Larry’s day went as usual, Mopping long
bright corridors, Stopping to chat with anyone who walked by. Refilling all the
necessary items in the lavatory, taking out the rubbish from offices. He had
lunch at his desk, feet up on the desk and he munched on a sand wedge he got
from the canteen. He relished eating it. Although he knew it was healthier to
eat the liquid lunches Larry just liked the feeling of something to bite down on,
something substantial. It was a cheese and tomato job with thin soft white
bread. Larry leaned further pack on his chair in ecstasy. “mmmmmmm!” he exclaimed
loudly in the empty vast room. Suddenly a horrid gut lurching feeling grabbed
at him and his world somersaulted. His desk seemed to speed away from him and
he fell over backwards hitting the back of his head on the cold concrete floor
with a resounding crack.


He was still holding on to his second half
of the sand wedge with his right hand, he had squeezed it and a bit dropped off
the end. A nasty sharp pain bore into his skull and he saw tiny white dots
zinging around the edges. He rolled off the chair and turned around and got on
all fours breathing deeply he closed his eyes and experienced the pain. It
slowly subsided but Larry just felt odd, dizzy. He finally got to his feet now
that the back of his head was merely throbbing loudly rather than with that excruciating
pain like before. He staggered a bit up righted his chair and sat back down
noticing the pulped sand wedge in his hand. He tried to eat it but every time
he chewed his head raged in pain and he saw the white dots again.


When he felt well enough he walked slowly
to the infirmary on the 3rd floor of the plant. He followed the signs
and got there after 10 minutes. “It’s so big”, Larry said to himself in a daze
as he rounded yet another corner and started up a slope. The plant doctor did a
few tests on him to see if he had a concussion and then advised him to go home
for the rest of the day. “If you still feel like this tomorrow then come back
here and we will see what we can do”. Larry nodded and thanked the man “why on
earth don’t they have service bots down in your area Larry? They are everywhere
else practically?”. “ I don’t know”, Larry replied blankly.


He got the casual back home, opened his
door and went straight to bed and fell asleep. He woke up again with a start
and the pain had returned to his skull. He glanced at the clock and it showed
4:00 in the morning. The pain was not like before it was as if there was
something sharp scratching the inside of his skull, sending sickening electric
twangs threw his head. Like lighting inside his brain. He sweated profusely,
his sheets where wet and then he vomited and fell out of his bed.


Larry woke up in the morning, he looked
around him and was surprised at finding himself on the floor, He found that his
hand was sticky and he remembered how he was sick, it was everywhere on the bed
on the floor down his front and on his bed side table. He got to his feet and
stiffly waked to the shower and hosed himself down, he changed his sheets and
mopped the floor “I am glad I didn’t get rid of the plastic floor” Larry
thought about how a year ago he was thinking about getting carpet. “God works
in mysterious ways” he chuckled to himself. Larry had breakfast and as he was
slowly drinking the brown liquid. He felt a tense sensation in his gut as the unappetizing
ooze went down. Even after his breakfast had gone down the sensation remained.
Larry went to work on the crowded capsule, he worked, went home slept and
repeated the process. He didn’t think to go back to the doctors, he felt
alright now; the sickness must have just been the tail end of it.


Over the week the tension slowly became
more prominent, it colored his days giving an exciting atmosphere. When Larry
was mopping the corridors and a lab coat walked over his new clean floor with
dirty shoes the tension would suddenly grip and twist inside his stomach. He
would hear his heart beat thumping inside his ears and he got a powerful urge
to do some sort of exercise. When Larry saw the Office workers laughing and
walking toward their tall buildings his gut would clench and he would stand
still watching them feeling unsettled, he wanted to do something.


A few months later the initial rush and
energy had left and he felt tired and unrested. Was he ill?, he didn’t feel
ill, it was something else. At first he felt fine with this new feeling but now
as time passed it just made him tired.


“Maybe you just need a rest?, it could have
been that knock on your head a while back”, Dick said as they were on break
outside the plant. It was a bright sunny day. A clear blue cloudless sky. Larry
wanted the sun to stop shinning in his eyes. “why is it so sunny today?, I wish
it would stop”. Dick looked puzzled and a few other jump suits lifted their
heads from looking at the concrete and glanced at Larry.




“ I wish this sun would go away”




“Because it’s….its bright…”


Larry stormed off towards his wear house
office and slammed the door when he got in. “I can’t take this anymore, what is
going on?”, The last 3 days had been the worse, he had been doing double shifts
and the tension was now being triggered by the smallest things and even when he
thought about the things he felt tense. He would feel hot and itchy. Larry
marched over to his desk and sat down hard he lent back on his chair forcefully
and almost fell backwards; jerking forwards in the nick of time he caught the
table. “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” he exploded, shot out of his chair grabbed it and
threw it against the wall it bounced off and he persuade it and picked it up
again and smashed it on the floor. One of the legs broke off and pinged off
into the darkness of the far side of the storage room. Lastly he threw the
remainder of the chair down on the ground and screamed at the top of his lungs.
A fire was coursing threw him, coming out of his heart and into his head,
flowing down his arms and into the pit of his stomach. It was gone, the tension
had gone, and it disappeared completely. A cry of laughter peeling out of
Larrys mouth echoing loudly in the cool vast room.


