Author : John C. Osborn

The sound of the spray paint can spitting neon green from its nozzle drowned out the ambient noise of the city: police sirens, echoing gunshots, and the monotonous drone of the Floating Eyes. Ty directed the colorful symphony across a giant raised billboard that read “One World, One People,” creating a large middle finger in the center of it all. When the spray paint puttered to an end, he appreciated his work like a viewer does at an art gallery.

Ty pulled down the black bandanna covering his mouth, looked at the smog-distorted cityscape stretching toward the horizon. He sat down, pulled out a protein bar, and devoured it whole.

“You again,” said a stern male voice.

“You know me,” Ty smiled and crumpled the wrapper, “I like my art.”

Ty looked up at the police officer wearing a gray uniform. Sown in to the uniform’s sleeves were American flags with one star instead of fifty. The officer looked up at the billboard, smiled.

“A middle finger,” he said. “Ah, can’t say that’s original.”

“It’s the symbolism that counts,” Ty replied.

“Either way, it’s against the law,” the cop said as he sat down beside Ty. Ty looked him over, noticed his disinterested gaze stare out across the city.

“But you’re not going to bust me are you?”

“No,” the cop smiled, “I’m not.” Radio traffic clattered from the cop’s walkie-talkie. He turned it down. “If the Governing Council can’t take a joke, screw ’em.”

Ty laughed, “You know it’s much more than a joke these days. I think you see the same problems I see, only you’re a part of it…”

“Just trying to survive like everyone else,” the cop interjected. “You think I like busting kids like you for petty vandalism and sending you off to one of the camps?” he paused. “No. I’d rather be chasing murderers and drug dealers.”

A loud humming noise startled them both. A floating metallic orb the size of a human head hovered above. A glowing red computer-like eye scanned both of them.

“Warning!” a robotic voice said. “Crime against the state detected. Vandalism, First degree. Hateful speech, first degree. Defacing corporate property, first degree…”

Ty’s eyes lit up. He felt a strong urge to run but the cop’s eyes looking at his told him to wait. Ty took an anxious breath.

“I’m in the process of apprehending the criminal,” the cop said. “I don’t need any assistance.”

The Floating Eye focused its mechanical eye on him, “Officer Grace Steward, Homeland Security Division Four. You are aiding and abetting a political criminal. You will be…”

There was a click and a thundering boom.

It happened fast. Ty didn’t see Officer Steward whip out his sidearm and blast the Floating Eye in one graceful motion. As the smoking metal heap fell, Ty asked, “Why?”

Officer Steward looked at Ty, “I think you already know the answer. Now get out of here. There are plenty more billboards that need defacing.”

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