tagNovels and NovellasNo Future Ch. 82

No Future Ch. 82


Home is Where the Heart is

It was an image of a kind Phil had often seen before, but what was horrifying about it was the simple fact that it wasn't being broadcast as part of a news story from a distant urban slum or a foreign country. In fact, it was being transmitted from a surveillance camera just outside his own home. And this image, live and direct and in gruesome detail, showed a man's body slide slowly downwards into the dark red reflective sheet of his own blood that had splattered onto the steel shutters that covered the windows of Phil's house. It was fortunate that Phil had recently had them installed on the persuasive urging of the Ashton Lovelock Neighbourhood Watch.

The image was truly grotesque. The man's head had exploded from the impact of the well-aimed rifle shots. A rich red puddle of blood was spreading outwards across the patio in the long shadows of the late evening summer sun.

However horrifying the image was, Phil's thoughts were also with those neighbours of his who'd not abided by the local Neighbourhood Watch's advice. Many homes were lacking the steel shutters and anti-personnel devices that were now almost standard. Who knew from what humiliation and torture such poorly defended neighbours were suffering from at the mercy of the plebs who'd broken into their property and who hadn't yet been eliminated by the security guards? Their worldly possessions would be ransacked. Their houses plundered. And the women (and maybe even the men) raped. And possibly murdered.

Phil's hope rested in the speed and efficiency that the security guards would employ to defend his property. The manufacturers of his home security system had told him how many minutes the house was guaranteed safe against determined assault, but such information seemed so academic when he'd authorised the purchase of the advanced security system and had it installed.

The live feed from the cameras scattered around the lawns and residences of Ashton Lovelock were providing a continual and unsettling view of the violence that had descended on the gated community now that the plebs had overrun its streets and malls. Phil had the facility to switch the view from one camera to another simply by moving his hand. Many stores in the Gaia Mall had been totally thrashed, but they would have been the obvious target of the plebs' initial onslaught. They were after clothes and electrical goods as well as the food that they'd been pleading for. The extent of their avarice only demonstrated the extent of the hypocrisy in the claims made by the plebs' representatives in the media that having enough to eat was all they wanted. Some of Phil's neighbours' houses had been broken into. Phil felt especially sorry for the Stewarts, despite their decidedly Scottish surname, whose house was now engulfed in flame.

But, as the cameras also showed, the security guards were responding to the pleb invasion with overwhelming force.

It was only right—given the way they bled his wallet each month—that the security officers should respond to the invasion of Ashton Lovelock with so much force and determination. This was also only what was necessary given how many yobbish invaders they had to repel. Hundreds of the fucking plebs had streamed in through the breach in Ashton Lovelock's electric fence. And an entirely unappetising bunch they were too. The men were unshaven. The women wore no makeup. Shabby cheap clothes: ill-fitting, unstylish and unprepossessing. The plebs were barely human. They deserved the bullets that tore their bodies apart. They deserved the savage beating they were getting from the security guards that left them barely alive. The most unlucky ones deserved to have their corpses left abandoned in bloody puddles by the kerbside. If Phil wasn't so worried about his safety he'd gladly have left his home to personally deliver the coup de grâce to the bastards himself.

There'd been warnings of a possible invasion for several months now not just in Ashton Lovelock but in every affluent village and suburban retreat up and down the Republic. The protests in the big cities had been getting increasingly violent as the unwashed and uneducated proles, plebs, peasants and vagrants remonstrated about their imagined grievances. It was nothing more than whingeing, of course. Did they really expect to get something for nothing? Where did they imagine the money would come from to address their ridiculously long list of unachievable demands? The universal provision of education, healthcare, security and well-paid jobs didn't come from nowhere. They had to be earned. And although the protestors had been treated with far more respect than they deserved, they continued to agitate for what they laughingly and unashamedly called their rights.

The government's extraordinary patience eventually ran out. This was a long time after it had for ordinary middle-class citizen such as Phil. The protestors would have to disperse. They'd illegally occupied parks in London, Birmingham and Manchester and refused to pay the daily entrance fee. They'd erected tents around public and private property to which they wouldn't normally be allowed access such as cathedrals, banks and the shopping malls. They regaled innocent bystanders with demand for greater justice, equality and respect. Well, to get respect, a person has to earn it, and these people most certainly hadn't done that.

The private security staff and armed mercenaries employed by the English government and the mayors of England's great cities showed both enthusiasm and gusto in their struggle to force the plebeian scum off the roads. It was heartening to watch videos on the internet of their long-delayed retaliation. No mercy was shown with boot, stick, baton, rubber bullet and latterly, as the conflict worsened, with guns and other more lethal hardware. Despite the propaganda broadcast by what little was left of the liberal media, the retaliation was entirely proportionate to the nuisance caused by the plebs and their disruption to English commerce.

And now the bastards were invading Ashton Lovelock.

They must have come from miles away, though Phil wondered how they could have made the journey from the dilapidated urban wastelands of Warwick, Coventry or Bicester. The impoverished plebs couldn't afford to travel by car and they most certainly wouldn't have been welcome on the motorways. Perhaps they'd walked all the way or travelled on the back of donkeys. However they'd got there Phil could see the trouble brewing as he drove home every day and passed the steadily expanding encampment just outside Ashton Lovelock's perimeter. The signs they brandished were the usual ones about jobs, greed and human rights. There were even some relating to climate change, flooding and the other environmental problems that bedevilled the world. Didn't the plebs realise that the solutions to such problems were exactly what the company that employed Phil was working to resolve?

