Book 1: Chapter 1

25 Jun

Chapter 1: Reflections and deflections

The alarm clock beeped sharp at 5.00 am. Despite her reluctance, even after five years, the alarm still gave her some sense of urgency, a sound of panic, still half asleep, she switched off the alarm and forced her feet out of the cozy bed. Within seconds her mind was fully awake and conscious of the surrounding. She instinctively looked at the locked bedroom door, latched windows and still drawn curtains.

She took the gun from under the pillow, and unlocked the bedroom door. She knew there would be no one in the house, and the house was quite. She could hear one odd car horn from the road outside. Despite the stillness she walked cautiously outside and checked & rechecked every room, starting from the main door, walking towards her left towards the kitchen, to the guest room and finally again the living room. The drill was established, first doors, and followed by windows, finally other rooms as a safeguard. The whole house was minimally furnished, though tastefully done but with no corner where anyone could hide – a combination of not being ostentatious and security. She was never sure exactly what she was scared off but she knew it was something she should fear –mind knew what heart could not acknowledge.

She made herself the morning cup of tea and sat on her chair sipping the tea. It was a joyless activity since she had stopped reading the newspaper, another precaution commanded by the paranoid mind. Never have any habit and it also avoided opening the door unnecessarily.

The mind wandered without warning, she still wasn’t sure how everything changed overnight – the world, her world, the world she grew up in, the world she knew, the world she understood had irrevocably changed. There were no warnings, no signals, no newspaper reported it, no politician spoke about it, there were no debates on TV, even after it happened there were no processions, no crowds chanting slogans, no jubilation, no gloating, no killing, no mindless slaughtering, no one taking credit, there was nothing except an eerie silence and numbed acceptance. No one was asked and no one was given an option. Her world just collapsed. For days she was in daze as everyone around her. No one knew what do to. No one knew what to expect. Everyone anticipated someone will come forward and take charge. But there was no one. There never was anyone and there never would be anyone.

After a week when someone tried to snatch her purse in the city square and she turned instinctively to look for the cop, it finally dawned on her that he would not be there. It was difficult and freezing realization, it was not that he was not there now or today he would never be there.

She now lived in a world without authority.

There were no cops to protect her, no judiciary to mete out justice, no bureaucrats to run the system, no politicians to make rules & laws, no army to guard the borders, no justice, no rulers, no governance, no borders, no nations, all the things she had taken for granted were not there. In the initial days she was pre-occupied only with the larger implications, but as the days passed she reeled by the enormity of the situation. Slowly the garbage starting piling up outside the house with no one to clean it, the government run health centers had no doctors, roads were getting littered, potholes were getting deeper, people were scared to go out, crime was all over the place and no cops or police stations to report, transportation system had come to a halt, gas stations had dry tanks, the whole city was enveloped in darkness without electricity, she could actually see the whole system collapse in a blink in front of her eyes. After staying in the house for some days she finally gathered courage to go to her office. She expected to see an empty building but was surprised to see people working and place gave a semblance of normalcy. People were at their desks, probably getting comfort from the familiar, working. But she saw no one smiling, everyone ignoring each other or giving at most a polite nod, but always avoiding eye contact, fighting their own demons and fears, moving, working listlessly in their private hell. Despite the robotic mechanical feel she felt a sense of comfort as she walked to her desk, and treated it like any other day.

That day on her way back she bought herself a firearm. She was surprised to find the shops open and people in these places. There were at least hundred other people who were arming themselves, the only person who did not look grim was the seller and gave her a hint of a smile while handing her the package. As soon as she walked out of the door, she had loaded the gun and put it in her purse. She had then walked to the supermarket and bought a month’s supply of the necessities. Most of the shelves were empty, others had the same thoughts and were also hoarding not sure what to expect.

For days office was full of the talk about the spiraling crime around the city and the country. It was difficult now to think of where she lived as a country. People shared in hush voices of their neighbor being killed or looted or house being burgled or unexpected sounds outside their houses in the night. Then suddenly after six months, the crime suddenly dropped, almost came to nothing but for some stray incidents. It could be tracked to a singular incident which set a precedent for others to follow. It involved someone from their building, he, someone called John, was walking home one evening, when someone suddenly snatched the food bags he was carrying. The other person started to run, when John took out his gun and shot him. Everyone around him who probably had witnessed many such incidents and were victim of it, stopped and there was a stunned silence around him. John expected something to happen and slinked in a corner and sat down on the pavement. People around him stared for sometime not sure what will happen next. But what next minute happned  amazed everyone, John and everyone who was present there that day, people stood there for some time and then one person turned and walked away. Slowly the crowd started dispersing; finally John was left alone with the body. John got up, picked up the bleeding but perfectly still body of that stranger, went to the nearest incarcerator and disposed off the stranger.     

Incident was repeated and spoken about for days and immediately after that many similar stories started circulating. And in within weeks people accepted it as a way of action. Justice now for anything was immediate and largely brutal. Decision now lied with the individual and his sense of righteousness. And most took the harshest way, it was almost like the gravity of the crime was no longer of consequence, the absence of such ‘evil’ individual will make it safer. And within weeks crime no longer touched people.

It was not crime vanished; it was still around but in a form which did not impact or threaten the individual. Drugs were available in every street corner, prostitution seeded the city, but these were indiscretions which were available to the individual by choice and not by threat. But then nothing any longer crime.

In the initial months criminals had tried to take over the cities and carve out their fiefdoms but they were surprised by the action of the individuals. People reacted to save themselves and the city sounded like a war zone for days. But even here there were no collective actions, everyone acted and reacted for self preservation and alone. The dread of the unknown made these people who had lived in fear and dependency for decades and ages demonstrate acts of bravery which were completely out of character. Though no one was sure what were they fighting for but the fact they needed to thwart these actions, for no one but themselves. Within days this also subsided and everything was normal and threat free within days.

But despite all these disruptions there were none which were due to the religion. People withdrew themselves in their individual shells and operated in a cocooned world. This came as a surprise to her, world had been fighting for their collective identities for time unknown but in the new dynamics it somehow became meaningless. The fight for survival took precedence over anything else. It was one versus all and no longer us versus them. During this time she expected some kind of a quasi authority will come forth and take charge. But there were no such conventional forms of government that established itself but a new form came into being.

Rule of law transmuted into the Law of Money. You still got everything you wanted but it now came at a price. Earlier too everything was paid, in form of taxes, for yourself and others less privileged but now you paid just for yourself. No money, tough luck. World was now the Government of Corporate.


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