People had been talking lately, saying that junkies on the Sol had been flooding doctor’s offices and hospitals. Why depended on who was talking–Trick had heard everything from seeing things to bleeding from the eyes to thinking they were stuck on Jupiter. That last one especially gave him an easy laugh as he downed two tablets of Soliaq with a swig of bottled water.

He needed the Sol to take the edge off, to give him the cool calm to pull off deals. If that meant a few side effects, who cared? He wouldn’t go screaming to some doctor on account of a few little blips and bloops.

Jayden was waiting at the appointed spot, in the alley behind the hardware store, usual steel briefcase in hand. “You’re late.”

“No I’m not,” Trick snapped. “Stop trying to act like some kind of rinky dink movie gangsta and show me the goods.”

The steel briefcase snapped open, revealing a pharmacological cornucopia–legal but stolen, prescription only, and the hard stuff. “Two-fifty for the lot.”

Trick felt the gentle, soothing hand of the Sol on him and shook his head. “You kidding? The street value of this stuff’s fallen by half since the Sol hit. You get seventy-five, and only because I’m feeling generous.”

“C’mon, what am I supposed to do with seventy-five?” Jayden whined. “I risked my life for this stuff.”

“Tell it to someone who cares,” Trick shot back. “It’s a buyer’s market, and…and…”

He trailed off, staring into the distance well beyond his contact.

“And what?” Jayden said. “Hey, you all right?”

“D-s’you see that?” Trick said, pointing over his contact’s shoulder.

“See what?”

Trick’s eyes widened. He’d thought it was distant thunder, or maybe a dust devil, but now it was clear that the tickle at the edge of his vision was actually a roiling wall of clouds. It reached from the pavement to the sky, alternating bands of vivid orange, red, and white punctuated by spots of deepest crimson. It was like the bright and poisonous atmosphere of Jupiter was closing in on Trick like a Sahara sandstorm.

“What…what’s happening?” he shrieked. “Stop it! Oh God, I’m gonna be carried away…” The full force of the clouds hit him a moment later, agonizingly stripping the flesh from his bones as he writhed and screamed.

Jayden looked down for a minute, shocked, as Trick yelled and squirmed on the ground. Nothing was wrong with him, as far as he could tell, other than flushed shin and dilated pupils. But the noise was so awful that a moment later he snapped his case shut and fled, leaving Trick to the mercy of the Sol in his bloodstream and the Jupiter clouds it had summoned.

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