A Question of Humanity

An epic science fiction adventure set in the not too distant future, in a world where the government has a tight grip on families, and the media rules the world.
[A Closed Collaborative]

"At the heart of all beauty lies something inhuman . . ."

~Albert Camus~

The concrete was enveloped in purple reflections, neon colors perpetuating from the buildings and the cars driving by. Rain was pouring hard, and the ground was so wet one could almost slip even when standing still, staring off into the night sky, watching the golden moon slowly shimmer among the stars. That was the very activity that Norman Clyde was engaging in when he heard footsteps behind him slow to a stop. He turned slowly, not cautiously, which was an unintelligent tactic when walking through the streets of D.C.

"You Norman Clyde?" said a deep, gravelly voice. Norman struggled to see through the dark murkiness of the night, but to no avail. He didn't recognize the voice, but it was said with such power and forcefulness, he had the feeling that he had no choice but to answer honestly.

"Yeah, I am." His voice sounded strange to him. It didn't slide off his tongue quite right, and so he instinctively cleared his throat as soon as the words left his lips. He shoved his hands in his coat pockets as the shadowy figure stepped forward into the light of an overhanging lamp swinging from a nearby doorpost.

It wasn't a man that Norman knew. "Hello, Mr. Clyde, I work for the government. Would you please come with me?"

Norman's heart skipped a beat. He frowned and took a step back, putting out his hand. "Hey man, I don't want no trouble."

"I'm afraid you're already neck deep in trouble, Mr. Clyde," the man said as he popped a cigar into his mouth and lit it. "According to your file, which I have on hand here," he said as he opened up an eFile on his phone. The phone suddenly cast a green hologram in the form of a paper, and it wavered as the rain ran through it. The man ran his hand down the hologram and then said, "You haven't been paying taxes for the past two weeks. Care to explain yourself?"

Norman looked around, trying to see if there was any way he could escape. He inched backwards as he spoke. "Umm . . . it's nothing personal, sir, it's just that I don't got any money -- and if ya just give me a little bit more time, I'm sure --"

"We don't have any more time to spare, Mr. Clyde. I'm afraid you're going to have to come with me now." The cigarette smoke rose into the air as the man stepped forward and pulled out a large handgun. "And don't try anything sneaky."

The men walking past them slowed as they noticed the man with the handgun, but when they saw that he had a badge clinging to his coat, they quickly shifted their gaze and kept walking, knowing it was best not to get involved. Norman nodded slowly, his heartbeat running a mile a minute.

He knew they weren't just going to take him down to the station. He knew they weren't just going to send him to prison. He knew what they really had in store for him. When someone didn't pay their taxes, they were immediately marked as a traitor. After all, if someone could no longer afford to pay taxes, they were useless to the government, in fact, they were nothing but problems that needed to be dealt with. Norman knew as the man took him by the arm and led him into the alley, he wasn't going to be a problem for much longer.

The man pushed him forward into the darkness, and Norman quickly put his hands up and snapped, "Wait! Wait! I can get the money, I can get the money I swear! Just give me one week --"

The sound of the gun being cocked stopped his heart completely.

"Three days! Three days! I'll get it in three days, I promise you! Just please don't shoot me -- please --"

He felt the barrel of the gun being forced to his temple. He was too scared to try and fight back, he only collapsed against the wall and clang to it tightly as the world began to spin around him, and he felt his consciousness begin to fade.

"I'll get it to you tomorrow!! PLEASE!!"

He heard the man tighten his hold on the trigger, then say, "I'm sorry, sir, but I'm just doing my job."

The sudden sound of tearing flesh was like a punch to Norman's stomach. He keeled over and grabbed his head, and was almost surprised when he didn't find a giant gash within it. He looked up and saw a headless body fall to the floor with a thud. He scrambled to his feet and breathed heavily as his heart began to beat like a horse.

He saw a figure standing deep in the darkness, but he gave it no notice. Instead, he turned to his left and vomited uncontrollably as fear twisted his stomach into knots. The rhythmic stepping sounds that were echoing off the walls around him did not even prick his senses as he began to cry into his own vomit.

From that moment on, Norman Clyde was insane.

The End

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