Me and my friend called 5

I draw the nicotine laden smoke deep into my lungs.  The rush flows through me like the best drug hit you can imagine.  Smoking, of course, is illegal outside the smoking zones, yet the visceral thrill I get from this one act makes me not care.  That and the fact I am surrounded by possibly hundreds of other illegal acts, contributes to this feeling.

The crowd mills about the park, watching to see who steps forward.  Who is going to take the chance today?  I feel the small handful of change in my right pocket and know that I will.  I just have to get the courage up first.

The government have repeatedly denied the existence of the so called “Death Games”.  The news keeps telling us this.  No-one believes them.  We all know someone who has competed through desperation.

Very few of us know anyone who survived.

When a society develops a system of looking after its citizens by limiting their income and destroying their self worth, then that society would normally be deemed as a failure.

Not this one.  This one trumpets it as a step forward.  Why pay money to people who cannot work (or who do not earn enough from that work) to survive with dignity.  There is a crisis that needs attending to.  The news media tell us this over and over.  This is the only way to sort it.  We are all in this together.

Of course that is just another lie but it is told to us again and again until, at some level, that is what we end up believing.

I stub the cigarette into the dirt at my feet and exhale the lungful of smoke into the night sky.  The recruiter is waiting for contestants and the amount of money they are offering as a prize has been revealed.  It’s not as much as I hoped, basically a weeks wages.  But it is a weeks wages I do not have and that is enough for me to step forward, my hand in the air and be welcomed by the crowd. The VIP area behind the stage is full of politicians sat around the monitors.  The same ones who deny the existence of these events during the day, are just avid voyeurs when the daylight ends.  Revelling in the poor competing against each other for their amusement.

Shutting out as much of the noise as possible, I stare emptily into space.  The rules are explained to the watching crowd but I have heard them many times before.  Kill or be killed, it is that simple.

I feel the weapon being placed into my hand, the gate in front of me opens and the park grounds are revealed to me.  I offer a silent prayer to a deity I do not believe in.

The siren sounds.


Suicide Season

Well worth the read

The Renegade Press

‘Ignoring your passion is slow suicide. Never ignore what your heart pumps for.’

  • Kevin Claiborne

Let’s play a game of Russian Roulette.

You and I are seated at a table in a smoke filled room; there’s an old six shooter positioned perfectly between us with a single round floating in one of its chambers. The heavy aromas of mildew and fear cling to your skin causing you to perspire. We’re alone. There’s no one here to save us; the only entrance to the cell is destined to remain locked until only one of us remains. You’re scared. So am I. Our lives have been reduced to this moment where we’ll play a game of chance to see who survives. Nothing else matters right now. It’s just you and I.

There’s a coin beside the gun. We’ll flip to see who shoots first. I pick it up and use my thumb…

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The last train

I have never had to work this late before.  The night has been here for several hours and the town is full of the rich revellers, out spending money like it is going out of fashion.  The neon signs buzz quietly as I make my way to the Train Station.

The level above the level above the level my manager is on, demanded that the report was completed before anyone went home.  For some reason that meant that I had to stay as the rest left.  I would have complained but I need the work.  Money is tight enough without putting myself into the work groups.

Or worse still, signing up with the television stations.

I never understood why Evie did that.  Privacy was scarce enough without subjecting yourself to 24 hour a day viewing.

But she could take the daily grind any more and she left my company.  I never saw her again, I can only imagine what show she ended up being cast into.

The station was quiet and lit the bare minimum as specified by the law.  There was a train guard at the ticket barrier, his gun sitting uncomfortably on his left hip.

“You’re late today Sir,” he spoke as I approached.  I had never seen him before.

“Yeah I had to work on unfortunately.” I responded as if he was an old friend.  Behind him the security camera panned around the empty platform.

“Well at least the train is likely to be quiet at this time of…” he checked his watch but did not look directly at it, “…night.”

“Yeah I should be able to find an empty seat.” I smiled as I handed over my travel pass.  He scanned it and as he handed it back, I saw him look at his watch again.  This time he was watching something in the glass faces reflection.”

“Don’t get this train.” His voice barely a whisper, “Just turn around and book into a hotel.”

Looking at him I could see he was still looking at the watch.  As I went to reply I saw him shake his head ever so slightly.

“We don’t even have guards on this train, just leave and go anywhere else but here.”

I had nowhere to go.  The guard suddenly snapped his gaze from his watch and spoke louder than before.

“Well you go and have a safe journey Sir.”

He would not even look at me as he ushered me through the gate.  The camera seemed to be fixed on me as I went to the waiting train.  The carriage was empty and I took my pick of the best seat I could find.  Looking back at the guard I saw that he was locking the main entrance doors.

There was a garbled announcement in a soft female voice and the train started its journey.

Try to hold on

We meet in secret.  Always in someones basement, well away from the prying eyes of the security cameras that exist purely to protect us.

Arriving already wearing our masks, we sit around a candle and talk.  It is common knowledge that the government infiltrate any and all groups to find trouble makers.  The masks were decided early on, far better to protect our identity when the traitor reveals themselves.

I really hope is it not me.

As usual, we start with the gold mask telling us that this reality is nothing but an illusion.  Created simply to keep us docile.  The real world is out there somewhere, hidden from view and sending messages to help free us.  Like faint radio waves, they are rarely heard but occasionally they get through.

They do not want us to question the status quo, that is why all dissent is quickly stamped on.

How we have managed to remain untouched for so long just makes me even more sure that one of us is not who they seem.

Each of us have, in one way or another, seen the circuit board under this reality and picked up the faint broadcasts from the real world.  That shared experience is what led us to this gathering.

In my case, I saw the mirror men.

During my morning commute, I looked around the carriage at the solemn faces of my fellow travellers.  There was a man a couple of seats up from me who was fast asleep.  I envied his escape from the journey and would have turned my attention to someone else if I had not seen him.

In the reflection cast by the window, I saw the same man.  Wide awake and reading a paper, the like I had never seen before.  Blinking to clear my vision, I looked again and yet the man was still there, his counterpart still fast asleep.

For a brief moment I wanted to share this with the woman beside me but  quickly realised that would just lead to trouble.

So I watched as casually as I could manage.  The mirror man continued reading, flipping the pages of the newspaper on a regular basis.  I could see brightly coloured photographs on the pages, unfortunately I could not make out what they depicted.

As the train pulled into the station, the man closed and folded the paper and turned to look at me.

A smile crossed his lips and then he winked at me.

That is when I noticed all the mirror men and women were looking at me. I turned to face my own reflection and saw that he was mouthing words to me.

I could not get off that train quick enough.

For a long time I avoided looking to see if they were still there on my journeys but eventually curiosity got the better of me.

They were still there and they looked angry.

I never told the group that part.

Here comes the mirror men

It took around 5 minutes for the men in white coats to arrive.
As they dragged the man away, he shouted.
‘They’re in the trains’.
Everyone in the busy station went about their business as usual, ignoring the commotion.  Far better to do that than be questioned about what they witnessed.
Of course I did the same, joining the throng of people filing their way to their allocated place of work. Outwordly I was calm but internally I was worried that my momentary pause when he shouted had been noticed.
You see, he was right.
They are in the trains.