Time To Repair

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Chapter 36

Northampton England, Wednesday August 13th 2262

10:34:50 hours

“That children was number four Gallant Close,” said Simon, as he led SRK 6-1 down the wide tarmac driveway to the road. “Just two more houses and then we will head back into the museum for a morning snack and a break from this heat.”

The children cheered in their own individual ways in their own languages making Simon smile. He stopped in the middle of the Close and the children gathered around him.

“You will probably have noticed something about the first four houses we have been into. Would anyone like to guess what?” he asked as he quickly scanned the group, the children looked a little puzzled.

“Okay then,” he said, “I will tell you. The first house we went in, number one, was the newest with regards to technology, style and fashion. Can anyone remember what year I said that one was set in?”

Three hands went up around the group.

“Yes Gillian,” Simon said with a smile, he had developed a bit of a soft spot for the little girl since reading about her home life.

“Was it… erm… was it…” Gillian flushed up and started to panic.

Mary tried to raise her arm higher than it already was; so much so that she was on tiptoe. “Mr Kingsley!” She said impatiently, trying to catch his attention.

“Wait a minute Mary; give Gillian a chance to remember… There’s no rush Gillian, take your time.”

“2242?” Gillian said doubtfully.

“Well done Gillian! Well remembered.”

Gillian beamed from ear to ear.

Simon turned to Mary. “Mary, can you give me the date of number two Gallant Close; the second house we went in?”

Without hesitation she answered “2185!”

“Well done to you too Mary,” Simon praised. “Now can somebody different tell me the date for number three?”

Hakiro and Ryszard both put up their hands.

“czy to Ryszard.” Simon pointed to the Polish boy. As he did his strap fell from his wrist and landed on the road in front of him.

“2128?” Ryszard said hesitantly.

Simon bent down to pick up his strap, popped the pin back into place and donned the strap once more. He was getting a little irritated with it now; that was the third time it had come off since he had first met the children and it always seemed to be when one of the foreign children had just spoken too.

“He said is it 2128?” chirped in Douglas helpfully.

“Thank you Douglas,” Simon said with a strained embarrassed smile. The children had obviously noticed the problem with his strap. “Yes Ryszard the year was 2128, well remembered!”

Simon shifted his weight from one foot to another. The heat this early in the morning must have been well above the average and was almost unbearable. “Now, the house we have just left we know was 2100. Can anyone see a pattern in the dates?”

The children thought for a few seconds before several hands went up again.

“Harry,” Simon said with a smile.

“Each house has been older than the one before it,” Harry said confidently.

“Well done Harry!” Simon praised. “As we know the houses are all the same age and were built right at the end of the twentieth century in 1986. We have seen though they are all very different inside; this is because they have all been restored to represent a different era in our ancestor’s lives.”

The children listened attentively as Simon continued. “Now, number five Gallant Close has been restored to reflect the year 2024, it is the second oldest one and I think the most interesting. Number six is the oldest and represents 1986, the year the Close was built; we will come to it after number five. Follow me!”

The group followed Simon up the red-bricked drive to the front door, a solid green plastic-coated security door.

Simon turned to face the children. “You will notice that this door is quite different to the others we have been through so far. It is the first one that is hinged so that it actually opens into the building; if you remember the others have all been the slide-aside type, similar to those that we are more used to today. It is also the securest of them all. In 2024 crime was so rife on the streets of the United Kingdom, as it was then, that people turned their homes into mini fortresses. You can see the thick bulletproof glass in the windows and, on the ground floor, the decorative steel bars too. It wasn’t a nice time to be living in; and still nearly three decades away from when the government of the time implemented the Clean Society Act of 2052. A part of that act made it compulsory for every man, woman and child to give their DNA. Today your DNA is taken at birth and no one is really bothered by it. Then though, there was uproar and rioting in the streets as civil liberty groups protested in their thousands. Crime rates though dropped overnight when it was fully implemented; it became virtually impossible to commit a crime without being caught. Within a generation people’s attitudes and behaviour changed and reflected more the perspective of the people of today.”

