Paxton

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
The year is 2030 and life can be hard for those aboard the ISS Paxton. Society is divided by moral judgement, with those deemed "guilty" living in fear and segregation. But how do you judge an unseen crime? For the righteous, there is only one way.

Submitted: September 04, 2016

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Submitted: September 04, 2016

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July 19th, 2030

 

I plonked the tray of fast food down on the table, a PVP Burger Meal. It had cost me the last of my cash, but boy was it going to be worth it! I ripped the wrapper off my straw with my teeth and spat it at the tray. The minute I popped the straw in my shake, the uniform appeared.

“What do you think you are doing here?” The boxy security guard waved his hand around the fast food joint.

“Enjoying one of your fine Processed Vegetable Protein Burgers!” I smiled triumphantly back at him. I was feeling brave. I was done with the second class treatment, especially as I'd done nothing wrong.

 

The guard leaned down towards me. His face was inches from mine, our noses almost touching. I could smell the sugar from his recent Cronut on his breath. “Get out, you filthy pervert, there's vending machines for your sort.” he spat at me.

 

For the briefest of moments, I considered retorting. I'd have gone with “What are you going to do Mr. Officer? Are you going to 'shock' me? Or maybe just rough me up a bit?” I'd have given him a wicked grin and licked my lips for good measure. As it was, instinct kicked in and I mumbled “Yes, Sir. Sorry, Sir.” I left my meal, going cold, on the table.

 

It was a long trudge from Module 2 down to Module 4 where the VM was housed and I didn't have any way to buy another meal. The view from the window by the vending machine was one of the better ones though, so I figured I might as well go there. By the time I reached my destination it was sunrise, the 8th of the day, I stared longingly at the sliver of a planet that was emerging. I needed to get off this station, I was sick to my soul of the ugly stares, word had gotten around about “my tastes”. If I found out who had talked, they sure as hell wouldn't be for much longer!

“Catch!” A packet of dehydrated something or other came whizzing towards my chest. I fumbled to catch it then looked in the direction of the deliverer. A maintenance Tech flashed me a friendly smile and then resumed the task of refilling the machine.

“It's Septerday...” he wrestled with the packet that was jamming the machine. “Cheque doesn't come through till Moonday, right?” He gave an embarrassed cough. “Figured you might be low on Cubits.” He turned the key to lock the machine back up and began to walk away. “There's a rehydration unit in Module 3 that'll make it taste vaguely palatable.” The Tech looked back to me and gave a weak smile then went off to his next job.

 

The walk to Module 3 was pleasant enough, the corridors were mostly empty, but the second I rounded the corner to the VM my luck ran out. There she stood in her pious twin set with the “good book” in her right hand.

“And thus he decreed 'there shall be no marking to your sacred body, for it is as mine.' That's right, good people, you cannot be as pure as your Maker if you debase yourself with ink or metal!” She thumped the navy blue tome to emphasise her point. The small crowd that had gathered gave an enthusiastic round of applause, it was clear the speaker had only just started up. A man jostled his way from the back and pointed angrily at her ears.

“But look! What's that I see there?” His eyes searched every member of the crowd and made sure they made contact, a sure sign he was a “plant”. “Are those earrings?” A couple more plants gave “mhhmms” and a “looks like!'” The speaker closed her eyes slowly and gave a knowing smile.

“Now, good people, let me show you the needlessness of those evildoers’ actions. For surely you will understand the true reasons for them, once you do.” She whipped off the earrings with one hand and held them in her open palm. “Magnetic. Come forward now, don't be shy and witness my testimony.”

 

I should have moved quietly along but something about the theatre of her sermon rooted me to the spot. If the crowd lost interest and spotted me, I'd be done for. I could see a face I recognised amongst them. The “plant” began his spiel afresh.

“But why would anyone go against the Maker's word? 'Specially when you can just use these 'modern miracles' you have here?” I looked around the crowd hoping beyond hope for some form of dissension.

Sister “Vitriol” as I'd decided to name her, leaned in towards the gathered masses with wide eyes. She could tell they were on the hook. “Because they like it! The pain. Why else would you sit and be stabbed over and over again for hours on end.” The crowd returned raucous claps and hollers in agreement. “And have you ever heard of someone with only one piercing?” She paused briefly “Now go out into the world and spread the good word of the Maker... and if you know of anyone who partakes of this dark perversion, don't be afraid to let other good folks know.” There were whoops of excited agreement and the crowd was ready to disperse, it was time to disappear before I was noticed. Food would have to wait.

 

My pace was hasty, both to avoid the angry mob and I'd just realised that my bladder was now full to bursting. There were public toilets at the end of the corridor, and if I was quick, I could be in and out before I was discovered. As I rushed to the door I loosened the waist button on my jeans to save time. My fingers lightly brushed my barbell. I'd got it after my Mother died (and I'd finally lost my excess weight), it was both a badge of pride and a celebration of our connection. I smiled at the recollection.

“Oh no you don't!” A hand grabbed the door handle and barged me aside. I closed my eyes in resignation, for the umpteenth time.

“Please, I just need to pee! I'm kinda desperate here!” My eyes begged the woman in front of me for mercy. I was about to lose my dignity.

“You know the rules...” she began the speech I'd heard a dozen times before. “There's Restpods for your kind.”

 

Too late! My bladder gave way, I stood ashamed, with a soaked crotch and trapped in the yellow puddle around my feet. My final nerve snapped.

“And how exactly do you know what 'kind' I am?” I hissed. “Where are my marks? Can you see them?” I threw my arms up in frustration. “Of course you can't see them! Nobody dares pierce themselves where other people can see! You drove it underground with your witch hunt. So you tell me... how do you know my 'kind'?”

 

The woman flustered, bristled, and then stood as upright as she could ready to give her sermon. “If you must know it was Sister Sarah that pointed you out, she heard it from Claire Mansfield...” she dropped her gaze to her feet, embarrassed. “She let it be known that you were once... intimate.”

 

Hungry, emotionally exhausted, and overwhelmed, I let the tears come. So she was the one who'd betrayed me. I had wanted to marry her and she had left for no reason, just upped and went. But now I understood.


© Copyright 2017 India Emerald. All rights reserved.

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