A square of paper marked with the blood seal lay across Moira’s keyboard. With trembling fingers, she picked it up. Whispers stalked, following her along the corridor and waiting for the moment when she opened the note and read the words they already knew.
You’re evicted. Only, the powers on high had worded it in a more eloquent, tied with a legal-bow manner. She ran her fingers across her wrists. She hoped they cut deep and fast.
Moira screwed the paper up and dropped it in the recycle bin. She blinked back tears and offered her colleagues a salute before marching out of the building. She understood their ghoulish behaviour stemmed a little from relief. Today it was not them.
One last deep breath and the change in air knocked her sideways, reminding that the world no longer turned for them. A distant grumble caused her to shudder.
A man holding a canister of oxygen and a mask picked her up off the pavement. She grabbed at his arm, pulled the plastic mask to her face and drew in long breaths.
“Easy,” he said. “The air is thinner out here, but it will sustain you.”
“Thank you,” she said, despite his collaboration with the enemy.
He passed her a ticket marked 8A. “The ride from here to there is painless. In fact, you won’t remember a thing.” He meant to be kind. “It knocks for us all.”
“I wish my blood poison,” she said.
He backed away. No doubt, he’d heard the same line many times.
Regaining her composure, she watched similar scenes to her own unfold across the business district. Around them, ghost faces peered out from the myriad windows in the surrounding glass towers. She knew by their distant gaze that they looked out towards the barren fields.
A soldier’s life is worth that of a hundred citizens. The words scrawled in graffiti across streets not paved with gold. That epitaph she knew concealed the bold new truth—all the soldiers were dead and the law bowed to a new dictator.
The Revoking of Emancipation, Statute 101-B: Citizens have the right to eat, sleep and work in the towers until such time as the state requires the donation of their blood and organs.
What the wars had not killed, the new legislations would destroy.
“Line up, line up,” a collector with a megaphone called from a bus numbered 8A. “See the hand of progression at work. You stand on the threshold of an exciting new future. Document your final thoughts and your words will be etched into history.”
Or be deleted from it, Moira thought.
“Climb aboard. We will ensure your memory lives on in the Hall of Heroes.”
Moira turned around, pulled her arm all the way back and hurled her briefcase at the collector. It hit him on the nose. She marched up to the bus and grabbed the megaphone from his startled fingers.
“Hear my words,” she called to the evicted. “See your boss choke on their vomit after drinking poisoned coffee. Watch a vacuum cleaner suck them up as if they were nothing more than a stale cornflake. Don’t take this. Staple their butt to the desk and type them a letter of eviction.”
The lack of applause shocked. “Have they snipped off your vocal chords? They murder us and you do not even whimper.”
With the continued silence, Moira threw the megaphone aside and climbed aboard the bus. She pressed her hand down on the horn and released a primal scream. They had left her with no other choice. She started the bus engine, closed the doors, knocking the man off the step in the process, and revved the engine.
“Next stop, the end of the world,” she shouted to the empty seats.
The avenue spun by in a dizzying stream of glass, metal and concrete. The convenience of living on a rock perched high above a ruined landscape meant it was a long way to fall. Tipping the vehicle over the edge, she crashed through the windscreen, somersaulted clear of the bus, and came to rest alongside all the other broken flowers that lay scattered in the dust.
With the final flickering of her eyelids, she saw her blood run deep into the cracked earth by means of a swollen tongue and knew it was not rocks that had split her skull but teeth.
Cate Gardner hopes the future is bright. Her stories have appeared in Fantasy Magazine, Postscripts, and Necrotic Tissue. You can visit her on the web at http://fright-fest.blogspot.com
or you can read more Stitches; she recommends the latter.