Tag Archives: writers

Episode 1 of the Last Driver – Submitted for Editing

THE LAST DRIVER_finalebook

Hey 3.5 readers.

Your old pal, BQB here.

Good news.  I’ve gotten the first draft of the first episode of “The Last Driver” done to the point where I felt comfortable submitting it to my editor.  It’s a good feeling and that’s my overall dream, to continue building up my Amazon offerings.

“The Last Driver” takes place in a future where self-driving cars reign and human driven cars are a thing of the past.  Humans are no longer allowed to drive themselves anymore.

Of course, we need a cruel, dystopian, dictatorial government, the One World Order, who controls everything on a global scale.  When rebels kidnap 63 year old Frank Wylder’s granddaughter, the old man is left with no choice to put his pedal to the metal again, having been long retired from his past career of being a bank heist getaway driver.

I love the cover and give major kudos to 99 Designs.  You know, it’s funny, as early as the 1990s, when I was a youngster, I thought it would be possible to build a writing career and bypass the gatekeepers, but for the lack of ability to find good, quality artwork.  99 has really helped me with that and I’m sure there are other options out there as well.

So, look for it next year, 3.5.  My first piece of self-published fiction is on the way.

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Get a Free Book

Yes, I’m back again, peddling my free book.  It’s free.  You don’t have to do anything but download a free copy and help me increase my stats.  Why won’t you help your beloved magic bookshelf caretaker/yeti fighter, 3.5 readers?

 

#

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I’m Available for Interviews

Hey 3.5 readers.

If you have a blog and would like to interview me, BQB, for it, because apparently only 3.5 people only read your blog too or else why would you waste your time on me, I’d be happy to, seeing as how my book is free all this week.

Leave a note in the comments or send me a Tweet or DM on Twitter – @bookshelfbattle

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My Big Book of Badass Writing Prompts is Free All Week!

Hey 3.5 readers.

Your old pal BQB here.  My big book of Badass Writing Prompts is free all this week on Amazon.

Free.  Gratis.  You pay zilch, zero, nada.  So, if you want to help keep the lights on around here, all you need do is go and download a copy, for free, and that’s it.  Leave a review and you’d be helping a lot but otherwise, just give me a download to add to my states.

Thanks, 3.5:

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Bookshelf Q. Battler’s Big Book of Badass Writing Prompts is the Perfect Gift…

…for someone you only mildly care about.  I mean, seriously, if we’re talking about your wife, you can give her a copy, but add a diamond ring, a car, or a trip to Hawaii, you cheap son of a bitch.  Don’t go blaming your divorce on me just because I said my book was a good gift.

Read the fine print. I said it’s a good gift for someone you only mildly care about.  Like that guy at work who thinks he’s your best friend but you can barely remember his name.  That guy is a 99 cent book of writing prompts kind of a friend.

Your mistress?  She needs a gold bracelet and some earrings.  Seriously, handle your shit, son, before your wife and mistress start telling each other about each other’s existence.

This is all very facetious.  As if any of my readers have social lives…

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The Last Driver – Episode 1 – Chapter 7

THE LAST DRIVER_finalebook1

December 24, 2017

…bitch!”

If you ever find yourself looking for a sign that you’ve spent way too much time at a strip club, the sight of two scantily clad skanks cussing each other out over whose mark you are is surely it.

“He’s mine!” Chastity said. Sigh. Every strip club had a “Chastity.” So cliché.

“I saw him first,” Cinnamon said. “I’m giving him a lap dance first and you can just make do with the sloppy seconds.”

It doesn’t take much to make a man happy. Beer. Titties. Ass. Those are the big three, and they usually work best in that order. It was one in the morning. I was sitting at the bar of the Sneaky Squirrel, LA’s premiere gentleman’s club at the time, though there was nary a gentleman in sight as far as I could tell. Just a bunch of lonely, sad sack horn dogs looking to give away their hard earned money in exchange for a few pathetic minutes of friction that would be long forgotten by tomorrow morning.

Sadly, I was one of them. Worse, there was an ass directly in front of my face, but somehow, it just didn’t make me happy.

The owner of the aforementioned ass stood all the way up. Despite her high heels, she was still able to maintain her balance on the bar. She addressed the bickering hussies. “Bitches, hush!”

“Stay out of this, Sugar!” Chastity said.

“Girl, this is Crystal’s man,” Sugar said.

Chastity threw her hands up. “Whoa shit. No one told me that.”

She walked away. Cinnamon followed. “Last thing I need it is to be cut.”

I looked up at Sugar’s sweet face. “Thanks.”

“Don’t mention it,” Sugar said as she held out her hand. I slapped a bill into it. She returned the ass to the general vicinity of my face. It was cute, small and shapely and yet, it might as well have been a bag of rocks. I was in no mood.

“Someone fart on your pancakes?” Sugar asked.

“Huh?”

“I don’t know,” Sugar said. “You know…you had some pancakes. You were happy. Someone farted on them. Now you’re sad.”

“Something like that,” I said. I pulled out another bill and sat there, feeling sorry for myself. There was a slap on my shoulder.

“Bitch,” Bernie said as he took the stool next to me. He set down a big, overflowing plate. It was covered with chicken wings, nachos, dip, mozzarella sticks and chicken fingers. “You have got to visit the buffet.”

“No thanks,” I said.

“You wouldn’t think a place called ‘The Sneaky Squirrel’ would put out a decent spread but damned if they don’t,” Bernie said as he attempted to hand me a chicken wing. “Come on, have a nosh.”

“No thanks,” I said.

Bernie shrugged his shoulders and chomped down on the wing. “Suit yourself.”

“Hey Bernie,” Sugar said.

“Hey Sugar,” Bernie replied. “Your walking up right I see?”

“You know it,” Sugar said.

“I was worried,” Bernie said. “I thought I was a little too rough on you.”

“Oh,” Sugar said. “You were good but I bounce back quick.”

“Ugh,” I said.

“What?” Bernie asked.

“You disgust me,” I said.

“Like you aren’t doing the same thing with Crystal,” Bernie said.

“It’s different,” I said. “She’s my girlfriend.”

Bernie snickered. He bit the end off a mozzarella stick. “Kid, that girl is every man’s girlfriend.”

“Whatever,” I said. I sipped my beer.

“You look like someone pissed on your potatoes au gratin,” Bernie said.

“It’s cereal,” I said.

“Huh?”

“The expression is, ‘You look like someone took a shit in your cereal,’” I said.

“Is it now?”

“Yes,” I said. “Because when you sit down at the table and dig your spoon into a nice heaping helping of your favorite cereal covered with ice cold milk, the last thing you want to pull out is a shit.”

“I should say so,” Bernie said.

“That would put you in a bad mood,” I said.

“Colloquialisms aside,” Bernie said. “What’s your problem?”

I turned to Bernie. “You.”

Bernie was aghast. “Me?”

“Yeah, you,” I said. “You told me that tunnel was just going to get filled up with smoke.”

“Shit,” Bernie said as he looked around, then leaned towards me. “Will you keep your voice down? These bitches have ears.”

Bernie pulled a twenty out of his pocket and handed it up to Sugar. “Baby, take five will you? Go check out that biker down the bar. He looks like someone took a shit in his cereal.”

“OK Bernie.” Sugar strutted away, keeping her footing on the bar the entire time.

“I’m sorry for the deception,” Bernie said. “Would you have participated otherwise?”

“No,” I said.

“There you go,” Bernie said.

There was a TV monitor hanging over the bar. The news channel was on. Footage of the collapsed tunnel was playing. An anchorman spoke in a voiceover. “…the Governor is calling this the worst act of terror in California’s history. Authorities believe a series of charges were planted at the end of the tunnel and triggered to aid the bank robbers in their escape.”

“All those people, Bernie,” I said.

Bernie took a swig of beer, then dipped a nacho chip into a pile of dip. “Very sad. Boo hoo. Life goes on.”

“What you did was wrong,” I said.

Bernie dropped his chip and grabbed my arm. His usual carefree demeanor turned grim. “What ‘I’ did?”

“Yeah,” I said.

“Listen, prick,” Bernie said. “I’ve got news for you. You’re just as responsible for what happened tonight as I am.”

“Bullshit.”

Bernie released my arm. “I’ve got you figured out.”

“Do you?”

“Yeah,” Bernie said. “Look at you and your jacket and your little fancy driver outfit. You think you’re just responsible for the transportation part of the caper but let me tell you, a heist is a big job. Requires a lot of people. One asshole fucks up, the whole crew goes down. A crew needs a man like me to figure out the logistics. They need a man like you behind the wheel to get them where they need to go. If we don’t get involved, a heist doesn’t happen.”

“Blah, blah, blah,” I said.

“Fuck you, Frank,” Bernie said. “You may think you’re slick. You may think your shit don’t stink but trust me, your hands are dirty. Every time you show up to be a wheel man and take a cut, your hands get that much dirtier. You may not be sticking a gun in the face of some poor teller making minimum wage but you might as well be.   You’re just as responsible as the rest of us.”

I was quiet for a moment, collecting my thoughts. “I’m aware of that.”

“I don’t think you are,” Bernie said.

“This job was different,” I said. “Roman’s fucking up.”

Bernie raised an eyebrow. “Well…one man’s fuck up is another man’s planning.”

“What’s that supposed to me?”

Bernie sucked the chicken off a bone. “It means Roman knows what he’s doing.”

