Restraint

“How are you today, Charles?”

Mr. Kozloski asked in a voice reserved for addressing 8 year olds. He always spoke in a measured rhythm and took a very long time to say nothing. He knew I was shitting in my pants for the simple fact that I’d been called into his office.

“I’m fine, sir. Thank you for asking.”

He nodded his head accepting my humble response as appropriate. “Do you happen to know why you’re here?”

That patronizing tone of voice was maddening. I’d rather listen to someone grind their teeth together than hear him make another speech. He is working up to firing me but instead of just saying that he will probably take an hour to describe his reasoning behind the decision. My boss loved the sound of his own voice.

“I guess it’s getting close to the time for my annual review, sir. So I thought you might want to talk about that.” I knew he didn’t want to talk about that.

He paused, leaned back in his chair and pondered my response. Again, he took his time answering. I was almost ready to walk out and quit. Being a lowly security guard with my twenty-five years experience as a Detective for Chatham County was insulting enough already, I didn’t need this drama.

“You’re right in a way, Charles. I do want to talk about your performance but it will be a short conversation I’m afraid. No breaking out the rubric this time.”

I couldn’t say anything. I was equal parts rage and fear. I wanted to reach across the desk wrap my hands around this skinny punks neck and squeeze until his windpipe cracked just so he could never say the word “rubric” again! I was eleven years his senior and I had work experience that was relevant. Mr. Kozloski had no work experience prior to the the Gender Flu riots.  If half the country hadn’t died from the virus and the other half gone to complete shit, this man would have been lucky to find employment as a coffee shop barista.

“So no annual increase then?” Of course I already knew the answer.

Kozloski had the hubris to laugh. “Actually Charles I’m afraid I have to inform you that today is your last day of employment with S.A.F.E. There have been two many violations of company policy and I can no longer overlook them.”

“Do you mean because I was late a couple of times?”

Kozloski gave me a look. “It was more than a couple of times, Charles.” He opened a folder that contained printed photos of me entering the building. They were time stamped. “I have the photos to prove you were late 3 times in the last six months alone. I’m afraid we can’t over look this any longer.”

My palms began to sweat. “Mr. Kozloski, it’s just that I ran out of fuel credits a few times toward the end of the month and I had to walk from 52nd street to the compound. It’s quite a hike.”

“Did you try calling a cab any of those times?”

“No, sir, I simply can’t afford a luxury like that.”

“I see, so you want us to violate procedure by not having appropriate coverage at the compound and risk the safety of our females because you can’t manage your finances properly?”

I wanted to punch him until his face caved in. I imagined the satisfying sound of his pointy little beak crumpling under the weight of my fist. I was fifty-five but I kept in shape. I held my anger in check because I would never work again if S.A.F.E decided to give me a bad reference.

I stood and thanked Mr. Kozloski for giving the opportunity to worth with him. I nearly gagged on the words but I said them because they had to be said. He wished me look and shook my wet palm. He made a face when the moisture from my sweaty palm soaked into his precious callous free hand. The man had likely never held a gun in his life but held the title of “Head of Security.”

“Before I go Mr. Kozloski I’d like to ask if you’ll be able to give me a favorable recommendation if a future employer calls?”

The skin on his hairless cheeks gathered into a smile.

I doubt he even needs to shave, the twat!

“Of course I’ll give you a good reference, Charles,” he said in a sarcastic voice that let me know in perfectly clear terms that he had no intention of doing that.

“Thank you, Sir,” I said and managed to leave without punching a hole through Mr. Kozloski or his office door on my way out.

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Critical Thinking

Dr. Aikens is a big fan of Actualism but he isn’t allowed to teach on it. Haley sits in the front row of his class and absorbs everything he says like a sponge. Today’s discussion is on Descartes not on Bejamin Wong, the founder of Actualism, but it is clear that Dr. Aikens is trying to make the connection.

“How do you know that you’re real?” he asks

Haley raises her hand to answer. “I can see my reflection in the window. I can feel my pulse in my wrist and I’m breathing in air every second.”

He likes that answer. “So you’re basing your assumption that you’re real on information you can gather with your senses, correct? What you can see, touch, hear and smell?”

She nods.

