Author : Tom Coupland

Rob grinds his cigarette on the outside of the window, letting it drop down to the pavement. He knew it’d annoy Dave, but recently he was beginning to care less and less about what Dave thought anyway. Closing the curtains against the sun’s light and tossing back the last of his whisky he lies down on the bed, falling asleep immediately. Two hours later, with a low groan, Dave opens them.

“Honestly the least he could do is wash his ruddy mouth” mumbles Dave scratching about in the wardrobe for some clothes fresh enough to wear, after he’d taken a hot shower and used quite a bit of mouthwash of course. Fifteen minutes of attempting to look less dishevelled later he descends the stairs of the shared house. The house which he’d had to do all the looking for of course. He enters the large kitchen, from which the smell of frying bacon had been making his stomach growl since he’d awoken.

“Afternoon…” he looks over his shoulder at the timetable. This had a column of small portraits, followed by a pair of names for each of the days in the week, except for Sunday of course. “…Mary” finishes Dave spotting the fryer’s picture and traversing to Wednesday afternoon. Following a brief glance over her shoulder, “Afternoon Dave. You heard the news yet?” jerking a thumb at kitchen television perched a top the fridge. “They caught a bunch of solos hiding out in Scotland”, the small screen shows an image of a long line of bedraggled people being marched out of a small compound, under the eyes of police officers wearing full riot gear. The shot zooms out and the face of a reporter comes in to view.

“This latest group were discovered by high flying drones on a routine patrol of the highlands” she begins, speaking into camera, struggling slightly to keep her hair out of her face. “Although not the largest commune found, the level of sophistication was unusually high and would never have been discovered if not for, what we’re hearing, was an accidental fire in one of their greenhouses. Of course since Dual Habitation became required, as a last ditch effort to reduce our demand on the earth’s resources, the size of Solo camps have been reducing. There are still those selfish enough to consume double what is needed to support an individual. Making a mockery of the governments efforts to keep its carbon usage to a minimum while keeping the economy growing for…”. Dave stopped listening, he had to get to work and besides, he’d heard it all before.

Eight hours later he was back in the house, wondering what to do with the two hours of his remaining half day. Remembering the unpleasant early afternoon he’d suffered courtesy of his dual, he grabs his coat and heads to the pub, “Two can play at that game”.


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