Author : Timothy Marshal-Nichols

“So this bloke then, this Galvano bloke, so this Galvano della Volpe is dead.” The Local Defence Officer thought for a few seconds while twiddling with his moustache. Then spoke into his radio, “Sucker’s dead.”

“Repeat,” came back the mechanical reply, “does not compute.”

“Sucker, dead,” he said slowly while holding the radio very close. Then even more slowly said, “Sucker, the sucker, dead.” Then added with a firm intonation, “Dead.”

“Termination: confirmed. Termination: one, nine, six, eight. Additional data: lost.”

The Officer turned to the girl he’d been interviewing and said, “Well and truly dead, centuries dead.” He laughed. She didn’t. “So Fryada, can I call you Fryada?”

“That’s my name.”

“So Fryada, a load of fuss about nothing.” He was pleased that that morning he’d put on a brand new smart uniform and even if he was thirty years older than the girl he felt he didn’t look that bad for his age. There was an awkward silence but it wasn’t often he had a chance to visit the female quarters. “Nice here, this Accommodation Building.” Still she said nothing but she was far too attractive for him to give up that easily. Any stupid question would do, “Where did you get this silly Galvano name from?”

“I read it in a book.”

“A book, a book, I think I’ve heard about those. Remind me.”

“Paper, writing, words.”

“Really.” he shook his head but she could tell he didn’t really understand. “Where did you get one of those old things?”

“I found it.”

“Really. Really. Can’t be any worse than this voice recognition stuff they give us. Terrible it is. Though that writing thing, I can’t ever see it catching on. Far too much trouble.”

“It did for a while.”

“For a while, that’s the point. Implants that’s the way to go. Everything’s approved, safe. No dangerous thoughts that way. Take my word for it lov.” The Officer saw that he was losing the girl, that his chat up bravado was not working, (not that he’d ever ‘caught’ her) so he tried to be a bit more conciliatory. Fryada really was very pretty. “So then, what did this Galvano — is that his name? — this della Volpe bloke, what did he write about?”



“He wrote about freedom,” Fryada said formally as if she was answering an exam question.

“Did he now, did he, don’t have a lot of call for that these days.” The Officer smiled a greasy smile. “How about you, me, heading off down the Recreation Building? Chat a bit more about this book thing.”

Fryada shook her head. “He also wrote about Rousseau.”

“What’s Rousseau then, sweetheart?” he asked with a patronising and puzzled smile.

“Code 6,” the Officer’s radio squealed and repeated between alarm beeps, “Code 6. Code 6. Acknowledge. Code 6.”

“I’m afraid miss, I’m going to have to take you to The Department for further questioning.” The smile had gone. Firmly holding Fryada’s arm he added, “And we were getting along so nicely.”

Before the Officer had even finished saying those words a Hover Transport from the Penal Department was landing just outside the Female Accommodation Building.