• Vol. 08
  • Chapter 03


The watchtower shimmered in the distance. Someone had cut the perimeter fence, leaving a jagged hole. Saboteurs, she thought. People who knew how to twiddle the right knobs and flick the right switches so that all broadcasts would be cut off. No more military music on the hour presaging the latest news bulletin, no more patriotic songs that everyone knew by heart, no more uplifting dramas that had by law to include a minimum of one line extolling their Great Leader.

Above, the sky was a vibrant blue. Too blue, the blue of midsummer. She longed for her sunglasses, but the permitted items for each season were strictly delineated and sunglasses were forbidden at this time of year. No matter that accidents went up in the winter months on a bright day. If you were caught wearing another season’s clothing, you were done for.

Growing up, she had liked the predictability. Her parents were staunch supporters of the Great Leader and her early childhood had been secure and safe. Education was good, public transport was efficient and clean, food healthy and affordable. So why did the revolutionaries have to spoil this? She hadn’t been to school for months, vehicles were scarce and illegal markets had sprung up in back alleys. She never felt safe now. “For the good of the people.” That was their slogan. But she was one of the people and she didn’t feel good at all. She was sad and angry and scared, emotions that had been alien to her while the Great Leader was properly in charge.

She squinted at the watchtower, trying to make out if anything had changed. Perhaps the hole in the fence had been made weeks ago and no one had got round to fixing it. That wouldn’t have happened before. What were the revolutionaries trying to achieve? What was the point of tearing down systems and structures that functioned perfectly well, as long as you stuck to the rules?



Far away, she could see figures milling around the bottom of the watchtower. Were they heading in her direction? Whoever they were, she didn’t want to be found loitering. Guards would arrest her but revolutionaries might kill her. She ran as fast as she could till she reached the cluster of buildings she called home. Once inside the compound, she switched on her wrist radio. Relief. A brisk march was playing. Whoever had made the hole in the fence hadn’t brought the media down but it was probably just a matter of time. If there was one thing she had learnt from her history classes, it was that nothing stayed still. There was always a ‘before’, and sure as night followed day, there would come an ‘after’. For now, the news announcer proclaimed proudly that the Great Leader still prevailed. She flew up the four flights of stairs, eager to be home.