Author : Julian Miles, Staff Writer

They call me Wrench. It’s not particularly imaginative, but it does the job. Just like Socket, who still has a case to keep all the fiddly bits together. I like the adaptability and extra weight of a wrench, though. Socket has to be sneaky, coz if he hits anyone hard he might bend the case, so he has to use the long-handled socket drive as a little club. Still, it’s better than the spannermen. You get a poxy little quarter-inch or seven-mil to start. You can’t kill anybody with that easily. You have to get really personal about it, almost like knifework.

Knives. Yeah, I remember knives. I’m old. Seen one once, but the guardsman put it away before anyone could make a grab for it. It was just after Ma and Pa got downgraded. Good thing Pa dabbled with mechanicals as a hobby. Down here among the piles, if you can’t fix anything, you’re just fodder. Nobody wants to be fodder.

How did it get this bad? You’re asking at the wrong end of this society, chum. You want to go upside to get the lowdown on that. All we know is that our uncles and aunts made a bit of a stink about being chosen to be the underclass. They kept on making a stink until the upsiders had just about banned everything we could use against ‘em. The Bandroids were the trick. Couldn’t fool one of them. We just got our sharps taken away, then they took our blunt gear too. Left us with not a whole lot to do anything with, truth be told. But the treadmills at the powerplants don’t need tools, they just need legs.

Spanners? No, I don’t know how that came about either. Somebody screwed up, is my guess. Bandroids don’t consider spanners and similar to have weapons potential, so they leave us with ‘em. My adjustable wrench came from me pa. Biggest one not confiscated, so he said.

Blades? Yeah, we have a few. Problem is, Bandroids come in a lot of sizes and the small ones will call big ones and so it goes. A man can’t even get a decent shave no more. Got to use that cream instead. It’s just not manly, I tell you. A man should be able to shave with a razor. But at least we can mix that cream with solvent, freeze it and get Dust crystals. Makes a man forget his troubles for a few hours, does Dust.

Rebellion? You’ve been listening to those resistance stories, haven’t you? Well, come with me. That much I can give you a clear steer on. You see that place up there? That’s Socket’s girl’s place. Yeah, it’s proper clean. She can do that because she is the resistance. Well, she writes a good resistance. Your bosses pay her a good-damn fortune for articles about a rebellion that only exists on paper.

Illegal? Not a bit. Socket’s girl is smart. She got it all cleared with the Department of Bans. Seems she can write about rebellion as much as she likes. Makes the folk upside all nervy and obedient, she got told. That’s a good thing, apparently.

Why would I want to fight a battle where most of us would die to get to a place where I don’t know how to live? We’ve about got it sorted right here. Spanners and Dust. It’s all a man needs, these days.

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