“Carmine was better at planning a job,” I said. “He always brought in pros who knew about crowd control,” I said.

“True,” Bernie replied.

“They got in, they got out,” I said. “There were never any shots fired…certainly no reason for…”

I watched the footage of the rubble on TV. “…that.”

I drank some more beer. “You knew those guys were clowns. You knew you’d have to do something like that.”

“Look,” Bernie said. “Kid, we work for a family business.”

“So?”

“So,” Bernie said. “Sometimes there’s a downside to working for a family business, say, when father and son don’t exactly see eye to eye.”

“Huh?”

“Roman wants to be a big shot,” Bernie said. “And Carmine is happy to keep him as a little shot.”

“I don’t get it,” I said.

“Roman wants more money,” Bernie said. “The old man is a cheap bastard so the kid’s finding other ways to get it. So, he cut some corners. Rather than recruit some pros, he finds a bunch of shitheads that nobody will miss and…”

“Gets you to fix them,” I said. “And keeps their cut…without the old man being the wiser.”

Bernie tapped the side of his nose. I watched the TV. “Carmine can’t be happy with this. This is so much heat.”

“It’ll blow over in a week,” Bernie said. “This time next week, the news reporters will be talking about some famous broad’s tits or which celebrities got divorced. The collective consciousness of society has the attention span of a gnat.”

“Still,” I said. “Carmine…”

“Carmine is an oblivious fuck who doesn’t care about heat until he needs to care about it,” Bernie said. “We’re in the clear. This will never be traced to us. Lighten the fuck up.”

Bernie reached into his pocket and pulled out a big stack of bills, at least ten thousand dollars. He shoved it into my hand. “Here…what do you know? A stack accidentally fell off the truck. Doesn’t even apply to your cut. What the goombas don’t know what kill them. Grab some of these bimbos and live it up. Take your mind off it.”

Photos of people who died in the explosion rolled on screen. “But Bernie…”

Bernie pounded his fist on the bar, then calmed down. “Kid, what I’m about to say is a long time coming…”

“What?”

“You are a great driver,” Bernie said. “Really. You’re a maestro behind the wheel. Your brain and your foot are simpatico. You and your little ride get in and out of scrapes like nobody’s business.”

“OK,” I said.

“You’re a great driver,” Bernie repeated. “But you, my boy, are also a shitty criminal.”

I laughed. “Fuck you Bernie.

“No,” Bernie said. “Fuck you.”

The fixer reached for my chest and grabbed my cross. “This shit…right here…its gonna get you killed.”

“You’re nuts.”

“No,” Bernie said. “I’m completely sane. The world is nuts. Everybody beebopping along, worshipping an invisible man in the sky, worrying that every little thing they do might offend him. ‘Oh, I better not fuck this bitch I’m not married to!’”

I laughed. Bernie carried on. “’Oh, I better not take that thing I want because it doesn’t belong to me!’”

Bernie chomped down on another nacho.   Crumbs spewed out of his mouth. “’Oh, I’m so sad because a bunch of people I never met fucking died so I could live and enjoy some money that isn’t mine while I stay the fuck out of prison.’”

“Over a hundred people,” I said.

“The number is inconsequential,” Bernie said.

“The methods are,” I said. “It’s possible to do what we do without so much of…”

The TV continued to run coverage of the explosion. “…that.”

“Yeah well,” Bernie said. “Now your new boss says its necessary.”

“Roman’s not a boss,” I said.

“You tell him that,” Bernie said.

“No thanks,” I replied.

“Look, kid,” Bernie said. “I’ve got no conscience. I can fuck one of these bitches today and change my number tomorrow if she tells me she’s pregnant and sleep like a baby.”

I smiled.

“I can eat this entire plate of shitty food and not care what it’s going to do to my body,” Bernie said. “I can swipe things that don’t belong to me and double cross the idiots who helped me do it and yeah, I can even…”

Bernie looked at the TV. “…do that…and sleep like a baby. You know why?”

“Why?”

“Because I don’t give a fuck,” Bernie said. “This…Bernie said…this life is all there is. There was nothing before it. There’s nothing after it. You’re never going to answer to anyone. There’s no one that’s going to take your angel wings away and sent you into a pit of fire. There’s no devil to rape you in the ass with a ten foot pitch fork.”

“Good,” I said. “Because that would be uncomfortable.”

“He’s got jokes,” Bernie said. “Good, he’s got jokes. He’s lightening up a little. Kid, I hate to be the one to break this to you, but we’re all just meat puppets.”

“What’s that now?”

“Meat puppets,” I said. “Piles of meat with mouths that move up and down, able to move and talk and breath due to a plethora of highly scientific processes coming together and it all sounds very nice and special but it’s not.”

“It’s not?”

“No,” Bernie said. “Everybody thinks their unique, their special, they’re important, their thoughts and feelings matter. None of this matters, kid. You were born. You are alive. If you’re smart, you will experience as much pleasure as you can before you don’t exist anymore and you’re a fool if you let anything get in your way.”

“Even other people?” I asked.

“Especially other people,” Bernie said. “Fuck ‘em. They were never going to live forever. They’re dead and I get to spend money that isn’t mine and have fun.”

I watched the TV. “We can’t do this forever.”

“You can’t,” Bernie said. “I can. I’m fully aware this ends with me either dead or in prison but again, nothing is permanent so, fuck it. The price you pay to live another day.”

Bernie lightly slapped my cheek. “You’re a great driver…but a shitty criminal. You feel too much. You worry too much.   You care too much. You don’t have a soul. Nobody does. But you think you have one, so you care too much – about yourself, about life, about what happens to other people. That shit will eat you up inside until there’s nothing left. Get out while you still can.”

“I don’t know,” I said.

“I do know,” Bernie said. “If you die, that slut you’re banging will be sad.”

“She’s not a…

Bernie raised his eyebrow again, challenging me to finish the sentence. I declined.

“For like five minutes, she’ll be sad, then she’ll move onto the next guy, but sadness on her part will definitely happen.”

“Fuck you, Bernie.”

“Then there’s prison,” Bernie said. “Put you in prison, and you’ll be a bitch, passed around like a doobie, being used in all of your orifices by day, curling up in the fetal position and crying by night.”

“I would do better than that,” I said.

“I was being gracious,” Bernie said. “Honestly, I think you’ll be shivved on your first day and left to bleed out on the cafeteria floor by noon. Me? I’ll be running that joint within a week, making deals and turning wheels, pulling strings and trading things, baby. I’ll be making the bitches.”

“We’ll see,” I said.

“No,” Bernie said. “I’ll see. You won’t…because you’re getting out of this game. That’s it. That’s all there is to it.”

I shook my head.

“Great driver,” Bernie said. “Shitty criminal. Remember that.”

The house lights flickered. A 1980s death metal song blared. The DJ got on the mic. “Ladies and gentlemen, I hope you’re enjoying the buffet, the best in all of LA, now if you’d be so kind, give it up for the girl making her way to the main stage…it’s Crystal!”

Bernie and I swiveled around on our stools. There, on the stage in the center of the club, a Goddess strutted out and struck a pose. She was tall, slender and supple, curvy in just the right places – a raven haired brunette. She wore a seasonal costume that was best described as, “Sexy Mrs. Claus.” She grabbed a spray bottle, spritzed the pole, and wiped it down with a cloth.

“I’ve never understood that,” Bernie said.

“Understood what?” I asked.

“These girls,” Bernie said. “They gobble three, four knobs a night, but germs on the pole they worry about.”

“Crystal doesn’t do that,” I said.

Bernie glared at me.

“Shut up,” I said.

“Here she is, folks,” the DJ said. “This ho, ho, ho is ready to jingle your bells and fa la la your la…give it up for Crystal…”

Dozens of lonely perverts belled up to the main stage, making it rain dollar bills as my girl gyrated against the pole.

“I’m going to marry that girl someday, Bernie.”

The fixer raised his beer bottle and took a gulp. “My condolences.”

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The Last Driver – Episode 1 – Chapter 6

THE LAST DRIVER_finalebook1

March 14, 2050

After an hour of channel-surfing the state approved tele-web, my mind was numb. I’d seen countless hours of television in my youth. Some of it was good, some of it was bad, but all of it was better than the trash the One World Order spoon fed the masses. The irony is that I found that I found these shows humorous. Hollywood had thrown in with the Order and all the writers, producers, actors and actresses – they were putting on these shows with a straight face, never realizing that old timers like me were laughing at them. I doubt anyone under 35 realized these shows had become inadvertent parodies of everything the One World Order stood for.

I reached for Billy Allen’s dead grandpa’s ancient X-Tab. It was a bad idea to keep it out in the open. Each individual movie stored on it would most likely be considered a separate offense the state and yet, it had been so long since I’d seen anything remotely entertaining that I couldn’t help but watch another old movie. I turned the device on and was scrolling through the selections when there was a knock on the door.

“Shit.” As the knocks continued, I stood up and frantically looked around the room, hoping to find a good hiding spot for the ancient X-Tab. The knocks grew louder. A very mellow, almost high-sounding electronic voice spoke. “Citizen Wylder?”

The unapproved X-Tab was still in my hand and the only thing standing between me and a trip to a re-education center was the door. “Yes?”

“Civil Society Monitor Drones,” the voice said. “We’re here for your weekly inspection.”

