The International Writers Magazine
The Future in the Dark

The Future
Victor Manley

A tiny spider settled gently on George's shoulder, his eyes rested on it for a second but he made no move to kill it-there were hundreds in here. And, anyway, he had to conserve his strength if he was going to stay down here.

Who knows how long his supplies would hold out. The last union had fallen yesterday, new government legislation had been forced through banning any organised meetings outside the 'Grand Council'. Nobody had complained, this had been coming for a while. The newspapers hadn't even bothered giving it a front-page headline, it was just all that rot about which celebrities they thought had had the new muscle realignment surgery. George scowled into the foot or so of darkness ahead of him. It all seemed like cheating to him.
He was sure that when he was a kid the newspapers had been more concerned with, well, news. Not just gossip and page after page of star signs. He wasn't crazy about this new metric calendar either. Not that anybody else seemed to care of course, as long as they had their talking robot puppies and oral pleasure stimulators. It was all going to hell in George's book. He tucked his knees up under his chin, there really wasn't that much room. But if staying in here meant he would live then he would take the discomfort.
The real trouble had begun when the United American Society (or America and England as George rather illegally liked to call them; that one always got his wife in a tizzy) had begun 'peaceful negotiations' with the 'evil organisation of terrorists'. George didn't understand politics now but in his day ' peaceful negotiations' shouldn't involve lazar guns and depleted uranium body suits. He looked around at the cans next to him, now why had he brought lima beans? He sighed and tried to straighten his back, but only managed to hit his head on the ceiling.
Now it seemed that there were attacks on London (or collective living centre 8 as it was now called) every hour at least. George could hear the sirens even from here. The right and honorable leader (Tony Blair, or his head on a floating life support machine anyway) was slowly destroying this country, well what was left of it. The parts which had been seized by various tribes over the years, were occasionally bombed by the 'Central Council'.

The newspapers had invented names for all the tribes, the names were supposed to promote hatred and fear. George loved them, there was the Scouser sodomisers, the Mank 's murderers, the Devonshire demons and the Highland…well he forgot that one but, well, anything could be up there really. George sometimes daydreamed about running away to live up there, free. But all the reports he heard suggested mutants and cannibals.
'You shouldn't complain. There are worse off people than you.' That was what his wife, Marjorie, always said. But he had no time to pity anyone, not with all the trouble of his own to concentrate on. He had cared about his sons, Ian and Jacob, but they had been gone some years now, ended up dead on one of Saturn's moons. Drafted and killed in a war against an enemy nobody had ever seen, that was 'classified information' apparently. He had no time for tears anymore. Marjorie had recovered by living behind a mask of 'patriotism' and 'duty,' but it was like no duty George had ever heard of.
George sniffed uncomfortably. It smelt a bit odd in here, sort of like old tennis shoes and burning rubber. When they saw him here they would say he'd gone mad. Well let them. Madness was a right of the elderly, and George was starting to feel old. Marjorie would get hysterical and probably move in with Ernie next door. Good riddance to old rubbish, he had always felt cheated in their relationship. Of course this was before the days of arranged matches by the council database but still…it had all happened before he was sure. It was that damn mother of hers that forced me into this, George thought, damn her meddling. And it wasn't as if he had her death to comfort him, there she was in that damn cryogenics home. More dead than alive, but alive none the less. It just meant they had to visit on her birthday, that was one day a year George could have put to a better use.
            'George.' It was quiet, but unmistakably there. 'George. Where are you?' He could hear her footsteps now, coming closer. She would have to know sooner or later, one way or another. It might as well be now.
            'Yes?' said George. He could hear the footsteps stop and come his way.
            'Where are you?'
            'In here.' He said grudgingly. Suddenly the door swung open and there she was. Hideous in a purple dressing gown.
            'What you doing under the stairs?' She said, frowning.
            'I'm staying here, ' George replied petulantly, 'I've had enough of the world and everything in it. So you can just go ahead and shut the door.' He finished in a rush. But she just stood there, confusion all over her face.
            'You're not going to do very well down there,’ she said, 'the can-openers still in the kitchen.' And on that she shut the door and walked away.
            'Bugger,' George said into the darkness.

© Victor Manly December 2005

Data Shadows
Victor Manley knows they are watching - judging...

Victor is studying Creative Arts at the University of Portsmouth

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