I sat staring out the window at the police units walking by the cafe, typical street unit, six soldiers all armed and marching in exact formation; just one of hundreds patrolling the city on a daily basis. The cafe in which I was sat was a mirror image of every other cafe in this city, colourless, soulless and stank of disinfectant; there were nicer places but none that were available to me as a standard citizen, my pass could only let me in to certain parts of the city. I took a sip of coffee as I watched the soldiers check someone’s pass, the man was with a pregnant woman and was trying to get a point across to the officer but I couldn’t hear through the double glazing. The officer drew his weapon to the man and hit the butt across his head the woman was screaming and tried to pry the officer off the man while he handcuffed him, the woman was thrown to the ground with one swipe of the officer’s arm. A police van pulled up next to the police unit and they threw the man in the back. The unit began their patrol again almost instantly after the van drove away leaving the woman crying in the gutter. People just walked past ignoring her, they knew as well as I that an attempt to help would be illegal. I checked my watch and looked over to the door Jane would be here any minute; I took another sip of coffee and watched the news monitors on the wall. There was no other broadcasts anymore just news, monitored and ran by the Americans. There was news monitors in most public places, no one had one in their home as not enough electricity was regulated to power one, just enough to run an electric cooker and a couple hours of light. News today is another reason for ones hope of freedom to remain completely shattered, the queen has finally abdicated and has been released from the tower of London as an executive citizen; England has lost the last of its identity.
‘What’s up?’ Jane asked as she sat down, I hadn’t noticed her come in.
‘Not much’ I replied ‘Coffee?’
‘Please, taste any better?’
‘Awful as always’ I replied as I stood up. Walking towards the serving machines I pulled out the dollar note I’d had stuffed in the back pocket of my jeans and after straightening out the edges I fed it in. The machine asked me to make my selection, choice of Tea, Coffee, hot chocolate (or should I say brown water that’s only relation to chocolate was the bar that the fat American pig who put together the chemicals for this shit was eating at the time) or orange juice and I won’t even waste my time with a comment on that one, put it this way, pretty sure most real fruits died out decades ago. I choose coffee and waited while it dispensed the plastic cup.
‘Enjoy’ I said as I placed the cup in front of Jane
‘George you really know how to spoil a girl’ she said chuckling and taking a sip. ’Mmmm gourmet all the way! How long you been here?
‘About an hour’ I replied ‘Just been watching the world go by’ I didn’t mention the incident with the pregnant girl, all cafes and other social areas are video and audio monitored, I glanced out to the street to see if the pregnant girl was still there, the ambulance was picking her up now, the ambulance would have been available immediately after the arrest but she would be forced to sit hysterical as a public warning that illegal pregnancy will not be tolerated.
‘...Hey George are you listening to me? I said they promoted me at work!’ She took a sip of coffee and stared at me with a slight frown knowing fine well I hadn’t heard a thing she’d said.
‘Sorry Jane miles away there, that’s great, really great! Same section or have they move you to a different building?’
‘Different building, it’s in the executive section at the north of the city, I’ve been granted employment access between work hours, I can now finish work half hour early to make sure I’ve exited the section by six o clock. Cool huh?’
‘Not bad, you’ll be home before me, you can get the dinner started!’ I smiled at her, I couldn’t ask her what the job entailed, it is illegal to discuss the specifics of our assigned employment.
'You wish!' Jane chuckled and tapped my leg with her foot. My attention shifted to the window, thoughts of the pregnant girl that had now been taken away; when did it become ok for something like that to happen, why are we so powerless? Jane saw I was lost in my own world and pulled out a copy of USA Today. I watched the street, vaguely remembering it being full of cars and traffic everywhere but not now, the only vehicles that remained were government controlled, police cars, ambulances, diplomatic cars and there used to be a public bus service travelling the city every hour but that was ceased last year due to apparent necessary budget cuts, the day before America announced its war on Africa. Private cars were illegal but I knew Jane’s brother had one hidden away, not that there would be any fuel to run the thing, all of the little electricity and fuel that was left is controlled by the Americans so in short means we don’t get any! I looked back at Jane and the paper she was reading, the headline read something about the queen and how it was a great victory for New England the 60th state of the US of fucking A! My gut churned and the oh so familiar anger rose up inside and in a lapse of concentration I said.
‘Dunno why you read that shit!’ Jane’s eyes shot up at me and I was instantly aware of the microphone fixed to the ceiling above me, and starting to panic I added ‘Those celebrity pages are nowt but crap’ I knew fine well she’d be reading the current affairs section but I could only hope the camera couldn’t see that.
‘Well you know me George! I’m a sucker for the ciniscreen.’ Jane played along but with a concerned look on her face.
‘You hungry?’ I asked, changing the subject.
‘Yeah I’ll just finish my coffee then we can head off for some food’ She took a sip of her coffee and stared at me for a bit longer before returning to the paper. My stomach settled when I realised my ankle tag hadn’t beeped to inform me I was wanted for questioning, still not used to the damn thing; they were fitted last month to all standard citizens.
