“You lying turd. You said this was a
We were hiding behind a car. I risked a quick glance through the shattered windows. A Peacekeeper Drone hovered in the centre of the dark quiet street. It cast a blue light into the depths of an alley opposite us, scanning for curfew breakers, Sharks and anyone infected with the plague.
“Keep your head down and you be jus' fine,” Linford said. I was starting to distrust my guide. “Jim, my friend, don’t look so worried. Drone be gone in a short while. Then we be on our way. No problem.”
Peacekeeper Drones have been in operation since the war. They were supposed to protect the public and kill the infected but it seemed their directives had changed to include killing anyone on sight after curfew. No one took much notice of them anymore. What was once considered an amazing leap in technology quickly became the norm. The drones blended in with the hum-drum of society in the same way every other new piece of tech had since the invention of the wheel.
It’s funny how easily the public were fooled into supporting such a radical move to bring law and order back to the chaos, only to find they were being ruled instead of protected. I don’t blame the government; I blame myself, just as everyone else in this shit hole of a country should.
The drone ended its scan and continued its patrol. Linford smiled at me and again I wondered how he could afford a mouth of gold teeth.
“Like I said. Drone gone. Come.”
I followed Linford into a nearby building. The majority of neighbourhoods beyond Zone 1 and 2 were little more than shanty towns, derelict slums home to desperate hungry people. I seldom ventured far from the city and rarely into the Wastelands. I had a head full of bad memories and I wanted to avoid adding more to the chaos inside my skull. In years gone by they called it Post Traumatic Syndrome or War Psychosis, but those were easy terms to pigeon-hole people who sought to cause trouble with their problems.
Personally I never protested against the government to make MET – Memory Erasement Therapy – available for everyone, not just the super rich. I remember watching live footage of crowds marching on the city centre from my apartment. At the start it looked peaceful - banners flying, flags held above the crowds, people chanting and singing. I knew it would end in bloodshed even before the drones came. One million people marching with passion and it took a handful of idiots to turn it into a blood bath.
The apartment block Linford led me through stank of mould and piss. I peered into the occasional doorway to see shadowy faces huddled around meagre fires. I felt sick knowing that only a few miles away Zone 1 was a lively affluent place, a utopian society where the rich ignored the poor. Never in history had there been such a vast divide between the classes.
“How much farther is it?”
Linford walked with ease, unafraid of any would be mugger lurking in the shadows. It was hard to ignore the two large curved machetes strapped to his belt or his confident body language. I wondered how many limbs or throats he had cut with his weapons. I wasn’t fearful of the Wastelands. I could handle myself better than most. After the war I kept myself in shape, mentally and physically. I saw what happened to my friends, how quickly they faded into the world of drink and drugs. Not me. I refused to give up without a fight.
I doubted Linford knew who or what I was, or even cared. To him I was just another post-war loser looking for a way out. The drones worried me. If I was caught outside Zone 2 after curfew I’d lose my home and maybe my life. It was a risk I was willing to take. I’d been slipping for a few months. I could feel the weight inside my mind, the chaos I struggled to keep at bay wanted to get out. I couldn't afford MET, and those who could didn't really need it.
To be fair, the government did set up a payment plan for ex-soldiers like me, but the repayments were too much. Even if I worked twenty hours a day I had little chance of keeping everything together and leading a normal life. Well, what the government consider normal for the miserable people who live in Zone 2. Unless you lived in Zone 1 the term ‘normal life’ was nothing but a joke.
My wife and son were killed in the Green Park Massacre. It was just me now. Struggling. Surviving. It was a tough life. No one cared for ex-soldiers because they remind people of dark times they pay to forget. I guess that’s why so many protested and died. And that’s why I finally decided on the alternative, the Cleansing.