“Oh,” I said.   I scanned the room. I pondered shoving the X-Tab under a doily on an end table, stuffing the device down my pants, and making a rub to the bathroom to see if it would fit down the toilet, but none of those options seemed viable.

“Didn’t we do that last week?” I asked.

“We do them every week,” the drone answered. “Hence, ‘weekly inspections.’”

“Oh right,” I said. “Sorry. I’m an old man. I forget these things.”

If the first best thing about being old is running out of fucks to give, the second best thing is being able to feign incompetence as an excuse. Sometimes I didn’t have to feign it, although this time I was.

“Are you alright, Citizen Wylder?” the drone inquired.

“I’m fine,” I said. “Just tidying up.”

“There’s no need,” the drone said. “We see many homes in various states of disarray.”

“Oh, you know me boys,” I said. “My mother always taught me to make your place spic and span if you’re having company over.”

I was out of time. I gave up, lifted up the middle couch cushion, stashed the ancient X-Pad, then dropped the cushion and sat down.

“We’re coming in,” the drone said.

I put my arm around Hannah, who was still asleep. “Oh no, I don’t want to put you out. I’ll be right there.”

The electronic locks on my front door clicked. The door swung open and in flew three drones. They were fairly standard in appearance. Four whirring rotor blades attached to a base, with a 360-degree camera that saw everything hanging down. As an interesting touch, there was a red light just above the camera that blinked whenever the contraption spoke.

“Good evening, Citizen Wylder,” the drone in the center said.

I sat up and grabbed my back, then winced. “Oh Jeeze Louise. Hello boys. I’m sorry I didn’t get to the door sooner but you know…my aching sacroiliac.”

“No worries,” the center drone said. The drones to the left and right broke off from the pack. The left drone headed for the kitchen. The right one made a beeline for the garage.”

The remaining drone buzzed closer to me. “I am Civil Society Monitor Drone Number 327B19, but to placate your humanist need to relate to anything with the power of speech, you may call me Randy 12.0.”

“Frank Wylder,” I said as I put out my hand. The drone looked at it. I looked at it. Neither of us were able to figure out what to do next, so I put the hand away.

“Right,” I said.

“You may refer to my colleagues as Jeff 7.6 and Carl 8.9,” Randy 12.0 said.

“Alright,” I replied. “What happened to Pete 11.1? I’m used to seeing him.”

“Grounded for repairs,” Randy 12.0 said. “An unfortunate encounter with an unruly citizen I’m afraid.”

“Wow,” I said. “That’s bullshit. Tell that little bucket of bolts I hope he gets better real soon.”

Randy 12.0 beeped. “A one-hundred credit fine will be deducted from your account.”

“For what?” I asked. “Wishing your buddy well?”

“Violation of the Anti-Inappropriate Speech Code,” Randy 12.0 said. “The Obscenity Eradication Act, in particular.”

“Oh,” I said. “Here we go.”

Ever so slowly, the drone flew about the living room, being sure to record video of everything. He then returned to face me. A red laser shot out of the center of the drone and painted my face with a grid.

“Confirming identity,” Randy 12.0 said. “Frank Wylder. Born 1987. Class 7 citizen.”

Ugh. There were ten classes assigned by the One World Order, with 1 being the best and 10 the worst. I was poor, so I was assigned to Class 7. This assignment meant I was only allowed to reside in a low level neighborhood, and the amount of money and possessions I could have was severely limited. If you think “7” doesn’t sound like such a bad number, consider that Class 8 is reserved for general, run-of-the-mill criminals. Class 9 is comprised entirely of pederasts and Class 10 includes, you guessed it, the vile Nationalist pigs. So in other words, my government looked upon me with just a little bit more favor than would be provided to criminals, perverts, and traitors.

Randy 12.0 stared at me and waited. Eventually, I figured out what he wanted me to say. “All hail the One World Order.”

“Long may it reign,” the drone said as it buzzed towards Hannah.

“My granddaughter,” I said. “I have an agreement with my ex-wife. She has custody. I get visitation.”

Custody agreements and other standing divorce arrangements from the um…time that I wasn’t allowed to talk about had been grandfathered in. The One World Order had forced many bizarre, draconian laws on its subjects, but even they knew they weren’t going to be able to force women to take back men that they’d given the old heave-ho to.

The drone painted Hannah’s sleepy face with a red laser grid.   “Scanning…Hannah Wylder. Born 2037. Age 13. Yes, your custody documents are on file and are in order.”

Randy 12.0 took another swing around the room. “How are you this evening, Citizen Wylder?”

“I’m hanging in there,” I said.

“Been having any problems?” Randy 12.0 asked.

“Just old age,” I said. “Losing hair in the places I want to keep it. Growing it in places I don’t want it. Don’t even get me started on my bowel movements. They haven’t been regular in ages.”

“Too much information, Citizen Wylder,” the drone said. “Have you observed any suspicious behavior amongst your neighbors?”

“Nope,” I said. “The Martinezes are fine people. A real credit to the order, if you ask me.”

“Has there been an issue with your Happy Order Month lawn signs?” Randy 12.0 asked.

“Excuse me?”

“Citizen Martinez indicated to me that he has placed several signs on your lawn to assist you in putting your pride in the One World Order on full display,” Randy 12.0 said. “But they keep disappearing.”

“Right,” I said. “Yeah, you know, someone keeps swiping them…but Martinez, he’s a good egg.”

“A good what?” Randy 12.0 asked.

“He’s a good egg,” I said. “He keeps putting signs on my lawn because, you know, I’m old, I can’t get out to get new ones every time they go missing.”

“Understood,” Randy 12.0 said. “Why would you refer to your neighbor as a protein deposit dispensed from a chicken’s hindquarters?”

I shook my head. “Its an expression. It…never mind.”

“So no suspicious activity observed amongst your neighbors then?” Randy 12.0 said.

I smirked. “No…well.”

Randy 12.0 spun around and faced me. “What?”

I waved my hand, attempting to shoo the drone away. “No, it’s nothing.”

“Out with it, Citizen Wylder,” the drone said. “Any piece of information you have, no matter how insignificant it may seem, may prove to be of vital importance to the One World Order.”

“Well, when you put it that way…” I looked around the room, then leaned forward, towards the drone. “Look, you didn’t hear this from me, but Mrs. Howard, that old bitch across the street, have you seen the size of her lately? She has got to be sneaking extra rations. I’d work her over real good if I were you.”

Randy 12.0 beeped. “You have been fined one hundred credits.”

I spread my arms out. “For what?”

“Another obscenity violation,” Randy 12.0 said.

I was down two hundred credits now, and I needed that money. I grew angry, pissed even. I lost it and started saying things I knew was just going to displease my uninvited guest.

“Come on,” I said. “The U.S. Constitution guarantees me the Freedom of Speech.”

“The One World Order maintains that document never existed, nor would it be considered valid if it ever did, which it did not,” Randy 12.0 said. “And you have been fined another one hundred credits.”

“For?” I asked.

“Violation of the Anti-Nationalist Speech Act,” Randy 12.0 said. Citizens are not allowed to make claims that any government ever existed other than the One World Order.”

I took a deep breath and found my composure. Accusations of harboring Nationalist tendencies were definitely something I didn’t need. “I’m sorry…I’m old…I get confused.”

“Understandable, given your advanced age,” Randy 12.0 said. “Citizen Wylder, are you aware that at anytime, you may voluntarily check yourself into one of the Order’s many fine senior citizen facilities. There are nursing homes for the infirm, though it would appear in your position, a mere assisted living center would be more suitable.”

“Yeah,” I said. “Pete reminded me every time. Sorry, if it’s all the same, I’d like to kick back around here. I’d miss my granddaughter too much plus I don’t want to be a burden.”

“You already are a burden,” Randy 12.0 said. “My records indicate you secured disability leave from your assigned position as a janitor due to depression related issues?”

“Yup,” I said. “It was a great job. Really, I loved cleaning toilets but you know, I got so sad.”

“Do the depression issues persist?” Randy 12.0 asked.

“All the time,” I said. “I don’t know how it happened but I am one morose son of a…”

Randy 12.0 hovered in front of me, almost as though he was waiting to beep. I avoided the fine. “…son of a something or other…shame really, I don’t I’ll ever be able to muster up the mental capacity to scrub a toilet ever again.”

“I’m sorry to hear that, Citizen Wylder,” Randy 12.0 said. “I’m downloading some brochures about the Order’s many fine senior citizen facilities to your tele-web.”

“No need,” I said. “I’m not a big reader.”

“Do start thinking about the impending change,” Randy 12.0 said. “Retirement to a senior citizen facility is mandatory upon reaching the age of 65. That’s not far away for you.”

“Pete reminded me of that all the time too,” I said.

“Senior citizen facilities are not that bad, Citizen Wylder,” Randy 12.0 said. “There’s tennis, racquet ball, arts and crafts, aerobics, swimming, talent shows…”

“Mind control…”

Randy 12.0’s red light blinked. “The Order prefers to refer to that as ‘mind management.’”

“Gotcha,” I said.

Randy 12.0 made another circular pass around the room. “Citizen Wylder, do you have any contraband to declare?”

My mind instantly went to the ancient X-Tab, still underneath the cushion I was sitting on. “Pardon?”

“Contraband,” the drone said. “Are you in possession of any illegal items?”

“No,” I said. “Of course not.”

The drone buzzed toward me in a straight line and hovered a mere six inches from my face. “Are you sure?”

