“It’s so cold,” the blond, pear-shaped girl said. She was dressed in a black tank top and yoga pants stretched so tight I could see through to her panties—white, patterned with little red skulls.
It was 5 a.m. and the first hint of daylight was blooming on the horizon. I’d been here since 7 the evening before, in response to an ad for a two-bedroom, and was, as far as I could tell, 83rd in line.
The guy in front of me had set up a pup tent, which I was jealous of, not just because he’d had the forethought to make his wait comfortable, but because around midnight he’d sold it for eight hundred thousand to a kid in a beard and snow hat. He told the kid, “Listen, you know you’re just going to have to take this thing down in a day?” To which the kid shrugged and said, “It’s still a great deal. By then I’ll have sold my company.” So the transaction went down and the pup tent guy moved on.
I laughed at the absurdity of it all and the pear-shaped girl behind me scoffed. I turned to see her sneering into her phone. “Just this idiot in front of me,” she was saying. “When are people going to learn that history hates haters?”
Now it was dawn and the girl was complaining that someone should design an app to stop San Francisco summers from being cold, and the pup tent guy was back. He walked up to the bearded kid and began counting out a stack of hundreds. “3300 a minute rent, right?” And the beard nodded. Then the original owner climbed back into the tent he’d sold just five hours earlier.
“Oh great,” the girl behind me said. “Now look. The fog is blowing in.” And I turned to see a dark mass moving across the sky.
“That’s not fog,” someone called out. And sure enough, as it got closer, I realized the cloud wasn’t the cool mist San Francisco was famous for, but a swarm of digital code. It fell upon the crowd and someone screamed, “It’s a swarm of investment capital from China!” Another voice cried out, “No, it’s Canadian!” And suddenly everyone’s clothes began disintegrating, as if we hadn’t been wearing actual fabric but body paint that was now washing off in the rain. Completely naked, people began running in all directions.
“Sweet,” I said. “Now I can move to the head of the line.”
“Line?” The pup tent guy said. “Did you think you were here waiting to see an apartment?” And before I could reply he pulled out a sharpie and drew an outline around my bare feet. “This spot here,” he said, holding out his hand. “A hundred bucks a second.”
GO HERE to view all the pieces in this series in chronological order.