But what if I told you that you can’t trust your senses to always be correct? Senses can be fooled. For instance think about a person taking, what’s that new hallucinogenic out there that the kids all like? The green stuff?”

“Bug juice,” a lethargic voice answers from the back.

Dr. Aikens whirls on a haired boy with red rimmed eyes. To the average person it might look like the boy is under the influence of something, but Haley lives next door to him and has first hand knowledge of the fact that he gets abused at home. He wasn’t a druggie, his distant attitude and lack of concern for school comes from his problems with his father.

“Excellent Mr. Dresden. I knew you would have the answer.”

“So someone taking Bug Juice would experience auditory and visual hallucinations. Therefore the visual data they are able to gather wouldn’t be factual and they wouldn’t be able to believe with that saw, ‘with their own eyes.'”

“So what is the answer then? What can you believe? How do you know you’re real?”

“I’m glad you’re so enthusiastic, Haley. The answer according to Descartes could be summed up in one sentence.” Dr. Aikens turned to the white board and wrote a phrase in red marker, I think therefore I am.

“But what does it mean?” A curly haired girl asked.

“It means that Descartes believed the proof of his existence was based on his ability to think. That the act of thinking itself was the proof.” Here Dr. Aikens paused for effect to see if he’d blown everyones mind. It was clear that he enjoyed his job.

**

After class Haley found herself in Dr. Aikens office. He had a recent test of hers with a score of 98 and a written message on the front of the paper. He handed it to her proudly, “Do you know you were the only one in the class who managed to write a proper answer to the essay question on the proof of God?”

Haley couldn’t help but smile at this. She didn’t agree with Dr. Aikens on some things but she did enjoy his praise. “I’m glad to hear you liked my answer.”

He sat down at the desk and steepled his fingers.”I did enjoy reading your response, it seems you’ve some deep rooted beliefs that have no basis in logic, but nevertheless are fascinating.”

“Are you talking about my faith?”

“Yes, indeed. Faith is an interesting concept.”

“Don’t you think it’s better than believing in nothing?” I hadn’t come here to debate the man on religion, but I was the daughter of a paster after all.

He stood and turned to the bookshelf behind him. “I wouldn’t say I believe in nothing.” He chose a hardback book with a dark purple cover and a strange golden symbol on the front. If I had to guess I would have said it looked Egyptian. He handed the book to me. I half expected it to be full of satanic rituals and spells. Instead the cover read Benjamin Wong and within it’s pages contained the principles that a nation would later use a road map for life after their faith had failed them.

“I think you might find this interesting, he said.

 

So Much Blood

“So much blood for such a small cut.”

Seaver stood above her with his knife at the ready. It had been a great disappointment that she didn’t fight back. In fact, it made him want to beat her more. She struggled to stand and had made it to her hands and knees when he delivered a swift kick to her middle.

She grunted as all her air was forced from her chest and her body crumpled. She lay on the floor and didn’t move for a long time.  Only the slow rise and fall of her chest proved she was still alive. He surveyed his handiwork.

“Why do you make me do this, Selena?” He crouched down and grabbed a handful of black hair and yanked her head back so she was forced to look at him. Her eyes opened and rolled back in her head like a terrified animal. So much white.

“Don’t you dare pass out on me!” he growled. “Remember that your only purpose in life is to bear my children and you don’t need the use of all your limbs to do that.”

“I’ll try.” she whispered.

“I’m sorry, what was that, Selena?”

“I can do better.”

“You can do better… what?”

“M-master.”

“Finally.” Seaver entangled his hand from her hair and let her head drop. He wiped the blood on his jeans and cursed at the instant stain. “Look what you made me do!”

He balled his fist intent on knocking a few of her teeth down her throat. She didn’t need all of them.

Selena looked up at him with heavily lidded eyes and raised a hand to try and fend off his blow. Her entire body trembled in anticipation of his pounding and his dick grew rock hard looking into her helpless pleading eyes.

“You like beatin’ on ladies, eh? Is that how you get yer jollies ya bastard!”

Seaver whipped around knife in hand. As expected, Agent Shaunessy was the source of the interruption. He was Selena’s guardian but they both knew he didn’t have the authority to intervene.

“Come on, then,” Seaver taunted him.

