R

Budgie A Survivor

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Budgie hacked ledges for the skate kids. Went to work and GRID-programmed skate stops melted into smart-marble in the whole plaza. They paid him back in friendship, fist bumps and arcane skate lore. All things in short supply in Budgie’s world. Budgie couldn’t skateboard for shit, never could. Lots of things like that: run, jump, hide, seek – never could. Club foot, said the old medicine man when his mother finally took him, years too late. She was off the baby and dating preacher-man then so the geezer was pure CoBA. Only kneeled in prayer and waved a vacuum tube over the twisted mess of Budgie’s right ankle. And charged much cash money for the slippery, criminal deed.

So Budgie ran, but only in his dreams. And Budgie ran digital, godlike, until his mom joined the church official and made him throw his holo-gaming system into the fire for sacrifice. Budgie learned to live double. He went to church and played good CoBA child. And he built a boss tablet from scratch, with found parts and what he could buy with scraped-and-saved chore money. This time he hid it underneath a bedroom floorboard. He learned fast, hacked small: kitchen sink, alarm clock, HOME programs. Then, bigger fish: no one knew but the day the fire bell wouldn’t stop ringing was Budgie hacking SCHOOL.

These days, Budgie snuck out of the house and hacked GRID. Fingers danced over keyboard while the skate kids did dances of their own. And they always had plenty of light because Budgie hacked CURFYOU, too. Kept the plaza streetlights blazing and the nosy spy-drones away.

But he couldn’t hack everything. Budgie heard a vehicle approaching and looked up and there was the white van with CHURCH OF THE BLESSED ANODE on the side. Preacher-man at the wheel, arm hanging out the open window, wearing his everyday: short-sleeve collar shirt with a corny dad tie. CoBA fashion.
“Your mother’s worried.”

“Nah, mom’s back on the baby. She in crib land.”

“She’s sick, yes, but she loves you. The Blessed Anode loves you.”

“She need to find out?”

“I don’t know. You want to ask for church donations at the mall after school?”

Budgie knew there were choices in life that weren’t choices at all. He would limp. He would make the sad eyes. “Maybe could.”

Preacher-man grinned, told him to get in.

 

*

“Shit, CoBA got Budgie ‘gain.”

“CoBA stoopid.”

“This future, them past.”

“Budgie’s mom dumb. She a babyhead.”

“More dumb throwin’ rocks at the see-thru house. Your mom biggest babyhead on the block. Smoke baby 365.”

“Damn. Truth.”

“Budgie cool.”

“Yeah, he cool.”

“Budgie hack so we can skate. Respect.”

“Yeah, respect. We roll these streets.”

“Till the hack over. So best skate while we can.”

“Shit, truth again.”

“No lie.”

“Anyway, hope he okay. I heard, CoBA, they loontoon.”

“He be fine. Budgie a survivor.”

“Truth warfare.”

“Truth nukes.”

“So, we skate?”

“Yeah, we skate.”

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R. Daniel Lester writes and lives in Vancouver, BC, Canada. As a keen apprentice in the story trade, he’s consumed a lot of coffee, written himself into and out of countless corners, added many words to blank pages, released a novel, “Die, Famous!”, and made tens of dollars along the way. You can find more of his work here: www.rdaniellester.com.

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