The children stood transfixed by his words. Simon smiled. “Anyone fancy travelling back in time to 2024 if it was possible?”

“No!” the children answered in unison in their own languages.

“No; me neither. Brrrrrr!” Simon shuddered in an exaggerated fashion; making the children laugh.

He continued. “Back in 2024 you couldn’t walk on the streets at night as you would now; it just wasn’t safe. There were far too many rogues about that would rob you of your possessions and money; gangs of them went round frightening and intimidating people; attacking them for no reason at all.

A lot of streets you wouldn’t want to walk on during the day either. The government published weekly lists of streets and areas that either had a dusk curfew or were ‘no-go areas’, day or night.”

“It sounds like a horrible time to live in.” Harry said looking dismayed.

“It was,” Simon agreed. “The nation at the time didn’t know any different; that was how life was and they just accepted it. Now, let’s go inside.”

The children filed in behind Simon, all a little relieved to get in out of the sun. They were in a short hallway, the only natural light coming from the open front door. The walls were painted white and had several old fashioned framed photographs of the resident family spread out on them. Laminate flooring covered the ground floor throughout and continued up the staircase at the end of the hall.

Suddenly loud heavy metal music started blaring from a room upstairs.

Simon shouted above the noise. “STAFF HERE ARE RE-CREATING FOR US TODAY; HOW EVERYDAY FAMILY LIFE WAS AT THE TIME.”

Just then a severely overweight woman waddled out of the lounge and over to the foot of the stairs. She wore black skin-tight leggings, which did nothing to disguise her larger figure, and a gaudy striped loose fitting top. Her hair was short cropped and coloured bright orange.

There was an inaudible gasp from the children and several of them giggled.

“AUTUMN BERRY WILL YA TURN THAT RACKET OFF AND GET DOWN ’ERE NOW,” she bellowed up the stairs.

There was heavy stomping across the floor above them before the music ended abruptly.

“Peace at last,” the woman exclaimed.

The figure of a teenage boy appeared at the top of the stairs. He had an electric blue Mohican hair style and metal piercings all about his face. His skin-tight jeans and black and pink striped top did nothing but emphasise his own large figure.

“WHAT MUM?” he yelled.

Several of the children flinched at the way he spoke to his mother.

“We’re gettin’ a pizza in for uz tea,” the mother said with a sigh. “Come down and pick whatcha wan’.”

The son sighed heavily with obvious attitude. “Makes a ******* change,” he mumbled. The swear word had been automatically bleeped out by the children’s dat-com straps.

“Don’t ya speak to me like that you lil ****,” the mother swore back as she flounced back into the lounge.

“Wow!” said Mary stunned. “Why are they speaking to each other like that in that strange language?”

“You will have noticed the strong Northamptonian accent the local people had at the time,” Simon replied.

Autumn Berry plundered down the stairs and into the lounge after his mother.

Simon continued. “Before teleportation the United Kingdom had different accents for different regions. Some were very strong and difficult to understand. It was quite possible for two people to be speaking English and talking to one another with different accents, say Birmingham and Liverpool for example, and not understand each other. Then, when teleportation came in, everything started to change. People moved around all over the world for work, and for schooling like yourselves. Children grew up having not picked up any accent in particular as they didn’t really stay in one place; or mix with people with the same accent long enough to pick it up themselves. Today accents vary from country to country, not region to region.”

Simon looked over the children. “Does anyone have any questions before we move on into the lounge?”

Saadah raised his hand.

“Yes Saadah?”

“That boy and his mum are very fat and are wearing really strange clothes,” Saadah stated.

“Well spotted Saadah,” Simon remarked. “They were both on the heavy side shall we say.”

The children giggled.

Simon went on. “In 2024 fat was a big problem; three out of four people were overweight and two of those were obese. Diets were not good, food had got quicker and more convenient and people led busy lives and didn’t take the time to eat properly.”

The children listened intently as Simon continued. “Of course today as soon as your dat-com strap detects surplus fat in your body your doctor gets informed and will then send you the relevant course of cellulighter and a fatty tragedy is averted.”

