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Commonwealth: A Novel of Utopia, part 1, chapter 3

Author’s Note: This is an excerpt from my novel Commonwealth. Read the previous part here.

Starting this week, I’m only publishing excerpts on Daylight Atheism. The rest of today’s installment is free, but only on my Patreon site. If you want to read the next part today, it’s already up on Patreon as well. —Adam

Somewhere in the darkness of Rae’s consciousness, a voice was droning on, tiny and irritating like a mosquito’s whine in her ear. Mostly asleep, she waved a hand as if to push it away.

“…and now, let’s hear from…”

“…yesterday was a hot one…”

“…looking better for the weekend…”

All at once, she came fully awake. She sat up on her futon.

It was morning. She had fallen asleep while watching the TV; it had been on all night.

Damn it, she thought, that’s going to cost me.

Her second thought, on the heels of the first, was a jolt of panic. She glanced at the clock.

Shit! I’m late for work!

She had forgotten to charge her phone, and the battery had died overnight. Her alarm had never gone off.

In a blizzard of haste, she grabbed clothes at random, hopping on one leg in an attempt to dress while she brushed her teeth. She crammed her boots onto the wrong feet on her first try.

In the background, the TV was playing a morning news show. A weatherman stood in front of a screen that showed the forecast. The next few days each had an icon of an ugly green cloud.

“It looks like the pollution is going to be bad today,” he was saying cheerfully. “Particulate levels are off the scale. Make sure to bring your breathing masks!”

Snatching up her toolbox, Rae raced out, slamming the door behind herself.

An instant later, keys fumbled in the lock, and she opened it again. She grabbed the remote control and shut the TV off.

Not going to run up my bill while I’m at work, late or not!

She was halfway down the hall when she realized she was still holding the remote control. With a hiss of exasperation, she threw it into her toolbox.

Despite her urgency, when she stepped out onto the street, she stopped and looked around. Belatedly, she remembered what the weatherman had said.

New York was shrouded in a dense fog. But it was no ordinary fog. The sky was an ugly yellow haze, the color of mustard, swirled with drifts of black smoke. The sun was a faint bright spot, and structures more than a block away faded into skeletal shadows. The distant skyscrapers were invisible in the smog.

Fortunately, this was one thing Rae hadn’t forgotten. From her toolbox, she took out a bag of disposable filter masks and slipped one on. It fit snugly over her nose and mouth.

No snow at least. That’s something to be thankful for.

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DAYLIGHT ATHEISM Adam Lee is an atheist author and speaker from New York City. His previously published books include "Daylight Atheism," "Meta: On God, the Big Questions, and the Just City," and most...