Read the opening here.

The Sacred Commandments of the Church of Commerce and State

 

Work: The Everyday Glory of Furthering Commerce

  1. All will worship the dollar.
  2. All will be designated the correct earning role.
  3. All designated roles will be decided by the Government.
  4. All decisions regarding designated roles are final and cannot be changed.
  5. All monthly income will go to the state.
  6. All purchases will be from state approved sources.

Reproduction:The Glory of the Church and State in the Form of New Lives

  1. All will be married by the age of thirty.
  2. All citizens of age will reproduce.
  3. All will dress and behave in a way that is fitting to his or her sex.
  4. All relationships will be heterosexual couplings.
  1. All relationships will remain honest and true.

 

Failure to comply with any of the above will result in punishment, imprisonment or death.

 

Immediately After:

Waiting

“We should go.” The words rushed out. Perhaps she wouldn’t notice. He hoped for that. “We’ve waited long enough.” The future – its hot breath was on the back of his neck. Why couldn’t she see that movement, not stillness, was required?

His restlessness was not surprising. He was a cautious man. He had been pacing for a while. Stopping had not been his idea but they were tired, and the alternative of going on alone was too much for him to bear.

Anyway, they had to wait. There was no element of choice. Not for her.It was easier for him. He had nothing at stake. No emotions attached to those who were missing. He judged the time waited on that.

“We’d be dead if not for them.” She snapped. A reminder was needed. They could be back there in the charred remains. Chances had been taken for the sake of their lives. They had to repay that with chances of their own. “I think we can stay a little longer.” She made her voice calmer. She was worried too. Any number of things could have gone wrong for the others. Any number of things could happen to them while they waited. Nevertheless, they had to wait.

He stopped pacing, ready to argue so she handed him the baby. He smiled automatically, taking the small bundle in his arms. Distracted, momentarily as the little thing gurgled contentedly and reached up for his finger. It was a joy to watch him. Even at a time like this. Especially at a time like this.

“It’s too dangerous. We should get further away.” He wasn’t going to give up so easily. She clicked her tongue impatiently as she looked behind them. There were plumes of smoke although the flames were dying down. Sure, they were still quite close but when she looked ahead at the dead, grey landscape, well, who was to say that was any safer? Besides, this was where they had said they would be.

“It could have been a trap. They could both be dead.” He was determined they should go. And it was true. They’d all known that something was wrong when he took the call. But it really hadn’t been very long. What could be done to convince?

“I think that we should wait.” That was the girl. The woman was glad of her support. It was the first time she had spoken since they’d left The Inside. She was stood a little away from them, arms crossed, staring into the distance. Her voice was weary, older than her years. If you weren’t looking, you would never guess at youth. “It’s as safe here as anywhere.” She reached out, touched the shoulder of the dark haired young man sat on the ground in front of her. He looked up at her longingly. His agreement was required and he nodded obediently. He looked older than the girl, maybe early twenties. The woman knew nothing about him except he had committed some crime that meant he was already Outside. There was any number of things that could lead to banishment so there was no need to assume he was dangerous. The girl clearly trusted him, but she was probably blinded by his devotion. The woman looked him over again. He was nervously watching the people on the horizon. She doubted he was going to do them any obvious sort of harm.

She sat down, suddenly exhausted. Two hours had passed since they had left. So much action. She patted the ground next to her and the man handed the baby back down before joining her.

“We don’t want to be here at nightfall.” He persisted. There was agitation in his voice although no doubt he was trying to hide it. His hand snaked across to hers, wishing for reassurance. She squeezed it, managed to smile.

“We won’t be. They’ll be back before then.” She was strangely confident. She thought of the voice on the other end of the walkie-talkie and how wrong it had been. It was almost certainly a trap. However, she trusted that they would come back. There was no way they would let them down without a very good reason. “We’re all tired. We’ll rest for a bit longer.” There hadn’t been much time for sleep the night before. And then it had been important to be on their way. And here they were. This was the way; where to would presumably become apparent.

 

 

The official newspaper of the Government of The New Britain

The Government Line

 

CHAOS AT GATHERING AS THE GROUP MAKE A STAND

By George Coulson

Today’s Gathering started in the usual fashion. There was no sign that things would be any different from usual. The crowd were elated by the display of patriotic music and dance. Voices were raised in thanks. Ellie Silverstone was the absolute highlight with her emotional rendition of the traditional song, ‘The Joy of Mothering’. Many were reduced to tears sentiments were so strong.

Emotions were already running high when the first cycle of punishments began. The boos were as loud as the cheers had previously been. Everyone was still seated at this stage. Some energy had to be saved for the most serious criminals.

Routine events ended and quickly became chaotic. It started with one person who stood up and shouted the slogan of The Group. At first, it seemed no one would notice. One voice is never very strong. Then there was another. And another. Until dozens of voices were shouting Choose Your Future, Choose Your Future. They stood up and yelled, fists raised, punching the air. The rest of the audience — this reporter among them — were stunned into silence by the sheer effrontery of the latest attempt by The Group to cause trouble for Our Blessed Government.

Everyone held their breath. It felt like the chanting went on for hours. What was going to happen? Such naked rebellion could not – and would not – go unpunished. Even so, no one expected what happened next.

The noise was incredible. At first, I did not put the two together; the people falling and the sharp claps of noise. Then I realised there was shooting. Many were hit. Just as many slid back into their seats. This final show of cowardice makes it clear exactly what The Group are made of. They will stand up but only while it is safe.

Of course, Our Dear Government will always respond when our way of life is threatened. There need be no fear for those who believe. The Government would never hurt its obedient citizens. But I say beware to those who wish to ruin our way of life. The Group will get no foothold here. Sleep safely in the knowledge that Our Blessed Government has your best interests at heart: always and forever.

24th May 2095

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