2 Bad Pages a Day
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2 Bad Pages a Day

Against The Tide

#2badpagesaday (6)

Photo by Tom Smith on Unsplash

It was playing on his mind.

The Autotube. Coach A. Seat 27.


Why would you make yourself stand out like that?

Why draw attention to yourself?

Why put yourself in the hands of those Enforcers, always a little free with the Stunners, a little too casual with the violence of their enforcement.

Tide shivered.

An image in his thoughts. Running like a film. The camera is low down, the eyeline of a child, watching, witnessing. Hidden from view, under the pier {what even is a ‘pier’, where did that word come from?} … a sound … rhythmic … water over stones … washing towards his toes … the soothing sound. Watching the boat approaching, carried on the water’s rhythms. Men using wood to paddle closer, nearly there. Watching. Willing them to make it. Finally, the boat is tossed onto the stones, the men spilling from it, coughing, choking, but out of the water.

The warm welcome of solid ground. Brought there on the tide.

Watching as the Men walked towards them.

Casual indifference.

Carrying their own pieces of wood, smooth surfaces glinting in the moonlight. The shadows add malevolence to the unfolding scene.

A young heart lifted by the imminent rescue … joy that the travellers from the sea would be taken care of. Hope dashed with the first blow. Joy crushed as heavy clubs crush bones. Pathetic yelps of pain. Grown men cowering. Racing back to the sea’s embrace to escape the brutal welcome.


Memory. Remembrance.

It feels important to remember.

{There’s no good that comes from remembrance.}

Remembering too, the face of the man in Seat 27, turned towards him. Was that a smile? Smiling as he is dragged away by Enforcement Unit Sigma to who-knows-what brutality.


The Smile seemed to say ‘job done’ … ‘over to you’. Why? Why would someone do that?


Tide walked, taking his time on the way to the Autotube station. He’d never finished so early. Inheriting a pile of cards that had been worked on by someone so diligent. The look of surprise as he handed them to the Overseer.

You, Tide? Already? Fine, you may leave.


Moving with sufficient purpose to satisfy the Watchers, conscious of cameras swivelling towards him as he walked. Strangely though, in spite of the nagging hunger in his belly {two missed meals; carelessness on his part … rumbling}, a walk that he could almost (whisper it quietly) enjoy.

An early Autotube.

Coach B. Seat 13. Free.

Sliding in next to the slight figure clad in Central Zone grey. A hood on a raincoat … you don’t see that sort of personalised touch very often. Tide noticed the detail, surprising himself. You tend not to notice the details. Everything blurs in the Central Zone. Hazy. Monochrome. Unremarkable.

The grumble of his tummy. Loud.

Louder than the whisper. A whisper, on the Autotube?

{Stop it, Tide, you’re imagining things}

Again, the whisper. “Hello Tide”.

Words from deep inside the hood. Words, shared, on the Autotube? This is not what happens. This is not normal. What is normal?

Tide, be prepared. Walk slowly. Listen well

This is no dream. Senses suddenly sharpened, hunger somehow clearing his head. Hearing the words. Instinctively not turning towards the source of them. Cautious now. The fragments add together; a picture forms. Not yet complete.

Missed meals … running late … the last train … a disturbance … that smile … changing seats … that fragrance … fewer cards to code … that fragranceRemembrances … words on the Autotube

The Autotube stops. His stop.

Sliding out of Seat 13, Coach B.

Words whispered, fading as the doors hiss shut:

“Be prepared

Be prepared

… prepared …

prepare …”



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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