2 Bad Pages a Day
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2 Bad Pages a Day

Against The Tide

#2badpagesaday (4)

Photo by V T on Unsplash

The Warning Siren was early.

Curfew advanced by an hour. It was getting to be normal out here in the hinterland. Hundreds of miles from the Central Zone but every Citizen felt the influence of the decisions as if they had been taken here in Zone 7.

One hour earlier. Fuck, we’ll be getting up before we go to bed soon.

The rumble came first.

Trudging down the walkways, you hear the rumble first. No hiding from the sounds. There’s talk of Autotubes down there in the Central Zone. Coaches that ride on rails, moving Citizens from work to their Apartments. Ha, apartments, too. Here in Zone 7, your reward for a hard day’s work is a long walk to the dormitory blocks and reduced rations at the drop of a hat.

And the rumble.

Armoured vehicles rumble ominously. Literally. And metaphorically. The rumble settles in the stomach, a warning that becomes second nature. A warning to shrink into the background; to walk a little quicker however tired your shift at the coalface has made you. Head down, walking faster. Sensing the mood; the weighty malevolence that comes with enforcement. The casual ramping up of pressure. The sinister ripple of controls being exerted.

There was a rumour of attempted escapes. Gossip about a group being caught in the concrete moat between 7 and 6. Caught in the spotlights as they scaled the angled wall. Ropes woven from the linings of work uniforms {damn it, there’s talk of linings being removed, just as the cold season is almost upon us}.

The rumble. Always the rumble.

Then the clump of heavy boots. Boots that lash out indiscriminately. Boots that bruise. Boots that assert authority. The clump of heavy boots that march towards the groups that have assembled on street corners. Boots that seem drawn to the rebellious undercurrent that has characterised this long hot Summer. Everyone feels it. The questions. The whispers. The murmurs of discontent. Something is happening. And if you hadn't heard the gossip, you’d certainly heard the boots, immediately after you’d heard the rumble.

Armoured vehicles. Armoured militia. Heavy boots. Heavy-handed.

Oh, yes, even out here in Zone 7, you can feel the controlling hand of the Committee. Even out here in Zone 7, you can sense the pressure building, the assertive hand on the levers of power.

But there is something else.

You can feel the crackling atmosphere of sedition. There’s a rebelliousness in the air. That lad at the mine; going off on one … taking a beating but creating enough of a distraction for the others. The others took full opportunity; payback for the beating claimed in the form of pilfered tools, stolen while guards in heavy boots piled in. Balancing the injustice of the beating.

The rumble plays out in the background.

They gather, illegally … but, hey, everything is bloody illegal these days. Furtive, in the shadows, straining to hear the whispered voices … the intelligence rippled from the Central Zone through the network of archaic ‘technologies’. Radios rescued from Museums before Remembrance was banned {every bloody thing is banned these days}.

Straining to hear. There are more people every week. It’s hard to get close enough to the front to hear everything. Snatched words … “contact has been made” … “inside the Archive” … “arrested on the Autotube … he doesn't know enough for it to be a risk” … “follow up soon”. The usual warnings on security … instructions about what to gather … additional briefings in the dormitories … “be prepared”.

The rumble, closer now. Heavy metal doors slamming open.

The clump, clump … instinct takes over. Scattering silently. Melting into the darkness. Pausing at the end of alleyways, eyes fixed on cameras … emerging as the lens peers the other way. Head down, scurrying, keeping a distance between one another. Avoiding suspicion.

The rumble. The clump of heavy boots. Closer.

One more corner. The glass door of the Dormitory. A barcode on the inside of a wrist, flashed at the panel; the hiss of the door. The narrow corridor funnels workers into single file, past the tables on the right. Pick up a tray; what passes for bread these days; a scoop of {is that even potato?} … a dollop of {did it used to be called stew?}. Walk through to the glaring light of the Hall, tables and benches down the centre; beds stacked 4 high on each side.









Announcements stopped a long time ago here in Zone 7. Sure, there’s our daily dose of ‘Big Brother’ but that’s just a reminder about what happens to trangressors. But out here in Zone 7 it feels like everyone is a transgressor. Why else would there be the daily rumble? The regular clump of heavy boots. The relentless physical labour without reward.

There’s a simmering atmosphere of discontent. Rumours of Elders sharing stories of the Past. Dangerous Remembrance. Welcome Remembrance. The Past offers Hope. The gatherings in the shadows offer Hope.

And Zone 7 needs Hope. Because Hope spreads and when there are no hopeful ripples emerging from the centre, perhaps it is time for the ripples to flow the other way. Whispers. Murmurs. Rumours. Hope. That’s all anyone needs. People can unify behind Hope.

Hope is Strength.

Here in Zone 7 it feels like it is getting stronger.

Here inside the Dormitory, you cannot hear the rumble. You cannot hear the clump of heavy boots. But you remember. The oppression tastes sour. Hope tastes good. And once you’ve tasted it, you just want more.

We are ready for more.



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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