They Shoot Horses – Part 3

Here’s part three of this dystopian short story.  If you missed parts one and two then scroll down to find them.  And please leave me your comments below.

I drift off for a moment in the quiet – but then a shout wakes me up: we’re moving again, and if I don’t shift I’ll lose my place. I walk a dozen paces and now I’m in sight of a Screen once more: with a sigh I put my case down and sit on it. I finish my sandwiches and lob the wrapper at the nearest rubbish-chute. We stay here for a long time: I’m tired, but even closing my eyes feels like a rare privilege.

Soon it’ll be dark. The evenings are the worst time – during the day you can kid yourself that life has some kind of purpose and that you’re headed somewhere, albeit slowly and painfully. But the evenings are when I miss home the most; I miss my kitchen and my living-room and my cat. I wonder who’s living there now. I hope they’re looking after the place. I miss my friends, too. Sometimes I look at the stray cats who scavenge in our rubbish-chutes, and my heart contracts. I would give them my scraps but if you get caught, they throw you out and shoot the cat for good measure. Stray pets are vermin now.

Feeling bored, I take out my phone to have a quick peek. 3 new calls, it says – and I feel suddenly happy. In the end, it’s those small things that keep you going. But I must save this treat for later: so I put the phone away and glance up at the sky. It’s dusk now, and tinged with an echo of sunset. As soon as it’s properly dark the queue will stop; and then I’ll look at my messages.

Sometimes I pretend that dinner is a three-course meal with wine: some days I dream up a whole menu and imagine the security guards are waiters and I’m snapping my fingers at the nearest one and saying ‘A bottle of the ’42 Merlot!’ Then I find my neighbour staring at me, wondering why I’m chuckling. In reality dinner is another pack of damp sandwiches. After dinner I have my treat of the day; a cup of cocoa from the vendors. It’s not as good as the stuff I could get from a Q-runner, but it’s not bad. I never could go to sleep without a hot drink.

Everyone’s glancing up at the flickering street-lights. When they come on properly we’ll stop moving; then the shouting will start, as those that can afford it yell for a Q-runner to sleep here while they go home. It’s not cheap, but at least they can sleep in their own beds.

I wish I could.



Filed under philosophy, politics, short stories

4 responses to “They Shoot Horses – Part 3

  1. I’m feeling determined to stay in the queue for the satisfaction of finding out that it’s pointless. Very true to life.

  2. Yes. I’m feeling powerful because you will probably be obliged to respond to my opinion in what you write next, even if only subconsciously. e.g. if I were to say that it’s all absolute rubbish (which I don’t) you might be more inclined to abort, if you value my opinion of course. How many Parts still to go?

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