2 Bad Pages a Day
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2 Bad Pages a Day

Against The Tide

#2badpagesaday (8)

Photo by Connor Fisher on Unsplash

The alley narrowed.

Ahead, a sliver of light cut through the claustrophobic darkness, a reminder of the powerful street lighting on the Boulevard. The evening had turned cooler. His heart beat faster as the figure ahead stopped. Tide stopped, a few yards behind, his eyes straining to see more than a faint outline of the hooded man. Waiting, not sure what to do. Step forward? Ask something … ask what?

Waiting, frozen to the spot, uncertainty and caution dampened Tide’s curiosity; the adrenaline-fuelled instinct that brought him into this darkness deserted him. Watching, but the hooded figure stays still, silently keeping watch on the point where the alley leads out to the Boulevard.

We’ve been watching you, Mr Tide. We think you can help us.

The voice was softly spoken, reassuring even.

Tide knew — somehow — not to turn towards the shadows from which the voice emerged. His senses were heightened, and his brain felt more alert than he could remember it being; he listened intently.

We only have a few moments. When I have spoken, you should make your way towards my colleague. He will tell you when it is safe to emerge into the light. Go straight to your apartment, and behave as normal. When you enter your building, select your meal from No 27; do not eat the ‘Best of British’ meal selections. This is very important. Watch the Committee meeting. Check your pocket. Read a little. Rest up. We will contact you again.

Tide realised he had been holding his breath. His heart was pounding … his reaction was habitual; his hand resting on his chest, feeling the rapid beat. Feeling … what, not again … paper, in his suit pocket … how do they do that? Who does it?

Thank you, Tide, for supporting us. We are relying on you. You should go now.

The short walk to the end of the alley felt as though it played out in >fast forward <

The hooded figure stayed in the shadows peering briefly out into the bold light. One hand held in the air, five fingers extended. No words. Silently counting down, one finger after another until just the index finger was left. As it folded forward completing a fist, Tide stepped forward, turning left onto the wide street in front of him. Ahead, on the opposite side of the street, the entrance to Building 13. He sensed that time was short; he pressed forward, long strides carrying him to the door, and the all-too-familiar hallway.

The Vending Machine was fully stocked. He reached for No 27, surprised to find that the door appeared to have no handle. Anyone else would have given up on it. Anyone else would have reached for the ‘Best of British’ choice in No 26 … the compartment numbered ‘28’ offered a tempting Lamb Curry, the ‘Very Best of British’. Instinct guided his hand back to ‘27’, the pressure he applied to the door pressing it inwards and releasing it from a locking mechanism. He quickly took his meal, closing the door before a Citizen appeared next to him, eagerly reaching for the Lamb Curry, assuming Tide had been too tired to notice it.

Back in Apartment 13/113.


Alone, at last.

His heart is no longer racing. His breath slows.

Tide slips off his suit jacket, hanging it off the back of the simple plastic chair in front of the square plastic table. Factories in Zone 6 churn them out day after day, he had heard. Built for ease of production, not for comfort. But who needs comfort? Sit, eat, watch The Announcements and the visual gruel for the masses {where did that come from, Tide, he asks himself}, put the rubbish down the garbage chute, go to bed, sleep, rise for the next day.

Comfort? No need.

The screen flickers to life. Ten minutes until the broadcast begins.

Ten minutes.

Two to heat the meal {a very warming lamb stew, potatoes and a hint of something … a spicy, tangy flavour … something coming to mind, a memory, a word … ‘Worcester’ … what? My mind playing tricks. Remembrance?}

Seven minutes spent savouring the moment … seven minutes spent enjoying a meal … a moment spent wishing there was a second helping. Food, to actually enjoy.

One minute of reflection. A moment spent resisting the urge to reach into his pocket. One minute of resistance.

The screen flickers again. The music begins.

The Committee in the shadows. The Spokesman steps into the spotlight, his black uniform sharply defined against the white lights, the insignia glinting. Spotlights roam against the floor-to-ceiling banners, picking out the symbols, stark reminders of a philosophy.

A reminder of their Power and their ambitions.

The Spokesman begins his all-too-familiar tirade. Tide watches his mouth moving. He knows the words already. He is tired of the words. He watches, but he does not listen. The words wash over him.

The words he wants to know are written on a piece of paper in the breast pocket of his rough wool work suit. Patience, Tide.

The Spokesman is working himself up, gesturing violently, spittle flying from his lips. An arm flings out from his chest, emphasising his points … each gesture is a disdainful punctuation mark after the mention of one Enemy of the State or other. Real anger; unsimulated hatred. His words resonate with the majority. His words restating The Rules.

His words no longer finding an audience in Apartment 13/113



A dystopian imagining of a time in the near future; a time when Citizens are slaves to shadow’y figures who control the resources, the levers of power, and the narrative. Slowly, the seeds of dissension are sown as people are called to change. It is in their Nature.

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