QSFer Rowan Massey has a new gay dystopian sci fi book out: Wally.
Homeless since he was twelve and a drug addict just as long, fifteen-year-old Wally spends his days collecting recyclables, hanging out with his best friends, and singing to his heart’s content in a town called Emporium.
When a new dealer shows up in place of their old one, Wally is immediately attracted and finds himself with the possibility of his first boyfriend. On the same night, the man he knows as Doc asks him if he’d like a job in a research lab.
The money is good, his new romance is developing quickly, and everything in life seems better than ever, but the new people in his life will bring more chaos into his world than he ever could have imagined. There are changes and dangers around every corner, and Wally is torn in two directions while wanting only peace for Emporium.
Warnings: heavy drug use, violence, date rape.
I always smiled as soon as we could see down the street to the edges of the crowd at our field. I couldn’t help it. It got me pumped up every single night. I ran and jumped around ahead of Spitz, my best friend. My heavy backpack banging against my back, I jogged towards the field until he yelled my name and made me turn back. I waited for him to catch up, then hopped in circles around him, being annoying on purpose. He was always more tired than me, even though we ate the same amount of food and did the exact same things every day together.
Most people who come to the field are teenagers like us, but there are all sorts. Emporium was the first town to get fielders and the only one that still has hundreds of users. I’m proud of that. I was with the very first people to try it, back when I was twelve. Not many people from those days were alive three years later. They died. But me and Spitz were alive and loving every minute.
“Wally,” Spitz poked my arm. “Look.”
There were dead bodies under the last streetlight before the field. They were laid out by the crossroads and had the usual rubber-necking audience.
“Not before we dance,” I said. “It’s a downer right now.”
Fielders don’t get sad, not like other people, but at the end of the day, right before it’s time to go dance, I get a feeling sometimes, as if I’m walking just slightly downhill emotionally.
I noticed a little group of tourists setting up folding chairs for themselves. God, they were awful. They came just to watch us dance with our faces dripping blood.
They were always in their twenties; the kind of people who had a car to come in from all over the country. I couldn’t figure what could be so great about their lives—money or whatever—that they came all the way here to watch, but still resisted joining in.
“They have no idea what they’re missing,” Spitz said beside me, reading my thoughts. I looked over at him. He was fifteen like me, equally skinny and filthy, but with blond hair. Poor guy wasn’t as good-looking as me either. We had similar piercings on our noses, eyebrows, ears, and lips; homemade loop things made of copper wire. We also had blue five-pointed star tats. My star was on my throat so that it moved when I swallowed. His was on his wrist. We’d done them ourselves, borrowing a homemade tattoo gun from a friend. They were our gifts to each other.
“Poor fuckers,” I said, and I honestly felt sorry for the tourists, even if they did have clean clothes and cool headphones.
“We could stand around all day explaining why one hour on fielders is better than living ten years without it. They won’t get it,” Spitz said.
It was all a repetition of things we’d said for years, but sometimes tourists just got to us like that, and we had to say it all again. That wasn’t really why he looked down on them, I knew. His girlfriend wasn’t a fielder, and he didn’t care about that. It was because they treated us like freaks.
“What the hell’s going on?” Spitz said, and pointed.
Over near a clump of trees, two guys in gang colors were talking to a bunch of fielders. Did we have new dealers again? It didn’t happen often.
One of the guys wearing Dread Red’s red and black gang colors was around our age, maybe sixteen. That was really young for a dealer on the field. It was an important tourist attraction to our mayor, so it was a job for the best of the best. He had ridiculously sexy, curly hair, a crooked jaw, and when I got closer, I saw dark eyelashes and a nice body under his puffy black jacket. Damn, he was hot. I felt like drooling, and I knew I was staring. I noticed his gun wasn’t holstered at his belt. It was in a shoulder holster that looked like it was homemade using a seatbelt. I could tell he’d put a lot of effort into it. He raised his hands in a gesture of innocence, and I saw the tats covering his knuckles. His only piercings were in his ears.
“Jesus Christ,” Spitz said, close to my ear. “Looks like you found your newest crush.”
He’d noticed my staring. I elbowed him and edged closer so that we could listen to the conversation.
“We’re gonna wait,” one of the fielders was saying. She was a short girl with three piercings in her bottom lip.
“We don’t know you. Nobody told us we were getting new dealers.”
“True, true,” said the other dealer. He was a tall black guy with an afro that had gone past sticking straight up and was growing down over his shoulders. “But if you don’t wanna die tonight, you buy from us. We’re the only ones showing up. The old guys got themselves shot.” He shrugged, holding his arms out wide. “What’re you gonna do. We’re your dealers now, kid.”
Taboo and tragedy go so well together. Don’t you think? Rowan Massey’s novels explore taboos from drug use to incest, all with LGBTQ characters, and never with a happy ending. Well, not usually. He’s finally getting around to writing novels now that he’s a disabled thirty-something badass with the world’s rowdiest toy poodle.