To most, Jiang Xun was just another face in an endless crowd of somebodies. He was 25 years old, average in height, bearing no distinct physical characteristics. Were it not for the quality of his professional work, he would have been ill-fated to a life of obscurity
Stepping out into the cool night air, Xun rested an arm on the rail of his tiny apartment’s balcony. He didn’t understand the need for a space like this, but figured that since it came with the place, he might as well use it. With a lackluster sigh, he looked across the river that divided his complex from the hazed skyline of a brightly-lit mega-city. How could something so vast simultaneously be… inexplicably drab?
He reached into the pocket of his jacket and withdrew an electronic vaporizer, along with a vial of shredded botanicals. Pulling back an opening in the blue-gray cylinder, he poured some in, and ran his finger across a smooth switch on its side. He then brought the device to his mouth and drew in a few, heavy breaths.
It had a sweet, earthy taste; hardly anything special.
Xun held the vaporizer up to eye level and studied it for a moment. At least the glowing end of this thing had some life to it, unlike the more common “burn free” models.
He then raised his other arm, looked at it briefly, and pressed the fiery end of the device into his palm, holding it there for two or three seconds. He winced, but didn’t make a sound, gazing down at the charred circular mark below his fingers.
“I don’t get it,” he muttered into the wind.