by Chris Limb
Em wakes to darkness.
She thumbs the switch beside her bed but nothing happens. Not again. Her credit's run out overnight. In theory this means she'll have to do some work today to get the electricity back on, but in the meantime daylight will have to do. She flings the thin duvet aside, crawls to the end of her bed and cranks the handle to open the shutters on the exterior window.
Outside it's grey and wet. The surface of the tarmac in which the stack of container-pods stands is thick with puddles, and even though she's on the fifth level, Em can see them shimmer as the rain persists. To confirm this impression a squall tosses a handful of drops at the window like a half-hearted vandal. She hates that desultory clatter and will do anything to avoid going out on a day like this.
The metal floor of the container-pod is cold under her feet. Every day she vows to spend some credit on a rug and every day she runs out before getting the chance. A warm yellow light briefly illuminates the room but it's just an ad for Instant Cash Superstores on the blank side of the building opposite. It's been played so many times recently that she's intimately familiar with the patterns of light and dark it casts into her home. By the time she sits down at the deskshelf it's faded, leaving her stranded back in the grey half-light.