Columbus Warp: Life on the street with no benefit

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Debra O'Brien and Fred Watson arrive in Hamilton City, New Zealand, with Michael McCullum to visit his unemployed sister in a parallel world. But, in this world, there is no unemployment benefit. The unemployed have to live on the street and rely on the city mission and begging for food. And put up with discrimination.

Submitted: October 06, 2018

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Submitted: October 06, 2018

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Debra and I had arrived in Hamilton City, New Zealand, with our guide, Michael McCallum, in a parallel universe where the unemployment benefit didn’t exist. Debra and I were trans-dimensional explorers working for a New Zealand company called Columbus Warp.

Upon hearing about his sister, Stephany, being homeless I suggested she should go to WINZ for help. Michael asked “What is Work and Income?”

He had never heard of it. So I said “In our universe, Work and Income pays the jobseekers benefit to the unemployed when they lose their jobs”.

Michael replied “We don’t do that here. In this universe, once someone is unemployed, then they have no income. None of the governments in this world pay money to the unemployed”.

“So they have no financial support?” asked Debra.

“No,” replied Michael “Stephany relies on the City Mission for food. Plus she begs on the street for food and money when she’s not looking for work”. That was when we found out there was no unemployment benefit in this world. Because the British Government never introduced it into this world. The other countries never thought of providing financial support to the unemployed. The Americans never thought of unemployment insurance which is a type of benefit I suppose.

We were going through Hamilton East when Michael turned right down the side street and parked the Columbus Warp car next to Hillcrest Park. He switched off the engine. We climbed out of the car, Michael locked the car with his remote, and we walked into the park towards a city of tents, blankets and pillows where the unemployed were gathered.

“Stephany!” shouted Michael.

The young lady that was talking to her old friend from school looked up at us and quickly climbed to her feet. She ran up to Michael and flung her arms around him. They hugged each other for a while, Michael patted her on the back. They pulled back.

“Stephany. May I introduce to you Fred Watson and Debra O’Brien. They’re from a parallel world. Fred, Debra, this is my sister, Stephany”.

“Hello,” said Stephany offering a handshake “Welcome to my world”.

“Pleasure being here,” I said “Thank you, young lady”.

I shook Stephany’s hand and she gave me a shy smile. The Stephany in my world isn’t that shy. She’s confident and boisterous in our world. But she’s shy and timid in this world. My guess is that it’s because she’s not receiving financial support from the government. That’s probably what makes her feel worthless.

“Thanks,” said Debra “Nice being here”.

I had my left arm around Debra’s waist. She was beaming. So beautiful with her petite body, brown curly hair and glasses. Staphany had long wavy brown hair and her face was covered in grime from all these years living in the park. The Stephany in our universe is always clean and wears her coveralls to work at our base.

All of a sudden, Stephany burst into tears and cried into Michael’s shoulders.

“It’s awful,” she said “I run out of money a month ago. Then my friend’s father kicked us out of the flat, saying that I’m a worthless untouchable because I told him I had no money to pay the rent. He kicked me and Sophie out and said I’m nothing but a piece of scum. Then Sophie, whom I know from school, offered to pay my share of rent. The landlord said that ‘Either she dump me as a friend or she moves out. I don’t want my son being associated with an untouchable scum. Now stop being friends with her or move out! Your choice”.

My blood was boiling upon hearing about this. I could tell Debra wasn’t happy and Michael was furious. Especially since her landlord called her scum.

It was obvious that Sophie chose to move out because I saw her talking to another unemployed man in the park. She was living in the park too. I recognized her because in our universe I met her counterpart when she visited Stephany and Michael from Hamilton.

“Obviously she chose Sophie over the landlord,” said Michael, “She’s always been loyal to Stephany. Let’s pay the bastard a visit”.

***

We arrived at Sophie and Stephany’s old flat on Galloway Street where they had been living ever since they were at uni. The Stephany in our universe lives with our Michael. My blood was boiling. We went up to the door. Michael banged on the door with his fist. I heard footsteps in the hallway. The landlord flung the door open. Then he glared at Stephany as if she was scum. He was an old Indian fellow too with short gray hair and glasses.