“Positive.”

“But,” the drone said. “Are you sure that you’re sure?”

I pondered the question. “Sir, this is a house dedicated to the preservation of the One World Order and all of its ways. I don’t appreciate your insinuation.”

Randy 12.0 backed up another six inches. “I insinuated nothing, Citizen Wylder. I merely wish to make you understand that penalties for contraband violations are often less severe when they are confessed to before the illegal item is found.”

I remained silent.

“Do you understand, Citizen Wylder?” Randy 12.0 asked.

“I do,” I said. “I’m just waiting for you to laugh maniacally like a comic book super villain.”

“I do not understand,” Randy 12.0 said.

“That’s ok, sport,” I said. “Happens to the best of us.”

“Now that I have ensured you understand the consequences of providing a false answer, I’ll have you answer the question again,” Randy 12.0 said.

“Holy shit,” I said. “Did someone stick a sadist chip up your ass?”

Randy 12.0 beeped. “An additional two hundred credit fine.”

“That was only one violation,” I said.

“Two violations,” Randy 12.0 said.

“But I used both obscenities in the same sentence,” I protested.

“That doesn’t matter,” Randy 12.0 said. “Each obscenity is a separate violation.”

“Huh,” I said. “You learn something new everyday.”

“Answer the question please.”

I rolled my eyes and held up the palm of my hand. “Look, you airborne clunker, I swear on my mother’s eternal soul that I do not have any illegal stuff in this house, OK?”

Randy 12.0 beeped.

“Oh come on,” I said. “What now?”

“Processing…processing…yes…that was close to a violation, but I have the power to let you off with a warning.”

I was getting tired. I rubbed my hand over my face. “Dare I ask?”

“Violation of the Religion Eradication Act,” Randy 12.0 said. “You stated your deceased mother has an eternal soul but as far as the One World Order is concerned, she is no more than a spent carcass that in all likelihood as disintegrated into dust by now.”

I sat back on the couch. “Way to liven up the mood, Randy 12.0”

“A fine was possible, but I took into account the intent of the infraction, namely, your backward attempt to assure me you are not in any possession of contraband,” Randy 12.0 said. “Since you were not actively attempting to preach outdated and illegal religious dogma, I am able to wave the violation.”

“Well,” I said. “’Aint that some shit.”

Randy 12.0 beeped. “A one hundred dollar fine. I must warn you that all speech code violations are kept track of and further infractions may lead to time in a re-education center.”

Jeff 7.6 and Carl 8.9 flew into the living room.

“Citizen Wylder,” Jeff 7.6 said.

“That’s my name,” I said. “Don’t wear it out.”

“Are you aware that there are 9 cans of beer in your fridge?” Jeff 7.6 inquired.

“Oh,” I said. “Yeah, well you see, my granddaughter’s been visiting me so that’s put me in a happier mood. I haven’t been feeling the need to souse myself up as much lately.”

“You are only allowed to have six beers in your fridge at any time,” Jeff 7.6 said.

“No,” I replied. “I thought I could only buy six beers a week.”

“That’s correct,” Jeff 7.6 said.

“And I can only drink six beers a week,” I said.

“Correct,” Jeff 7.6 said.

“But if I don’t drink them I get to keep them, don’t I?” I asked.

“No,” Jeff 7.6 said. “Because then we have no assurances that you won’t drink 9 beers in a week.”

“Ugh,” I said. “So you’re punishing me for drinking less?”

“Do not be concerned,” Jeff 7.6 said. “I have discretionary authority here. Technically, I do have the power to issue a fine. However, I will notify the contraband agent to stop by your home tomorrow to pick up the three excess beers.”

“You’re a real soft touch, Jeff 7.6,” I said.

“I don’t understand that statement,” Jeff 7.6 said.

“Can I just drink the extra three beers tonight?” I asked.

“No,” Jeff 7.6 said.

“Why not?” I inquired.

“Then we would have no assurances that you would not drink the remaining six beers and as we have established…”

“I’m only allowed six beers a week.”

“Exactly.”

“Huh,” I said. “Well, tell me this, Jeff Old Boy, what happens if I’m not home when the contraband agent stops by tomorrow?”

“He’ll let himself in.”

“Of course he will,” I said.   “What happens if I drink the three excess beers?”

“If you drink any amount of beer tonight,” Jeff 7.6 said. “Then there had better be at least three excess beers in your fridge for confiscation. At that point, it will be a safe determination that you drank only your six beer limit this week, but then you will be required to refrain from any further beer consumption until the following week.”

“Wow,” I said. “You little guys do a bang up job keeping track of everyone’s comings and goings. A real great job. You’re all aces in my book.”

Jeff 7.6 beeped. “One hundred credit fine.”

“What now?” I asked.

“Violation of the Anti-Gambling Related Speech Act.”

I raised my pointer finger. “Wait. I’d like to appeal that.”

“On what grounds?” Jeff 7.6 asked.

“I wasn’t talking about ‘aces’ as in the ‘ace’ card,” I said. “I was just paying you a compliment.”

“I detected sarcasm,” Jeff 7.6 said.

I huffed and puffed. “Well, sir, your sarcasm meter is on the fritz because I was distinctly just giving credit where credit is due. You’re going to fine a guy for telling you that you did a good job?”

“If you wish to appeal this fine,” Jeff 7.6 said. “You have thirty days to file an appeal form with the Regional Board of Fine Adjudicators. Once you file, your appearance at 7 hearings over the course of the next 14 years will be mandatory and the board will have until the year 2084 to render a final decision.”

“Yikes,” I said. “Oh well. I think my bum ticker will adjudicate that decision before the board does so, OK Jeffy Boy. You win. Just put it on my bill.”

Carl 8.9 hovered closer. “Citizen Wylder.”

“He’s not at home right now,” I said. “Care to leave a message?”

Carl 8.9 faced his clinking colleagues. A serious of beeps were exchanged. Carl 8.9 faced me again. “We have determined that was an attempt at humor.”

“Good for you,” I said.

“Because obviously you are here,” Carl 8.9 said.

“There are no flies on you,” I said.

“No there are not,” Carl 8.9 said.

“How can I help you, Carl?” I asked.

“Regarding the human driven automobile in your garage, I do not have an antique car collector’s permit for you on file.”

I reached into my pocket. As I did so, all three drones faced me. A mini-chain gun dropped out of the bases of each contraption.

“What are you doing?” Carl 8.9 asked.

I stopped moving. “I’m getting my permit.”

“You have a hard copy?” Carl 8.9 asked.

“Yes,” I said. “I’ll show it to you, if we’re cool.”

“The temperature is not the issue,” Carl 8.9 said.

I sighed. “You tell me. Am I allowed to get it?”

“Affirmative,” Carl 8.9 said. “But slowly.”

Slowly, just as commanded, I pulled a plastic card out of my pocket and held it up. Carl 8.9 shot a laser at it and scanned it.

“This checks out,” Carl 8.9 said. “However, be advised that the plastic card permitting system has been deemed antiquated by the One World Order. All citizens with permits are required to register them digitally by the end of the year. You should have received a notice about that on the tele-web.”

“I have no idea how to use that thing,” I said. “I’m an old man.”

“I will send you a copy of the notice, Carl 8.9 said.

“Of course you will,” I said. “Well boys, this has been fun, but if there isn’t anything else…”

Randy 12.0 flew to the center of the room. “One scan of this room and we’ll be on our way.

My heart sunk. I began to wonder if I shouldn’t just pull out the X-Tab and declare it. Nope. I decided to keep quiet.

A red laser shot out of Randy 12.0. He used it to paint the top of the room with a grid. The number of individual squares grew and grew, slowly working their way downward. The squares reached my waist when Randy 12.0 beeped.

I coughed to clear my throat. “Something wrong?”

Randy 12.0 turned to Carl 8.9. “A major contraband find across the street. CSMD Team A72 is requesting backup.”

“I knew it!” I said. “I knew that old broad was up to no good!”

The grid shut off. Without so much as a goodbye, the three flying piles of junk flew out my front door. I sighed a breath of relief.

I stepped out to my front porch to watch a disturbing scene unfold. I had no love for Mrs. Howard. She spent most of her days trying to find some infraction to turn me into the Order for. Still, to see that old gal hogtied on the front lawn while Honor Guardsmen kicked down her front door…it just didn’t seem right.

“George Washington would be rolling over in his grave,” I said.

Way, way across the street, Randy 12.0 stopped and turned around. His voice was feint, but I was able to make it out. “One hundred dollar fine.”

“You could hear that all the way over there?!” I shouted.

“Yes,” the drone replied.

I stepped into my living room and slammed the front door behind me. “Son of a…”

 

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The Last Driver – #455 on Wattpad SciFi

I’ve ventured into science fiction, 3.5 readers.  “The Last Driver,” my testosterone fueled tribute to 1984 and Fast and Furious, is set in a world where self-driving cars are the norm.  That seems like a boon to the intrusive dictatorship, the One World Order.  What better way to keep tabs on the citizenry than to have their cars report where everyone is going?

In a world where everyone has forgotten how to drive, the last man who remembers how is ready to start trouble.

If you’re on Wattpad, I’d appreciate a vote, a comment, whatever you can spare.  Thanks!

