“Charlotte Freeman, this court of your peers has found you guilty of a crime against the human race. Because this is your first offense and the only time you have appeared before a court, you will be given a choice in punishment,” the High Judge said. “I will get to your options shortly. Throughout this trial, you have maintained your innocence. Now that a conviction has been found, do you still maintain your innocence?”
I was not expecting to be asked this. Why would I change my story now? It doesn’t matter at this point. Considering the evidence presented, I knew I would be found guilty. I began to believe I’d done it by the time the prosecutor was done.
I closed my eyes, hoping to block out everything around me. But all I saw were flashes of memories from that night. The night that had brought me here. All...
At first, it didn’t seem like much. A few things weren’t being restocked at the stores, more gaps in the shelves. If we couldn’t replace something in our pantry, we went without, assuming it’d be back soon.
Really, no big deal.
The news would announce a store or local restaurant closing down. There were reports, but life-altering news was ignored. The latest celebrity or political accusation took center stage distracting us from any real problems needing our attention.
That is how it went. People lived off what they had in their pantry, going without the occasional luxury item or even the occasional staple. What is a staple anyway? We had two jars of peanut butter and a handful of avocados at all time in our house. Was all that necessary? There was a time I would argue the peanut butter was vital for survival, but those days are gone.
“Damit Callaway! You make my life a living hell! You know that?” Ox said as he stumbled into my shop drunk, again. I could smell the moonshine on him from ten feet away. “Did you know you make my life hell?”
I didn’t respond; experience taught me talking to the son of our little enclave’s “mayor” when he was drunk only added fuel to his fire. I turned back to my work and continued on.
“You know, you’re lucky. No one else in our little village has the experience you have,” he said. “But you know what? I think you are full of it. I think you’re a faker. If my daddy hadn’t lost his hands he’d be the one in here workin’, and you’d be out on your ass. I’d kick you out if I could.”
He wasn’t far off. In another life, the life before this hell, I...
"I mean, how often do you get an opportunity like this?"
One thing I loved, and hated, about Kara, she always did her damndest to fix your problems, even if you had no desire whatsoever to fix it.
I know this about her and is probably why, subconsciously, I told her about my current predicament. In my mind I wanted someone to listen to me complain, to have a sounding board, just to vent.
But no, I asked my one friend that can't leave a problem untouched. I could have asked anyone else close to me, and I could have screamed it into the void of a caring face.
I asked Kara.
I barely got the thought out before her mind was working up ways of fixing it, of talking me off the ledge, of convincing me how stupid I was, and to do what she...
There is a shit ton, pardon ma french, of money to be made as a landfill miner, but I ‘spect ya already know that.
I started out as a heavy equipment operator, ma job was to make sure all the garbage dumped was packed down good'n'tight and then bury it.
It was a good job.
For the first 5 or 6 years I kept ma mind occupied by smokin' cigarettes. I'd just smoke one after the other and push the trash around, bury it, keep the dump goin'. It was good honest work, ya got over the smell eventually and we got insurance outta it.
But anyway, I'd drive ma dozer around and smoke like a chimney all day ‘til ma wife, God Bless her, told me I had to quit. I told her smokin' weren't any worse than the trash air I was breathin' all day long.