Richard Pierce

Life, Writing

Day 276

It’s the first working day of the month, so my morning has been taken up with reconciling spreadsheets, drafting reports, chasing reports, and focusing on urgent things, since I got up, on work.

I have changed my morning routine (again) to include a double espresso, half of which I consume with breakfast, and the other half of which I consume with a roll-up in the garden – let’s see how that pans out when the weather gets really cold.

And now the working day’s done, and I’ve been for my 2-miler, and the gloaming is settling on the land and the cities and the towns, and another day is done. And I am one of the fortunate, to have time and warmth, education and tools, to reflect on this. And to contemplate a whole raft of challenges to come over the next couple of months. And I think that what I feel amongst this reflection is not so much at this age I should be able to take things a little easier, and have my own life to myself, but more a if society were just, then some of these challenges would not seem so immense, and I, and those around me, not in so much need. Life is unfair, full stop, but it is made unjust by those who inflict need upon us.



Valentine’s words surprise Aggie, but she doesn’t show it. He’s not as omniscient as he thinks he is, obviously. Without any visible effort or preparation, her right arms shoots out, and the massive paw that s her right hand grabs him by the throat and lifts him off the ground. ‘And what will you do now?’ she hisses at him.

‘I think…’ A deep rattling breath. ‘I think the question is what will you do?’ He manages to smile despite being suspended in mid-air. ‘Kill me?’ His voice is hoarse, his breath running out. ‘My father…’ Another deep painful breath. ‘He says you don’t kill people.’

‘Perhaps I’ve changed my mind.’ She doesn’t loosen her grip.

‘That…’ He coughs. ‘That would be very unprincipled.’

‘What would you know about principles? You’ve killed the presidents of the world’s two most powerful countries.’

‘For freedom,’ he says, and his smile becomes beatific, and illuminates his face. He’s almost attractive like this. Even to Aggie.

‘You’ve killed thousands of people.’

He shrugs. ‘Collateral damage.’ His face is purple now, but he shows no sign of panic. ‘Let me explain.’

‘Why should I?’

‘You like to understand things, don’t you?’ Spittle drips from his mouth. ‘I’d hate you to sacrifice your principles at the altar of ignorance.’

Aggie lowers him, so his feet are on the floor, but doesn’t take her hand from his throat, frogmarches him to the chair in the middle of the room. ‘Sit,’ she says, grabs her pistol with her left hand while she’s still holding him down. ‘Talk.’ She starts to retreat to the back of the room, where she saw him push the buttons that extracted the young woman’s brain. ‘And don’t even think about getting up. My principles don’t stop me from inflicting maximum pain.’

‘Apparently not.’ He rubs his throat.

‘Hands on the arm rests.’ Her voice is an explosion in the empty room.

Valentine puts his arms down.

Aggie is by the switches now. She notices the red switch here has two positions.

‘No need for that.’ Valentine’s voice carries effortlessly across the room although he’s not shouting. He doesn’t even look worried.

‘And why would that be? So you can attack me while I’m listening to your fine words?’

‘Would I do anything like that? I’m an English gentleman.’ His arms and hands don’t move from the chair.

‘Like your father?’

‘Oh, he likes to play the gentleman, but he never was one. The Russian in him is never far below the surface.’

‘And your Russian?’

‘Oh, he’s gone and forgotten.’

‘Then talk. I’ll stand here and listen.’ Aggie’s gun is till pointing at Valentine’s right kneecap.

‘Look. We’re minorities. You and I.’

‘That’s a big assumption. To say we’re the same.’

‘Do you always interrupt people?’

‘You left a gap.’

Valentine sighs. ‘You’re all the same, you women. Too impatient by far.’

‘Go on, and stop stereotyping.’

‘Woke as well.’

Aggie’s hand moves towards the red switch.

‘Fine. Fine. What I’m trying to say so inarticulately, which is very unlike me, is that all minorities are oppressed, and that they need to be freed from the tyranny of mainstream politicians. That all I’m planning to do is to free all minorities so we can all enjoy similar freedoms. There.’

‘Nice speech,’ Aggie says. ‘But not very convincing. You killed a minority.’

‘Some people are disposable.’

‘All those who get in your way, and all those who are useful tools.’

‘Useful fools.’

‘When did you find out about AGATA?’

‘I met her last year. She was being primed in one of my facilities out here. She seemed an obvious candidate.’ He shrugs. ‘They all are, really. Vagrants don’t tend to have the same brain power.’

‘It appears to me that none of them need brain power seeing as you suck their brains out of them anyway.’

‘Only a few.’

‘You know that’s not actually what my question meant,’ Aggie says. ‘I’m talking about the Albino Generational Abnormality Transmission Agency. And you know I was.’

‘My father knew of it, for some reason. But he never shared it with the Russians for some obscure reason.’

‘And it was only the orange President who shared it with your people then, was it?’

‘It appears so.’

‘It doesn’t make sense.’

‘That’s what I thought, too. But it’s a delicious idea, though, isn’t it? To seed abnormalities in the population to reduce the longevity of the inferior.’

‘You’re talking about a holocaust of minorities, not freedoms,’ Aggie says and flicks the red switch to its halfway position.

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