Friday 23rd October
part three – the net closing in….
Diary Entry – 20660524
“I have made contact, and it was a disaster. Total failure. I was correct in my supposition that this was the lowest strata level; that roughly thirty percent of poorly crammed and hapless individuals who do manual labour for the lowest level of credit. But I was wrong to think that I would be in any way accepted. It seems that these people are just as conditioned as the rest of us. And I really should have looked in the mirror a bit more carefully. I have a ridiculously thick and black bushy beard, it seems my follicles have gone into overdrive ever since I stopped taking the inhibitors, and my hair was wild and growing right over my ears. Stupid fool, I had a pair of scissors in the first aid kit, I should have used them to make myself a bit more presentable.
It happened like this. I decided to try to make contact in the small and shabby looking Tesda store. I decided to just try to act natural, and so, bold as brass, I sauntered in as if I owned the damn shop. Smiling to my left and to my right I strode into the shop. Almost as if I had a neon sign flashing above my head the few shoppers seemed to move away from me, one or two even dropped the plastic baskets in their haste.
“Listen, it’s okay.” I said, as they moved away from me, parting like waves in the sea they just drifted away from me. I even reached out and tried to grab the coat sleeve of an elderly man. I desperately tried to smile some re-assurance at him.
“Get away from me, you dirty scag.” He shouted, yanking his arm out of my grasp.
“No, it’s not what you think. I am not a reb, I’m not a crim of any sort. I mean you no harm, I just want to talk.” I was gabbling. And the sight of all that food, manna or not was making me woozy, I may have even been swaying.
“Call the Polis.” The old fellow was shouting. “Call the Polis at once. We have a destitute in the shop. A fucking scag, call the Polis. Somebody quick”
And I heard the unmistakable sound of swivelling surv-cams. I hurriedly buried my face in my overcoat and ran for the exit. There was already a small crowd gathering in the street, attracted by the commotion. I charged through them and ran down the street. And as I turned the corner I heard the screech of a Polis auto drawing up at the Tesda store. I ran like I have never run before, my heart pounding furiously in my chest. Two more corners to gain and the factory would be in sight. Quick, run Janek. And I made it. I just got the heavy metal shutter back in place as the Polis auto came roaring past and down the street. By some miracle they hadn’t spotted me, they continued down the street for a bit, then as I watched through a dirt smeared upper window they reversed and turned left, completely lost. Their roof–mounted superbeam sweeping the buildings and road as they drove slowly back down the street, but they missed me. Thank Cosmos they missed me.
How stupid I had been. How I had miscalculated; thinking I might get some sympathy from this most easily brain-washable section of society. They were the ones who believed everything on Disnews, they swallowed it all. All the sab rumours, the constant stream of rebs being arrested, the enemy within, and all that bullshit. All those newscasts weren’t directed at me, they weren’t for us clever bastards; they were for this lot. I had always been a bit sceptical, I knew a bit about propaganda, I thought I might be able to detect it, I knew that some of it must be made up. It never really bothered me, and I never took it completely seriously. But this lot were so gullible, hooked as they were to their screens watching Soapy-sope after Soapy-sope, half-believing that the characters were real. And where the Soapy-sopes ended and where Disnews began was getting harder and harder to discern. If the screens and the glamorous lives lived up there were more real than your own mundane existence, then is it any wonder they couldn’t tell what was real and what was fiction. It was hard enough for me sometimes.
But what to do now? I couldn’t risk another encounter, not now. No doubt the Polis would be looking for me now. And still I was hungry as shit. I could almost feel the net closing in on me.”