CLICK HERE TO READ ON WATTPAD

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The Last Driver – Episode 1 – Frank’s Adventures in State Approved Tele-Web Media Monitor Surfing

THE LAST DRIVER_finalebook1

Frank’s Adventures in State Approved Tele-Web Media Monitor Surfing

 

CHANNEL 1 – THE SUPREME ADMINISTRATOR CHANNEL

 

(The logo of the One World Order appears on screen. It is a lily white number “1” superimposed over the world.)

 

ANNOUNCER: Good evening, citizen. Welcome to the personal Channel of the Supreme Administrator of the One World Order. Please stand by for a message from the Supreme Administrator.

 

(A lovely older woman appears on screen. Her hair is short, dyed blonde. She attempts a smile even though her face is cursed with a permanent scowl. She looks as though she must concentrate very hard on maintaining the smile, such that any distraction might cause the smile to disappear completely. She wears a clean, neatly pressed, white pantsuit. This is the only outfit she has ever been seen wearing in public. She speaks with a fake kindness as though she is forcing herself to appear relatable to the ignorant masses.)

 

SUPREME ADMINISTRATOR: Good evening, citizens.   All hail the One World Order. Long may it reign and long may it bring you global supremacy, efficiency and leadership for you and your state approved families. We make the hard decisions about what should be done with your lives so you don’t have to.

Happy Order Month. Citizens, can you believe that eighteen years ago this very month, the Globalists crushed the vile Nationalist pigs, flooding the streets with their wretched blood? Ahh, yes, and out of that bloodshed our world was born, a kind and just world where the just and benevolent One World Order has made four key promises to all citizens born after the year 2032, namely that they’ll always have something to eat, that they’ll always have a job to do, that they’ll always have some place to live, and of course, they’ll always have someone to be with. Isn’t that lovely? I can’t imagine living in a world where those four key reasons for being aren’t met and yet, I’m sure many of you have crazy old relatives who sit around the dinner table, blah-blah-blah-ing about how there used to be a world where all of those needs were not always met and yet somehow, this world was better.

 

(SUPREME ADMINISTRATOR fakes a laugh. It sounds like a hen cackling.)

 

SUPREME ADMINISTRATOR: Oh, old people. Their rotten aging brains make them say some very silly things but don’t be discouraged citizens. Why, whenever anyone over the age of thirty-five starts telling you about a made-up fantasy world that existed before this one, just pretend their dirty old mouth is like the radiator or the air conditioner or some other noise in the background that you don’t particularly care for but you’ve gotten used to and have decided that you’re not going to let its existence get in the way of your good time.

 

(SUPREME ADMINISTRATOR takes a sip of water.)

SUPREME ADMINISTRATOR: My, that is some delicious, unpolluted water we have, citizens. Remember, the Order’s top medical advisors all agree that you should be drinking at least eight glasses of water daily. Don’t worry, if you forget, our Civil Society Monitor Drones will remind you.

 

(SUPREME ADMINISTRATOR takes another sip of water.)

 

SUPREME ADMINISTRATOR: Mmm…I can’t get enough of that super wet stuff. Now, citizens, among the many ridiculous statements your elderly relatives might be making is this notion that the world used to be comprised of several, individual nations, each with their own distinct government and that somehow, a world like that would be better than the One World Order. First of all, none of that malarkey is true. There were never any nations. The world was just filled with people and buildings and roads and grass and trees and just a lot of stuff and no one was doing anything particularly useful with any of it. Sure, there were many greedy Nationalist pigs who ran around declaring everything to be theirs, shouting, “Mine, mine, mine!” but luckily, the Globalists slayed these subhuman beasts and thus the world was created.

 

(SUPREME ADMINISTRATOR bites a carrot.)

 

SUPREME ADMINISTRATOR: Mmm…don’t forget to eat your vegetables, citizens. Oh, but don’t worry, the Civil Society Monitor Drones will remind you to do that as well. Where was I? Oh yes, the myth of nations. Secondly, there’s no way that a Nationalist system would ever work. Can you imagine it? Everyone running around the world, willy nilly without any coordination? One part of the world prospers while another languishes? Only a strong, centralized, global government is able to see the big picture and make decisions that benefit the entire world, not just one administrative unit. Under the One World Order, all administrative units are treated equally. None are favored over the other, all are cared for, none are left to suffer. So please, the next time your Grandparents start talking nonsense, tell them the Supreme Administrator says they’re full of hot air.

 

(SUPREME ADMINISTRATOR makes another fake laugh.)

 

SUPREME ADMINISTRATOR: Oh, I apologize citizens. My speech writer advised me that would be a humorous joke, to claim that a person speaking nonsense is full of hot air, even though that would be ridiculous, because if a person’s body were to be filled with hot air, that action would literally kill that person, and there would be nothing humorous about that whatsoever.

 

(SUPREME ADMINISTRATOR holds up a “Happy Order Month” sign.)

 

SUPREME ADMINISTRATOR: Now, I’d like to remind citizens that the celebration of Order Month is completely voluntarily. If you’d like to put up one of these lovely signs in front of your home to put your pride in your government and all of the hard work it does in making all of the important decisions in your lives for you, then you are welcome to do so. If you’d rather not participate, that’s fine too. In fact, for those homes that do not participate, our Civil Society Monitor Drones will be stopping by to ask you a series of questions designed to determine how the One World Order can improve the many, many services it provides to you so that you will feel pride in your government next year.

 

(A voice calls off camera.)

 

VOICE: Supreme Administrator, it’s time for your one o’clock meeting.

 

SUPREME ADMINISTRATOR: Ah, well, it would appear that a Supreme Administrator’s work is never done. Until next time, this has been your Supreme Administrator, wishing you a Happy Order Month. All hail the One World Order, long may it rain and don’t forget to turn in any suspected Nationalist pigs to the authorities.

 

CHANNEL 2 – STATE APPROVED NEWS

 

(A STATE APPROVED NEWS READER appears on screen. He is handsome with chiseled features. He wears an all white suit with a white shirt and white tie.)

 

STATE APPROVED NEWS READER: Good evening, citizens. All hail the One World Order and long may it reign. I’m Citizen Barnes, your state approved news reader for this evening, here to read all of the news that the One World Order feels you need to now in order to be good, solid citizens, with none of the trivial details that you have no need to concern yourselves with, seeing as how the One World Order is taking care of all of these matters as we speak so you don’t have to.

 

(NEWS READER looks at a different camera.)

 

STATE APPROVED NEWS READER: Our top story tonight, the Honor Guard has quelled insurgencies across the planet, with depraved acts of Nationalist terrorism taking a gruesome toll on Order loving citizens everywhere. Explosions rocked government buildings in Administrative Units 5, 78, and 111. In total, 478 citizens lost their lives, though the Supreme Administrator has released a statement indicating that these citizens have not died in vein, for their deaths have urged her to be even more vigilant in carrying out the Order’s military campaigns against Nationalist pigs wherever they may be.

 

(Video rolls of an old man walking down a street, waving a red, white and blue flag. He is approached by shock troops dressed in shiny white armor. They carry flamethrowers.)

 

STATE APPROVED NEWS READER: Meanwhile, elderly citizens across the globe continue to display irrational, bizarre behavior, such as this citizen who caused quite a stir in Urban District 717TKY – Theta, one of the largest urban districts on the Eastern side of Administrative Unit 2.

 

(The video continues to roll.)

 

HONOR GUARDSMAN: Come along, now.

 

OLD MAN: This isn’t Administrative Unit 2! The Order is lying to all of you! It’s America! It’s America, I’m telling you!

 

(The Honor Guardsmen grab the old man and drag him away, kicking and screaming.)

 

HONOR GUARDSMAN: Let’s go, Grampa.

 

OLD MAN: God Bless America! Land that I love! Stand beside her, and guide her…no! Let go of me! Damn it, I’m an American citizen and I have rights!

 

HONOR GUARDSMAN: Time to put you in a nice home.

 

OLD MAN: No! I don’t want to go to a home!

 

(NEWS READER returns to screen.)

 

STATE APPROVED NEWS READER: A very sad display, indeed. Young citizens are reminded to closely monitor the activity of their elders and to report any disturbing behavior to the authorities immediately.

 

(NEWS READER shuffles some papers.)

 

STATE APPROVED NEWS READER: And now it’s time for the debate portion of our program. Our topic of debate this evening – “Nationalist Pigs – Are They Stupid and Crazy, or Crazy and Stupid?” Here with me in the studio to discuss this very important issue of our time is Citizen Mitch Stevens, an Esteemed Professor of One World Order Philosophy at the Region D Graduate Academy of Administrative Unit 2, and Citizen Abigail Chan, Director of the Region F Board of State Approved Intellectuals of Administrative Unit 102.)

 

(CITIZEN STEVENS is skinny man wearing a white suit and white bow tie. He wears a pair of glasses. CITIZEN CHAN wears a white businesswoman’s suit.)

 

STATE APPROVED NEWS READER: Citizen Stevens, I’ll start with you. Are these Nationalist pigs stupid and crazy or crazy and stupid?

 

CITIZEN STEVENS: Well, first, thank you for having me on the show, Citizen Barnes, and might I add, all hail the One World Order.

STATE APPROVED NEWS READER: Long may it reign.

 

CITIZEN STEVENS: Citizen Barnes, I would argue that the Nationalist pig movement, and I use the term “movement” facetiously because as we all know, the One World Order’s military units are crushing these menaces to society handily…

 

STATE APPROVED NEWS READER: That they are. All the citizens watching at home need not worry about that fact.