And now it had happened. The plebs had breached the defensive walls and fences. There was plenty of speculation about how this had happened among the messages buzzing about the internet as knowledge of the invasion spread across the online world. Wire-cutters. Tunnels. Electrical short-circuits. Even an inside job from sympathetic workers in the mall or from the residents' servants. Whatever! It was happening now, just as it had happened in other privileged communities all the way from Cornwall to the unflooded islands of Norfolk, from Windermere to Bishop's Avenue, and from Hay-on-Wye to Stratford-on-Avon.

Phil was relieved to see that the plebs had now moved away from his home and were congregating elsewhere. They'd clearly been deterred by the blaze of gunfire that had mowed down the protestors who'd struggled fruitlessly to get through the steel sheets that had slid up on the outside of his already toughened windows and reinforced the deceptively oaken appearance of his front door. The liberal media might gripe about the effectiveness of deterrence, but it was fairly obvious to Phil that it had clearly worked as he watched the plebs wander away from the gruesomely disfigured corpses on his lawn and driveway. His anxiety was now rather less about his life and property and rather more about whether his insurance premiums were sufficient to cover the cost of cleaning up the mess of dead bodies on his estate. There was even the possibility that—like warfare or Acts of God—this was something his expensive insurance policies just didn't cover.

From what Phil could see from his screens, the plebs were now in retreat. That was good, of course, but it would still leave a scar on the community of Ashton Lovelock that couldn't be brushed away so easily. It could be weeks, even as much as a month, until the shops were re-opened. And the Stewarts... If they'd suffered as badly as the internet gossip suggested, there'd be funerals for several weeks to come. And if they'd survived, then Phil would have to find time to offer condolence for their losses. He hoped they were well enough insured that he wouldn't be expected to help provide them with charitable assistance in their hour of need. That would be regrettable; but neighbours had to stick together, especially after such a brutal onslaught.

There was another crackle of gunfire as the security guards located a group of plebs who'd been hiding in the back garden of a house just half a block away. The security cameras from all the surrounding houses swivelled round to focus on the bloodshed. There were just three plebs and two of them were women. They were clearly terrified as the security guards surrounded them with their automatic rifles in hand. They were such a pathetic bunch. Scrawny. Ill-fed. Clothes that were patched and re-patched again and again. The older of the woman had a mouth with few teeth and many gaps. It was a relief to watch them get scythed down by a spray of automatic gunfire.

Scum like that didn't deserve to live.

Phil continued to watch the carnage from the comfort of his lounge until well past his normal bed-time. He didn't need to worry about having to get to work the following day. Like other employees on the Warwick Business Park he'd been notified that special leave would be extended to anyone who had reasonable fear that they might be caught up in the protests spreading across the nation. Phil wasn't so naive as to believe that his employer was being generous merely for reasons of inherent goodness. The drop in profit resulting from the loss of skilled technical and executive staff who'd fallen victim to the angry mob just wasn't worth it. The cost would be even greater if the employee became eligible for compassionate leave.

As the fear receded that Phil might fall to the same fate as the Stewarts, he continued to watch the live coverage of the security guards' clean-up. He wasn't quite as comfortable as he would ideally choose to be. The steel shutters were still securely up on all the doors and windows so he couldn't benefit at all from the natural light of the evening sun. And he probably wouldn't want to venture out of his home for several more days. He'd be doing all his shopping online until the mall returned to a good state of repair.

Look! There was another pleb hiding in the shadow of a recycling bin.

The bastard was still holding onto his spoils of plunder. In this instance it was a cheap laptop and a saveloy sausage. Fat use they'd be to him now as a security guard raised his rifle and pointed it towards the pleb's forehead. He looked understandably anxious. No doubt he was reflecting on the folly of his criminal trespass. Perhaps he'd be leaving a family without its main breadwinner.

The shot from the rifle was brief and not especially loud. The pleb collapsed to the ground. A circle of blood steadily grew on the forehead just above eyes from which all life was now extinguished.

That was a lesson the plebs should all remember.

As the evening shadows lengthened and the sun dipped below the horizon, there were fewer such eventful moments. Now that the mob had recognised that their invasion had been countered with far more force than they could possibly withstand they'd run off back to where they'd come from. The security guards were under no obligation to chase after them, of course. In fact, the terms and conditions of their contract almost certainly prohibited them from doing so. Beyond the confines of Ashton Lovelock, the plebs could only be pursued by a police force so poorly funded and overstretched that it was effectively no force at all. They'd be at liberty to plunder, rob and murder one another with virtual impunity, but hopefully they'd now learnt the lesson that Ashton Lovelock was not the place for such lawlessness.

But the excitement wasn't completely over yet. As the security guards continued their patrol, followed behind by ancillary staff that would tidy up the mess, drag off the bodies and mop up the blood, there were yet more intruders to locate on the well-tended lawns and polished patios.

This would be a long night, thought Phil as he idly dipped his hand into a carton of popcorn and chomped on a huge beefburger.

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