When you read this I need you to keep a straight face. Don’t look around and don’t raise any suspicion.
Do we have a deal? Good. Continue reading.
There are two guards wearing Colony-issued anti-riot uniforms over there by the security gate to your left—don’t look up. Nothing unusual about them, right? I mean, it’s not as if you’ve never seen them before. You probably know them by their first names.
Fact: Only four days ago the Colony gave orders for microscopic digital video recorders to be installed in every single piece of ammunition. Not only do they record everything, but the technology used contains a special sensory function that detects even the slightest emotional instability associated with guilt, or the repression thereof. And I can assure you that the guards have orders to shoot to kill. They’re paranoid, see? They realise there’s an uprising on the horizon. And when a government becomes paranoid it’ll do everything in its power, no matter how inhumane, to convince itself that there’s no reason for paranoia in the first place.
History repeats itself.
But this isn’t a psychology or history lesson, KL413. This is you surviving, or if luck’s on your side, getting the hell out of there and single-handedly starting the revolution.
Keep your head down. Keep the Reader in the palm of your hand, and walk away from the gate towards the chemical spill bins outside the warehouse. There’s a blue waste disposal bag stuck to the back of the yellow wheelie bin furthest to your right.
Dispose of this Reader by placing it in the bag. There’s a glass tube at the bottom of the bag. Open the bin and crack the tube. Be quick. Once the chemical reaction starts, you have three seconds before the whole caboodle goes poof. Ensure you close the lid before it does because it’s a loud and smoky affair.
There’s a red waste disposal bag stuck to the side of the bin furthest to your left. Take out the new Reader, switch it on and keep walking.
*** *** *** *** ***
Good work, soldier. Now pay attention. What I’m going to tell you might come as a surprise:
The year is 2174, and you are the writer of this note—you’re the one who programmed the Readers. The wheelie bins, the waste disposal bags—all you. I know this doesn’t make any sense at the moment but please bear with me. Your survival and that of your family depends on it. As Grandpa used to say, Everything happens for a bloody reason.
You need to get out of the camp tonight. You might think: why, if I’m writing this note from the year two-thousand-whatever-the-fuck it is, then I have escaped anyway.
Correct: you will, and you have, but there’s a catch. Katie and the two girls don’t make it out alive. You have to leave them here tonight and hope for the best; hope there’s a chance of being reunited with them again—and there is, but I’m no fortune teller, KL413. I also believe that knowing too much about the future spoils the fun.
Tears well up in my eyes as I’m writing this, and I’m aware of the emotional experience you’re going through at the moment. It’s a mixed bag, isn’t it? Fear, rage, guilt, sorrow—hell, it’s a big old bag of Liquorish All Sorts.
Take a breath, KL413. Take a deep fucking breath because the last thing you want to do is let those miniature sensors pick up on your guilt, or, as I’ve mentioned, the repression thereof. If you look to your right you’ll see that you’re passing one of the nuclear reactors.
Does it make sense to you now? Do you see how well you planned your escape? Those ammunition sensors won’t pick up a thing while you’re in the vicinity of any of the reactors in and around camp.
Believe in yourself, KL413. You’re going to pull this one off.
Let me explain. On the night we escaped from the camp, which is tonight, we (you, I, Katie and the girls) broke through the eastern wall. Right again: through a maze of sewer pipes. I know the thought’s crossed your mind on more than a few occasions, and it will work—it worked.
Which brings me to my next point: you didn’t let the General sleep with Katie for nothing, did you? Apologies for bringing it up at this point of the mission, but you have to admit that it’s a hell of a price to pay for a few blueprints. Please don’t be so hard on yourself for allowing it to happen. I know you’re not a selfish bugger; I know you’re doing it for Katie and the two girls. It’s tough. Then, for Katie to have agreed to the arrangement without hesitation, without even blinking was alarming—still is—but you have to keep telling yourself that every decision, no matter how painful, was made for our daughters’ sake. I’m certain Katie feels the same way, and that’s why she fucked the General.
Stop fingering the blueprints and take your left hand out of your pocket. There are three more guards up ahead. Take a left at the abattoir. Up the pace a little and move onto the concrete footpath. The soles of those Colony-issued plastic boots scraping over the gravel will only attract attention.
Keep your head down and keep reading.
A few things you have to know: I’m a leech.
Don’t ask questions. Pay attention.
I have worked on a program for the last fifteen years, and it has finally paid off. I’m slowly sucking out the General’s DNA, replacing it with mine. Just looking at my fingers now hitting the keys as I’m typing this is very strange. That eagle-come-dragon tattoo that the General has crawling over the knuckles of his right hand (remember when he slipped you the blueprints?) is starting to spread through my fingers like a drop of ink in a tall glass of drinking water.
Do you see what I’m getting at, KL413? Turn over your right hand slowly and have a look. It’s not a particularly original design, and the colour isn’t quite what you’d expect, but one thing is certain: You are becoming the General.
You have to get out tonight. You have exactly seventy-two hours before the transformation’s complete. By then the rebellion against the Colony should already be in full swing. However, and this is the tricky part, you’ll need to break back into the camp to get Katie and the girls. I say ‘tricky’ because you’ll be the General, and the General is a wanted man within our circles. Our people will have his head on a spike, your head on a spike, if you’re not careful.
So tonight, KL413, you’ll escape with Juan and Ramos, who are going to build up a powerful army and crush the Colony. You’ll be a martyr. Your legacy will live on as a revolutionary draped in mystery; a revolutionary who set everything in motion and brought freedom to the people; a revolutionary who vanished.
But who gives a white goose feather’s flying fuck about fame. You have to get Katie and the kids.
One more thing: the sewers are full of centipedes. Big fuckers. We’re talking the size of grown men here—Vikings. Don’t get stung, otherwise I might as well smash my head through this computer screen and electrocute myself right now.
Good luck now, KL413.
There’s a guard right behind you. He’ll tap you on the shoulder in three, two, one…