Author: Mark Renney
There were others. Other Erasers and occasionally their paths crossed. Tanner always attempted to keep his distance and this hadn’t proved so difficult because each Eraser worked alone, forbidden from sharing information or collaborating even when their cases were connected and the names linked.
Tanner had always accepted this and never questioned its validity. In fact, it seemed right to him that just one Eraser be responsible for extracting a life, for changing its history and covering its tracks. It was respectful, he felt, and dignified. Although he wouldn’t ever have told anyone, Tanner believed that even rebels and dissidents deserved that.
Tanner is the oldest of the Erasers, the last of the ‘Old Guard’. When he is around the younger men sense his disapproval and yet they don’t hold back and talk openly about their cases. Tanner is shocked by this and also at how fiercely ambitious they are.
They moan about how antiquated the job has become and how they could be so much more effective if only they were allowed to work as a team.
‘There is still a place for the foot sloggers,’ they say, as they glance across at Tanner, ‘but we need our own offices, our own archives even.’
For them the job is simply a step up onto a ladder and one that they intend to climb. Tanner has often thought about reporting them to those above but the system is, of course, evolving, and these young men aren’t rebels. No, they are a part of its future.
It is not the Eraser’s job to make accusations, to point the finger as it were. But it is the duty of each and every citizen to be vigilant and able to recognise subversive behaviour. To be able to tell when it is happening right there in front of their faces. In the houses just across the street or that room at the back of a public house or in a unit on an industrial estate.
Those who conspire against the System are devious and they hide in plain sight, making leaflets and pamphlets, distributing their lies. And most people are unaware or they choose not to believe, not to see it.
The people had become complacent over the years and this made Tanner angry. It seemed to him that they had reached a certain level of acceptance, not of the Subversives of course but of their material. It had been a constant for so long and, as soon as the System had removed a particular pamphlet or magazine, another would emerge. There were differences of course but they were subtle and really nothing changed. The Subversives’ message, their falsities, remained.