Michael shouted “Abraham Singh! How could you kick out Stephany like that. Sophie could have covered her share of the rent”.

“You bring this piece of scum TO MY HOUSE!” roared Abraham. This is not the Abraham I know. The Abraham I know is a kind, gentle man who does not support the caste system from India. “She’s an untouchable. She’s WORTHLESS!”

“This is my sister you’re talking about,” shouted Michael, pointing at Stephany “She is a human being. Just like us”.

“You’re not human! Since you choose to associate with your sister after she ran out of money. That makes you scum. Your family should be ashamed of you”.

“My family still accepts her for who she is. In this country family sticks TOGETHER!”

“Then you’re family has no morals. You are scum to God! And to have Fred and Debra being associated with that piece of scum”. Abraham glared at me with the eyes of the devil. He looked like the devil himself. “Your people must have no morals. They must hang their heads in shame”

“Now hang on here!” I retorted. My heart was racing, my breathing heavy. “In my world, the Government provides financial support to the unemployed. They help them find JOBS”.

“Well, Mr Watson, your world is full of filth and scum!”

“MY WORLD IS NOT SCUM! AND MY PEOPLE ARE NOT SCUUUUUM!!!!!”

“ Your people are harlots, Mr Watson”.

I grabbed Abraham by the scruff of the neck and threw him onto the ground. I shouted “YOU HAVE NO RIGHT SPEAKING ABOUT MY WORLD LIKE THAAAAAATTT!!!!!!”

I kicked Abraham in the guts a few times, I was full of anger with what he said about my world.

“MY PEOPLE ARE NOT SCUM YOU FUCKEN PIECE OF SHIT. HOW DARE YOU CALL MY WORLD FILTH. MY PEOPLE HAS VALUES!!!!!”

“No!” shouted Debra as I kicked Abraham in the balls.

His wife came out and said “You leave this house right now. Or I’ll call the police”.

“FUCK OFF YOU CURRIE MUNCHING BITCH”.

“Come on,” said Michael as he grabbed me by the arm and dragged me away. “They’re not worth it”.

As Michael escorted me away from the flat I shouted “I’m gonna kill you’re wife and children. Do you hear me! I’LL GET YOU. YOU CURRY MUNCHING BITCH”.

Debra did the fingers to the Singh family with an angry look on her face. She said “ Come on” to Stephany as she grabbed her arm.

Stephany screamed “ Fuck you, you curry munching bitch”.

We left the flat and walked back to the park.

***

We had arrived back at the park and returned to Stephany and Sophie’s tent to find the volunteers dishing out soup, bread, chicken and steak. We went and stood in line waiting to be served. The organization that dished out food to the unemployed were the Salvation Army, known as the Sallies. The sun was setting. It was getting late.

Once our turn had come, we received our bowls of food. Stephany introduced us to the kitchen staff who were so kind and friendly. Well, the unemployed didn’t have money to buy food and the Sallies didn’t have room to put everyone; so they provided food, blankets and pillows to the unemployed.

Once we collected our food, we went back to the tent and started eating. The soup tasted nice and the chicken was delicious. Volunteers handed out cans of soft drinks out of chilli bins.

“You shouldn’t have beaten up that land lord,” said Debra chomping on her chicken “Just like you shouldn’t have beaten up that American kid in that universe with no police”.

“I know,“ I replied “But the landlord made me angry and that kid destroyed my previous Columbus Warp because he thought I was anti-Semitic”.

“I know your not anti-Semitic. But you didn’t have burn down Lorde’s house”.

“It was specifically because Lorde pulled out of the Tel Aviv concert that I got accused of spreading anti-Semitism throughout the multiverse. I got attacked by pro-Israeli terrorists because of her. You had to come and rescue me. There was no police force to control them”.

“Yes. I rescued you because you were going to get killed. You put yourself in that situation”. Debra gave a long sigh, turned to Michael, Stephany and Sophie and said “Once I had rescued Fred from that dreadful universe, instead of going back to our universe, I took him to the nearest world where the Nudist Republics were”.

