Shackled Ch. 01byStory_Spinner©
Special thanks to my wonderful partner, Fish_Tales.
It had begun nobly, as with most things that eventually become corrupted. The Earth had been heating up, so greenhouse gases needed to be reduced. There was widespread poverty and illness. Food was in limited supply. Governments had decided that the best way to manage this was through the use of carbon taxes that would limit the use of carbon and encourage the development of alternative energy sources. Drugs were to be used sparingly and rationing was implemented. Land for the production of food was appropriated. In some cases, whole nations had been appropriated.
Energy companies, pharmaceutical companies and food producers had become the most powerful organisations in the world.
Now, citizens no longer knew if governments ran the world or if corporations did. They had become entwined. The boundaries between corporate and government had become blurred. Information was controlled. Citizens struggled to live any aspect of their life without government or corporate interference.
The Global Energy, Health and Food Management Council (GEHFMC) had become the most important body in the world. The IMF reported to it. Even the United Nations reported to it. Energy, health and nutrition were the most important issues on the planet.
No one could supply any fuel, drugs or food besides governments and major corporations. They had licences that were acquired with huge fees. The money was, of course, recouped from consumers. There was no "leakage".Unauthorised supply resulted in swift apprehension and punishment.
Global consumption of these essentials had been reduced, but only for the poor. The minority rich used as much energy, drugs and food, if not more, as before.
Cars were rare and little-used by the general populace because of the metals and energy required to produce them. It was worth almost a year of the average salary to buy a bottom range one. And that was if you could afford to run it.
Houses? Forget it. Houses had long ago been out of the reach of normal people. Now either the Government or corporations owned all of the new building developments and suburbs. Anyone who had owned a house before the change was a multimillionaire. The problem was if you didn't have a high enough regular income to service your energy, health and food requirements, then you were forced to sell it anyway.
To the government.
Because cars and houses were so expensive, everyone lived close to their workplaces. The government and large companies controlled the whole population.
This was life as it was now. Everyone accepted it. The present generation had known no different, but there were still people who remembered what it was like to have a car, or a house or natural food.
Special Police Forces patrolled the streets.
In 2040, life wasn't much fun.
If you were alive.
The Glock felt heavy in his hand. It was old, but it was his favorite. Polymer frame. Ferritic nitrocarburizing. It wouldn't rust.
He was racking his brain, trying to work out how many rounds he'd used.
He could check, but he didn't have time. He had to make it to the dumpster.
Or he was dead.
Assume twelve. That means three rounds left. I've got to make it to the dumpster.
He took a deep breath.
The Package was at his feet. That's what he called him: The Package. No point getting personal. They wouldn't know each other for long. He might even be dead soon. Who knew? No point being on a first name basis with a corpse.
"Get the fuck up," he said. "We have to make it to the dumpster. Can you make it?"
The Package was breathing heavily. He was out of condition. He nodded.
"I....think....so," he said between gasps.
Why can't they send me to get someone fit for once? Even just healthy. Someone who could at least run more than ten meters without throwing up.
"Well don't think so, know so," he said. "When I say 'three' we bolt for the dumpster. And...."
"....and what?" asked The Package.
"Don't expect me to fucking carry you. If it comes down to you or me, it's me. Do you fucking understand?"
The Package nodded, his face red with exertion.
The rain kept coming down, a steady drizzle. The slick blackness of the bitumen looked treacherous in the dark, but they had to make it. The police weren't far behind.
He tightened his grip on the empty bottle in his hand.
He threw the empty bottle twenty metres down the alley and high into the air. He pulled The Package to his feet by the collar and turned and ran in the other direction.
As fast as he could.
The bottle smashed as it hit the bitumen.
Thirty meters to go.
He made it. He was behind the dumpster. The Package lumbered towards him and made it too.
That's why he trained. If he got out of this alive, he would never again procrastinate about getting out of bed to train. Jessica had always complained about the amount of time he spent training. He always told her that it was about being prepared.
She didn't complain anymore.
She was dead.
Stop thinking about her. You have to get this fat fuck back and collect your money.
That's all you should be thinking about.
Fat fuck. A bit of alliteration. Poetry under gunfire. Had to be a book in that....
Stop fucking around, Hansen.
There were still no shots. No footsteps. Just the rain dripping off the dumpster, into the puddles in the bitumen. Just the heavy breathing of his alliterative companion. The Package. The fat fuck.
Maybe I've lost them.
Yeah, right. Or maybe they're getting into better positions....
He bent down on one knee and checked the gun. The Glock had three rounds left.
So, he'd used twelve.
I need to get out of this alley.
There were three ways out. The way he'd come in was one. He wasn't going back that way. There was also the end of the alley.
Too far for The Package.
There was another right-of-way that ran off the alley. He didn't know where it lead, but he did know where it would lead if he stayed here.
No more kisses from Jessica.
Jessica's dead, forget about her. No more drinking. No more dingy dives to sleep in. No more shit jobs.
Get a grip of yourself, mate. That's your life. Get over it or lose it.
He had to make it back. Not to much admitedly, but at least it was something.
His breathing had returned to normal. He looked up and down the alley. There was no movement. That didn't mean anything, but it was promising.
Maybe they'd been scared off. He'd taken one of them down. He didn't know if he was dead.
If they could get to the right-of-way, then they had a chance. There were only two of them left following and there were three ways out.
You're a gambler.
Thirty three point three percent chance of picking the right answer.
He got up from his haunches and poked his head up slowly from behind the dumpster.
Now is the time.
"Right, we're nearly there. When I say 'three', we're outta here. Get it?"
The Package looked up and nodded. He couldn't suck in enough air to speak.
Hansen counted down in his head and yelled, "Three!"
They took off.
His legs pumped hard, but he trained hard. He could keep it up.
If he wanted to live.
He turned around the corner and into the right of way.
It was clear! And he was only thirty metres from the main street.
He turned around. The Package was making a good fist of it, but there was still some distance to go. He pointed the gun down the alley. The Package ran past him and he waited a couple of seconds, the gun pointing down the alley. Then he turned.
He bolted for the end of the lane till his lungs felt like they were filled with burning sulphur. He passed the fat fuck, but he kept running.
He made it. It came out next to a transit stop. He leaned against the aluminium and glass shelter. He was sucking in big breaths of air.
The Package collapsed onto his knees beside him.
They were alive.
"What....do....we....do....now?" gasped his running companion.
"We catch the bus," Hansen said. "Unless you'd like to walk?"
He smirked at The Package.
And I can get rid of you and get paid.