Wednesday, 31 May 2017

The Salvage Crew

[Media prompt] Swiss court convicts man over 'defamatory' Facebook likes.
The Salvage Crew

“You know what I’ve never understood?” said Peter. His boots crunched on broken glass as he walked to the window. Fine rain, carried inside by a gust of wind, landed on his jacket, but he stood at the window nevertheless. With the cloud cover and rain, the old Bank of China building just across the street was barely visible. It was a thick dark smudge in the charcoal haze. With the tip of one boot, he flicked a shard of glass into the void. “How long do you reckon it takes to hit the ground from this far up?”

“About ten seconds, give or take,” said Carmine.

“How the fuck do you know things like that?” said Peter, rearranging pieces of glass with his foot.

“It’s just gravity, isn’t it?” said Carmine.

Peter laughed. “Did I ever tell you my old man worked in this building back in the forties?”

Perhaps he had, but if so none of us recalled it. We entered the building three days ago, and had already salvaged more than two kilograms of re-functional biohazard. Other crews had picked through the debris, but we had Carmine, and he knew where to look. That was our speciality; finding what others had missed. Anyone coming after would be wasting their time.

“Nobody has ever explained to me why they all just rolled over,” said Peter. “I’ve never understood that.”

“There’s something here,” said Carmine, taking off his goggles to get a closer look at the wall where the Ruderbot had stopped. I drew a square of blue light over the space and punched out a slab of concrete an inch deep. When Carmine dug his knife into the smooth render, it started to crumble, revealing the polished steel surface of a vactube.

“It’s a hundred grams,” said Carmine as the Ruberbot extracted it from the wall.

Peter put the hazard holster on the floor, and we each swiped our thumbs across the lock. Carmine inserted the vactube into the unit, and we waited as it transferred the contents into the main reservoir.

“Why did they do that?” said Peter. “Why would anybody let a government dictate what you could think?”

“They didn’t understand,” I said, remembering my father’s astonishment when he was denounced for crimes against gender.

“That’s bullshit,” said Peter. As Carmine uncoupled the vactube, he sealed the holster, checking the readout on the screen. “One hundred and three grams. Lucky guess, man.”

“In your dreams, paste boy.”

Peter laughed. “Think about it, though” he said. “They didn’t understand? Really? How could you not understand that policing your thinking wasn’t going to lead to some serious shit?”

“They should have resisted? And denied us heaven on earth?” said Carmine.

“You know what?” said Peter. “I think this might actually be my old man’s office. Look at this.”

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