“I wanna leave without a trace cause I don’t wanna die in this place.” -- Song-Lyric-Prompts
The Night Guard who had found her outside, one second after curfew, nodded in understanding. For an instant, their eyes were human, before they remembered to be cold and cruel once more. "We have a duty to the citizens of Nova York, miss. Including the citizens who are breaking the law. Now we find it suspicious that you were cleaning up after yourself as you were running home. Care to explain?"
"It's illegal to litter. I'm in enough trouble, I don't want more. I'm not a bad egg, I promise. I just wanted to go home and rest for work..."
"Enough trouble, you say," said Goon #2. "And what sort of trouble might you be in already, then?"
Oh no. Oh no. They'd be looking up her records. There was no hiding it. "I got a reprimand for not spending my entertainment chits, only I like to go above cloud level and look at the stars, but they raised the prices for the elevator and it's another twenty to use the stairs, and saving up enough..."
"All right, all right. Don't need yer life's story," said Goon #1. "Hand over the trace."
She did. Goon #1 unraveled the crumpled paper and read it quietly. "This is a receipt for Astra Towers Express Elevator to and from the viewing platform."
"That's inducing despondency and depression, that is," said Goon #2. "Our glorious leader said that looking on the stars was setting our goals too far out of our reach."
"That he did, that he did," cooed Goon #1. "But he also did not ban it. Not yet, am I correct?"
That was her cue to lie. "Yes. Yes that's exactly right. I was watching Our Glorious Leader's broadcast on the way back down." When in reality, she was weeping into her hands as she heard the transmission on someone else's device. He had 'raised' the bread and onion ration to five percent less than what it used to be, and 'lowered' citizen taxes to five percent more. All for the glorious greatness of Nova York.
His solid gold statue of himself should be finished in two more years, he said. Just like he had said last year. And the year before that. And the year before that...
Her Gram used to say, Tuppence more and up goes the donkey. Or she did before Their Glorious Leader banned pensioners because of their drain on the economy, and Gram was taken away, somewhere, to be useful again. Those words floated into her head as she tried to remain calm and unafraid. And failed.
"Do you give us permission to search your premises," said Goon #2. If she gave it, they had license to trash her entire flat. If she refused, they would take everything she owned and put her in jail."
"Of course you may search," she intoned. "I have nothing to hide." And then it was her utmost effort as they tipped all her food rations out onto the floor, scattered her clothes, and ripped her bed. They would find nothing. She kept her secrets inside her heart, where they could never be found.
They read out her full name. "You are found guilty of loitering with intent, within five hundred yards of a residential complex, and beyond curfew. You are found guilty of spending in excess for frivolous activities. Anything you say will be used against you in the court of public ridicule. Do you have anything to say in your benefit?"
She thought about saying, "I like the stars, they give me hope." But that would not do. She just mutely shook her head and let them 'drop' her all the way down to the roundup van, where they locked her in with a number of other technical miscreants. One was four, and sobbing hysterically. One was so beaten that they were barely recognisable as human.
They would not have her words to use against her. Not now, not in the courtroom. Not for the rest of her life. She would remain silent for the rest of her conscious days.
Because the criminal sentence for a woman in Nova York was lobotomy and the rest of their lives as a Rut Slave.
All she could think of was her savings. She had been so close to buying a ticket out of this miserable place. So close, and yet so far. And now? All for nothing.
Just like everyone else who worked so hard and never reached their goal.
[AN: My usual prompts system is down for the count because server issues. Thanks for your patience with me]
[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / sarah5]
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