New kid moves in next door, a story beginning

The apartment next door to Ainsley’s family’s home had been vacant since the Hawkings had left precipitously in the middle of the night, back when Ainsley was twelve. By this point, four years later, Ainsley and her sister Sinclair had started working on an application for the place. When they were both of age, they posited, they could move two or more mates in there easily enough, and still be close to their parents.

Now there were people moving in, moving in to their place.

“People don’t just move in.” Sinclair was staring at the wall between the two places. There wasn’t much noise – the Complex was well-engineered for many people in close proximity – but it felt like an invasion nonetheless. “Nobody moves in to the Complex.”

“Well,” Ainsley offered weakly. “Is it the Mccormicks? Their boys are just a couple years older than us – maybe they had the same idea.”

They opened the front door and peeked down the hallway around the potted plants their mothers had put up “to make it look more like a home”.

“Definitely not the Mccormicks,” Sinclair whispered. “They’re too tall. Who’s that tall, seriously?”

“Kind of cute, though… But they’re… tan. That’s…”

The Complex had sun lamps, because the plants in the hydro farms needed them, the animals down in the Ark level got twitchy without them, and humans functioned better with them. But that wasn’t the sort of tanned these people were.

“They’re Outsiders,” Sinclair hissed. “From…” She fell silent as the tallest of the family turned around and looked straight at them.


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