Destiny Dared: Response to Creative Writing Prompt
She looked across the parking lot, and saw him instantly. Her heart skipped a beat as she wondered, “Is this the person I'm supposed to see?” She hesitated to acknowledge him or move in his direction. It was possible they were manipulating her again by altering the image picked up by her viewer chips. Word had it that black market technology was being developed or had been developed that would scramble their signal leaving a person’s viewer chips unaltered but she didn’t have the street contacts to determine the truth of this.
She could trust no one not to turn her in if she started asking about the black market. It was a quick 500 credits which went a long way. But even if there was no reward, people eagerly turned in neighbors and even relatives just to reassure themselves they were on the right side of the Glorious Ruler and his minions. Being that she couldn’t even trust her own eyes, she was defenseless as well as clueless as to the accuracy of what she saw from one moment to the next. Usually, this didn’t bother her much. Usually the stakes were not so high.
With cameras hidden everywhere and drones that were indistinguishable from real birds flying overhead in areas where there was nowhere to hide a camera, she knew what she was doing was very stupid. The cameras and microchipped bird costumed drones transmitted video feed continuously to the high tech computer systems in the Grand Castle housed within the capital. Everything was observed, transmitted and recorded. This even included chance meetings when running a work errand and stopping spontaneously at a never before visited coffee shop for a boost.
Regulating Agents could access anything at any time and though it was said they randomly viewed segments of the feed, she knew some citizens were more frequently viewed than others. Still, there had to be an enormous amount to review and there were only a limited number of citizens who were ranked trustworthy enough to serve as Regulators. It was possible they weren’t seeking to take action against her and wouldn’t be monitoring her constantly.
Of course, given her parents had been denounced as rebel subversives only three years before, such a thing was not unlikely. So the person she was looking at could be the great looking guy she’d literally bumped into yesterday who’d insisted on buying her a new blue agave latte to replace the one she’d spilled – all over him. Or it could be an Arbiter she was being made to see as the great looking guy she’d literally bumped into yesterday . . .
Arbiters were said to just be part of the natural order of things who everyone came into contact with randomly to ensure the happiness of the people but everyone knew they were sent by the Black Asp on behalf of the Glorious Ruler to judge the whether a violation had occurred. After that came the Adjudicator who determined the seriousness of the crime followed by the Contriver who imposed the sentence, followed by the Enforcer who carried out the sentence. She shuddered.
Supposedly each separate authority met the person in question in order to most fairly carry out the process. To maintain truthful disclosure the person would be made to see each authority as someone they knew or someone believed to be involved in their crime. Because of this no one knew for certain how many different authorities they may have come into contact with.
The general consensus, though never discussed of course, as believing something different than what they were told to believe had lethal consequences, was that these four roles were actually carried out by a single person. Everyone knew that the suspicion of guilt was the same as actual guilt in eyes of the authorities. Despite that everything the Glorious Ruler thought, did or said was presented as the ultimate good, good was a relative term in the territories. This was particularly true in the poorest of colonies where she’d been sent to live after her parents had “disappeared”.
She’d always known that they had been punished for daring to conceive an “unauthorized descendant.” The policy of the Glorious Ruler decreed that one who shared the blood of criminals against the State also shared their guilt. This led to her being deported to Albion though permitted to work in the middle upper sector of Hainesh.
Though classified as evidence of the great compassion of the Glorious Ruler, she had realized long before this was only awarded to her because her ability as a tetrachromat, one of only two identified in the colonies. Tetrachromacy allowed her to see colors based on four different color receptors instead of the usual three. This had been put to use when an enemy nation had developed a species of giant beetle that could use ultraviolet light as a deadly weapon. She was able to see the trails these bugs left enabling soldiers to exterminate them in their nests with a powerful toxin.
As a “related subversive” she was watched more closely than others and it was well know that even the appearance of impropriety could get you killed. And physically bumping into someone could be viewed as an intentional act with a person you had not officially been matched with by the Purity Council. Not to mention letting him buy you coffee, sitting and talking with him at a table partially hidden from view by a fake ficus tree and actually agreeing to meet him, then doing so, alone, the next day in the deserted parking lot in front of the burnt out skeleton of a deserted building on the very outskirts of the colony while holding a blanket, picnic basket, and large thermos of agave latte, a shared indulgence, bought just an hour before at the same shop in which they’d met.
She broke out in a cold sweat. What had she been thinking? He had not moved either. A good sign? Or one meant to fool her? He held what looked to be a bottle of wine in one hand and a bag in the other. Alcohol was prohibited for anyone but the authorities (it was believed they had strength of character to withstand its evil influences). Could he have managed to negotiate the hazards of the black market just since yesterday? Or was it to seal her demise, making it impossible for her to be seen as anything other than a subversive rebel in deed as well as in blood, worthy or termination?
She felt the sweat move like a lover’s finger down her back . . . Where did that thought come from? They hadn’t secretly developed the ability to plant thoughts also? She closed her eyes and counted to ten. This was where they infiltrated the people’s desire to fight for self-determination most seriously – the paranoia that had them believing that the Government had supernatural abilities that let them see into your innermost thoughts. This was not the book “1984” she reminded herself. At least not yet.
But if she gave into fear, wouldn’t that be a step closer to letting the Authorities control her every thought by making the impossible reality? She took a deep breath and opened her eyes. Whatever came of it, she wouldn’t live a life filled with opportunities lost from fear of the impossible or even the possibility of reality coming for her in the form of a disguised Authority member. She would live the life her parents had wanted for her, the one they had died for. She still had no idea whether the man she saw was the one she hoped for or whether he would bring her doom but she was committed to course. Taking another deep breath and letting it out, she smiled across the cracked asphalt and made her way toward her fate.
© 2017 Natalie Frank