Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Citizens


29 March 2079

“Hey, mate, you okay? You’re out of breath. What’s up?”
“Forgot my bloody Citizen Pass. Had to go back and get it. And you know what they’re like about all that.”
“I do, but it’s cool. You got it now, yeah?”
“Yeah, but after I got fined that two hundred and fifty EuroCredit last year for not being able to show it on demand, I’m taking no chances. Bloody SSP are everywhere.”
“I’ve had no real bother with them, to be honest. I keep my head down, show my pass hen required, turn up in the work zone when I have to and just follow the rules. It’s the only way to get by.”
“Maybe, but don’t you ever get fed up with it? Rules, regulations, diktats, articles. You know what? Word is, back in the day, it wasn’t always like that but since they don’t teach history no more in schools and there’s no books, nobody really knows any of that stuff.”
“Funny, you should mention that. You know what today is?”
“Uh... yeah, Wednesday.”
“No, the date, I mean. It’s the twenty-ninth of March.”
“And?”
“Well, we’re not really s’posed to know this stuff but my dad told me that his dad was around before the European Empire.”
“Yeah?”
“Yeah... and sixty years ago, on the twenty-ninth March the UK had –” 
“The what?” 
“The UK... United Kingdom. It was what this place was called back then before everywhere was divided up into Sectors.” 
“Blimey, I didn’t know that.”
“Anyway, the UK which was made up of England, Scotland, Wales and a bit of Sector 74... called Northern Ireland back then, had a chance to walk away from the European project but they didn’t take it.”
“Walk away?”
“Yeah,not allow themselves to be absorbed into the project... ruled by the Empire.”
“You’re joking? They had choices? They could choose to live as a free state?”
“Not only that, the people had the right to choose how they lived. They weren’t numbers back then. They used their proper names too.”
“Eh? You mean they weren’t... like Citizen 8956.A7ENG23 Sector 71?”
“No, you wouldn’t be known as that. You could use the name you use at home... Jack. You didn’t have to have the label you have now. You wouldn’t have been chipped at birth either.”
“Not chipped? But, that’s just normal, innit? For your ID and knowing where citizens live.”
“It might be normal now, mate, chipped and carrying a Citizen Pass, but back then it was only dogs that got chipped. Citizens... I mean, people, could move around as they pleased. All they needed was a passport if they wanted to go to other sectors... they were called countries then… but otherwise they chose where to go when they wanted.”
“Wait a minute. So, this UK place could have chosen to stay out of all that... the controls, the rules, the direction... but they chose not to?”
“Well, not exactly. They blundered into it. They should have left on twenty-ninth of March in 2019 but made a right pig’s ear of it and got trapped so they could never get out. Once that happened the EU got on with their plans to build the Federal State.”
“Did they not realise what the plan was?”
“Some did and they were determined to leave but a lot of others were banging on about their children’s future and how they would not benefit from –”
“But, I am their bloody children! And I’m now just a number in a controlled state. What was wrong with them?”
“Dunno, mate. Indecisive, selfish even... worried about their mobile telephones, their holidays, the price of their houses... only concerned about themselves, I guess. Didn’t look to the future. Didn’t see the big picture. And today is the sixtieth anniversary of the day it could all have been different”
“What’s a mobile phone, anyway? For that matter, what’s a holiday?”
“It’s a... heads up, one of the SSP’s coming.”
“Good morning, Citizens. I am Officer 912 of the State Security Police. Your Citizen Passes please.”

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