“It hasn’t gone forever you know”, spoke a
voice from behind. Larry spun around and saw Dick at the main door watching


“What did you say?”


“I said it hasn’t gone, the conflict. It
will come back”


“What are you talking about Dick? Do you
mean my stomach problem?”

“Yes, that tension is what anger and fear
and envy feel like or as we call it these days, conflict. You got rid of it now
for the moment but it will come back”


“I feel so much better; it’s so simple now
I just have to release it all to get rid of it. I never thought of it before, I
just thought I had a stomach ache”


Larry panted for a moment; his breath was
steam in the light. Dick moved toward Larry and watched as his friend slowly
calmed down.


“But wait!, I had the installment I shouldn’t
be getting any of this should I?, why now?”


“I would guess that when you hit your head
the installment was damaged and it stopped working” Dick replied. Larry grew
cold and began to shake, an icy hand gripped his heart and the tension reappeared


“But if that’s so then this is highly
illegal, I shouldn’t be doing this, if they catch me it’s bad”


Dick smiled wryly “what you’re experiencing
now is fear, when you don’t want something to happen to you you experience
fear, it’s a old instinct to help you. Like when we used to be chased by tigers
we would become fearful and then with that fear we could out run whatever was
trying to kill us”. Larry felt weak and wanted to go to the loo. “I    don’t think I could out run a tiger now, I
feel weak and I need to poo”


“That’s because you are not used to fear
anymore, your body doesn’t know how to handle it, that’s what all this anti
conflict stuff does for you it cuts us off from our instincts and who we really
are. Just breathe slowly Larry you will feel better in a minute and no cameras
in here so no one has seen you”


PLEASE RETURN TO WORK!” Spoke a muffled voice from the speaker. Dick patted
Larry on the back. “if you tell anyone about this now they will kill you, your
too much of a risk now, the only thing to do is to pretend your like the rest
of them” Dick said as he walked away. “How am I meant to do that!” cried Larry  


“And never speak about it to me again it’s too
risky and I will turn you in if you do, your on your own now” Dick said coldly
with his back turned. He shut the door quietly on the way out. Dick though
about how he had been doing it for the past 10 years, he wondered if Larry
would survive. He desperately wanted to tell him that he to had gone through
the same things without any help. He wanted to tell Larry all the different
ways to control and understand what he had unwittingly unlocked. He wanted to
help Larry so much more but it was far too risky he would have to do it on his
own, should he have even told him anything in the first place?, he was at risk
even mentioning the things he did, he would be executed even for the offence of
talking flippantly about conflict. This place made you think it was calm and
advanced, taking care of everyone, but really it was calculated and ruthless if
you stepped even an inch out of line. The worst thing was that there was no
hope either, thought Dick. Everyone was already docile and trained and very
soon they would be permanently doomed when they introduce the new shades and installment,
then it’s just a matter of time till a major part of humanity is clinically
removed forever. Dick walked back to work thinking dark thoughts.


Larry stood in the cool of the room he felt
the emptiness around him closing in crushing his heart, the silence ate into
his brain and he wanted to scream. “Larry can you come to floor 3 green zone we
have a mess” cracked the supervisors voice threw his walky talky.  Dick’s words echoed in his head “pretend you’re
like the rest of them”.


“Yes sir, I will be up as soon as I can”.




                                                                                            PART 5



Larry found himself back in his flat. He
was sitting on his bed. He wondered how he got back, He didn’t really care. He
thought about what had happened in the super visors office. Some scripted speech
about the new maintenance bots, how society was forging ahead and how Concord
was at the forefront of this advanced technology. Then the unbelievable words
which were still jangling in his head. “Your services are no longer be
required, you may go and enjoy your retirement”, “your capsule travel card will
be changed to unemployed after his return journey home”.


When he had got home he found a green envelop
in his mail, on opening it he found it was a government law slip informing him
he was not entitled to his pension or his unused residence at the Concord
plant. There were lots of big words stating this and that law and Larry put it
in the bin without finishing it. Everyone knew the law was the law you cannot
do anything about it.


Larry thought about how his life had
changed, how quickly it had gone from good to bad, how on top of his illegal
problem he also now had no money coming in and only a small apartment to live
in. There was no way he was going to get another job. He was calm for a moment,
or rather he was quiet. A silent rage began to expand inside him. It became too
intense that he had to stand up and walk around. He went into the living room
and paced. “Your services are no longer required”. He kicked the fridge hard
and the door partially fell off. “ATTENTION ALL RESIDENCE OF IMMIDIETLY PUT ON
YOUR SHADES”. A red light popped out of the ceiling and flashed wildly.