The children laughed.

“Yes Gillian,” Simon said noticing the little girl had put up her hand.

“How are these people so fat?”

“A good question Gillian. These people are actors and are wearing padded clothes. They also have holographic fat over their faces, hands and arms to give them the appearance of being overweight.”

“Oh,” Gillian said thoughtfully.

“Saadah mentioned the strange clothing you will have all noticed. There was a revival of the punk era from the 1970’s and 1980’s. People dressed to try and intimidate; the freakier you looked the better as far as they were concerned. You will have spotted all the piercings in young Autumn Berry’s face, again an intimidation tactic. His blue Mohican hair and metal studded face would certainly frighten me on a dark winter’s evening on the street!”

The children laughed again.

“You saw how the youth spoke to his mum; sadly a lot of children had little respect for their parents or anyone else. They actually used disgusting swear words as commonplace communication, parents didn’t reprimand their children as they didn’t know any better; that was how they were brought up themselves,” Simon sighed. “Sad times indeed. Now let’s follow the fatties and see what they are up to.”

A smattering of giggles and laughter erupted around the group as they trooped into the lounge.

The group were faced with a small room cramped with too much furniture. The walls were decorated with gaudy yellow and green diagonal striped wallpaper. The main feature of the room was the humongous eighty-three inch slim-line television attached to the wall. It was currently displaying an array of pizza’s and other food and drinks on the screen. The mother and her son were both stood in front of it, holding plastic square hand-held devices slightly smaller than their hand, while they examined what was on offer on the screen.

“The television set,” Simon began, “was a main part of the communication hub of the house. Today we each have our own dat-com strap, but back then you would have had your own touch-screen pad and an earpiece that you will notice clips to the earlobe.” Simon pointed to the mother and her son.

“Lots of things could be done through the television; as you can see here these two are ordering food. They see what they want on the screen and then select it on their pad. When all the family have selected what they want, they send the order to the restaurant, or pizza place in this case.”

“Where are Dad ‘n’ Harvest Festival?” Autumn Berry asked his mum.

“Ya dad ‘n’ sister are outside ’aving a fag,” she replied, selecting her choice of pizza on her pad. A copy of the cheese delight pizza flew across the screen with a whoosh and sat in the top left-hand corner under the name ‘Mum’. She added extra large fries and a large cola.

As Autumn Berry made his selections, Harvest Festival breezed into the room. In contrary to her mother and brother she had a slim figure. Her hair was long and straight; all the way down to her waist. It was a deep purple on one side of her head and bright red on the other. She wore black skin-tight jeans and a ripped tatty faded black t-shirt that had the words ’F*** off and die bitch!’ on both the front and the back. Three letters of the expletive word had been covered over to meet modern standards and regulations.

“Do ya wanna get ya dad in fromt garden so we can send the order off for us tea?” The mother asked. “Then pick whatcha want too,” she added.

“DAAAAAAAD,” Harvest Festival screamed at the top of her voice making Simon and the children jump.

“I could have ******* done that!” the mother exclaimed.

“What’s that horrible smell?” Mary asked Simon.

“That, children is a cigarette; or fag as it was commonly called, before the government banned them completely, about twenty years from this time. It was prohibited to smoke inside a building anywhere - even your own home. Young Harvest Festival and her father have been in the garden smoking. As you know smoking was very very bad for you; and led to all sorts of horrible diseases. Our actors here are smoking an imitation cigarette that is perfectly harmless and is still used today when period dramatisations are made.”

“You’ve got a ******* gob an’ a ’arf on ya gal!” exclaimed the father entering the lounge. Like his wife and son he was also severely overweight and dressed in a similar fashion to the rest of his family. He was the eldest of them all and had lost a lot of his hair.

There was a gasp from the children.

“Where is his hair?” Douglas half-whispered, forgetting momentarily that the man was an actor and not wanting to offend him.

Simon smiled. “Going bald like this man was quite common; there were no hair loss prevention procedures as there are now.” Simon paused to check the details of the character on his strap. “This man was thirty-eight when his hair started to fall out. He is forty-eight now; by the time he dies at fifty-six he will be completely bald.”

