornings are a reset for the schedules of many.

After trudging along for three more days, the weekends finally arrive, providing respite for the toil within the city. Men disappear daily from the streets, and some will never be seen again. Sectarian violence and many brawls also occur in obscure parts of the city.

Herbert drapes his coat on the couch and walks towards Eleanors room. He knocks lightly, careful not to be too loud to disturb her rooms ambiance. After a while, he could hear a shuffling, soft thump on the floor and the doorknob turning to reveal a prim Eleanor. Well, as stuffy as she could be anyway.

The left strap on her top hangs loose on her shoulder as she walks out like a zombie. She sits on the couch, the coat falling to the floor.

”So, youve got a good reason to wake me up? ” she asks as she reaches for her go-to crisps, only to find them missing.

”I was just planning to tell you about our travel plans tomorrow. ” Herbert sighs.

”Can we buy new tapes in France? ” she asks; she seems to gain energy for a moment.

”Like, music? ” he asks. She deflates as she sighs.

”Ive only one, and this thing is good, but I want a new one for keeping. ”

”I have this song stuck in my head… ” Herbert says, sitting next to her.

”Me too! Well, since I only have one. Its about Kenyon Atkins. ”

”Isn that the serial killer, Atkins? The one that makes the human dolls? Why do you listen to that stuff? ” he asks.

”I know, I know. Im pretty sick, am I? ” she giggles, jabbing him with her elbows.

”I saw the documentary on TV. Its one of the rare good ones the Government is providing. ” He sighs.

”Ever since it started, entertainment and everything related to it is suffering. ” Eleanor stands up to open the cupboard. After scouring over the blocks of cheese and preserved bread within it, she stops momentarily after not finding what shes looking for.

”Where the ** are the crisps!? ”

The Next Day…

The bags of important stuff has been packed. Both are wearing their dull-colored coats as they step out of the apartment building. Passing by the rusty pipes, the damp streets, and the uneven pavements, they slowly reach the edge of the City of 90 thousand.

It takes quite some time as, by the time theyve arrived at a place where they can see expansive grass fields outside the city, its already noon. Eleanors stomach starts to rumble as they walk along the main street.

”Want to stop at a food place? ” Herbert looks at her.

She slowly nods. ”Bread and cheese is not a good daily meal. ”

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