 

CITIZEN STEVENS: Indeed. So, as I was saying, Nationalist pigs start out as crazy, but then they cause others to become very, very stupid.

 

STATE APPROVED NEWS READER: Intriguing. I actually read about this theory in your new book.

 

(CITIZEN STEVENS holds up a book titled “Why Nationalist Pigs Are the Worst.”

 

CITIZEN STEVENS: Yes, thank you Citizen Barnes and I might add that my book is available for only ten and ninety nine out of one hundred credits over the state approved tele-web.

 

STATE APPROVED NEWS READER: Well, if it’s state approved then it must be good.

 

CITIZEN STEVENS: Oh, stop, Citizen Barnes! You’re going to make me blush. Anyway, the problem begins with the old people.

 

STATE APPROVED NEWS READER: I see. So the elderly are a problem?

 

CITIZEN STEVENS: Very much so. Old people, as we all know, are extremely stupid and absurdly crazy. That’s not just me saying that. Ten out of all ten of the One World Order’s top scientists agree. That old people are stupid and crazy is not merely an opinion, but an actual scientific fact.

 

STATE APPROVED NEWS READER: You can’t argue with science.

 

CITIZEN STEVENS: No, you can’t. Now, what happens is as the human body begins to deteriorate over time, it causes the brain to break down, and so old people start to go crazy and when they go crazy, they start to say stupid things.

 

STATE APPROVED NEWS READER: Such as?

 

CITIZEN STEVENS: Oh, I don’t know. Things like, “Who stole my gelatin?” or “I can’t find my remote control” or “Where’s my favorite loofah? I swore I saw it over there five minutes ago” or in the case of the man we just saw in that footage, “Administrative Unit 2 is America.”

 

STATE APPROVED NEWS READER: What’s America?

 

CITIZEN STEVENS: Your guess is as good as mine. It’s gibberish. The old man could have just as easily said, “Administrative Unit 2 is Wiggity Wabble Land” or “Administrative Unit 2 is “Boo Boo Larue Burg” but for some reason, his mind just made up a nonsense word so he said, “Administrative Unit 2 is America.”

 

STATE APPROVED NEWS READER: How sad.

 

CITIZEN STEVENS: It really is sad, Citizen Barnes, especially because old people can’t help it when their brains turn to mush, so it would be ridiculous to hold their craziness against him.

 

STATE APPROVED NEWS READER: That’s a fair point.

 

CITIZEN STEVENS: I like to think so. That’s why in my book, which again is available on the state approved tele-web, I go into detail about how the One World Order might, and I stress might, because after all, I’m just a lowly citizen, so who am I to tell the glorious One World Order what to do, but they might want to stop allowing the elderly to remain in their homes and just go ahead and round up all the old folks and put them away in some nice assisted living centers where they won’t be able to bother anyone with their crazy ideas.

 

STATE APPROVED NEWS READER: That’s a nice thought.

 

CITIZEN STEVENS: It is. And the best part is once all of the crazy old people are gone, they won’t be able to infect young people with dumb ideas like “the world used to be broken up into individual nations and it was a lot better” or “people used to make decisions for themselves and everyone was happy” garbage. Because that’s the problem, Citizen Barnes. The old people are crazy, they say stupid things to young people and as we all know, young people are very impressionable, so they go on and do stupid things. Crazy begets stupid.

 

STATE APPROVED NEWS READER: That’s all very fascinating. Citizen Chan, it’s your turn for a rebuttal.

 

CITIZEN CHAN: Thank you, Citizen Barnes, and I too would like to thank you for having me on the show. All hail the One World Order.

 

STATE APPROVED NEWS READER: Long may it reign.

 

CITIZEN CHAN: Citizen Barnes, first, let me say that I have nothing but great respect for Citizen Stevens’ lengthy track record as one of the top scholars of One World Order philosophy but I have to disagree with him on some key points.

 

CITIZEN STEVENS: Oh my, Citizen Chan, tell us how you really feel.

(The trio laughs.)

 

CITIZEN CHAN: Don’t worry, Citizen Stevens, I will. Are Nationalist pigs stupid and crazy or crazy and stupid? Look, it doesn’t matter whether the craziness happens first and the stupidity second or vice versa. While I agree with Citizen Stevens that the old fogies are responsible for stirring up Nationalist sentiments thanks to the insane ramblings that pour out of their mouths because of their rotten old brains, I disagree with the notion that we can just put all the old folks in nursing homes and then everything will be fine. I’m sorry. I just can’t get on board with that.

 

STATE APPROVED NEWS READER: Then what action would you take, Citizen Chan?

 

CITIZEN CHAN: Look, I’m sorry. I know this opinion is not going to be very popular, it might even be a little controversial, but I’m just going to say it. I think we need to burn all the old people alive. There, I said it and you know what? I’m glad I said it.

 

STATE APPROVED NEWS READER: My word, Citizen Chan.

 

CITIZEN BARNES: I’m feeling light headed.

 

STATE APPROVED NEWS READER: Sure, the elderly are causing a lot of problems, but to burn them alive…

 

CITIZEN CHAN: Harsh? Maybe. Effective? Most certainly. Listen Citizen Barnes, I’ll tell you a little story about my mother. Old gal. Sweet woman. Fine. But she would not stop rattling on and on with the crazy Nationalist ideas. All the time she was in my ear with nonsensical ramblings like, “Administrative Unit 102 used to be called China, Abigail” and “You should be speaking English, Abigail” and “You should be speaking Mandarin, Abigail” and “Abigail isn’t even a Chinese name, Abigail.”

 

STATE APPROVED NEWS READER: Mandarin?

 

(CITIZEN CHAN laughs.)

 

CITIZEN CHAN: I have no idea, Citizen Barnes. My family had the best scientists in all of Administrative Unit 102 look at my mother and the best they could figure out is that the woman was speaking in tongues. She’d made up some crazy language, gave it a name, ‘Mandarin,’ and all day long she’d just make these wacky sounds like, “Ching chong, bing bong, wing wong, ding dong” just every other word ended in “ong.”

 

STATE APPROVED NEWS READER: Strange.

 

CITIZEN CHAN: It really was.

 

CITIZEN STEVENS: If I may interject, the most disturbing part of your mother’s affliction is her insistence that a language exists other than English.

 

CITIZEN CHAN: I know, right? Everyone knows that everyone all over the world has spoken English and only English since history started in 2032.

 

CITIZEN STEVENS: Indeed, the One World Order has released a statement telling us just that.

 

CITIZEN CHAN: Honestly, can you imagine a world where people spoke more than one language?

 

CITIZEN STEVENS: How would people in different administrative units communicate with one another?

 

CITIZEN CHAN: It would be madness. Absolute madness. So anyway, my family and I tried our best with my mother. We were all like, “Ma! Enough with the ching chong talk already! Mandarin isn’t a real thing!” but she kept on speaking that way and she kept trying to teach her wacky language to other people so finally, I was left no choice but to inform the Honor Guard that my mother was a traitor to the One World Order and watch her be purged in the Honor Guard’s cleansing flames.

 

STATE APPROVED NEWS READER: Wow.

 

CITIZEN STEVENS: You’re very brave.

 

CITIZEN CHAN: I know. And if you want to learn more about how I turned my mother in so that she could be burned alive, you can read all about it in my book, “Burn Nationalist Piggy, Burn,” which is also available on the state approved tele-web.

 

STATE APPROVED NEWS READER: I’ve read it and it is fascinating. There was one chapter that really grabbed my attention, Citizen Chan. Is it true that many young citizens feel a close affinity to their elderly relatives, such that when they see their elders engage in treasonous activities, they fail to turn them into the authorities?

 

CITIZEN CHAN: That’s true, Citizen Barnes and it’s a very disturbing trend. Look, to everyone watching, I know, emotions run high over this subject. We all love Grandma. We all want her at home, rocking back and forth in her chair, being happy and sure, like Citizen Stevens tells us, old people can’t help it when they do crazy things but if they craziness crosses the line into treason then I’m sorry, but I don’t care how much you love your grandmother, if you don’t turn her in for immediate burning, then you’re just as guilty as she is and you deserve to burn to.

 

STATE APPROVED NEWS READER: Citizen Stevens, a final thought?

 

CITIZEN STEVENS: Call me an old softy but I just think there will always be cases where nursing homes and re-education centers will be more helpful than cranking up the flamethrowers, but I guess that’s why I’ve earned a reputation as the biggest hippy in academia.

 

(All three laugh. STATE APPROVED NEWS READER turns to the camera.)

 

STATE APPROVED NEWS READER: That’s all the time we have for tonight, citizens. Please stay tuned for commercial messages from our state approved business sponsors. Also, coming up in the next hour, is your neighbor a vile Nationalist pig? We’ll give you the top ten signs to be on the lookout for.

 

CHANNEL 3 – THE STATE APPROVED HISTORY CHANNEL

 

(A photo of the world appears. A stern voiced announcer speaks.)

 

ANNOUNCER: In the beginning, there was the world. How it got here is none of your business. All you need to know is that the world was here and there were some people and buildings and roads and trees and grass and stuff but no one was doing anything productive with any of it and there were some dirty Nationalist pigs who were ruining everything. Thankfully, the Globalists murdered so, so many of the Nationalist pigs, causing the streets to run red with their blood. And that’s when history began. Seriously, nothing of import happened before that.   As far as you’re concerned, the world began in the year 2032 and I know, I know. Some of the more curious citizens out there will ask, “Well, what happened during the other two thousand, thirty years?” Your answer is that’s none of your business so don’t worry about it. Nothing important ever happened until the One World Order began and that’s all you need to know.