“Yeah,” replied Michael, sipping a can of L & P “That world is unstable. But at least we have the police to protect the unemployed”.

“And nice neighbours too,” said Stephany “Who keep an eye on us”.

We finished eating our dinner and gulped down our cans of drink to wash down the food. The volunteers came around to collect our plates. Stephany had a laptop that she recharged at the Hamilton City Library every day. We opened up her laptop and watched a few movies before falling asleep.

***

The next morning, we drove Stephany to the Hamilton City Mission where we waited in line to get into the soup kitchen. There were mostly M?ori and Pakeha with some Chinese, Indians, Americans and Europeans. It was Saturday morning, the day before daylight savings.

After we had waited for a while the staff opened up the soup kitchen. Sophie had already gone to work as a checkout operator at the local Pak N Save. We waited in line to get our breakfast. We got Bacon, eggs, backed beans and toast. Once we got our breakfast we went and sat down at the table and dug into our food. Stephany introduced us to Lisa Miller who managed the soup kitchen.

“Nice to meet you,” said Lisa “Welcome to our universe. Enjoy your meal”.

Stephany plugged in her laptop to get it recharged while we had our breakfast. I received a call on the gravity phone. I said “Hello, Fred Watson speaking”.

“What’s this I hear about you beating up an Indian in the world without Jobseeker Benefit?” It was our Prime Minister, Jacinda Adern of New Zealand, and she did not sound impressed.

“He called our people Harlots,” I retorted “He said our world was full of filth and scum because our guide’s sister is unemployed. He said we had no morals because me and Debra hanged out with her”.

“I know he disrespected our world because of his beliefs in the caste system, but you can’t go round beating people up because they piss you off. You nearly got killed for beating up an American kid. It’s not a good look for our country. If you don’t get your temper under control, I’ll pull you out of the Columbus Warp project. Do I make myself CLEAR!”

“Yes, Prime Minister”.

“Good. Don’t let it happen again”.

The Prime Minister cut the connection and we continued eating our breakfast.

“So, Stephany,” said Debra “Have you had much luck in finding a job”. Debra popped some baked beans into her mouth.

“Nah,” replied Stephany “I’ve walked to a lot of factories. Applied to jobs on the net and went around all the shops. They asked me questions. But I haven’t had any luck”.

“Lets go shopping. Cheer you up a bit. Looks like you need some clothes”.

“Thanks”. Stephany smiled. “That would be nice”.

***

After we had finished our breakfast, we walked over to Centre Place Mall in the heart of Hamilton. Usually during the week Stephany would search through the internet for work or go door locking. As well as being a soup kitchen, the City Mission also helped the unemployed look for work. Something the governments in this world failed to do. No one thinks of the unemployed in this world.

We entered the mall. Debra said to Stephany “Lets go shopping”.

I saw them go into Glassons. Debra and Stephany holding hands. Don’t ask me why girls like to go shopping. I don’t know.

While the girls were shopping for clothes, Michael said to me “Come on. Let’s walk around the mall”.

“Yeah,” I said “Stephany needs clothes more than Debra does. Debra doesn’t need clothes”.

“I wouldn’t let Debra hear you say that”. Michael laughed. “She might strand you here”.

Michael and I went to the music store to look at CDs. We browsed at DVDs at JB Hi Fi, looked at flat screen TVs, cell phones and laptops. Michael said “You’ll come across parallel worlds which have no cell phones, no computers, no phones and no internet. They’re close to this universe. The nearest universe to here has no medicine, no hospitals, no doctors. You’ll need to buy medicines before you Ieave this universe. Our Fred died in that world because he was unprepared. It was the cold that killed him. Debra took over from him”.

We looked at the posters at the Look Sharp store; of the Grim Reaper, Zombies, Skeletons, Wonder Woman, Scare Crow. We looked at the costumes, we went to the comic book store, browsed through the comics. Michael told me of a world without printing and one without alphabets. Then I heard Debra screaming “Leave her alone”.

