Today my mother died. Murder. “Life's not fair.” That's what she used to say. As always, she was right. They called her execution justice, delayed justice delivered at last. Now they're after me. Life's not fair- I shouldn't be alive at all.
I hate the new society. Even if mum was right all along, I can never be so accepting. I can't help but see scope for improvement. Apparently, I make no contribution to our society (I'm a zero-efficient). Well, I'll show them contribution to society all right. They're the parasites, not me.
So, basically, they caused this massive carbon dioxide problem and then it was well done to them for coming up with a solution. Obviously they must be better than us when, after all, they're the ones dealing with their self-inflicted disaster. It's a joke.
Mum's execution being a particularly bad joke. I'm not sure why I had to watch. Maybe to face the truth head on. Still, it was a horrible sight. Those stupid green people stood in the sunlight, watching on unmoved. Remarkably, she remained more composed than me. At least she didn't let them win.
Usually the audience is a mob of sadistic scum, unruly, jostling for a better view. Especially the gory deaths, they loved them best of all. Today was different. Even the few bloodthirsty greenies mixed in with the crowd were disappointed. Steady till the end, mum ascended the steps gracefully. The trial had been a sham. The execution was proof of her innocence since her total serenity was not the product of a guilty conscience.
Even when she reached the raised platform, even as she stepped onto the exact spot her life would end, she did not falter. I noticed her looking over at me and tried to stand taller to give her a better view. I wanted to see her too. One last time. This was not the moment to think about it, I had to look strong for her. She shouldn't worry about me now.
Never one for speeches, her last words were simple.
“Do not pity me. I go to a better place.” A quick hand signal and she was cut short by the executioner covering her mouth and pushing her to her knees. She did not struggle. Still and silent, until his axe was high above her, right about to drop.
“I am at peace.”
She died. I saw it all. I'm not sure if I wish I'd looked away. Probably not. When it was all over the crowd fell silent. Silence. I don't mean there was no noise. It was more than that. The silence was a feeling that everybody was part of. Even the wind stilled as if the world was giving her a moments respect as she left it forever. Her last words, “I am at peace,” seemed to signal a universal hush. That's how I knew for certain everything had shifted.
I'm not a bad person. But I sure am angry right now. That's how the drinking started. I don't plan on turning into some drunken low-life, I just need it right now. Only for a few more days, to dull the pain until I can deal with it on my own. People take medicines to fix an illness and my life is one big emotional sickness. Mum's motto was “Life's not fair.” Mine is “Life hurts but death kills.” At first it was simple. “Life sucks.” Then I got used to the pain. Always there, it was a reminder I was still alive. Now, that pain is so familiar a companion that I can't imagine a life without it. Sometimes, in my daydreams, I picture the perfect world. Injustice solved, my mother still alive, a father who loves her. The only problem is that I don't know how to feel in that world.
Happiness is over-rated. Everybody's searching for this blissful state that will leave them satisfied and fulfilled. It won't. Happiness leaves you empty.
With the execution over, I don't know what to do with myself. How are you supposed to act after your mother’s just been killed? I'm going out tonight, for the festival. The one provision to satisfy society our treatment is humane, to stop the efficient asking questions. I know I'll end up drunk. It just happens every time. It's not like I plan it or anything, one drink always somehow turns to two. Two drinks turn to three. When I start I can't stop, the taste of relief allows the desperation to gush in. I survive by pretending there's no better alternative, the alcohol frees up the imagination. The dreamer, the idealist and the visionary all wake at once. Alcohol forces me to loosen the tight grip I keep on my mind, then it is free to flit idly from thought to thought, pondering the all the “what if...?s”
I am shaken out of my thoughts. I hadn't noticed Casper come in, but he stands before me, impatient. “Hey, Roebai, you ready?” He's eager to move- this is the one chance we get to leave the stuffy workhouse and have some fun.
“Where're we meeting the others?” I'm throwing on my thick jacket as I intend to stay out late into the night. It was a good find when most the others don't even have proper coats, only the drink to keep them warm. Technically it was stealing but I can't see it like that. I see myself as more of a bailiff, forcibly taking back what they owe.
