I looked ahead of the queue, I counted seven, seven more people and I would be out of this shit hole. Well, city hall is one of the best buildings down here, its not like we have much anyway. I looked at my life line on my wrist band, 22 points, with the little rods in my pocket, I could at least purchase seven more points for myself and twelve for my grams, well as long as she doesn’t know I gave her more. That should keep us going to the coming winter season.
I imagined how it was back then, like the rumours of the old earth, where everyone had sufficient clean air to breath, one they didn’t have to make queues for to buy a life line, one where the air wasn’t filled with fine dust that could kill you if you inhaled it for more than twenty four hours. That earth? Did it even really exist?
Well I guess the people above us would know better, the people who live on what we call the circle. The circle is a kind of paradise island that lies way above us, its like a new earth. They have fresh clean breathable air, those born there probably think fine dust in air is a myth. How I wish…
My thoughts are interrupted by the cashier tapping her desk behind the bars that separated her from us, her green uniform looking darker than the last time I was here.
“you buying or not?” mrs porter’s not so polished savage accent pierced my eyes as she lowered her eyes over her life line mask.
“uhmm I am.” I say as I take out my life line tank, a small round solid tab that comes with the life line mask upon purchase.
I hand her my tank and reach for my grams tank in my pocket before sliding it on the counter next to mine.
“seven points for citizen 234 and twelve points for citizen 093.” I say as I count my rods.
“that will be 54.53 rods.”
My eyes grow wide at her, all I have on me is 60 rods, I have groceries to buy, water and all.
“bu…but it was 35 rods for nineteen points at the beginning of the month.” I try to protest.
“charts were hiked young lady, this is the cheapest you can get, unless you are getting your life line from the orange market now?” her eyes were questioning.
I wish I could get my life line from the orange market, it was always two rods less but the transport fee amounted to more than we got the life line from city hall and a walk down to orange market was two days over, I couldn’t leave grams for that long. Making it worse the orange markert was illegal. I was damned.
“okay..” I say, “four points for 234 and twelve for 093.” It only meant I had 26 points till the coimg month, I had to stay off the life line for atleast six hours a day to survive. That will mean more meds for my lungs to survive but I cared less.
“that will be 45.92 rods.” Mrs porter said after pressing her calculator just to make sure she wouldn’t get it wrong.
“I slide the rodsunder the bars and watched her load them into the machine, together with the tanks. My face and grams’ popped up on the screen almost immediately. Detailed, name, age, house number, race…everything, they had everything on us, including the names of family, even those that transitioned to the circle. People I never even considered my family.
The people who hovered above us, the circlers, or transitioners as we called them kept a keen eye on us, the watched us, like we were inferior, of which we were. Our world, was nothing compared to there, atleast that was what I heard.
The machine ejected the two round tanks and mrs porter passed them over to me.
“child when will you stop doing this?” she said, leaning in against the bars. “as much as your grandmother needs to live you do too.” She was right, I just hated to admit I wanted to live on this gad forsaken planet. “atleast if not for you, live for her. She will die if you are not here.” She added, “next time I aren’t filling in your grandmother’s time line if shes getting more points than you, are we clear?”
I smiled a fake one to her.
“I hear you mrs porter, but I think I know what’s best for grams and i.” I replied and without waiting for her to give a full hour lecture I turned to go.
“I don’t wanna keep the line waiting.” I was an excuse, but a life saving excuse.
I dropped over at BOB’s mini mart to pick a few things. BOB’s has been running for as long as I could remember. I believe it has been running even before I was born. Grams says it was here since she was a little girl but its hard to tell when shes lying. Once she even told me she almost married into the Bob’s family, she wanted to be part of the family business for so long so just she could change its name. I agree BOB’s was a little off the age for the only strong astanding mini mart in the area. Not like we had many.
I picked up a pint of milk, a large bottle of water that could last us atleast a week. The water from the taps did us no good, it was infected, bitter, and brown in colour. We used it for anything but putting it in our mouths. I added on some vegetables and meds for grams, just like that, the remaining rodsI had where gone. I knew very well I had to run my way home