It was a cold, humid evening on the Southern Fields of the Land of the Brave, but there was hardly anyone there to notice that.
On a radius of about 10 kilometers, there was no soul in sight. Bhrung calibrated his sensors again and scanned on an old, unmonitored frequency: all good, nobody around. Satellite shield was also working, making him look like an ant, blending seamlessly with the pale, maroon lands.
The sun was getting ready to cross down the horizon, barely visible beyond the thick, grey layer of carbon dioxide. "It's not pollution, it's camouflage. So nobody can conquer The Land of the Brave. My ass. Like there's someone in the known Universe wanting to live in this shithole", thought Bhrung, while he was putting on the second camouflage layer. "Why would anyone want to conquer a place where you can only talk about the Leader, eat what the Leader orders you to and do what the Leader says?".
Well, the eating part, at least, he got it covered. Twice a week he was changing the status of his public position into "recharging", using an old hacker patch for the system, and he was sneaking out, walking head down on poorly lit streets - to avoid face and eye recognition - until the lights of his city, The Pearl of The South, were just a point, somewhere in the back.
Two-three hours of walking, sometimes four, that's what he needed to get out of the populated area, cross the city gates, venture on the official agricultural fields and then step into the BU Area.
The Big Uncharted.
An old, ugly and unknown slump, which remained unmapped (and probably not surveilled) only because the Leader decided to cut charting costs in favor of even more megalomaniac shows on the semi-deserted stadiums in ever city of the country. And who would have had the guts to adventure there, anyway? It was just a slump.
But, if you were patient enough, after half an hour of walking through mud and rotten trees, you were somehow on the other side. Where you could find fields just like the ones in which he was working all day, as an agrotech. Only without monitoring. Also without fertilizers and enhanced seeds too. You could only plant old, full crops, stuff you couldn't find in the Land of the Brave shops.
That's where Bhrung was eating twice a week, from his carefully cared personal garden. You couldn't tell if it's just empty, grassless terrain until you were like 2 meters close. And also, from the satellites, all was looking like good ol' desert. The exact color of Bhrung camouflage layer, in which, twice a week, he was lying down in his hut munching his carrots, potatoes and tomatoes. All natural stuff, not "enhanced" (enhanced basically meant "calorie stripped", a genetic manipulation which made every fruit or vegetable look great, but have the energetic value of an ounce of water).
He was about to do the same now. He entered his hut with a few bunches of carrots and started to clean them from dirt. Probably 2-3 kilos. One to eat now and the rest just enough for the transaction, later on. After he cleaned the entire bunch, he tied a few carrots together, in small pieces, and tucked them underneath his first layer. As usual, he had pockets for about 10 pieces of that stuff.
Before getting out of the hut, he scanned again, just to be sure: yeap, nobody around. He got out in the pitch black of the night (it was getting dark really fast in the Land of the Brave) and started to walk back towards the city, blending in completely in the maroon, formless fields.
Two hours later, he crossed back the city gates, head down, as usually, and took on the streets for his neighborhood. After circling twice on the same path (just to be sure he isn't followed) he took a narrow, dark alley, with a neon pink sign saying "Clothes".
If the sign would be blue, he wouldn't go there, because nobody would wait on the shop. But it was pink tonight, so, after two rights and lefts on the same alley he suddenly found himself in front of the shop. A metallic door, like all the doors in the Land of the Brave neighborhoods, with no distinct sign of it.
He just stood in front of it, trying not to make any move. Silently, using the embedded cameras in the wall, the face recognition software was working. The familiar click of the knob let him know the door was unlocked. Just not ready to enter, though, until he put his hand on the right wall, at the level of the eye. The DNA reader was beeping softly and then he felt the tingling in the palm.
Now he could enter. He pushed the door very gently and stepped in.
-- Holla, the Land of the Brave is welcoming you, a rough, but familiar female voice greeted him.
Kandoora was there, as usual, behind the counter. The same familiar dark face, the mauve hair resting on her shoulders and the weird, white tattoos around the eyes, making her look like a savage bird.
-- Dropping much? Bhrung asked, barely refraining his impatience.
-- Dropping more, smiled Kandoora and then whispered: Something orange, today?
-- Ofkorss, whispered Bhrung relieved, and then he started to take out the carrot bunches, one by one. No calorie stripping, alla goostuffa, he added, while Kandoora's eyes were almost scintillating.
She took all the bunches and then she handed Bhrung a worn-out, grey sticklet.
-- It's charged with the latest, she said. Movies, news and a bit of photography for you. 20 drops of the best quality. Use it wisely and don't get caught. I don't know who you are if you get caught, ok?
But Bhrung already knew that. He took the sticklet, put it up his sleeve, in the special pocket, turned around and left without a word.
Out of the alley, he kept face down and walked the same old streets until he got home.
The metal cubicle at the top of a skyscrapper hosting a few thousands of agrotechs it was what he called home. Apart from a metal bed, a table and a few lockers, nothing was occupying the small, cold area.
Bhrung closed the door behind him, activated the home computer and formed the combination for the old hack: he switched from "recharging" to "unavailable / sleeping". It could stay in that status at least two hours before re-entering the random monitoring system.
He took out the sticklet from his sleeve and looked at it. 20 drops. That meant at least 5 hours. 5 hours in which he could not be there. 5 hours of the latest Immediocracy shows, news or photography.
He was feeling a bit adventurous this evening, so, instead of projecting, he decided to stream. Theoretically, streaming was more dangerous, because an Ey biometric field could triggers detectors. But if you're careful with the camouflage - something that Bhrung was doing almost instinctively now - you could get away with it.
He reached out and took the Ey from its hideout. It was an old model, with broken encryption (that's how he was able to use it) but still good enough resolution for his drops. You couldn't do full streaming with it, of course, but you could attach it to a sticklet, stream the droplets inside, and that was as close as you could get to the real thing.
The only problem was that the drops were erased after you streamed them. Which, actually, was a good thing. You wouldn't want to get caught with Immediocracy drops by the Brave Police.
He put it on, fixed the biometric arm on the ear and the lens in front of the right eye, attached the sticklet and then activated the local streaming function.
The first drop started to beam from the lens, in full color and realistic resolution. It was a collection of photographies from the Circle city in Immediocracy.
The slideshow was playing, silently, as Bhrung sat on his chair, not moving, almost breathing in the images.
As part of the launching of my novel, "The World, Dripping", I'm publishing the first 4 chapters here, on Steemit. The book is available on Amazon, in 2 formats:
If you do buy it, I would appreciate an honest review.
I'm a serial entrepreneur, blogger and ultrarunner. You can find me mainly on my blog at Dragos Roua where I write about productivity, business, relationships and running. Here on Steemit you may stay updated by following me @dragosroua.
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