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Hard Times 02

by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright May 2016

Chapter Three

This is a year later.

Radamm is in his office. He looks out the window and sees a steady stream of mining trucks and buses moving from the new Mining Town sector of the city out on to the mud flats. Lots has been accomplished since this mining project was started, and lots of people are busy working away at the mining and at supporting their activities.

But he is not a happy puppy.

He has Kent in the office with him. On his screen he is looking over the progress reports.

"Mr. Clark: We are way behind schedule and way over budget. What's the problem here?"

Kent is squirming a bit in his seat, "As I told you when we first started this project: using all this human labor was going to be expensive and add uncertainties. It has done that."

"Would you care to explain in more detail?"

"I would rather offer a quick solution: Let's scrap the people and switch back to doing this the conventional way, with lots of cyber and smart machines."

"That makes sense for you, but not for me. Those people have jobs. They know they have those jobs because I gave them to them. If we take the jobs away, there will be hell to pay... for me."

"If I'm not mistaken, you're already making payments, aren't you. This operation is draining the treasury, not filling it."

Radamm winces when he hears that. It's true. But he already has a solution in mind and he now reveals it to Kent.

"Mr. Clark. I'm going to do my small part to control costs on this project. I'm relieving you of your position as CEO on this project. I'm replacing you with Harold, my nephew-in-law who has just graduated from Cambridge."

Radamm pushes a spot on the screen and Harold comes in. Radamm continues, "This is Harold. Please give him what information he needs to carry on in your place.

Good day, Mr. Clark."

Rumors had been thick, so Kent is not surprised at this outcome. He bows to Radamm, shakes hands with Harold in a civil way, and they walk out together to talk further in a nearby office.

As they leave Lotran Mandis walks in. She says, "Clark and those gloomy business reports aren't your only problem. There's a lot heat brewing in parliament. They have a hearing scheduled for tomorrow night."

Radamm frowns, more bad news, "Those people can't get their act together! They are supposed to be supporting growing our nation, but all they do is bicker, bicker, bicker."

"They are learning. This is a new nation."

Radamm isn't listening. He has already made up his mind about this issue. The frown fades quickly, and he now smiles at Lotran, "But that's nothing new, is it. What is new is I now have something planned for the hearing that will solve that problem. Be sure to show up, you'll enjoy it."

Lotran cocks her head. Whatever is coming next, it is not something she knows anything about. Radamm changes the subject and the conversation moves on to other topics.

<<<*>>>

The hearing in the main chamber of parliament has been going on for two hours. It has been raucous and tumultuous. Lotran has been sitting through it as part of the audience. Radamm came in thirty minutes ago and sat at the back of the speaker's platform.

Currently speaking is Kamal Kastoff, an outspoken opposition leader. He is winding up his testimony.

"The rare earths found under our land have benefited us greatly. God be praised that they were there, and that we discovered them.

But now we, all of us, must be wise in how we take advantage of this great blessing. We must build our industries, we must build our infrastructure, we must build our people. We must not squander this blessing on grandiose showcase projects; building obstructionist bureaucracy; building the importance of political connections. And, most important, we cannot be spending money we don't have. We, as a nation, must be fiscally responsible.

Thank you, all."

With that Kamal steps down.

The session speaker announces, "An important and unscheduled announcement will now be made. This will be made by Mr. Demitri Stalink, head of National Security."

Mr. Stalink comes to the lectern. He looks around. He takes out a piece of paper. He announces, "As you know, there are those who conspire against our great leader. Many of those are foreigners. But some... are our fellow countrymen. And some... are here today in this assembly."

He holds up the paper, "I have a list. And those who are on this list will be... quarantined so they can not spread their lies and damage further.

First on the list is... Kamal Kastoff."

As he says this plain clothes security people surround Kastoff and hustle him from his seat and out the side door.

"Abner Constan" announces Stalink, and Constan is now hustled out.

As the attendees watch, there are sixteen assemblymen named. There are gasps at some of them.

"That is all." Stalink finally announces.

As he steps down Radamm steps up and takes the floor. Behind him a large screen lights up.

As Radamm points at the screen he says, "Ladies and Gentlemen, the highlight of the evening is about to begin."

The screen now shows a graveyard just outside the parliament building. This is brand new, just a few hours old. The title on the graveyard is Betrayers of the State RIP [[[2050 -- check this year]]]. There are fifteen filled-in plots, each has two tubes coming out the top. The last plot is being filled by the last person pulled out. That person is being put in a coffin; along side him is being placed a helmet with lots of electrical leads. The coffin is closed, two tubes added, and it is quickly buried with the rest, with the two tubes connecting the coffin with the air up above.

The view switches to inside one of the coffins. It is Kamal Kastoff, the first one buried. The view shows him in infrared light, and his vitals display shows he is coping in a fairly calm way. He is resting inside uneasily. He gets air from one of the tubes. He shouts up it, "Help me! Save me!"

A speaker in the helmet says to him, "Do you admit you have betrayed the state? Do you also repent?"

Kamal keeps his cool and says, "Fuck you! And your little dog, too!"

Radamm sighs, "Incorrigible... for now. Let's hope for more positive results."

He switches the view to Abner, the second one buried. Abner is lying rock-still. The vitals display coming from his wearables indicates he is deeply scared.

The speaker in his helmet asks him, "Do you admit you have betrayed the state? Do you also repent?"

Abner is so scared it takes him many seconds to reply, "Yes, I do... I do, I do, I do! Just get me out of here!"

"Put me on." says the helmet. Abner does. "Your mind is now being scanned. If you have truly repented, an image of it will be stored. And, at some point in the future it will be transferred into a new body. Then you can demonstrate your repentance in full measure."

When what he has heard sinks in, Abner gets frantic.

"What... what... what about this body! I'm here! Get me out of here!"

"Your body stays here. In its current location it provides a powerful lesson to those who are tempted to conspire against the betterment of the state."

Abner howls. He gets frantic and beats on the coffin.

"Calm yourself." says the helmet, "The state you are in while I scan will be the state you are in when you are revived."

Abner pays no attention. He is in full frantic panic.

After luxuriating in watching Abner's distress for a while longer, Radamm changes the view to that of a pleasant sunset with soothing music playing in the background.

He looks around those that remain in the room, "Any further questions?" he asks.

There are none.

"The Revolution can now advance to its next phase. All Hail The Revolution!" he joyfully announces and he gives The Party salute. Behind him the screen switches to playing the party anthem.

"All Hail The Revolution!" chimes the audience... with salutes... and with widely mixed levels of enthusiasm. Those with less enthusiasm are thinking, "Who is next?"

 

 

--The End--

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