“死ぬのにはまだ若いですよね。” Rina said in alarm. “That is very young to die,” came the translation.

“Indeed it is. Even by standards then, average life expectancy for a man was seventy-four, a drop of six years from the average ten years previously. This was mainly due to the obesity problem in the country. This man here dies of a heart attack in the arms of his wife in just eight years time.”

There were a series of ohs and ahs from the children.

“He was warned by his doctor six months ago of his potential fate, he chose to ignore the warning though and continued to eat like a pig.”

The children giggled again.

The family placed their order and settled down on the three large red fabric sofas in front of the television to wait for the delivery of their evening meal. The father selected the BBC page via his own pad. A series of programmes appeared on the screen as icons. He selected EastEnders. The opening theme tune blared out from all corners of the room via a series of wireless speakers.

“The family have picked a popular weekly drama of that time to watch while they wait for their food to be delivered to their actual front door; there were obviously no food teleporters then.” Simon said with a smile.

“Television programmes, as they were known then, were, like today’s broadcasts, all chosen ‘on demand.’ There were very few live broadcasts still shown by 2024. Families wanted to watch their favourite programme when they wanted; not when someone in an office somewhere decided.”

Simon clapped his hands excitedly. “Let’s have a look upstairs!” His dat-com strap fell off his wrist to the floor. He rolled his eyes, more than a bit irritated by it now.

Hakiro bent down and picked it up.

“Thank you.” Simon said with a sigh, taking it off the boy. “I think I had better go and sort this out quickly,” he announced to the children. “I have an old strap at home; I can be there and back in a jiffy and then we can get on with our lesson properly.” He also had an urge to urinate; he kept this information to himself though.

The children nodded.

Simon walked over to the actors on the sofas. “I’ve got a problem with my strap, I’m going to port home and retrieve my spare one; can you look after the children for me?”

“Of course we can!” The woman playing the mother said, with no sign of her previous Northamptonian accent.

“Great.” Simon said. He turned to the children. “The actors here are going to keep you company while I port home; I’ll be as quick as I can.”

The mother stood up. “Come over here children and endure, I mean enjoy EastEnders with us,” she said with a friendly smile.

The children filed over and Simon left.

Within a few minutes the traversoll had taken him to the port floor. He rushed across it to row H and then to the teleporter his strap had indicated was free. He placed the strap in his left trouser pocket as he finished reciting the two port numbers, the door opened with its usual hiss. He stepped inside, the door closed and the teleportation process began…

Eleven seconds later the door opened and he jumped out.

“Freeze!” Came a command which made him nearly jump out of his skin. He looked up to find that he wasn’t in his own home but was in a large brightly lit white room devoid of any furniture. There were seven uniformed GPA officers before him; six of them were pointing paralysis pistols at him.

“Simon R…” the superior officer started officially.

“What the hell is going on?” Simon shouted, not daring to move, he had heard about the pain one of these paralysis pistols could deliver.

“Mr Kingsley, please let me finish,” the same officer said calmly. He was positioned in the centre of the room and was the only officer that was unarmed. His team flanked both his sides; poised for action.

Simon remained quiet.

“Your teleport has been intercepted and you have been redirected to the National Government Police Station in Yorkshire.”

Simon’s face fell; he couldn’t for the life of him think why he had been brought here.

The superior officer continued. “I am placing you under an apprehension order for the rape of Government Minister Ms Hillary Jane Bartlett, and the assault of Mr Norman Bradleigh. You will be held here until we decide otherwise. All your rights as a citizen of England have been rescinded, your Virtual Credit account is now frozen and all teleportation privileges have been suspended. Your possessions and property now belong to the government until such a time when you are released from custody. I am advising you to remain silent until we are ready to proceed with your case and you are under interview conditions.”

The officer paused for a breath. “Do you understand?”

“Yes,” Simon confirmed, feeling like his whole life was over. He wanted to vomit as anxiety rushed to the pit of his stomach and churned itself over and over.

How was he going to get out of this?

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