My attention shifted again as a man barged through the front door nearly knocking a woman flying as she was trying to leave but she managed to stop herself falling by grabbing on to one of the bolted down tables. The man looked around nervously, bit hot for a rain mack I thought, the guy was sweating rivers; he rushed to the water dispenser and then went and sat at the back of the cafe where it was empty. I drank the last of my coffee and stood up.
‘Just gonna pop to the toilet’ Jane nodded while putting the paper back in her bag.
‘We’ll head off when you’re done’ I walked towards the toilets at the back of the cafe; my leg ached from cramp, those damn plastic chairs. I passed the rain mack man as I went he was still wearing it and still seating, crazy I thought. I clocked the book he was reading, didn’t look like it was from the American national library; wouldn’t like to be caught with that. I entered the toilets, stainless steel and spotless as always, paying my dollar for toilet paper on the way in. I finished up and went to wash my hands, the sterilizing gel was empty so I wiped my hands on my jeans. I left the toilet and walked past rain mac man, he was stood up now, he was holding what looked like a mobile phone in his hand, mobiles have been banned for years.
‘AMERICAN PIGS, AMERICAN PIGS, AMERICAN PIGS!’ he screamed
I knew what was about to happen, the alarms started going off, I ran and grabbed Jane’s hand and pulled her towards the door, rain mac man drew a pistol and began to fire, just I pushed the door open I felt the bullet hit my shoulder, the pain shot through my body and I stumbled to the floor; Just as I managed to find my feet Jane pulled me through the door, we managed to reach the road before rain mac detonated himself, the explosion threw us in to the ground.
I came too surrounded by police, shouting, weapons drawn, an officer pulled me to my feet, he was shouting but I couldn’t hear him through the ringing in my ears, I looked down, Jane was still lying on the floor, she looked bad. I panicked, hospital treatment was strictly for executive citizens only, that’s if the police let us live long past the next few minutes, they wouldn’t allow the truth about a suicide bomber to reach the public, it would be covered up - we would be executed. Two officers picked Jane up and threw her in the back of a squad car, the shouting police man threw me to the floor and raised his weapon but panicking I grabbed a piece of rubble and kicked the officers legs, he stumbled back and I jumped up and hit the officer in the face with the rock; he hit the floor. Another explosion came from the café and threw me on top of the officer, in the confusion I managed to grab his gun and jump in the car. Shots began to hit the car, I hit the accelerator sending the car backwards into the guy I just knocked out, I hit the clutch and put the car into first; the car jerked forward and stalled. The police kept all there fire on the car, as I kept my head down I felt my hand down the side of the steering wheel looking for the key, just as I found it the windscreen gave way and I was showered with glass. Suddenly a fist punched through the side window and grabbed me round the neck, i turned the key as he tried to pull my head through the broken glass, the engine turned over but nothing; my head was pulled into the glass again, I tried the key again as my free hand grabbed the gun id thrown onto the passenger seat the engine started and I fired the gun into the bastard round my neck and he let go. I hit the accelerator and the car was moving, another officer was running straight towards the car, he fired his weapon twice but missed, the car ploughed into him sending him onto my bonnet, he quickly slid of the side. I manoeuvred past the parked police cars and kept going, it wouldn’t take them long to get in pursuit; I knew where I had to go but I needed to escape the city first. I looked in my mirror, I could see two cars following, i headed towards the east exit of the city, the roads were empty.
My foot was to the floor, the two cars were close behind, I took a sharp right barely missing a lamppost , the first squad car hit it sending its back round and the car flipped. The second car carried on past the wreckage and began to close in. I took the next left and an immediate right, this road would take me to the citys exit, I slammed the accelerator down as far as it would go. I could see the barriers at the checkpoint ahead, I was in luck they haven’t had time to get a road block in place; the barriers were down but the car should get through them no problem. The border officer ran out infront of the car firing his weapon but jumped out the way as I approached, I hit the barriers and sped away from the city.
I drove for around ten miles until I was sure I wasn’t been followed then I pulled over, i popped the boot and jumped out the car. They would most likely be tracking me considering how easy I got away from the city, they wouldn’t have considered however that I was employed at the car factory and knew where the trackers were fitted, I lifted off the cover to the fuse box and pulled out the fuse for the tracker. I fitted everything back into place then ran to the back seat, I checked Jane over, she was still unconscious but breathing, happy for the moment I jumped back in the driving seat, then my ankle bracelet begin to buzz i jumped back out the car kicked my leg hard into a dry brick wall on the side of the road, the tag smashed and stopped buzzing. Once back in the car i sped on my way. I tried to collect my thoughts as I drove, my hand was shaking on the wheel, everything happened so god damn fast. I noticed a pack of cigarettes on the seat next to me, I gladly lit one. The smoke felt good and helped calm me down. Jane had told me once out of the way of prying ears that her half-brother Joshua was part of the rebels and was hiding out in a village close to Hexam. I took the next left at the roundabout and put my foot down.
© Copyright 2016 Steven Salkeld. All rights reserved.