The man’s face was red to match his flame colored hair. A prominent vein stood out on his for-head announcing his level of fury. He looked like a vanilla version of the Incredible Hulk.

Seaver knew as a client, he was within his rights to handle Selena any way he liked as long as it didn’t interfere with her ability to get pregnant and Agent Shaunessy knew this as well. Seaver threw the knife overhead and it  whipped past the agents head to imbed itself in the wall behind. Agent Shaunessy didn’t bat an eyelash.

“Alright. You’ve had your go fella, now it’s my turn.”

The man was by far the biggest agent Seaver had ever seen and he moved with astonishing speed. Before he had the opportunity to react, the walking wall of a man rammed his shoulder into Seaver’s gut with his full weight behind it. He wrapped his gorilla arms around Seaver’s waist and he landed flat on his back with 300 plus pounds of muscle on top of him.

His first thought was that it hurt to breathe and that meant he likely had at least one broken rib. His second thought was how hysterical he found this situation. Even as Agent Shaunessy set to work pounding his face into an unrecognizable mass of of purple flesh, Seaver continued to laugh. His laugh became a cough as blood streamed into his mouth from the broken ruin that had once been his nose.

“Think it’s funny do ya?” he said between blows. “You won’t be laughing long.”

Seaver turned his head to spit out a tooth and continue to chuckle in between fits of coughing.

 

 

 

 

Diary of a Gatekeeper

This diary entry was found  lying next to the body of Harold Bazemore who died of a self inflicted gunshot wound to the head. How he was able to obtain the handgun is still under investigation.

I stand guard at the entrance way to Tybee Island. I was told it was for their protection but it feels more like the checkpoint serves to keep them inside instead of keeping Rovers out. The girls that pass through my gate get younger every year. It this were fifteen years earlier it would have been considered a crime for a man to touch a girl so young. They pass by me in passenger seats of giant SUV’s driven by their stoic Guardians who seem not to notice the tears that are barely kept at bay within their eyes. These are the lucky ones, the girls that still have a light inside them. They’re alive enough to realize the S.A.F.E system isn’t a way of life.

Our government uses billboards, television advertisements and political speeches to deliver its propaganda. These slogans are meant to keep everyone focused on the goal, “Procreate and Populate.” The repopulation effort is for the benefit of everyone and research or whatever has shown that the S.A.F.E system is the best way to achieve our goal. We’re told it’s for their own good, for the good of the entire nation. In fact this fertility program is necessary for our very survival. Whether or not it’s actually helping remains to be seen.

I know it isn’t helping the girls and the pregnancy rates don’t seem to have improved much. These women – no girls – are taught that everyone must do their “duty,” but they are the only ones suffering this way. Regular citizens have common struggles like not enough fuel credits or fresh produce, but at least our personal lives belong to us. What must it be like to grow up in a world that only sees you for what your body can produce? May God forgive me for saying it but I believe my Olivia was lucky to have been taken by the Gender Flu. As terrible as the wasting sickness was on her it was far better than the slow painful death of the soul that the surviving females now experience.

I shouldn’t be writing down such dangerous ideas but does anyone care what a tired old gatekeeper thinks? I sometimes feel that I have to write down my frustrations or I’ll explode.

Diary of a Gatekeeper

Olivia Bazemore, Age 14

Her First Assignment

Every successful pregnancy provides the female with a higher station in the new S.A.F.E hierarchy of power. Let me rephrase that, women are powerless, but a woman who has borne live children-a thing that has become rare-have certain perks. A larger apartment was one of these perks, so I was currently enjoying the space in my neighbor Ebony’s bathroom.

I sat at her vanity waiting for her to magically transform my hair into a shape. I couldn’t have gone to a stylist, even if those people still existed somewhere, I didn’t have any money. The S.A.F.E program required females to be clean and the purity belts we wore demanded a certain style of clothing, but there was nothing stating we needed to have haircuts.

“Hold still unless you want me to muck it up,” Ebony warned. She was from Wales and had the misfortune to be in the U.S. when the Gender Flu hit. She hadn’t been able to flee the country before the travel ban and was effectively stuck here.

