Colton sat at the old, salvaged mirror in his wreck of an apartment, high above the Main Street Canal on San Francisco’s drowned waterfront. Not that San Francisco didn’t have its pride. As the Capital of Pacifica, she was still a center of commerce and politics.
But canal rats like Colton didn’t matter much anymore.
The bed behind him, salvaged from another abandoned apartment, was a mess of sheets, a reminder of the trick he’d brought home the night before, someone who’d been paid enough to overlook Colton’s shortcomings.
Colton took out a vial of testosterone—his last one, bought at a dear price from the Pharmacist. He pulled out a clean syringe and took off the plastic top, pulling out the stopper to 5 milliliters. He inserted the needle into the bottle, and pushed the air in, an act familiar to him from long practice. Then he pulled out the last of the drug, flicking the syringe twice and pushing out all the air bubbles.
He replaced the needle with a smaller gauge, dumping the larger one into an old caramel corn can he kept for his medical waste.
He used a piece of cotton and a bottle of cheap liquor to wipe down the injection site on his thigh, sterilizing it as best he could. Once it was dry, he took a deep breath, pinching his muscle and pulling his skin to the side. He inserted the needle into his leg, drawing the syringe back a bit to make sure there was no blood. He had to be careful to avoid injecting the hormone directly into his bloodstream.
It hurt a little, but he was used to it.
He dumped the used syringe and the empty vial into the can. He had friends who weren’t so careful to use clean needles, for their hormones or recreational drugs. Some of those friends were now dead, or worse.
Next, he took the medical bandages that he carefully washed every day, and wrapped them around his chest, binding his breasts tightly.
He didn’t look at them. He hated those reminders of his female body—he’d been running from that accident of birth for years.
He wrapped the bandages around himself three or four times, holding in his breath. Once he had his breasts secured, he adjusted them to the side to make his chest as flat as possible.
He looked at the results in the mirror. It would have to do.
He wished he could afford to be re-sequenced. To truly make his body match his gender, to not feel counterfeit in his own form.
Colton glanced out through the broken window. The lights of the City were starting to come on over there as dusk approached. He lived in a no man’s land, the part of the City where the water encroaching from the Bay had reached the old first and second floors. Toward the heart of the City, on the other side of the Wall, the rich still carried on as if nothing had changed.
Those with money called the drowned parts of the city the Canal District. It ran from the old Levis Plaza down to China Basin along the City’s Bay side. There were a number of tony restaurants on the roofs and higher floors of the City behind the Wall that offered views of this supposedly “romantic” neighborhood. For a fee, you could even take a ride through the ruins on a gondola.
That was Colton’s “day job”. It brought in enough money to afford food, hormones, and little else, at least, when he was able to pay Mason his overdue boat storage fees.
So at night, he haunted the drowned streets, looking for those he could help, or sometimes relieve of their excess cash.