“… most men and women will grow up to love their servitude and will never dream of revolution.” ~ Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
Deputy Herring stands up and offers me her chair when I arrive in the office. I shake my head no but give her a polite smile.
Sheriff Aponte doesn’t get up. He’s speaking into the radio. “Right. Judge Brewer has joined us.”
Static fills the room as he takes his finger off the speaker button. I’m well aware that his statement could mean he was cautioning those in radio communication that a judge, and the wife of the Head of IT, was now in the room. Or perhaps he was just being polite by introducing me. Either way, whoever was on the other end knew I was in here now.
Aponte turns to me while he turns the radio crackle down. “So here’s what we know. It looks like Mechanical was trying to build a bomb of some sort, and it exploded prematurely. Probably saved some lives that it happened this way. Now we know what they’re up to.” He stopped, apparently remembering where he’d been. “Sorry it spoiled your son’s wedding.”
I shrugged, acknowledging it as being of minor importance. “Any deaths?”
“No, remarkably.” He put on his glasses and pushed his sandy hair back with a hand. The man needed a haircut, I saw. Probably because he didn’t have a wife. Rumor was that he and the Deputy were sweet on each other. I could see that on his side. She was a smart cookie, and not bad to look at for a woman who spent her time trying to be scary enough to get compliance from men twice her size. And they were about the same age—mid-thirties. Older than most who got married. Typically the young people would jump in by twenty or before… it was the only way to get your own place and be able to have sex. At least that was the official rule.
But Deputy Herring was a catch, and Sheriff Aponte was not a pleasant man, as far as I was concerned. I look at her looking at him, and can see that she feels differently.
Aponte looks down at his notes, apparently scribbled while he was getting a radio report from the Deputy Sheriff closest to Mechanical.
“Deputy Lincoln says a few shrapnel wounds and some injuries from the force of the impact throwing people against walls, as you’d expect. But no deaths. They were lucky.”
I see Herring nod, her blonde curls bobbing as she agreed. Admiration shines in her eyes. Too much time spent alone together in this office, I figure. He was probably the only man she knew well enough to develop a crush on.
“So what’s the plan?” I ask. What indeed? Mechanical might as well have declared war, since their attempt to build the bomb certainly telegraphed their intentions.
“Deputy Lincoln is on the scene now, and the Security people IT loaned him are making their way down from 34 to the Down Deep lickety spittle.” Aponte takes off his glasses and looks at me. “They’ll have… the necessary equipment.”
I shudder, then repress it. Guns is what they would have, as I well knew. Rick kept me completely in the dark about his doings in IT—protecting me, probably, as much as anything else—but I knew they had guns and plenty of other means of controlling the population. There had been enough minor skirmishes in the 25 years we’d been underground for me to know that his department was equipped to put down any serious attempts at overthrowing the power structure.
Of course, there hadn’t been any organized attempts. Until, perhaps, now.
The radio crackles to life again, and Aponte turns the volume up.
“IT has sent most of its Security forces down, so we’ll find out what was brewing.” The hiss and crackle fill a space between words as the voice of Deputy from the Down Deep pauses. “Whatever is going on in Mechanical is gonna stop way before it gets to you.”
I look up, catching the eye of Aponte, and I see that he looks eager. Even the law is itching for a fight.