Police-Sergeant Pavel Lennick was making the last of his rounds around the crooked houses of the neighbourhood. He swung his baton cautiously, hearing the water drip from the ancient stone gutters, his uniform the same dark hue as his surroundings, a white belt with a pistol attached to his waist.
Ever since his transfer as border-guard, he had grown up a lot. From his first actual post, he had been a gangly eighteen-year-old, fresh out of college, used to middle-class life and parents paying his tuition fees. He had achieved all the top grades in his tests, had fourteen first-level and four second-level qualifications, which had given him his rank. He had gone to the best school in his borough, a selective school, and he came from the richer part of town.
But these were hard times. In his own social class people were being made redundant, and there were rumours about the lower classes shifting, and this party of 'anarchists' who had come forward: but that wasn't bound to amount to much. That's why they had the Police, because, as the riots of three months ago had proven, such poor are intrinsically criminal. At least that's what his mother had called them.
Where had they hoped these barbaric and wanton acts of cruelty would lead them? Lennick thought as he approached the Police Station of the neighbourhood. He remembered the night he had heard about the arson who had attacked the Police station, and then again, when they had killed the Head of Police. Ever since then, Lennick had felt the burning desire to track the terrorists down, and make them repay their crimes.
The Sgt. Lennick paused and looked one last time at the dirty, crumbling houses, some fallen in, some leaking and damp, all over a hundred years old. Graffiti was sprayed against the wall, and paint had flaked off in large, dark patches.
–You deserve it,– said Lennick. –Disgusting criminals.– Then he spat on the ground.
He walked the way back to his house. Of course, there was a network of shortcuts and alleyways one could take instead of going the whole way round, but the Sgt. Lennick didn't know them. He carried on until the buildings began to look less scruffy, the streets got better lit, and the roads no longer had pot-holes along the side, but trees, who, in the grace of Autumn, were shedding their leaves. There is no greater freedom than walking right in the middle of these roads, he thought, when there are no cars around...
That was where he saw it.
It clung to one of the trees, apparently stapled to it, and was flapping in the wind. Lennick approached it, and looked at it. It was probably a wanted poster for a lost pet, or a band promotional leaflet, he thought as he did so, in which case, he would have to take it off...
But it was neither of these. Lennick looked at the leaflet and read it over, each word. Then, he tore it off the tree, and began to run.
Unbidden, a memory of a confused countryman had come forward.
For a second, he was completely sure who had written it.