The blades of her giant sewing shears snicked together and strands of pale lifeless hair floated to the floor. She’d been a stylist in another life and still enjoyed practicing her craft in secret. I wanted an inverted bob with bangs but she said it would be too drastic a change and someone would notice. I didn’t understand who it helped to have every detail our lives so regulated? My short haircut wouldn’t hinder getting pregnant, but it also wouldn’t help it, and that would be their argument. Ebony wasn’t even a citizen but she was fully committed to the repopulation effort. If they ever updated the manual to say that haircuts were no longer allowed, she would obey the order without question.

Ebony finished and removed the towel she’d draped over my dress. “Fancy a Squeeze?”

I didn’t want a tart lemon drink, I wanted a glass of wine. I remember my mother was always given a single glass of white wine when she had her hair done. I was given a water or juice if they had it and sometimes the manicurist would even paint my nails while I waited on her. Of course that had been a real beauty salon and it was prior to the Gender Flu.

“Squeeze sounds good,” I lied. I didn’t want to seem impolite or ungrateful. My hair would be hanging down the middle of my back by now if it wasn’t for Ebony.

I opened the can she gave me and took a long swig. The first taste was always the worst, but once you got past that it went down easier. Despite it’s awful taste we all kept drinking it because it was free and also because the government said we needed to drink or risk intestinal infections.

Dorian stood in the doorway with his arms crossed and a severe expression on his face. “It’s time to go we’ve wasted enough of the day.”

I stood and did a twirl. “Do you think he’ll like it?” I asked. Tonight was my first scheduled encounter with my new assignment from the Dating Pool. I didn’t know anything about him other than his name and the fact that he’d paid an absurd amount of money to be with me.

“He has no choice but to like you,” Dorian said and ushered me out of my friends apartment.

I wasn’t sure if that was a compliment or a bleak and obvious comment on the current state of affairs.

Ebony followed me us to the door and before I walked out she turned me around and placed a palm on my flat stomach. “Good luck, and let it be a girl,” she said.

Something to Smile About

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“She’s here again,” Shane said as he passed me carrying a plate of steaming pasta. That wasn’t good, the fact that he’d noticed me noticing her.  Then again it was hard not to notice a Golden. Shane had been gay since before Gender Flu and he even stared at her.

I peered into the dining room from the small kitchen window. She sat across from her assigned companion with her back in my direction. The low candle light from the tables cast a golden glow around her. If I believed in the existence of angels I would think she were one. The blonde hair that fell down her back made her more valuable than any other female in the room. I couldn’t see her face but she was looking down at her hands. She wasn’t happy to be at Cha Bella having dinner, or either she wasn’t happy with her companion, it was hard to tell.

The man with her was young for one of those Dating Pool freaks. He frowned at her from across the table and looked as if someone had pissed in his minestrone. If they’d sat at my table I would have pissed in it! This was the third time I’d seen them here, so that must mean she hadn’t conceived yet. Good, there is still time.

Shane sat the pasta down in front of her companion and headed back toward the kitchen.

“Didn’t she order something?” I asked him.

“She had a side salad but no entree. She said she wasn’t that hungry.” Shane moved on to the ticket window to pick up his next order. There were only two of us working the entire restaurant at a time. Times were hard and only a select group of people could afford to eat so the restaurant had more business than two waiters could handle.

That dickhead probably didn’t want to pay for her dinner. I would fix him. “Want to see something funny?” I moved over to the desert counter and opened the mini fridge to pull out a previously frozen precut piece of tiramisu.

The Chef looked up from his work and glared at me. He knew we had a limited supply of deserts on hand. The tiramisu, like many things was rationed. He shook his head and then  stirred a pot of noodles with his left hand and with his right hand he flipped the handful of tiny shrimp he had frying in the pan. Their was no Sous Chef or Assistant Chef and man was simply too busy to worry about what I did. I was thankful for this. I was also thankful for the fact that he was also responsible for the inventory.

“What are you doing with that?” He knew I was up to something and couldn’t help but smile. He needed his job too badly to do anything against regulations, but he fully supported my attempts to thwart the authority.

“Just watch.” I placed the delicate dessert on a saucer and added a swirl of whip cream and a chocolate covered espresso bean right on top. With one hand on the kitchen door called out to Shane over my shoulder, “This is going to be fun!”