So around the table was me, Lisanna, and Hudson was opposite, and then there was Tyrone, Jason, Andre, Collymore, Valentine, Shanice, Paris, and Hudson's mum Marcia was frying some fish in the kitchen, and Belle was lying down on the sofa by the window, reading an old magazine. Belle had her hair out. It was all long, going down past her shoulders, and she was wearing pink lipstick and had her toes painted. Hudson paid for her to get her nails done every two weeks, just before the cuticles started coming out at the bottom and making the acrylic all curled and crow-like. I didn't stare at her too long: Belle had a thing about people looking at her, because when the flood hit and all the white people were sent to the bottom floors, some people felt like she should've been down there, being only half-black and that. But she was brown enough, and her nose was big.
Hudson had a London map on the table. He was chatting about something, pointing his fingers to all these different places. Funny enough, it was only when the flood came that I started travelling around London like this. The furthest I ever needed to go was Lewisham and back. My school was always down the road, and everyone else lived near enough. But now we were doing proper operations, and we was one of the most well-known estates. We were influencers, basically, so we had to keep up our ratings, maintain our relationships with the other leaders and their crews around the city.
Today we had to do something in Elephant, 'cos the crews on the old Aylesbury estate needed our help to overturn the Strata building. We didn't realise, but a few posh people had fled in there, were occupying it and living kinda' well. We can't have that. So we needed to invade it, might have some of our own move in.
"You lot got that, yeah?" said Hudson, looking us all over. We all nodded, looking at each other for reassurance, making sure no one was lying, or looking confused. He then rolled up the map and told us to get out. We never even got any of Marcia's fish.
"How's this gonna run, then?" said Valentine, "we're gonna need some of them guys from the middle to help with the boat."
"Yeah, 'course," said Andre. "Get Ravi, he used to do boating back in the day."
"Serious?" said Valentine, but he looked sceptical.
"Why would I lie? He was planning to go to Oxford and that."
"Sounds about right," said Paris. She started walking ahead of us, reminding us of her authority in the group, being Husdon's little sister. "Have you seen how smart he is at maths? Shame, innit."
We all mumbled "yeah yeah", and went down stairs to the Middle, the floors where other people from the area lived who weren't posh, but who weren't quite elites like us. Ravi was in his house alone; his mum, sister and dad had boated down to Whitechapel for some shopping. He looked us over, nodded once, and then came along to the dock at the bottom, which was level with the 9th floor of Woodpecker. I was a bit nervous about this, to be honest. A few months ago, the water only came up to the 8th floor. How's a whole floor now missing? As we all got into the boats with Ravi steering Paris's boat, I scanned over whatever remained of the 8th floor. Yep, there were white hands bobbing beneath the surface, all octopus-like, and so pale they were turning purple. Blonde hair floated around like seaweed. I'm sure if I looked closer I'd see blue eyes, staring at me like dead fish.
The motors were started and we were off, three speedboats going towards Elephant. I was paying attention now, the salty water from the Thames had stirred me a little, but I definitely noticed more bodies in the water. They were pushed and pulled, sucked under our boats and then left to spin behind us, like they were confused, or dancing under the water. It was true, the water had got higher, and more posh people had died. I wasn't worried about the deaths or the bodies, I'd seen a lot of those, but I was worried about the water. There weren't any more floods coming were there? We had it good here now, any more and we'd all die.
"Ay, Lisanna," said Shanice, nudging me in the ribs, "here." She threw me a snickers.
"Ah, thanks," I said, smiling at her. She must've seen me eyeing Marcia's fish, maybe I even looked jealous, because I was. Thinking about Belle, sitting there on her nice antique chair, reading a magazine and not doing nothing. Me and Shanice had to work all the time. Neither of us had boyfriends, which made it worse, but Shanice was planning to have a baby, she said, that way she could go on maternity leave and get a house on an even higher floor. I wasn't ready for all of that.
The boats bobbed and bounced on the water. We would have to get ready soon. Invading a tower was dirty work. I crossed my arms, pinched myself, to get in the zone.