The front door automatically opened and a
large section of the landing caved in and opened up, A whirring sound came from
the hole and a 7 foot metal box shot up and attached itself to his door. The
inside of the large box was white and shiny, a TV screen flickered on in the
box and a old prerecorded message came on “attention citizen you have been
found violating the anti conflict law please step into the box”. Larry ran
towards the box and threw himself with all his might against the back of the
box wall. It gave away surprisingly easily. “They haven’t had to use these in a
long time, they are old” Larry though. The back of the box cracked and with
another sharp shoulder butt he climbed through the back hole and onto the
landing. “Thank you for your cooperation” fizzled the broken TV. The whirring
sound started again and the broken box went back down through the hole in the
landing. Two seconds later an almighty crash sounded from below and the whole
building shook. Larry ran down the slop into the Capsule platform. There was no
capsule coming any time soon and also the fact that his travel card was now
void in all sectors apart from the deep underground. He sprinted down the slop
down to the low level capsule platforms.


The tunnels quickly became dimly lit and
unclean, but still with the same amount of cameras everywhere. Whenever he came
across a cctv a red cone would pop up from the ground flashing and everyone in
the tunnels would quickly put on their shades. A few even had the new   
Tiresies installment and he saw their eyes mist
over and go an eerie black colour. How had he been willing to put up with this?
Like a child being forced to do something. He used to love his shades. He
turned yet another corner going deeper and deeper into the underground. He saw
many people with outdated shades and shabby cloths, not walking but slumped
against the walls sitting down. They just sat there. Also a thick plum of black
smoke was coming out of the wall and another rumble burst out and Larry
stumbled to keep his footing. A wall panels shot off and pinged off the
opposite wall and the very same box which had come to his door fell out and
toppled over on to the slopped tunnel. “A muffled sound from the very broken TV
was still audible. “As a citizen you have to appear before the standard judge
for a hearing…ffzzzzzzz”. It gurgled and a large surge of electricity engulfed
the box and it was quiet. Larry rushed towards the hole in the wall which the
box had fallen out of and looked down a seemingly endless shaft. Too dark to
see far. Larry twisted off a small piece of metal from the box and dropped it
down the shaft and waited for the noise to end. After 20 seconds Larry moved
away from the still noisy chasm, “there is no change I am going down there”.
The box was slowly sliding down the slopped tunnel and it managed to crush a woman’s
legs against a pillar at the end of the slope. She let out a pained shriek and doubled
over and clasped her leg.


Larry ran towards her and began to try and
move the box out of the way. It was immovable by himself. “HELP ME FOR GODS
SAKE!” Larry cried to the other people in the tunnel. All where wearing their
shades and stood hands by side stock still. “HELP ME YOU IDIOTS, I CANT MOVE IT
ON MY OWN”. One or two people swayed slightly but no one did a thing. A
sickening crunch sounded from the woman’s crushed legs and the box compressed
her even more. Her cry shock Larry to his core. In desperation he ran towards
the nearest man and tore off his shades shaking him wildly. The man stayed
ridged tightly shutting his eyes. Larry threw him to the floor and he just got
back up again and stood still with his eyes shut. Larry stood in desperation
looking at the hoard of people with their shades on standing still as a woman
stood crushed against the wall.


He rushed back to the woman and took off
her shades. “listen you will have to help me if you want to get out”. She wasn’t
listening and she had her eyes tightly shut. “ATTENTION ALL TRAVELERS ARE TO
Everyone moved to the right hand side of the tunnel and stopped when they reached
the wall. Larry remembered learning this training drill in school. Two large
silver boxes appeared at the top of the slope and slid down with a whir towards
Larry. He dashed to the opposite column and hid behind it. These were not the
old disturbance bots but the new emergence ones. Larry didn’t fancy trying to
kick threw one of them. The box infront stopped an inch from the screaming
woman and although Larry could not see the door open he heard a release of
compression and a moment later a sharp cry from the woman. The first box slid
further down the slope and to Larry’s horror he saw that both of the woman’s
legs from the knees down where detached and still stuck behind the Disturbance
box which had crushed her. The dirty gray walls where haphazardly sprayed in
blood as if a mad artist had been expressing himself on a blank canvas. The
second bot jerked forwards and extended two spindly robotic arms which latched
onto the old disturbance box. It deftly picket in up and began to crush it and
compress it, Bits of metal and plastic pinging off with the pressure until it
was a congealed small mass which the second box put inside its door. The second
bot bleeped as if communicating with the first and they both slid back up the
slop and out of site. A bloody pool containing two severed legs and splinters
of metal lay on the slope. The blood slowly eking down the tunnel.


 A panel
slid open from the floor and a much smaller grubby silver box popped up and
began to spray and vacuum up the mess until it was clean again. The place where
the whole horrific incident had occurred was noticeably cleaner than the rest
of the tunnels. A clinical straight line was created separating the neglected
dusty tunnel wall from the area which the cleaning box had sprayed and cleaned.
A minute ago covered in blood now shiny and white, brand new. The alarm ceased
and the travelers took off their shades and carried on, either sitting down or
walking up or down the slope. Larry reappeared from behind the pillar. The
alarms had stopped and it looked to him as if the cctvs had lost him in the excitement.
Not knowing what to do or where to go he followed gravity past the commuters
and people sitting against the walls and went down the slope. Soon even the
people and cctv cameras disappeared and the gloomy tunnel leveled out straight.
The walls where untilled and the light was flickering on and off.



Tim Johnson 2010


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