It had been an ice storm, followed by a thaw and a freeze. Deja set him to clear the gutters, miserable, useless work, since he had to pry ice off grime and stone, and since the weather link said another thaw was due the next day. Martin didn’t mind. It kept him out of the house, away from Deja and his temper. Also, apart from the cold and the wet, it was far from the worst job he had been handed that month. It was late afternoon and he had reached the gutters behind the house, in the alley, when the day abruptly got worse.
He heard the gate open. He was digging at a stubborn chunk of ice and didn’t look up at once. Someone was coming toward him, though. He straightened off the spade. Deja, and another man. Martin wasn’t certain if this was a holder at first. He wore cheap clothing – not contract clothing, but cheap – and his hair was badly cut. He studied Martin with contempt. “Doesn’t look like much.”
Deja laughed. “Did I say he was?”
Martin felt a trickle of fear go through his belly. He gave Deja a quick glance. Deja had been waiting for it, he saw. Martin looked at the ground. Fuck, he thought.
“Come on, you,” the other man said. “Martin?”
“Martin,” Deja agreed cheerily. “He’s stubborn and stupid. You’re going to need to use the stick if you want him to listen.”
“Move, you,” the man said.
Martin put the shovel against the alley wall and followed him. No time to speak to Pia. No time to get a message to Harper. No time for anything.
This tense, invigorating novel shows the origin of Martin Eduardo, a “contract” who must battle not only societal discrimination and oppression, but also the indoctrinated restrictions within his own heart and mind. Broken Slate has now been serialized in its entirety online for free.
Crossed Genres Publications will be publishing Broken Slate in print and ebook in July 2011.
Read a short story about Martin Eduardo, published in issue 13 of Crossed Genres: Lunch Money.
Mirrored from Crossed Genres.