Flash Fiction | Sci-fi
"You don't have enough points, sir."
As the pharmacist read the result, the suited man ahead of me winced, grabbing his companions hand tight. From behind, she had the look of a woman, short and slender, but it was hard to tell under the brown cloak.
I'd joined the queue behind them a few minutes ago, but had overhead enough to determine they were trying to become parents. The legal way.
"Check again," the man said, placing his palm on the green circle etched into the glass wall that separated the government worker from the dregs of the outside world. "Scan me again." His voice a mere whisper.
"Sir, I can't scan you again until you earn more points. It's not me; it's the DOCC system. There's nothing I can do." I could see over the guy's shoulder as the pharmacist spread his hands out. The gesture said what can you do', but his chubby, privileged face looked smug to me.
Before I could speculate if the guy had seen this for himself, he lifted his hand only to smash it back in place, hard, onto the glass. I could see his wedding ring as it created a loud vibration across its surface. Both the hooded woman and the pharmacist jumped at the sudden outburst.
An alarm sounded.
Large digital letters swept across the glass from an unseen source. Red and angry. 'Warning,' and below that, in smaller yellow letters, "Any further attempt to damage property will result in immediate arrest."
The many imperfections in the glass suggested this happened a lot.
Grim signs for grim times, I thought, as I checked my belt to make sure the plasma revolver remained hidden beneath my coat.
At sixty years old I rarely ventured out unarmed. It had become a world of take or be taken, and I hadn't lived this long by making mistakes in the lower levels of the city. I continued to watch the man with increased caution.
"Screw the department; what do they know about civic control? They hide in that damn tower while we all suffer down here," he said.
The pharmacist just shrugged and pointed to his ears.
With the alarm, the communicator would be muted. Another layer of protection for the government employee. No rude customers, no hateful words to dwell over. Nothing to spoil the perfect system.
"Sir, the security system has locked you out, I can't help you anymore; you have to leave." His voice transmitted clear as crystal.
The man turned toward his hooded companion. He looked defeated. He was no danger to me, I decided. He glanced in my direction for a second, just a twitch out the corner of his eye that caused him to straighten up.
Pride was kicking in.
I had begun to feel his frustration; I started to feel sorry for this guy. Until the woman turned her head to face him.
Under her hood, I caught the sparkle of green from her eyes, cloaked behind a strand of the most brilliant red hair I have ever seen. Bright despite the grime of the lower city.
I couldn't help but stare at her.
The guy must have been around forty years old, but she was in her early twenties; fresh-faced and innocent. With the world the way it had become, he must have kept her hidden. There were no common women left with beauty like this. Only those in the clean areas reserved for the government and its employees would see such magnificence.
A woman like this would get ravaged down here, beaten, chained and used up. To have this prize, he must have a safe place in the city.
And I wanted both.
They turned to leave, the beauty checking her hood remained in place. I grabbed the guy by the elbow and looked him in the eyes.
"I have enough points," I said, my free hand moving toward my belt.