 

(A photo of a grumpy old man appears.)

 

ANNOUNCER: Your super old relatives probably keep saying crazy nonsense, like there is a long history of the world, that there was a country called America and that there were World Wars were a lot of people died, one of which was caused by a short, sexually frustrated wacko with a stubby little mustache who killed a bunch of people. The old people will even tell you tall tales about plagues, famine, slavery, civil conflicts, droughts and medieval knights who put on suits of armor and bashed each other over the head with long blades called swords and enormous thunder lizards who came before everything. We here at the state approved history channel want to assure you statements such as these are all outrageous lies and if your elderly relatives are making these false claims, then it is your duty to report them to the authorities, no matter how sad that might make you. Remember, the sanctity of the One World Order must come before family. Besides, are you aware that there is a law that will allow you to immediately take possession of your elderly family member’s home and property the second you turn them in? I mean, I don’t want to tell you what to do, but that sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me.

CHANNEL 4 – STATE APPROVED CHILDREN’S PROGRAMMING

 

(A man in aardvark costume appears. He plays a tune on a ukulele. He is surrounded by an audience of little kids.)

 

ARTIE AARDVARK: Hello little citizens!

 

KIDS: Hi Artie!

 

ARTIE AARDVARK: All hail the One World Order!

 

KIDS: Long may it reign!

 

ARTIE AARDVARK: How’s everyone doing today?

 

KIDS: Great!

 

ARTIE AARDVARK: Why, of course you’re all doing great! You’re living under the benevolent guidance of the wise and just One World Order and as long as you are, you’ll do just fine. Who wants to hear a special Artie Aardvark song?

 

KIDS: We do!

 

(ARTIE AARDVARK plays the ukulele and sings.)

 

ARTIE AARDVARK: Ohh…if your parents are being naughty, turn them in! Oh if your parents are being naughty, turn them in! Oh, if your parents are being bad, turning them in is really rad! Oh, if your parents are being naughty, turn them in!

 

KIDS: Hooray!

 

ARTIE AARDVARK: You see, kids, your Mommy and Daddy might love you very much, but the One World Order loves you even more. You’re too little to realize this, but the One World Order provides you with safety, security, education, consumer goods, food and water, really all the things you need to live so if anyone like, say your Mommy and Daddy, were ever to do anything bad to the One World Order, why we’d all die terrible, horrible, agonizing deaths. Your little eyes would bug out of your tiny heads and you’d all fall to the floor and writhe with pain, begging for the Order to help you but they won’t be there, because you didn’t report your Mommy and Daddy when you had the chance.

 

KIDS: Oh no!

 

AARTIE AARDVARK: Don’t worry. The Order’s doing just fine.

 

KIDS: Hooray!

 

AARTIE AARVARK: And you can keep it that way by pledging to turn your Mommy and Daddy in if you ever see them doing anything bad. So, if you suspect your Mommy and Daddy are a couple of dirty Nationalist pigs trying to throw a monkey wrench into the One World Order’s finely tuned governmental machine, tell an adult, or a police officer, or a teacher, or the nearest Honor Guardsman. Anyone who works for the government will do. Will you be sure to tell on Mommy and Daddy, boys and girls?

 

KIDS: Yes!

 

AARTIE AARDVARK: Oh good. That makes your old pal Artie so happy. Now, I know you kids might be worried about what will happen to you if your Mommy and Daddy are taken away. Well, don’t worry about that at all because if your parents are being naughty, then they don’t deserve to be your Mommy and Daddy, so the One World Order will find you a new Mommy and Daddy. And, to thank you, they’ll give you a big bag of toys and candy.

 

KIDS: Hooray!

 

ARTIE AARDVARK: And now, another song. Oh, when you turn eighteen years old you gotta take whatever job the One World Order assigns you and like it and if you don’t like it you have to shut up and pretend like you like it or else….Oh, when you turn eighteen years old gotta….

 

CHANNEL 5 – THE STATE APPROVED ROMANCE CHANNEL

 

ANNOUNCER: Welcome to the State Approved Romance Channel. We now return to When Henry Met Sandy at the Appropriate Time as Appointed by the One World Order Regional Office of Marriage Arrangement.

 

HENRY: Oh Sally, I’m so happy that the One World Order put our names into an official database and used a complex algorithm to match us based on such factors as personal interests, habits, hobbies, education levels, age, class, income, and overall attractiveness.

 

SANDY: I know! This is the happiest day of my life!

 

(A short, pudgy woman with glasses waddles into fram. She reads from a set of cards with a froggy voice.)

 

ROZ: Hello, I’m Roz, your Regional One World Order Office of Marriage Arrangement Coordinator. Oh, how lucky you both are that the Order is mandating that you both tie the knot so neither of you will have to spend so many years of your lives worrying about silly questions like, “Is this person right for me?” and “Can I do better?” The short answer is, “No, you can’t.” We looked and we tried but no, you two are, to a reasonable mathematical certainty, the best each other could ever possibly do, so you’re stuck with each other.

 

SANDY: How romantic!

 

HENRY: I know, right?

 

ROZ: We will now commence with the legally required marriage ceremony. Henry, you promise to love Sandy, to honor and cherish her in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, until death do you part.

 

HENRY: I do.

 

ROZ: I know you do. It wasn’t a question, it was a declarative statement. Try to keep up. Sandy, you also promise to love, honor and cherish Henry in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, until death do you part.

 

SANDY: Of course I do.

 

ROZ: Again, it wasn’t necessary to say anything. I’m just telling you what you’re going to do. You young people never listen. Now, by the power vested in me by the Supreme Administrator of the One World Order, I now pronounce you husband and wife, so don’t even think of trying to back out of this, because you can’t. Many have tried. All have failed. We will find you and punish you accordingly if we hear you’re even thinking about leaving your spouse, understand?

 

HENRY AND SANDY: We understand.

 

ROZ: Good. Kiss each other if you want but just remember, armed guards are walking the perimeter, ready to catch anyone who makes a break for it.

 

(HENRY and SANDY exchange a warm, passionate kiss.)

 

HENRY: I’d never leave Sandy.

 

ROZ: Good. Just keep saying that even when you learn that her extensive credit problems are now yours.

 

HENRY: Wait, what?

 

ROZ: Yup, oh and Sandy, just an FYI, you just caught herpes when you kissed Henry because he has it big time.

 

(SANDY pulls a tissue out of her pocket and vigorously wipes her lips.)

 

SANDY: Wait, what?

ROZ: Your husband’s lousy with herpes. Expect a big old fleshy ping bong ball on your lower lip within five-to-seven days.

 

SANDY: You could have told me!

 

ROZ: Wouldn’t have mattered. You weren’t allowed to say no anyway.

 

(ROZ hands the couple a large stack of paper.)

 

ROZ: Here’s the official print-out of everything you would have found out about one another had there been an extensive courtship period.

 

(SANDY pours over the document.)

 

SANDY: You perform as a clown at children’s birthday parties?

 

HENRY: What can I say? The Order took a long, hard look at my skills and abilities and said, ‘Birthday Party Clown.’

 

(HENRY looks at the print-out.)

 

HENRY: You were once suspected of carnal actions with a goat?!

 

SANDY: ‘Suspected!’ Keyword, buddy! Suspected, never proven. Even the Regional Law Enforcement Council said the charges were overblown.

 

HENRY: Like the goat.

 

SANDY: Ugh, I don’t have to listen to this, you herpes ridden party clown!

 

HENRY: How dare you? I can’t believe this. You and your goat loving, credit-ruining ways are going to put me in the poorhouse!

 

SANDY: I wish I’d never been chosen at random by a computerized algorithm to be your wife!

 

HENRY: I second that!

 

(HENRY and SANDY look at ROZ.)

 

ROZ: Again, don’t even think about leaving each other.

 

(HENRY sighs.)

 

HENRY: Come on. I’ll buy you an ice cream.

 

SALLY: Separate spoons, please.

 

HENRY: Says the goat lover.

 

SALLY: I don’t have to listen to this. I could…

 

(The couple bickers their way out the door. A janitor stops by to sweep the floor.)

 

JANITOR: I’ll have the arranged marriage that they’re having!

 

CHANNEL 6 – STATE APPROVED ACTION MOVIE CHANNEL

 

(A grown man is surrounded by bullies. They pick on him, call him nasty names, make horrible faces at him, push him and slap him.)

 

ANNOUNCER: In a world where one man was fed up with the way he was being treated…

 

BULLY 1: You smell bad!

 

BULLY 2: Yeah, and you’re very productive and are a credit to your community and we’re not so we’re jealous of you!

 

ANNOUNCER: …it was time to make the bad guys pay…

 

MAN: I don’t have to take this! I’m a citizen of the One World Order!

 

BULLY 1: Oh yeah? What are you gonna do to stop us?

 

BULLY 2: Yeah! We’re lousy citizens and we don’t care what the One World Order thinks about us!

 

BULLY 3: We’re total undesirables. Even though it’s against the law, we drink and smoke and fornicate outside of our arranged marriages and all of that unapproved behavior messes with our minds, just like the One World Order’s PSAs warned us it would.