We rushed over to Cotton On to find a woman harassing Debra and Stephany. She was a middle aged woman with long brown hair and overweight. I yelled out “Hey, you leave my girlfriend alone” in a loud booming voice.

The old woman turned around and said “You’re girlfriend is stealing dresses from the store. I saw this unemployed skank trying on a dress”.

“She is not a skank. She is my SISTER!” yelled Michael. Michael looked furious, I saw his chest heaving with anger.

“Debra is going pay for that dress. SHE WOULD NEVER STEAL FROM ANYONE” I screamed.

“YOUR PEOPLE HANG OUT WITH SCUM. THEY HANG OUT WITH PEOPLE WHO CAN’T BE BOTHERED GETTING JOBS” yelled a middle aged Chinese woman.

“WHO ARE YOU TO TALK ABOUT MY PEOPLE LIKE THAT”. I grabbed the woman by the collar and slammed her against the wall. “IN MY WORLD THE GOVERNMENTS PAY THE UNEMPLOYED A BENEFIT TO PAY FOR FOOD AND RENT AND STUFF. THEY HELP THEM INTO WORK”.

“YOUR GOVERNMENT WASTES TAX PAYERS MONEY ON UNEMPLOYED SCUM, SO THAT THEY DON’T HAVE TO GO TO WORK”.

“OUR GOVERNMENT IS TRYING TO GET THEM INTO WORK. IN MY COUNTRY, THEY HAVE TO SHOW THEY ARE LOOKING FOR WORK TO GET THE BENEFIT”.

“Easy on her, Fred,” said Michael “Don’t do something you will regret”.

“Just calm down,” said Debra “She’s not worth it”.

“YOU DARE JUDGE MY PEOPLE, BITCH,” I yelled as I grabbed the Asian tramp by the hair and threw her to the ground “YOU DO NOT TALK ABOUT MY PEOPLE LIKE THAT”. I kicked the woman in the guts.

The store manager walked up to me and said “I would like you to leave. You’re causing a disturbance”.

I turned around and said “YOU’RE A RACIST LITTLE BITCH, AREN’T YOU!!!”

“EXCUSE ME? WHO AM I RACIST AGAINST?”

“YOU’RE RACIST AGAINST EXTRADIMENSIONAL BEINGS AND YOU’RE RACIST AGAINST KIWIS!!!!!”

“IM A FUCKEN KIWI TOO, MATE. NOW WHY DON’T YOU JUST PISS OOOOFFFFFFF!!!!!!” she screamed.

“FINE,” I said “WHY DON’T YOU TAKE YOUR STUPID CLOTHES AND STICK IT UP YOUR PUSSY!”

“FINE, I WILL!”

“Come on. We’re leaving” I said.

We left the store and exited the mall. The store manager was fuming. She walked up to the Asian tramp and said “PISS OFF! YOU’RE A TROUBLE MAKER”.

“Excuse me? ...”

“FUCK OFF”. The store manager pushed the Asian tramp out of the store.

***

“You shouldn’t have yelled at her like that,” said Debra “Do you know how it makes us look? Do you?”

“That woman was harassing you. As your boyfriend it is my job to protect you”.

“That being so,” said Stephany “You make your people look like assholes. Sorry to say. I’ve seen how you’re like when you’re angry. You need counselling”.

“I agree,” said Michael “ You’ve got to control you’re temper. Jacinda can pull you off the Columbus Warp project”. Michael placed his hand on my left shoulder. “Now come on. Let’s get some MacDonald’s. Then we head off to Taupo”. Michael turned to his sister and said “Sis, would you like to come travelling with us? You can live at my place. Work for me at Columbus Warp. You can refuel the Columbus, maintain it, help me fill out reports”

“Yeah, OK” replied Stephany nodding. Her smile spread across her face. “I would like that very much”.

“Good. Let’s eat. You need a shower. You look like shit”.

Stephany giggled at that. Debra opened the door. We entered MacDonald’s.


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