For my sake, Casper had arranged to meet them on the old bridge. I know he hates waiting around perched on metal supports, he never complains about it though. He knows I love the adrenaline rush. Life here in the camp is pretty dull, knowing I can die is the closest I get to entertainment- at least it’s something to occupy my empty mind. Casper is all common sense, I do realise most of what I do is stupid, I am just good at ignoring my head. Casper is one of those people who have to properly think about every little thing they do. Everything always has to be complicated or he hasn't analysed it in enough detail.
I can be smart when I need to, but I can ignore reason when it suits me better. Casper, on the other hand, is governed by some kind of constant internal dialogue. Sometimes I swear his brain has an independent consciousness. Maybe it would be good for me to have something like that to argue with.
With the tide well out, all I can see looking down is the unattractive sludge left by the estuary. Holding onto the bar is starting to get uncomfortable. The steel is freezing and there's a strong breeze picking up. I notice Casper shaking his head when I let go with one hand so I can turn the collar of my coat up over my face. My hair has grown fairly long and the wind's whipping the loose strands around my face. People always use the word numb to describe how cold feels. That's sort of stupid when things always sting more when you’re cold. You're actually way more sensitive. People say stupid things all the time. Most the expressions we use make absolutely no sense when you actually think about them.
Erin's head pops over the side of the bridge as she calls down to me.
“Get up here, you crazy freak. Do you wanna die?” I don't reply, she wouldn't want to know the honest answer to that. She was such a hypocrite anyway, Erin got herself into worse scrapes than me. Once she'd have climbed down to join me, before her sister’s accident. The others were with her anyway so I pulled myself back over the edge to join them. By “the others” I mean Clay, Horatio and Vinn. I wouldn't really say we're friends, we kind of tag along together but that's all. Horatio's all right but I can't stand Vinn. It's a pity he had to come, one of these days, when I'm drunk, I know I'm going to end up hitting him. Tonight I'm going to be very drunk and very angry. If he wants to stick around, I can't stop him but he'll have to take what's coming to him.
After the day I'd had, I couldn't be bothered to make conversation. I walked into the city in silence, kicking the ground and the odd lamppost. Casper looks concerned, still he wisely chooses not to say anything. It feels wrong to be going out to the festival straight after the execution. I suppose it probably seems totally disrespectful; I guess most people would spend tonight shut up crying. I'd rather forget. As I said, I'm good at ignoring my thoughts. Anyway, I need the space, I'm more angry than sad. Those green parasites make me so mad. Everything about them is evil. Everything about our society is wrong. Thing is, there's nothing I can do about it. So, either I go around punching people for the sake of it or I do my best to forget. Years of experience has taught me that the second option tends to go down a whole lot better.
“Are you sure you’re okay? Maybe you should just go back and have some time on your own,” says Erin.
“Listen, I know you mean well but I don't need your pity. Mum's dead. A bit of sympathy isn't going to fix that so if everyone can shut up and leave me alone I'd appreciate it.” Four of the five of them got the message. Vinn never learns his lesson, all he sees is an opportunity to show off in front of Erin.
“Hey, don't talk to her like that. If you can't handle us trying to be understanding, you shouldn't have come out. You always expect everything on your own terms, if you’re going to hang round with us, you can't expect us to do whatever you want, whenever you want. You can't blow up the second anyone so much as opens their mouth. Yeah, you're going to be a bit touchy, we get that, but there's no need to take everything out on us all the time. Got it?” He blatantly doesn't like me but he always has to act like it's nothing personal. It is so personal. He “loves” Erin, she likes me. It's not fair. I'm this unpleasant, messed up kid with serious anger issues. He'd make a far better boyfriend than me, etc. etc. etc. Seriously, this guy needs to grow up.
“Wow Vinn, Erin looks really impressed,” I say, rolling my eyes. I could wind him up as much as I liked, he'd never push it too far, he's seen me angry and knows I've never lost a fight. Instead, I don't waste my breath on the idiot. My scowl says it all anyway. We walk on for about 2 minutes, until Vinn interrupts again.
“You know what, I'm not going to stand for this anymore."