The Sacred Commandments of the Church of Commerce and the State of New Britain.
Work: The Everyday Glory of Furthering Commerce.
- All will worship the dollar.
- All will be designated an earning role.
- The Government will assign all designated roles.
- All decisions regarding designated roles are final and cannot be changed.
- All leftover monthly income will go to the state.
- All purchases will be from state approved sources.
Reproduction: The Glory of the Church and State in the Form of New Lives.
- All will be married by the age of thirty.
- All citizens of age will reproduce.
- All will dress and behave in a way that is fitting to his or her sex.
- All relationships will be heterosexual couplings.
- All relationships will remain honest and true.
Failure to comply with any
of the above will result in treatment, imprisonment or death.
“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 since they’d stopped. It had not been his idea but they were all tired – himself included – and the alternative of going on alone was too much to bear.
They had to wait. He knew that was what she would say. There was no element of choice. Not for her. It was easier for him. He had 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. Would be, in fact. 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. After all, she was worried too. Any number of things could have gone wrong. Any number of things could happen here while they waited. Nevertheless, they had to wait.
He stopped pacing, stood right in front of her, 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. 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 still but the flames were dying down. Sure, they were quite close but when she turned to look 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. 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. He nodded obediently.
He was older than the girl, maybe early twenties. The woman knew nothing about him except he had committed some crime that meant he was Outside already. There were 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.
The woman sat down, suddenly exhausted. How many hours had passed since they had left? She had no idea. So much action. She patted the ground next to her and the man handed the baby back down before reluctantly joining her.
“We shouldn’t to be here at nightfall.” He persisted. There was agitation in his voice although 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. They wouldn’t 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 customary 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 by the intensity of her performance.
As a result, emotions were already running high when the first cycle of punishments began. The boos were even louder than the cheers had previously been. Everyone was still seated. Some energy had to be saved for the most serious criminals.
This was the end of routine events, however, as chaos quickly took charge. 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. But 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. 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 shots were being fired. Many were hit. Just as many slid back into their seats. This final show of cowardice made it clear exactly what The Group is like. 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 our best interests at heart: always and forever.
24th May 2095