An Unknown Woman

Three middle-aged men, two dressed in plain grey uniforms and one in a grey uniform with red stripes alongside his sleeves, look at the screen where a woman sits with her head bowed down letting her long hair cover her cheeks, which makes it impossible to see her face.

The drones above the men’s heads are searching the database for the images of the Ecotopian fighters and the citizens of the New and Old World in hope to find the right match for the unknown woman. Even though the drones cannot scan her face, their advanced technology, in theory, should allow them to match her overall body shape with the archives records kept in the Above.

– “Are you certain she asked for me?” asked the man wearing the uniform with the red stripes.

– “Yes, sir. She asked for Patrick Brus several times. She didn’t cause any troubles when we captured her and said that she was only going to talk to you.”

– ” Hmmm… and she said she was from Ecotopia, right?”

– “That is correct, sir. She also had all this equipment on her. Sir, nothing of this is ours. We checked all the catalogues, and none of our drones had any record of the equipment. Even the Above doesn’t have anything as advanced.”

– “Yes… Well… The equipment will have to be sent to our research team.” Patrick replies than scans the table, where the high-tech, equipment was scattered. He picks up one of the radios and tries to turn it on. But all in vain; the radio just like the rest of the Ecotopian equipment can only be activated by the person it belongs to, in ways that the Old World hasn’t been able to decode yet.

– “Hmmm…?” – murmurs Patrick before throwing the radio back onto the table. “Hmm… I’m going to talk to her. Make sure the Above gets the transmission.” says Patrick.

– “Shouldn’t we follow the protocol, sir? Shouldn’t the Above know before we engage with the enemy?”. In that very moment, the unknown woman turns her head up and looks right at the camera.

– “Yes, I’m… sure… I’m sure. Yes, leave it to me. I’ll deal with the Above.” On the way out of the communication room, Patrick can already sense anxiety rising up in his body while he struggles to take a deeper breath. He lets the door slip through his fingers, taking ages to close while giving the mutated crawlies a perfect opportunity to slide in through the crack of the door.

The corridor leading to the interrogation room, where the woman has been kept, is covered with cameras and droids every inch of the way. The signs of the never-ending revolution are still visible all along the walls, which are desperate for a new paint job; the ceiling is leaking, making toxic rain patches on the floor, which in turn allow the mutated crawlies to sneak into the building.

Patrick takes careful steps between the toxic rain puddles while trying to calm his rapid breathing, which seems to be in some sick competition with his thoughts.

His actions are as scrutinised by the Above as those of the ordinary citizens. There is no exception, not even for him, not for anyone who decided to stay behind on Earth.

Closing his eyes and slowly counting to ten isn’t working. In the last desperate attempt to kill the panic attack, preferably before he starts interrogating HER, he reaches out to his pocket. He double checks the location of the droids and the cameras before pulling out the green plastic capsule.

Once in the dark spot, Patrick quickly pops the green capsule into his mouth, right before reaching the interrogation room door. Patrick knows that every move must be carefully planned. The key is not to rush, allow the feelings to come up high and then wait for the calmness to be restored.

The only way to get inside the room is by using the computer code, which changes daily. The Above only makes the code accessible to the highest-ranking commander’s personal drones. Without saying anything, Patrick looks up to his drone, which is already inputting the code.

Through the crack of the opening door, Patrick can already see who the unknown woman is. The memories of the long lost but not forgotten past take control over his body and mind, intensifying his panic attack, which loves feeding off anxious thoughts and feelings. The only way to make sure the Above sees none of this is to wait until the first phase of the panic passes.

Slowly Patrick pulls out a chair from underneath the table and sits down opposite to the unknown woman. When the door finally shuts behind him their eyes meet.

Maggie fights an urge to smile, but it would give her away even before her plan could fully kick in. She knows that under no circumstances the Old World can find out what is happening to Patrick and as she has known him since the two of them were five, she knows what a massive undertaking it is for him to get the panic attack under control. If the Corporate Government knew about Patrick’s predicament, it’s more than certain he wouldn’t be allowed to hold such a high profile position within the ranks of the Old World. The Old World is all about maximizing productivity and perfection; leaving no room for mistakes.

Ever since the two of them chose the opposite sides of the revolution Patrick tried to follow Maggie’s political career as much as he could. From the start of the Ecotopian movement, and during the revolution years she has been a very powerful figure in the New World. But what he couldn’t understand was why the Old World’s archives had no records on Maggie.

For a brief second his fearful mind engaged with the idea that maybe, just maybe, the Ecotopians were finally winning the revolution. But allowing himself to stay on that path for too long would be very dangerous. After all the sacrifices he made for the Old World, he couldn’t merely become a non-believer.

Once the panic attack starts to ease (the blue pill always works), Patrick realises how often he has dreamt of that very moment and how much he had hoped for it to become a reality. Maggie was the reason he stayed behind on Earth. The whole Command Above thought that he had taken his duty as a protector of the Old World and its values very seriously and was committed to keeping the old order intact. But it was always the dream of Maggie coming back that made him stay on Earth.

And finally, she came back. He… he wanted to tell her how much he had missed her and how long he waited for her to come back… because… because deep down in his heart he always knew she was going to come back; one day she was going to see that Ecotopia has always been unrealistic and unsustainable illusion for dreamers. In that very moment, he was even ready to forgive her, forgive her for breaking his heart, for running away, and for choosing the wrong side of the revolution.

Maggie looked at one of the cameras, which was rusting away in the right top corner, then looked right back at Patrick.

– “I’m willing to trade vital Ecotopian information with you as long as you will help me,” she said.

Read Chapter 2 “Maggie & Patrick”