 

BULLY 1: Yeah, and that’s why we show up late to our government assigned jobs and we don’t produce much.

 

BULLY 2: And rather than try to improve ourselves, we’re just going to be mean to you for being a good citizen.

 

MAN: You bullies better leave me alone!

 

BULLY 1: Or what?

ANNOUNCER: He’d make them pay in the only way he knew how…

 

(The man pulls out his cell phone and dials a number.)

 

MAN: I’m reporting you to the Honor Guard!

 

BULLIES: Oh no!

 

(A self-driving van pulls up. Shock troops pour out with flamethrowers at the ready.)

 

HONOR GUARDSMAN 1: Are these bullies bothering you, citizen?

 

MAN: They sure are!

 

HONOR GUARDSMAN 2: Hmm…tell me, citizen, at any time, did you hear these bullies make any Nationalist sentiments?

 

(MAN scratches his right ear.)

 

MAN: You know, I’ve always had a problem with earwax buildup, so I’m not sure, but its entirely possible.

 

(HONOR GUARDSMEN 1 and 2 look at each other.)

 

HONOR GUARDSMAN 1: Good enough for me.

 

(All six HONOR GUARDSMEN point their flamethrowers at the bullies. MAN steps aside.)

 

HONOR GUARDSMAN 2: Time to fry, piggies!

 

(The HONOR GUARDSMEN blast the bullies with a torrent of fire.   The bullies scream out in pain until they are reduced to a pile of ash on the ground. MAN trades a high five with HONOR GUARDSMAN 1.)

 

MAN: Thanks, Honor Guard!

 

HONOR GUARDSMAN 1: Don’t mention it.

 

CHANNEL 7 – STATE APPROVED SCIENCE FICTION MOVIE CHANNEL

 

ANNOUNCER: Space! It’s really big and there’s a lot to see! These are the travels of the Spaceship Excelsior. With a daring crew led by the intrepid Captain Morris, this ship will visit the furthest reaches of the cosmos.

 

(Captain Morris appears on deck, wearing a futuristic military uniform.)

 

CAPTAIN MORRIS: It’s time for our very first space-traveling mission. It’s the future, the year 3,000 to be exact. The One World Order has lasted for nearly 1,000 years and who could be surprised by that? This global system of government has been so effective that it has even provided the world with the means of intergalactic space travel. The One World Order of this time period has charged us with the task of finding the best run planet in the universe. Mr. Domo, take us to the stars, if you please.

 

  1. DOMO: I’m sorry, Captain, but I cannot.

 

CAPTAIN MORRIS: What? Why, what’s gotten into you man? Give me one reason why you can’t comply with my order or I’ll have you drummed out of the Star Corps!

 

  1. DOMO: Because, Captain, as you just said, we have been charged with finding the best run planet in the universe, but as we all know, there could never be a planet that is run better than Earth, thanks to the benevolent and just leadership of the One World Order. Ergo, if we just stay put, our mission is complete.

 

(CAPTAIN MORRIS stands up and puffs out his chest.)

 

CAPTAIN MORRIS: Mission accomplished! All hail the One World Order!

 

  1. DOMO: Long may it reign!

 

CHANNEL 7 – STATE APPROVED COMEDY CHANNEL

 

(A comedienne dressed like the Supreme Administrator sits at the end of a long conference table, surrounded by generals, advisors, and other important dignitaries.)

 

SUPREME ADMINISTRATOR IMPERSONATOR: Ladies and gentlemen of the First and Best Class of the One World Order, I have brought you all together today to answer a very important question.

 

(TEXT flashes on the bottom of the screen. It reads: “THIS IS AN OFFICIALLY SANCTIONED PORTRAYAL OF THE SUPREME ADMINISTRATOR. CITIZENS ARE REMINDED THAT ANY UNAPPROVED PORTRAYALS OF THE SUPREME ADMINISTRATOR, DEPUTY ADMINISTRATORS, OR OTHER GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS ARE FORBIDDEN.”)

 

GENERAL MASON IMPERSONATOR: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

 

SUPREME ADMINISTRATOR: No.

 

DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR FOR COMMERCE ROBARDS IMPERSONATOR: How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

 

SUPREME ADMINISTRATOR IMPERSONATOR: No, that’s not it either. Subordinates, the question I now call upon you to answer is, “How many vile Nationalist pigs does it take to screw in a light bulb?”

 

GENERAL MASON IMPERSONATOR: Why, that’s an easy one, Supreme Administrator. That task would require hundreds, maybe even thousands of disgusting Nationalist animals because as we all know, all these malcontents ever do is bicker and argue with one another, so they would just fight and shout and demand to know what’s in it for them if they screw in the light bulb, greedy, self-absorbed savages that they are.

 

DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR FOR COMMERCE ROBARDS IMPERSONATOR: And even if thousands of Nationalist slobs were to devote all of their time and energy to the unscrewed light bulb dilemma, they’d still take years, perhaps even decades to screw in the aforementioned light bulb, for as we all know, Nationalist scumbags are very inefficient and lazy.

 

GENERAL MASON IMPERSONATOR: Yes, that’s why I enjoy living under the One World Order, a system of government that, in this scenario, would allow our glorious Supreme Administrator to exercise swift, decisive judgment and ensure that one and only one Class 7 menial wage worker was ordered to screw in the light bulb within a matter of seconds, providing illumination for all in the general vicinity.

 

SUPREME ADMINISTRATOR IMPERSONATOR: Exactly. Excellent answers, everyone. Oh, and there’s one more thing I must say.

 

(SUPREME ADMINISTRATOR IMPERSONATOR looks directly into the camera.)

 

SUPREME ADMINISTRATOR IMPERSONATOR: Live from Urban District 717TKY, it’s the State Approved Comedy Program!

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The Last Driver – Episode 1 – Chapter 5

THE LAST DRIVER_finalebook1

March 14, 2050

Hannah and I sat on my living room couch, drying our tears with tissues as we used Billy Allen’s dead grandpa’s ancient X-Tab to watch an old romantic film from the 1990s about a colossal shipwreck. For a brief moment, we managed to compose ourselves, but then they had to go play that sad yet strangely inspirational song sung a French Canadian lady.

“But she said she’d never let him go!” Hannah protested.

“Oh well,” I said. “Things happen.”

“But…but…he’s gone.”

“Yup. The sea took him.”

Hannah blew her nose like a foghorn. “I just don’t get it.”

“Get what?” I asked.

“The girl was rich so she had a spot waiting for her on a lifeboat,” Hannah said.

“Yeah,” I replied.

“And the boy was poor but he had a perfectly good piece of driftwood to cling to for life until help arrived,” Hannah said.

“Right,” I said.

Hannah shot me an incredulous look. “So…”

“So,” I said. “What?”

“So,” Hannah said. “Why didn’t the girl just go get into the boat and let the boy hang onto the piece of driftwood and then they could have just met up later once everyone got on land?”

I put my arm around my granddaughter. “Sweetheart, that’s a question that the world’s greatest philosophers having been asking for decades ever since this movie came out.”

“Is there an answer?” Hannah asked.

“Yes,” I said. “Women take everything.”

“I beg your pardon?” Hannah asked.

“They used to,” I said. “That’s just the way women were. You could give a woman everything you had and she’d still want your driftwood. Just ask your grandmother.”

“Ask her what?”

I realized this was one of those concepts that a young person would never comprehend. Divorce, and by extension, all of the residual resentments that went along with it, had been banned by the One World Order, so there was no way a kid was ever going to understand how it was possible for me to hold a multi-year grudge against her grandmother for running off with the few scraps my creditors left me with.

.           I patted the little girl on the head. “Nevermind.”

“It’s weird that you and Grandma don’t live together,” Hannah said.

“Is it?” I asked. “I find it rather peaceful.”

There was a bowl of popcorn on the living room table. Hannah reached into it, grabbed a handful and started eating. “I hope one day the One World Order picks a man for me who will be willing to fall into the ice cold ocean to his certain death just so I can have his piece of driftwood.”

“Ugh,” I said.

“Something wrong?” Hannah asked.

“I just don’t like this whole idea of the government picking who you get to be with,” I said. “First, you’re too good for anyone in my opinion and second, what if they pick someone who stinks? Then what do you do? See, in my day, the time the Order doesn’t want you to know about, people were able to pick who they wanted to be with.”

“Did people make good picks?” Hannah asked.

“Meh,” I grumbled. I debated whether or not to crack another joke about Hannah’s grandmother, but opted not to. It probably would have just gone over the kid’s head anyway. “Let’s change the subject.”

Hannah yawned while I scrolled through the list of movies that had been downloaded on Billy Allen’s dead grandpa’s ancient X-Tab decades earlier. “What will we watch next?”

“Hmmph,” Hannah said as she nuzzled her face into my arm. “Comfy.”

“Oh,” I said. “Hun, you’ve got to watch this one. There’s this big German man who pretends to be a robot and he travels back in time to kill the mother of this guy to prevent him from growing up to become the man that kills all the robots. Can you believe this guy was actually in charge of what used to be Region A for a while? Oh well, just close your eyes during the part where he’s naked and…”

“Zzz.” My little girl was fast asleep, tucked snugly underneath my arm. I decided to save the battery life of the old X-Tab and laid it down on the coffee table. I picked up the remote control and turned on the state approved tele-web media monitor, which was located on the wall facing the couch.

“Let’s see what this schmucks are up to.”

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