Author : Duncan MacLean

Her mistake was turning to the left. They always turned left. Well, the right-handed ones did. She took a swing at Finn near the Lev Station. Used her right hand. Caught Finn by surprise and he stumbled backwards. Actually stumbled. He would get crap about that later. If I told anyone.

I caught her square in the back and she flew forward about 2 meters then dropped. Finn caught up with me and swore.

“Hey! She was mine! You saw how she sucker-punched me?”

I didn’t say anything. It was one of those questions that you didn’t really want an answer to. School was where you learned about that. Don’t have to worry about that kinda thing now. Better to not think about those things.

“Welton 433. Validate. ” A pause. Three quick tones. “Cleaning. One. Half a kilometer north of the Lev on 12th.” Another pause. One long tone.

The new headsets were better. Just validate yourself and they get it. Whoever ‘they’ were. I had wanted to ask about that once, but not now. That kind of thing gets you on the street next to the woman who was going to get ‘cleaned’ in about 15 minutes. I never stayed for the cleaning. I’m not even sure what happens. Not supposed to.

A small crowd had gathered behind us. I could see Finn was going to lay into them, but they saw it too and were smart and walked away. I guess it wasn’t really a crowd. Crowds are not really a good idea anymore. ‘Two’s company, three’s a crowd. ‘ People used to say that right? Three is probably safe though. Maybe four. I know I wouldn’t risk five.

“That’s right! Friggin A!” Finn was yelling at the people as they moved away. “Shoulda popped one of ‘em,” he said to me.

He was trying too hard now. Making up for getting punched by that woman. I guess I won’t say anything. She did look like she was going to let him put her in the restraints, but at the last second she turned and took that swing. Maybe she knew she was dead either way. Now or later. Me with the Hot Rifle in the street or someone else with a needle in a room somewhere. Not that I think about where that somewhere is. Or the someone.

We walked back to the Lev Station. People moved away from us as we walked. They never want to look you in the eye when you’re wearing the uniform. She had looked at me though – had seen Finn there too.

Bright red uniforms. Hot Rifles. Nerve Restraints. She shouted anyway. I had recorded the whole thing on the headset’s camera. For them.

Finn went to talk to two girls in white medic uniforms who had just gotten off the southbound Lev when I played the vid back. The now dead (and cleaned?) woman appeared on my heads-up display. I clicked it back to the point where she turned and looked at me… her words (last words) were clear and surprisingly loud on the vid playback…

“…any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty…”

Old words. From before I suppose. They would know what it all means… ‘nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty…’

Finn had a smile on his face. He was walking back with an arm around each medic girl. They were cute. I forgot about the woman. And the old words.

Discuss the Future: The 365 Tomorrows Forums
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows