100 Themes 008 - Innocence

I love twisting these, but this one twisted itself; what would happen if, in the future, to be innocent was a crime in itself?


008 – Innocence

“You have been found innocent of your crime.”

I broke down in tears, suddenly, like the Justice Lord had just punched me in the stomach. I almost couldn’t hear him carrying on.

“Please proceed to the detention area for immediate assignment to a work crew. Dismissed.”

He rose, and everyone was expected to stand with him, but I just couldn’t, the old weakness in my knees rising up suddenly on top of everything else. The bearded Police/Interrogator/Gunner – the PIG - that had brought me in to the chamber yanked me roughly up. The chains linking my hand- and leg-cuffs jingled faintly.

Things had been so different just fifty years ago. I watched the various members of the Justice Force walking out of the room, until finally it was just me and my PIG escort. He pulled me, a little softer this time, in the direction of the door, and I walked with him, half-stumbling, down a long corridor. There was no light to head for.

ASBOs had been the first step down this road. Anti-Social Behaviour Orders, but the children they had been given to had treated them like merit badges. It was cool to have one. Brought up on a diet of super hero films and comics, given the twisted morals that stemmed from their unknowing parents, those teenagers of yesteryear were the adults of today. Criminals walked free; the innocent…

At the end of the corridor, we turned right, and went through a door. There was a truck waiting, a PIG vehicle, and I was allowed to step into it unaided. Slumping down on the seat inside, I thought maybe I should be crying. The tears refused to come, and instead a numb, hollow feeling filled me. The truck started and we rumbled away.

I didn’t need to see through the reinforced poly-steel walls to know where we were going. Everyone went here. Some damned fool author in the late twentieth century had written a novel, and in that novel the idea of space elevators was discussed. Lifts sheathed in pure diamond that reached to the planets. Given ultimate power and no responsibility, our glorious leaders had decreed that most Innocents must work in the mines. It wasn’t diamond we were looking for, but carbon; others worked in the refining and compressing factories to create the material needed.

I had lived in the shadow of the Stump. That was what we called it, that three-hundred metre tall tower of crystalline misery. It had taken ten years just to build that. Thousands had died in its construction, and still we continued.

The PIG truck rolled on. It jolted me and rattled my bones, but I didn’t care. I stared at the bouncing floor, small pieces of grit jolting over the runnels in the metal, and finally the tears came, silently.

If only I hadn’t botched that robbery. How was I supposed to know the till was empty?